A Generous Spirit

Yesterday I talked about God’s generosity as it was expressed through my father. I believe Dad had the motive gift of giving. That means that generosity was an expression of the supernatural in his life. His ability to generate wealth through intelligence, determination, and hard work were natural graces bestowed on him by God. His remarkable willingness to share of his resources was the expression of God’s Holy Spirit living in him. Though the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of generosity, it is not always expressed the way it was my father.

I live and walk in that same Spirit, yet the outworking is very different in me. Where my father walked in ease, I struggle. And, at the same time, things that seem spiritually natural to me would have baffled my dad. And that is the way it is in the Body of Christ. We strive to imitate another who has been endowed by God with gifts different from ours. Rather, we should be comfortable with who God created us to be.

There is a poem by T. S. Eliot that captivated me as a youth entitled, “Ash Wednesday.” In it Eliot expresses a longing for solace from and acceptance by God. At one time, I could recite the entire piece from memory. I have lost most of it, but the opening lines have never let me:

Because I do not hope to turn again
Because I do not hope
Because I do not hope to turn
Desiring this man’s gift and that man’s scope
I no longer strive to strive towards such things
(Why should the aged eagle stretch its wings?)
Why should I mourn
The vanished power of the usual reign?

Although Eliot expresses a fatalistic resignation, I take from it instead a spiritual realism. I need not desire to be what God has created someone else to be, for He has created me to be something equally important that no one else can be.

So when I think of generosity in terms of my father, I will never measure up. I must think instead of generosity in the way God has expressed it through me. I spent most of my working life in the business world. I was an incredible student of business, understanding its nuances as few could. I have an MBA from a well-regarded university, and I thrived in that academic environment. I was, however, a marginal practitioner of business. As a salesman, I was shy and reluctant to make new calls. As a manager, I was unorganized and indecisive. I always understood what needed to be done but could seldom do it effectively. You might think this left me feeling ineffectual and frustrated, and you would be right.

Then there came the time when I left the business world to become a caregiver. First, it was soon after my own dad died, and I had left the family business. My father-in-law was diagnosed with lung cancer. He was given six months to live, so he closed out his household and came to live with us. But he was remarkably resilient, and I was his primary caregiver for three-and-a- half years. I went back to the business world, but the company I joined went out of business at about the same time my mom began to show signs of Alzheimer’s disease. Though I continued to try to make a living as a writer for a while (not a financial success), again I was Mom’s primary support for over five years.

During most of this time, I personally generated little or no income, though Jan had a good job, and we did okay financially. But by my father’s measure of success, the one I used most of my life, I was not successful.

Therefore I have seldom been in the position to be the leader in giving, at least in the financial arena. But Jan and I have lived our lives with our hearts and home open. Regardless of our resources, we have taken in whoever needed our help. We have hosted families, both from the church and within our extended family, who had no place to go. We have been dormitory for recovering alcoholics, home to unwed mothers and their children, and way station to men trying to repair their marriages. My sister-in-law called our home the elastic house, because it always stretched to fit whoever needed to be there.

So when you consider your own generosity, use God’s measure, not someone else’s. Ask, “Am I following the leading of the Spirit?” Ask, “Is my heart after God’s heart?” If the answer is yes, then the day will come when you will hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord.” (Matthew 25:23).

Fred Teagle, Elder

This Week’s Key Verse: 2 Corinthians 9:7 (NKJV) “So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.”

Take a moment and pray that the Lord will speak to you in this time of study.

This devotional written by Fred Teagle
This devotional written by Fred Teagle

Yesterday I talked about God’s generosity as it was expressed through my father. I believe Dad had the motive gift of giving. That means that generosity was an expression of the supernatural in his life. His ability to generate wealth through intelligence, determination, and hard work were natural graces bestowed on him by God. His remarkable willingness to share of his resources was the expression of God’s Holy Spirit living in him. Though the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of generosity, it is not always expressed the way it was my father.

I live and walk in that same Spirit, yet the outworking is very different in me. Where my father walked in ease, I struggle. And, at the same time, things that seem spiritually natural to me would have baffled my dad. And that is the way it is in the Body of Christ. We strive to imitate another who has been endowed by God with gifts different from ours. Rather, we should be comfortable with who God created us to be.

There is a poem by T. S. Eliot that captivated me as a youth entitled, “Ash Wednesday.” In it Eliot expresses a longing for solace from and acceptance by God. At one time, I could recite the entire piece from memory. I have lost most of it, but the opening lines have never let me:

Because I do not hope to turn again
Because I do not hope
Because I do not hope to turn
Desiring this man’s gift and that man’s scope
I no longer strive to strive towards such things
(Why should the aged eagle stretch its wings?)
Why should I mourn
The vanished power of the usual reign?

Although Eliot expresses a fatalistic resignation, I take from it instead a spiritual realism. I need not desire to be what God has created someone else to be, for He has created me to be something equally important that no one else can be.

So when I think of generosity in terms of my father, I will never measure up. I must think instead of generosity in the way God has expressed it through me. I spent most of my working life in the business world. I was an incredible student of business, understanding its nuances as few could. I have an MBA from a well-regarded university, and I thrived in that academic environment. I was, however, a marginal practitioner of business. As a salesman, I was shy and reluctant to make new calls. As a manager, I was unorganized and indecisive. I always understood what needed to be done but could seldom do it effectively. You might think this left me feeling ineffectual and frustrated, and you would be right.

Then there came the time when I left the business world to become a caregiver. First, it was soon after my own dad died, and I had left the family business. My father-in-law was diagnosed with lung cancer. He was given six months to live, so he closed out his household and came to live with us. But he was remarkably resilient, and I was his primary caregiver for three-and-a- half years. I went back to the business world, but the company I joined went out of business at about the same time my mom began to show signs of Alzheimer’s disease. Though I continued to try to make a living as a writer for a while (not a financial success), again I was Mom’s primary support for over five years.

During most of this time, I personally generated little or no income, though Jan had a good job, and we did okay financially. But by my father’s measure of success, the one I used most of my life, I was not successful.

Therefore I have seldom been in the position to be the leader in giving, at least in the financial arena. But Jan and I have lived our lives with our hearts and home open. Regardless of our resources, we have taken in whoever needed our help. We have hosted families, both from the church and within our extended family, who had no place to go. We have been dormitory for recovering alcoholics, home to unwed mothers and their children, and way station to men trying to repair their marriages. My sister-in-law called our home the elastic house, because it always stretched to fit whoever needed to be there.

So when you consider your own generosity, use God’s measure, not someone else’s. Ask, “Am I following the leading of the Spirit?” Ask, “Is my heart after God’s heart?” If the answer is yes, then the day will come when you will hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord.” (Matthew 25:23).

Fred Teagle, Elder


The devotionals this week are based on the message, “The Spirit of Generosity”  by Rev. Vic Hildebrand. To hear this week’s message go to www.kpc.org/watch_listen.

Six Days to a More Meaningful Thanksgiving – Day 2

Day 2
Although Pilgrims had first sighted land off Cape Cod, they did not settle until they arrived at Plymouth, which had been named by Captain John Smith in 1614. Plymouth offered an excellent harbor, and a large brook offered a resource for fish. The Pilgrims’ biggest concern was attack by the local Native American Indians. But the Pawtuxets were a peaceful group and did not prove to be a threat.

The first winter was devastating. Snow and sleet were exceptionally heavy, interfering with workers as they tried to construct their settlement. March brought warmer weather and their health improved, but many had died during the long winter. Of the 110 who left England, less than 50 survived the first winter.

On March 16, 1621, an Indian brave walked into the Plymouth settlement. The Pilgrims were frightened until the Indian called out “Welcome” in English! His name was Samoset, and he was an Abnaki Indian who had learned English from the captains of fishing boats that had sailed off the coast.

He stayed the night, then left the next day, soon returning with another Indian named Squanto who spoke better English than Samoset. Squanto told of his voyages across the ocean and his visits to England (where he had learned to speak English) and Spain.

Squanto’s importance was enormous. It is likely that they would not have survived without him. He taught the Pilgrims how to tap the maple trees for sap. He taught them which plants were poisonous and which had medicinal powers. He taught them how to plant the Indian corn by heaping the earth into low mounds with several seeds and fish in each mound. The decaying fish fertilized the corn. He also taught them to plant other crops with the corn.

The harvest in October was very successful, and the Pilgrims found themselves with enough food to put away for the winter. There was corn, fruits, and vegetables, fish to be packed in salt, and meat to be cured over smoky fires. It took great faith for the Pilgrims to do what theydid. But their trust was always in God. They didn’t know how they were going to survive, but they trusted that God would see them through. They knew that they were being obedient to God’s call upon their lives. Great faith can come at a great cost. But their example laid the foundation for the faith of an entire nation.

2012_thanksgiving_devotion_header
Day 2 – Thankful For Faith

Today’s key verse: Psalms 31:24 (NASB) “Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who hope in the Lord.”

Take a moment and pray that the Lord will speak to you in this time of study.

Although Pilgrims had first sighted land off Cape Cod, they did not settle until they arrived at Plymouth, which had been named by Captain John Smith in 1614. Plymouth offered an excellent harbor, and a large brook offered a resource for fish. The Pilgrims’ biggest concern was attack by the local Native American Indians. But the Pawtuxets were a peaceful group and did not prove to be a threat.

The first winter was devastating. Snow and sleet were exceptionally heavy, interfering with workers as they tried to construct their settlement. March brought warmer weather and their health improved, but many had died during the long winter. Of the 110 who left England, less than 50 survived the first winter.

On March 16, 1621, an Indian brave walked into the Plymouth settlement. The Pilgrims were frightened until the Indian called out “Welcome” in English!  His name was Samoset, and he was an Abnaki Indian who had learned English from the captains of fishing boats that had sailed off the coast.

He stayed the night, then left the next day, soon returning with another Indian named Squanto who spoke better English than Samoset. Squanto told of his voyages across the ocean and his visits to England (where he had learned to speak English) and Spain.

Squanto’s importance was enormous. It is likely that they would not have survived without him. He taught the Pilgrims how to tap the maple trees for sap. He taught them which plants were poisonous and which had medicinal powers. He taught them how to plant the Indian corn by heaping the earth into low mounds with several seeds and fish in each mound. The decaying fish fertilized the corn. He also taught them to plant other crops with the corn.

The harvest in October was very successful, and the Pilgrims found themselves with enough food to put away for the winter. There was corn, fruits, and vegetables, fish to be packed in salt, and meat to be cured over smoky fires.  It took great faith for the Pilgrims to do what theydid. But their trust was always in God. They didn’t know how they were going to survive, but they trusted that God would see them through. They knew that they were being obedient to God’s call upon their lives. Great faith can come at a great cost. But their example laid the foundation for the faith of an entire nation.

Quench your thirst

When Pastor Vic said “stay thirsty, my friends,” it made us laugh, yet its truth is no laughable matter. The implication is that we can stop being thirsty. Have you ever been dehydrated enough that you no longer noticed thirst? Ironically, I often notice my thirst only when I’m drinking a lot of water throughout the day. If I stop that habit, my body begins to cope with being dehydrated, and sometimes I even begin to confuse thirst for hunger. Many have said that it is easy to eat when you are actually thirsty.

My point is that in our spiritual lives, we have to stay thirsty. We must drink from the Word, from prayer, from the Holy Spirit, and in doing so, we will notice when we are thirsty. However, when we live and work in our own strength without taking deep spiritual drinks, eventually we no longer notice how thirsty we are. Then, we begin to look to other things to quench the thirst, not realizing our real need. Unfortunately, it happens very easily. The Lord said in Deuteronomy 8 that “man does not live on bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

We quench our thirst and notice our thirst by constantly drinking, remaining thirsty, and wanting more. Jesus said in Luke 11:9-10, “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” As Pastor Vic noted, however, the original Greek says ask and keep on asking, seek and keep on seeking. He is talking about perseverance. We should not just ask once and leave it at that. We should not seek God and quench our thirst just once, for soon we will get thirsty again. If we rely on the quenching from yesterday, we will run up dry very quickly.

Are you thirsty for the Lord every day? Is there anything you attempt to do with a dry and parched throat (spiritually speaking)? God does not want us mistaking our thirst for Him and going to other things to fill it. It will never work – He makes sure of that. Instead, He promises that not only can we come to Him and be filled, but we will have rivers of living water flowing out of us! (John 7:38). At KPC, may we be the ones flowing with living water!

Kara Hanger,

This Week’s Scripture: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.” (Matthew 5:6)

Take a moment and pray that the Lord will speak to you in this time of study.

Kara Hanger, Equipping Coordinator
Kara Hanger, Equipping Coordinator

When Pastor Vic said “stay thirsty, my friends,” it made us laugh, yet its truth is no laughable matter. The implication is that we can stop being thirsty. Have you ever been dehydrated enough that you no longer noticed thirst? Ironically, I often notice my thirst only when I’m drinking a lot of water throughout the day. If I stop that habit, my body begins to cope with being dehydrated, and sometimes I even begin to confuse thirst for hunger. Many have said that it is easy to eat when you are actually thirsty.

My point is that in our spiritual lives, we have to stay thirsty. We must drink from the Word, from prayer, from the Holy Spirit, and in doing so, we will notice when we are thirsty. However, when we live and work in our own strength without taking deep spiritual drinks, eventually we no longer notice how thirsty we are.  Then, we begin to look to other things to quench the thirst, not realizing our real need. Unfortunately, it happens very easily. The Lord said in Deuteronomy 8 that “man does not live on bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

We quench our thirst and notice our thirst by constantly drinking, remaining thirsty, and wanting more. Jesus said in Luke 11:9-10, “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” As Pastor Vic noted, however, the original Greek says ask and keep on asking, seek and keep on seeking. He is talking about perseverance. We should not just ask once and leave it at that. We should not seek God and quench our thirst just once, for soon we will get thirsty again.  If we rely on the quenching from yesterday, we will run up dry very quickly.

Are you thirsty for the Lord every day? Is there anything you attempt to do with a dry and parched throat (spiritually speaking)? God does not want us mistaking our thirst for Him and going to other things to fill it. It will never work – He makes sure of that. Instead, He promises that not only can we come to Him and be filled, but we will have rivers of living water flowing out of us! (John 7:38). At KPC, may we be the ones flowing with living water!

Kara Hanger,
KPC Equipping Coordinator


The deeper devotionals this week are based on the message “Come Thirsty” (When the Holy Spirit Comes – Part 3) by Vic Hildebrand at KPC on Sunday, June 10. To hear this message, go to www.kpc.org.

Do You Believe in the Resurrection?

Please read II Samuel 7

Today’s title comes from the spiritual song I included in last Friday’s devotional, “Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart”. This song has haunted (in a good way) my waking moments since then. I have returned to the YouTube link over and over again. The primary reason, which even now brings me to the verge of tears, is that I don’t seem to have one. As I have struggled with writing for today, I have compared the process to bulldogging or wrestling a giant marshmallow. Every time I tried, I’d jump on and kind of be enveloped in a sweet, squishy mass of conflicting ideas.

So I decided to do a word search using BibleGateway.com. I chose the word (actually the root word) “thank” because I knew that would bring up all related words; thanks, thanksgiving, etc. I set the search for the entire Bible. I didn’t get very far. In II Samuel 7 (which I don’t think even has any thank words in it), I discovered the story of David deciding to build a temple for God. I always love stories where people feel they need to help God out. They never end the way you think they would at the beginning. So David tells the prophet Nathan about his idea. Sounds good to Nathan, so he says go ahead. But then God steps in and speaks to Nathan and basically says, “I am God, what do I need with a house?” Instead God talks about how He will establish David’s house. David, of course, doesn’t really understand all that God is revealing. But with the understanding that he does have, he is overwhelmed with gratitude. With this grateful heart, and God’s blessing and protection, David goes on to make Israel the dominant military power in the Palestine region. Yet, with just a few years of success, David puts his grateful heart on the backburner and commits the greatest and most destructive sin of his life, his adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband Uriah.

One of the turning points in modern medical history was the discovery of penicillin. That amazing breakthrough in the treatment of infectious disease is attributed to Scottish scientist and Nobel laureate Alexander Fleming in 1928. It changed the practice of medicine forever. The problem with such great discoveries is that it was abused. Not intentionally of course. After its near miraculous properties were widely known, patients began to demand its use for every infection, and doctors happily complied. The problem with its overuse is that disease bacterium became resistant. Of course, medical science responded with different and more powerful antibiotics, and the disease bacterium also responded. Today there are some bacteria that are almost impossible to treat with antibiotics. The battle, of course, continues.

When I heard Nate’s first sermon on gratitude during the “Prayer Works” sermon series, it was like the discovery of penicillin to my hardened heart. The light came on, and God began to change my heart of stone for a heart of flesh. With each sermon, each devotional, it is like I am receiving injections of a miracle drug. Yet, between injections, I feel my heart petrifying again. The idea of gratefulness is not new to the Church. When I was a child growing up in the Methodist church, there was a hymn we would sing, “Count Your Blessings.” It was written in 1897 by Johnson Oatman Jr., for what was, in effect, a children’s hymnal. Yet, while the language is a bit outdated, and the tune reminds my wife of a Disney ride (Small World), the words carry the same important message. Here is the refrain:
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done. (See full lyrics)

This little song had become cliché even by the time I was singing it 50 years ago.Almost no one paid much attention to it. Even fewer thought it was important to consistently practice its advice. You see, we all have gratitude-resistant hearts. That is why a discipline like the one so beautifully illustrated by Shannon Zaichenko during Sunday’s sermon. sticky notes, pictures, scrapbooks, a list, or like my daughter Lauren, Facebook entries. Whatever works for you is so important. We each have to develop a way to count and name our blessings, our gifts from God, and we have to do it daily. If not, our hearts petrify. We begin either to believe, like David that we are the source of our own blessing, or that we lead a sad, shadowy life feeling that we are without blessing. Either way, we live without a grateful heart.

Fred Teagle, Elder

This Week’s Key Verse:. John 6:11 “Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted.”

Take a moment and ask the Lord to speak to you during this time.

Please read II Samuel 7

Today’s title comes from the spiritual song I included in last Friday’s devotional, “Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart“. This song has haunted (in a good way) my waking moments since then. I have returned to the YouTube link over and over again. The primary reason, which even now brings me to the verge of tears, is that I don’t seem to have one. As I have struggled with writing for today, I have compared the process to bulldogging or wrestling a giant marshmallow. Every time I tried, I’d jump on and kind of be enveloped in a sweet, squishy mass of conflicting ideas.

So I decided to do a word search using BibleGateway.com. I chose the word (actually the root word) “thank” because I knew that would bring up all related words; thanks, thanksgiving, etc. I set the search for the entire Bible. I didn’t get very far. In II Samuel 7 (which I don’t think even has any thank words in it), I discovered the story of David deciding to build a temple for God. I always love stories where people feel they need to help God out. They never end the way you think they would at the beginning. So David tells the prophet Nathan about his idea. Sounds good to Nathan, so he says go ahead. But then God steps in and speaks to Nathan and basically says, “I am God, what do I need with a house?” Instead God talks about how He will establish David’s house. David, of course, doesn’t really understand all that God is revealing. But with the understanding that he does have, he is overwhelmed with gratitude. With this grateful heart, and God’s blessing and protection, David goes on to make Israel the dominant military power in the Palestine region. Yet, with just a few years of success, David puts his grateful heart on the backburner and commits the greatest and most destructive sin of his life, his adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband Uriah.

One of the turning points in modern medical history was the discovery of penicillin. That amazing breakthrough in the treatment of infectious disease is attributed to Scottish scientist and Nobel laureate Alexander Fleming in 1928. It changed the practice of medicine forever. The problem with such great discoveries is that it was abused. Not intentionally of course. After its near miraculous properties were widely known, patients began to demand its use for every infection, and doctors happily complied. The problem with its overuse is that disease bacterium became resistant. Of course, medical science responded with different and more powerful antibiotics, and the disease bacterium also responded. Today there are some bacteria that are almost impossible to treat with antibiotics. The battle, of course, continues.

When I heard Nate’s first sermon on gratitude during the “Prayer Works” sermon series, it was like the discovery of penicillin to my hardened heart. The light came on, and God began to change my heart of stone for a heart of flesh. With each sermon, each devotional, it is like I am receiving injections of a miracle drug. Yet, between injections, I feel my heart petrifying again. The idea of gratefulness is not new to the Church. When I was a child growing up in the Methodist church, there was a hymn we would sing, “Count Your Blessings.” It was written in 1897 by Johnson Oatman Jr., for what was, in effect, a children’s hymnal. Yet, while the language is a bit outdated, and the tune reminds my wife of a Disney ride (Small World), the words carry the same important message. Here is the refrain:
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done. (See full lyrics)

This little song had become cliché even by the time I was singing it 50 years ago.Almost no one paid much attention to it. Even fewer thought it was important to consistently practice its advice. You see, we all have gratitude-resistant hearts. That is why a discipline like the one so beautifully illustrated by Shannon Zaichenko during Sunday’s sermon. sticky notes, pictures, scrapbooks, a list, or like my daughter Lauren, Facebook entries. Whatever works for you is so important. We each have to develop a way to count and name our blessings, our gifts from God, and we have to do it daily. If not, our hearts petrify. We begin either to believe, like David that we are the source of our own blessing, or that we lead a sad, shadowy life feeling that we are without blessing. Either way, we live without a grateful heart.

Fred Teagle, Elder

A Week by the Creek

Please Read Isaiah 53:1-4

The bulk of today’s devotional is a poem I wrote a couple of years ago as I was beginning to recover from the grief of my mother’s final illness and subsequent death. I say beginning to recover, because grief is a wound that always leaves a scar. And while its day-to-day pain subsides over time, if you touch it the right way even many years later, it can still hurt.

As I talk to people about grief, I often say the pain is like the pain of childbirth, only in reverse. When a woman begins labor, the pains are mild, barely noticeable, and they are spaced far apart. As the process progresses, however, the pains become increasingly intense and more frequent until they culminate in the excruciating birth pang. Grief, however, begins with the pang, the most intense excruciating pain you have ever experienced. In the movie “Under the Tuscan Sun,” the main character Frances says, “Do you know the most surprising thing about divorce? It doesn’t actually kill you, like a bullet to the heart or a head-on car wreck. It should.” What Frances is talking about is grief, in her case the grief brought on by betrayal. But the initial pain of grief is like that. You feel like it should kill you, and it doesn’t. But like childbirth in reverse, over time the pain becomes less and less intense, the pangs further and further apart.

But back to the poem. Many people cringe when you even mention the word. I, however, love poetry. It is, to me, the music of a language. I have been told by a number of professed poetry haters that I write poetry for people who don’t like it. This poem is about the process of grief beyond the initial heart-stopping pain. It is that part of this process that most Americans never acknowledge, that phase when many people think you should be over it, but you’re not. I hope it is useful for anyone struggling to reach a new year.
A Week by the Creek*

A young squirrel climbs the steps to the
Porch
Quizzically staring, rising on his hind
Legs.

He seems confused, wondering why
I’m
Invading his tranquil home, disturbing his
Peace.

You see I’ve come to take the
Cure,
Having been pronounced grumpy, ill
Tempered.

I’ve retreated; I sit by the banks of the
Nottely,
Rocking quietly on a rustic chair,

Waiting.

They say when God forgives He
Forgets,
Putting my transgression as far from His memory as east from

West.

But for me forgiveness is an act of
Will.
I decide then I stick by my
Decision.

Forgetting however is a process of
Time,
Time and distance from the offense and fresh
Wounds.

I am assisted by the Spirit of the
Almighty,
And the river whose insistent song of rhythmic
Waters

Blends with calls and songs of birds, chirps, warbles,
Trills
Hidden in the canopy of leaves, greens draping
From

Tops of trees, trunks velveted with moss
Protruding

The banks, roots undercut by the insistently flowing
Nottely.

So I listen to the murmuring waters of
Ablution.
Waiting patiently for their cleansing, curative
powers

To overtake my sorrows, to grant me
absolution.

A butterfly sits on a rock, warming herself,

Waiting

For the sun to release her from the burdens of morning
Dew.
Then she takes wing, rising in pirouettes and arabesques

Joining

Her sisters as they soar and flitter over the river
dancing
with each other in their three-dimensional butterfly
ballet.

Still I sit watching, waiting, hoping for the warmth of the
Son
To release me from the burdens of grief and lingering
Pain.

A barn swallow perches on the rusted barbeque
Grill.
He swoops over the river to snatch a mid-air
Breakfast.

Returning, he watches me, then flies again and
Returns.

Watching again he turns and flies
Home.

I hear the whine of tires on the highway
Above.
For in the mountains roads always follow
Rivers.

And my tranquility is always punctuated

By
The reality that I must return, just like the
Swallow,

But for now I rest in the shade of trees and the dancing of
Leaves
Their outstretched palms of variegated green, flashing the
Sun

Reminding me of the goodness of my Father, my
Creator
As through His love and His creation He makes me His
Recreation.

This devotional is based on the message “NEW” Heart – Part 1 by Pastor Nate Atwood. If you would like to hear it in its entirety, go to KPC.

Fred Teagle, Elder

Copyright, Fred L. Teagle, Jr. 2010

This Week’s Key Verse: Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Take a moment and pray that the Lord will speak to you in this time of study.

Please Read Isaiah 53:1-4

Devotional today written by Fred Teagle
Devotional today written by Fred Teagle

The bulk of today’s devotional is a poem I wrote a couple of years ago as I was beginning to recover from the grief of my mother’s final illness and subsequent death. I say beginning to recover, because grief is a wound that always leaves a scar. And while its day-to-day pain subsides over time, if you touch it the right way even many years later, it can still hurt.

As I talk to people about grief, I often say the pain is like the pain of childbirth, only in reverse. When a woman begins labor, the pains are mild, barely noticeable, and they are spaced far apart. As the process progresses, however, the pains become increasingly intense and more frequent until they culminate in the excruciating birth pang. Grief, however, begins with the pang, the most intense excruciating pain you have ever experienced. In the movie “Under the Tuscan Sun,” the main character Frances says, “Do you know the most surprising thing about divorce? It doesn’t actually kill you, like a bullet to the heart or a head-on car wreck. It should.” What Frances is talking about is grief, in her case the grief brought on by betrayal. But the initial pain of grief is like that. You feel like it should kill you, and it doesn’t. But like childbirth in reverse, over time the pain becomes less and less intense, the pangs further and further apart.

But back to the poem. Many people cringe when you even mention the word. I, however, love poetry. It is, to me, the music of a language. I have been told by a number of professed poetry haters that I write poetry for people who don’t like it. This poem is about the process of grief beyond the initial heart-stopping pain. It is that part of this process that most Americans never acknowledge, that phase when many people think you should be over it, but you’re not. I hope it is useful for anyone struggling to reach a new year.

A Week by the Creek*

A young squirrel climbs the steps to the
Porch
Quizzically staring, rising on his hind
Legs.

He seems confused, wondering why
I’m
Invading his tranquil home, disturbing his
Peace.

You see I’ve come to take the
Cure,
Having been pronounced grumpy, ill
Tempered.

I’ve retreated; I sit by the banks of the
Nottely,
Rocking quietly on a rustic chair,

Waiting.

They say when God forgives He
Forgets,
Putting my transgression as far from His memory as east from

West.

But for me forgiveness is an act of
Will.
I decide then I stick by my
Decision.

Forgetting however is a process of
Time,
Time and distance from the offense and fresh
Wounds.

I am assisted by the Spirit of the
Almighty,
And the river whose insistent song of rhythmic
Waters

Blends with calls and songs of birds, chirps, warbles,
Trills
Hidden in the canopy of leaves, greens draping
From

Tops of trees, trunks velveted with moss
Protruding

The banks, roots undercut by the insistently flowing
Nottely.

So I listen to the murmuring waters of
Ablution.
Waiting patiently for their cleansing, curative
powers

To overtake my sorrows, to grant me
absolution.

A butterfly sits on a rock, warming herself,

Waiting

For the sun to release her from the burdens of morning
Dew.
Then she takes wing, rising in pirouettes and arabesques

Joining

Her sisters as they soar and flitter over the river
dancing
with each other in their three-dimensional butterfly
ballet.

Still I sit watching, waiting, hoping for the warmth of the
Son
To release me from the burdens of grief and lingering
Pain.

A barn swallow perches on the rusted barbeque
Grill.
He swoops over the river to snatch a mid-air
Breakfast.

Returning, he watches me, then flies again and
Returns.

Watching again he turns and flies
Home.

I hear the whine of tires on the highway
Above.
For in the mountains roads always follow
Rivers.

And my tranquility is always punctuated

By
The reality that I must return, just like the
Swallow,

But for now I rest in the shade of trees and the dancing of
Leaves
Their outstretched palms of variegated green, flashing the
Sun

Reminding me of the goodness of my Father, my
Creator
As through His love and His creation He makes me His
Recreation.

Fred Teagle, Elder

Copyright, Fred L. Teagle, Jr. 2010


This devotional is based on the message “NEW” Heart – Part 1 by  Pastor Nate Atwood.   If you would like to hear it in its entirety, go to KPC.

The Prayer of Faith

Read Mark 11:21-24(NASB)

In our reading today, Jesus takes the opportunity to give His disciples a lesson on the importance of faith when it comes to praying. His comment occurs in the context of His symbolic judgment of Israel. The chapter includes the fulfillment of two Messianic prophecies. First is Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey (Zechariah 9:9). That night they return to Bethany. When they return to Jerusalem the next day, Jesus curses the fig tree (the symbol of Israel) when it is observed that the tree has not produced any fruit (Luke 13:6-9). The second fulfillment of a Messianic prophecy (Malachi 3:1-3) occurs when Jesus drives out the money changers from the temple – another symbol of the judgment of Israel. Jesus later predicts the destruction of the temple (Mark 13), which occurred in 70 AD.

Upon leaving the city, Jesus and the disciples pass by the tree that Jesus had cursed and find it withered (total destruction “from the roots”). Peter calls their attention to it. Jesus’ response is “Have faith in God.” Jesus makes a solemn pronouncement, (“I tell you the truth …”). Jesus is saying, “What I am telling you is important.” He goes on to say, “Whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him. Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.”

Is Jesus saying that if we just believe hard enough we can cast a mountain into the sea? No, He is speaking figuratively. When He spoke these words they were standing on the Mount of Olives. On a clear day, from that point, you can see the Dead Sea. In scripture a mountain was used as a symbol of great difficulty (Zechariah 4:6-7). There is a close connection between the kind of faith Jesus speaks of here and prayer. This kind of faith is a faith that prays. Faith is the source of its power and the means of its strength. God’s omnipotence is it only assurance and God’s sovereignty is its only limit.

To be effective, prayer must be offered in faith. But it is not having faith in faith. In other words, whether or not our prayer is answered does not depend on how much faith we drum up. I have heard people say “your prayers were not answered because you did not have enough faith.” That’s bogus. It implies that we are the ones who have the power to perform the miracle. Faith needs to have an object. We have faith IN something. Jesus gives us the answer. He says that we need to have “faith in the all-powerful God who works miracles.”

This Week’s Memory Verse: “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NASB)

Take a moment and pray that the Lord will speak to you in this time of study.

Read Mark 11:21-24(NASB)

In our reading today, Jesus takes the opportunity to give His disciples a lesson on the importance of faith when it comes to praying. His comment occurs in the context of His symbolic judgment of Israel. The chapter includes the fulfillment of two Messianic prophecies. First is Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey (Zechariah 9:9). That night they return to Bethany. When they return to Jerusalem the next day, Jesus curses the fig tree (the symbol of Israel) when it is observed that the tree has not produced any fruit (Luke 13:6-9). The second fulfillment of a Messianic prophecy (Malachi 3:1-3) occurs when Jesus drives out the money changers from the temple – another symbol of the judgment of Israel.  Jesus later predicts the destruction of the temple (Mark 13), which occurred in 70 AD.

Upon leaving the city, Jesus and the disciples pass by the tree that Jesus had cursed and find it withered (total destruction “from the roots”). Peter calls their attention to it.  Jesus’ response is “Have faith in God.” Jesus makes a solemn pronouncement, (“I tell you the truth …”). Jesus is saying,  “What I am telling you is important.” He goes on to say, “Whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him. Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.”

Is Jesus saying that if we just believe hard enough we can cast a mountain into the sea? No, He is speaking figuratively. When He spoke these words they were standing on the Mount of Olives.  On a clear day, from that point, you can see the Dead Sea. In scripture a mountain was used as a symbol of great difficulty (Zechariah 4:6-7). There is a close connection between the kind of faith Jesus speaks of here and prayer. This kind of faith is a faith that prays. Faith is the source of its power and the means of its strength. God’s omnipotence is it only assurance and God’s sovereignty is its only limit.

To be effective, prayer must be offered in faith. But it is not having faith in faith. In other words, whether or not our prayer is answered does not depend on how much faith we drum up. I have heard people say “your prayers were not answered because you did not have enough faith.” That’s bogus. It implies that we are the ones who have the power to perform the miracle. Faith needs to have an object. We have faith IN something. Jesus gives us the answer. He says that we need to have “faith in the all-powerful God who works miracles.”

Pastor Neil

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Devotional studies this week are based on the sermon “RELATIONAL CHURCH” Ekklesia – Not of This World  (Part 3) by Pastor Nate Atwood.  If you would like to hear the sermon in its entirety, go to KPC.ORG/WATCH & LISTEN.