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March 31, 2020

DAY 13 BATTLE OF THE BEARD.

(Interesting footnote: Day 13 of the true historical siege was the actual day that the real Alamo and its 185 defenders fell -March 6th, 1836)

The battle has raged now for 13 days. The red-haired Santa Anna has the upper hand. We (hairs of the beard) are totally surrounded and alone. Reinforcements (other male friends with beards) cannot get here in time. We are making our final stand; perhaps the beard will be remembered in (family) history as "one shining moment". Kind of like the Spartans in the battle of Thermopylae - wait a minute - they all died! (gulp)

Now on to today's devotion. The word for today is: CHOICE. Two pictures I saw today describe that word perfectly. They both relate to how we are handling this time in history and this virus. The first picture was a woman at a gas station. There is a gasoline hose running into her car and she has stepped away from it a little. Nothing out of the ordinary with that, most of us set the handle where it can pump gas into our car automatically until it cuts off when the tank is full. What caught my attention is what she was doing while the gasoline is being dispersed. There is a PUBLIC hand sanitizer container on the pillar near the gas pumps and SHE IS EMPTYING THAT PUBLIC CONTAINER INTO HER EMPTY PRIVATE HAND DISPENSER. Her choice was ME FIRST. She didn't care what anyone else needed, or that for the safety of all, everyone should have access to this public hand sanitizer after touching the screen that everyone else has touched and pumped gas from the same handle that everyone else has used. HER CHOICE WAS SELFISH. Actually, possibly life threatening to others and DEPRESSING for what it says about many people. I wonder how much toilet paper she has and if she professes to follow Jesus?

THE SECOND PICTURE is of a 90-year-old woman from Belgium, Suzanne Hoylaerts, who has COPID-19. When she was offered a life-saving respirator, she refused it saying, "save it for the young ones who need it most. I HAVE HAD A BEAUTIFUL LIFE."

Two choices: one reflects the world, one mirrors Jesus. Which would you choose? The answer tells us much about our faith, who we truly follow, and if we truly love one another in the way Jesus asks of us. Until tomorrow, peace, love, and good choices my family, friends, and flock.

Agape,

Dad, Papa, Uncle Rich, "Butter", Son-in-Law, Rich & Rev. Rich

March 30, 2020

DAY 12 BATTLE OF THE BEARD.

Davey Crockett (AKA-the beard) still lives! The Red-Haired Santa Anna has been stopped at the Alamo's wall for the time being. Although it does appear that this red-haired general is pulling in more reinforcements (woman on Facebook plus some turncoat friends :)) for a final battle. Santa Anna is crafty and well trained in this type of battle. I am sure the red-haired general has some more moves prepared. The line has been drawn in the sand. No retreat and no surrender; we remain defiant until the last man (hair).

Now on to our devotion: Today's devotion is brought to you by the number 10. What follows is EVERYTHING I HAVE LEARNED FROM COVID-19 (so far), THE TOP 10 LESSONS FROM THE VIRUS:

10) The truly important people in the world and in the USA are not in Hollywood or athletics. They are not the wealthiest nor the most powerful, and they certainly are not the politicians. They are the front-line people, many not paid well, who do their job every day and are just now getting noticed.

9) When I retire (one of us - Deb or myself) will need a job outside the house!

8) You can only watch so many Hallmark movies in a row before you need a knock down all out, action film! In fact, you can only watch TV for so long!

7) Some things are essential, but a lot of things I thought were essential are not.

6) Family is so special and important; treasure every moment.

5) Face Time & Zoom are great inventions.

4) I/We have a great church staff, and I miss seeing them, but they continue to do a fantastic job helping the church be the church!

3) Faith is powerful.

2) Prayer is special.

AND NUMBER ONE!!!!!!!!

1) GOD IS WITH US though all things and HE is working right now. I see it in so many events and people! So, praise Him!

As I close, wash those hands and put them together in prayer. Take a moment and read from your Bible. It is called "the living Word of God" for a reason. Love your neighbor and check on them by phone, text, email, or talking from one yard to the next. And finally, ponder this word of God for us today: "In him was life and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness [virus?] and the darkness has not overcome it!" John 1:4-5. Amen? Amen!

Agape,

Dad, Papa, Uncle Rich, "Butter", Son-in-law, Rich, & Rev. Rich

March 27, 2020

DAY 9 OF THE BATTLE OF THE BEARD.

The RED-HAIRED Santa Anna has reached the Alamo's wall, but my defenders (supporters on Facebook) are holding that wall for now. We are on day 9 of this powerful siege. Food (sugar treats) are being rationed, ammunition (defending scripture verses) are beginning to run low but Davey Crockett (AKA the Beard) is staying strong. As for now "Dequello" (bugle song-no quarter/no mercy) has been quieted. The Red-Haired Santa Anna seems to be pondering the next move. It is deadly quiet.

The calm before the storm? (All out charge?) Stay tuned and see if Davey Crockett and the Alamo are still standing on Monday. That will be the next time I can sneak a message out.

Now on to our devotion for today. The word for today is actually two words: “STEADFAST LOVE". The phrase that the Lord's "steadfast love endures forever" is repeated throughout the Bible. It occurs 196 times alone in the Old Testament and countless times the concept/theme is shared in the New Testament such as in John 3:16, I Corinthians 13, Romans 8:31-39, Hebrews 13, and even Revelation. You get the idea. You would think that the Lord is trying to make a point! Well yes, he is! For instance, I bet you did not know Psalm 118, which begins with, "Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for His steadfast love endures forever", is the most quoted Psalm in the New Testament thanks to that very theme. By the way, another interesting piece of information for all of us is that the word STEADFAST means, "NOT SUBJECT TO CHANGE". Did you see that? It means our Lord is not going to change. He is not going to change His view or His love based on which way the world is going. It's what our Bible has been trying to tell us all along when it says that "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever!" (Hebrews 131:8)

Having a hard day? Tired of COVID 19 updates/news? Tired of hearing, “house bound”, “not sure how long”, or “social distancing”? Feeling worried, fearful, anxious or frustrated, angry, and defeated? Read Psalm 118. Remember two simple words, STEADFAST LOVE, and have faith that His love is real, powerful and steadfast! Take a moment, go outside and praise the Lord from whom all blessings flow, including HIS STEADFAST LOVE! Continue to wash those hands and stay safe. I miss all of you, but Blessings and Grace until we can hug again! AMEN & AMEN.

Agape,

Dad, Papa, Uncle Rich, "Butter", Son-in-Law, Rich, & Rev. Rich

March 26, 2020

DAY 8 OF THE BATTLE OF THE BEARD

This could be my last message from my Alamo. I awoke early and swear I heard the sound of "Dequello" being hummed by the red-haired Santa Anna living at the parsonage. If you don't know, "dequello" is the bugle call for "NO QUARTER -NO MERCY". (Gulp) We (hairs of my beard) are surrounded by hostile forces (Debbie & women of the church). A shaving cream can (Red-haired Santa Anna's army) is being prominently displayed. Swords (razor) are being presented. The end could be near. We (the hairs of my beard and I) will go down fighting, but the red-haired Santa Anna is a formidable foe and seems to have the numbers and guns on her side. Is this siege reaching its conclusion? I'm not sure. I'm stubborn and tough but a man can only handle so much... Stay tuned.

Now on to the devotion... the word today is BLESSINGS. I will be addressing the blessings found in the Coronavirus in this Sundays sermon. It will be posted here, on our church website, as well as on our Facebook page (Facebook.com/HollandsUMC) Sunday morning, March 29th about 8:00AM. BUT FOR TODAY, let's reflect on what we think of when we say the word BLESSING. For most of us, BLESSINGS means good things concerning either health, family & friends, or material objects. But a famous Christian writer of a previous generation, AW. Tozer, in one of his most famous books, "The Pursuit of God", sees it differently. The 2nd chapter in that book is entitled, "The blessedness of Possessing Nothing". It is based on the Beatitude from Matthew 5:30, "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Tozer states that the "blessed poor" are those who are "no longer slaves to the tyranny of things". What he means is that when we reach a moment when so much is taken from us that all we seem to have left is the Lord, HE IS ENOUGH. This is what John Wesley was saying when he shared the "Covenant Prayer". The year was 1755, so excuse the old English, but I think you will understand the point.

"I am no longer my own but thine.

Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.

Put me to doing, put me to suffering.

Let me be employed by thee, or laid aside for thee

exalted for thee, or brought low for thee.

Let me be full, let me be empty.

Let me have all things, let me have nothing.

I FREELY AND HEARTILY YIELD ALL THINGS TO THY

PLEASURE AND DISPOSAL. [Caps mine]

And now, O glorious and blessed God,

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,

thou art mine, and I am thine. So be it.

And the covenant which I have made on earth,

let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.

One of the BLESSINGS in our life right now is that for many God is returning to the center of our journey. Right now, we are remembering that devotional and prayer time is more important than the latest sports score or fashion trend. We are remembering what makes family time so special. Why a good book is fun to read, how interesting the Bible can be when we give it a chance. How much we cherish friends and neighbors.

We are a very BLESSED people, even in these times. So, claim those blessings and celebrate them, because the gospel truth remains the same; God is good all the time and all the time God is good - and his blessings come every day, even in the midst of a pandemic. Amen? Amen!

Agape,

Dad, Papa, Uncle Rich, Son-in-Law, "Butter" (family joke between me and my sister), Rich, & Rev. Rich

March 25, 2020

DAY 7 OF NOT SHAVING.

An update on the "Battle of the Beard":

The battle is heating up. There have been casualties; my left and right flanks have been wiped out (left & right side of face). Have retreated to the Alamo (my office) for a last stand. Santa Anna, with curly red hair flowing, has had reinforcements arriving daily (posts from women on Facebook). I have sent out a call but my help can't get seem to get through. We are outnumbered. Ammunition running low. I have fired the cannon (Told the red-haired Santa Anna "Jesus had a beard" - Red haired general fired back, "I know Jesus and you are not Jesus".) We will fight to the last man (hair) but things are looking desperate…

OK...now that you have had your laugh today, let's talk FAITH. FAITH is easy to have when everything is going well. It's easy when the sun is shining, the birds are singing, and the word “Coronavirus” or “pandemic” are not in our vocabulary. But this is not those times and now is when our FAITH should be at its strongest. So, let's remember: remember how the great faith chapter, Hebrews 11, begins with these words: "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." (HB. 1:1) The Living Bible paraphrases the same verse this way - "What is faith? It is the confident assurance that something we want is going to happen. It is the certainty that what we hope for is waiting for us, even though we cannot see it up ahead."

In these times of uncertainty and quarantines, our FAITH will be the corner stone upon which we stand. It will be our witness of what type of Christian we are. It will be what brings us peace and hope. As the great Christian Affirmation of Faith states:

“I believe in God the Father Almighty...and in Jesus Christ His only Son our Lord...I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic (universal) church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen."

May your day be filled with love and peace; may you continue to wash those hands and put them together in prayer. Until tomorrow, may the Lord bless and keep you.

Agape,

Dad, Uncle Rich, Papa, Son-in-Law, Rich, & Rev. Rich

March 24, 2020

DAY 6 OF NOT SHAVING (not sure how long I will be able to post those last words...starting to hear mumbling about divorce?!)

Today we are going to reflect on the word "NEVERTHELESS" in the Bible. Depending on where you look to research the word, it appears as much as 237 times (KJV) to as little as 27 times (modern translations).

I first started to ponder the word NEVERTHELESS after reading a book by Marion Bond West, a Christian writer. She wrote a book entitled "The Nevertheless Principal". She wrote this book after the death of her husband from brain cancer. In the book she relates to how many times the word can be found in the Bible (she used the KJV) and how many times in those verses it was saying that in spite of hard times, NEVERTHELESS, the Lord was with you. NEVERTHELESS, He loved you. NEVERTHELESS, His grace covered you. NEVERTHELESS, His peace was there. An example of that is Isaiah 9:1 where in the King James Version of the Bible, the verse begins, "Nevertheless", and it is telling the conquered and destroyed areas of Zebulun, Naphtali, & Galilee, that God would transform these dark and gloomy days into days of honor. In the Gospel of Luke in the 5th chapter (KJV) we also have a NEVERTHELESS moment. It is the story of Jesus calling his disciples. In this story the guys (future disciples) have had a lousy night of fishing and Jesus tells them to "put out into the deep and let your nets down for a catch". Even though they do not know Jesus at this time, and probably think he is crazy since they had fished all night and caught nothing, Simon (Peter) replies, "Master we toiled all night and caught nothing, NEVERTHELESS, at your word, I will put the nets down. Of course, trusting Jesus they caught so many fish the nets were almost breaking!

So, my hope and prayer for you today is this: if you start getting cabin fever, or you start feeling anxious, afraid, or becoming overwhelmed with the news and this Coronavirus event, you will remember the word NEVERTHELESS. It is a simple word, but it reminds us that we are the Lord's and He is with us through all of life; that He loves us and He is trustworthy. Think about His track record from Genesis through Revelation. And take a breath, wash those hands and remember, no matter what the day, week, months hold. God is here! Amen? Amen!

Agape,

Dad, Papa, Uncle Rich, Son-in-law, Rich, & Rev. Rich

March 23, 2020

(Day 5 of not shaving and Debbie is starting to give me "the look"! )

I wanted to start this post by first thanking our worship team this past Sunday (Rev. Rich C., Donna West, & Kelly Irons) plus our sound crew (Doug Pedigo, David Kennedy, & Jeremy Absher) for their work. They were our pilot run; we threw them in the deep end of the pool and said swim! We learned some things and appreciate all that they did!

As we continue our journey through our "new normal" (is that really a phrase?), I found that I am growing spiritually. I guess it is one of the blessings in this time (More on that when I preach on March 29th. The sermon will be "The Blessings of the Coronavirus - Bringing Good out of Bad" - the scripture will be Romans 8:31-39).

The word for us today is JESUS. Pretty good word I would say!

Max Lucado wrote a devotional book that I use almost every day. It is entitled "Grace For The Moment". One of his writings in that book says this: "THERE IS NEVER A TIME WHEN JESUS IS NOT SPEAKING".

Please, reread that sentence.

Let it sink in. Do you understand the significance of that simple sentence? As Lucado would go on to say, "there is NEVER a place in which Jesus is not present. NEVER. There is NEVER a room so dark...etc." Well you get the point.

So, what is Jesus saying to your today? Is he saying "peace be still'? Is he saying, "be still and know that I am God"? Is he saying, take a moment in each day and enjoy your family, enjoy the time that has slowed down for you? Read, relax, turn off the TV, eat a meal together. If you are alone/single reconnect with a friend, neighbor, family member you have not talked to in a while. Pray for the truckers, the front-line workers from medical to grocery workers. Hebrews 13:5 reminds us that Jesus says, "NEVER will I leave you NEVER will I forsake you". Trust That!

By the way, isn't it amazing how often that word NEVER has popped up day? Do you think Jesus might actually be talking to us through this virus and on this day? I DO! Tomorrow we will talk about a similar word...NEVERTHELESS and how often you can find it in the Bible. Until then my family, friends, and flock. I love you; I am praying for you. Stay safe and continue to wash those hands! God's Blessing, Grace, & Peace to all of you.

Agape,

Dad, Papa, Uncle Rich, Son-in-Law, Rich, & Rev. Rich

March 20, 2020

(Day 2 of not shaving--not sure how long Debbie will let that go!)

I will NOT BE POSTING Saturday or Sunday. However, Rich Cooper's sermon will be available for all of us online Sunday morning, March 22. Just go to the "Sermons" tab here on our website OR go to our church's Facebook page: Facebook.com/hollandsumc. I will be posting again starting Monday, March 23rd. With all that said, let's get to my devotional thought for today.

As we adjust to life under this pan-epidemic known as the Coronavirus, we have talked about "fear" and I have shared thoughts on what it is like to be part of the "at risk" generation. Today the word is WORRY. Something we are very good at and yet something our Lord asks us not to do. Of course, worry is just one of many things we seem to do that Jesus asks us not to do! More on that at a later time! :) As for now, you need to know that Rich Cooper's sermon Sunday is going to examine some of this and I wanted to speak to a little of it today. I think both Rich C. and I are doing that because Jeremy Absner did our staff devotion recently about this topic. He took his scripture from the Gospel of Matthew 6:25-34, entitled "Do not Worry". SO... FIRST OF ALL, STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING AND READ THIS SCRIPTURE! It will prepare you for Rich C.’s sermon and the rest of my devotional

........... (Jeopardy music playing....) :) ............. We're back....

Now one does not have to be an ordained pastor, or a Greek scholar, to understand what Jesus is saying here. But WHY is Jesus saying that? Think of the time Jesus lived and spoke in. A cloud of dust could be an invading army. A cut could become infected and there were no antibiotics. A famine could come at any time. A plague of disease or locust could be just around the corner. You could look at a Roman soldier wrong and be in serious trouble. Yet Jesus says, "do not worry about your life, what you eat or what you will drink ....". Jesus said that because He knew God was real and that God was a God of love. He knew that much of what we worry about never happens, and what does happen we rarely have control over. He knows that the bottom line is to Love God and each other, to keep the faith, and trust in the creator of the universe. Jesus is right, "each day has troubles", but it also has HIM and that my family, friends, and flock is all we really need. By the way, as Jeremy shared with us, in the Greek translation Jesus is really saying "Chill Out" :) so he who has ears let them hear what the Spirit is saying to the church! :)

Until Monday, be safe, use common sense, wash your hands, and remember Jesus and germs are everywhere. :)

Agape,

Dad, Papa, Uncle Rich, Son in Law, Rich & Rev. Rich

March 19, 2020

Good morning family, friends, and flock:

As we continue our journey through this unusual time in our lives, I thought I would share the thoughts of someone who is in the "at risk" category for the Coronavirus. THAT WOULD BE ME! No one is more surprised than me that at some point in history I, and my beloved high school classmates and friends, reached a stage where society now considers us old. I don't feel old. I keep thinking that at the most I am in my 40's. I still have the same passion for ministry that I had coming out of seminary. But the truth is, very shortly I will be 71 and according to all statistics that puts me in the at-risk group. How does that make me feel?

Well, strange for one. Also, if I start to have a sore throat, or a cough, or feel funny it is obviously going to make me think - is this the virus, a cold, the flu, or just pollen? Of course, the virus would really make me ponder! How do I protect my family? How sick will I get? Am I looking at the end of this life? Those are natural questions and concerns. This is where my faith comes in.

NOW ALL OF YOU PAY ATTENTION HERE!

I am not trying to sound morbid, but I am being as honest as I can be on a Thursday morning where I am feeling fine. As I have aged, I have realized that I have lived far more of my physical life than I have left. I realize that I worry more about the heartache Debbie, the boys, my daughter-in-laws and granddaughters would experience in my death, than I am concerned about actually dying. In some ways that is good because it means I was loved and my faith is strong. But because I love them, I wish there was a way to spare them that experience. Short of Jesus' return there is not. What I am saying is that my faith and my experiences with so many of my flock who have walked through "the valley of death", plus working with Debbie as a chaplain in hospice, has allowed me to ponder my death without fear. NOW I KNOW THAT IS A LOT EASIER TO TYPE WHILE I AM FEELING GREAT AND HAVE NO SYMPTOMS OF ANYTHING. But I believe that will also be true whenever that moment comes be it in 20 years, 10 years or tomorrow. I don't want it to be soon. I'd like to hang around and aggravate Debbie and my boys and watch my grandchildren grow. But in the end, I trust Jesus. I trust His words, His love, and His grace. I believe John 3:16-17 and John 14:1-14. I believe in prayer and I believe in heaven, and for me in this time in history, that is all I need. Sorry this Epistle is so long today! May you have a great and wonderful day. Keep the faith and wash those hands, since Jesus and germs are everywhere!

Agape,

Dad, Papa, Uncle Rich, Rich & Rev. Rich

March 18, 2020

Family, Friends, & Flock:

During this Coronavirus time I am going to try and share some daily Devotional thoughts for my friends, family, and flock. So welcome to "REV RICH'S RITTINGS"

Let's talk about fear today. As many of you know our oldest son, Richie, is now staying with us since his job has shut done for at least the next 2 weeks. Last night I made a quick run to the store to get some Quaker Oats (Richie loves oatmeal and we did not have any). I knew the store would be missing supplies like TP & paper towels, etc. I was really surprised though, to see the vegetable bins complete empty and most of the aisles with many empty spaces. In fact, there were only 3 Quaker Oats containers (I only took 1).

A large mass of people have panicked.

Fear has taken control of their life.

I just read today that ammunition sales have jumped 276%. Toilet Paper suppliers were shocked by the run. We are better than this! Especially if we love and follow Jesus. Do you remember how many times the Bible -- speaking though droughts, famines, plagues, invasions, deaths, and persecutions -- calls on us to "Fear Not!"? 365 times is the answer. Interesting number isn't it? One for each day of the year. I am not saying we should not be concerned; we are human, we worry. But we also need to trust Jesus. All my life I have believed HIS words and trusted His love. This valley in our world right now is not going to make me stop trusting Him or believing in Him and HIS grace and love. Amen? Amen!

Tomorrow will be a follow up on this devotional by sharing my thoughts about being in the "at risk group." Until tomorrow: Love the Lord and wash your hands!

Agape,

Dad, Papa, Uncle Rich, Rich, & Rev Rich