Dave’s Diamonds: “Opinions”
There is an old proverb that goes something like this, Wherever two or more are gathered, there is a multitude of opinions. We all have opinions, ranging from political views, sports teams, food, travel, weather, clothing styles, musical tastes, etc. If I were to ask your favorite food or your favorite color or your favorite sports team, I would get a variety of answers. Some of those answers would cause others to roll their eyes or turn up their noses, or even to think bad thoughts. Just the other night I asked Sara, John, and Erin where they wanted to go and eat and we got three different answers (Vicki and I don’t get a vote, but we do hold veto power 😊). One of the challenges I have found as a pastor is keeping people unified amid the many opinions we hold. How is it possible for Republicans and Democrats, Broncos and Raiders fans, meat lovers and vegetarians to be able to come together and worship God? The answer is to keep our focus on the main thing. Jesus provides a great blueprint in handling people of various opinions. During a vary contentious time in Jesus’ ministry, he reminds his follows what is most important. Jesus says, “I have come that they may have life and life to the fullest” (John 10:10). Amid a time when we need to find some unity, Jesus brings us together with these words. May we too find in these words redemption and reconciliation as we come together and worship the Lord and carry our God’s purposes in the mission we share together. Stay strong in faith, healthy in body, and unified in Spirit. --Dave
Dave’s Diamonds: “Struggling With Faith”
I was talking with a friend the other morning and the conversation turned to faith. He said, quite matter of fact, “Dave, you have to realize, I am not a man of faith.” After a slight pause, I didn’t feel ready to move on to the next subject like kids, weather, or work. I probed that area of faith just a bit, wanting to learn more about his resistance to the spiritual realm. He explained how he has seen so many bad things in our world and, if there was a God, how could God allow these types of things to happen. My friend is not alone in his thought process. Many people struggle with the idea of faith because of this very question: how can a good God allow bad things to happen in life? Here is how I reconcile this struggle. We live in an imperfect world of hardship, disease, and accidents. God also allows us to have free will to make decisions that can be harmful to ourselves and others. However, God is in the process of reconciling our world and bringing about redemption. When we die we will enter eternal life and with that a place where there is “no more death or mourning or crying or pain,” but life everlasting (Revelation 21:4). But until then, we wait with expectant hope and live our lives as a beacon of light to a hurting world. I continue to pray for my friend and opportunities for God to open his heart to the Lord and to allow our conversation to continue about faith, God, and eternal life. I pray the Lord does the same for all of us as we reach out to others. --Dave
Dave’s Diamonds: “Display Models”
I was in Best Buy the other day and noticed a row of computers on sale. They were labeled “Display Models” and some were discounted as much as 40% off the retail price. Display models are items that have been taken out of its boxes and put on a counter for people to see what the gadget looks like and how it works. We, as people of faith, are called to be display models as well. Our faith is not something that was intended to be left in a box in a back room, but rather our faith is to be visible for others to see. Jesus, speaking during his famous Sermon on the Mount, says, “You are the light of the world. In the same way, let you light shine before others” (Matthew 5:14). Jesus instructs us to live out our faith and to allow our faith to be visible to others. This is carried out by the way we talk, how we treat others, and the actions we use each day. Our faith is on display each day for others to see the Lord and to come to know of God’s saving grace through Jesus. Continue to stay strong in faith and encouraged in the Good News of Christ. --Dave
Dave’s Diamonds: “Grateful”
We are so fortunate to live in a place as beautiful and abundant as Montana. My first trip to Montana was in August of 1989 as I drove from Alaska to Bozeman to finish my last two years of college at Montana State. I had never been to Montana before, arriving sight unseen just a few days before the start of the fall semester. Not only did I fall in love with its mountains and big sky, but also a young girl from the small town of Terry in Eastern Montana. We are grateful to call Montana home and to enjoy all that the area has to offer. There is an abundance of hiking, boating, fishing, and exploring opportunities right out of our back yard. Psalm 19 is full of so many images of beauty and abundance. King David opens the Psalm with these words, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” (Psalm 19:1). As we look to our surroundings, may we remember to praise God for God’s promises, strength, and hope of eternal life. God’s fingerprints are all around us and all we need to do is look and be thankful. --Dave
Dave’s Diamonds: “On the Way”
Summer provides a great time to get away and enjoy all that our great country has to offer. Vicki and I recently enjoyed 10 days in Florida-- soaking in the sun, swimming in incredibly warm water, experiencing some of the best beaches in the world, and enjoying watching Erin play volleyball. Yes, we were there to watch Erin’s team, but the other additions to the trip were a nice bonus. It is good to get away and experience new places, but it is always good to come home, especially to Montana. Even though Jesus never made it to Florida or Montana, he spent most of his earthly life traveling. Jesus was quite often on the move, going from place to place as he met new people and taught many things. Jesus’ life was not stagnant as he covered a lot of ground in his ministry. While on the way he met those suffering from leprosy, the blind, the lame, and the sick. He met the woman at the well while traveling to Galilee, the hemorrhaging woman while traveling to a friend’s home, and the blind beggar while traveling through Jericho.
There is a great lesson here for us as well. Our ministry to Christ does not just happen while we are sitting in church. Our faith is not isolated to Sunday morning for an hour each week. Rather, it occurs while on the way, with those who we encounter during our daily routines of life. There is such a great need for Christ in our world, and we can all be the hands and feet of Christ while on the way. Jesus said, “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). May we open our eyes and hearts to those who we encounter along the way. Stay strong in Christ and encouraged in the Lord. --Dave
Dave’s Diamonds: “Growing Together”
I’m writing this devotional from Stanford, Montana, where I and a group of 15 youth and adults are leading vacation Bible school in this small town in central Montana. We have come to Stanford for the past seven years, partnering with the First Presbyterian Church in this rural community. This relationship began when Jack Bell was serving this church as their pastor and now continues even after Jack’s death in 2019. It is a trip a lot of our youth enjoy participating in because of the relationships we have developed with the kids and families of this community. Relationships are important to our faith. In the opening pages of the Bible, God reminds us that it is not good to be alone. This theme is carried on throughout the Bible as Jesus enlists disciples to help with his ministry and invites apostles to share in the work of Christ as the church was in its early stages. Even the author of Hebrews joins in reminding us, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing” (Hebrews 10:25). We were made to live in relationship with others and the church is a place where we can do that best. It’s rewarding to be a part of a church that offers many opportunities that help us grow in faith together, as this mission trip is just one example. Let’s continue to strive to work together, making a difference for the greater glory of God. Be encouraged by Christ and strengthened by one another. –Dave
Dave’s Diamonds: “Help Wanted”
As Jesus began his ministry in the region of Galilee, he did something very important. He enlisted help from others. He handpicked a group of 12 disciples from various walks of life and socio-economic demographics. Some were fishermen while others were business leaders. Some were Jewish, some Greek, some from larger cities, and others from smaller towns. One was a tax collector, another a Jewish nationalist, and another had experience in banking. Jesus invited these people together to further God’s ministry and mission to the world. I am grateful that I am neither isolated in my ministry nor am I insular in my work within the church. Our church is blessed with a great resource of volunteers who help out in so many ways. I have been amazed with the number of people who have helped this week with our vacation Bible school program. The number of volunteers who have given of their time this week is overwhelming. We are reminded in the Bible, “Don’t forget to do good and to share what you have because God is pleased with these kinds of sacrifices” (Hebrews 13:16). Stay strong in faith, willing in spirit, and healthy in body. –Dave
Dave’s Diamonds: “Please Hold”
I was checking on the status of a reservation for a rental car on Monday morning and I dialed the 1-800 number on the website. A friendly voice recording answered on the third ring inviting me to listen to a series of selections: for a new reservation, press 1; for an existing reservation, press 2; if you need roadside assistance, press 3; if your plane has been delayed, press 4; and so on, and so on. I pressed number two and was led through another series of prompts: for reservations in the United States, press 1; for international reservations, press 2; all other inquiries please stay on the line. All other inquiries? I thought with a smile on my face. Either you are U.S. or international. I didn’t know that they were renting cars on Uranus these days. I pressed the number 1 and was transferred to another portal in the great abyss of Alamo Car Rental. After a few clicks, ticks, and clacks some catchy music came on and I waited, and waited, and waited. While I waited, I wondered what it would be like if God had a voice answering service. My mind wondered as to what the prompts might include. When it comes to God, I’m glad we don’t have to wait, take a number, or stand in line. I’m glad that God is available 24/7 to hear our requests. We are reminded in the fourth chapter of Philippians, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). I am so grateful that we have one who is available at our beck and call, one who wants to hear from us, and one who grants us peace amid these anxious days. Stay strong in faith, steady in Christ, and healthy in body. –Dave
Dave’s Diamonds: “A Time to Remember”
Memorial Day weekend has become synonymous with family gatherings, picnics, camping trips, and rain. Memorial Day also provides a time for us to remember. We take time to remember our veterans and current military and we pause to remember family and friends who are no longer with us. The ability to remember is a wonderful gift that we have. I have said many times that grief is good because it shows how much we care for someone and how much they meant to us. Tears, sadness, and sorrow are emotions that show how much loved ones have meant to us over the years. Even Jesus expressed sadness and despair. In one of the most tender passages in the Bible, Jesus comes to the burial site of his friend Lazarus and cries. In what is the shortest verse in the Bible, we are told in John 11:35, “Jesus wept.” Jesus, as strong and powerful as he was, with the ability to resist the devil and overcome disease, principalities, and evil forces, gives us permission to cry. Our emotions express the feelings we hold inside. On this Memorial day weekend, I hope that you will take time to pause and reflect, remember and be renewed in the promises of God. Allow your emotion to sweep over you, remember and giving thanks to those who have gone before us. Stay strong in faith, encouraged in hope, and healthy in body. –Dave
Dave’s Diamonds: “Saying Yes to Jesus”
Think of all the decision you make each day. What to wear? What to eat? What to do with your time? These are just some of the hundreds of decisions we make each day. Multiply this over your lifetime and you will make thousands upon thousands of decisions that affect your life. Some decisions are more important than others…what career path do I want to take, do I want to get married and to whom, and where will I choose to live? But the greatest decision we can make in our lifetime is the one to follow Jesus as our Lord and Savior. Psalm 119:59 states, “I pondered the direction of my life and I turned to follow your ways.” What a great, life changing passage! This Sunday we will be celebrating with eight young people who will be professing their faith in Christ and saying “Yes” to Jesus. I have been working with these students throughout the past year, helping them grow in their faith and developing a greater trust and belief in Christ. They each have written a Statement of Faith, saying in their own words what they believe about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the Bible, and what means to live the life of faith. May we live our lives for the Lord as we choose to follow the ways and direction of Jesus. Stay strong in faith, focused upon the Lord, and healthy in body. –Dave
Dave’s Diamonds: “The Drip”
I heard water dripping in our basement on Tuesday morning. Figuring I had a leak coming from a waterline, I got a chair and tried to discover the origin of the drip. I noticed the water was coming from a heating duct, which caused some confusion because heating ducts are not supposed to carry any water. I went to the garage and got a bucket to collect the dripping water. I returned to the basement with bucket and flashlight in hand. Upon further examination, I traced the dripping water back along the ceiling to the floor vent that was coming from our upstairs piano room. It was at that point that it dawned on me. Just a few minutes earlier I had watered the plants in our piano room and, apparently in my zest to make sure the plants were good and watered, I overwatered one of the plants to the point that water was running over the drip collector underneath. Being near the floor vent the water was running down the vent, causing the leak in the basement. I emptied the collection base that was full of water and the drip eventually slowed to a trickle and then stopped completely. I could not help by think about Psalm 23 that reminds us of all of God’s provisions in our lives. King David is reminded of all of the attributes of God…The Lord is my shepherd; He makes us me lie down in green pastures; He leads me besides still waters; and He restores my soul. David is so overwhelmed with God’s grace and mercy that he writes in Psalm 23:5, “My cup overflows.” As I learned on Tuesday morning, the term overflows means too much, in excess, or more than enough. God’s blessings don’t just fill our tanks, but are given in excess that they run over the top. On this Thursday morning, be reminded of God’s excess love and grace in your lives. God doesn’t give us just enough, but more than enough. Stay strong in faith, encouraged by grace, and healthy in body. –Dave
Dave’s Diamonds: “Slow Down”
Is it just me or have you noticed more aggressive drivers on the streets? Just last Sunday as I was coming home from church, I was being tailgated by a pickup. Checking my speed, I realized I was driving the speed limit, but apparently 35 miles per hour wasn’t fast enough for old speedy pants behind me. As soon as the lane opened up next to me he hit the gas and sped right on past me. Vroom, zoom, whoosh, and he was gone! It seems that these scenarios are becoming more common. Either some people seem to be more in a hurry these days or my age is finally catching up to me and I starting to drive like a Lutheran on a Sunday afternoon stroll. Jesus never seemed to be in a hurry. He always had time for people, time to listen and offer an hand. Even in emergency situations, he took time out of his busy schedule to do what mattered most: care for others. There is a wonderful verse found in Galatians 6:9 that says, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Jesus sets a great example of living out this passage by slowing down and doing good. There is also a great promise in this passage as well, that we will be blessed by the Lord when we care for others. May we emulate this in our own lives by taking time from our busy and hurried schedules to help others. Stay strong in faith, generous in giving, and healthy in body. –Dave
Dave’s Diamonds: “Worn Out”
Do you ever get tired and worn out? It’s common for us to hear people say, “I’m pooped,” “I need to rest,” or “I have had enough.” We get tired physically, emotionally, and even spiritually. Yes, even spiritually. We can become tired in our faith, tired of trying to do good, and tired of going to church. The author of the New Testament book of Hebrews knows this about us and wrote this book to encourage us to stay strong in our faith and persevere in our belief in Christ. I love Hebrews 10:24-25 which says, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day [of Christ] approaching.” There are two things that we are invited to do in this passage. First, we are invited to be an encourager to others. We all know of people who have come alongside of us at just the right time to speak words of hope and encouragement into our lives. The author of Hebrews encourages us to be that person to someone else; in essence, to be a cheerleader of faith. Second, we are invited to continue to meet together. People who isolate from others often struggle in their faith. Yes, we can worship God on our own and having some time for personal spiritual growth is very important. But there is also something very important about being together and growing together in our relationship with Christ. The church is like a team whereby we gather to learn, grow, and support one another in the ways of God. What great verses that provide some practical advice for us in our day and age of isolation and despair. Stay strong in faith, encouraged in Spirit, and healthy in body. –Dave
Dave’s Diamonds: “Don’t Stop Believing”
It’s one of the greatest songs in the history of music, Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’.” Released in 1981, this song was written by band member Jonathan Cain at a very low point in his life. As a struggling musician living in Hollywood he called his dad in Chicago and asked to borrow some money. His father gave him a loan and encouraged him to continue his music career and ended the conversation by saying, “Son, don’t stop believing.” He wrote those three words in his lyric book and when he joined the band Journey several years later he wrote the song that became the band’s trademark hit. These are also good lyrics for us. In these days of uncertainty and unrest, we are invited to put our trust in the Lord. As I mentioned last Sunday, the spirit of Easter continues to live on in our lives every day. As people of faith, we live with Easter hope, the power of the risen Christ. Belief is a powerful force that invites us into a relationship with our living God. Christ came from the tomb and is alive with us today through the power of the Holy Spirit. Stay strong in faith, encouraged in belief, and healthy in body. –Dave
Dave’s Diamonds: “Life from the Grave”
What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the word cemetery? Most likely the words are death, scary, eerie, spooky, and creepy. Many of these thoughts come from Hollywood movies, the likes of Night of the Living Dead, The Godfather, and A Nightmare on Elm Street. Imagine the three women coming to the tomb of Jesus early that first Easter morning and hearing sounds from the grave. I’m sure that were already on edge as they approached a place that was being highly guarded by Jewish leaders. It was also a place that had held their hopes and dreams in the person of Jesus. Now they were reduced to the fateful duty of coming to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body for proper burial. Upon arrival, they found the stone had been rolled back and the tomb occupied, not by Jesus but rather by an unlikely guest. Dressed in white, the occupant (likely an angel) gives the first indication of resurrection. “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said” (Matthew 28:5). In those two sentences the crux of history and spiritual faith was altered. Jesus was alive, death could not contain him, the tomb could not hold him. He was alive and he is today. His aliveness lives within us through the power of the Holy Spirit. His aliveness reminds us that death is not the final destination for us, life is! His aliveness works within the disappointments of life, lifting us with the hope and promise of a Risen Savior. Easter changes everything for us and those first words from the grave provide a renewed perspective amid virus, war, and racial dissention. Stay strong in faith, encouraged in hope, and healthy in body. Happy Easter to you and your families! –Dave
Dave’s Diamonds: “Wind”
An alert came across my phone this Tuesday morning that simply stated, “High Wind Warning.” Clinking on the warning tab, I learned that Billings was going to under a high wind warning for the next two day with gusts reaching as high as 70 miles per hour. As I made my way outside and opened the car door, I realized what 70 mile an hour gusts were capable of. They are capable of bending the hinges on your car door unless you hold on to the handle; they are capable of blowing over filled garbage containers waiting to be picked up; they are capable of sending your dress up over your head in a state of public embarrassment and wardrobe malfunction. Vicki and I should be used to the wind as we lived in Casper, Wyoming, for two years in the early 90s. We continue to joke that one day the wind stopped blowing in Casper and everyone fell over. Did you know that there are 58 references to wind in the Bible? God used the wind to part the Red Sea during the time of Moses, Daniel saw a vision of the wind covering the earth, and Jesus calmed the wind with his word. The Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, is often described as the wind. John 3:8 reminds us, “The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but don’t know where it comes from or where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” This passage reminds us that God can move and act wherever God wants. I take great comfort that God can move in Ukraine and Russia; stir within the hearts of people who are depressed and have lost their way; and move among all of us calling us to Him. Stay strong in faith, stable in the Spirit, and healthy in body. –Dave
Dave’s Diamonds: “Billings & Beyond”
Vicki and I were in Helena last weekend with Erin’s volleyball team for a tournament. Being out of town, we had the opportunity to “tune in” to our church’s Facebook page for worship. As we were watching the service, we noticed a variety of people who were enjoying the service right along with us. We noticed people who logged into the feed from places around Billings, the state of Montana, Arizona, Iowa, and Florida. One of my most common prayers for our church is that God will expand the breadth and depth of our ministry. Looking back, the pandemic certainly has given us this opportunity. It is not uncommon to see people join us for worship around the United States, and we even at times have had some international visitors.
Many of you might remember the prayer of Jabez that was made known by a popular book of the same name by Bruce Wilkinson, published in 2000. This obscure prayer, tucked away in 1 Chronicles 4:9-10, reads, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” May we pray that God will continue to enlarge our territory, to expand our ministry, and to increase the reach we have to impact others with the Good News of Jesus Christ. With much fear and despair in our world and community, we have an opportunity to make a real difference and have a lasting effect upon the lives of many. Stay strong in faith, encouraged in mission, and healthy in body. –Dave
Dave’s Diamonds: “The Greatest”
Muhammad Ali claimed that he was “the greatest of all time.” Many think that Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback to ever play in the NFL while others debate whether Michael Jordan or LeBron James is the greatest to have ever played in the NBA. Some of Jesus disciples even got caught up in the debate about who is the greatest. Imagine Jesus listening to them banter as they tried to jockey for position. I could just imagine Jesus letting this little debate go on for a few minutes before interjecting, and interjected he did. He not only used words, but uses an example of greatness. He doesn’t point to Muhammad Ali, Tom, LeBron, or Michael. Rather, Jesus takes a child from the crowd and places the child in front of them. Then Jesus address the disciples and crowd, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3-4). What Jesus said was very important because he prefaced this exchange with the word “truly,” which means “listen up!” As Jesus often does, he says something unexpected and surprising by undermining our idea of greatness. In the eyes of God, greatness comes through humility, servitude, and having a child-like faith. In our day and age when the likes of Putin and Biden vie for power and authority, may we learn something from the words of Christ. Stay strong in faith, humble in spirit, and healthy in body. –Dave
Dave’s Diamonds: “Predictions”
It’s that time of the year when many will make predictions of the 68 team field that is known as March Madness. The odds of selecting all of the winners correctly (having a perfect bracket) is insurmountably stacked against us. There will be upsets, unpredictable endings, and injuries to players that will affect outcomes of these 67 games. And yet we watch, cheer, and many will offer their predictions. The Bible talks a lot about predictions, some suggesting as many as 1,424 predictions are found within the pages of scripture. There have been predictions about the coming Messiah, predictions about the future, predictions about how we will handle adversity, and predictions about remaining faithful and steadfast in our relationship with the Lord. Many of these predictions have come true and provide great insight. For example, they suggest that it will be difficult to remain faithful to the Lord in adverse times; many will fall away from the faith and turn to others forms of hope and help; and end times will bring sadness and despair. But most of all, we learn through these predictions that in it all and through it all God remains faithful still. The apostle Paul writes in Romans 15:4, “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.” What a great message to hold on to as we live in an unsettled world of unrest and turmoil. Stay strong in faith, encouraged in hope, and healthy in body. –Dave
Dave’s Diamonds: “Helpless”
Do you ever feel helpless when it comes to the larger problems of the world? We are confronted with issues of poverty, war, natural disasters and wonder what difference can we really make. I’m reminded of the story of the woman who was walking along the beach when she came upon a large group of star fish which were washed up on the seashore. She started throwing them back into the ocean, one at a time. Another passer-by said to the woman, “What are you doing? You will never be able to throw all of them back. What difference will you really make?” The woman responded while she was throwing one of them back into the water, “Well, it makes a difference to this one.” We may not be able to change the world, alter the course of history, or impact a large scale of people. But we might make a difference to one person or two. Jesus said, “Whatever you have done to one of the least of these, you have done unto me”(Matthew 25:40). I encourage you to do what you are able and capable to do-- pray for those in the Ukraine, give to help the millions of refugees fleeing the war, volunteer with a local organization that is making a difference on a larger scale, or help a neighbor. We may not be able to do a lot, but we can do something. And in doing so we can help to change the life of someone. Stay strong in faith, encouraged in giving, and healthy in body. –Dave
Dave’s Diamonds: “Call Anytime”
A vacant lot is listed for sale about a half mile from our house. A single metal sign is posted on the lot with name and phone number of the realtor. At the bottom of the sign are the words “call or text anytime.” As I reread the word “anytime,” I wonder how Polly would react if I took her up on her offer and called her at three in the morning. Knowing Polly she is probably up at three in the morning getting ready for the day. But most of us don’t appreciate the middle of the night phone calls, the ones that wake us up from a deep sleep and then make it difficult to fall back to sleep.
As I read that sign my thoughts went to the Lord who gives us the same invitation…call anytime. Morning, noon, or night, God is willing and available to take our calls. Psalm 17:6 reminds us of this great promise, “I call on you my God, for you will answer me.” I love the confidence of the Psalmist, knowing that God will hear our prayers. Even though these words were written about 3,000 years ago, the same promise still applies today. God wants to be in a relationship with us through prayer and will hear us 24 hours a day and seven days a week.
Let us continue to pray for the escalating situation in the Ukraine, that Russia will relent, that world leaders will work together to seek a resolution, and that a peaceful outcome will be found. Stay strong in faith, encouraged in prayer, and healthy in body. –Dave
Dave’s Diamonds: “Stuck”
On Monday morning as I made my way to the church, I passed several cars that were stuck in the deep, fresh snow. I stopped to help one man trying to free his car from a large snowbank near St. V’s Hospital. As I approached his driver’s side window he said, “Thanks for stopping, I am really stuck!” Yes, he was stuck. It took not only me, but two other helpers to free his car from the snow.
I got to thinking about the word stuck. I have been stuck in the mud, stuck in the sand, and stuck in a rut. We might feel that we are stuck in a bad relationship, stuck in a dead-end job, or stuck in an addiction. Being stuck is the inability to move from a particular position or place or the inability to change a situation. Jesus met a lot of people who felt stuck…a woman with a hemorrhage of blood for 12 years; a leper who was ostracized by society; and a blind man who begged not only for money, but for attention as well. Jesus took time with each of these people, and many more, helping them to become unstuck from their situations.
Jesus wants to do the same for us. Maybe we feel stuck in a current relationship, job, or addiction. Invite Jesus into that situation and allow Him to help heal you and set you free. Jesus wants to empower you to reach your potential, remind you of your worth, and encourage you with a renewed sense of purpose and value. Jesus said, “I have come that you might have life and life to the fullest” (John 10:10). Stay strong in faith, encouraged by God’s word, and healthy in body. --Dave
Dave’s Diamonds: “Groves”
Some of you have visited Redwood National Forest near Crescent City, California. These amazing trees, some of which have grown to over 350 feet tall, are found in a tiny corner of northwest California, just south of the Oregon border. The success of these trees can be attributed to several factors, including being located in a very cool climate along the Pacific Ocean. Substantial rainfall in this area keeps these trees protected from fire and drought. But there is a third reason these trees do so well, causing some to reach almost 25’ in diameter and 1.6 million pounds in weight. This third reason has to do with the fact that Redwood trees grow in groves. These groves protect each other from strong winds, disease, and other natural threats.
The same could be said about us Christians. We are not meant to be alone in our Christian walk, isolated from one another. Rather, we are invited into a community of faith whereby we grow and learn in the company of others. Jesus said, “Wherever two or three are gathered in my name, I am in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20). Jesus uncovers an important truth: relationships among Christians are vital to our spiritual lives. Like the Redwoods, we do better when we are in the company of others growing together in worship, being nurtured in small groups, and learning from each other in community settings. During a time in which we are encouraged to practice social distancing, I invite you to find creative ways to be with one another, and in doing so fulfilling God’s design for your life. Stay strong in faith, connected by community, and healthy in body. --Dave
Dave’s Diamonds: “Pine Wood Derby”
I have always been drawn to competition. Whether as a young boy playing a game of basketball, going to car races with my dad, coaching our kids’ sports teams, or watching the Super Bowl on television, I love a good game of competition. One of may fondest memories of competing was forged at an early age as a Cub Scout. Every year our scout den would compete in the Pine Wood Derby and every year I would work tirelessly on my car. I would take the pine wood out of the box and cut, sand, paint, and detail my car until it was a five ounce piece of perfection. I still have the first place trophy from the race in 1978, one of my most proud moments of my entire life.
Do you know that there are over 30 references to competition in the Bible? Moses reminds us that the Lord is in our corner and will fight for us (Exodus 14:14). Joshua encourages us to be strong and courageous, for God goes with us wherever we go (Joshua 1:9). Isaiah reminds us that the Lord will help us to run and not grow weary (Isaiah 40:31). The apostle Paul encourages us to train in such a way as to win a crown that will last forever (1 Corinthians 9:25).
May we continue to run toward the finish line where we will be welcomed into the everlasting arms of Christ. May we continue our Christian journey with endurance and perseverance, knowing that God is there to cheer us on and encourage us every step of the way. Stay strong in faith and healthy in body. --Dave
Dave’s Diamonds: “Camping”
Many of us who live in Montana have done some camping. I have found that there are different levels or varying degrees of camping. Some think of “camping” as driving their camp trailers to a campsite with amenities like a refrigerator, bathroom, shower, bed, and running water in tow. While this may be camping to some, others feel that the most pure and true form of camping consists of a tent, sleeping bag, and cook stove. I have found that many people will advance in their camping preference, starting in a tent and graduating their way up to an RV with age, body aches, and financial stability.
In my preparations for several funerals this coming weekend, I was reminded of a great camping reference in the Bible. The apostle Paul, in his second letter to the Christians in Corinth, writes, “For we know that if the early tent that we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands” (2 Corinthians 5:1). What a neat reference that reminds us that God has something greater and better in store for us. Our earthly tent (meaning our bodies) will some day be replaced with a building that God will provide in eternity. Like most campers, we have the promise that we will graduate from our flimsy, temporary, fragile, and unstable tent to something more glorious and profound in the Kingdom of God. May we hold on to this promise and rest assured in God’s presence. Stay strong and encouraged in the Lord. --Dave
Dave’s Diamonds: “Unsettled”
The word “unsettled” seems to adequately describe the current state of affairs around the world. As tensions mount between Russia and the Ukraine; as the new strain of Omicron captures headlines; as the stock market has dropped over 7% since the New Year, there is an unsettled feelings for many people. Fear, paranoia, and anxiety seem to dominate our current emotions. It is easy to get caught up in all of these negative headlines and forget about the promises of God. Psalm 18:2 reminds us that “The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” King David gives us a wonderful gift within this verse. It is a gift that invites us to remember all that God provides for us in unsettled times: stability, strength, steadfastness. It’s easy to lose sight and focus amid the discouraging headlines that fill our world today. I invite you to begin your day in God’s word, allowing the Lord to fill you with His perspective and presence. Start your day with a Bible verse or two and I know that it will change the way you see things. God is there to remind us of the Lord’s promises, peace, and provisions amid the ups and downs of life. Stay strong and encouraged in the Lord. --Dave
Dave’s Diamonds: “A Refuge”
Did you know that there are 567 National Wildlife Refuges throughout the United States, that comprise just over 95 million acres of land? These refuges are intended to provide a safe place for wildlife and plants and to provide enjoyment and beauty for its visitors. The largest of these refuges in Montana is the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge which spans six counties and encompasses almost a million acres. By definition, a refuge is a safe place that provides shelter from pursuit, danger, or trouble. Psalm 46 reminds us that God is a safe place and can be our shelter from troubles and ills that come our way. “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in times of trouble” (Psalm 46:1). King David, the author of Psalm 46, knew this truth as he was trying to escape the jealous sword of King Saul. I hope that we know this truth as well. Amid pandemic and stress, uncertainty and accidents, trouble and fear, God is there to provide a shelter—a sanctuary and safe place where we can find rest for our weary souls. I hope you will utilize this great resource and find calm amid uncertainty and peace amid the storms that can come our way. Stay strong and encouraged in the Lord. –Dave
Dave’s Diamonds: “Resolutions”
As we begin a new year, many resolve to lose weight, eat healthier, and quit smoking. Many New Year’s Resolutions are made, but few are achieved. The reasons for failed resolutions vary from setting unrealistic goals to not having the will power to see them through. Experts tell us that 75% of resolutions never make it past January. We have good intentions, but our follow through can lack. It is easy for us to fall back to the same routines and patterns that we have developed over the years. Yes, change is difficult!
How about a setting a spiritual resolution this year? I would suggest downloading the Bible app and every day spend a few minutes in God’s word. The Bible app is accessible through your cell phone, computer, or tablet and provides a verse of the day, reading plans, or you can pick and choose which scriptures you would like to read. I have found that beginning the day with God’s word sets the tone for how the day will play out. I will often go back and reflect upon the words I read earlier in the day and it helps to guide and lead me in God’s ways.
I invite you to give it a try and it doing so God will use that time to bless you and nourish your souls. Happy New Year to you and your families and stay strong and encouraged in your faith. --Dave
Dave’s Diamonds: “Disappointments”
Does life always go as planned? Of course not and we all know this truth! Imagine our disappointment when our family arrived to the Grand Canyon yesterday afternoon to 6” of fresh snow. The weather forecast in the days leading up to our arrival was predicting 52 degree weather and clear skies. We had come south after Christmas to get out of the snow and leave the cold for a few days. Boy, were we surprised. But there was a beauty in the winter landscape that we had not seen before. Vicki and I had been to the Grand Canyon once before in the Spring of 2009. At that time the temps were in the 70s with no snow and clear roads. But as our family stood at the rail of the South Rims yesterday with winter coats, hats, and gloves, we saw the Grand Canyon from a different perspective and perhaps even a deeper beauty. Life doesn’t always go as planned. And in these moments or seasons you have to look for the beauty of what is being offered. God has a way of showing up in these times providing a fresh perspective of insight and beauty. The apostle Paul discovered this in his life. Amid hardships, disappointments, and difficulties, Paul was able to see God’s hand in all that came his way. He write in Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Sometime we have to take a step back and change our perspective. When we do we can always find the hand of God at work in our lives. Stay strong and encouraged in your faith. --Dave