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Tuesday, February 28, 2017 Devotion

“For You have girded me with strength for battle; You have subdued under me those who rose up against me.  You have also made my enemies turn their backs to me, and I destroyed those who hated me.”  (Psalm 18:39-40)

God is the God of peace, but there is a battle in this age.  The peace God gives is for us to rest in Him.  One of the tasks of this age is battling against the forces of evil that have been unleashed upon this world.  In contrast to the battles of this age, we are to be people of peace who battle spiritually against the present forces of darkness that are in this world.  Be subdued by the Lord that He may subdue those who are His enemies.

Lord, You have come to lead as many as would follow You along Your paths of righteousness knowing that in this age it will be a battle.  Guide me O Lord to do what is right, but also to stand firm against this present darkness that is loose in this age.  Those who are against You are your enemies.  Help me, if possible, win them over to see in You the peace that surpasses all understanding.

Lord Jesus, You have come to conquer sin, death and the devil.  Through You alone can peace come to any who will turn to You.  Guide me O Lord in Your way of peace being fully armed for this dark age to do what is right in Your sight.  Lead me according to the never-changing Word You have given that I may abide richly in You according to that Word and live the way You have established.  Amen.

Pastor Turnswich’s Youth Group and an Angry Father

  • February 27, 2017 - 4:25 pm
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Pastor Turnswich’s Youth Group and an Angry Father

By Pastor Steven K. Gjerde

Pastor Russell Turnswich stared out his window at a melting pile of snow, speckled with dark grime.  He could remember when the snowplow had first pushed it there, right before Christmas, on a sunny day.  Turnswich sighed and turned back to his desk.  He didn’t really care about the melting snow.  He was thinking more of his son.  

Mom wants you to know that I joined St. Paul’s.  That’s how Andrew put it, and the words had seared themselves into Turnswich’s mind.  “Mom wants you to know,” not “I want you to know.”  His son had left their church, and he only told his father because his mother insisted.  How, and when, had Turnswich so lost touch with his son?

The hum of an engine interrupted Turnswich’s thoughts.  He looked back out the window and saw a large pick-up truck pulling into the parking lot.  Turnswich frowned.  Who could that be?  Most of his parishioners drove sedans.   

The driver’s door swung open and a worn work boot swung out, attached to one of Turnswich’s parishioners, Rex Vanderklip.  Turnswich’s frown darkened.  What on earth would bring Rex to church?    He worked at an auto repair shop, and his wife had divorced him years ago.  She came to church occasionally, usually to drop off their two kids for Sunday School or youth events.  Turnswich almost never saw Rex.  Had something bad happened?

Rex still wore his grease-stained coveralls and Happy Car cap.  His brow was creased, and as he slammed the truck door shut, he turned and looked right at Turnswich’s window.  His eyes seemed to pierce the glass; Turnswich blushed and looked away.  It didn’t take long for Rex to find Turnswich’s office.

“Hello?”  The younger man shoved his head in the door and looked around.  Stubble peppered his chin, and a deep, vertical cleft crowned the bridge of his nose.  It turned darker when he saw the pastor.  

Turnswich shoved up from his chair, grimacing, and pushed out his hand.  

“Rex!  Good to see you.”

The offered hand seemed to disarm Rex for a moment.  He blushed and looked at the floor, his shoulders hunching as he grabbed Turnswich’s hand and pumped it roughly.

“Yeah, ok, thanks.  Hi.”  

“Would you like to sit?”

“No.”  Rex let go of Turnswich’s hands and stood still.  Their eyes met for a moment, and Turnswich was the first to glance away.  

“Oh, ok.  I see.  Are you sure?  You seem upset.”  Turnswich settled into his own chair as comfortably as he could, watching the angry man carefully.

“Yeah, well, this won’t take long.  I gotta get back.”  Rex bent awkwardly to one side and crammed an oily hand in his coveralls, searching for something.  “I got some questions about this, uh, this youth group of yours.”

Turnswich’s eyebrows twitched.  “Oh?  What seems to be the problem?”

“I didn’t say it was a problem.”  Rex yanked a wad of papers from his pocket and began unfolding them with ragged slaps of his hand.    

Turnswich forced a smile.  “Ha, ha.  Okay, so—what is it you wanted to know?”

Pink spread across Rex’s cheeks as he looked up from the papers.  His eyes fixed on Turnswich’s again, fiery and wide.  He waved the papers in the air.  “I wanna know how you can tell my kid that I’m a sinner ‘cause I voted for Trump.”

Turnswich felt his cheeks blaze.  He hated not understanding a conversation.  

“I’m afraid I don’t—”

Rex’s nostrils flared and his voice rose.  “I got my kids coming home every damn Sunday telling me I’m a bigot and a racist ‘cause I voted for Trump, and they say it’s YOU folks” – Rex swung the papers at Turnswich – “who are telling them this load of crap.”

Turnswich’s mind jumped to an image of Rob and Marla, the youngish couple leading the youth Bible study.  Such sincere young people, polite and educated, graduates of one their church’s fine Lutheran colleges–what exactly were they doing in the Bible study?  Turnswich had no idea.  Hadn’t he told them to use something from the church’s publisher?  He sat forward and folded his hands in front of him, trying to evoke his peaceful Buddha stance.

“I’m sorry, you’re going to have explain what you mean.  I have never spoken about Mr. Trump—”

“Yeah, ha!  Well!”  Rob’s body contorted as he swung the papers more wildly now, finally slamming them down onto Turnswich’s desk.  “So then you tell me, what’s that crap all about then?”

Turnswich drew a long breath and told himself to relax.  He picked up one of the papers, but before he had time to look, Rex continued.

“This “Faith Views” is a load of it!  Every damn week they bring it home!”  Rex’s hands waved in the air, his eyes and face twisted with anger as he spoke.  “I finally looked over the, the, the stuff, and every week it starts with talk about how, ‘Ohhhh, Trump’s done this or that’ or ‘Ohhhhh, is Trump really like Jesus?’ or ‘Ohhhh,  why isn’t Trump more loving?’”   

“Hm.  The Faith Views series.”  Turnswich looked more closely at the papers now.  Faith Views was the churchwide office’s weekly Bible study for youth, designed to connect faith and life.  They were perfect, he had told Rob and Marla, because they could download them for free from the churchwide website.  Should he have actually looked at the studies first?  “I—yes, I know Faith Views.  They’re just trying to connect—“

“Oh, yeah, they’re just trying, they’re just trying!”  Rex paced now, shaking his head as he laughed bitterly.  “They’re just trying every week, Pastor!  It’s not like just one or two damn Sundays, it’s every single one, telling my kids that I voted for a bigot and a racist and a criminal and I shouldn’t have done it!”

Turnswich stumbled through the papers, trying to scan them quickly.  The words poured across his eyes: fearful that Trump will avenge himself . . . a difficult time for international peace since the inauguration . . . a new executive order . . . Do you support Trump’s desire to “protect” America?  Did Jesus protect himself?  Sure enough, every single study in January and February spoke of Trump, contrasting his behaviors with something from the Bible.  Turnswich looked back at Rex.  

“Well, certainly, I think most people of faith would agree—I mean, there are certain ethical implications to living a kingdom life–”  Turnswich tripped over his tongue.  Everything he said, which usually sounded so good at the adult Bible study with his regular parishioners, suddenly sounded wrong.  He tried to think of something else to say, but it was too late.

“Oh, is that so?  There a special way to be Christian, Pastor?  You questioning my faith, Pastor?” Rex leaned both of his work-grimed palms onto the pastor’s desk now, his face tight with fury.  “You gonna tell my kids their FATHER is a sinner?”  Rex spat the word “father” with special vengeance.  “And a racist and a bigot and a hater?  And if you’re gonna do that, sir, then I wanna know, I just want YOU to tell ME”—Rex’s shaking thumb punctuated his speech—“if this church was gonna tell my kids that Clinton is a baby killer and a liar and a thief?  Huh?  You think it’s a sin to vote for a baby killer, Pastor?  For a lady who tells lies and doesn’t protect our country?  Who calls her fellow Americans ‘deplorable’?   Who steals herself into being rich and supports every frickin’ perversion out there?  Was your Faith Views gonna say that?”

Turnswich’s cheeks burned; he couldn’t help himself.  “Well, now, I wouldn’t use the word ‘perversion’—I mean, I wouldn’t say all that.  I think we all know that every politician has dirt on their hands—er, has–“ Turnswich glanced at Rex’s hands and immediately repented of his word choice “—that they all do some things we don’t like.  I mean, Trump has said plenty of bad things about a lot of people, too, hasn’t he?  I’m sure that we could find plenty of blame to go around.  And people do have questions about him.  For example, I really don’t think name-calling or condemning other people–”

The desk rocked into Turnswich’s gut as Rex pushed up from it.  

“Oh, screw you!” he screamed.  

Turnswich gasped and pushed back in his chair as Rex snapped up the Faith Views papers and began tearing them in a fury.  

“Condemning other people!  I’ll give you condemning!”  Rex was screaming now.  “You condemn me every damn Sunday!  Every Sunday you condemn me!”

Rex threw the papers in the air, and they fluttered down like newly fallen snow.  He shoved his finger just inches from Turnswich’s nose.  

“You don’t think it’s hard enough raising two kids in a broken home?  You think I need them coming home and calling me a bigot ‘cause I voted for the one jerk I think might do some good for them?  ‘Cause I wouldn’t vote for a baby killer and a thief and a liar? You care about babies, Pastor?  You think your Jesus cares?”

The man was unhinged, and Turnswich didn’t try to stop him.  Rex continued.  

“How about teaching them the frickin commandment there, that ‘Honor your father and mother’ one, huh?  How about telling them to show some frickin’ respect?  How about telling them not to get knocked up young so their life sucks?  How about giving us parents a break here, or maybe teaching them the frickin’ value of life and that it ain’t easy making these decisions?  How about you show them two sides to the story?  You think your Jesus cares about that?  Huh?  You think only us who voted for Trump are sinners?  That how it work?  No one’s a sinner who voted for Clinton?  She all super-good?”  

Rex rocked back on his heels, looking around the room wildly.  His eyes fell on an image of Christ on the cross.  With a small cry, he shoved his finger at it.  

“How ‘bout you teach THAT if it’s so damn important!”  With one last curse, he turned on his heels and left the room.

Turnswich had barely taken a breath before he heard the engine of Rex’s truck roar to life.  It pealed out of the parking lot and raced down the street towards the east side.  Turnswich breathed out slowly, but he did not yet relax.

Your Jesus.  Of all the angry words that hung in Turnswich’s mind, those two words were the biggest and loudest.  Your Jesus, not My Jesus.  Not our Jesus.

Rex would not be back to church.  Turnswich could feel it in his gut.

Your Jesus.  Not my Jesus.  Honor your father and mother.  Value of life.  Baby-killer.  Two sides.  How about teach THAT?  Turnswich glanced at the crucifix.  Teach THAT.  The pastor looked away, closed his eyes, and sank back into his chair.

He hated division.  He hated it.  It’s why he had voted the way he had.  He had never questioned that it was the right vote.  He still thought it was the right vote.  But this—he opened his eyes and looked at the torn Bible studies on the floor, dusting it like pure, icy flakes.  He closed his eyes once more.

  You condemn me.  Every Sunday.  You condemn me.  Teach THAT.

Turnswich twisted his lips.  Perhaps—yes, perhaps it had gone just a bit too far.  Every Sunday?  Was it really every single Faith Views study, every Sunday?  He turned to his computer and quickly called up the national church’s website.  He found the Bible studies, and confirmed it: yes, every single one since January 15 was about Trump.  Ouch.  He’d have to call Rob and Marla—a few Sundays too late, from the sounds of it.  And maybe he needed to be more careful in his oversight in the future.  

As he thought, Turnswich’s eyes fell on a photograph of Andrew, standing next to Turnswich and holding a fish, smiling.  Had Rob and Marla taught the youth Bible study when Andrew was in high school?  What had they taught him?  He thought of Andrew’s jump to the Other Synod, the conservative, annoying one.  He wondered what Andrew remembered of his youth group, and what Andrew had thought about it at the time.  Had he ever asked?  What had he taught Andrew, or failed to teach him?

You condemn me.  Every Sunday. What about the baby-killer?

The sun, which had not shown its face, was setting behind the clouds as Turnswich locked the church doors behind him.  He began his slow walk to the parsonage, passing the grimy, melting snow.  Perhaps, he thought, he would call Andrew tonight.  He didn’t even know how Andrew had voted—apparently, he didn’t even know exactly what Andrew even believed.  A crushing weight of lost time pressed hard on Turnswich’s chest.  He’d been having pains there recently, but this was different.  He wanted his boy back.  He wanted many things back.  

As he walked, Rex’s angry words rose and swirled once more in his brain, whipping like a snow flurry around an image of Andrew.  He cocked his head to one side, pondering it.  Yes, he would call Andrew tonight, and tomorrow, he would call Rob and Marla.  Perhaps he would try calling Rex, too.   

Monday, February 27, 2017 Devotion

“I pursued my enemies and overtook them, and I did not turn back until they were consumed.  I shattered them, so that they were not able to rise; they fell under my feet.”  (Psalm 18:37-38)

The Lord leads before His faithful to accomplish what it is He desires.  Do not lean on your own ability, but allow the Lord to use you as He will to do what He knows will set things in their right course.  No enemy of the Lord will stand and no one opposed to the Lord will not be dealt with by His mighty hand.  Trust in the One who is able to accomplish all that He has spoken.

Lord, this world is filled with so much contention and there are those who are constantly fighting against You.  Help me see this battle that rages that I may learn from You and see Your hand in all things.  Guide me according to Your purpose to live into the life You have given me.  Let me see that the enemies are not mine, but that they are Yours when I am standing in Your will.

Guide me Lord to deal with all others with wisdom.  Help me to see that I cannot, nor should not do battle against others, but stand in Your presence and allow You to battle for me.  Lead me to know what to do that I may live into the life to which You have called me.  Lead me this day, O Lord, and I will follow.  You are the Mighty God who will accomplish all that You purpose.  Amen.

Prayers of the Church for Ash Wednesday

  • February 26, 2017 - 7:49 pm
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Let us lift our hearts and voices to the Lord in prayer, that he would be merciful to his people.

A brief silence

 Holy God, holy and mighty, holy and immortal, have mercy upon your church. Purge it of all faithlessness, false teaching, uncharitable words, and unholy actions. Fill it with your Holy Spirit, and use it to grant the joy of your saving help to all repentant sinners.

Lord, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

Have mercy upon all who are persecuted on account of your beloved Son. Keep them steadfast in faith, patient in suffering, persistent in prayer, and gracious in forgiving their enemies. Soften the hearts of all who despise Christ, and grant them repentance and true faith.

Lord, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

Have mercy on our sister congregations and synods, and upon all missionaries of the Gospel. Give wings to their feet, nimbleness to their hands, eloquence to their tongues, warmth to their hearts, and deep love to their souls for you and for all they serve.

Lord, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

Have mercy on this congregation. Cleanse it from everything that obscures your strong saving love for us and for those to whom we minister. Grant that we may prefer nothing whatsoever to Jesus Christ, and to sharing his forgiveness and salvation with others.

Lord, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

Have mercy upon all converts, all who are preparing for baptism at Easter, and for all whose faith wavers and dims because of doubts or despair.  Give them a double portion of your Spirit. Bless all who teach, guide, challenge, encourage and accompany them on their pilgrimage, and bring them into your loving embrace.

Lord, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

Have mercy upon the nations of the world and all their rulers. Especially we pray for the elected and appointed leaders of this country. Lead them in the paths of righteousness, integrity, prudence and justice. Help us all to work with one another, in spite of deep disagreements, so that your will may be done in our midst. Never let us forget the needs of the poor, the widow, and the orphan; the dispossessed and unemployed; the sick and forgotten; the abused and the unjustly imprisoned. And give us the means and the will to ease their burden.

Lord, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

Have mercy on all who stand in harm’s way in defense of life and liberty, especially: {List}. Strengthen them in every virtue that increases concord, establishes safety, and protects those who are threatened by violence, injustice, or catastrophe. Reunite them with their loved ones when their task is done; and grant them honor, respect, and new opportunities to serve their community and country.

Lord, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

Have mercy on all who are afflicted in body, mind, heart or soul, especially those who crave our prayers, including: {List}. Refresh their spirits, so that they may rejoice in your goodness and may renew their hope in your salvation.

Lord, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

Holy God, holy and mighty, holy and immortal, keep in your special care our loved ones who have died trusting in your promises – especially: {List}. Wipe away the tears of those whose grief runs deep. Help us to support, comfort, and encourage one another as we journey through this troubled life. Keep us steadfast in faith, constant in hope, and ardent in love. And lead us from death into the splendor of light, life and love that you have prepared for all whom you have redeemed through the passion of your Son, the Savior and Redeemer of the world.

Lord, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

Into your hands, merciful Father, we commend all for whom we pray, trusting in your mercy; for the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Sunday, February 26, 2017 Devotion

“You have also given me the shield of Your salvation, and Your right hand upholds me; and Your gentleness makes me great.  You enlarge my steps under me, and my feet have not slipped.”  (Psalm 18:35-36)

See the gifts of the Lord and how He arms us to fight.  The salvation He gives is a shield, for nothing can pierce that shield.  In Him you are redeemed.  He will hold you up against all that will come your way.  With gentleness has He dealt with us and with gentleness we are to deal with others.  He walks the path before us so that all we need do is walk in His steps and be safe.

Lord teach me that I do not need to figure anything out, but simply live through faith in the life You have given me, walking in the way You have already established.  Lead me in the ways of truth which You have spoken that I may not waver, but walk firmly in the way of salvation.  Help me to help others in the example You have given, knowing that only in You is there truth and life.

Lord Jesus, You Who are humble and gentle, teach me Your ways that with the confidence in what You have accomplished I may walk all the days of my life.  Lead me, O Lord, according to Your way and keep me from veering from the path You established before I was born.  Help me to be gentle with all whom I meet knowing that in You alone is the hope of the ages.  Amen.

Saturday, February 25, 2017 Devotion

 

“He makes my feet like hinds’ feet, and sets me upon my high places.  He trains my hands for battle, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.”  (Psalm 18:33-34)

The Lord prepares the one who walks with Him for the spiritual battles that will take place upon this earth.  There are those who think the peace of God is the cessation of hostilities, but walking in a land in rebellion against the Lord means having a world that is hostile to all who are in Him.  Be prepared by the Lord for whatever may come knowing that He has already provided for your every need.

Lord, clear my mind to see that in You I must be prepared for all that will come.  Keep me from thinking that it must be what I determine it should be, but instead simply accept that You have prepared me for all that will come.  Grant me strength in You to do battle where You will have me battle that I may remain faithfully in Your care.  Guide me this day in the way You would have me go.

Lord Jesus, You were constantly assailed by those who minds were upon themselves and the ways of the world, yet with tenacity You continued on for the sake of all those who would come to the Father through You.  Continue to guide me this day that I may hold fast to Your never- failing truth that You have revealed which is a light unto the nations.  Lead me in all things Lord Jesus.  Amen.

Hermeneutic Handles for the Harried Herald: Mountains and Light

  • February 24, 2017 - 8:26 am
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Transfiguration Sunday – Mountains and Light

By Rev. Brett Jenkins

Exodus 24:8–18     2 Peter 1:16–21   Matthew 17:1–9

The most obvious image that strikes us from today’s reading is that of light.  While there have always been those without or with impeded sight, humanity’s normative way of navigating a dangerous world is via their eyes.  Consequently, light in every culture has come represent safety, possibility, the revealing of that which is hidden or obscured by the dark.  The ignorant person—to whom the meaning of the world remains obscured or hidden—is unenlightened or “in the dark” no matter how bright the physical light around them.

The disciples have been in the dark about Jesus’ true identity thus far in the Gospel.  (Indeed, despite the radiance of Jesus and the appearance of two incredibly significant Old Testament figures with Him, they will not be fully enlightened in this regard until the closing lines of this Gospel.)  In the early Church, the newly-baptized were referred to as “the newly illumined,” for they had finally perceived Jesus as not just a bringer of the light of knowledge in the same sense as so many other teachers in the ancient world, they perceive Him as the light.  They know Him as the one from which all knowledge flows and by which all supposed knowledge is judged.  For a moment in today’s Gospel, Jesus is revealed to us as He truly is and as the words of Nicene Creed truly portray Him: God from God, Light from Light, True God from True God.

The second dominant image in today’s readings is that of the mountain.  Mountains have always been places of significance for God’s saving activity.  At Sinai not only is the blood of the covenant sprinkled upon the people, but God hands down the Law that will be the very definition of the people’s identity.  Previously Abraham had been called to sacrifice his only son Isaac on a mountain that God Himself might provide all that was needed.  On mountains God provides, and today He provides confirmation of the value of His Son even as Jesus is revealed as He truly is.

“Ain’t no mountain high enough to keep me from getting to you,” sang Diana Ross a generation ago.  Mountains in Scripture, far from being an obstruction to encounter with God, are typically a place to meet Him… To boot, there is no place better to watch a sunrise, to see the light dispel the darkness.  This morning, the son rises, and the darkness is dispelled.

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Thursday, February 23, 2017 Devotion

“For by You I can run upon a troop; and by my God I can leap over a wall.  As for God, His way is blameless; the word of the Lord is tried; He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him.”  (Psalm 18:29-30)

There are those who fight, resist and seek their own strength to topple the One who has already determined His will.  Seek refuge in the One who saves.  For God has given to those who come to Him sure promises and His strength as their shield.  Take refuge in the Lord and know that He will lead you all the days of your life within the arms of His eternal care.  Run with the Lord.

Lord, my mind fills with doubts and I trust in what I know.  But what do I know?  A few years and a partial experience of the whole.  You who know all things have granted us the ability to come into You and be shielded from all that this world throws our way.  Guide me O Lord in Your way, for Your way is truth.  Help me in times of weakness to lean on Your ever present arms of mercy.

Lord Jesus, You are the blessed assurance of the ages.  You have come in our frail weak earthly body to lead the way into eternal peace.  Guide me today and every day that I may walk in the ways You would have me go.  Lead me according to Your kindness and help me through every doubt that assails me.  Lead me O Lord in the way of salvation that I would abide in You now and forever.  Amen.

Vengeance is Good, Because It Is God Who Does It

  • February 22, 2017 - 3:36 pm
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If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him.  -1 Corinthians 3:17

 

“Is he someone whom you would trust with your own pet?”  A local representative of the humane society wanted to know if I would give a reference for a member of my congregation.  She had to know if he had the means and inclination to protect and nurture a new dog.  “Does he have a fenced yard?”

For some dogs, a fenced yard can be pure gospel; a watchful owner is even more so.  To be perfectly frank, what good is God, as a God, if He cannot make good on His promise to defend His Church?  It may seem harsh to imagine God destroying someone who destroys the gathered body of His Son—but then, how comforting is it to imagine Him standing idly by and doing nothing?

Vengeance is not ours; “I will repay,” says the Lord (Romans 12:9).  Vengeance is good, because it is God who does it, and He does it in such a way that it heals and makes all things right.  To believe in Him is to trust in this promise, and so to restrain ourselves from taking revenge against the enemies of His Church, knowing that we, as members of the body that is risen, shall never fall—no, not even the gates of hell shall prevail against us.

LET US PRAY: O Lord and overseer of the Church: rise up and defend Your people who suffer in any land or home for the sake of Your Name.  Cast down the proud and raise up the lowly, and preserve us, spirit, soul, and body, in Your peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen

 

Pastor Steven K. Gjerde

Zion, Wausau

(c) 2017

Wednesday, February 22, 2017 Devotion

“For You save an afflicted people, but haughty eyes You abase.  For You light my lamp; the Lord my God illumines my darkness.”  (Psalm 18:27-28)

The Lord rescues those who know this world is in trouble and turn to Him.  In Him there is the true direction of life and the way to live.  Those who think all is well while trouble is around them will not see that the God of creation reaches out to those who desire goodness and mercy.  He lightens the load by showing the truth of this world and all who see it come to Him.

Lord, there is darkness in this world.  Although You have shown us some things, there are many who refuse to see things as they are.  They seem to stumble in the darkness.  Guide me not to be angry with them, but have compassion on those who do not see.  Lead me to know that what You have shown me is true that I may walk in the way You would have me go.  In all things, lead me in Your way O Lord.

Christ, You have come and You are the light shining in the darkness.  Guide me ever more into the light You have revealed that I may walk in the way of light.  Lead me to see and respond according to what You show me that I would walk in Your ways.  Help me O Lord to learn from You how to be faithful.  In all things, guide me according to Your never-failing promises.  Amen.