Memorial Day Prayer

Dear Heavenly Father, we thank you for those who have sacrificed their lives in service to our country. Be with those who grieve over the loss of beloved parents, sons, daughters, husbands, wives, and friends who went to war and did not return. Comfort them with the knowledge that in Jesus Christ, your son, we have victory over death and the promise of a future reunion in heaven. Make us thankful for our nation’s freedoms purchased at so great a price. Amen

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Jesus Ascends into Heaven

The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
~ Matthew 28:16-20

He lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven.
~ Luke 24:50b-51

They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
~ Acts 1:10-11

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Haunts of Violence

Have regard for your covenant,
because haunts of violence
fill the dark places of the land.

Psalm 74:20

We know about the haunts of violence—those dark places where evil thrives and danger lurks. We know there are places in our cities where it is not safe to even drive through at night. We know of other dark places across oceans where from an alley or rooftop, from a ship or aircraft, killers may strike.

A “haunt” is a place where someone regularly spends time. In itself, the word has a neutral meaning. It could refer to a student spending time in a library.

But, the verb, “to haunt” easily flavors the noun. Traveling into the haunts of violence can lead to haunting experiences. Violence will do that.

People who stand up to the violent ones, people who protect others from violence, must often enter the haunts of violence to be effective. Even if the mission is successful, the violence can leave scars. Outer wounds may heal quickly. It is the inner injuries—the ones to our mind and soul—that often resist mending.

A person does not need to suffer from PTSD to carry around the inner wounds. Some sights, some sounds, and surely some smells, simply refuse to be erased from mind and spirit. Sometimes medicine helps. Sometimes a mental health professional can bring answers. Sometimes it just takes the passing of time.

Sometimes God’s role in our life comes into question. Why wasn’t he there to stop the violence? Why did he not protect innocent people? Why did he not protect me? Satan is immediately there to suggest answers. He whispers: “God doesn’t care!” In our hurt and confusion, we are tempted to believe the Liar. What a mistake that would be!

The writer of Psalm 74 lived at a violent time. The Land of Israel had become littered with those dark places. It bothered him greatly. He was haunted by some of the sights and sounds. But, he knew the answer. He turned to the One who is not intimidated by Evil. He called upon the One who had promised to care for his people. He personally knew the One who was the Death of death and hell’s Destruction.

He knew the King of kings and Lord of lords by name. He called him Father.

So do we.

He turned to his Father in faith.

So should we.

Prayer: Our Father who art in heaven, be with us when we must enter those haunts of violence in dark places. Send angels to guard us. Use us to guard others. Remember your covenant, your promise to neither leave us or forsake us. Remind us that yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory. Always! Everywhere. Amen.

by Pastor Paul Ziemer

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Jesus ~ Going to Prepare a Place

In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. ~ John 14:2-3

Imagine that you are planning on going camping with some friends, when they call a couple of days before the trip and say, “Hey, we got off work a day early, so we will go and get a couple of good sites. If you want to bring your tent by, we will set it up for you, start a fire, and have dinner waiting for you when you get there.” They would never do such a thing if they didn’t think you were coming to join them.

When Jesus promised that he was going to prepare a place for his disciples, he knew what lay ahead of them. He knew their faith would be severely tested, because soon he would be taken from them. Judas would leave only to come back with a detachment of soldiers to arrest him in the garden. Then Jesus would be detained and put on trial where he was mocked, spit upon, and beaten. After being crucified and buried, it would seem like Jesus had left them forever. But then, after three days he rose from the dead and appeared to them on many occasions. He was back! Until…forty days later he visibly ascended into heaven.

Sometimes we feel so alone, don’t we? Sure, we might have friends and family all around, but what about Jesus? He doesn’t always seem so close as we struggle to understand all the hate and violence in the world around us. He doesn’t always seem so near when we find ourselves falling into the same temptations that so easily lead us astray. Where has he gone?

He has gone to prepare a place for those who repent and trust in him. And this isn’t just some wishy-washy-pie-in-the-sky promise. Jesus is doing something for you right now. He left his disciples the first time to give himself as the once and for all sacrifice for sin. Now he has left to prepare a place for you in heaven. Why would he ever do such a thing, if he didn’t think that you were coming to join him?

Dear Jesus, when we feel all alone, help us to listen to your promises and be assured that one day we will go to be with you in the place you have prepared for us. Amen.

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Mother’s Day Prayer

Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living. ~ Genesis 3:20

Gracious Heavenly Father, thank you for the gift of life you gave us through our mothers. Bless mothers everywhere with love, patience, wisdom, understanding, and strength so that they can raise their children to love and honor you. 

On this Mother’s Day weekend, some people yearn for their mothers who have died. Others’ hearts are broken because of the loss of a child. Give them strength to focus on you, keeping you first in their hearts. Your love alone can satisfy all their longings; be with them and comfort them. 

We thank you that you sent your Son, Jesus Christ, to be born of a human mother in order to save us, making us your dear children forever. In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen

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