Saturday, December 22, 2012

My Christmas List

     I'm a list maker.  I've made some pretty sweet lists over the years, too, with columns, color coding, and notations galore.  Sometimes my lists look so good, that I don't want to mess them up by crossing things off...(wink).    So my pristine list sits there in my clipboard following me around like a personal assistant, always reminding me of what I haven't yet accomplished.

     Did you make a Christmas list?  Did the children in your life give you a nice (long) list of their wishes to make your Christmas shopping easier?   ;-)   

     I have some personal wishes of my own as my children and I will start the New Year combining our lives with my fiance and his children.  I hope each member of our new, expanded family will love and respect each other.  I hope there will be a lot of grace given, and no shortage of good food and shared laughter.  I hope the transition period will be as smooth as possible, and I also really hope all our pets get along.   : - )

     What are you hoping for this Christmas?  

     The following list of noble wishes is from a popular Christmas song:

     1.  No more lives torn apart,

     2.  That wars would never start,

     3.  That time would heal all hearts,

     4.  Everyone would have a friend,

     5.  That right would always win, and

     6.   Love would never end.  

    Idealistic?  You bet.  Unrealistic?  Probably.  But what a list of selfless wishes. You'll note that there are no electronics on that list, no clothes or jewelry, no requests for materialistic possessions.  If you've ever been in a place in your life when you pretty much had everything you wanted, you realize that "things" aren't really worth wanting, and those highly sought-after "things" don't fill up our souls or give us hope for tomorrow.  

     Some people may experience this feeling very clearly the day after Christmas, when our high hopes for Christmas are either gone or have missed the mark completely.  Some experience it in January when the bills arrive or much quicker - about 5 minutes after all the gifts have been opened.   There is truly only one "Gift" that will continue to bless you and sustain you and make your life worth living.  That's the Gift that was given to us by our Heavenly Father long, long ago... the Gift that is exactly what we need to make our miserable lives complete.

     My encouragement to you for this Christmas season is to not let yourself get carried away with giving or receiving presents, and instead of putting an unrealistic amount of expectation in something you believe or hope the holidays will provide for you or someone else, put that hope in the One who never disappoints.  Our Savior chose a very simple and humble way to make His entrance into the world.  Take away the tinsel, the wassail, the bright lights and the buffets, and what do you have?  The Greatest Gift of All.  Our Savior, Christ the Lord.  Behold Him.  Worship Him.  Adore Him.  Let your heart fall before Him and simply enjoy Him.  Hallelujah, what a Savior!

Philippians 4: 11b - 12NLT:  "I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.  I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little."

Isaiah 49:23NIV:  "...I am the Lord.  Those who hope in me will not be disappointed." silently,


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Stomping the Head of the Serpent

Stomping the Head of the Serpent!

It is time to prepare for, anticipate, celebrate, and proclaim the coming of our Savior - Jesus Christ!

After this past Sunday's sermon, I have had people already report new traditions based on this season of Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany!  Some are serving more, some are feasting more, and some are taking advantage of untapped opportunities that have always been available.

Please tell me how you and your family are celebrating through new traditions of Christ-focused worship!  Below is a reminder of the Christian church calendar (for more details, see the book by Bobby Gross, "Living the Christian Year").

The Cycle of Light - God making himself known

1)  Advent - We anticipate a "great light"

Isaiah 9:2:  "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone."

While the culture mounts its consuming frenzy, we wait quietly for the coming of the Christ.

2)  Christmas - Celebrate the True Light

John 1:0:  "true light... coming into the world"

John 1:14:  "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us"

Most of the church in the world and throughout history has celebrated 12 days of Christmas!

3)  Epiphany - Proclaim the Light  (Epiphany means "a manifestation")

John 8:12:  "Light of the World"

January 6th - Feast of Epiphany

The Cycle of Life - God rescues us from death through Jesus

Mark 10:45:  "For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as  ransom for many."

1)  Lent - 40 days (not counting Sundays) leading up to Easter

Humility and self-examination

2)  Passover - 1 Corinthians 5:7:  "For Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed."

This Friday, Saturday, and Sunday are the heart of the Christian year!

3)  Easter - Kicks off 50 days of Easter, ending at Pentecost - not just one day!

The Cycle of Love

1)  Pentecost and Ordinary Time

Non-festival time but not "ordinary" time; because of this we have Spirit-filled life!

Ends with Christ the King the Sunday just before Advent.

God's Grand Narrative includes us; include the celebration of this great story in your life!


Friday, October 26, 2012


     Do you know the feeling that you've forgotten something...?  Your keys, your phone, your jacket, your children...ha.  I've been missing my daughter this week because she's been in D.C. with the 8th graders from her school.  Each day the students were off to an early start and their itineraries were jam-packed full of tours and museums and historical monuments.  Just reading it made me tired.  Like I mentioned, I've been missing her something awful.  Even her brother will be happy to see her when she returns this evening, not to mention her little kitty who's been acting like she lost her best friend.
     Whom are you missing?  A friend far away?  A member of your family that you haven't connected with in a long time?  A loved one who has recently passed?
     Each of us as God-lovers will carry around with us a piece of "something's missing" until we get to Heaven, where we'll finally be whole and complete, in our Lord and Savior's presence forever.  Until then, we should look nowhere else than to Him to help us feel loved, connected, and fulfilled...because no one else and nothing else has the power to do that.
     This Sunday's message will continue in the Emotionally Healthy Spirituality series, with a close look at the Sabbath.  How can observing the Sabbath draw us closer to the Lord, and help fill the gaps in our lives?  How can one day of the week help us be centered, relaxed, undistracted, rested, contented during the other six?  
     One thing have I desired of the Lord...that one thing will I seek after:  to behold the beauty, the beauty of the Lord...   Come to the Rock, let Him hide you and surround you with love and mercy, as you meditate upon Him.  Psalm 27 paints a beautiful picture of waiting for the Lord and enjoying His presence.  You can read it by clicking here.
     As we fill our dinner plates tonight at a special homecoming celebration, I'll remember the blessing of family and the fullness of heart that comes from resting in, and delighting in God's presence.  Truly, there's nothing else like it.


Friday, October 19, 2012


     Have you ever responded in a way that you later regretted?  Of course. We all have.  Perhaps an outburst of unrighteous anger, spreading a morsel of gossip, or silently taking offense at something that wasn't intended to bother us.  When these harmful behaviors become a pattern in our life, how do we break the pattern, and become more like our Savior?

     The current sermon series, "Emotionally Healthy Spirituality", aims to help each of us realize that we cannot live out the fullness of Christ in us until we deal with our areas of emotional immaturity.  

     Growing out of a dysfunctional pattern requires us to humble ourselves before the Lord, commit to change, and persevere until we are abundantly above and beyond what we could have asked or imagined for God to do in us.

     Steps we can all take to reach emotional maturity: 

1.  Ask the Lord to reveal to you a subconscious behavior or a piece of your character that needs renovation. 

2.  Listen. Wait. Once He shows it to you, invite Him to heal you

3.  Confess, forgive, seek to understand where that particular area of “immaturity” came from.

4.  Break the lies that are suffocating your ability to be set free, and substitute them with the Truth - the powerful, life-transforming Word of God.  

     We can indeed become emotionally healthy Christians, but it takes conscious efforts - and humility. We might never be able to master our emotions, but with the Lord’s help, we can master the beliefs that drive our emotions, and become mature, 100-fold fruit-bearing ambassadors of Christ.

     If you would like to go deeper into the Emotionally Healthy Spirituality series, join us on Sunday mornings at 9:30 in Courtyard Room #3.  Anyone is welcome.
-Shara Martin

Friday, October 12, 2012

Missions Month

"Missions Month"

     October is Missions month.  So many great things are happening in fellowships of believers all around the world.  I'm excited about this year's Taste of Missions event because the topic effects us right here in Ohio: Human Trafficking.

     27 Million people are enslaved in the world today due to other people's greed.  Trafficking is a daily occurrence for these victims.  Here in Ohio the number of victims is 2,000. 

     When looking at the problem of traffickers selling other people for personal gain, it seems overwhelming and impossible to fight.  It's the second largest crime in the world and quickly growing.  

     The focus of this year's Taste of Missions is about the hope of God reaching down, hearing victims' cries, and responding to their desperate situation.  There are many things you and I can do to help others right here in our own backyard.   There is much to learn about this world problem, and Orange Friends Church is making it easy to be educated, empowered, and inspired by hosting an informational presentation during the Taste of Missions night this Sunday at 5:30pm.

     Come interact with those who are making a difference in victims' lives, every day.  Hear from speakers who are facing this startling reality and succeeding in overcoming it on a daily basis.  Visit the exhibit tables and meet real survivors who are thriving with the help of people like you and me!  Come to Taste of Missions, and find out how God is making a way for us to bring about change in hearts and lives. 

~Dee Dee Ball

Editor's Note:  Please go to the website below to sign up to bring a dish to the poluck-style evening of local and global cuisine!

Thursday, September 20, 2012



     Some of you may remember a song that Amy Grant used to sing by that title…back before the days of being careful with our words, or at least not when you want to make a point, and when you're willing to step back and laugh a little at yourself.  Three fantastically fun friends from my youth group in high school grabbed 1st place honors in a talent show one night by performing this song in a very memorable way.  Dan, Troy and George came out from behind the stage wearing nothing but white tablecloths wrapped around themselves like diapers, with bottles in their mouths, and little baby bonnets on top of their heads.  I tried really hard to sing the song, but it wasn’t easy because everyone was roaring with laughter.  Well, maybe not the lady,  whose job it was to precisely press and neatly fold and hang the church’s tablecloths in the (off-limits) storage room…hehe.  I sure wish I had a picture to show you, but it was before everyone walked around with a camera phone, and lucky for all four of us, before YouTube…haha.

     The point of the song, if you’re not familiar with it, is that some people choose to “get saved” (their fire insurance to save them from "H-E-Double-Hockey-Stick") but stay a spiritual baby by only eating their “spiritual lunch” once a week.  Unlike lions or some snakes…humans need to eat more often than once or twice a week.  Filling our mouths and our stomachs several times a day can be a good reminder that we have the tremendous privilege and opportunity to fill up on tasty spiritual morsels throughout the day, as well. 

     The same goes for our emotional health.  We can’t grow spiritually while remaining in emotional infancy.  The series we’re starting this Sunday literally has the potential to be life-changing.  Family-changing.  Church-changing.  Community-changing.  No lie.  It’s that good.  And every single one of us, no matter where we are on our God-honoring faith walk, can benefit from applying the truths from this series to our lives.

     In addition to Pastor David’s teachings during morning worship, we’ll be sending out a weekly Constant Contact E-Newsletter that will remind you to do the recommended homework between Sundays, along with easy ways for you to integrate the main points into your family’s dinner, lunch, breakfast, or bedtime routine.  The youth group will be driving main points home with age-appropriate exercises; small groups will be studying the material together; and a new Adult Bible Class lead by Shara Martin, will be going through the workbook during the 9:30 Sunday School hour in the Courtyard Rooms.  Everyone is welcome!

     Growing up and maturing is a process.  Sometimes it’s painful, and sometimes we just can’t do it alone.  Pastor David, Sierra, and I have been praying for each one of you as we all embark on this journey together, with the Holy Spirit's leading, toward Emotionally Healthy Spirituality.  May the LORD, our awesome God do marvelous things in hearts and lives over the next nine weeks..and beyond!

     If there’s such a thing as “YouTube” in Heaven, make sure you search for “Fat Baby, Solid Rock Youth Group”.  It’ll be the one with a gazillion Heavenly views and angelic belly laughs.  ;-) 

     Some “food” for thought: 
Colossians 2:6,7 (ESV)
“Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.”

Hebrews 5:13,14 (NIV)
“Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.”

I Corinthians 3:2,3 (NLT)
“I had to feed you with milk, not with solid food, because you weren’t ready for anything stronger. And you still aren’t ready, for you are still controlled by your sinful nature. You are jealous of one another and quarrel with each other. Doesn’t that prove you are controlled by your sinful nature? Aren’t you living like people of the world?”

2 Peter 1:5-10 (NCV) 
“Because you have these blessings, do your best to add these things to your lives: to your faith, add goodness; and to your goodness, add knowledge; and to your knowledge, add self-control; and to your self-control, add patience; and to your patience, add service for God; and to your service for God, add kindness for your brothers and sisters in Christ; and to this kindness, add love. If all these things are in you and are growing, they will help you to be useful and productive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But anyone who does not have these things cannot see clearly. He is blind and has forgotten that he was made clean from his past sins.  My brothers and sisters, try hard to be certain that you really are called and chosen by God. If you do all these things, you will never fall.  And you will be given a very great welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

Yummm…   :-P


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

By Your Side

By Your Side

Isaiah 54:10 (NIV)
" 'Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed,
yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,'
says the Lord, who has compassion on you."

     This was a very easy devotional to write because God has me in a very specific place of learning.  Isn’t it great when God is trying to teach you something and He is so generous with His examples and so clear with His message?  This week, His message was clear to me: “I am always with you”.

     My husband and I have been very busy lately with the move to our new home, and a new job for him, as well as a busy season for me with the new fall piano lesson schedule and the preparation for the upcoming Women’s Conference, October 19-21.  And believe it or not, the CHRISTMAS season will be here before you know it!  

     Andrew and I were having our evening devotions and sometimes I have to admit - I like to have all the right answers to all the devotional questions... the former Sunday School know-it-all coming out in me  :-/  But, this time was different.  The question was, “What do you feel is missing for your relationship right now?”  Normally I would give an answer to hint that I would like flowers, or a date night.  But tonight, the question hit me differently.  The one thing I felt like we had gotten away from was our daily devotion time and spending significant time alone and together with God.  We had a thousand things on our to-do list that week and for some reason there was an unspoken tension between us.  Was it really that simple?  Had we really just forgotten to ask God to join us?  That night, prayer time was very different.  God showed up in a big way and reminded us that all we had to do was turn to Him.  

     The next morning as I sat down to do my devotions, the scriptures I'm sharing with you today were at the heading along with the title, “I Am Always Available To You”.  Today as I sat down to write this blog, the song “By Your Side” was playing on Pandora.  I encourage you to click on the link below and listen to it.

"By Your Side", by Tenth Avenue North

   That night as I prayed, I asked God to gently remind us each day, as we wake up, clean house, go to work, or whatever we do, to make Himself known and to help us acknowledge Him.   What amazing proof that we have a loving God who never leaves us and cares specifically about us and hears our prayers. 

     My challenge for you is to make it a priority to daily meet with God.  I am excited to see what He does next and what season of learning He has for all of us.  

Genesis 28:15 (NIV)

"I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”

Matthew 28:20 (NIV)

"and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”


Friday, August 31, 2012

How Ya Doin'?

“How ya doin'...?" 

"Well, fine, thanks for asking...”

     A few years ago there was a humorous commercial that featured a friendly guy from the south.  In this ad, someone would greet this extraverted guy by saying, “How ya doin’?”.  With every intention of just saying "HI’” and moving on, the innocent person in the commercial is then cornered by this talkative gentlemen. The super- conversationalist doesn’t mean any harm. He just wants to talk. He isn’t even aware that his new-found friend had no desire of getting into this interaction. But there they are... the overly hospitable and the “victim”.

     We have a unique and fun challenge of providing a warm, welcoming, and hospitable environment at church each week. We have new people visiting Orange Friends every weekend!  We don't want to overdo a hospitable greeting, but we wish to make it clear that we love having new people visit.  We love seeing the church grow, we love how we were welcomed when we first came, and wish to do the same for others.   

     Some of us may feel a little apprehensive at the thought of welcoming someone we don't know. We're on the other end of the spectrum from the “friendly guy from down south who just loves meetin’ strangers”.  Whatever your comfort level is for reaching out, there's a place for you with this special opportunity in Christ to welcome others in His name.

     Let me make the following suggestions as you and I seek to show hospitality to those on Sunday morning who are seeking a church home and/or a relationship with Jesus:

1.  Welcome them:  seek out the new face.

  •  When you find them- greet them with a warm hello and handshake.     (For the introverts- it's OK to offer a smile and a simple ‘good morning’ as you pass them.)                                                                                                                                                                           
  • Those more comfortable with carrying on a conversation, ask simple         questions, such as: “What's your name?”, “How long have you been coming            to Orange Friends?”, “How did you find us?”, etc.

2.   Invite them back!  Help the visitor make the bridge to the next service, event, or opportunity to build relationships with us and, ultimately, with Jesus Christ.  

  • Don’t assume someone else has this covered. 

  • Invite them to your small group. For some, this is a great way to get involved and    it will let people know what we value as a church- life in community with one    another!

3.  Pray for them.  

  • This will require you to remember their name, and will help you to greet them by name when they return!

     When people visit a church, they expect and desire to be treated with hospitality.  It can be uncomfortable, somewhat stressful, and difficult to find your way around a new place.  I mean, come on, nobody likes to feel like an outsider, right?  For many, this determines whether they ever come back into our building or not.  This is important work all of us can engage in - that is, without the cornering from a seemingly innocent and unsuspecting, “How ya doin’?”   ;-)

-Pastor David

Thursday, August 16, 2012



Training (noun) :  To form by instruction, to aim at an objective, to prepare for a test

     On my drive to the office this month, I’ve noticed lots of training going on.  Kids kick up dirt, riding horses around in circles under the watchful eye of their instructor.  Students on summer vacation jog in groups preparing for Cross Country meets.  A high school marching band works on its formations and memorizes music for halftime performances.  A good friend is diligently training for an upcoming race.

     What are you doing?  How are you training your body, your mind, and your spirit?

     While we may not have a significant event ahead to motivate us to a specific goal, we have a reason to train ourselves – every day.  How are the fruits (of the Spirit) coming along?  How many chapters of the Bible have you read today, this week, this month, this year…?  Does time fly when you connect with God through prayer?   What worship songs do you know by heart and sing in the car, the shower, while you’re mowing, chopping veggies, riding your bike, or pushing the kids on the swings? 

     These items may not make it on your “to-do” list, but they are so very, very important in the life of a believer.  Reading your Bible, praying, and worshipping may not seem like training, but it most definitely is!  If we’ve done our “training in righteousness” as Paul exhorted Timothy, we are so much better prepared to deal with whatever comes our way.  Here’s the thing:  something IS coming your way.   Something is always coming your way.  It might not be today, tomorrow, or next week, but it’s coming.  How well you’ve trained will determine how well you handle the test, the crisis, the opportunity to impact someone's life with the message of the Gospel.

     “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right."  (2 Tim 3:16 NLT)

     I love how The Message reiterates it:  “Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God's way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.”

    Bring your water bottle and meet me on the track?   :-D    


Wednesday, August 1, 2012


     One of my favorite worship songs that we sing here at Orange Friends is one of the simplest:  "Give me Jesus".

    This song was written by Fernando Ortega and made popular most recently by Jeremy Camp.  It was originally a traditional African-American spiritual. This song has definetly stood the test of time!  Its words are so clear…a declaration that we want more of Jesus...that no matter what time or place or life situation, we want Jesus.  There are so many things in this world that we could foolishly use to replace time with him, or a relationship with Him.

"In the morning when I rise……give me Jesus
When I am alone…. give me Jesus
When I come to die…… give me Jesus"

     The verse of this song that hits home for me is “When I am alone” (mainly because I don’t do mornings  J).  I find myself very busy during the day filling my time with work, lessons, meetings, etc.  Sometimes I find it difficult to set apart time to just be alone with Jesus, and when I do find myself alone, I admit, I find my mind trying to fill up that space with my next to-do list.  But, as the verses listed below all say, He has never forsaken you.  That in the morning, or when you are alone, or anytime, HE is with you and wants to spend time with you! 

     So here is my challenge for you, and me!  Give Him your time.  Listen to His words.  Take time to talk to Him and worship Him. Not just the time you have left over…  remember that He is a BIG God, but that He also cares for you.


Psalm 9:10                  Psalm 94:14                Psalm 29:10                    Matthew 28:20
Isaiah 62:4                  2 Corinthians 4:9         1 Peter 5:7                      1 Samuel 12:22
Psalm 37:25                Deuteronomy 4:31      Isaiah 41:17                     Psalm 91:14-15
Isaiah 49:15-16           Psalm 43:5                 Deuteronomy 31:6

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Summer of Redemption

     Isn't it funny how most people seem to revolve their conversations around the weather?  It's hot. It's dry. Not enough rain. Too much rain. Boy, was that a big storm.  It's especially true when faced with unique weather like what we've been having lately. Unbelievably hot days and intense storms.  It kinda feels like the summer is being dominated by a focus on the weather!  But I say, "Let's redeem the summer!"

     What I mean is this - let's choose to use the changes in schedules, vacations, and warm weather for opportunities to share the Good News of Jesus Christ!  The Bible says to not become weary in well doing (2 Thessalonians 3:13) and that we are commissioned to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20).  The summer is not over... redeem it by sharing the life-changing message of Jesus Christ in ways that people around us can understand clearly.

     Orange Friends is providing opportunities for you to reach out over the next several weeks.  Redeem the summer by getting connected with these events!

FCA camp has been an effective tool for sharing Jesus with young people at OFC for the last several years. There are many ways to contribute, and your involvement will play a role in a child crossing over from death to life through Jesus!

All Family Sunday is July 29th at OFC.  This is a Sunday morning worship experience where the entire church family from the youngest to the oldest worship the risen Savior together!  I love that our older believers can model worship, that our younger attendees can be part of something larger, and that families can be together and not have to go to separate parts of the building for worship and discipleship for a few times a year.

Golf Outings can be an awesome way of building relationships and then communicating Christ through that relationship.  On August 4th OFC is having a golf outing at Mill Creek Golf Club.  This could be the perfect event to connect someone who has no church home to a group that loves them and wants them to know the Jesus they have come to know!

Project 86 will be in concert at OFC on Friday, August 10th.  If you enjoy this band and others like them, make plans to attend and bring someone who has not yet crossed over that line of faith to be a follower of Jesus Christ! If you are not into Project 86, then volunteer and pray!  There are plenty of roles for those wanting to be used by God in communicating Jesus Christ to young people through music. 

     Just think... one day in Heaven, someone may walk up to you and say, "Thank you. It was because you gave of your time or money (to FCA camp, All-family Sunday, the golf outing, or the Project 86 concert) that I'm here today.  I received Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior at that event!

The Summer of 2012!  The Summer of Redemption!

-Pastor David

Friday, July 6, 2012

Parade Ponderings

     Wednesday morning, July 4th, about 40 people from Orange Friends Church participated in the Orange Township Independence Day Parade.  We donned bright orange t-shirts with the message on the back, “Connecting with God, Connecting with Others”.  After fueling up with milk, juice and Krispy Kreme donuts (Thanks, Jeff!), we were ready and anxious to begin handing out candy, flyers and pens to people who had been lining up along the road since early that morning.
     When we began moving about 10am, the sun had already been baking the blacktop, and the hot air rising from it was nothing less than oppressive.  It was exciting, though, to see people waving flags, cheering, and holding out bags trick-or-treat style to receive whatever coupons, treats, etc. were being given away.
     About halfway through the 2-mile or so parade route, as the candy started to run low and the heat began to take its toll on our initial enthusiasm, the pace slowed down a little.  Parade participants and observers alike were sporting red cheeks and wet brows, but still the crowd’s attention was drawn to see what the next group in the parade would be handing out.  At one point, I ran out of candy – gasp!  The expression on the faces of the people who were expecting to receive something but realized I had nothing to give them, was burned into my memory and I kept thinking of it later, and throughout the day.  “Lord, is that was it was like when the crowds pressed in around You, with all their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs?  Your compassion for them, and for us, is so great.  Does it break Your heart when circumstances prevent us from receiving what You want to give…?
     From the perspective of a giver yesterday, I absolutely delighted in placing candy and OFC pens into the hands of grateful recipients.  It was fun to see the little ones smiling, waving, jumping up and down, looking earnestly and expectantly into our faces to make sure we didn’t miss them.  Is that how we are when we come to our Heavenly Father?  Or are we like the people who were sitting comfortably in their chairs a good distance from the road, detached, looking ahead or behind, checking their phones and their watches, wondering when the parade would be over, making plans for what they would do later, etc...?  Do we ever show up to our quiet time or to church Sunday morning, our heart not really in it, not expecting to receive anything great, just so we can mark it off the list, and say that we went? 
     Today when you meet with the Lord in public or in private, ask Him to bless you with enthusiastic, expectant hope.  Start thinking about it now, and anticipate an amazing encounter with the King of all kings, the Savior of the world, who rewards us with the gift of his Holy presence…where we’re changed, healed, inspired, and strengthened.
    Yeah, that’s what I want.  More than any piece of candy.  J

Matthew 9:36:  "When Jesus went ashore, he saw a great crowd; he had compassion on them and healed their sick."  (ESV)
Psalm 62:5:  "My soul, wait in silence for God only; for my expectation is from him."  (ASV)
Psalm 71:5: "For you have been my hope, O Sovereign LORD, my confidence since my youth."  (NIV)

Friday, June 22, 2012


2 Chronicles 7:14:  "If my people who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and I will forgive their sin and heal their land."

Last Sunday, Scott Biddle spoke about taking a risk.  This verse in 2 Chronicles has been on my heart all week with regard to taking the kind of risks Scott spoke about.  I wonder what would happen if we all took some time each day to pray specifically for our communities, and for the Lord to heal our land. 

A lot of the time, this isn't the question we're asking ourselves.  Usually it's, "I wonder what people would think of me if I went around praying for people", like Scott challenged us to do.  Or, we are too distracted with life to even consider taking the time to see what God wants us to bring before Him. 

This verse challenges us to humble ourselves and pray.  This means to cast down the crowns of pride and life's "more important things" to stop and pray and listen to what God wants us to do. 

TAKE A RISK this week.  Pray for those around you.  Pray for your community. Pray for the person behind you in traffic, or at the grocery store, or for your co-worker.  Make your question, "I wonder what God is going to do today?"  And expect big things!


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Eagerly Expectant

My wife and I ran in a marathon a couple of years ago. It was exciting... for the first few miles.

When we arrived, there were thousands of individuals gearing up and warming up for the race that was before them. People were chatty, laughing, and some very seriously focused on the task ahead of them. All was abuzz of anticipation. This was my first race so it was easy for me to get carried away with the electricity in the air.

The gun sounded... our race had begun. The huge mass of people sprinted out and jockeyed for position before settling into their "race position" for the long haul of the marathon.

Many people who have run any kind of distance race share the feeling of being carried away by the excitement and adrenaline of the moment when the race begins. For runners, this is a critical time. If a runner starts off too fast, there will be little energy for the second half of this adventure.

When we first start this journey in following Christ.... as we begin to walk in the grace of Jesus, most of us were excited and started out of the gates on fire, in eager expectation of the race before us. We were being cheered on by the crowd. Many of us were, in some way or another, surrounded by fellow runners. But, this is a distance race. Just like the race that Theresa and I ran that day when we got to mile 9…10…11…12…ugh! It got difficult! The adrenaline and excitement of the race had worn off miles ago!

What motivated us was the expectation and anticipation of the arrival of the finish line. The end of the race was burning in our hearts as the running of the race burned in our legs and lungs!

Yes, beginning faith in Christ is very exciting and anxious for most. Spiritual adrenaline and the support of “the crowds” of fellow believers may give us a burst of energy, but… as we travel this path, we eagerly anticipate the return of Jesus Christ! This is the finish line for this race. While our spiritual legs and lungs may be burning, our hearts long for His return.

Revelation 22 is the last chapter of the Bible. Can I challenge you to read this chapter as a reminder of our finish line? Runners who forget the finish line dropout of the race or lose focus as to why they are even running. Keep your eyes on the finish line and finish strong!

Have a great week!

Pastor David

Friday, May 4, 2012

Back to the Basics

“Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation…”                                                         I Peter 2:2 (ESV)

We are in the middle of a series on the basics of the faith. If you are a new follower of Christ or have not quite crossed over that line of faith this series is perfect for you. Early on our journey with Jesus we should allow a foundation to be laid within our lives to help us grow in the future. For those who have been on this journey for a while the idea of returning to the basics may seem unnecessary or tedious. Peter encouraged the readers of his letter that we all are to crave pure spiritual milk like babes! Every last one of us. We do well to lay a good foundation and continue to feed our basic understanding of faith in Christ.

We also need to take others through the basics of the faith. This is called discipleship. Helping explain basic faith is not only needed but beneficial for those who are mature in Christ.

So, simply put… crave spiritual milk like a baby! Drink up! You and I need the nourishment it provides.

-Pastor David

Friday, April 20, 2012

Just as I am

Most people who know me, know that I am a competitive person.  This used to be very helpful in high school and in college when I was actually in competitions.  This healthy competitiveness would push me to be better at whatever I was doing.  

Sometimes as we get older, the healthy competition turns into something not so healthy.  A lot of time we find ourselves comparing our appearance, family, finances, and even our walk with God to others. 

Galations 5:26

Let us not become vainglorious and self-conceited, competitive and challenging provoking and irritating to one another, envying and being jealous of one another. 

A lot of time we won’t outwardly show our competitive nature by challenging our neighbor, who just got a new car, to a joust. But, on the inside we become bitter, unhappy, and self loathing.  

If we could only see ourselves through the eyes of our Maker, there would be less need to compare ourselves to others, because He Loves Us for who we are, not for what others are.

You take me as I am
Even though I am broken and bewildered
You tell me who I am
A Child of the Master
Though I don’t understand
How you could love someone like me
Still… You take me as I am

-Sierra Stephanoff

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Out of Control

I felt like this was a great place to confess something to my church family.

I have control issues.

Some who know me well may laugh, but it’s true, and it’s an issue that I have struggled with for a long time.  So far in my life it has been a wrestling match with God. 

Control problems lead to many different issues.   Recently, I have been struggling over the fact that I have no control over where or when or how my husband gets or doesn’t get a job after graduation.  Part of me wants to even be in the interviews with him to make sure he says everything right.  I felt like somehow my thumb on the issue would help the result one way or another.  Knowing that that thought and feeling is just silly; I sat on my couch the day he was in his interviews, wrestling with God.  We fought back and forth till finally I said “Fine Lord, You can have this, BUT I can control my hair color!” So that night I ended up dying my hair pink!  (The rebellious teenager in me loves to come out and play sometimes!)  After realizing how absolutely silly I looked and realizing that I was acting out like a child, I dyed it back and went on by praying “Lord help me to grow up”.

Most issues of control are not so funny.  Most of us don’t even realize we are acting out.  We can’t control how people treat us, but we can control how much we eat.  Or we may feel out of control at work, or in our family, or the way friends’ lives are going, but we can control how we treat the people around us, good and bad.  Sometimes we can even get really defensive and harsh around the people closest to us in order to try to control the situation. 

God calls us to relinquish control to Him. 

John 12:20-26

 20 Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the festival. 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus.
 23 Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25 Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.
As I am preparing for this time of Easter, I was reading some of the scripture up to the crucifixion.  Can you imagine what He was feeling or thinking?  I know I would be freaking out if God asked me to give up my life; I can’t even give him part of it.  In this passage, Jesus speaks to His disciples in these final hours about surrendering every decision, every thought, and every bit of your life to God’s plan even if it means giving up your life.  


God, we love to hold on to control of our lives.  Father, we confess that there are things that we wish we could control.  Our family, life decisions, Your timing, aging, our spouse.  Lord, whatever it is, we relinquish control to you.  Forgive us when we stamp our feet and act out like children.   Jesus, thank you for giving up your life for us.


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Simply Generous

Living a life of simplicity is not about going Amish. 

It is about learning to live biblically in the midst of an affluent culture. It’s about recognizing that God provides all and owns all so that we can be a greater blessing in generosity. It’s not striving after more in this life, but striving more after the kingdom of God that lasts forever.

For this week, go back to Richard Foster’s list of “Ten Practical Ways to Live out Simplicity” that I shared in my sermon this past week. Pray through this list. Let it challenge you. Are there some listed that move you emotionally (anger, frustration, compassion)? What is God trying to stretch in you?
  • First, buy things for their usefulness rather than their status.
  • Second, reject anything that is producing an addiction in you.
  • Third, develop a habit of giving things away.
  • Fourth, refuse to be propagandized by the custodians of modern gadgetry.
  • Fifth, learn to enjoy things without owning them.
  • Sixth, develop a deeper appreciation for the creation.
  • Seventh, look with a healthy skepticism at all “buy now, pay later” schemes.
  • Eighth, obey Jesus’ instructions about plain, honest speech.
  • Ninth, reject anything that breeds the oppression of others.
  • Tenth, shun anything that distracts you from seeking first the kingdom of God.

Richard Foster wrote Celebration of Discipline and Freedom of Simplicity. I recommend both of these.

What about you? How have you seen the spiritual discipline of simplicity be a blessing to you in your life so that you could be a blessing to others?

Pastor David