Scripture Reading – Day 28

Matthew 26:20-30 (NIV)

The Last Supper

When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve. And while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.”

They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, “Surely you don’t mean me, Lord?”

Jesus replied, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me.  The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.”

 Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely you don’t mean me, Rabbi?”

Jesus answered, “You have said so.”

 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”

Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you.  This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.


A Life Well Lived – Day 27

1 John 4:16b – “God is love. Whoever lives in love, lives in God and God in him.”

On January 1, 2018 I lost my dear Aunt Jill – wife of my mother’s brother and a second mother to me. I was fortunate to live just up the street from my Aunt Jill and her family during my girlhood years. It was with her passing that I was able to truly look back and focus on her life and what made her so very special – not just to me – but to many individuals, including Mark and our children.

When I think of Aunt Jill and why I believe her life was “well lived”, the word that first comes to my mind is “Love”. Aunt Jill loved deeply and without reservation. She showered our family with sticky buns, cookies and other goodies on a regular basis. She was a master seamstress and sewed clothes for me and for her own family as well. When you received a hug from Aunt Jill, you were in her grip for a good ten seconds….going nowhere, to be sure…..and got a smack on the bottom (a love pat, she called them) just for good measure! J Her love extended outward to friends and to her church family as well, where she was known and recognized for her culinary skills and her giving and caring ways. On a mission assignment from the Mennonite Church, my aunt and uncle served at The International Guest House in Washington D.C., taking on the responsibility of host and hostess to many individuals from all over the world. Mark and I were able to see them “in action” as they showed hospitality and the love of Christ to many people.

As Aunt Jill aged and succumbed to Alzheimer’s disease, she still recognized her position – her calling – in life when one day, across the kitchen table from my uncle, she stated, “I just want to live a life that is pleasing to the Lord”.

I will never forget my Aunt Jill. She leaves a lasting mark on my heart and on my life. So what about me? What about us? What mark are we leaving? How will I, how will we, be remembered? As Pastor Todd has recently challenged us to “reflect” Christ and His character, the word that has continued to come to me is LOVE. Love more, love deeply, love daily, love others, love recklessly. Love as Jesus loves.

The Scriptures are simply full of teachings on love and I want to challenge us all to reflect on these references (and more if you look at your concordance!), as we prayerfully look to the Lord and what He has to say to us this Lenten season:


On God’s Love:

  • The “love chapter” I Corinthians 13 – and particularly verse 13 that states “and now these three remain: faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love.
  • All of Psalm 103, but particularly the character of God reflected in verse 8 – “the Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.”
  • Song of Songs 2:4b “His Banner over me is Love.”
  • John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”
  • I John 4:16b “God is love. Whoever lives in love, lives in God and God in him.”
  • I John 3: 16a “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.”
  • I John 3:1a “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!”
  • I John 4:19 “We love because he first loved us.”
  • I Chronicles 16:34 “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.”
  • Ephesians 3: 17-19 “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.


Our call to love:

  • I Peter 1:22b “Love one another deeply, from the heart.”
  • Romans 12:9a “Love must be sincere.”
  • Matthew 22: 37-39 Jesus said “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind’. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
  • John 15:17 Jesus said, “This is my command, Love each other.”
  • Galatians 5:13b “…serve one another in love.”


And because this love is supernatural – we need the infilling of the Holy Spirit.

  • Galatians 5:22a “But the fruit of the Spirit is Love”….and all those other fruits too, of course!
  • Romans 5:5b “…because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”


I need the Holy Spirit – I can’t love like this on my own. But I want to. Like Aunt Jill, “I just want to live a life that is pleasing to the Lord”. So whether it’s sticky buns, sewing for my grandkids, or hugging folks till they hurt J, I want to love like Jesus.

May we all be touched by the enormous, crazy, wild, reckless love of our Savior this Lenten season. And may we choose to live as closely to Him as we can each and every day, pouring ourselves into His Word and asking the Spirit to use us for His glory. May we reflect His love to everyone in our life’s path. And when our chapter closes, may we be remembered for a life well lived – a life of love.

Prayer: Dear Lord, I thank you for your love expressed on the Cross of Calvary. I praise you for this unspeakable gift of love. I pray that I can express that love to others each day that you give me breath. I thank you for loving me and allowing me to live for you. May my life be a reflection of you and your amazing love. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

And as a special bonus – if you have access to the internet, you might want to listen to Mercy Me sing an old hymn of the faith that expresses “The Love Of God”-
– Barb Schumacher


Caught on Camera – Day 26

Every Tuesday evening for the past three years, my son, Gage, has a guitar lesson. During the winter months, better known as “Tax Season” in our house, it is my job to take Gage to his lessons.

Last March as I was sitting in a room with a few dozen amplifiers, listening to my son “rock out” to some 70’s or 80’s classic rock. I saw a ten dollar bill lying on the floor. Now, I never had any intention of keeping that money for myself. It was not mine, and someone could have come back looking for it. Before picking it up, I looked across the room and stared straight into a security camera. What if someone looking at the monitors saw me pick up that ten dollar bill? What if I HAD wanted to pick it up and keep it? Someone could have seen me! I thought then, that if there were more security cameras, perhaps people would be less likely to commit crimes or harm others. If there were security cameras strategically placed, perhaps even hidden so people didn’t know where they were, they would be too afraid to make the bad decisions and commit the crimes that we all too often read about or hear about on the news.

And then, like a ton of bricks, I was hit with a realization. We DO have a security camera so to speak; eyes that are always watching, ears that are always listening. Our Heavenly Father. He knows all and sees all and hears all. Isn’t being “caught” by the Lord a far bigger deal than being caught on a video camera, or store security monitor or even by a police officer? It certainly should be.

I picked up the $10 bill and gave it to the people behind the counter at the music store. I don’t know if anyone ever came back looking for it or not, and it doesn’t matter. I did what I hope and pray God would have wanted me to do with it, as I pray that I always do in any situation.

In all that you do, do it as though you are doing it for Christ. He is the ultimate “security camera”. “And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.” Colossians 3:17.
– Crystal Johnson


Find Your Passion! Get Involved! – Day 25

What do you like to do? Do you like to sing, paint, cook, garden, exercise or read? What’s your passion? I’ve heard Pastor Josh preach about our “gifts” and how we should use them. I’ve heard famous people like NBA star Kobe Bryant and musician Jason DeRulo both say how finding one’s passion has been vital to their successes and enjoyment in life.

Me personally, my passion is people. I enjoy having fun and seeing people around me having fun! I love to see people smile. I even told my mother at an early age that I thought the reason I was put on Earth was to make people smile.

So what is your passion? Whatever it is, I encourage you to use your passion in a way to help serve the Lord. Use the gifts that you have been blessed with to make a difference in your world. We have all been given one life here on Earth and God wants us not to watch life pass us by, but to be an active part in making a difference for His Kingdom!

If you like to cook, help make meals for those who can’t. If you like to clean, join Nehemiah’s Mission to help neighbors. Whatever you like to do, there is a place for you to get involved in your church’s community to help make a difference.

Life is short. Get involved! Don’t just wait for opportunities to come to you – go out and seek them. I encourage you to participate in Men’s and Women’s ministry activities, join a Bible study or start one of your own. Let’s all make a difference for God’s kingdom and you’ll be surprised how much fun you have doing it!

In Matthew 5:12-13, we are reminded that “You are the salt of the earth, but if that salt loses its saltiness how can it be made salty again. If it’s no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled by men.

Don’t lose your saltiness. Get involved, join a group, go to an event. God has gifted YOU to use your gift for HIM!
– Dan Inners


God’s Cross – Day 24

One Wednesday night at Pulse, I was open for what God wanted to do through me, with no restrictions. I felt God tell me to kneel before a large wooden cross that was in the Pulse room at the time. So I did. God gave me a vision. This vision was of a cross in my back yard. This was a fairly large cross, maybe 7 feet tall. I knew that God wanted me to build this cross. I am fairly talented at wood working, but I normally don’t finish projects that I start. But I had God’s help with this project.

When I started on the project a day or two later, I didn’t know what to make it out of. But I knew that God would provide what I needed. We had old cedar logs lying beside our house. When I saw them, I knew that was what God wanted me to make the cross out of. So I went out to my driveway and plugged up an old radio and tuned it to 90.7, a Christian radio station. I went beside our house and picked the two logs that God told me too. I build the cross with a draw knife, a knife used to remove shaving from wood, a pocket knife, a sawzall and cheap thin rope. I started by removing branches and with the sawzall.

About half way though doing this God told me to stop and worship Him. So right in the middle of my driveway I worshipped Him with hands held high. During this time He told me to make it bigger, so the piece that was the vertical piece became the horizontal piece and a bigger log became the vertical piece. This was now a big cross. I continued to work and about an hour later I was wondering why I was doing this. Then I stood it up, all put together, and I understood. It was not my cross that I made; it was His cross that I got the privilege of making. I took the cross out back with my brother’s help. I dug a hole 6 to 8 inches deep and put the cross in the ground. Now 6 to 8 inches is not enough dirt to hold a 7 foot cross in the ground for the three years that it has (even through a wind storm that tore my neighbor’s patio roof off and threw it across the road.) There is one force that is keeping that cross there and that is the power of Christ Jesus, my Lord and Savior.

I now put a light on the cross from about December 10 through May. If you are driving on route 116 going from Hanover to Spring Grove at night, you might see it lit up. If you would like to talk to me about this please do. Don’t forget to follow God without restrictions because when you do great things happen. 
-Murphy Altland


The Carpenter – Day 23

During my college years, I worked construction jobs through the summer months. While on one particular job site, I became very frustrated with a project I was working on, left out a few angry words then flung my hammer across the room.

A fellow carpenter heard the racket, knowing what had taken place. He came into the room and calmly suggested that I use my energy more wisely by walking away from the frustration and moving on to another project for a short time. He explained that I could then come back to the project with a calm spirit and new insight.

His words became a turning point for me as his advice worked that day and every day since. It marked the beginning of my personal journey toward patience and self-control. The practice of stepping back from a frustrating situation soon became second nature. In Galatians, Paul talks about the fruits of the Spirit. As we put these virtues into practice, our daily walk becomes easier and is pleasing to God.

Galatians 5:22-25 – “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”

Prayer: Father God, thank you for your wisdom. I commit to living by your Spirit and will endeavor daily to reflect your virtues.
– Barry Myers