Saturday, December 22, 2012


Nice Things On A Cold Night......

The crackle and warmth of a fire
The smell of burning wood
A hot meal
Lap cats
A Fuzzy pink robe
Handmade Quilts to snuggle under
A warm cup of tea in my favorite mug

Each is a blessing to be grateful for. Thank you God. You are so good to me.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Turn Your Eyes

I do really enjoy the praise songs we sing at church.  But I do sometimes miss the hymns.  There is good in both types of worship music and I wish the music folks at my church would use both.

Chip used a line from this hymn in his prayer Sunday.  Had to look it up because I couldn't remember the verses.  Good words here - Christ is so much more than anything this world can offer.  He is a light in a dark and troubled life.  

(Helen Lemmel)

O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There's light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free!

     Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
     Look full in His wonderful face,
     And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
     In the light of His glory and grace.

Through death into life everlasting
He passed, and we follow Him there;
O’er us sin no more hath dominion—
For more than conqu’rors we are!

      Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
      Look full in His wonderful face,
     And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
     In the light of His glory and grace.

His Word shall not fail you—He promised;
Believe Him, and all will be well:
Then go to a world that is dying,
His perfect salvation to tell!

     Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
     Look full in His wonderful face,
     And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
     In the light of His glory and grace.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Sunday Notes - 10/21/12

Sermon Series: No Big Deal - Cures for the common sin - Materialism
Matthew 6:19-24
(Chip Henderson)

Definition of materialism - I seek out the things of this world more than I seek out the things of God.

Types of materialism:  Greed, Discontentment (wanting what you don't have), Hoarding (accumulating stuff but never giving or getting rid of).

Materialism pushes us towards evil and away from righteousness and holiness.
Materialism thinks only of the world today and ignores eternity.

3 Decisions to make to avoid materialism
1.  I will value the treasures of eternity more than the things of earth.  Live for treasures that won't go away.  Live righteously - Be faithful - Forgive people - Give - Share.  Think heavenly and your heart will follow.
2.  I will be generous and not greedy.  Generousity brings light to our life.  Greed brings darkness.  Materialism brings blindness and keeps us from seeing God's provision.  Love what God is doing - Be joyful.
3.  I will live for the Lord and not for money.  We can't live for God and ____.  Most of us want God and ____,  But Jesus says we can not serve two masters.

Biblical stewardship - Love God with all you have and realize that it all comes from Him.

Additional scripture:  Luke 12:15, 1 Timothy 6:9, 1 John 2:15-17, 1 Timothy 6:17-19, Proverbs 28:22, Luke 12:20-21.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Gifted for Leadership: Bossy Older Sisters in the Church

Nice short article about bossy girls and strong women.  We do need to encourage women to find and use their strengths for the Lord.

Gifted for Leadership: Bossy Older Sisters in the Church

Saturday, September 15, 2012


Dealing with depression.  I have been tempted at times to fall into depression - tempted to think that I'm being led nowhere.  Depression is a dark, lonesome, hopeless place and I admit I've camped there a few times. 

I think as Christians, we don't always know how to deal with another person's depression in a really positive way.  There is such joy and hope to be found in a relationship with God - how could someone not see that?  But for some, that joy and hope can be difficult to grab on to and the best that they can do is to focus on moving from one moment to the next. 

Good article here called Escaping Depression's Pull with some practical tips for those stuck in depression.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Gifted for Leadership: Three Ways to Kill a Small Group

I lead a small group and would much rather be a leader of an active, healthy group than a leader who kills the group.  Good reminders here of how to have an unhealthy group as well as ways to keep small groups a positive experience for all.
I pray that God will be the center of the group He has blessed me to lead.

Gifted for Leadership: Three Ways to Kill a Small Group

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Sunday Notes 09/09/12

Topic:  Hitting the Mark on Selflessness - Matthew 5:38-42

* Live selflessly when it comes to exacting revenge.  Lay down your right to retaliate.  End the cycle of violence.

* Live selflessly with what you own.  Lay down your right to cling tightly to stuff.  Don't let possessions come between you and another person.

* Live selflessly when it comes to service.  Lay down your right to just do the minimum.  Go the extra mile when asked to do something  (especially when it is something you don't want to do.)

* Live selfessly when it comes to your money.  Give and give generously and cheerfully.  Lay down your right to say 'I earned it and it is all mine.'

*  Lay down your rights.  *  Live selflessly.  *  Lay down yourself for the sake of Christ.  *

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

How To Begin

Jude, a bond-servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ:  May mercy and peace and love be multiplied to you.  (Jude 1-2)

So much I love about these two verses.  Jude does three really great things here that I wish I did more.

First, he shares his identity - who he thinks he is.  Who we see ourselves as is important.  It determines how we feel about ourselves and influences our behavior.  Jude places his identity first in Christ.  Who he is in Christ comes before family, job, ethnicity, or any other descriptor you may think of. 

Then, he points out to whom he is writing.  He does this by pointing out their identity in Christ.  And what a wonderful choice of words he uses.  Beloved of God and Kept for Christ!  This is how Jude saw his intended readers.  Makes me wonder if I see others that way.   Makes me wonder if others see me like that.

Finally, Jude shares a blessing.  The Bible is full of blessings.  God blesses his people.  Fathers bless sons.  Teachers bless students.  We don't do that anymore.  I don't know when people stopped blessing one another.  Seems like today we are quick to point out mistakes and things that could be done better.  Which is pretty much the opposite of a blessing.  Wouldn't it be a better world if we lifted one another up with loving Godly blessings each day?

May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Stopping The Cycle

Addiction, abuse, broken relationships, isolation – I see people each week who are struggling with these issues and more. I have been amazed at the number of women (and men) I’ve talked with who have experienced some type of sexual abuse in their past. Addiction destroys lives and breaks up families. Many people find themselves isolated and lonely with no real meaningful connections in their lives.

The statistics for the number of people with a story of abuse, addiction, depression are staggering. There are a lot of hurting people out there. There is a saying that “hurting people hurt people” and that’s how the cycle of pain gets passed down from one generation to another.

My personal experience involves a background of abuse. People who should have loved me, who said they loved me, taught me with their words and their actions that I didn’t really matter. I finally reached a point where I just didn’t care anymore. In my pain I made some very bad decisions and other people got hurt. I passed my hurt on to others and continued a cycle.

There is another way. Those who are hurting can CHOOSE to stop the cycle. That is a brave choice and the beginning of a journey that is not easy. It involves change – changing the way we think, letting go of old habits, and opening ourselves up to another person and to God.

HOPE comes from God. God is constant and unchanging. He loved me before I knew Him, He loves me today, and He will never stop loving me. And I’ve learned that there are good people out there who do honestly care.

1 Thessalonians 5:14 says this: “We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone.”

There is a relationship between at least two people referred to here. To be encouraged, there must be an encourager. To be a helper, there must be someone in need of help. God’s desire is that we LIVE in relationship with Him and in relationship with other believers. Those of us who have found hope can help others find healing from the past and healthy relationships for the future.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A Tabernacle and A Temple

Today's L3 reading - Exodus 26-27, Acts 14

The book of Exodus contains very detailed instructions for the construction of God's tabernacle.  This was a grand tent that the people would take with them as they traveled towards the promise land.  It was to be a place to bring sacrifices and to meet with God. 

God knew exactly how He wanted this temple to look.  From the design for the ten panels of tapestry to the curtain hooks to the bronze utensils for the altar, no detail was too small or too minor for God to notice.  And God provided skilled craftsmen to build it for Him. 

Have you noticed that there is still a God-designed, God-crafted temple here today?

"You realize, don't you, that you are the temple of God, and God himself is present in you?" (2 Corinthians 3:16, MSG)

I am a temple of God.  And just a God had a very detailed plan for the tabernacle, He also has a plan for how He wants me to be.  God wants to remake my life from one that is me-centered to one that is God-centered.  No detail is too small for Him - He wants to be a part of ALL my life.

I have the potential to be a beautiful temple.  I just need to get out of His way and allow Him to work in me and thru me.  It's hard work sometimes - there is sin in my life that must be removed.  And too often I get distracted or impatient and start trying to fix things myself.

I'm so glad God is patient with me.  Help me, Lord, to remember that I am a temple and that you are always with me.

Monday, February 6, 2012

We'll obey. (Won't we?)

Reading Exodus 24-25 and Acts 13 tonight. 

Exodus 24:7 - Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it as the people listened.  They said, "Everything God said, we'll do.  Yes, we'll obey."  (Message)

The people referred to here had been brought out of Egypt by God.  They had seen God part the Red Sea so that they could cross on dry land.  God provided them with manna to eat and had brought forth water from a rock so they could drink.  These people had seen and heard God descending to the peak of Mount Sinai.  God had been up close, very real, and personal with them.  Each person had been touched by God.

I look at these Israelites, newly freed from slavery in Egypt, and I hear them declaring to God their intention to obey and follow him.  I think if ever there was a group of people who would be obedient to God, it would surely be this generation, this new nation.  God was taking care them - providing for their needs. 

I've read Exodus before and I know that thier obedience doesn't even last two months.  I want to ask them Why??  How could they turn their backs on God??  And then I realize something.

How many Sundays have I stood in worship to God promising to praise him with all my life only to forget that promise as I drive away from church?  How often have I prayed to God asking Him to light my way only to attempt to make my own way? 

God has been up close, very real and person with me.  He has rescued me from bondage and given me freedom.  Why do I still find myself walking my own way instead of continuing to follow His guidance?  I'm no better than those ancient Israelites. 

Lord, forgive me.  Have patience with me and keep molding me into your image.  Help me to remember my promise of obedience as you lead me to the promised land.  Amen.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

New & Improved

(Upward B-ball devotional 01/26/12)

You ever notice how many things in the grocery store are marked as "NEW & IMPROVED"?  Sometimes I buy one of these "new" products, try it, and wonder what exactly the improvement is.  The new improved version seems to be just like the old previous version I had been buying all along.  New & improved doesn't always mean what I think it should.

Sometimes new & improved means new, but not necessarily better.  Like a few years ago when the Coca-Cola company introduced a new & improved version of Coke.  Well, it was new but it definitely wasn't improved.  People hated the new version so much that it quickly disappeared and was replaced by old Coke.

I have figured out that occasionally new & improved has nothing at all to do with the actual product.  What's new is the packaging outside.  The box is different.  It's bigger (or smaller) or a different shape or design.  But while the outside has changed, what's inside is still the same.

But there are times when new & improved means exactly that.  The soap cleans better, the cereal is healthier, the frosting is creamier, or the chips are crunchier.  The product inside the packaging is new, improved and better!  And that is a good thing.

New & improved can also be applied to our lives.  We will try all sorts of things to make our lives new or better.  We buy self-help books, new clothes, new cars.  We try fad diets, expensive vacations, and new friends in an attempt to make our lives better.  But these kind of things just change our outside - inside we are still the same.

Because only God has the power to make our lives truly new & improved.  2 Corinthians 5:17 says "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come."

When Christ comes into our lives, he doesn't change our outside appearance.  But he does change us.  He makes us a new creaton on the inside.  He changes our old sinful nature into something brand-new and totally improved.  This changes our whole life - inside and out.  And when God makes us new & improved it is always a change for the better and that is a very, very good thing.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

He Lives

Read Exodus 1-2 and Acts 1

Acts 1:11 MSG - This very Jesus who was taken up from among you to heaven will come as certainly - and mysteriously - as he left.

I believe that Christ lived and was crucified for my sins. I believe Christ died on the cross, was buried, and walked out of the tomb days later. I believe Christ ascended into heaven and I believe He will return one day.

This is the faith and the hope that my life is now built upon. My sinful past has been forgiven. I have been redeemed. Darkness has turned to light and my once sad heart is now filled with joy. Christ lives! And because He lives, I also live.

That last line reminds me of the chorus of a song:
"Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives, all fear is gone;
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living,
Just because He lives."
(written by Bill & Gloria Gaither)

Saturday, January 21, 2012


(Devotional shared at Upward basketball on January 21st.)

Not too long ago, I reached a certain age and I decided that it was time to start paying better attention to my physical health. Which means that I decided to start exercising and so I started running everyday. I figured this would be an easy, cheap way to stay in shape. Throw on a t-shirt, shorts, a pair of sneakers and hit the road.

I was wrong - about the cheap part. I joined a running group and quickly realized that runners need lots of stuff. I had to buy a new watch so I could keep up with my pace. I needed new clothes to wick away sweat. I needed running shoes specially fitted to me. Then I needed a extra pair of shoes, and headbands, water bottles, an ipod, and other stuff. Add on to that the gym membership so I would not have to run in the rain or the cold. That cheap running habit got expensive very quickly, but I justified the expense because it was after all something good to do for my physical health. And physical health, exercise, staying in shape - these things are important.

But the secret to true health is not found in being merely physically fit. While being physically fit is very good, to be truly fit we also need to pay attention to our spiritual health. And remember all the money I have spent on accessories to improve my physical health? Well, the one thing we need for spiritual fitness is free! Totally free - It's already been paid for. Romans 6:23 tells us that the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Because of God’s grace we are redeemed. We are forgiven. This gift is freely bestowed – freely given to all who believe. That's it! Just believe and it is yours for free.

There is also no long list of accessories that you need to maintain spiritual fitness. But there are a few things that will be useful. These things can also be found for free. God’s word, the Bible, if you have an internet connection you can find a free Bible online. A good church home where you can learn more about God and fellowship with other believers who will support and encourage you – these are also freely available to those who reach out.

So how is your health? Do you have what you need to be physically fit and, more importantly, to be spiritual fit?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Recovery means Changes

Recovery isn’t about just giving up a bad habit or letting go of a hurt. True recovery is life-changing. Recovery is letting go of some things that maybe we have held on to for way too long. Recovery also means recovering the life that God planned for you.

Jeremiah 29:11 says “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

As you start living within the plans that Jeremiah is referring to, you will find happiness, true joy, and peace. Learning to live this way is a process. We may have spent many, many years developing bad habits or bad thought patterns. And changing those will take some time. But change is possible. I have changed and I have seen others change also.


Life is all about changes really. The world around us is in a constant state of change. Seasons change. The weather changes. Day changes to night and then changes back. Caterpillars change into butterflies. Tadpoles change into frogs. And a tiny acorn becomes a mighty oak tree.

As the world around us changes, we also need to do the same. You may have heard it said that people never change. But that is wrong. Truth is we can’t change someone else, but we can most definitely change ourselves.

Here is a true statement – If you want your life to change, you have to change your life.

Do you know what it is called when you keep doing the same things over and over while expecting things to be different? Insanity! If that is insanity, then sanity is found either by doing the same thing repeatedly knowing what the outcome will be OR, even better, by doing that crazy thing differently. If insanity is found by doing the same thing repeatedly, falling into the same ruts, making the same mistakes over and over, then sanity is found in change, doing things differently, trying something new.

One thing is certain, if you use the Bible, God’s Word, as the map for your life, then you will notice that God never expects his people to just stay the same way doing the same old thing day after day. God himself never changes. His power to give a future and hope never changes. His Word never changes. There are several different Bible translations out there – but the message of God’s faithfulness and redemption is always the same and is always true.

God changes people. The Bible is full of people whose lives and circumstances were changed by God. You could say that the Bible is full of people in recovery.

Joseph was a slave and a prisoner who became second in command over all of Egypt. Ruth was a homeless, childless widow who found love again, became a wife and mother, and is listed in the genealogy of Christ. Lazarus actually died and was given new life. David committed adultery and murder and his writings continue today to teach us much about repentance and worship.

Esther was an orphan girl who became a queen and saved her people. Rahab was a prostitute who learned to fear God and live. She is also in the family tree of Christ. Saul was dedicating his life to ending Christianity and became one of the greatest missionaries ever.

God not only uses the most unlikely of people, but He can take our circumstances and change them to something more than we can ever expect. And He still does this today. It is possible to have your life change.

The journey of life-change starts by admitting that you have a problem – that there is something in your life that needs to change. Admitting that I, myself, on my own, could not change my life was a step towards recovery.

To find true recovery, not only do we admit that we can’t do it ourselves but we put our hope in God as we come to believe that the problems we face are God-sized and only He can help.

We take a look at who we have been and who we are now. If we are carrying resentments and grudges, we name them. If we have been hurt, we say so. If we have a bad habit, we admit to it. And just to keep it from being too overly negative, we honestly look at ourselves and find the good things that God has put in our lives.

We stop keeping secrets. We become honest with ourselves. We confess it all to God. We find someone to trust and we share who we are with them.

Once we have looked back, then we begin to look forward. We start replacing the bad things in our lives with good, positive things. This is the point where other people begin to notice changes in us.

Then we let go of long-held resentments and grudges by forgiving. We take responsibility for our own actions by apologizing when needed. We continue to develop positive habits and we learn that there is joy and fulfillment in serving God by helping others.

And, if you will honestly do all that, then I guarantee you that your life will change. You will discover the meaning of happiness and peace.

Now you almost certainly won’t do all that in one day or one week. It is a process often called a journey to recovery. It is a journey that can be difficult and sometimes filled with tears. But it is a journey that is so worth taking.