Heartbeats (from the June/July 2013 Newsletter)

A few weeks ago I received a note from one of our former members who had moved to another city.  When they lived in the Lincoln area her husband had experienced a debilitating illness and they had needed to move to another community to have access to a health-care facility that would meet his needs.  With her note was a check to the church for $50.  This is what her note said.

I am going to start paying $50/month (at least) towards the $1,000 pledge we made before moving away.  My husband’s been in a care center and things have been tough – to say the least.  Anyway, if I can send more, I will to complete our promise to St. Paul’s – thank you!

I wrote her back and thanked her for the $50 gift, and how much it meant to me and to Saint Paul Church for them to make that gift, especially when they were going through such a difficult time.  Then I wrote that we considered their pledge to Saint Paul paid in full.  We knew that they were going through a very hard time, and for them to remember Saint Paul Church in the midst of all of that was blessing enough.  We have them in our prayers.

A short time later I received an email from her.

Pastor Lux:  Thank you!!!  The reason that we wanted to pay St. Paul’s back is that we found our connection to God again at St. Paul’s, after many, many years of not attending church at all.  Having to leave St. Paul’s was one of the reasons we did not want to leave Lincoln.  Thank you for sending me that letter – I had had a really bad day the day I received it, so KNOW that through you, God was telling me it was ‘OK’ and that He was with me. . . .

I simply wanted to share that exchange with you so that you would know also of the faithfulness and gratitude of some folks that have shared with us in the life and ministry of Saint Paul Church.  And even though you do not know their names, please pray for them, God will know who you are talking about.  And I want to say thank you to all of you who make such sacrifices for the Saint Paul Church, you all provide blessings beyond what you realize in the gifts you give and the things you do for Saint Paul Church.

David

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A Note from David (May 28, 2013)

Last Sunday I read a contemporary version of a summary of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount from Matthew 5-7 which I had written, and here is a copy of that summary.

 SUMMARY OF THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT

We are blessed when the world would consider us cursed.  God is in the midst of our lives, loving us, and in the end, love is the final word and the great eternal experience.

Let your saltiness come through and let your light shine.

With anger, build a bridge and get over it;

With your loves, stay faithful;

With your enemies, wish them the best;

With your words, stay honest.

Give and pray generously, not to be seen by others, but to discover God’s hidden treasures.

When you pray:

  • Start by honoring and expressing your love for God;
  • Invite God to move into your neighborhood and stay;
  • Ask of God in the plural, ask for all of us on earth, not just for me and mine;
  • Ask for daily needs, the basics of life for us all;
  • Ask for the same amount of forgiveness for us that we give to others;
  • Ask to be led away from that which would ruin us all;
  • And to be picked up and delivered from ruin if needed;
  • Put your trust in God as the source of all life, strength, and beauty.

Stop eating food sometimes and just let the world take care of itself for awhile.

Treasure above all your relationships of love, and add to your treasure-trove of love whenever you can.

Keep looking for the good and beautiful.

Serve God only, let those other claims for attention take care of themselves.

Don’t worry, all shall be well.

Don’t judge others, unless you want to be judged in the exact same way.

Keep seeking for the best God has to give.

Do to others what you would want them to do to you.

Take the way that leads to life, not the easiest or most convenient way.

Hang out with people who produce good fruit with their lives, things like peace, patience, kindness, and compassion.

And don’t just nod your head and agree with good thoughts and ideas, do something about it with your life and your daily living.  Then you have a rock-solid foundation for life.

David Lux

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A Note from David (May 22, 2013)

Monday was my 61st birthday, and it was a good day for me.  I was glad to have made it that far.  My Dad made it to his 60th birthday, but not to his 61st, so that milestone had loomed in the back of my mind for awhile.  That’s why I pray every morning, thank you for this day and every day you have given us to lead us to this moment.

While Monday was a good day and milestone for me, it wasn’t for many other people, and I’m thinking in particular about Oklahoma City.  I felt terrible for the lives lost and the loss of schools and homes and treasured possessions.  When we experience or hear of loss like that, I remember Paul’s admonition to “pray without ceasing,” and his writing in Romans about how the Spirit prays in us and with us sometimes “in groans too deep for words.”

When something like this happens I pray with thoughts and words and pictures in my mind for those who are hurting, and offering thanks for what we can be thankful.  I’m thankful for the teachers who saved children’s lives, for quick response from neighbors of the schools, who though having lost so much themselves, rushed to the schools to rescue as many children and adults as they could.

I appreciate what St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Oklahoma City put on their website about prayer in these circumstances.

We are not asking God to become involved, because God has been involved in caring for people from the beginning.  Rather, we are coming together with God so we might better hear and share the message of hope in painful times.  We are grieving with God acknowledging our own pain.  We are joining with God in ways we might serve the community with our gifts.

 I once asked my mother-in-law on her birthday what her favorite year was.  After thinking a few moments, she said that she couldn’t pick out one year, that every year had its good and its bad.  I was asked the same question on my birthday by one of my children, and I said “the year we were married and the year each of you were born.”  And one daughter replied, “so, you really liked us when we were babies but the years after that were just ordinary?”  (We like to give each other a hard time.)  She had me there, I couldn’t think of a quick response to save myself.

But what a good question.  Every year is good year, and bad things also happen every year.  Every year I have valued and loved my children, and each year there has been something new and unique about them to love and to be challenged by.  Every year and every day is a mix of good and bad.  Every day there is something to be thankful for, and every day there is something to learn from.  Every day is a day to pray in thanks, and a day for us to pray for help, and if not for us, then for someone else.

So dear God, for all these years and days you have given us, we give you thanks for all the special people and circumstances along the way.  Help us give ourselves for those who are hurting, and offer appreciation for those who are helping.               David

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March 24, Lenten Devotion, Saint Paul United Methodist Church, Lincoln, NE

He Walks with Us
Nancy Schoen

(Jesus said) …And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28: 20b

A friend once asked me, “Did you ever leave the church in your early 20’s?” Emphatically, I replied I had not left the church then, when so many young people do, exploring and finding their own way in the world. In fact, had it not been for the church, I would not have even made it through my early 20’s!

The March day started like any other, when I was in college at UNL. I don’t recall what set me off, but having recently been jilted by the guy I had been dating didn’t help. After my morning classes, I came back to my room, and cried and cried. Couldn’t stop crying, in fact. Eventually, I made my way over to Wesley House and Daphne, the intern, sat with me. She got me an appointment that same day to see a psychiatrist at Student Health, who diagnosed clinical depression and put me on medication.

I continued counseling sessions with Daphne, and each morning, decided this was not the day I was going to drop out for the semester. I wasn’t sure I would make it to the end of the semester until I walked out of my last final in May.

I took a year off from UNL, worked full-time the next school year, and then was ready to resume classes to finish my degree.

My faith definitely helped me through the depression, knowing God was with me all along. I praise God I was raised in a faith-filled family, and I truly believed it saved my life all those years ago.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for those who have helped me on my faith journey. Bless them as they have blessed me.

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March 23, Lenten Devotion, Saint Paul United Methodist Church, Lincoln, NE

Things I Learned from My Father
Clarice Schmidt

I know Christ walks with us….I learned from my father’s example at a very early age.

It was evident that he was a very devout Christian who patterned his life after Christ. I watched him enjoy people as he met them with honesty and integrity in his business. I watched him treat my mother, brother and me with great love and respect. His firm but kind discipline at home showed us his love in wanting us to be the best we could be in every situation we encountered. If we made mistakes in judgment, he helped us realize our mistakes and what to do to correct our actions and our thinking.

I listened to him sing hymns at home, at church and in solo parts in community chorus. He sang with such feeling. I knew he appreciated the fact that his talent was a gift from God and he wanted to share it with others. He taught us to be appreciative of our own talents and to share them with others.

He believed in helping those in need. One time I saw a Native American stop in his jewelry store to sell his handmade jewelry. My father gave him money because he was in need for travel. He showed us the importance of helping others even if you don’t know their name.

He taught us to pray by example. We always heard his prayers at meal time. He took us to church. He taught us the importance of family values. He loved little children and could usually get the shy ones to talk to him by teasing them and making them laugh.

He encouraged us to excel in our studies, to get as much education as we could, to always do our best and never give up.

I am lucky to have had him as my father. He died at an early age, but his love walks with me every day. What joy he gave me in showing me that CHRIST LIVES!

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March 22, Lenten Devotion, Saint Paul United Methodist Church, Lincoln, NE

The Ever-Present God
Jane Rogers

He walks with us all the time no matter where we are or what we are doing. You can always talk to God through prayer or just talk to him as you are driving along or walking or whatever you are doing. He is always there. He is not there just in church or if you are praying or young. He is there as you grow older and if you are working out on the treadmill or driving down the street. Reach out to him for comfort and support. Have you ever thought when driving your car about Jesus being in the passenger seat? You will drive very safely to keep him safe.

On November 18, 2011, I had emergency surgery for a brain aneurysm which was discovered accidentally. Yes, that is only eight weeks ago as I am writing this. Believe me, as I was traveling down the interstate in an ambulance the night of November 17 to the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, there were prayers by me. I did not know what was going to happen; was I going to live or be impaired or be okay? God was with me to comfort me and give me courage. As I lay in Intensive Care that night at the hospital, God was there to comfort me. Two nurses were responsible for me all night. One of them was constantly checking on me. I did not have family with me that night in Omaha. My daughter had to make plans to go to Omaha the next day to be with me during surgery, but I had the peace of knowing that God was there with me. I was being held in his arms. What great peace comes when you know that God is at your side! You have to have faith to understand this.

At times I feel I can place my hand in his as he walks with me. He is there for comfort and support. Trust God to comfort you everywhere you are. Believe!

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil; for Thou art with me: Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4

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March 21, Lenten Devotion, Saint Paul United Methodist Church, Lincoln, NE

Thin Places
Marilyn Moore

The Irish talk about the “thin places,” those times or events when it seems the distance between yourself and God is so thin that you can almost reach through, and literally feel the presence of God. I first read about this a few years ago, when our Sunday School class was reading The Heart of Christianity by Marcus Borg, a contemporary theologian. Then, a few weeks ago, Dr. Lux made reference to the same concept in his sermon. How could I live most of my life, never having heard of this wonderful metaphor, and then encounter it twice—I don’t know, but I love knowing it now.

The thin places—those times or events when you know you’re in God’s presence, when you think you could put out your hand and touch God’s hand. I suspect those moments come at different times for different people, and we may call them by different names. For me, those are the moments that are achingly tender, moments of joy or love or stillness or terror or weariness, moments when my very soul seems to be at the breaking point.

Sometimes those moments are in the midst of worship, perhaps because I’m more attentive. Sometimes those moments are in the midst of the busy-ness of daily work, when I pause to catch my breath. Most often, those moments are in the midst of times with those I love, or those I’m trying to love.

The season of Lent is the time of the year when we’re called to walk with Christ, to be aware of our own path, and to move our path to be closer to that of Christ’s. For me, it’s a time to be more deeply watchful for the thin places.

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March 20, Lenten Devotion, Saint Paul United Methodist Church, Lincoln, NE

God Walks with Us
James J Millstead
Daily life gets cluttered, it’s a fact that makes itself very evident in my life. What do I need to do at work, when does my daughter have to be to her next event, and that strange feeling that I’m forgetting something important. Time for remembering that God is with us through every minute doesn’t always reach the top of my time list.

I have always been an early riser, I have found in the mornings over the years it’s easy to remember that God walks with us everyday. In my younger years I spent a lot of mornings getting up to either hunt or fish. I’ve seen some truly extraordinarily beautiful things that make God feel very close. Hundreds of Great Snowy Owls flying out of pine trees all around me, without making a sound. Almost stumbling over a new baby fawn whose mother had gone out to feed. Geese landing against the pink of a rising sun, jumping a coyote, or a pheasant on my walk to the lake. Hundreds of times I have just been awed by the beauty God has created.

As I’ve grown older and my responsibilities have changed, I don’t find myself in the field as much but, the miracles of the morning keep right on going. I n the last year, I have found myself face to face with four baby raccoons right off my front porch in the middle of town; seen deer wandering through my former Woods Park neighborhood, rainbows, auroras around the moon, shooting stars, and the list continues on and on.

God walks with us every minute of every day, his miracles are there to remind us we just need to look, enjoy and remember. If I haven’t seen anything out of the ordinary on my daily morning outings, I always have the sunrise on my way to work to remind me God is always there in my life, and I take just a moment to thank him for it all.

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March 19, Lenten Devotion, Saint Paul United Methodist Church, Lincoln, NE

A Passion for Mission
Tom Lamberson

Over the past several years I have had the opportunity to participate in a number of Saint Paul UMC Mission Trips with both adults and youth. Each trip has been a unique experience. Each in its own way has been a time to reflect and renew my faith.

Getting away from the day to day responsibilities of the office and having a chance to do something that is out of the routine is very refreshing. But spending those days doing things that are all about someone else is where I see God at work.

Seeing a truck driver being a counselor to those who have needs beyond the food and water he is delivering. Sharing time with our youth cleaning bathrooms and bunk beds and having them ask what else needs to be done is where I see God. Serving a meal for homeless men and hearing their stories is God at work. Sharing devotions and those times together where we are one with God and each other, helps me draw closer to God.

Through the years I have come to realize that the times that I am doing something for someone else is when I truly feel close to our Awesome God.

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March 18, Lenten Devotion, Saint Paul United Methodist Church, Lincoln, NE

He Walks with Me
Keith and Lue Griffith

Dear Friends,

What a wonderful reminder: “He Walks with Me”! It has brought to mind thoughts we’d like to share with you.

We’ve had a long journey–80+ years. Through those years we’ve realized His Presence and our constant prayer has been, “Lord, show us the way”. And he has!

Six years ago He revealed to us that we needed to put our busy lifestyle behind us. He would take us on a new path. (It became a time for needed rest and making plans for an unknown future.)

Big changes came when we made Legacy Terrace our new home. It’s a lovely residence for Independent Living. The atmosphere is one of beauty, friendliness, caring, and security. Here our many needs are being met. For this we say, “Thank you, Lord!”

We are here because we need to be, for we both have health problems. We are learning about Alzheimer’s Disease and how to deal with it. Lue’s new role is as a caregiver. How we need Him!

With the change in lifestyle we’ve sometimes longed for the times when we served Him in many ways. We realize now that He is still by our side. We are learning patience and understanding. He has taught us that we can reach out to others with love and be channels of blessing. Most of all we have found peace, knowing that He walks and talks with us day by day!
Shalom,
Keith and Lue

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths”
Proverbs 3:5-6

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