Friday, October 26, 2018 12:52 PM


Friday, October 26, 2018 12:52 PM
Friday, October 26, 2018 12:52 PM

Proverbs 3:5-6 tell us: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take.”

I have heard that passage quoted at least 1000 times in my life, but I understand it a little bit more today. As many of you know my son Zak has had two cancer surgeries in two weeks of each other. Many people have asked us “how is he doing” and, because of his autism, “does he understand what is really going on?” My answer is, “I don’t know.”

All I know is that I have explained everything to him, and when I tell him the next thing he has had to do, he does it without hesitating. I figured out why. He trusts me.

You see I used to carry him on my shoulders everywhere because it put him above the crowd and in a safe place. When the only way up in some stores was an escalator, he was afraid of them until he was 18 years old, so he would get on my back and ride. I never let him down. So he trusts me now. He may not understand but he trusts.

Isn’t that what we preach about our heavenly Father? Isn’t that what Jesus alluded to about our earthly father doing good for us, so how much more our Heavenly Father does for us. I have learned a lot from my Zak in my life, and now he is teaching me about a whole new level of trust. Even when I don’t understand.

Geaux Tigers, Barry

Friday, October 19, 2018 9:47 AM

We the People... of Grace and Truth

Friday, October 19, 2018 9:47 AM
Friday, October 19, 2018 9:47 AM

Throughout John Wesley’s sermons and journals he stressed our need for God’s grace and truth. His writings also reminded us to share God’s truth with all of creation, conveying the gift of grace offered to us.

In our daily living, sharing truth that is seasoned with God’s grace helps to prevent legalism. Without Spirit-filled grace, our attempts to uphold truth can easily become prideful and void of the kind of love God gives to those who trust, believe and obey Him. Without truth, the value of grace may be overlooked, minimized or taken for granted.

Wesley’s concerns extended to the politics of his day. On October 6, 1774, he wrote:   “I met those of our society who had votes {sic} in the ensuing election, and advised them:
1) To vote, without fee or reward, for the person they judged most worthy,
2) To speak no evil of the person they voted against: and
3) To take care their spirits were not sharpened against those that voted on the other side.”

Embedded in this powerful journal entry from 244 years ago is a relevant message for today. Together, let us meditate upon these words as we, the people, reflect God’s grace and truth while fulfilling our civil responsibilities.

Thursday, October 11, 2018 3:59 PM

Who God Says You Are

Thursday, October 11, 2018 3:59 PM
Thursday, October 11, 2018 3:59 PM

I recently read an inspiring and challenging book by Dr. Klyne R. Snodgrass, one of last year’s Festival of Faith speakers, entitled, “Who God Says You Are: A Christian Understanding of Identity.” Struggling with the question of identity has been a part of human existence for all time. Who am I? Who does God want me to be? What does it mean if those two things are not the same?

Dr. Snodgrass says, “Knowing who we are is not something we acquire by ourselves. We know ourselves only by knowing our God. Knowing ourselves is less important than knowing who made us, calls us, goes with us, and knows us.” It is important to have an understanding of identity, of who you are and the only way that you can truly achieve that insight is in and through your relationship with your Creator, Savior, and Sustainer.

“Look in the mirror and be conscious of being an individual before God, responsible to God, and energized for life by a God who cares for you, loves you, and calls you to participate in life with God.” No matter where you are on your journey through life and faith, know that you are loved, called, and cared for by the creator of the universe. May that love shape you and shine through you.
In Christ,

Friday, October 5, 2018 10:04 AM

Living the Calling

Friday, October 5, 2018 10:04 AM
Friday, October 5, 2018 10:04 AM

In the three years Jesus spent with the disciples he taught them many things. Jesus taught them how to pray, how to interact with unkind people, how to view worldly possessions, how to live in community and how to commit to something beyond selfish desires or pursuits. He also taught them many other things about living a kingdom life.

What made Jesus’ teaching so effective, so life changing, and so transformative was that he lived out what He taught. It would be hard to follow or believe a person teaching scuba diving lessons who had never been scuba diving. Right? When Jesus called us to be servants of all, he was actually living that calling out in His own life.

I had a teacher that lived out her faith In the classroom. She was always kind, understanding, and encouraging. Her name was Mrs. Love. She was my ninth grade English teacher. I shared a bit about her story in a sermon last week. I have thought over the years that her name suited her well. Mrs. Love was one of the persons that knew what love really meant. Love for her was acts of kindness but also expectations of improvement. Love, for her, was offerings of grace but also clarity for growth. Love for her meant encouragement coupled with a call to something more than mediocrity.

A few weeks ago I received a letter from Mrs. Love. In that letter she informed me that she had had a stroke and is paralyzed from the waist down. This last year has been a tough year for her. But the primary reason she wrote me was to offer me encouragement.

I went to see her the other day. She was sitting in her wheelchair reading a book. We talked awhile and, I thought to myself, as she was talking about her adjustment to life after her stroke and her faith in God that she was was still teaching me about life . Even in her present condition, she offered the same gracious spirit, the same warm smile, and same loving witness I remember so long ago.

I am reminded of the words of Paul.  “So do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen for what can be seen is temporary but what cannot be seen is eternal.”

Who will we influence, impact, and inspire by our words and deeds today?...this week?

– Mark Gooden

Thursday, August 30, 2018 3:58 PM

Thursday, August 30, 2018 3:58 PM
Thursday, August 30, 2018 3:58 PM

In reading and hearing the proposed options for “The Way Forward” I was reminded of just how much our culture influences us. Even in our western hemisphere the complexities of cultural layers are in full sway. The way we see things can be greatly impacted by our upbringing and that often differs across boundaries within geographical, religious, socio-economic, racial, ethnic, educational backgrounds, to name a few…

In the book MISREADING SCRIPTURE WITH WESTERN EYES – REMOVING CULTURAL BLINDERS TO BETTER UNDERSTAND THE BIBLE, E. Randolph Richards and Brandon J. O’Brien write “BECAUSE OF THE CULTURAL DISTANCE between the biblical world and our contemporary setting, we often bring modern Western biases to the text.” These scholars talk about our personal “habits of the mind” that might blind us to the true message of the Bible.

If we are using our personal lens with a somewhat menu-driven approach to reading God’s Word, perhaps we might want to ask the Holy Spirit to speak to our hearts. For us to rely upon our own assumptions about what is really going on in the text that we are reading is limited, and likely to be erroneous.

Instead, may God shape us to better understand cultural differences in language during our times of reading the Word and may the Spirit lead us to follow the examples of Christ in our contemporary setting.

– Dr. Linda I. McDaniel

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