Home Altar: Week of September 5, 2021

by Alicia Lindholtz

September 5

Unexpected Assistance

Fleeing from a storm is frightening. We left in the middle of the night after placing cherished keepsakes on high shelves and praying our home would be spared. Crawling down a highway with hundreds of other families is not peaceful. Doing it with young children, a dog on high alert, and an overstuffed car is not calming. We exited in hopes of finding gas and God sent an unlikely angel. A man stumbled by with a beer in one hand. He stuck his head into our car window and gruffly redirected us to back roads that speeded us to safety from the storm. The shadow of God’s wings are real. And unexpected. God’s refuge demonstrated again and again.

We praise you, God. You keep your promises. Daily your saving love and faithfulness reach down to where we are. We only have to ask. Help us to rest in you not only in perilous times, but moment by moment. AMEN. 

September 6
Proverbs 22:1-2, 8-9, 22-23 

Unexpected Trust 

When Rick and I were first engaged, it was exciting to choose a wedding ring at the local jewelry store in Rick’s small hometown, but I wanted some input from another woman. The owner of the store saw our uncertainty and suggested we take the ring to Rick’s home for another opinion from his mother. Being raised in a large city, I was amazed. No names had been exchanged. But his parents had established themselves in an honorable way. Their name was respected. The jeweler knew he was not taking a chance with valuable merchandise. He knew exactly where the ring was going. It was the value of a good name and how life can be lived demonstrating reverence to Christ.

Thank you, Father, for shining your light on attributes that may seem unimportant in this often overwhelming life, but that show your character. Thank you for parents who modeled your grace. AMEN.

September 7
James 2:1-9 

Unplanned Wisdom 

I was raised wearing “Sunday clothes” to church. There was no discussion. That was the way it was. Twenty years later, standards had changed and apparel choices for church had relaxed, but I had “Sunday clothes” imprinted inside me. It was rare for me to wear blue jeans to church, but one Sunday I did. A younger couple was visiting that day, and the pastor invited them to come back the following week. But they said they were worried about “the rules.” “What rules?” he asked. The young lady said she didn’t have the right clothes. She was wearing jeans. The pastor pointed across the room. “See that lady?” The couple nodded. “That is my wife.” That was the day I chose to wear jeans. I had no idea that choice could make a difference in anyone’s spiritual journey.

Father, help us to look through your eyes wherever we are. Show us the things that are meaningful to you and release us from the unimportant. AMEN. 

September 8
James 2:10-13 

Unrelenting Mercy 

Last winter I was blessed to see three deer bounding across a snowcovered meadow. They were graceful and free, yet their freedom was bound by rules not of their making. The law of freedom sounds contradictory. If one is free, one is not under the law. Not true. Our freedom as believers is based on a merciful, loving, saving God. I live freely, making choices everyday. When I base my choices on God’s law, I reflect his character and mercy triumphs. When I am quick to judge and forgo mercy I make a mockery of the love and grace given to me. God’s law brings freedom. The mercy I show will be extended to me on the day of judgment.

Most merciful God, thank you for your love that gives me freedom to live a life of love. I cherish the guidance of your Spirit as I strive to make choices that reflect your character. Correct my judgmental attitude and help me to show your mercy to the world. AMEN.

September 9
Mark 7:24-30 

Unexpected Boldness 

What parent wouldn’t beg for their child’s life? The Greek woman in Mark 7 was bold. Once she knew Jesus was in town she found out where he was staying, walked right in, and began pleading for Jesus to save her daughter. As a non-Jew and a woman, she was out of her comfort zone, but she was desperate. Jesus did not chastise her but engaged her. He searched her heart. Jesus healed her daughter and built up her faith and that of any who heard her testimony. His merciful action changed her life. 

His mercy is alive today. I have prayed with parents who were beseeching God for their child’s life. I have been that parent, asking on bended knees, to save my child. I have seen Jesus’s resurrection power in action. Jesus engaged me in the journey. He did not remove the journey, and that makes my testimony of God’s grace more powerful.

Loving Savior, thank you for your tender mercies in our lives. AMEN. 

September 10
JAMES 2:14-26 

Unanticipated Provision 

Life turns and unemployment challenges. “Give us this day our daily bread” were not mere words. Rick was mulching lawns and doing print advertisements. Unable to work outside the home, caring for chronically ill children, I was applying for food stamps and cutting corners. God showed us faith in action: groceries on our porch; money taped to our door. Unasked for blessings that kept us afloat. With high monthly medical expenses, insurance was paramount. A group of believers pooled resources and paid our insurance premiums for over a year. We will never know the names of these saints. We will never forget their faith in action. Our family learned important truths. Our children experienced a real God providing in unexpected ways.

Father, thank you for life lessons that highlight your truth. Thank you for a family of God who hears your word and lives your truth out loud. Show us every day how to actively live our faith in word and deed. AMEN.

 SATURDAY, September 11
PSALM 109:21-31

Undeserved Faithfulness

The year 2020 brought many to their knees. It just kept coming. What else could happen? A world turned upside down. Last year could relate to the situation in today’s passage: feeling distanced from any resource needed for survival. There is no pretty spin on the situation. A sermon on how God meets us in the wilderness helped to put this in perspective. The pastor spoke of the resources we always have in Jesus. He is the way through, speaks truth to us, and gives us life. The psalmist, King David, ends with repeated thanks to the Lord. Praising him for staying beside the needy. Always ready to save. God has stood beside me through some very difficult times when I felt I was in the “valley of dry bones.” I couldn’t see it in the midst, but looking back, I can see God provided every mercy needed to shepherd me through.

I praise you, heavenly Father, for hearing my lament and remaining beside me. Thank you for provision in this day and every day. AMEN.

About the Author: Alicia Lindholtz

I was born and raised in Dallas, Texas, and met my husband, Rick, at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California. Rick, a graduate of North Park Theological seminary, and I have served in churches for more than 35 years. We live in northern Illinois in a small town serving at Valley Evangelical Covenant Church. We are grateful for and proud of our children, ElenaClaire, Mark, and Miles, and our first grandchild who was born this spring. We have practiced grandparenting by spoiling our Maltese dog completely. I am active in music ministry in church as well as in community shows. I am a voracious reader, love to walk, and am proud to serve on the board of Bread of Life Food Pantry and Soup Kitchen.

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