I’ll start with the second question in Luis’s list today. It references Luke 18:9-14 (Pharisee’s prayer/Tax Collector’s prayer).

“If you are being completely honest, who do you think yourself better than? When and why have you judged others? How can you refrain from such judgment?”

Squirming in my seat here. It’s uncomfortable to confess my sins in a blog, or anywhere for that matter. But by doing so, maybe I can start a conversation about the last part: how to refrain. So here goes.

I think one of the worst kinds of pride one can have is religious pride. It’s as easy as the common cold to catch and harder than cancer to get rid of by oneself. But that’s my story. I grew up being told that my church was the one, true church. It felt at times as though we were almost* required to look down on those poor, misled protestants. Then I joined a Presbyterian church, and quickly learned how little I knew about the bible and church history. What a temptation to look down on the poor, misled Roman Catholics I had left behind!

Then I started studying and volunteering at TCCTC. It truly is a salad bowl of Christian traditions. But before I could really cherish and appreciate the wonderful breadth of styles that are represented there, I confess that I spent time trying to figure out why some of my classmates and co-workers prayed the way they did (and not the “better” way that I did).

I can’t take credit for my newfound respect for and delight in Christian diversity. This has been an area where the Holy Spirit has been working on me for a long time. So my thoughts on how to refrain are twofold:

  1. Try — because you know it’s your Christian duty (Philippians 2:3) — to think others better than yourself.
  2. Get to know the person you’re looking down on — you may find a person who has borne much more fruit than you have and/or overcome tremendous hardship. (Wow, can that be humbling!)
  3. Pray about it and then pray some more.

Enough from me — your sister in Christ, Sue Isaac.

*To be fair, I’m sure that I’m misrepresenting the actual teachings of the Roman Catholic church based on my own faulty understanding. But that’s how I remember it.

Now about you…

How would you answer Luis’s question? 

NOTE: If you do leave a comment, it helps to let me know so that I can “approve” it for the website. You’ll see it posted much sooner.

What, in your life, do you absolutely know by heart?

“What, in your life, do you absolutely know by heart? What do you know to be true, no matter the circumstances you face?”

Doesn’t Luis ask interesting questions?!

What first popped into my head was “change.” But that was the world talking to me. I looked it up and found this on “Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher, has been quoted as saying ‘change is the only constant in life.'” As smart as those Greek philosophers were, they didn’t know everything. Most especially, they didn’t know Jesus.

In fact, as much as things seem to change all the time, we as Christians, know about things that don’t change.

  • Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. [Hebrews 13:8]
  • We are never alone! [Luis’s sermon today]
  • And this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them up at the last day. [Jesus speaking in John 6:39]

So, Heraclitus, our circumstances change all the time, but who we are in Christ does not. That gives us a solid foundation. Let’s build on it together!

Your sister in Christ, Sue Isaac

One said “Thank You”!

Today’s gospel reading from Luke 17 told the story of ten healed from leprosy, but only one of the ten saying “thank you” to Jesus. I highly recommend the sermon Luis  preached today. But I’m going to take a little different tack in this blog post.

At the Pumpkin Festival in Havana yesterday, I helped staff our church booth for a couple of hours. It was my privilege to sit by the container with the prizes. In addition to seeing how quick or slow children were to make their prize selection (a very big difference between the slowest and fastest), I saw another range of behavior. During the time I was there, I only heard one child say “thank you” without being prompted. But 100% of them did say “thank you.” I was so encouraged that parents are still teaching their children to express gratitude! Some parents instructed their children to say “thank you”; others asked, “what do we say”? Those asked the question invariably said “thank you” — all they needed was a reminder, not instruction.

Aren’t we just older versions of those children? We all need the occasional reminder to be grateful.

Thanks be to God for my church family!
Thanks be to God for the gift of time/talent/treasure/t-shirts that Shann put into making the corn-dig booth so much fun!
Thanks be to God that my grandkids happened to visit this weekend so they could attend! Benji told me later that volunteering (re-burying golf balls in the corn) was his favorite part of the festival.
Thanks be to God for parents teaching and reminding children to be grateful!

What are you grateful for today?

Sue Isaac


Passing Our Faith On to Our Family

Greetings brothers and sisters in Christ!

Your sister Sue here. Yes, I wasn’t with you for the worship service today in body — but I’m always with you in the Spirit. As it happens, I was at a quilt retreat. What was special and different about this particular quilt retreat was that my sister Liz traveled from Maryland to enjoy the retreat with me.

Of course, we talked a lot about quilting, but we also did a lot of family reminiscing. She told the story of how she and her husband encouraged their kids to pray before meals. At a certain age, kids don’t have much patience for long prayers. But, rather than discourage their son by telling him his faith was less than mustard sized, they adopted his very short prayer as a family tradition. It’s only three words: “Jesus, squeeze us”!

The faith he’d learned from his parents was that being “squeezed” (hugged) by Jesus was all they needed. Words to live by! A prayer to pass along!

Do you have any stories about how you received the faith through the teaching you got from your family? Or about how you shared it with your kids? Please post them here!

Disciples Practice Generosity

What did you learn or relearn today?  How are you going to get personal about generosity? I’d love for you to comment on this!

When you look at the “Food for thought” questions that Luis includes in the bulletin, is there usually one that jumps out at you?

“Is this story (the rich man and Lazarus from Luke 16) a morality tale? If so, what is the moral? How is it more than a morality tale?” is the set of questions that’s been rolling around in my mind this afternoon.

Here’s what I heard today in answer to this question. Yes, it’s a morality tale (moral: it’s too late to repent when you’re dead) but it’s so much more! It’s about what we do in the now of our Christian walk.

Now is the time to:

  • respond in generosity to the gift of salvation. Be the people who don’t walk past (or set the guard dogs on) those who look to us to share what we’ve received.
  • be the church that teaches and encourages others (and ourselves) to place our value in our eternal home — and not in the things or wealth we have here.
  • reject Mammon. Quit imagining that we’re blessed because we’re prosperous. Remember that we’re blessed in our calling to place all our hope in God.

You all heard or can listen to the same sermon. So now I need to get personal, or what’s the point of this blog post?

I’m feeling encouraged that our Session is urging us to be involved in the community. So I’ll take a shift at October Fest (being “generous” with my time will probably be a lot of fun!). To be the church that’s here for our community, we have to be known.

I’ll try to remember that sharing material things and money are important, but that sharing the Good News is even more important. And maybe I need to find a good way to put my money where my mouth is on that one.

What did you learn or relearn today?  How are you going to get personal about generosity? I’d love for you to comment on this!


Disciples Resist Greed

Greetings, HavanaPres!

I reread Luke 16:1-13 after lunch on Sunday afternoon. I didn’t have to use lectio divina* to be convicted by verse 13. “No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

I like to think that Mark and I try to be good stewards of the money that we’ve received through employment, bequests, etc. We support the church and other charities, don’t we? We don’t constantly seek to get more, so by at least one definition of greed, we’ve escaped that. But — and here’s the question I’m hoping you’ll wrestle with alongside me here — do I actually DESPISE money?

What does despise mean, anyway?
Here’s the definition from Merriam Webster:
1: to look down on with disrespect or aversion
2: to regard as negligible, worthless, or distasteful

Using this definition, I think there may be some hope for me. Compared to true riches (redemption and life in the church), I regard money as negligible in where I put my value. It’s not saying much but it’s a start.

Please share your thoughts and let me know I’m not struggling with this alone!

*Bible Gateway has an excellent introduction to lectio divina if you want to learn more:

Your sister in Christ,