Category Archives: Devotional

A LOOK BACK: Afraid of the Dark

Read John 1:1-18

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.” (John 14:27)

The night was dense, thickened by the looming darkness that fell swiftly over the land. A fog had rolled in off of the sea that night, a mist of death that shrouded the land like a linen that covers a grayish dead corpse from passers by.  The air was cut thin by an uneasy feeling, a horrid sense of despair that crept in one’s bosom and suffocated away the life.

There in the distance, I could make out a shape through the fog. I squinted as if to focus in and, the more focused I became, I began to realize that the shape was the body of my friend Lucy. Her figure was lying still on top of a marble bench in the cemetery outside of the abbey. A called out to her in hopes that she would hear me; however, she lay there motionless as if she were made of marble herself.

At the sound of my voice I noticed movement. Directly behind Lucy’s motionless body loomed a shadowy figure. It was hunched over her like a vulture that has come to eat the flesh of its prey. What looked like its head raised up and I could see, cutting through the thickened veil of mist, two beady, red orbs illuminating a path straight toward me. Terror overwhelmed me as I realized that its eyes, its terrible red eyes were fixed on me. It was at that moment that I felt the blood within me grow icy cold with the fear of death.

The scene above is one that is forever etched into my mind. It is my representation of a scene that I read in Bram Stoker’s Dracula, where Mina follows a sleepwalking Lucy out to the chapel at Whitby and sees, for the first time, the shadowy monster we all have come to know as Count Dracula. There are lots of memorable moments in that book, and the truth be told that it is my favorite novel; however, there is no other scene in the book that stands so horrifying in my mind that that very scene.

What is it that makes us so afraid of the dark and of darkness? Is it that our sight and our senses are limited? Is it that what lies beyond our sight is unknown to us and, as we all know, we fear what is unknown? The fact of the matter is that, whether it be day or night, there is much to fear in this world. Evil exists, and its monstrous presence in this world can be experienced even in the seemingly safest of places. In fact, don’t let the light and your senses decieve you. You are no more guaranteed safety in the light of day than you are in the dark of night.  We live in a world where cruelty, depravity and hopelessness seem to rule.

Yet, we are not without hope for we know that evil does not rule. We know that God sent true light into the world, the light of life, and that life resides in each and everyone of us. We can give into our fears and close out the light of God, or we can open our hearts to that light and let it transform us into beacons of hope, healing and wholeness for the rest of the world. In Jesus of Nazareth we see such a light, in Jesus Christ we see the hope of God carried out in humanity and we see the frailty of evil.

Do not let your fears conquer you. Trust that the true light of God is within you and shine it out for the world to see. Live as Christ did in this world. Love God by unconditionally loving others. Remove your fear and your cynicism and be a sanctuary of hope, healing an wholeness for the people around you who desperately need it. Shine that light no matter how the world reacts. Know that not even death can stop that light from shining within you for it is the light of Christ who conquered death.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“What is needed, rather than running away or controlling or suppressing or any other resistance, is understanding fear; that means, watch it, learn about it, come directly into contact with it. We are to learn about fear, not how to escape from it.” – Jiddu Krishnamurti

PRAYER
Lord, help me to conquer my fear. Fill me with your light and through me, bring hope, healing and wholeness to those who need it. Amen.

Episode 127 | Breathing Thanksgiving (Full Worship Service)

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-8ypmz-e09c47

In this episode, while Rev. Todd is on vacation with his family, Kathleen Meredith (Certified Lay Servant and Lay Leader of First United Methodist Church of Newton) leads worship. The whole worship service is included.

EPISODE NOTES:

  • First UMC of Newton, NJ streams online on Sundays at 10:30 a.m. Join us for worship on YouTube.
  • If worship with us online and/or you would like to give to First UMC of Newton, your generosity will help us sustain with our mission and ministries during this COVID-19 pandemic. We are still paying our staff and we are ministering from home remotely. Your support is vital to us being able to do so. Thank you for considering giving at https://tithe.ly/give?c=1377216 or https://paypal.me/newtonumc.
  • Sign up for bi-weekly devotions at Life-Giving Water.
  • Subscribe to Life-Giving Water Messages, also on iTunes and Google Play Music.
  • Subscribe to the Party on Johncast, co-hosted by Rev. Sal Seirmarco and Rev. Todd Lattig.

A LOOK BACK: Let Freedom Ring

Well, it’s summertime again and my family and I are on vacation. While we are away, I will not be writing any new devotionals; however, this is a great opportunity to look back at a couple of devotions that were written over the course of the past years.  I hope that though this was written in the past, that in it you may find a relevant message that God is speaking to you. So without further adieu, click here to read today’s devotion.

Episode 26 | Let Freedom Ring

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-pb8e4-e0bf96

In this episode, fellow POJCasters, Sal and Todd are joined by Sal’s better half, Alison, and their newborn son Calvin, for another special “social-distanced home edition”. Listen as the discuss about Independence Day, Black Lives Matter and more Shithouse Theology.

BTW, as a Happy Birthday America present to you, every listener, patron or not, gets access to this month’s bonus video and audio! So make the most out of this gift and…while you’re at it…support The Party on John Cast.

Party On Patrons: You can totally support us by subscribing to us on Patreon and, by doing so, you will be signing up for exclusive, bonus content, such as episode wrap-ups, extra segments and the like. We have three tiers of support and each level bears more rewards. Lots of great reasons to join. Click here for more information.

Other ways to Support: If you love this podcast, please rate and review us on iTunes, Google Play Music, Spotify. The more we get rated and reviewed, the higher up on the giganto totem pole we get on those respective platforms.

Also, interact with us on our social media, on our Facebook Page, Twitter, and Instagram. On Twitter you can also follow Todd and Sal on Twitter at @trlattig and @SalvatoreSeirm1 respectively.

EPISODE NOTES:

He Brews Segement:

Alison

Sal

Todd

Most Excellent Music Segment:

Todd

  • Glory by Common and John Legend

Alison

Sal

A LOOK BACK: Unanswered Prayers

Well, it’s summertime again and my family and I are on vacation. While we are away, I will not be writing any new devotionals; however, this is a great opportunity to look back at a couple of devotions that were written over the course of the past years.  I hope that though this was written in the past, that in it you may find a relevant message that God is speaking to you. So without further adieu, click here to read today’s devotion.

God’s People, part 251: Rhonda

Read Acts 12:6-19

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” (Zephaniah 3:17, NLT)

When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.

Part 251: Rhonda. I am willing to bet that most people did not realize there was a Rhonda in the Bible. Everytime that I hear that name, I cannot help but think of the Beach Boys song, “Help Me, Rhonda”, which would not be completely inappropriate for this particular passage in Acts. Granted, the story of Rhonda in Acts is not centered on her helping getting a broken relationship out of another guy’s heart; however, the phrase “Help Me, Rhonda” itself speaks to what happens in the account.

To summarize, Peter had been imprisoned and awaiting a public trial by King Herod Agrippa I. If you recall, Agrippa had just had James, son of Zebedee, put to death. This, evidently, went over well with public opinion and so Agrippa had Peter arrested so that he might stand trial and be put to death as well. While, in prison, the Angel of the Lord broke Peter out of jail and set him free. Following that, he went straight to John Mark’s house and knocked on the door.

This is where Rhonda comes in. She was a servant of John Mark’s household and was the one who first answered the door. Before even opening the door, Rhonda recognized Peter’s voice and was so overjoyed that she forgot to even open the door. Instead, she ran back into the household and began to proclaim the good news that Peter was no longer in jail. Peter, confused, continued to knock until he was eventually let in.

Of course, what was good news for Peter, Rhonda, and company was not good news universally. Back at the jail the guards had to deal with a very miffed and hostile King Agrippa I. After searching the cells, he ordered the execution of the soldiers who were keeping watch. Agrippa, clearly, was not a man of patience or mercy. If he would not have Peter’s blood, he would have the blood of the ones responsible for keeping watch.

For us, as Christians, we could use the excitement that Rhonda has for serving God. Of course, she was overwhelmed to find out that Peter had not been harmed and that he had escaped from prison; however, her excitement went beyond that. Instead, she took it upon herself to let everyone in the household know that the Lord rescued Peter and he was standing at her door. The others thought she had lost it; however, she persisted and, when they opened the door, they were amazed to discover that Peter had, indeed, been resuced.

As Christian, we can so easily fall into the trap of not truly believing in the unbelievable. Sure, we know that Christ was resurrected, sure we know that God has the power to make miracles happen; however, we simply don’t have the faith to believe that such miracles can be worked out in front of us, much less through us.

By miracles, I do not mean God somehow working out our greatest desires list; rather, I mean the kind of happenings and events that show the power of God and bring glory to God’s name. We somehow believe that such things are the things of the past, of the Bible; however, God is working miracles out in our lives and the lives of others everyday. Even in situations that seem less than miraculous, I have seen God’s ability to transform hearts and lives. As Christians, we need to trust as Rhonda did. We need to know that, no matter what, Christ is always a knock away and be willing to share the good news with others. Let us grow to be such Christians.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
Every day we have to share the Good News is a miraculous day.

PRAYER
Lord, strengthen me to become a great and powerful witness to your presence among us. Amen.