Holy Family Parish
316 S. Logan
Rev. Jeffrey G.
Rev. John Huy Pham
8AM & 10AM Sunday
N. Jefferson St.
9AM & 10:45AM Sunday
"Truth North": 6PM Wed.
N. McLean St.
8:15, 9:30, 11AM &
(Beginning Sept. 12)
Adult, Youth & Kids' Club:
Prairieland Christian Church
Box 108, 1st St. Hartsburg, IL 62643
Lincoln Church of God
Evening Service: 6PM
Wednesday Family Hour:
402 Pekin St.,
7:30 & 9:45AM Sunday
2500 Woodlawn Road
Pastor: Joe Bennett
10AM & 6:30PM Sunday
2316 N. Kickapoo St., Lincoln
Worship: 10AM Sunday
Sunday School: 9AM
Shepherd Lutheran Church
of Free Lutheran Congregations
1140 N. State St., Lincoln
Worship: 9AM Sunday
1409 Pulaski St., Lincoln
Pastor: Andrew Nyren
Worship: 9AM Sunday
Sunday School: 10:15AM
Broadway St., Lincoln
Pastors: Larry Crawford,
Various dates and locations
(please call for
United Methodist Church
United Methodist Church
302 Broadway St., Lincoln
Pastor: Jame Hahs
Asst. Pastor: Becky
United Methodist Church
303 E Jefferson,
United Methodist Church
241 N. Walnut St.
PO Box 246
United Methodist Church
201 N. Mason St., New Holland
JOHN UNITED CHURCH of Christ
and Maple Street,
Pastor: Rich Reinwald
Pekin St., Lincoln
Pastor: Rev. Phillip Blackburn
First Cumberland Presbyterian Church
110 Broadway St., Lincoln
Pastor: Dr. David West
Cell phone: 871-9940
10:00 AM Sunday
about listing your congregation's worship information, please e-mail us
or call us at 217-737-7418.
Church Activities &
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays
down his life for the sheep.”-John 10:11
Three times in the Gospel of John Jesus delivers powerful “I Am”
statements. In John 8 we learn that Jesus is the light of the world.
In John 15 we are taught that Jesus is the true vine and here, in
John 10, we learn that Jesus is the good shepherd. It is worth
noting that the “I am..” phrasing is important. Remember back in
Exodus when Moses is beckoned to the burning bush from which the
glory of God is radiating? In that passage Moses asks God for a
name, to which God replies, “I am who I am.” This had always been
the divine name. But now Jesus is elaborating on “I am who I am.” He
offers us these images and none are more powerful than good
So, what is so special about this? I mean, it casts you and me as
sheep, how great can it be to be compared to sheep? But this is not
the point. This image points to the very nature of God. Jesus says,
“I am the good shepherd.” He then succinctly defines the image thus,
“the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” Period. Full
stop. Jesus, the son of God, the Word of God, the Light of the
World, will lay down his life for you and me. It is not something he
does, it is who he is and if it is who he is then it is who God is.
This is incredible news! And it means several things to us. First,
it illustrates God’s love for us. God loves you a lot. Second, it
highlights the selfless nature of God. And perhaps its most
important meaning is this; that it establishes the value of human
life. Human life is pretty cheap these days, but not to God. In
God’s mind the value of a human life is the divine life. Think about
that for a moment. The good shepherd lays down his life for his
sheep. Those are some important sheep Maybe being a sheep is not so
bad after all.
Prayer: Holy God, help me to understand how valuable and
loved I am. Fill me with joy, hope and peace, that I may know today
that you love me. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Blackburn, First Presbyterian Church
My mother-in-law called. She was laughing. “For the last twenty
minutes I’ve been listening to the message you left on my answering
machine,” she said. I had to agree that it was a funny message that
my wife had left. I was sitting right beside her when she made the
call. The funniest part about it, I thought, was that my wife
couldn’t stop laughing as she left the recording on the voice mail.
It was one of those times when you say something and realize how
ridiculous it must sound and you laugh at yourself and you can’t
stop as silliness feeds silliness. But for my mother-in-law to
listen to that brief message over and over for twenty minutes? Wow.
I wasn’t sure it was that entertaining, but then again, I wasn’t on
the receiving end.
Turns out my mother-in-law wasn’t laughing at a 45 second message.
Our cordless handset hadn’t succeeded in telling the base to end the
call and so we accidentally produced an extended audio recording of
our home life. Oh no! What had we said? What did she hear? I
instantly felt exposed. Had she caught me lecturing my teenage son?
Was I short with my wife about something? Did I utter some
thoughtless complaint? Had I said something negative about my
parents or parents-in-law? (Not that I ever do any of those things,
mind you – but, just in case I had – my brain was frantically doing
the instant replay of the last hour of my life.) And then I
remembered. Soon after the phone message should have ended, I had
picked up a book and was quietly reading and then I took a short nap
– pretty benign stuff. I hesitantly concluded that I had squeaked by
and that other members of my family had entertained my mother-in-law
– at least I hoped so.
Several years ago I was at a party. I had struck up a conversation
with a stranger, asked him what he did for a living, how long he
lived in the area – that sort of thing. After freely answering all
my questions he returned the favor and asked what I did for a
living. As soon as the words came out of my mouth I could see the
panic in his eyes. Unknowingly he had been talking with a
“minister.” Oh no! What had he just told me? Did he include some
off-color remark? Had he thrown in some four-letter word or spoken
some irreligious thing? Had he exposed himself? Now, years later, I
understood what that poor fellow had gone through.
I’m a transparent guy. I tend to be fairly vulnerable. Right now I’m
sharing my thoughts for everyone to see. Right? Not exactly! I’m in
control of what I choose to share. The thought of being the star of
“The Truman Show” or having a camera constantly on me as a member of
the “Jon and Kate plus 8” family – No Thanks! And yet, the “reality”
“Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is
uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give
account.” Heb 4:13 (NIV)
“There’s a Father up above and he’s looking down in love. So be
careful…” He is listening in. He is watching. Does that comfort us
or make us squirm? Does it thrill us to think of all He sees in us?
Probably not that!
The implication of Hebrews 4:13 is simple, yet profound: If we were
to consciously and consistently keep in mind that everything about
us is exposed before God, at the very least we might take a little
more responsibility for our lives. Or this “practice of His
presence” may be transformational. We might be led to call on Him
who can cause all old things to pass away and in His mercy He would
give each of us a new heart.
Ron Denlinger (pastor of Lincoln Bible Church)
borrow your boat…he’ll fill it with fish!
Nobody is on top of the world every day. Everyone had ups and downs.
Sometimes the world is sweet and sometimes it is sour. Sometimes
life moves along briskly, we accomplish what we set out to do and we
meet our personal goals. And sometimes things get stuck. Life comes
to a halt.
In Luke 5:1-11, we meet three discouraged men. They were fishermen –
not recreational fishermen, but workers whose families went hungry
if there was no catch. They had fished all night and caught nothing.
Now it was morning and the men were washing their nets.
There was a crowd on the beach near where they were working. A big
crowd! They were listening to Jesus – pressing in upon him. Jesus
steps in the water – out away from the crowd. Suddenly Jesus steps
into Simon’s boat. “Put out a little way from shore,” he asks Peter,
and he does. From the boat Jesus continues to teach the crowds.
Jesus then turned to Simon. “Put out into the deep water,” he tells
him, “and let your nets down for a catch.”
It was really quite audacious for Jesus, a landsman, to tell a
professional fisherman how to do his business. Very audacious – and
Peter answers Jesus immediately explaining the facts to him. “It
won’t do any good,” he says, “We have worked all night – and have
caught nothing. There is no point to it.”
Have you ever been there? You do your best. You work hard. And the
results are zero. An important relationship goes sour and there is
nothing you can do. You watch a marriage dissolve and you can’t save
it. A project you have worked on just will not pan out. The harder
you try – the less you produce.
Have you ever been in the place where all your wisdom tells you –
just give up? I have, and the last thing you want to hear when you
are in this position are the words “try harder.”
These fishermen were not stupid men. They knew the lake, the ledges
where the fish congregated, the kind of weather you had to have to
bring in a good catch. They knew the time to fish – and where to
fish – and they had gone fishing – at the right time – and at the
right place – and come up empty.
“Try over there,” Jesus says. “Over there in the deep water – let
your nets down for a catch over there.”
Peter replies, “We have done everything we should have done,
everything we were taught to do by our fathers and their fathers
before them, we know our business here Jesus, and we have caught
nothing … YET – if you say so – I will let down the nets.”
You know the story from here – They threw the nets out from Simon’s
boat and engulfed such a great score of fish that the nets began to
break. Indeed they caught so many fish that the boats began to sink.
It was an amazing catch. A catch made in deep water. A catch taken
where there should have been no catch. A catch taken at a time of
day when no one fishes! It was a miracle catch!
“Put out into the deep waters and let down your nets for a
catch.” When I read those words … I can almost hear Jesus calling me
to go deeper as well. “Come on, Ron; let’s dive a little deeper
here,” Jesus says. “But I tried that before!” I respond. “Come on,
let’s try it again,” Jesus says.
So I give Jesus control of my boat, my ministry, my relationships,
my finances! I hear his call to go a little deeper, “Give and it
will be given to you, a GOOD measure, PRESSED down, SHAKEN together,
RUNNING over, will POUR into your lap. For with the measure you use,
it will be measured to you.”(Luke 6:38)
Sometimes we just need to head out into the deep waters and let down
our nets for no better reason than Jesus has asked us to do so.
Our nets may come up empty for many days in a row but if we are
obedient to God – if we are willing to listen and try the deeper
things he suggests – if we are willing to venture out to the deeper
truths – our nets will in the end be filled and filled so abundantly
that our nets will almost break and our boats almost sink.
Ron Otto, preaching minster, Lincoln Christian Church
Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone.”-Deuteronomy 6:4
We live in the loudest society in the history of the world. We are
inundated with noise. We hear it in our cars, our homes, our
businesses. We shop with background music, we watch sports in stereo
surround. Some of us even sleep with the soft purr of white noise
lulling us away into the night. We lead loud lives. Much of the time
this is not a problem until we want to hear something else, another
sound that can’t find its way through all the noise. In these
moments we can feel like we are trying to have a conversation at a
concert, straining to hear the words we so desperately want over the
din of rock music and the lyrical whines of the singer. In short,
the noise can drown out the most important things in our lives.
And this brings us to silence. For centuries it was simply
understood that people of faith would experience silence. And in
their silences, people of faith experienced great things. From
monastics to peasants to kings, history is rich with stories of
God’s voice penetrating the silence. And so it comes to us. If we
want to know what God is really up to in our lives. If we want to
understand where God wants us to go. If we hope to draw ourselves
closer to God then we need to spend some time being quiet. We need
to make room for the still, small voice of the Lord to enter our
minds and thus shape our lives. Try it this week. Turn off the radio
in the car. Turn off the TV after the kids go to bed. Turn down the
radio while you work in the kitchen. Be quiet and listen. Hear, O
people, the Lord is your God. To know it, you have to be able to
Prayer: God, help me to be silent, help me to listen for
your voice in my world and in my life. I need your help. The noise
has overcome me and I feel lost from you. I need silence and I need
Love Your Enemies
your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”-Matthew
At first glance we Americans know little of persecution. Our
children are not kidnapped in the middle of the night to serve in a
rebel army as they are in Uganda. We do not fear for our lives when
we go to the market as they do in Baghdad. We do not lose our job
because we are Christian as they do in India. And yet we all know
persecution? How? Because we know people. We all know someone who is
our foil, our nemesis, our foe. They don’t like us. They go out of
their way to challenge or attack us. Their mere presence unsettles
us. And so we respond to them Sometimes we match their anger with
our own; their yells with our screams. Sometimes we ignore them and
lie low, hoping they will leave us alone. Sometimes we just fume in
private and ponder opportunities for revenge.
But Jesus tells us these things just aren’t acceptable. He was not
one for retribution and so he offers these words; love your enemies
and pray for those who persecute you. Of all the things Jesus asks
us to do I think this is the most difficult. It is very difficult to
put aside our concerns and angers and hurts and to pray for those
who persecute us. But Jesus teaches that prayer is the proper
posture. And the nature of the prayer is important. Jesus is not
telling us to pray that they will agree with us or be nicer to us,
but instead our prayer should be one of selfless hope, that those
who persecute us might find true joy and peace. That is a radical
difference! So on this day I invite you to pause, think of those who
torment and trouble you and say a loving prayer for them.
Prayer: God, please help me to pray for those who
persecute me. Help me to see their humanity and their identity as
your child. I offer this prayer in Jesus’ name. Amen.
“This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be
glad in it.”
If you are like me, you probably weren’t too glad on this day.
I woke up to subzero temperatures here in Lincoln, where they
are supposed to remain all day. Nothing to celebrate there. My
front door is frozen, my car is creaking and my floor is
freezing cold. I have to wear long underwear because of the
cold so my skin is extra dry and itchy. The large boots that
keep my feet dry and warm are also heavy and cumbersome. It is
not a great day. And yet the psalmist does not qualify his
words. He doesn’t say, “this is the day the Lord has made,
rejoice and be glad when it turns out well.” No, he says the
opposite. He makes his claim universal. Every day comes from
the Lord and every single day is a gift.
This is an important reminder on the frosty days, the dark days,
the sad days, the hard days. Even when we find life
challenging, even when we have suffered loss, or are afraid or
even shivering under blankets, we are enjoying a day of God’s
creation. Each day there is reason to rejoice because the
rising sun always bears with it he promise of God’s kingdom and
a reminder that God is with you today. So on this frigid
midwinter day, I invite you to live this day with gladness and
joy; gladness that the sun is shining and the trees are
beautiful and joy that God is here, working in this world.
Every day is a gift from God. I have a hunch that somewhere in
those words is the key to life.
Prayer: Holy God, thank your for this day. Please help me to
find joy and gladness today that I might be grateful for this
gift. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
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