Something to Think About With Keith Lawder and Rick Lanford
 

Rev. Keith E. Lawder
President/CEO
770-449-6726
877-220-5664
404-906-1425 (Cell)
klawder@gumf.org
 
Dr. Laudis H. "Rick" Lanford
Regional Vice President
478-256-7130 (Cell)
rlanford@gumf.org


 

 

November 30, 2020 Devotion By Dr. Rick Lanford, GUMF Regional Vice President

As it is written in Isaiah the prophet: “I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way”—"a voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for Him.'” – Mark 1:2-3

Advent is the season in the Church where we prepare our hearts for the coming of the Christ Child. God’s people will light Advent wreaths and sing hymns, and pastors will preach sermons about His coming. How will you prepare your heart this year for the coming of the Christ Child?


November 23, 2020 Devotion By Dr. Rick Lanford, GUMF Regional Vice President

“Enter into his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good. His unfailing loves continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation.” – Psalm 100:4-5

No matter where I am or whom I am with, when it comes time to break bread, I always give God thanks. It becomes an outward and visible sign of my love for God and what God has done for me. I pray that when you break bread this day, you will pause to thank Him and be a reflection of His love and grace for all people.


November 9, 2020 Devotion By Dr. Rick Lanford, GUMF Regional Vice President

“Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” – James 1:27

God has placed us where we are for a reason. He has given us gifts, talents, and passions we can use for the good of those around us and advance God’s Kingdom. Where will you serve Him today?


November 9, 2020 Devotion By Dr. Rick Lanford, GUMF Regional Vice President

“Answer me when I call to you, my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; have mercy on me and hear my prayer.” – Psalm 4:1

We are truly living in times of distress. There is unrest among the population of the world. It is unsettling to witness such pain and suffering from those who struggle with COVID-19. Our economy suffers while many go jobless with no foreseeable resources. O God, give relief, hear our prayer, and be merciful!


November 2, 2020 Devotion By Dr. Rick Lanford, GUMF Regional Vice President

“Blessed is the person who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stands in the way of sinners…” – Psalm 1:1

Walking in the counsel of the wicked can only produce bad fruit, especially when you find yourself standing compromised by sinners. May your life’s journey follow the Word of God so that your fruit will be a blessing to others.


October 26, 2020 By Rev. Keith E. Lawder, GUMF President/CEO

“One more thing–prepare a guest room for me …” - Philemon 1:22 (NRSV)

I love the old Moravian blessing. It begins, “Come, Lord Jesus, our Guest to be.” Hospitality was critical to Paul. Are we ready to offer gracious hospitality to all whom the Lord puts in our path?


October 19, 2020 By Rev. Keith E. Lawder, GUMF President/CEO

“I, Paul, am writing you in my own hand …” - Philemon 1:19 (NRSV)

I rarely open mail addressed to me or current resident. On the other hand, I always open handwritten notes. Handwritten notes bring a feeling of warmth while suggesting the writer cares. Will you write a handwritten note today to someone who needs her or his spirits lifted?


October 12, 2020 By Rev. Keith E. Lawder, GUMF President/CEO



“When I remember you in my prayers, I always thank my God …” - Philemon 1:4 (NRSV)

Who are you truly thankful for today? Have you thanked God for them? It is so easy to accept without thanksgiving. I try to keep an ever-expanding list. Thanking God for people by name takes a bit longer, but lifts our spirits and reminds us to be grateful. 


October 5, 2020 By Rev. Keith E. Lawder, GUMF President/CEO

“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” - Philemon 1:3 (NRSV)

Paul’s short letter asks his friend to give freedom to a slave named Onesimus. The reality is that the things we hold on to are often the things that hold us captive. Paul’s greeting, therefore, is a prayer for his friend. What would happen, if when each of us begins to pray, we prayed first for God’s grace and peace for others before lifting up our own petitions? Hmmm. Something to think about.


September 28, 2020 

By Dr. Laudis H. "Rick" Lanford, GUMF Regional Vice President

“The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” – John 10:10 (KJV)

When I read the King James Version of this Scripture, it causes me to tremble to think that the devil, who is the thief, desires my very life. Yet we have an advocate, Jesus Christ, who offers to give us not only our life but to have it more abundantly. Wow! Is there really any hesitation with my decision as to who to follow? I choose Jesus every time. Forgive me, Lord, on those days that I don’t. Amen.


September 21, 2020

By Dr. Laudis H. "Rick" Lanford, GUMF Regional Vice President

“Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill? A person whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from their heart …” Psalm 15:1-2 (Life Application)

If only blameless and righteous people who speak the truth may dwell in the Lord’s sanctuary, then I have failed God. Thanks be to God for His son, Jesus Christ, who gave His life for my sins and wickedness. Cleanse me again this day, so that I may dwell with our heavenly Father. Open my heart and use me to be a beacon of hope and salvation for my neighbor! Amen.


September 14, 2020

By Dr. Laudis H. "Rick" Lanford, GUMF Regional Vice President

“Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NLT)

In a time when everything is shifting around us, we need to focus on the truths that are constant and to trust more than ever in the One who doesn’t change. God is the maker of seasons, and when He is leading our lives, we can be confident that the seasons He brings are good. He makes everything beautiful in its time. Amen.


September 7, 2020

By Dr. Laudis H. "Rick" Lanford, GUMF Regional Vice President

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2 (NASB)

God’s Word promises us that the Lord’s will is good, acceptable, and perfect. Who wouldn’t want to serve a God who is loving and full of grace? So, let us rest in the assurance that His good, acceptable, and perfect will is within our reach and that God is also committed to working it out in our lives as we trust in Him. Amen.


August 31, 2020

By Rev. Keith E. Lawder, GUMF President/CEO

“I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach the end of the earth.” – Isaiah 49:6b

When my mother repeated instructions, she meant business. Here God commands us to be a light to all people, regardless of whether they look, sound, or act like us. It’s not optional. What will we do today to light the path to salvation for someone other than ourselves?


August 24, 2020

By Rev. Keith E. Lawder, GUMF President/CEO

“Do not fear for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.”
– Isaiah 43:1b

Pandemics, violence in our streets, divisiveness, confusion, the economy, you name it, we have a lot to fear these days. It sometimes feels as if we were in exile in Babylon. Close your eyes and repeat the scripture: Do not fear for I have redeemed you. To be redeemed is to be purchased out of bondage. Say it again. Now open your eyes and live as one who believes it is true!


August 17, 2020

By Rev. Keith E. Lawder, GUMF President/CEO

“He sees many things, but does not observe them; his ears are open, but he does not hear.” – Isaiah 42:20

I think Isaiah is telling us that when we limit our vision to seeing only through the lens of our own experience, we fail to see others as God sees them. We are all part of God’s creation. Isaiah challenges us to see others through God’s eyes, who are all precious in His sight. Open my eyes, Lord, that I may see!


August 10, 2020

By Rev. Keith E. Lawder, GUMF President/CEO

“I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon.” – Isaiah 42:6-7

These days when our frustrations and problems seem overwhelming, we impatiently wait for help to come. Yet Isaiah reminds us that God’s plan is for us to be the light–to open peoples’ eyes and to rescue others. As you rise today, ask yourself, “How will I bring light today?”


August 3, 2020

By Rev. Keith E. Lawder, GUMF President/CEO

“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.” – Isaiah 40:28

When current events seem to threaten the very foundations of life, I take comfort in Isaiah’s prophecies. It helps to remind me that God is the creator and sustainer. Isaiah defines us as part of God’s creation and plan. We are all children made in His image. When we realize this and act accordingly, we experience His presence in all that we do. Where will you recognize God today?


July 27, 2020

By Dr. Laudis H. "Rick" Lanford, GUMF Regional Vice President

“I love the lord, because He has heard my voice and my supplications. Because He inclined His ear to me, therefore I will call on Him as long as I live.” – Psalm 116:1-2 (NRSV)

It is a comfort to know that the Lord hears our voice and attends to all of our needs. I love the Lord not only because He hears me, but more especially because He walks with me through both the good and the bad. He doesn't always give me what I want or desire, but He surely gives me all that I need in life. Amen.


July 20, 2020

By Dr. Laudis H. "Rick" Lanford, GUMF Regional Vice President

“I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow.” – 1 Corinthians 3:6 (NLT)

At one of my past appointments, the church received a huge bequest along with a gift to The Methodist Home for Children & Youth. Different members of the church called to thank me for encouraging this member to make such a huge financial gift. I quickly reminded them that it was the previous minister who planted the seed. I simply watered it, but it was God who made it grow. Whether you are planting or watering, may God continue to make it grow for His Kingdom. Amen.


July 13, 2020

By Dr. Laudis H. "Rick" Lanford, GUMF Regional Vice President

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” – John 15:12 (ESV)

When we accept this commandment to love one another, we walk the path of joy. When we internalize this law, we become happy. May God fill your life with joy today as you share His kingdom with all people, both friends and strangers alike. Amen.


July 6, 2020

 

By Dr. Laudis H. "Rick" Lanford, GUMF Regional Vice President

“The Lord watches over you – the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.” – Psalm 121:5-6 (NIV)

During these past weeks of “shelter in place” due to the coronavirus, I have found myself reading through the book of Psalms. I have found comfort and solace in rediscovering how powerful these words speak to the essence of my soul. I invite you to join me and turn to the Psalms and allow these words of strength and comfort to bring peace to your life as we seek to understand our past and present while praying for a better future. Amen.


June 29, 2020

By Rev. Stephen A. Waldorf, Former GUMF Regional Vice President

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let not your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” – John 14:27

In this powerful passage, Jesus promises to give His disciples the gift of peace. How difficult it must have been for the disciples to watch their Lord and Savior suffer and die on the cross. When life gets darker than you could ever imagine, never forget what Jesus has already accomplished through His death and resurrection. God’s gift of peace is waiting for you just as Jesus promised.


June 22, 2020

By Rev. Stephen A. Waldorf, Former GUMF Regional Vice President

“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4

We live in a world that is broken and confused. We sometimes question our values and what our expectations should be. Do you have a broken relationship that needs mending? Take the first step toward healing. Clothe yourself in humility, honesty, and love. Initially, it may be difficult, but God can heal your heart and lead you into a deeper, more loving relationship.


June 15, 2020

By Rev. Stephen A. Waldorf, Former GUMF Regional Vice President

“The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall.” – Psalm 37:23-25

I encourage you to set aside some time this week to seek God's word for your soul. May God strengthen you spiritually. May He help you stay strong in your faith. And may God guide you through the rocky places of life.


June 8, 2020

By Rev. Stephen A. Waldorf, Former GUMF Regional Vice President

“Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD, “Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow.” – Isaiah 1:18

This week I invite you to set aside time to pray with your friends, whether it’s over the phone or in-person if safety allows. Give your full attention to God and His will to shape the world through us! Be especially mindful of those who do not have any family or close friends nearby!


June 1, 2020

By Rev. Stephen A. Waldorf, Former GUMF Regional Vice President

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you.” – Isaiah 41:10

What is it about fear that overwhelms us? We seem to become oblivious to God’s presence and love and do not realize that He is all around us. But, when we let the fears subside, the worries disappear and place our faith on God's promises, He promises to wrap us up in His presence, strengthen us, and uphold us with His righteous right hand.


May 25, 2020

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

Memorial Day is a time to remember and honor the many people who have given their lives for us so that we may enjoy the freedoms we often take for granted. Our God gave His all for us. When we walk in God’s peace through the grace and love of Jesus Christ, there is no need for fear and worries.


May 18, 2020

“Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way." – 1 Corinthians 13:4-5

Think about all of the occasions that Jesus spent with His apostles around the Sea of Galilee. After the coronavirus threat is over, invite friends over for dinner, or go on a picnic. Spend quality time focused on each other! Be sure to tell God, and someone close to you, how much you appreciate them in your life.


May 11, 2020

“She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.” – Proverbs 31:25

Although the custom of setting aside a day to honor mothers has ancient roots, our observance of Mother’s Day came about through the efforts of a devoted daughter. Anna Jarvis organized the first Mother’s Day celebration in May 1908 at a Methodist church in Grafton, West Virginia. What does it look like to you to be “clothed with strength and dignity?”


May 4, 2020

“Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles.” – Acts 2:43

George Lucas's “Star Wars” movies have captured the hearts and imaginations of several generations. Yet, real awe in our lives comes not from “thrill-seeking,” but from “soul searching.” Bask today in the “awe” that is offered to you by God.


April 27, 2020

“Then the two disciples described what happened along the (Emmaus) road and how Jesus was made known to them as he broke the bread.” – Luke 24:35

Jesus gave us the sacraments so that we could be absolutely certain of His presence. I love the words of the Moravian blessing for a meal. “Come Lord Jesus our guest to be and bless these gifts bestowed by Thee.” It recognizes both the essential and the sacred nature of meals. We need physical food and fellowship to sustain us. And we need spiritual food and fellowship to sustain us. When you eat a meal, do you always invite Jesus to be your guest?

O God, I am so grateful for all your gifts and especially for the gift of your Son!


April 20, 2020

Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” – John 20:19

I didn’t always listen to my mother when she told me something. But if she said it three times, I knew I should pay attention. When Jesus entered that room of terrified disciples whose hopes for the Messiah had been crushed, He says to them three times, “Peace be with you.” Jesus wanted them to know that whatever happened, He would be with them. Therefore, they could face whatever happened with hope, confidence, and a sense of peace. Perhaps you are facing a challenge or even a crisis today. Be assured that Christ is with you! Peace!

Thank you, Jesus, for your peace. It means everything!


April 13, 2020

But the angel said to the women,”Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said.”
– Matthew 28:5-6

We can only imagine the fear the women must have felt as they approached Jesus’ grave that first Easter morning. All their hopes had been crushed. They had watched a terrible execution. Yet they went anyway. Easter morning still comes even in the most fearful of times. Peace comes even at the most violent of times. Hope comes to believers in the most hopeless of times. It’s all because Jesus isn’t in the tomb. He has risen just as He said He would.

Jesus Christ is risen today! Alleluia!


April 6, 2020

“When they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus gave the two disciples a task. He said to them, ”Go into the village over there. As soon as you enter, you will find a donkey tied up and a colt with it. Untie them and bring them to me.” – Matthew 21:1-2

Perhaps your experience is like mine. When I sense that God is telling me to do something, I start coming up with reasons I should do something else. What if someone should ask why I am doing it? What if I don’t feel equipped to do what God asks? Is there something in your life that God is asking you to do today? Can you answer like Isaiah? “Here am I; send me!”

O Lord, give me the discernment and the courage to go where you send me. And give me the knowledge and certainty that you are with me every step of the way.


March 30, 2020

“The Lord watches over you—the Lord is your shade at your right hand.” – Psalm 121:5

Take a deep breath! Look at God’s creation all around you. Realize that you are now in the shade of His presence. It is no longer a time to fear. It's a time to take comfort and assurance as God wraps you in His love. 


March 23, 2020

“Indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.” – Psalm 121:4

God created us, He knows us, and He cherishes us. He searches for us when we become lost in our own worries and sin. Peace is ours when we remember that God is always watching over us.


March 16, 2020

“He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber.” — Psalm 121:3

God is never too busy for me when I am feeling lost and desperate. He always finds time to seek me, hold me close, and set me on my way again so that I feel refreshed with Him by my side. If you experience this kind of pain and worry, slow down. Remember that God knows the way!


March 9, 2020

“My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” – Psalm 121:2

If we focus on our shortcomings and worries, we will completely miss the fact that God has come down to us from heaven. He has not secluded Himself from us but lives within us. He hears our calls, but we must respond so that we can experience His presence and rest in His love and grace.


March 2, 2020

“I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from?” – Psalm 121:1

This Bible verse is a song of assurance and promise. It provides comfort to those of us seeking help for our problems. We gain much by slowing down, looking at the world around us, and taking the time to realize that God both listens and guides us when we listen for Him.


February 24, 2020

“And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.” – 1 Corinthians 13:13

I love the biblical references which use the word abide: to live in or to pitch your tent in. Imagine faith, hope, and love all abiding in each of us. The world would be very different. Alas, that isn’t very likely. And yet, when we invite Jesus’ faith, hope, and love to abide in us, we can change the world!


February 17, 2020

“It [love] bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” – 1 Corinthians 13:7-8

Often, we see the world through the “me” filter. We ask, “What’s in it for me?” By contrast, Christian love asks, “How I can serve you?” Let’s face it: all of our stuff will fade away. But the love we share will last forever. Think of a difficult person in your life. What can you do today to reflect God’s love for him or her?


February 10, 2020

“It [love] does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.” – 1 Corinthians 13:5

We live in a time when lying, cheating, and name-calling have found new levels of acceptability. The common discourse has become constant disparagement. Jesus teaches us that love overcomes hate. How would the world change if each day we identified one person with whom we disagree and deliberately celebrated some common ground?


February 3, 2020

“Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude.” – 1 Corinthians 13:4-5

It seems fitting that the love passages should be the theme for our February devotions. While we hear these verses mostly at weddings, the context in Paul’s letter has more to do with how we use our spiritual gifts in our daily lives. Here is the question to ponder. How do we share God’s love in all our interactions with others?


January 27, 2020

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” – Matthew 25:40

We live in a world where we could give away clothes and goods all day to those without housing, wages, training, and connections, and still not fill the needs of where we live. But our calling is to “go out into the roads and lanes” (Luke 14:23) to take care of the lost. Where is Christ calling you to care for the least, the lost, and the last?


January 20, 2020

“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son … ” – Galatians 4:4

So many things happen to fill up our time and space. We have the best of intentions. We want it all to work out perfectly in spite of our worry and stress. Go to a quiet place this week, take a deep breath, and find one thing to focus on when it comes to God's timing. I pray this brings you hope and a sense of God's presence amid your fullness!


January 13, 2020

“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.” – Exodus 20:2

May I encourage you to join me this week and the next in applying one of the Ten Commandments found in Exodus 20:2-17 to your daily life? How can these spiritual rules of conduct shape your outlook and actions for the next two weeks? How does this change the way we think of God working in our lives, as we work in the world?


January 6, 2020

“I believe in God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth.” – The Apostles’ Creed

How do we stay spiritually and mentally strong while living out our Christian faith? Among United Methodists, The Apostles’ Creed and the sacrament of Holy Communion have been used for centuries to express and share our beliefs, and to shape our testimony we live for God's kingdom!