Love or Valentines

This past week was Valentine’s Day, as with many holidays, some people love it and others hate it. I asked one co-worker if they did anything with their spouse. Their reply was “If I need a day to celebrate love, I’m doing it wrong.” It’s interesting to me that a day...

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Jesus’s Transfiguration

Today is Transfiguration Sunday. I want you to imagine with me for a moment what the three disciples who were with Jesus witnessed - what they thought, heard, saw, and felt. The three of them with Jesus. All of a sudden there were two additional men talking with Jesus...

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Prayers

We have all done it. We have prayed a prayer so many times that we think that we have become a broken record. We pray and pray, hoping and believing that God will answer, but as time goes on the answer never seems to come. It can become disheartening -- to hope, long...

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Threads

I’m a highlighter when I read. It helps me find things I want to remember later. It often feels as though God will pull threads from different places to weave them into a lesson or a story. Below are some of the recent threads that God is working together. C.S. Lewis...

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Do you really want me God?

Moses said to the Lord, “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.” The Lord said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who...

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New Year, New You

New year, new you. As we step into the new year many of us aspire to take certain steps in order to change a part of ourselves that we are not pleased with. Sometimes it is weight, knowledge, career, or even just relational. Some of us may even look to God to see how...

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Happy New Year

The advent of the New Year is a great time to reflect on the year that has passed. The new year affords an opportunity to appreciate all the good things that we have experienced in 2023 and reflect on what we might have done differently with the benefit of hindsight,...

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Christmas

What could I hope to say about Christmas that has never been written before? This season is a time of memories, nostalgia, and feeling child-like enough to believe in a little magic. Well, it is for those blessed with loving families and enjoyable memories. For...

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Rejoice!

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil. May God himself,...

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Destiny Written In Stone

There is a saying that has been on my mind lately, “destiny is set in stone.” It is as if only understanding our destiny, or if our future was as easy as reading words written in stone. Yet it is our destiny, our future, what it is that God has in store for our lives...

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Advent

Advent is the period of preparation for the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ at Christmas and also of preparation for the Second Coming of Christ. Did you catch that it is about more than just Christmas? It is a time of reflection and preparation for the...

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Thankful for the Shepherd

I read two scriptures from two different books this morning and both mentioned sheep. You may call things like that coincidence. I call it providence. Psalm 100:3 says “Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of...

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Thankfulness

We are in the week of Thanksgiving here in the United States. A day that is a national holiday and filled with parades, too much food, and football. Starting on Thanksgiving evening (or very, very early on Friday morning) the Black Friday sales begin. I have always...

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For no Words of God Will Ever Fail

There are times when words are spoken that we doubt the intention behind them, whether or not the meaning that was spoken is true, or if we can believe them. Most of the time we doubt because we find it hard to believe the words inside of ourselves. The these precious...

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What Will You Tell?

Instructions for living a life: Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it. Those words are part of Mary Oliver’s poem Sometimes. She was known drawing inspiration for her poetry from nature; and it was said she had a lifelong passion for “solitary walks in the...

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God Is In The Silence

The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was...

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Love & Stories

I read a short fiction book this week called The Beatryce Prophecy by Kate DiCamillo. It’s message is not specifically Christian, but one can find underlying spiritual themes. The concluding message of the book is that love and stories are what change the world....

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Obedience

Psalm 119:105 - Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. This verse from Psalm 119:105 reminds us that God's Word is our guiding path in life. What does that mean? How can we apply this? I believe there is a simple yet not so simple answer to these...

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Self-Discipline

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 24Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it...

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Parables

Jesus was a master storyteller. Jesus knew that the mystery of The Kingdom of God was not the easiest to understand, particularly as it was so counter to the religious culture of the time when Jesus walked the earth. Jesus's parables are seemingly simple and memorable...

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Reflecting on Time

I re-watched the Lord of the Rings movies a couple weeks ago and parts of it have been rolling around in my head ever since. If you are not a fan, please stick with me for a bit, I promise you don’t have to know the story to understand my point. But I’ll give you the...

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The Courage of Esther

When life gets hard, who do you turn to? When you are afraid to do something that you know needs to be done, what do you do? When a hard choice has to do made, how do you make it? Over the past week, these have been questions that I have been asking, trying to wrap my...

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Under Construction

For our Prayer & Praise devotional this past Wednesday, I shared the following C.S. Lewis quote from Mere Christianity. “Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the...

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Worthy of Praise

Have you ever looked out into the congregation and thought to yourself, “man I wish I could worship like that.” Most of us have said this a time or two, while others may feel this daily with some form of worship. We feel that because we don’t worship the way that...

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Hope for the Future

I've spent the last three days with over 10,000 students and sponsors at Nazarene Youth Conference (NYC) in Tampa, Florida. I spent the three days before that at the National Bible Quiz with approximately 80 of the best quizzers from the USA. It has been an incredible...

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Fiery Prayers

I’ve been listening to a devotional app called Lectio 365. Lately part of the opening prayer states, “I have set my heart on pilgrimage, so challenge me and change me, cleanse and rearrange me, until the fire that burned in St. Aidan’s heart, burns brightly in mine.”...

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Parables

We are spending the summer walking through many of the parables of Jesus. The definition of parable is "a simple story used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson, as told by Jesus in the Gospels." Jesus uses stories such as these to help us understand more about...

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Peace in the In Between

We have all had those moments of in between - moments when you are not here nor there, moments of waiting for the right timing, God’s timing, and moments of trusting. We Trust in the plan that God has for not only us as individuals, but also as a whole. We all have...

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Equipped to Serve

"We are equipped to serve, not warm the pews." ~ Dr. Gustavo Crocker This was a phrase we heard during Saturday evening's General Assembly service. Dr. Crocker's message was on the priesthood of all believers and how we are all equipped by God with a gift for service....

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Where Do We Focus?

Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “To be simple is to fix one’s eye solely on the simple truth of God at a time when everything is being confused distorted, and turned upside down.” Bonhoeffer was a German Lutheran pastor known for his theological writings. He was also known...

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Pentecost

Can you imagine being in the room that day? What confusion there must have been? The sights, sounds, and feelings? I'm not sure that I can truly imagine all the wonder, confusion, chaos, joy, and amazement that day, but it is sure fun to think about. If you haven't...

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God’s Place

As we move into the growing season I have begun to spend more time in the garden doing the hard labor needed to get the garden ready, sometimes underneath the hot sun or even on the cold and windy days. I have spent many hours in the garden doing the work that simply...

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Encouragement and Challenge from the Psalms

Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground. Psalm 143:10 Sometimes when I need encouragement I head to the Psalms. Today's verse on the YouVersion app was Psalm 143:10. This verse is both an encouragement and a...

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Aim at Heaven

Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you will get neither. ~ C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity This is a simple statement, and yet I’m not sure we truly understand it. Or perhaps we understand it but we don’t believe it. Some might find it too...

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Knowing God

We all have come to know that a relationship takes two people. We know that just as one gives, so must the other. There is a constant working between the two, yet does this hold true when we think about our relationship with God? We pray with God and lay all of our...

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Easter Tidings

Today, I greet you in the name of Jesus with “He is Risen!” And I pray you answer with “He is Risen Indeed!” It is Easter Sunday, the very height of the church year. We celebrate Jesus’ resurrection as the event that so changed our world it split time into BC and AD....

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A Different Kind of Triumphal Entry

Triumphal entries were nothing new. People would have been used to seeing war heroes riding back into Rome and being celebrated for their success, for their killing off the enemy. They were a big deal. However, in Matthew 21, we see a very different type of triumphal...

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Find Yourself

Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. (Isaiah 64:8) Who am I? It is a question that many of us have asked at times. It is a question that burns in our hearts. It is one that we try to answer while we are...

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Transformation

We are in the season of Lent and over the last several weeks we have talked quite a bit about allowing the Spirit to continue to transform our lives to look more like Jesus. Our message this weekend will be no different, as we look deeper into Jesus's encounter with...

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Meeting Aslan

Something I do from time to time is re-read the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis – all seven books. I began that this past week. The prequel to the well-known The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe is the lesser-known book The Magician’s Assistant. The “magician” is...

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Unlikely Revival

The Philippines, Uganda, Puerto Rico, Baylor University, Texas A&M University, and Asbury University are all places around the world connected by one thing. Revival. And more may be on the way. Yet it may be surprising to say that revival has started in the most...

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Ash Wednesday Prayers

This week we will celebrate Ash Wednesday, the start to the Lenten season. Ash Wednesday reminds us that we are but dust. Genesis 3:19 says: By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are...

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Be the Buffalo

Have you ever heard the saying, “Sometimes you’ve just gotta be the buffalo.”? I used to think it was goofy. But recently I heard Fitness Trainer Andrea Allen explain on her podcast why it’s a motto that she lives by. It’s because of the way buffaloes handle storms....

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The Gold Coins

Let me tell you a story. A pastor went to a church in order to teach three of the members of the church. One the pastor gave a difficult topic to understand. Another the pastor gave a hard topic to understand. The last one the pastor gave a simple topic to understand....

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Rituals

Many of us have probably heard someone say at some point that repetition and ritual gets boring or loses its meaning. I certainly think this is something that can happen in the church as well. We can get caught up in "doing" church and often it is the same routine...

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Prayer in the New Year

So we are a couple of weeks into 2023 and all the hubbub is beginning to die down. Celebrations are over and we’ve taken down the decorations. We’ve either ditched our New Year’s resolutions or we’re starting to get into the swing of them. Our lives are “returning to...

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God’s Love

This is how God showed his love among us; He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live for him. 1 John 4:9 Can you imagine loving anyone enough to give up your own son? It is hard for us to fathom this kind of love in our human minds, however, it is...

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New Years Thoughts

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus....

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The Greatest Gift

I've been fortunate to have received many great gifts over the years. As a child, I remember one Christmas where my siblings and I all got a big gift - a Nintendo. (Yes, I no I am dating myself). It was an original Nintendo and we thought that it was the coolest thing...

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Ready for Christmas

Author Ann Voskamp has been publishing Advent devotionals titled “A Spacious, Non-Anxious Christmas.” These are brief, daily videos on her social media to remind us to slow down and make room in our hearts, minds and lives for Jesus. It’s a sad but true irony that we...

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Advent Reflections

This season of Advent is one that I have really come to enjoy in the church calendar. I came across a blog from Rachel Held Evans that has some reflection questions that are good for all of us to consider individually. 1. Why do I need a savior? Which areas of...

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Peace in Disagreements

You know that moment that you are talking with someone and then the conversation backfires on you? Well this is something that has happened to me many jobs, such as when I have a conversation/disagreement with Pastor Todd. This is also something that happened to me in...

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The Advent Season

Advent. A season that comes this time every year between our Thanksgiving holiday and the celebration of Christmas. However, it is a season that gets passed over by our culture today. All of the focus on gifts, shopping, Christmas music, and decorating assists in...

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How do we be thankful in this?

This past week was filled with loss. We lost Todd’s great-Uncle Harold. He was 87 and had a good, long life but his health and mind failed him in his last years. We lost our friend Russ, who at age 65 seemed to have more than his share of heath struggles. And then...

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Thankfulness

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 We are in the days leading up to Thanksgiving, which is less than two weeks from now. However, it seems that yet again, we are...

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Abigail

Recently, I have been reading a devotional by Max Lucado called “They Walked with God.” The very first devotional in the book takes a look at the story of Abigail, talking about how  she went out of her way to change David’s mind and spare not only her husband, that...

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Failing Forward

So, I can confirm that God has a sense of humor. On Wednesday night, I shared a devotion (inspired by Undistracted by Bob Goff) about how we aren’t failures, just because we fail at something. He says, “[Y]our failure was an event, not your new identity…A distraction...

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Light Shining in the Darkness

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. James 1:5 Have you ever been in absolute pitch darkness? Several years ago, Pastor Cindy and I visited the Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky. During our cave tour, there is an open area a...

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Training Faith

Have you ever had one of those times in your life that you felt like something was missing? One of those times you spend all day trying to figure out what it is, you never can? It is like you know that something can not be missing, because you do that same thing...

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Obedience

Somewhere along the way, the Christian church has lost it's way. We tend to be comfortable and not like when things are not going the way we think they should go. However, when we are following Jesus and obeying what we are called to do as believers, we are not...

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Changing Seasons

We’ve seen the recent signs of fall.  The leaves have turned and snow is coming our way.  We recognize these signs of change.  Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 4, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a...

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King of Kings and Lord of Lords

Over the last ten days, one particular event has taken much of the media attention and Monday will be a day where all eyes will be on this event. Of course this event is the death of England's Queen Elizabeth II, who was much beloved by many all over the world. The...

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Joshua 1:9

Have you ever felt like God is always scratching at the same spot? You know, the spot you thought that was something that you have already worked through, that everything was done and you were healed. Then God comes along and just starts scratching, saying “hey this...

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Intercessory Prayer

Have you ever thought about prayer and become frustrated that you don't seem to know how to pray like some people you know? They seem to have a gift for it and seem to pray all day long for anything and everyone? I know I have at times in my life. In fact, I think I...

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God’s Little Miracles

A couple of week ago, in one of our bible studies, we talked about how we have a hard time believing that miracles can happen. A lot of us say it is because we have never had to experience them before, but we have everything that we need. We do know that miracles can,...

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People of Prayer

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people - for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 1 Timothy 2:1-2 As people of God, we also need to...

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Better Than Ourselves

I read a blog this week by author Scott Sauls, who pastors Christ Presbyterian Church in Nashville. I haven’t read it yet, but he recently released a book Beautiful People Don’t Just Happen: How God Redeems Regret, Hurt, and Fear in the Making of Better Humans. I’m...

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The Greatest Need

This last week I was able to hear a very interesting testimony from someone that many Christians might have turned away. In fact, a group of them had already. I got to hear the story of a young man that was raised in a very strong Christian household.  This young man...

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Considering Legacy

I’m not sure if it’s my stage in life or some recent changes that have been happening in our extended family, but I’ve been thinking recently about legacy. Those thoughts have been amplified this week as Todd and I have attended the Q2022 National Quiz event where we...

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Story of a Difficult Conversation

Some of you have heard my story about a friend that I had while in college, one that was a deist. Though she did start out as a atheist, today I think she still boarders on deist/Christian. Yet, though many of you have heard her story, you may not know why it is that...

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Difficult Conversations

We live in a day where there are so many divisive topics. It seems as if there are two distinct sides (at least) to every issue and no one will listen to anyone else because their side can be the only right side. It is difficult to have a civil conversation these...

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Live What Matters

This has been an emotional week as a pastor and a person. Pastor Todd and I sat with two women who many would call “Saints of the Church” who were nearing death. It makes you think, and it makes everyday things seem somewhat profound. God gives each one of us life and...

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Ascension Day

We all recognize Easter and if we have been in the church long we likely recognize Pentecost, which is the day we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit onto the church. There is another very important day of celebration that often gets overlooked, Ascension Day. This...

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Who Do You Say I Am

God. Father. Dad. Abba. Mother. These are all words that we use in order to talk to God, but there are moments in which these words seem like they don’t do the job. For some weird reason they don’t express who God is to you in that moment. This happened to me a couple...

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Reflections on the Parable of the Sower

Matthew 13 - a passage many of us are familiar with, yet also one that we do not always truly apply in our own lives. Friday evening at our service during Celebrate Life, the speak spoke on this parable. His message has stuck with me all evening and all morning. The...

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On Prayer

I was recently given a copy of the 350th Anniversary Edition of The Book of Common Prayer. If you are unaware, this book was written in England by the Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cramner. It contains many prayers for different times and seasons, as well as...

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Half Million Mobilization

Much of the church throughout the west is in decline. The Church of the Nazarene in the USA/Canada is no different. Our new Regional Director for the USA/Canada region, Dr. Stan Reeder invited all Nazarenes to join in the Half Million Mobilization. This is a prayer...

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Favorite Holiday

It is to no surprise that I love Easter. It is my favorite holiday out of the whole year. Most people though, are surprised to hear this, they all tend to think that I, as a pastor, should love Christmas more then Easter. Yet, for me, my love for Easter has to do with...

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Resurrection Sunday Reflections

We've journeyed through Lent. We experienced the tension of Good Friday. We've sat in the uncomfortable silence of Holy Saturday. And now it is Resurrection Sunday. The Sunday each year that we focus on celebrating the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ from the...

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Getting to Work

There were a couple of times this past week our Lenten devotional These Forty Days referred to a work that Christians need to do in order to please our Lord. I found these words convicting and pray I will live up to them. Matthew 7:24-27 talks about The Wise and...

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What Are We Concerned With?

I am writing this on Saturday, after I read the Lenten devotional for today in These Forty Days. It is based on Matthew 6:19-34. Dr. Rowell talked quite a bit about what our choices look like and how we exercise discipline in how we choose to spend our time, or when...

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Loving Your Enemies

We have heard it said that we are to love our enemy, yet that is something that we as people can find to be really hard. No one wants to love, or even help the ones that have caused them harm, yet that is the very thing that God is calling us to do. To love those that...

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Forgiveness, Rights, and Pride

Today's Lenten reading is from Matthew 5:23-26 and deals with the idea of forgiveness. Jeren Rowell writes, "forgiveness can seem a scandalous response to the abuses we sometimes suffer. Yet there it is at the heart of the gospel, calling us to lay down our rights and...

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Communion is Betrothal

Most Christians have long recognized that marriage is a metaphor throughout Scripture to describe the relationship between God and humanity. We see it in both the Old (Genesis, Hosea, Song of Solomon) and the New Testament where Jesus himself often refers to the...

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Thoughts to Begin Lent

The first day in our Lenten devotional These Forty Days, the following prayer was shared: Father, as we begin this Lenten journey, we pray your watchful care over us as we seek to overcome evil by the power of and grace of the Spirit. Through our sacrifices of self,...

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Developing God’s Friendship

When I was younger I always wanted a best friend. One that was always up to hang out with me, come to every event with me, and one who shared my likes and dislikes. A friend that was there with me to the end. Yet as I got older I soon realized that my childhood...

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Thoughts on Hebrews 12:14

Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord." Hebrews 12:14 This was today's verse of the day on the YouVersion Bible App. This verse is one that sounds so simple, but as I was thinking about it today is...

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Thoughts on Hope

I saw an ad this past week for the Door County Reads Festival. The featured author this year is Michael Perry, a New York Times bestselling author, playwright and radio show host from New Auburn, Wisconsin. If you’re thinking, “I’ve never heard of New Auburn,” that’s...

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Season of Love

As we are heading into this season of love, growth, and rebirth, and as stores are filling with the commercialized good of this season, I have begun to ponder of the verses of 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7: 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast,...

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January Musings

So it’s that time of year…when we struggle to write the date correctly and are reconsidering the lofty New Year’s resolutions we made. It’s dark when we get up and dark long before we go to bed…and all we want to do is stay on the couch. But I read something this week...

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The Book of James

Next Sunday, we are going to start a 7-week sermon series preaching through the book of James. James is a book that is consistently focused on practical action in our lives of faith. Faith does not come by works, but our faith should drive us to practical action...

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The Individual and The Whole – Pastor Jillian Hobbs

The past week Disney+ released its new movie Encanto. Lets just say that I was super excited to watch it, and if you haven’t watched it, this may spoil it for you. In the movie Encanto there is a message that we as Christians, we as people need to hear - we see a...

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Joy at Christmas

I preached the Advent sermon on joy last Sunday. And wouldn’t you know it…this week has been one of those ride the struggle-bus, emotional roller-coasters – for no apparent outward reason. I know it’s just our enemy Satan trying to make me betray my words. If he can...

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Romans 12 – Pastor Jillian Hobbs

On November 20 the you verse bible app’s verse of the day was Romans 12:2. “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”...

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Advent – A Time for Waiting and Preparation

It's the Sunday after Thanksgiving. If they were not already doing so, Christmas preparations are beginning for many. In fact, I find myself lamenting most years that it starts earlier and earlier each year. As Christians, however, we should not be so quick to jump...

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Thankfulness – Pastor Cindy Olson

In April 2020 when most of the world was on lockdown and all things seemed uncertain because of the first global pandemic in 100 years I listened to a webinar by author Lara Casey. I can’t tell you the title or most of what she said, except one thing that stuck with...

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Bible Reading Resource – Pastor Todd Olson

As followers of Jesus, it is imperative that we are continually in the Word of God. It is important that we fill our minds with things that are beneficial, otherwise we will fill them with whatever it is we spend our time doing. We can slowly begin moving away from...

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The Time of Year – Pastor Jillian Hobbs

Its that time of year. The time of shopping. The time of presents. The time of decorating. Yet it is also the time of panic, the time of frustration, and the time of depression. You can see it everywhere you go. People are shopping around franticly, trying to find the...

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Becoming the Message

If you have been with us for a while, you know we've been working through a study on the concepts of "Embracing Exile." In his book by the same title, Dr. Daniels writes, "so the mission of the church in exile is not just to have a message but also to become the...

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