Devotions: Reverend Jim Akins writes a weekly devotional for all to enjoy!




The bitter cold weather of this past week has reminded us that the seasons change. Wind chill values recorded in double digit figures below zero have us looking forward to a spring season that is still in the future. The same is true of the seasons of the church year. Advent and Christmas are behind us.

We look forward to Ash Wednesday and the Lenten season which will help us prepare for Easter. Even that special time in the life of the church is five weeks off. Seven weeks later the celebration of the resurrection will be in the past once again. Pentecost will be marked fifty days later. The church year, like much of life, is marked by significant events separated by great gaps of time.

Those spaces, and most especially the large period of time following Pentecost, is often referred to in the church as ‘common time.’ Let me suggest that these ‘times between’ celebrations are anything but common if viewed from a particular perspective. For there is much to celebrate in these days of ‘common time.’

There is nothing common about a God who would be our God 365 days a year [or 366 days this year]. There is nothing common about a God who would choose to join us not just for the great celebrations of the faith and our lives, but also choose to be with us during all the joys and concerns, blessings and troubles; and yes, even those days which are not marked out as particularly memorable. There is nothing common about a God who loves us to such an extent that he offers the saving work of His Son when we least deserve it. We may name it ‘common time,’ but it is a most uncommon place to be.

And for that we thank our uncommon God!
Grace and Peace Jim

Four Voices

Devotion for January 2-8 2024
Across the street from a previous church lived four small dogs. It was not unusual to be greeted by them as I walked to work. Indeed, they not only greeted me vocally, but they ran to the fence as I walked by. I am aware that I was not the only one they greeted in such a manner. Their voices could be heard whether I was sitting at home or working in the office. I will admit that sometimes I spoke to them…sometimes I just walked on by. And I would guess there were times when I didn’t even notice them, being wrapped up in my own thoughts.

As we enter a new year, I am aware that the world is full of voices calling out. Many of these voices are ‘fenced in’ by circumstances beyond their control. Those ‘fences’ take many shapes; some are self-imposed and some are constructed by others. But from behind those fences voices cry out to be heard; individuals plead to be noticed; the lonely speak a deep yearning for relationship.

I wonder how many times I notice but do not make the effort to respond. If I respond I wonder how many times it is a response designed to make me feel good about myself. I wonder how many times I do not hear the voices…notice the individuals at all. During this new year it is my prayer that I may open my eyes to all the world around me; that I may open my ears to all the voices crying to be noticed; that I may open my heart to all who desire relationship. And it is my prayer that the church I love may continue to do the same.

Grace and Peace
Living Christmas
Devotion 12/18-01/02

I was richly blessed this past week to be a part of a Christmas tradition at Garden City First United Methodist Church. It was my first encounter with the living nativity. As I watched the sacred story unfold once again, I became aware that there were so many things to be thankful for. At the top of any list, of course, would be the story itself. To see reenacted the story of a small baby, born in humble surroundings, who as a gift from God is the Savior of the World is a Christmas gift beyond compare.

There were of course, other blessings. The annual living nativity is a marvelous creator of community. As children, parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles come together in preparation and presentation, the love of God present in the manger blossoms before our eyes. I don’t know how many individuals participated. There were those who help prepare the set, those who provided animals for this ‘living nativity,’ those who worked behind the scenes doing the technical work of sound and lights, the musicians who in carols old and new helped to tell the story, and of course there were those who took one of the parts. After all, you can’t tell the story without Mary and Joseph, shepherds, angels, and wisemen. Some of those who participated are no longer part of the community. Their contribution lives on in costumes and sets which have been part of this ministry from the beginning.

It all came together this past week in a way that touched my life. Through God’s Spirit, it also touched the lives of over 150 people who came to one of the eight performances.

Of all my memories of this first ‘living nativity,’ the most powerful was found in the words of one of our church members. He admitted that he didn’t know for sure how long the church had been offering this gift to the community. He could trace it back at least 66 years. But, and here is the powerful part, he noted that some of our participants were playing roles played by their grandparents when they were children. Why does a Christmas tradition last for decades? Because we know the importance of passing on the story of God’s love to future generations. We know that the ‘living nativity’ is not a reenactment of a long-ago event, but rather a celebration of the Christ who comes into our lives in new and exciting ways each day. And so, my thanks to those who helped make God’s love a living reality through the ‘living nativity.’

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR would be a traditional way to end this devotion and I wish each of you just that. But more, in the words of Tiny Tim in A Christmas Carol, “God Bless us everyone!”


Devotion 12/11-12/18

I walked into my office last week and realized that my desk and bookshelves are littered with notes. Some are small sticky notes and others are larger pieces of paper. There is orange paper and green paper; there is lined paper and unlined paper. All the notes share one thing in common: written someplace on the paper are either numbers or letters or both. Some of the numbers are dates and some of the letters spell out names.

There is one other thing which is true of most of these notes. I look at the numbers and letters, the dates and names and I have no idea what they refer to. When I wrote them, they obviously meant something…something important. And yet they are scattered throughout the office. I want to believe that in the moment I gave serious attention to whatever event or person they referred to. I suspect that they were simply left behind.

I wonder how often we do that with other things in our lives. We focus on a person or a problem [or even a celebration] for a moment and then we move on. And in the moving on we forget. What a terrible thing to ‘forget’ because we have switched our focus. It troubles me when I think of the important events and people that I have left scattered in my life like notes scattered in my office. I pray that God will help me, and each of us, never forget the people and the events that have made up the fabric of our lives.

Grace and Peace 
Rev Jim


Devotion 12/4-12/11
It was about 4:30 on a Sunday afternoon when they began to gather. The very young were there…and some of us who are a little older. We talked and we laughed. We shivered in the cold. And then, the magic moment arrived. We boarded the Christmas float and headed down to the staging area in south Garden City. It wasn’t a long drive and when we arrived, we discovered that there were many other groups and individuals who were going to participate in the parade.

It was an amazing sight. There were floats of every shape and size. Some were contained in the bed of a small pickup and others were full sized semi-trailers. There were nativity scenes and Santa Clauses and a full complement of ‘the grinch who stole Christmas.’ There were cars and pick up trucks, each seeming to vie with the other to see who could make the most noise.

It was probably a great thing there was so much to see and hear, for we were the next-to-the-last float in line; followed only by a fire truck. That gave us the opportunity to wait…and wait…and wait some more. We shared pizza and hot chocolate and we waited…and waited…and waited some more. We shivered in the cold and we…well, you get the picture.

And finally, the waiting was over. The first entry in the parade began to move and we waited. Once we began to move the parade didn’t last very long. It was an amazing evening. I showed up for a parade and was blessed in the waiting. In time spent in conversation with family and friends there was a blessing. In having the opportunity to see a community come together in joy and celebration there was a blessing. What happened in the waiting was so much more powerful than what happened in the ‘moving’ once we entered the parade route. Maybe I should spend more time simply waiting. Less motion and more simply being in the moment might be a good thing.

Grace and Peace 


Devotion for 11/27-12/04

“There must have been some magic in that old silk hat he found.”

Sitting here listening to Frosty the Snowman. It is the most wonderful time of the year; this time as we prepare for the birth of the Christ Child and remember the great gift of God’s grace. In the case of Frosty it was the ‘magic’ in the old silk hat that transformed him from a collection of millions of snowflakes to one who could ‘laugh and play just the same as you and me.’ The song is a story of transformation, albeit a transformation which did not last for eternity.

There is nothing ‘magic’ about Christmas. Instead, we have and will continue to celebrate the ‘mystery’ of the faith. There are numerous ways we can explain this mystery. It is given substance in our lives in a variety of ways. Is the mystery contained in a virgin birth? Is the mystery contained in the appearance of angels to a group of shepherds on a hillside? Is the mystery contained in the song of those angels who proclaimed ‘peace on earth, good will towards all?’ I suspect that the answer is yes to all of those possibilities.

But here is the mystery for me. God loved me (us) so much that He came in human form. It is mystery…that kind of love. It is a mystery which transforms not until the sun comes out and the weather warms…it is a mystery which offers the love of God for all eternity. Frosty was transformed by magic. We are transformed by the mystery of the faith. THANKS BE TO GOD!


Grace and Peace 
A Time to Withdraw 
Devotion for 11/14-11/20

I confess that I am glad winter is approaching. I am not a big fan of the heat of summer. It’s wasn’t bad when I used to harvest wheat…it isn’t bad when I ‘m fishing. But by and large I don’t like heat and humidity. I would walk into the office in a former church and the first thing I would do was turn on the air conditioner. It kept me cool while driving me crazy. It was noisy! And this noise was a noise that could not be avoided if I was to be in the office. I could not escape it!

That air conditioner was a miniature of the world. It seems that we live in world that is full of noise. There is bickering and disagreement; there are words of division and hatred. We are bombarded in innumerable ways with reminders that the world is not a perfect place and we are not perfect people. From crime reports to traffic accidents; from political disagreements to economic news to weather reports; from the latest sports scores reminding us that our team has lost again to the obituaries reminding us that we have lost another family member or friend: the noise of the world is often a noise we would like to escape but cannot.

It seems we have a choice to make. We can spend our time and energy trying to develop ways to withdraw from the world around us…or we can acknowledge that God has called us to live in the middle of a ‘noisy’ world and address that noise with the good news of God’s love.

This is not an easy choice. We can pursue our comfort and resist God’s claim on our lives…or…we can allow God to embrace us in our discomfort as we fully embrace God’s world.

Grace and Peace


Devotion for 11/6-11/13

                I can hear it…and what I hear I dearly love.  Just outside my window I can hear the sound of the wind.  It rustles through the trees; it rattles the windows and the roof; and I love it.  I have always loved the sound of the wind.  I don’t know why.  Maybe somewhere deep in my soul I believe it is the sound of the breath of God moving across creation.  Perhaps it is a constant reminder of God’s Holy Spirit alive and active in the very substance of creation.

                But there is more to the wind on this day than just the sound outside my window.  There is the sight of branches [some bereft of leaves] moving by the power of the wind.  There is the visual beauty of the leaves so recently fallen which are moving across the yards and down the streets.  I cannot see the wind.  I can only hear it.  But I can see the results of its presence in my life.

The spirit, like the wind, is present in our lives.  We cannot hear it…but we most assuredly can see the result.  In the laughter of a child the joy of God is present.  In the words of a final good-bye from a loved one the power of God’s gift of resurrection is present.  In the gathering and work of the people of God the unifying love of God is present. 

I see the work of God’s Spirit in each of you and I thank God for that gift.    

Grace and Peace


By Reverend Jim Akins (Devotion for 10/30-11/06)

I am sharing this without the permission of my wife. I hope she doesn’t mind. Truth be told, tulips have always been a special part of our relationship. We have planted tulip beds in many of the places where we have lived. On the rare occasion when I think about getting her flowers, the flower of choice is often tulips. Tulips have been ways to help speak of that which is most important to us. “Tulips are blooming” is a nice, private way to say “I love you” in public.

They have also been the occasion of some amazing laughter. One year, for some reason beyond human understanding, we misread the tulip planting instructions. The ground was hard clay, and we just couldn’t seem to get the hole 20” deep for planting. I know: nobody plants tulip bulbs 20” deep. [Not our best day]

A couple of weeks ago we purchased 24 tulip bulbs to be planted. If it warms up any this week, I hope to get that done. I do know that they will not break through the soil and come to full bloom until next spring. And so, the little corner of the world that is the parsonage back yard will have to wait to celebrate the beauty of ‘next year’s tulips.’

It is a wonderful thing that love, most especially God’s love, is never delayed by the weather, the changing seasons, or for any other reason. God’s love is a very real, a very powerful, and a very constant presence in our lives. I pray that when you see a tulip blooming next year that you remember the love of God. More than that, I hope you remember and experience the love of God in every moment when the tulips are not blooming except in your hearts and lives.
Grace and Peace
The Old and The New
By Reverend Jim Akins (Devotion for 10/23-10/30)
This past week I had the opportunity to attend a seminar designed to increase my ability to be a ‘leader’ in the church. The material presented over the two days was information I have lived with for most of the past thirty years. Looking back at my notes and reflecting on the discussions which were held, I became aware the two days of lectures and sharing was not wasted time. I confess that I am not sure I learned a good deal of new information. Instead, the benefit was in hearing with a different set of ears. I have changed in the past years, and that has altered the way I received and perceived the information presented. There was also benefit in hearing the content presented in different words. They were subtle, yet powerful changes. Finally, the people around me are different from the individuals I started this journey with over three decades ago. Four individuals from Garden City First United Methodist Church committed their time and energy to attending the same seminar. Their insights, their knowledge, and their wisdom was unavailable to me three months ago. Now, they have changed my life as they have been willing to be vessels for God’s spirit to move afresh in me. I am profoundly grateful to Missy Allen, Jenny Maier, Cassy Boyd, and Doug Harder for being available to God in this special way.
The two days were also a time of great blessing in that I was able to reconnect with a church I pastored for six and a half years. I left that church ten years ago; and as they told their story it seemed that nothing much had changed. And yet, I became aware that there were subtle changes. There was an indication that God’s Spirit was doing a mighty work in that place.
It is often easy to believe that we don’t need to ‘learn’ anything else. Our days are busy trying to make sense of what we know and see. Often it seems we don’t have the time to process one more idea; one more possibility. And yet, there are subtle changes all around us as God works His acts of grace and mercy in our lives. I invite you to open your eyes and ears to the subtle changes God is working in your world, your community, your family, and your church; in your life. I invite you to notice those individuals whom God is using to be a ‘new voice’ for you. I invite you to celebrate ‘the old’ which is always becoming ‘a new thing.’
Grace and Peace

The Lost

By Reverend Jim Akins (Devotion for 10/16-10/23)

There it was! Lost for over three years; and now it was found. I was truly excited, for this was information I had been wanting to use in a variety of settings. I had already determined in what situations and to what extent the ‘lost’ would be helpful in revitalizing churches and bringing the Kingdom of God closer. Finally, after hours of searching, it was available for immediate use.

And where was this treasure of information you might ask? In the last place I looked, obviously. Seriously, it was at the bottom of an unlabeled box; packed with totally unrelated things. And where is that treasure of information now you might ask? It occupies a prominent spot on my bookshelf…ready for use…identified as some of the most helpful material I have ever discovered about transforming congregations.

Have I used this marvelous resource since I found it? No! Have I even opened it to reread the material existing between the table of contents and the index? No!

God is always about ‘doing a new thing’ in us. He asks us to rediscover those parts of the faith we might have lost. God also asks that we take what we find, and rather than simply celebrate the finding, use it for His honor and glory. My you find something lost this week…and may you fail to place it on the bookshelf of your life.

Grace and Peace 

Muddy Roads 

By: Reverend Jim Akins (Devotion for 10/09-10/15)

A few years ago I had the opportunity to do a graveside service at a rural cemetery in northeast Kansas. The service was on Saturday, but I drove out Friday afternoon just to check out road conditions. The good news: they were dry. The bad news: They were rutted and rough. The rains of the past few months had not been kind to dirt and gravel; to roadbed and ditch. There were places the ruts could be avoided. There were places where the potholes could be dodged. And then there were the other stretches of road where one tried to take the path of least resistance.

After all, isn’t that what the water had done? Whether the rains had fallen hard or come gently over a period of time, the water had to go somewhere. And to get to wherever somewhere was, the water took the path of least resistance. Thus, there was no rhyme or reason…no pattern…to the ruts and potholes. They were where they were, and it made the driving experience less than optimal.

I believe the same is true in my life. When I take the path of least resistance my life becomes like those county roads. It becomes rutted and full of potholes. The result: my life is less than what it might be and much less than what God has designed it to be. Life is hard…no doubt about it. But sometimes the most difficult path leads to the best that God has to offer.

Grace and Peace

Seeing myself

By: Reverend Jim Akins (Devotion for 9/25-10/02) 

                One of my favorite comic strips chronicles the day-to-day life of a couple who, I must confess, seem to be of my generation.  I suspect that one of the reasons I react so favorably to this particular strip is that there is much about life in the humor which it offers to the reader.  Indeed, most days I find myself firmly imbedded in the life event portrayed on that day.

                I will share that some days I find myself laughing out loud…some days I find myself indulging in a restrained chuckle…and then there are those days when I find myself troubled by what I see.  Perhaps the power of this comic is found in its unswerving ability to help me to see myself.  There are times when I am left with a sense of celebration about who I am.  There are times when I am troubled as I confront the aging process in my life.  There are times when, as in a mirror, I see all the ways [both good and bad] in which I interact with those around me.  Regardless of the day or the subject matter, it is a comic strip that helps me to see myself.

 In many ways the Bible is designed to do the same thing if I will let it.  In its pages and in its stories, I see myself.  Sometimes it produces a great sense of celebration; sometimes it is troubling.  Sometimes it takes me back to the past; sometimes it helps me to glimpse the promised future.  Sometimes I look good; oftentimes I look bad.  But always, if I am reading it correctly, it is a gift from God which allows me to see myself. I pray that I can continue to read this sacred book with eyes wide open.

Grace and Peace


Through the Year

By: Reverend Jim Akins (Devotion for 9/18-9/25) 


I’m guessing that the walls of the parsonage are much like the walls in many of your homes. They are decorated with pictures. Some of the pictures Mary and I have taken; some are of places to which we have traveled; many of pictures of family.

The family pictures are undoubtedly the most important. While the pictures of places we have been and the pictures we have taken capture moments in time, those of family take us on a marvelous journey through the years. We can remember parents and grandparents who have been fully celebrating in the Kingdom of God [some of them for over a half a century] and we can see how our children and grandchildren have grown and changed. And of course, those of us in our generation have multiple albums full of pictures which take us through the years. Some of you have the same journal of life recorded electronically.

All of this got me wondering: what would a picture gallery of my faith journey look like? Would it display the same kind of change and growth which I see in the pictures of my children and grandchildren? Or would every picture taken through the years look the same? Do I have a vibrant and living faith; or has it been stagnant for years? A question to wrestle with.

Grace and Peace


By: Reverend Jim Akins (9/11-9/18)

I confess that I have always found something uniquely beautiful about a single goose. When we lived in Phillipsburg, we were just a few miles from the Goose Capital of Kansas. [Yes, there is one] Thousands of geese and yet the individual, whether flying or nesting or trying to land on a frozen lake, spoke of the power and majesty of God to beautify creation.

One Monday morning I was standing outside the parsonage. Looking up I was filled with wonder at a sky filled with geese. There wasn’t just one vee, but multiple groups all flying in formation. As I watched it seemed almost impossible that they would not collide at some point. And yet they did not. There was a symmetry in their flying. Their movement created an ever-changing picture, and yet there was a continuity about the relationship of the individual geese and the different groups soaring through the sky.

The beauty of the one was eclipsed by the beauty of the whole. It was a beauty made real by a God who created geese to be and fly in relationship with each other. God creates us the same way. Each of us is a beautiful work of God as an individual. The church is a beautiful work of God as we live in relationship with each other.

Grace and Peace 



By: Reverend Jim Akins (9/5-9/11)

They lived there for two years.  On move-in day he was thirsty, went to the kitchen, and filled a glass of clear, refreshing water.  From that day forward he always added something to the water: tea, lemonade, orange juice.  Anything was better than straight water from the tap.  It was almost undrinkable. 

A week before they moved someone mentioned that he should be getting his water from city park.  There was a well there and if one had the energy to ‘pump the handle’ the water would eventually come forth.  It was cold and delicious. 

Both the water from the kitchen tap and the water from city park came from the same source.  One was undrinkable…one was cool and refreshing.  The problem was not in the source.  The difficulty lay in the delivery system.  The city pipes were decades old.  No one really wanted to know what the inside of those pipes looked like; no one really wanted to know what materials in the pipe made the water so foul.  It was enough to know that the delivery system made all the difference. 

I suspect the same can be true when we talk about our faith.  The message is the same.  We have a creative God who loves us enough to make provision for our eternal life through Jesus Christ, the living water.  The difficulty is that sometimes the delivery system muddies the water; sometimes the delivery system makes the message unpalatable to those who need it the most.   

Unfortunately, we are the delivery system.  Sometimes those who thirst most for love and grace are repelled, not by the message of God, but by how we choose [or don’t choose] to deliver that message.  Something to think about! 

Grace and Peace 


By: Reverend Jim Akins (Devotion for 8/28-9/5) 

Blue, red, orange, white, purple, yellow, green, black…their colors captured the full spectrum of God’s creation.  They came in all sizes and surprisingly enough, in a variety of shapes.  Some were content to sit on a plant or the leaf of a tree.  Some flew around the room, adding a beauty to the life existing in that place…adding a beauty to my life.

We were in a climate-controlled space.  It was a haven for butterflies and there were hundreds to bless those who had paid the admission fee.  There was also present a gentleman playing the hammered dulcimer and a young lady who looked like a concrete statue of an angel until she moved.  For me the butterflies were the main attraction.

Upon entering the protected space, we had the opportunity to receive a small vial of nectar which provided life itself to the butterflies.  It was shaped in the form of a flower and those beautiful, yet fragile, creatures often landed to feed.  They also took the chance to land on heads, shoulders, hands and arms.  

It was a place of great beauty, and great serenity. And then I looked down.  There on the ground was a single butterfly.  It was obviously dead.  I don’t know why.  Maybe it had been stepped on by someone…maybe it died of old age.  But it was dead.  Some of the beauty was still there…but it looked so very fragile. 

And isn’t that the way life is?  There is a fragile beauty about God’s creation.  There is a fragile beauty about those of us [all of us] who have been created in the image of God.  We are blessed to receive the beauty of God’s creation…we are called to respect its fragile nature.                   

Grace and Peace