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11/24/21

Dave’s Diamonds: “Be an Encourager”

I overhear a conversation that two women were having just outside of my office on Tuesday morning. One was telling the other about some health challenges she was facing and some upcoming medical tests she was awaiting. The conversation went on for a few minutes and the dialogue ended with the one saying to the other, “I’ll be praying for you and you’re going to make it.” My heart was warmed by this exchange not only of friendship, but even deeper, an exchange of encouragement. As Christians we are called to bear one another’s burdens and to walk with each other through the seasons of life. During this Thanksgiving week, I am thankful for a congregation who supports one another and cares for the needs of those in our church and community.
I am grateful for friendships that have been cultivated through worship, Sunday school classes, small groups, and fellowship opportunities. I am grateful when you come along side of one another lifting their spirits through prayer and other spiritual practices. Galatians 6:2 reminds us to “Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.” Happy Thanksgiving to you and your families and stay encouraged in your faith! --Dave



11/18/21
Dave’s Diamonds:
 “Remembering the Good”

The apostle Paul writes in Philippians 4:8, “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Paul, as he writes these words, is sitting in a prison cell in Rome awaiting trial for his Christian faith. He is behind bars with chains around his ankles. It would have been easy and quite natural for Paul to have become bitter and hardened while incarcerated. But he chooses a different attitude, one that lifted his spirits to a place of contentment, joy, and hope.

I want to encourage you to make a list of blessings this Thanksgiving for all that you are thankful. The list could include blessings from God, family, friends, events, and special occurrences. It is easy to dwell on the negative, recalling what is wrong with our world and our lives. But when we remember to say thank you, our spirits are lifted, endorphins are stimulated, and our hearts are encouraged both physically and spiritually. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your families!  --Dave



 


11/11/21
Dave’s Diamonds:
 “Gratitude”
Jesus tells a story that is recorded in Luke 17:11-19 about 10 lepers who were healed. Leprosy is a dreaded disease as those who contract it have to be isolated from society, family, and friends. As Jesus heals these 10 men, only one returns to thank Jesus for his act of kindness and mercy. Jesus asks this man, “Where are the other nine?” The man never answers this question, maybe because he didn’t have an answer or perhaps it was a rhetorical question. But whatever the reason for the other nine to go on their way, they didn’t take time to say “thank you.” As a result of returning to Jesus, the one man receives an additional blessing, a second healing if you will. This healing to me was beyond the physical, it was a healing of the soul. When we come to God in worship to say “thanks” our souls are encouraged and lifted through the act of gratitude and praise. We, in turn receive a deeper healing, as we remember all that God has done and show our appreciation through our worship to God. In this season of thanksgiving, let’s not forget to be thankful and in doing so we will be blessed in a deeper and more profound way. Stay strong in the Lord and encouraged in your faith. --Dave


11/4/21

Dave’s Diamonds: “The Difference”

In my role as one of the nine volunteer chaplains with the Billings Police Department, I meet a variety of people who come from a wide range of spiritual and religious beliefs. Some people have a deep faith and trust in God while others don’t have any sense of faith at all. I was on a call last week for a man who had died suddenly of a heart attack. I asked the family if they wanted to gather and pray and one of the daughters said quite abruptly, “No, we don’t do that.”

Without faith, my life would seem empty. My faith in God gives me purpose, encouragement, and hope. There is a wonderful story told in John 6 where many of Jesus’ followers are starting to doubt Jesus’ abilities and validity. We are told that some followers even were turning away from Jesus. Jesus asks his disciples, “Do you also want to go away?” Peter answered on behalf of the other eleven, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68). Yes, in Jesus we not only have the words of eternal life, but the One who makes it possible. Through Jesus we have the very promise, peace, and provisions of God. Jesus is the difference maker and I invite you to tap into this life-giving relationship. Stay strong in the Lord and encouraged in your faith. --Dave


10/28/21

Dave’s Diamonds: “Hurried”

Doesn’t it seem that everyone is in a hurry these days? People get impatient waiting in line, drivers tailgate you when you are driving the speed limit, and it is easy to become agitated when placed on hold on the telephone. We tend to run from one activity to the next, trying to catch our breath along the way. I’m reminded of the popular song by the country band Alabama, “I’m in a Hurry” that has the line, “I rush and rush until life’s no fun.” We can become so hurried and rushed that life loses its joy.  Jesus provides a great example for us in many ways. He provides a good blueprint for how to enjoy life and live. As popular as Jesus was and as sought out as he was as a teacher, healer, and miracle worker, Jesus always took time to recharge his batteries. On his busiest of days, he would retreat to pray. On days when the crowd would not give him any breathing space, he would create space to spend time with individuals. On days when his disciples were trying to get him to the next event, he would be found taking time to renew his inner soul.  This is a good model for us to follow. I hear Jesus saying, “Slow down and enjoy the journey. What’s the rush? What’s the point of running through each day? Take time to renew your spirit and energize your soul.” We are reminded in Psalm 127:2, “It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil.” I invite you to take time with the Lord each day to pray, meditate, recharge, and renew. It will be time well spent! --Dave


10/21/21
Dave’s Diamonds: “Fear Factor”


Spiders, heights, and public speaking are three of the greatest fears people will often admit. Fear can be debilitating, draining, and paralyzing. Marianne Williamson has written this about our fears, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that w are powerful beyond measure. It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us. You are a child of God. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.” When we remember whose we are (as children of God) we also remember the gifts which God has entrusted us. We are gifted with God’s power and strength, encouraged with God’s word and provisions, and sustained by God’s presence and peace. As young David ran to the battle line to fight the giant Goliath, he remembered how God had helped him in the past. David said, “The Lord who saved me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear, will save me from the hand of this Philistine” (1 Samuel 17:37). Remembering how God had helped him in the past encouraged David and propelled him to move forward into the future. Whatever causes you to fear, remember that we have the Lord who is with us and helps us overcome our worries and anxieties. Stay strong and encouraged in the Lord. --Dave


10/14/21

Dave’s Diamonds: “What’s In It for Me?”

What’s in it for me? is often one of the first questions we ask when approached to buy something. How will it change my life, enhance my lifestyle, or benefit me personally? Will it help me lose weight, make me look better, or help me to live longer? If there is no benefit to the product or service, we usually will pass on the opportunity to buy it. The prospect of faith, from a purely entrepreneurial point of view, does not seem like a very good product. Jesus, in promoting the Christian lifestyle, says, “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it” (Matthew 16:25). So let me get this right…in order to find a better life I have to lose the one I have? This sounds like an addition by subtraction scenario. Most people would pass on this opportunity, and in doing so they miss out on the greatest relationship we can have in our lives. The benefits of Christ’s life become even greater when we become less of ourselves and allow God to take over our lives. When we surrender our lives to God we gain the benefits of peace, joy, hope, and eternal life. It is such an unusual concept to grasp and goes against the “What’s in it for me?” mentality. When we wake up in the morning and allow God to orchestrate our day, when we saturate our lives in prayer and Godly devotion, and when we ask God to refuel our tanks on a daily basis we will discover the benefits of this incredible relationship. I invite you to try it, even in small increments. I look forward to having you share with me how this relationship is changing your life. In doing so you will become more of yourself and the person God has intended for you to be. Stay strong and encouraged in the Lord! --Dave

 

 

 

10/7/21

Dave’s Diamonds: “Beautiful Feet”

One of the basic tenets of the Christian faith is that we are saved through the grace of Jesus Christ. This is commonly and widely accepted among Christian denominations around the world. But what happens to those who live in places where they have never heard of Jesus Christ? How about those who never get the opportunity to believe in Jesus because they grow up in a household where the Christian faith isn’t taught? You are not along in asking these questions. Actually this first question is raised in Romans 10 and I love the apostle Paul’s response. When asked about those who never hear about Jesus, Paul quotes a verse from , “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news.” I love how Paul responds to this question. Instead of putting the responsibility on the one who has yet to hear the good news about Jesus, the onus falls upon us who believe. This is why we send mission teams to Zambia and places around the world. This is why our church supports Christian missionaries. Not only is the message we take beautiful, but the feet of those who bring the message are equally beautiful as well. Let’s continue to strive to tell others about the amazing story of Jesus, what God has done in our lives, and the life-changing relationship that God invites us to enter through Christ. Stay strong and encouraged in the Lord. --Dave

 


9/30/21
Dave’s Diamonds: “Gently Worn”

A friend of mine was selling a used pair of shoes the other day on Facebook Marketplace. In the description that accompanied a picture of the size 6 Vans were the words, “Gently Worn.” I had to smile when I read those words because I have never owned a pair of shoes that were “gently worn.” Vicki and our kids will be the first to tell you that I am hard on shoes. I wear them everywhere and for a long time. By the time they need to be replaced, they usually are ripped up and have a few holes in the soles. They are not in any condition for Facebook Marketplace, rather they are ready for the garbage can. It goes without saying that I become attached to my shoes and have a hard time getting rid of them.  Actually, I’m hard on all my clothes and when I am ready to trade them in on something new, they are not “gently worn,” rather they are “worn out.” God came to people like us who are worn out…he covers the Prodigal Son with the best robe (Luke 15), he encouraged a desperate Elijah to rely upon God’s strength (1 Kings 19), and invited the tired and worn Woman at the Well to taste Living Water (John 4).  God’s holiness invites us to trade in our worn out, tired, and desperate selves and to enter into God’s presence of wonder and worship. We are reminded of these important words in 1 Chronicles 16:11, “Seek the Lord and his strength. Seek the Lord continually.” In doing so we will see and experience the One who calls us by name and encourages us in faith. Stay strong and encouraged in these challenging times. --Dave


9/23/21
Dave’s Diamonds: “A Cheerleader of Faith”

The wind had reached hurricane force, the waves were breaking over the bow of the large ship, and all hope seemed lost. Cargo had been thrown into the water, ropes had been used to secure the large vessel, and panic was in the hearts of those facing imminent death. We are told that everyone on the ship had given up hope…that is everyone but one person. Such are the details we read about in Acts 27 as the apostle Paul and 275 others were facing a great storm on the Mediterranean Sea. As fear ran rampant, Paul addresses those aboard the large ship, reminding them of God’s presence, God’s promises, and God’s provisions. Paul says, “But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed. Last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.’ So keep up your courage, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me” (Acts 27:22-25). I love the confidence that Paul has in his faith and how he shares that confidence with others. It’s easy to become fearful and settle into a defeatist mindset. But Paul speaks a different word to a group that needed to be reminded of God’s promises. Think of someone who has come along side of you and said, “It’s going to be ok,” “God is with you,” or “The Lord is in your corner.” Our words are a reflection of our faith and in this time of fear and uncertainly we need to hear these words more than ever. Stay strong and encouraged in the Lord. --Dave

9/16/21
Dave’s Diamonds: “Sputtering”

I was mowing our lawn the other day when all of a sudden the lawn mower started to sputter. A few hiccups and gurgles followed and the Honda pusher came to a sputtering halt. I was out of gas. Ever feel this way in life? Ever feel like you are running on empty, sputtering and gurgling along with little energy or enthusiasm? Life can be overwhelming and things can cause us to get worn out. We keep busy schedules; we feel the pressure of juggling family, work, leisure time; and we carry the weight of worries and burdens on our shoulders. The Lord is there to fill you up and put some fuel back into your soul. The prophet Isaiah had a wonderful gift of being able to convey God’s grace to a group of people who were growing tired. Isaiah reminds us of God’s promises with these words in Isaiah 40, “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even young people grow tired and weary and young men will stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings life eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:29-31). Remember to open yourself to the great reservoir of strength that is available through the Lord by asking God to continue to fill your tank. Stay strong and encouraged in the Lord. --Dave