Pinnacle Presbyterian Church

Daily Devotions

Sunday, December 17, 2017


Written by: Rev. Kelsy Brown  |  Associate Pastor for Membership & Mission

Last month, Pinnacle sent a mission team to Haiti. The focus this year was delivering Days for Girls kits, a.k.a. women’s hygiene kits.  Members and friends of Pinnacle have been making these kits all year, and we were able to take 450 kits with us. These reusable hygiene kits provide homemade pads for women during their period for 3 years. Along with receiving a kit, women got a chance to learn about their own health. For most of the women they had never learned about puberty, periods, or healthy childbirth.  

Joy filled each sanctuary as Ronide, Pastor Luc’s wife and our trainer, shared about the gift of being a woman. By the time we were handing out the kits the women were grinning from ear to ear. Together we celebrated that we are women. The gifts of pride, health, wisdom and a practical way to care for themselves during their period. That is a gift and is a great joy!

Joy at Christmas is about seeing joy of salvation given by our Savior who was born in a manger for you. We see a glimpse of this joy in moments like these because in two hours of training we changed the lives of 450 women. On that first Christmas God changed all our lives.  That is something to celebrate with lots of Joy!

Prayer: Jesus, Joyful, Joyful we adore you! Amen.

Saturday, December 16, 2017


Written by: Shirley Norris  |  Director of Communications & Membership

Joy is one of those hard to describe emotions. We know happiness and we know sorrow. We recognize things that make us sad and cry and those that make us happy. But joy is a little more abstract… or so I thought initially.

My husband and I have no children of our own, unless you count the furry-four-legged variety, which by the way we do. But I am a Great-Aunt, both upper and lower case. And I am completely in love with my niece and nephews and great-nieces and great-nephew. When my now 18-year-old great-nephew and his two-year younger sister were youngster, they would run to the entryway calling my name and throw their little arms around my legs whenever I arrived at their home. It was an amazing feeling and one that I never tired of.

Recently I attended a soccer game for my four-year-old great-niece, Sadie. Like the other four and five year olds on her team, she doesn’t know much about the finer points of the game yet, other than the idea of kicking the ball. But that didn’t prevent her from enjoying the fun and running all over the field… until she spotted me. When I arrived, the game had already begun, so I found a spot along the sidelines next to her Grandpa. At some point Sadie saw me and ran directly off the field, throwing her arms around my neck and ignoring the fact that she had just left her teammates one man down. I was surprised, but I was also overjoyed by her excitement to see me.

For me that’s Joy. The joy they show and the joy I felt. It makes me wonder if that’s what God experiences when we acknowledge His presence in our day-to-day life, when we stop to pray, read His word or explore all that He created. I sense that must be joy for God.

Prayer: May we all experience child-like faith, run off the field, throw our arms around God’s legs and show Him that we’re glad that He’s there.

Friday, December 15, 2017


Written by: Lea Reinke  |  Business Administrator

Ok, I’ll admit it – I have a fondness for the animated Christmas television shows of my youth – awe, the nostalgia. Of all the programs I record on my DVR, my favorite is “A Charlie Brown Christmas”.

There are several reasons this is my top choice. Charles Schultz, the creator of the comic strip “Peanuts” grew up in Minnesota, as did I. The opening scene of a snowy day and ice skating is very familiar. The musical score by Vince Guaraldi is outstanding. And I love the comic relief provided by Snoopy. This character always makes my inner child giggle! The best part, however, is when Linus tells an exasperated Charlie Brown, “…I can tell you what Christmas is all about.”

Holding his ever-present security blanket, he walks to center stage and begins to recite from the second chapter of Luke. The voice of a child, unwavering, repeats the greatest message heard by mankind. “…Fear not; for, behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” If you look closely when he says this, he drops his blanket.

To me, that speaks volumes. We all hold onto things to give us comfort or make us feel complete, and yet, the joy in this scripture is exactly what our spirits need to be whole and embraced in God’s grace.

Prayer: To the Giver of Joy, may I always welcome Your message. Amen.

Thursday, December 14, 2017


Written by: Rev. Scott Fischer  |  Minister for Administration

When Jesus came into the world, something unmovable and indestructible was put into place that cannot be taken away – JOY! The very joy that Jesus himself has in God, which Jesus has had from all eternity and will have forever.

As we journey toward Christmas, when we celebrate the Eternal WORD become flesh, let us meditate on the Bible’s promise of joy!
And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them, until it came to rest over the place where the Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy…

Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people…

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light,
Those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness on them light has shown…
You have multiplied the nation; you have increased its joy
they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest…
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given…
Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes in the morning…
In all our affliction, I am overflowing with joy…

Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfector of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God…

Though you do not not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible. Even as we celebrate the birth of Christ this month, we eagerly await his return, and “there will be JOY in the morning on that day”.

Mt. 2:9-11; Lk. 2:10; Is. 9:2,3,6; Ps. 30:5; 2 Cor. 7:4; Heb. 12:2; 1Peter 1:8

Prayer: Lord, Thank you for the the birth of our Savior, may I️ rejoice in the blessing of this gift today. Amen.



Wednesday, December 13, 2017


Written by: Hillary Mackowski  |  Acting Director of Children's Ministries

Thanks be to God for providing this day! We gladly welcome this busy Christmas season filled with shopping lists, guests arriving, parties to attend, gifts to wrap and events to host. But if you are like me, these tasks can become overwhelming, frustrating and sometimes feel more like duties verses acts of service providing Joy. It’s a choice to make sure this season is a joyful one. Many of us have lost someone we love this year, feel a little alone, and stressed. Sometimes we may choose to say no to fellowship, travel and gifts…but is that what He wants from us?
Finding the Joy this Advent Season is my simple prayer for you. I urge you to dig deep, find the Joy & share the good news of Christ’s birth!

Prayer: Jesus, this is the day that You have made, help me to rejoice and be glad in it. Amen.


Tuesday, December 12, 2017


Written by: Suzanne Mitchell  |  Graphic Design Assistant

Whenever I think of joy, two things instantly come to mind:

1) the look on a young child’s face Christmas morning.
2) Theodore Roosevelt’s famous words: “Comparison is the thief of joy.”

As adults, we often rob ourselves of joy through comparison to others; how they look, how much they have, how they live. Comparing ourselves to others will never end, it’s inevitable. But instead of comparing ourselves to others, why don’t we start enjoying all the joy that life brings us.

There’s a reason childrens’ lives are filled with so much joy. They are innocent souls with unfaltering faith. Faith in their parents, faith in God, faith in all that’s good. They don’t dwell on the things that make them sad. They live in the moment and truly immerse themselves in every bit of happiness that comes their way.

Adults live around schedules and blocks of time. We fill our days with tasks and tend to overlook the simple things. Our lives begin to feel like checklists that we have to complete. Proverbs 17:22 is a perfect reminder of how we should live, “A cheerful heart makes you healthy. But a broken spirit dries you up.” Joy keeps your heart happy. Today, strive for that feeling of overwhelming excitement on Christmas morning, that feeling of uncontrollable laughter over something that makes you giggle, that feeling of accomplishing something that you worked really hard to complete. Today, I encourage you to stop, put down your lists, take it all in and live like a child.

Prayer: O God, please help me to find joy this season in the people around me. Amen.

Monday, December 11, 2017


Written by: Dr. Allen Hilton  |  Park Center Consulting Faculty

Consider it all joy, my brothers and sisters, as you encounter various trials...  (James 1:2 – NASB)

The fruit of the Spirit is…joy. (Galatians 5:22)

It’s ridiculous, really. Some people just find a way to see light and be light, where everything seems dark. The bills are stacking up, or the doctor’s report looks grim, or the kid’s having trouble in school, or the latest mass shooting has just hit the news – any number of other things look dire, and there’s that glow. It’s not giddy happiness. And it’s not Pollyanna or crazy denial. It’s just light when it seems impossible to shine. Have you seen people like that? Have you been people like that?

James and Paul call us to be just so ridiculous. But as we try, we immediately find that living this light in the darkness cannot be faked or manufactured. It’s not a “five-easy-lessons” sort of trait. So how are we supposed to come up with it?!

I know where to start: among light-bearers, Jesus is the most ridiculous of them all. John’s Gospel paints Jesus so full of life that his “life was the light of all people,” and the next line seals the deal: “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot put it out.” There’s that strange, unquenchable light again. And it tells us our task: like moons to a bright sun, you and I need not “POOF” light into being. The unconquerable light already shines. We’re just called to let it shine through us.

Prayer: Lord, you are the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. Help me to see your joy through everything, from the beginning to the end. Amen.


Sunday, December 10, 2017


Written by: Brandon Burns  |  Interim Organist
& Director of Youth and Children’s Bells

While getting my master’s degree at the University of Notre Dame, I had the opportunity to hear the première performance of Sven-David Sandström’s Psalm 23, a setting of the well-known psalm of comfort alongside the words Friede auf Erde, or Peace on Earth. Yet, the word “Friede" was set in long dissonant grating tones above the sweet words of the psalm text. If we look around us every day, our peace is often challenged. We stress over getting the perfect present, getting the house ready for the perfect Christmas party. We also stress over watching the news as we hear about troubling events in our own backyard and worldwide.

Sandström’s piece, written on the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I, illuminates that tension. Yet in the battles of World War I, a Christmas miracle occurred. On Christmas Day 1914, the Allied soldiers fighting in the trenches in Europe heard the German soldiers singing Silent Night. They met in the no-man’s land between the firing lines and gave gifts to each other, celebrating Christmas as fellow human beings. If Christmas can inspire such a peace even in the midst of one of the most horrific confrontations in human history, how much more does the birth of the Prince of Peace mean in our own time and in each of our lives. Let’s remember the words Händel set in his Messiah, “For unto us a child is born … and he shall be called … Prince of Peace.

Prayer: Lord, thank You for the gift of our Savior, our Prince of Peace. Amen.

Saturday, December 9, 2017


Written by: Diana Englund  |  Preschool Administrative Assistant

There’s peace of mind, peace on earth, and one of the most important, inner peace, just to name a few.  

What brings me peace of mind? Knowing that my family is happy and healthy with a roof over our heads and food in the fridge is all it takes for me. I’m frequently reminded of the blessings when I volunteer at UMOM for Read to Me. I see a glimpse firsthand of families that are struggling to get back on their feet. The children we read to vary month to month, and it’s always refreshing to hear that someone has gotten the support they need to move on and begin a fresh new life and hopefully gain some peace of mind.

How do we achieve peace on earth? This is a pretty tall order. With the frequent hate amongst cultural, political and ethnic circles which in turn causes paranoia and fear, is it even possible? Are we capable of putting our anger aside and truly love one another as the Bible commands.  Isaiah 9:6 tells us “For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Jesus’ birth marked the first true hope that we could find and receive true peace with the possibility of eternal salvation.  

What moves you closer to having inner peace? Maybe it’s an early morning hike along God’s landscape of majestic beauty. Maybe it’s being surrounded by family and friends during the holidays while sharing fond memories of Christmas past. The path taken to find inner peace can be as hard or simple as a person makes the journey of self-acceptance to be.  Inner peace can only be achieved by accepting and loving ourselves, as God loves us. The peace within your heart will cause a spark to ignite and create a ripple effect of goodness and light.

May Peace be with You!

Prayer: Jesus, as the days of preparing for Christmas unfold, help me to take moments today to think about how Your peace has changed me.  Amen.

Friday, December 8, 2017


Written by: Rev. Kelsy Brown  |  Associate Pastor for Membership & Mission

“Peace on Earth” was the message of the angels on the first Christmas.  Today peace seems further away than it's did at that moment.  Wars, mass shootings, hate groups, violence, bullying and sexual harassment litter the news. Sometimes it's hard to see past these signs that only show us the absence of peace instead of the peace that the Psalmist talks about that “surpasses all understanding.”

One of my favorite Christmas songs is Someday at Christmas by Stevie Wonder. The song shares about hope that one day, maybe not in our lifetime, but someday there will be peace on earth. It points us to the hopes that there will be peace with lines like:
“Someday...our hearts will see a world where men are free.”
“Someday…when we have found what life’s really worth.”
“Someday…no hungry children, no empty hands.”
“Someday all men are equal and no men have fears.”
“Maybe not in time for you and me but someday at Christmastime.”

I keep these words in my mind when I forget that Jesus does promise peace someday at Christmastime. Until that day I will point to Jesus and know the promise of peace that He brings us.  

Prayer: God of Peace, someday there will be peace for all people. Until then show me the signs of your peace in the people, places and events of this advent season. Amen.


Thursday, December 7, 2017


Written by: Katherine Talley  |  Director of Elementary & Youth Singing Choirs

The days and weeks leading up to Christmas can be hectic and stressful. We are so often laden with obligations that take time to truly enjoy the joys of the season seems impossible. We may feel apprehension about celebrating with our families or conversely, feel dismay over the lack of family to celebrate with! As if all this weren’t enough, we may also feel overwhelmed with the responsibilities of keeping it all together!

This is where God steps in to remind us about the true reason for the season and His promise of peace that “surpasses all understanding.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

Personally, I know it’s easy to get caught up in the busyness and push aside the nudging of the Holy Spirit because there is always one more thing to do! But, during this time it’s paramount to create boundaries and prioritize time with God. There is a marked difference between the days when I rush out of the house, and the days when I am able to spend even just five minutes praying and reading scripture. Recently, I picked up a copy of a devotional from the church office and placed it in my car. It has been a great tool for connecting with God, and inviting His peace into my heart, even when life is going full speed ahead.

Prayer: Lord, when my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I. Remove any anxiety and fill my heart with Your peace that surpasses all understanding.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017


Written by: Sabrina Ball  |  Director of the Preschool

Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.  ~ Unknown

We all want peace in our environment so we avoid noise, pollution, people, and chaos. We want peace with our friends, so we do what we can to not offend them. We want peace in our family, so we work hard to put a roof over their head, provide them with money and sometimes compromise when we are in conflict. Lastly, we want peace in ourselves, so we compare ourselves to others to feel better about what we have and who we are. People spend their whole lives striving for peace but we are often only denying ourselves true inner peace.
True peace does not reside in our circumstances but in our heart and mind. Peace brings comfort and calm when the storms of life surround us. It is not something that can be achieved or controlled, it can only be received.

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

Prayer: Prince of Peace, help me to see your peace today no matter what it holds. Amen.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Written by: Rev. Tina Campbell  |  Assisting Pastor for Senior Adult Ministries


Let us be united;
Let us speak in harmony;
Let our minds apprehend alike.
Common be our prayers;
Common be the end of our assembly;
Common be our resolution;
Common be our deliberations.
Alike be our feelings;
Unified be our hearts;
Common be our intentions;
Perfect be our unity.

~ Rig Veda
Does this sound impossible? Here are some thoughts: let us be united in our desire for peace; let us speak in a peaceful way; let us ponder peace; let us pray for peace; let us enter and leave in peace; let us be resolved to be peaceful people; let us be resolved there will be peace; let us feel the presence of peace; let our hearts be filled with peace; let our intention be finishing with peace. In this way, we will achieve perfect unity.

Prayer: Jesus, unite us, in our words, in our feelings and in our hearts. Amen.

Monday, December 4, 2017


Written by: Marsha Vanderwerff  |  Contemporary Worship Music Leader

Advent is a season of waiting and expectation. As a young working mother, I spent the weeks before Christmas in a frantic whirlwind of what most do: shopping, cooking, wrapping, decorating, attending concerts and preparing special music at church. That was then, and now I make an effort to slow down, refuse to be “caught up” in the commercialism of more, more, more.  

My children are grown. My family and I do not need nor want a gift. It is time spent together that matters. I cherish the memories of Christmases past and look forward to the present. I now realize that it is not so much the “doing” that is important but the “being.” By being present in this season… I can be patient, waiting and resting in the peace of knowing God comes down to us, now, as a tiny baby.  Human. One of us. God with us. He loves us that much. And best of all, I rejoice in the music that fills my heart and stays on my lips…O come, Emmanuel… He brings peace, He brings love, He brings hope to a world in need… and this hope calms our fears and His love never fails. He brings peace, joy, love and liberty.

Prayer: May the spirit of peace remind us to just be in the season, and allow the rejoicing to seep into our hearts, and fill us with the joy that is “Christ with us.” Amen.


Sunday, December 3, 2017


Written by: Calvin Brown
Pinnacle Office Mascot and Hall Monitor

My life is filled with many anticipations and hopes. Time with my family, a good meal, time to play and a good cuddle. Hope is all about waiting. Waiting for the next great thing to come along. Sometimes it comes really quickly and other times I feel like I wait forever. It seems like I am always waiting for something.

But, and this is a big BUT, I know that it is always coming. So I work really hard to be patient. I also know that I need to be ready for whatever thing might come next. Eventually my girl will come home. Soon it will be mealtime. Soon I will get to cuddle on the couch. Eventually I will get to take a nap, go for a walk or get to play with friends.  

It is the same with our walk with God. Sometimes I pray and it feels like I wait forever. Other times I see the answer to my prayers right away. What I do know is that if life is all about waiting and anticipation for God, then I have to be ready and watching. I need to keep my eyes out for where God is working. I need to be focused on Christmas and not on all the other distractions around me. Most of all, I need to use all my senses to be prepared so that when I do see God working in my life, then I can quickly turn to celebration. This year I will be waiting for Christmas and the celebrate of our Savior’s birth.

Prayer: Jesus, I am waiting for you. I am trying to be patient and to watch for you. Keep me focused. Amen.


Saturday, December 2, 2017


Written by: Dr. Wesley Avram  |  Pastor & Head of Staff

Just before I came to Pinnacle, the congregation dedicated the “peace pole” that’s on the top of the patio area in the front of the sanctuary. It has words for peace in many languages. It’s meant to evoke all corners of the world, with hope. I’m told that the congregation was invited to leave the church service and gather round the pole one Sunday in May of 2009 to dedicate the pole and the hope it represents.
After about a year, there were some weeds beginning to grow around the bottom of the pole, sneaking through the stones. It began to look like it had been a bit forgotten. As I was walking by the sanctuary one weekday morning, out of the corner of my eye I caught some unusual color. I looked over and saw flowers planted around the pole—red, violet, yellow. It looked alive. It stopped me short. It was lovely.
I mentioned the flowers to Mary Albrektsen, who was sitting at her desk in the front office. Mary was my executive assistant and loved us all at Pinnacle. She was, for so many of us, a hope-filled face.  “I wonder how those flowers got there,” I said.  “They bring it to life.”  She told me that she’d heard it was looking a little tired, and she took steps to get it done, and she came in early that morning, and planted the flowers.  “I think they look nice.” I agreed. And hope was enlivened that day.

Prayer: Holy Spirit, may Your hope be enlivened today in me. Amen.


Friday, December 1, 2017


Written by: Rev. Frank Harmon
Associate Pastor for Youth, Children & their Families

When the Apostle Paul talks about greatest ventures he says, they are faith, hope, and love. So what is so great about hope? In our everyday life, hope is something that we can expect to happen because of what we have done. We hope to win, get a good grade, or get a promotion because we believe we have worked hard enough to do so. What we have done makes the outcome we desire possible.  

However, for those who know God and have a relationship with Him, Psalm 39:7 sums it up the best when it says, “Lord, where do I put my hope?  My only hope is in you.” As Christians, our hope is not in something that we can accomplish alone, but only with God’s help. Philippians 4:13 reminds us that “We can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.”  

In a country and in a world that seems to get more divided with every passing day, if we want things to get better, if our hope is in anything other than Jesus, we are bound to fail. It is only by putting our hope in Jesus and seeing each other through His eyes that “anything is possible.”

As we draw closer to Christmas, no matter what we are going through, let us not forget from where our hope comes. Our hope comes from the One who, out of love, took the form of a baby, bringing light into darkness, so that we might experience the hope that can only be found through Jesus Christ.  

Prayer: Jesus, my expectations and hopes are always very high. Help me to focus my hope on this Christmas. Amen.

Thursday, November 30, 2017


Written by: Dr. Sharon A. Hansen  |  Interim Director of Music & Arts

Waiting. Is there anything more exasperating in our modern, rush-rush society, especially while Christmas shopping? We wait in line to check out, after already having waited in line to park our cars at the mall. We wait in holiday shopping and rush hour traffic jams. We wait, we wait, we wait . . . and our blood pressures and anxiety levels rise to levels heretofore unseen.

Speaking of waiting, ever wonder why the church doesn’t begin singing Christmas hymns as soon as they start playing in the malls and on the radio? Christmas is preceded by the liturgical season of Advent, from the Latin word “adventus” (meaning “coming” or “visit"). The Season of Advent, which begins four Sundays before Christmas and ends on Christmas Eve, is precisely about waiting, with the anticipation of the Great Joy to come.

The PC(USA) believes the four weeks of Advent present an opportunity for communal discernment and personal examination, as the church both prepares to celebrate the Nativity of the Lord and looks with hope for Christ’s return. Read more at:

So instead of cursing that long line that is causing you to wait, re-center and allow grace to enter in where anxiety had taken root. Take time for personal examination about your day, your relationships, your faith. Using “wasted” waiting time as “found” spiritual time further enhances the Christian experience of the Advent Season. Try it. There certainly will be ample waiting time to practice.

For further devotional, pray the powerful words of this beautiful Advent hymn, “Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus” (Presbyterian Hymnal, No. 1. Words by Charles Wesley)

Prayer: Lord of All, help me to wait in anticipation for the coming of our Savior. Amen.


Wednesday, November 29, 2017


Written by: Lisa Boswell  |  Executive Assistant to the Pastor

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  
    ~ Romans 15:13

A simple, little four-letter word that takes on so much meaning. From something as easy as “I hope Santa brings me the Barbie doll I asked for,” to something as life altering as, “I hope it’s not cancer.” The word hope is very powerful. Hope is like a wish, a thought, a prayer. It is something we experience all year, not just at Christmas.
At Christmas, hope comes to the forefront of our thoughts. The first week of Advent is the prophet’s candle where we celebrate the hope they brought. Not just hope, but a sure thing. God is always there for you.
Our heart is glad in Him,
    because we trust in His holy name.
Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us,
    even as we hope in you.
    ~ Psalm 33:21-22

Prayer: Heavenly Father, in the midst of the many hopes that fill my life help me to have hope in you above all else. Amen.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017


Written by: Rev. Tina Campbell  |  Assisting Pastor for Senior Adult Ministries

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune—without the words,
And never stops at all.

In the pregnant words of Emily Dickinson, hope becomes a living, breathing thing, a child in the womb soon to be born. Our spiritual hope perches on our soul as the unborn child of a fourteen-year-old virgin. What could there be other than hope that would make this unlikely story a reality? What could there be other than hope to bring the Christ Child into the manger, soon to be born? What could there be other than hope that would prompt Joseph to step up to this impromptu family? Hope becomes a star and shepherds and magi.  Hope becomes the Word made flesh.
If this unlikely hope became a reality, are our hopes any less true? We hope for peace in our disheveled world. We hope for purpose for our children. We hope for direction for our church. We hope for faithful service. We hope for hope itself. The Good News is that God hears our hopes just as much as he heard the hope of Mary. This hope perches on our soul, and never stops at all.

Prayer: O God, may my hope in you be a living, breathing and alive as we begin this advent season. Amen.