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2016 Devotions

 
 
November 15, 2016 
Name Above All Names    
 
“A good name is more desirable than great riches.” Proverbs 22:1
“ …those who rail against me use my name as a curse.” 
Psalm 102:8
To move on in discipleship one must be weaned off others’ opinions of themselves. Oh sure, others’ opinions matter, we just can’t live for them or by them. Our motivation should be

“to make it our goal to please the Lord,” 2 Corinthians 5:9, knowing that “to our own master we stand or fall.”

Romans 14:4.
 
It is a wonderful thing when we hear our name used in context of success, and it is somewhat of a drag to have our name become synonymous with failure or mediocrity. We must rise above both views and surrender our souls and image to the one whose opinion matters most.
Think about our Lord. Paul writes in Philippians 2:9 that Jesus was given the name above all names and yet is there anyone in history whose name has been used more often as a curse than his?
As a mechanic I worked with some guys whose mouths seemed to have a direct line to the sewer. One in particular, a fairly decent fellow in comparison, could not complete a sentence without a reference to our Lord. This galled me and I wondered what I should do. The day came when he and I were alone in the battery room.

“Ben, can I talk to you a moment?” I asked. He grunted in the affirmative.

“If I was to drop this battery on my foot and stomp around saying (I used his wife’s name), how would that make you feel?”
“I’d probably be pretty ticked off!”
“And rightly so.” I added. I went on to tell him how I felt when he used my Lord and Savior’s name in such a worthless manner. He responded quite favorably and there was a marked improvement in his speech.
I tell that story because it may be ordained for you and me to have times when our name is used as a curse and we are invited to share in this suffering of our Lord. May I suggest that you not respond at an elementary school kid level and simply entrust yourself to your Father and continue to do good. The good name will follow in due time.
 
Pastor Doug Higuera
 
 
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November 8, 2016 
Fully Suspended   
 
To know God and his word is a treasure beyond description. Though I seek to know him and his word more fully I am well aware that I will only know in part on this side of eternity. I can accept that. But what I do find hard to accept, and perhaps you do as well, are those moments where God allows heartbreak or injustice and the only thing we can do is wait, trust, rest, and bow in submission and surrender. The old nature wants to speak up and do something, but none of it would be right or effective.
  
It is at those moments when the only right solution is to be fully suspended in God and his Word. To believe in him and his Word as you have never had to before. It feels so foolish to let go of the old methods of dealing with heartbreak or injustice and dangle from–what appears to us as–the thread of God and his Word. Does he really expect me to be still in this moment? Am I to throw away all logic and allow this person to get away with ____?
  
It may appear at this moment that you are. But don’t you tell others that God is everywhere and sees all things? If so, then he sees this injustice that you are facing at another’s hands. Resist the temptation to make something happen and I believe you will find that the thread you feel you are dangling from is really 5000 lb. test. It is possible that there is no other path to knowing God and his Word more fully.
 
Pastor Doug Higuera
 
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November 1, 2016 
Oh, Susanna   
 
One Sunday morning during worship with the 3rd-6th graders, we were singing the song “Hosanna” and I asked the children if they knew what that word meant. After a flurry of answers, all wrong, I finally told them that it means, “Save now.”
 
Later that same day, one of the boys was gold panning with his dad in one of the local rivers. Somehow the boy slipped into the water and got caught in the current. Almost immediately he began to cry out, “Susanna! Susanna!” His dad (not named Susanna) jumped in and made his way towards his son, who was still calling out, “Susanna!” The boy and his dad eventually made their way safely to shore and back to the car to head home. On the way home the dad finally asked his son why he was calling out “Susanna” when he was heading down the river?
 
“Because dad, today we learned in Sunday School that Susanna means, ‘Save now’!”
 
I have no problem believing that God, smiling as he did so, answered the prayer of this young boy as he called out for help. Even though he did not use proper terminology, he did know who to ask, and we would be wise to follow his example. Ask, even though you may not be able to word it properly. I take great comfort in Romans 8:26-27 which reminds us of what we already know, that “We do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express… and in accordance with God’s will.”
 
May I encourage you to reawaken a simple childlike faith that would free you to fling up heartfelt prayers at a moment’s notice without getting too caught up in all the proper wording.
 
Pastor Doug Higuera
 
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October 25, 2016 
A Deeper Satisfaction   
 

“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.”

John 4:34

Think of some of the things that bring us satisfaction in this world; feeling loved and accepted, a full belly, a quenched thirst, accomplishing a goal, completing a project, a good days work, and the list goes on. As enjoyable as these things are, do any of them come close to the satisfaction felt when used by God?

 
Jesus seems to be making reference to this deeper satisfaction in John 4 when he is used by the Father to lift the soul of a hopeless woman. Physically speaking, the disciples knew that Jesus should be hungry and they completely misunderstood when he told them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.”
John 4:32
 
Spiritually speaking, the cup of living water given and accepted somehow satisfied or diminished Jesus’ physical appetite at that moment. Wow! Is this food available for you and me? I believe it is and I would venture to guess that many of you have tasted it.
  
May I encourage you to develop an appetite for this food, that is, to do the will of him who sent you and to finish his work. An important part of my job description is to prepare God’s people for works of service and that is what I hope to do. So offer yourself this day to walk in the good works that he has prepared in advance for you to walk in and simply go about your day in the ready position.
  
When God does use us to bless or nourish another soul we must be careful as servants of the Lord to not make trophies of these moments. Rather we should thank the Lord that he has trusted us to represent Him in this moment and ready ourselves for the next.
 
Pastor Doug Higuera
 
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October 17, 2016 
A Countenance of Joy   
  
Joy. A small word, but a great thing! When one receives Christ as their Savior and walks in confidence and obedience with Him, joy is the result, even when walking through difficulties.
 
Habakkuk 3:17-18 tells of living that joy even through the lean and troublesome times: “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.” Notice the words “I will” in this passage. It is an act of will to put on joy through difficulties.
 
Circumstances may give our happiness a jolt as we bounce along through this life, but the foundation of joy is always there when we are rooted in Christ. Of course, the Book of Ecclesiastes speaks of times of sadness and mourning as well, and there will be times of devastation at the loss of a loved one, sickness, a financial hardship, or other difficult circumstance. But, the joy in Christ should remain, seated firmly within.
 
Psalm 68:3 – “But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful.”
Anyone walking with Christ should be happy and joyful! If you are not showing the joy in your everyday life, those who don’t know Christ will not see Him in you. Why wouldn’t we
be full of joy, smiles, and laughter? Christ has redeemed us with the blood of His Son Jesus, and has promised eternity in His Presence…an act of love that is so amazing, so divine. (Oh, the rich lyrics of so many old hymns are running through my head right now!)
 
A co-worker offered to make a coffee run for our department. I don’t drink coffee, so when she came to me for my order, I told her, “No, thanks, I don’t drink coffee.” She asked me, “How do you get through your day without coffee?” I told her with a beaming smile, “I have joy!” Does your countenance show the unsaved world around you unrest, no peace, worry, or fear? If so, bring yourself to joy by further seeking the Lord through His Word and through meeting together with other believers often. Not only will this benefit you, but others around you will see the joy in you and will desire what you have in Christ.
  
So, consider your countenance… what is it reflecting?
 
Janet Perkins
Women’s Ministry
 
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October 7, 2016 
Seasons  
  
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit…”  
John 15:5
 
In Ecclesiastes 3, Solomon tells us that life is made up of seasons and if I could be so bold as to tie this in with what Jesus says in John 15, we could conclude that these seasons are not as random as one might be tempted to think. Jesus says that he is the vine, we are the branches and the Father is the vine-dresser. And he goes on to say that the purpose of these branches is to bear fruit to the Father’s glory; fruit, more fruit and much fruit. We all know that the seasons are necessary for the production of this fruit.

Perhaps these seasons would be easier to embrace and endure if our Heavenly Father published something along the lines of a farmer’s almanac every year so we could prepare for these seasons of change, but he doesn’t. That is because trust is crucial in this fruit bearing process. Will we stand firm in our faith in seasons of prosperity and seasons of pain? Will we lose heart in a season of war or drop our guard in a season of peace? Will we complicate our world in a season of gathering and refuse to release our grip in a season of casting away? Will we be too heavyhearted after a season of mourning to learn how to laugh or dance again? Will we be too stubborn to let go of the known and familiar when it is obviously time to uproot or tear down? In a season of frustration or injustice could we possibly submit to silence?

You may not be able to title the season you find yourself in, but please know that this season too will pass and that our Heavenly Father knows exactly what he is up to. Resist the temptation to complain or argue and lean into his unseen hand at work in your life.
 
Pastor Doug 
 
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September 27, 2016 
Leaks, Squeaks and Rattles  
  
New cars are not supposed to have any leaks, squeaks or rattles when they are rolled off the lot, but at the dealership where I worked, enough of them did that would require the hiring of a man designated to find them. It was, by far, the least desirable position among the mechanics and would require a keen eye and ear for finding flaws.
 
When humanity was rolled off the showroom floor we were without leaks, squeaks and rattles until sin marred the original model. There is not one model that has been spared from having flaws, so what are we to do with sin’s effect on our personality and appearance?  The advertising world claims to be able to hide everything from foot odor to hair loss and all the flaws between, but may I suggest a more excellent way for a believer to deal with their own leaks, squeaks and rattles.
 
First of all, know that your identity is found in Christ and not in the flaws. Others who may feel called to the position will try to label you according to your flaws but don’t let the label stick. Colossians 3:3 says, “You have died and your life is hidden with Christ.” 
 
Second, understand that God’s power is made perfect in our weakness. That which may appear to us and others as a hindrance to our being used by God could be the very thing that causes us to give up trying to be perfect and simply offer what we are, as we are, to Him.
 
And last, be transparent about this vehicle with all its leaks, squeaks and rattles and you will release others to be transparent too.
 
Pastor Doug 
 
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September 20, 2016 
Guard Your Heart  
  
Garbage in, garbage out. In this world we live in today, we are constantly bombarded with things that are ungodly. Everywhere we turn,
it seems, the enemy is slinging mud at us, so to speak. God’s Word tells us “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows
from it.” 
(Proverbs 4:23)
 
When we surrender our hearts to Jesus, upon believing in Him as our Savior, He resides in our hearts. Why would we want to dirty the place where He resides by allowing ungodliness there? We must be proactive in fighting for purity in our lives. Making choices of what we watch
on TV, where we go for entertainment, what we eat and drink (and how much), the content of the music we listen to, what we view on the internet, walking away from blatant sin in our lives, choosing to speak in a godly way to others, choosing to dress modestly, etc.
Live as though you can see Jesus right beside you, watching and listening to you!
 
Psalm 24:3-4 says 
“Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? And who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood and has not sworn deceitfully.” God wants us to approach Him in purity. He deserves that from us, so don’t allow the garbage in, garbage out concept to steal away a pure life in Christ, making us desensitized to the sin around us. Surround yourself with His beauty through His Word, music that lifts Him up, entertainment that glorifies Him and points us to Him, and 
people who live for Him.
 
Janet Perkins
Women’s Ministry 
 
 
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September 13, 2016 
Infectious Faith  
  
During the Vietnam War, General William Westmoreland went down a line of paratroopers asking each in turn, “How do you like jumping, son?” “I love it, sir!” each one bellowed. When he came to the end of the line and asked the final soldier how he liked jumping, the man replied quietly, “I hate jumping, sir!” “Then why do you jump?” the astonished general asked. “Because I want to be around guys who jump!” he said.

I too love being around those who jump. I am drawn to those whose love for God and abandonment to Him lead them to launch themselves

on a five-day fast in the wilderness to be still before the Lord; and to those who, while waiting on God for their place in ministry, will feed a flock of six or sixteen-year-olds; those who view their place of employment as the place where God has planted them to profess Him with or without words; those who live ‘available for God,’ parachute in place, having their feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel
of peace. If I want to soar on wings like eagles then it makes good sense to me to have a few men and women nearby whose zeal for God
will take them to regions unknown.

How about you?

Do you have anyone in your circle whose faith is contagious?
Someone around who inspires a reckless abandonment in you, even though you might not like jumping? If not, then expand your circle or expand your library and catch the zeal of some men and women of faith.
 
Pastor Doug 
 
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September 6, 2016 
A Plain Brown Wrapper  
  
“And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” 
John 1:14.

Jesus laid aside his glory and took on human form. What shape and appearance would that form take? Would Jesus attract folks’ eyes in order to catch their ears? Apparently not. Isaiah 53:2 tells us, “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.” Why would this be important?

 
When teaching this to my Sunday school class I always tell them it was so that no one followed Jesus for the wrong reason. They would be required to get past his appearance and stature in order to hear his message. Children appeared to have very little trouble doing this. They were attracted to the love, joy and peace that emanated from his eyes and every fiber of his being. For those who were able to get past the plain brown wrapper that housed all this beauty, to them Jesus became the most attractive man who ever lived.
 
Could the same be true for us? Our outer man will fade, but inwardly we are being renewed day by day (2 Corinthians 4:16.) Won’t we too then become more attractive for those who hear in our words and see in our actions a beauty that goes much deeper than skin and stature?
So….release your life to Jesus and allow him to transform you from the inside. Walk with him daily, moment by moment. The result will be that the fragrance and countenance of Christ will emanate from you in greater measure and you will have a beauty that increases daily.
 
Pastor Doug 
 
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August 31, 2016 
How Are You?  
  
“Hi Doug, how are you?” It’s a standard greeting and I could, and often do, answer with the expected, “Fine,” “Good,” or perhaps even, “Great!” But I have thrown a few people a curve at times by answering, “I try not to think about it.” In all honesty this is far more realistic than fine, good or great. Is that so weird? Apparently it is, as those I have flung it out on have immediately assumed that I must be going through some awful stuff to respond in such a strange manner. Truth be told, I really try to not think about how I am doing!
 
If one of the elementary truths of Christianity is that I love God with all my heart, soul, strength and mind, and love my neighbor as myself, then that doesn’t leave much time and emotion for myself, does it? In Mark 10:45, Jesus said, “The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” I believe this is one of the secrets of contentment: focusing on God and others. If I have a desire then I bring it to God and get back to the business of focusing on God and others.
 
I have been through some bloody battles. Some of my own have been taken captive and it has broken my heart. I do what I can to bring about their release and I spend the energy that remains on equipping saints and alerting others to the battle. If I focus on my seen world then my answer will be, “I am not fine! And let me count the ways.” I’d rather not go there as it produces despair and depression. So I live in the unseen world while functioning in the seen one and I am fine. Isn’t this what Paul encouraged us to do in 2Corinthians 4:16-18. “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen.…”
 
I am not into pretending that all is well when it is not, but I am into seeking first His kingdom and His righteousness and trusting that what He wants to add to me will be added. So…all that said, “I’m fine. How are you?”
 
Pastor Doug 
 
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August 16, 2016 
Traveling Through Life 
  
I’m on vacation as I write this. Normally Dan and I never check bags when we fly, but we were using an airline that offers no fee for checked bags, so we went ahead and took the plunge, with our carry on backpacks with a change of clothing in them.
 
Upon arriving at our destination, no bags on the carousel. OK. Big breath…remember that God is in control, and we can get by without our stuff. We entered the baggage services office to find a somewhat grumpy gal working there who’s name is Gretchen. We gave her our claim tickets for our two bags and noticed for the first time in that moment that our names were not on those tickets, but strangers’ names were.
 
Another big breath…”Ok, God, help us to be kind and full of grace in this so that You will shine brightly through us, and we trust You with the results.” As we worked through the possible solutions with Gretchen, we were able to make her smile and laugh by the time we were through, and she pledged to follow through and get our bags to us. Still no luggage, but faith that God would use this for His glory and provide for our daily needs.
 
Matthew 5:16 – “…let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. “
 
Our luggage ventured to Ft. Lauderdale overnight, but found its way back to us by noon the next day. God is in control all the time, even when the little kinks in life grab us. We have a choice to make. Either get rude and show no grace, or allow God to shine through us in the situation, and trust Him with the results.
 
Psalm 34:5a – “Those who look to Him are radiant…” Does your face remain radiant with Christ through every situation so that those who don’t know Him will want to know Him?
 
What kind of a life traveler are you?
 
Janet Perkins
Women’s Ministry 
 
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August 10, 2016 
Justifiable Homicide
  
In the parable of the talents (Matt. 25:14-30), the one-talent man is confronted about his decision to bury what his master gave him.
His response is an attempt to justify his actions. The one-talent man is shocked by the harsh response of his master. While he felt he had
good reason for his actions he had unknowingly offended his master by misrepresenting him and mishandling what was entrusted to him.

We too have been entrusted by the Father with something of great value, the life of God and the word of God. We are to be caught

up in the purposes of God, not entangled in this world’s affairs. It is sooooooo easy to be entangled in the affairs of this world and compartmentalize our commitment to God. In so doing, we can become quite adept at justifying ourselves and our expenditure of time
and money. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for this in Luke 16:14-15, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but
God knows your heart. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight.”

So don’t bury what God has entrusted you with by a small view of yourself or a small view of God. Ephesians 3:20 reminds us that “He is

able to do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine according to his power that is at work in us.” Don’t sell God or yourself short.
And stop making excuses about what you are and are not able to do. Ben Franklin said, “A person who is good at making excuses is
rarely good for making anything else.”

Moral of this story… Justifying yourself = Killing the life of God in you.

Pastor Doug Higuera
 
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August 2, 2016 
“Living Water”
  
Dan and I recently spent a weekend at a lake, enjoying the beauty, fresh air, and the refreshing water amidst triple digit weather.  Our Labradoodle, Daisy, and I ventured down to the lake for a dip to find some relief from the extreme heat. Daisy loves to swim as much as I do, so we both plunged in, uninhibited. None of this stick the toe in, and hope the water isn’t cold! Oh, the water felt so good… so refreshing…
so cleansing! We swam and swam. Even as the heat around us pounded down on us, we were refreshed as long as we stayed in the water.
  
Jesus tells us that He has something to offer us in John 4:14, as He told the woman at the well… 
”Whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 7:38 says, “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” 
  
Living Water from Jesus. Water that cleanses, refreshes, and renews the soul. It is up to us to drink it daily, by being in the Word of God, seeking Him continually. Isaiah 58:11 tells us, 
“And the LORD will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.”
  
When times are tough, He will provide for our needs, moment by moment, and His Living Water can flow through us as long as we don’t just stick our toes in, being fearful. So, when the heat of this world is making you weary, go jump in the lake!
  
Janet Perkins
Women’s Ministry
 
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July 26, 2016 
“I Am Thirsty”
  
“We have a high priest who can sympathize with our weaknesses.” Hebrews 4:15
It is pure speculation to try to assume we can understand much of what Jesus was enduring while on the cross, but bear with me while I try. Up to this point there had never been a time when God the Father and God the Son had experienced separation. “I and the Father are one,” and “Father, I thank you that you heard me. I know that you always hear me” John 10:30 and 11:41-42. For all of eternity they had been one. In order for Jesus to be able to sympathize with all our weakness he had to experience spiritual separation from the Father. We know that from noon till 3pm on that fateful day when a thick darkness fell, Jesus literally became sin (2Cor.5:21) and the Father turned away. Though, no doubt, physically depleted and in need of hydration, the inclusion of “I am thirsty” had to run deeper than a request for water. Jesus was experiencing what we have all known, and he longed for what he had always had.
 
Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, “He has set eternity in the hearts of men,” and it leads us to long for a righteousness that seems to be out of our reach. We long for deep meaningful relationships and we long to find purpose in our use of time, money, energy and affection. We thirst, and the best the world can offer us is what it offered Jesus: cheap, sour wine – something that merely dulls our senses and dulls our pain.
 
Only in Christ is that longing seen as a good thing. When we experience those moments when we too want to cry out, “I am thirsty,” Hebrews goes on to tell us, “Let us approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16.
  
Pastor Doug Higuera
 
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July 20, 2016 
And the Word Became Flesh
  
Colossians 3:16 tells us to “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly.”
Well, does it? Are you as rich in the Word as you could be? Twenty-three years of teaching Sunday School, small groups and Good News Clubs has contributed small deposits on a regular basis, but what really caused the Bible bank account to swell was heartbreak. Shattered dreams forced me to reconsider and revisit what I knew to be true of God. What could I expect of God in the midst of this?
 
Like David in Psalm 143:5, I looked back to days long ago. I meditated on all His works and I considered what His hands had done. What had Abraham, Joseph, David and Job counted on God for?  Could I bank on these things too? Romans 15:4 told me I could. What I did was what anyone could have done. I was desperate for God, I pondered His truths, and they stuck.
 
Some people tell me that I have a good memory, but if I was mugged and asked to describe the thief ten minutes later, all I could say was that he was a few dollars richer. I have no eye for detail. The reason I remember the Word of God is that I need to. The reason I work hard on remembering names is because I need to. At this point in my life there is nothing more important to me than the Word of God and the people who need the Word of God.
 
The Word will become flesh in you when the need for it is greater than your human needs.
  
Pastor Doug Higuera
 
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July 18, 2016 
Dressed with Love
  
“I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For He has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of His righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” Isaiah 61:10
 
Do you delight greatly in the Lord, your soul rejoicing in your God? Look how much He loves us! He clothes us with garments of salvation and puts a robe of righteousness on us! Without Him, we are dirty, unrighteous…basically scum. Jesus’ blood that was shed on the cross washes away all the dirt, and sets us free, making us white as snow. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” (Isaiah 1:18)
 
The comparison to the bridegroom and bride readying for the grand day is a beautiful picture of how God cares for us, and makes us beautiful in Him because of Jesus. We can stand strong in this, knowing that God does not look upon us as unloved, but as beloved in His sight, and He wants to spiff us up!
 
I remember when I walked down the wedding aisle almost 36 years ago…the look on my soon-to-be husband’s face is something I will never forget. Such love, anticipation, joy… I am the one he chose to be his beloved for all time on this earth, until death will one day tear us apart. God’s love is even so much greater than this, and He wants to spend not only this time on earth with us, but has given us eternity with Him, too. Such love…
 
Have you received His garments of salvation and robe of righteousness? If not, just ask Him to be your Savior and Lord today.
  
Janet Perkins
Women’s Ministry Team
 
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July 12, 2016 
“My God, My God, Why Have you Forsaken Me?”
 

“Though Jesus tried to prepare us for the cross and the resurrection it just could not register in our befuddled minds. The restored life of Lazarus, the illustration of labor pains leading to new life, being told that our grief will turn to joy and that we would see him again soon, all came to us as if it had been spoken in a foreign language. We had left everything to follow Jesus. We were learning from him and being prepared for something, but not this.

  
“It appeared that our Lord, Master and hero had been bested. John found us and gave us details of the events at the cross. Thomas kept muttering something about knowing this was going to happen. Peter just had a blank stare. No one even attempted to console him. The grief was overwhelming, but fear was a close companion. We were all certain that, following the Sabbath, we would also be arrested and that our association with Jesus would cost us our lives as well. Someone cursed Judas. Someone else wept. The air was heavy and it felt as if our hearts would burst from the overwhelming sorrow that filled us. We had left everything to follow him. It had felt so right. His words and his works confirmed it. We knew him as Messiah. And now he was gone. It is all too confusing. Now what will become of us? Even if we are to get out of Jerusalem alive, how could we ever go back to our old lives? We’ve left everything to follow him…”
  
Could it be that we will have our moments when we feel what these followers felt: fear, confusion and despair? I am convinced that it is part of the “counting the cost” every follower must consider. But keep in mind that it was not the end of their story, nor will it be the end of yours.
  
Pastor Doug
 
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June 29, 2016 
Joseph of Arimathea
  
Of all times to identify himself with Jesus, Joseph sure chose an odd time. For all he knew, Jesus was defeated; silenced forever. Joseph had counted the cost and was more willing to associate himself with his defeated Lord than the supposed victorious Sanhedrin. He could have chosen to have his old life back. He was still a secret disciple. Sure he had voiced his opinion with Nicodemus and was thoroughly disgusted with the ruling council as they showed utter disregard for the established protocol in the trials involving Jesus. But his petition for the body of Jesus was a courageous act as it would have labeled him as an associate in whatever subversion Jesus had advocated. His request was also an open confession of faith, for up to this time he had kept silent because of his fear of the Jews.

Perhaps ashamed at his own apprehension in declaring his faith, Joseph holds nothing back in this final act of devotion to his Lord and Master. He lets Roman and Jew alike know for certain that he is a follower of Jesus. He sees to it that Jesus gets the best burial that money can buy, by giving up his newly-hewn tomb and using seventy five pounds of myrrh and aloes that Nicodemus contributed.

Joseph is a powerful man, but suddenly none of that power and influence matters. Joseph, in a very real sense, is laying down his life as he knows it. He has just decreased. The tomb that Joseph paid dearly for is still used by him because all that formerly mattered to him gets buried with Christ. Little does he know new life will emerge with Christ in just a few days.

Being on the other side of the resurrection and knowing what we know, we must follow Joseph’s example of devotion and lay on the altar and in the tomb all that formerly mattered, in order to take hold of the new life that will follow.

Pastor Doug
 
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June 18, 2016 
Hearing Aids or No Hearing Aids?
  
I wear hearing aids, as I was born with a hearing deficiency, about a 45% loss in both ears. It’s inconvenient at times, but a blessing many times. I managed to get through school, and into married life and parenthood with this hearing loss without hearing aids, but when I was 27, my world opened up when I received my first pair. Oh my… the things I heard that I had never heard before! The grass brushing the bottoms of my shoes as I walked, birds chirping, my kids whimpering in their rooms, and when stirring mac and cheese, hearing a weird sloshing sound I’d never heard before! It was so amazing to me, that I cried tears of joy many times that first week whenever I heard something I hadn’t heard before.
 
There are times, however, when I don’t wear my aids; only when I am alone, as I don’t want to be a burden to others. I work from home half a day a week, and sometimes I will keep the aids out for part of that day. It is so refreshing to have the quiet. No sirens, no hip hop music blaring from a car going down the street, no neighbor kids screaming, no dogs barking.
 
To be still… to meditate on my Savior and His attributes; to worship Him; to tell Him I love him, and how grateful I am for all He has done for me. God wants us to be in this frame of mind often… to be still.  Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Exodus 14:14 – “The Lord will fight for you while you keep still.” Habakkuk 2:20 – “The Lord is in His holy Temple. All the earth – be quiet in His presence.” He is GOD… He deserves our reverence, our stillness, our worship, and also an opportunity for Him to work on our behalf without us getting in the way, as the Exodus passage states.
 
We can daily step away from the noise and clamor and respectfully approach the One who made us…who asks us to be still. It’s a choice we need to make. Since most of you reading this have great hearing, you don’t have the method I use, by just turning off the hearing aids. You can find a quiet spot, a prayer closet, a back room, somewhere to make the noise be less intrusive. You will find that the quiet with Jesus is refreshing and beautiful. Enjoy the peace and quiet with Him.
 
Enjoying my time with Him,
Janet Perkins
Women’s Ministry
 
 
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June 15, 2016 
No Detail Too Small
  
Having been discipled largely by biographies, I was fascinated by how these godly men and women trusted God even in details that seemed too insignificant to bother him with. Their logic…“I care about this and God tells me to cast my cares upon him,” so they did.
As an auto mechanic it was fairly common to be baffled by a car problem. Occasionally, I would carry my work home with me and it might even affect my sleep. I always hated when it did that.
 
One day one of my co-workers installed a cruise control and spent the entire day trying to get it to work. He replaced every component, but to no avail. The customer really wanted a cruise control so he said he would return in the morning to try again, but my co-worker was off, so I was told to take on this problem. That evening I laid it before the Lord, “What is it, Lord? What is keeping that new cruise control from working?” At that moment the thought struck me: the wire attached to his brake switch folded over and did not make contact. I thanked the Lord and climbed into bed.
 
When the customer showed up the next day I had all the necessary tools on my counter and I told him it would only take a moment, so don’t leave. I went right to the switch and sure enough the contact had not been made. I replaced the connector and took it for a spin. It all took less than ten minutes.
 
When I handed the customer his keys, he asked how I knew. I told him, “You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.” He said, “try me.” So I told him how I prayed and God showed me. He sure had a strange look on his face as I went back to work. 
 
Whether it is car repair or soul repair I now consider very few details too small to bring to my Father in heaven and I would highly recommend that you bring that which concerns you before him as well. (Philippians 4:6)
 
Pastor Doug
 
 
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May 17, 2016 
A Good Book 
  
Ever read a good book that keeps you so involved in the plot that you think about it many times during the day, wondering how your characters are going to get out of the scrape they’re in, or how the heroine will find her lost love, or how the astronauts will make their way back to Earth from Mars? My husband Dan and I commute 40 minutes to work and back 3 days a week as we work at the same place. We love reading Christian fiction, so we find good books that we both are interested in, and while Dan drives us to work and back, I read.
  
Sometimes, we find a series of books where we really get to know the characters, and the story lines are very intriguing and powerful as we go from volume to volume through the series. We find ourselves in the morning as we get ready for work and in the afternoon as the work day closes, anticipating what will happen to our beloved characters, and are eager to get on the road to continue the story. And, it’s such fun to share with friends and family the stories and characters, sometimes loaning the books to those who want to read them.
  
We have an ages-old Book called the Bible with amazing stories and characters, and a plot that is intriguing and powerful right at our fingertips. When we are reading this Book every day, we can think about it all the time, be encouraged by it daily, share it with others, and give it away. We should be consumed by this Book, as it is our Life Manual, our Hope, our Love, and teaches us God’s Plan. Do you read it every day? Do you think about it and share it? I know when I do, I am blessed, taught, strengthened, and encouraged.
  
God’s Word says, “I rejoice in following Your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. I meditate on Your precepts and consider Your ways. I delight in Your decrees; I will not neglect your Word.” (Psalm 119:14-16) The psalmist conveys his love for God’s Word, and how he thought upon it all the time, making it a part of his daily thoughts and meditation. There is no better way to get to know the One who made us and made a way to Him, than through this Good Book. Think about it all day long and look forward to what tomorrow’s reading will bring.
 
Janet Perkins
Women’s Ministry
 
 
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May 10, 2016 
A Word that Sustains the Weary
  
How much would you pay to consistently have a word for a weary soul?  A little discomfort, a lot of discomfort, agony, distress, frustration, heartbreak? Would you pay that much?  Amy Carmichael wrote, “ I have noticed that when one who has not suffered draws near to one in pain there is rarely much power to help.”  She goes on to say, “What if every stroke of pain, or hour of weariness or loneliness, or any other kind of trial of flesh or spirit, could carry us a pulse-beat nearer to a weary soul, would it not be worthwhile to suffer? Ten thousand times yes!”
 
In 50:4 Isaiah says, “The Lord has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary.”  I believe he would like to give it to you as well.  What is this word that sustains a weary soul? It is a word that enables them to keep pressing on, to endure, to look up when there is no visible encouragement. It could be a verse, an insight, something that helped you when you were about to throw in the towel; something that brings hope. Your friend might be enduring a winter season; well, you could remind them that spring always follows winter. And spring brings with it new life.
 “A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” Proverbs 25:11
  
Pastor Doug
 
 
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May 3, 2016 
Room for Evil?
  
Does your theology have room for a day of evil? Jesus responded to those who came to arrest him in the garden of Gethsemane, “This is your hour – when darkness reigns.” (Luke 22:53) He seemed to allow evil to have its moment and he did not waver in his submission to the Father’s plan.Though he did have a moment on the cross where he cried out about feeling abandoned, he trusted that what the enemy was intending for evil, God was using for good, for the saving of many lives. (Genesis 50:20)
  
Paul instructs us in Ephesians 6:13 to, “Put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground.” How do we stand our ground?  With Christlikeness. Otherwise we will get caught up repaying evil with evil or succumb to fear.
 
The day of evil may come to you as an individual or on a larger scale. It came directly to Peter (Luke 22:31-32) and he lived to tell about it in 1 Peter 5:8-10. God may permit it, but victory is yours if you stand firm in your faith. Isaiah 7:9 says, “If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand.” Again we get back to Genesis 50:20.
 
Evil is arrogant. It is aggressive. It is dark. And it can be frightening. But don’t think for a moment that it is bigger than God. If God has allowed evil to enter your world, it is to develop endurance and Christlikeness. Revelation 12:11 reminds us that we will overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony. So don’t be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:21)
  
Pastor Doug
 
 
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April 20, 2016 
First Responders
  
I Peter 4;12-13 : “Dear friends, do not be 
surprised
at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.”
 

Stuff happens. It’s inevitable. Stuff in life sometimes really surprises us. That’s understandable. How we respond is up to us. Do we freak out and moan, “Whyyyyyyy, God??????” or do we pause and acknowledge that God knows what He is doing by allowing this circumstance to come upon us, calmly and rationally? I think of a First Reponder/EMT. Can you imagine being a victim of some kind of injurious accident, and having a First Responder approach you, see your injuries and holler “Whyyyyyyy”, with crying and freaking out going on, unable to do his\her job? That’s ludicrous.

First Responders are trained to approach a crisis with calm and rationality. As followers of Christ, we need to do the same when a crisis comes upon us. Jesus tells us in God’s Word to not be anxious, not to worry about tomorrow, and to trust in Him for our daily needs (Matt. 6), whether those needs be our daily food, rest, clothing, or the crisis that

explodes

into our day, knocking our socks off.

When we are seeking the Lord EVERY DAY, we grow in strength and wisdom to be able to be a calm and rational First Responder. (2 Peter 3:18; Eph. 3:17-19; 1 Tim. 4:15; Col. 2:6-7) Read the Word, pray, worship, and meditate on the Lord every day, as part of your First Responder training, and watch your responses to trouble grow calmer.

 
Janet Perkins
Women’s Ministry
 
 
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April 5, 2016 
Care More or Care Less?
  
Recently, I caught myself just about to say, “I couldn’t care less about my needs,” when I realized what I was about to say was not true. I still cared about what I needed in this world, but now I cared more about something else. What had happened? My awareness of God and his purposes had overshadowed the other cares of this world. I still care about what I will eat and what I will wear, but God’s kingdom is more in view and my concern for them has dimmed. Has this happened to you? See Matthew 6:25-33.
 
How about our families, our possessions, our plans; are we to care less about them? No. But Mark 10:28-30 tells us we must care more about Jesus and the gospel in comparison to that which formerly dominated our time, money and affections – including our very lives. Jesus said, “whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:39). We are taught that we must despise our present life in comparison to our life in Christ.
 
Wow, how are we supposed to do this? How is this care-more attitude developed? Begin by taking that which is causing anxiety in you and give it to him over and over as it resurfaces till it no longer dominates your thoughts and attention. Keep in mind that these things he wants us to care less about are generally good things that are the enemy of what is best. Our needs, our affections, and our very lives are his concern now. The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. This is why some have said, “The cross is the only safe place for a believer.” “For I have died and my life is now hidden with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:3)
  
Pastor Doug
 
 
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March 29, 2016 
Led into the Wilderness
  

I think it is important to register this thought somewhere in our gray matter…Jesus did not choose the wilderness, he was led there by the Spirit. He chose submission and surrender to his Father’s will, therefore he followed his lead and lived without food one day at a time till he became hungry. Having exhausted all his physical resources, he began to starve to death. In this weak and vulnerable state, the Devil appears, bringing the only three plays he knows: lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh and the boastful pride of life. Jesus emerges with the victory, but also with a new identity and a strengthened resolve to carry out the plan of salvation. (See Luke 4:14-30)

What about you and me? Has the Spirit led you into something of a wilderness experience? Are you there now? Don’t prolong your stay by focusing on the individuals or circumstances that were used to lead you there. May I encourage you to lean into the Father’s will to form the Son in you, to give you a new identity, and to strengthen your resolve to carry out the plan of salvation in the days you have remaining here.

Just as Israel was fed by bread from heaven and water from the rock, these wilderness experiences are designed so that we can find our satisfaction in Jesus alone. He is enough, my friend. He is the Bread of Life and the Rock from which living water flows. He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land. What an honor it is to be trusted by the Father with a hard thing. Trust Him. The new identity and the sense of purpose you gain will cause the birth pangs of your experience to fade as a distant memory.

  
Pastor Doug
 
 
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March 23, 2016 
The Living Sacrifice
  
“A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country,
and they forced him to carry the cross.” ~
Mark 15:21
 
Simon’s name would suggest that he was a Jew. He was from Cyrene, which was an old Greek settlement on the coast of North Africa. Simon was the father of Alexander and Rufus; possibly the Rufus mentioned in Romans 16:13.
  
The scourging and the loss of blood had so weakened Jesus that he could not carry the heavy wooden crossbeam to his own crucifixion. So they ’randomly’ selected Simon who, as Mark writes, “was passing by on his way in from the country.” Simon was running a little late this year coming just in time for the feast of unleavened bread, having missed the Passover meal. However it was perfect timing as far as God and the Romans were concerned, who conscripted him to carry this burden, enabling Simon to have a close encounter with the real Passover Lamb.
  
Simon was probably not aware of Christ’s teaching to ‘take up [our] cross and follow him,’ but he was now living it. Simon carried the cross and though he did not lose his life, it most certainly changed his life. He walked in the footsteps of Jesus in a manner that none of the disciples had. If Peter had lived up to the zeal he displayed early on, he should have been the one carrying his Lord’s cross.
  
Pastor Doug
 
 
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March 16, 2016 
Mr. Magoo
 
“I once was blind, but now I see,”
so the song says. It is a bit unsettling to have the veil lifted in order to see more clearly. Ideals and false judgments which governed your world are shattered and you are left fearful of making a move. Good. Don’t move! If you do move, move onto your knees. The Father has done you a great favor by not allowing you to go any longer where this false judgment would have taken you. He knows where he wants to take you. Will you trust him in this? Will you accept this pain, this pruning, this attack on your person or your property as having come through his wise and loving hands? For those who accept and endure in love, a whole world of insight and understanding opens up to them. Then you become the one who can comfort others in their afflictions and nourish other souls with what comforted and nourished you.
 
We are called to live vertically in a horizontal world. To walk by faith and not by sight. If we are to do this well, we must stop making all our judgments and decisions based on what we see and feel. Jesus told the Pharisees in John 7:24,
“Stop judging by mere appearances and make a right judgment.”
In order to see people and situations as he sees them, get alone with God regularly and let him enlarge your vision.
Psalm 73:17
 
“…till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny.”
  
Pastor Doug
 
 
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March 6, 2016 
Treasure Island
 
“The law of the LORD is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the LORD are firm, and all of them are righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb.”  
  ~ Psalm 19:7-10 (NIV)
  

God’s Word, beautifully described in Psalm 19, clearly states the magnificence of it, along with the benefits for us when we take it seriously. Psalm 119:9 – “How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word.” When we live according to God’s Word, we have a stronger, more solid faith, and God is so much more evident in our daily living. We need daily nourishment for our spirit, just like our physical bodies need daily nourishment from the food we consume.

 
Job 23:12b quotes a suffering Job like this: “I have treasured the words of his (God’s) mouth more than my daily bread.” The Word of God is actually God speaking. Isn’t that amazing?! Job so beautifully stated how important it is to treasure God’s Word as we treasure our daily needs.
 
Steven Curtis Chapman wrote a song years ago called “Treasure Island”, in which he compares his daily time with God to sailing to Treasure Island, finding all the treasure he will need for the day, and bringing the treasure back with him to the “mainland”. (I encourage you to look up the lyrics on the internet. It’s a beautiful analogy.)
 
The gifts from God’s Word listed in Psalm 19 are “more precious than gold, than much pure gold”. What treasure are you seeking today? Treasure from this temporary world we live in, or treasure from “Treasure Island”?
  
Janet Perkins
Women’s Ministry
 
 
 
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February 29, 2016 
Mr. Mom
 
An old Indian proverb reads, “Never judge a man until you have walked a mile in his moccasins.” I have probably logged a mile or more by now and stand ready to make a judgment. About 14 years ago I walked (for about 3 years) in a mom’s shoes doing what I could to restore order and maintain routine when chaos visited my home. Cooking, cleaning, laundry, shopping, driving for my kids and even changing diapers for my grandson, while I maintained a ministry of teaching, counseling, and writing, has taught me some valuable lessons.
  
I see now that a mom is largely overshadowed by her family. But in losing herself to her family, she finds life. Her ministry becomes like Christ in that she is not here to be served but to serve and give her life. Jesus also said, “Whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.”
I can see now why a mom might be tempted to leave her post at home in search of value and appreciation. This is why the following lesson is so important.
  
This lesson is to make it my goal to please the Lord by loving my kids and serving them in maintaining order in our home. From time to time they express appreciation, but that is not what I lived for. I have done all I can to see that my kids are equipped to go out into the world, but they are not my life, Jesus is.
  
And finally, be certain of your reward for faithful service done unto him. He sees what no one else sees. After you have loved these sheep well and they have moved on, he will enlarge your pen and give you other sheep to love. When you need some assurance that what you are doing matters, lean into Romans 15:5 which tells us that he is the God who gives endurance and encouragement, and you will receive what you need. Your selflessness will be rewarded.
 
Pastor Doug
 
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February 17, 2016 
The Mark of a Christian
 
Jesus said, in John 13:35, 
“By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you ____.”
If you, what? Don’t swear? Don’t smoke? Go to church? Read your Bible? Pay your tithes? Are really nice? Teach Sunday School?
  
All those things are fine and they have their place of importance, but they do not define a true follower of Jesus. The mark of a true follower of Jesus is love. To love God and love others out of love for God is our highest calling. But this love cannot be attained by human effort. It is not of the flesh, it is of the Spirit. We are told to “love our enemies” and we find our old nature just won’t bend this way. Fortunately, all of God’s commands come with the ability to accomplish them. Having to love a difficult person because God has commanded us to, teaches us to die to self, surrender our will and allows God to give us his love and perspective on this antagonist.
  
But what about those we do love naturally? A spouse, a child, an extended family member, a friend, a co-worker or a neighbor… Could we love them better? Yes! Yes! A thousand times, yes! How? Make it your goal to please the Lord by loving these, in your circle, out of love for God. This is your ministry. When you have learned to love these well, out of love for God, then he may expand your boundaries to love more out of love for him.
 
Pastor Doug
 
 
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February 15, 2016 

Shoes of Contentment

  

11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.  

Philippians 4:11-13 NIV

We live in a world that doesn’t understand the concept of contentment. Get everything faster, make more money, buy the latest fashions, get the most toys, buy a newer car, get a bigger house, and the list goes on and on. The choices, ease, and opportunities to acquire things today are seemingly endless.

I know a gal that’s approaching the age of 60, and wears normal, age 60-ish shoes every day out of necessity. She needs good, solid, stable shoes to help her navigate through her life safely. Yet, she loves high fashion shoes…the kind you see in Hollywood, with the 6” spiked heels, and the platforms that make one a few inches taller, and with all the “bling”. She orders them online, a few pairs at a time. When her orders arrive, she gets all giddy and excited, and digs into the boxes of shoes and holds them up for all to see. She is physically unable to wear the shoes, but says she loves to buy them and just have them, cataloging them and organizing them in her closet. And she always looks forward to buying more. She is not willing to be content with the shoes that meet her needs, the ones that she wears every day.

The apostle Paul had been through many situations that were less than desirable, from hunger, to being shipwrecked, to nearly dying, and much more…yet he speaks to the Philippians about learning the secret of contentment through prosperity or through suffering. We must be content with what

God

wants for us. When our spirit is in line with His Spirit, there is contentment. 
Quaker William Penn observed: “Seek not to be rich, but happy. Riches lie in bags, happiness in contentment.”  When the constant pursuit of contentment still leaves us with unhappiness, we can ask God to simply “give us this day our daily bread” – just what we need for today – and learn to be content with

God’s

provision (which is for our best) and not our wants. 

So, what kind of shoes will you be content with?

 
Janet Perkins
Women’s Ministry
 
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February 9, 2016 
Mr. Mom
  
An old Indian proverb reads, “Never judge a man until you have walked a mile in his moccasins.” I have probably logged a mile or more by now and stand ready to make a judgment. About 14 years ago I walked (for about 3 years) in a mom’s shoes doing what I could to restore order and maintain routine when chaos visited my home. Cooking, cleaning, laundry, shopping, driving for my kids and even changing diapers for my grandson, while I maintained a ministry of teaching, counseling, and writing, has taught me some valuable lessons.
  
I see now that a mom is largely overshadowed by her family. But in losing herself to her family, she finds life. Her ministry becomes like Christ in that she is not here to be served but to serve and give her life. Jesus also said, “Whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.” I can see now why a mom might be tempted to leave her post at home in search of value and appreciation. This is why the following lesson is so important.
  
This lesson is to make it my goal to please the Lord by loving my kids and serving them in maintaining order in our home. From time to time they express appreciation, but that is not what I lived for. I have done all I can to see that my kids are equipped to go out into the world, but they are not my life, Jesus is.
  
And finally, be certain of your reward for faithful service done unto him. He sees what no one else sees. After you have loved these sheep well and they have moved on, he will enlarge your pen and give you other sheep to love. When you need some assurance that what you are doing matters, lean into Romans 15:5 which tells us that he is the God who gives endurance and encouragement, and you will receive what you need. Your selflessness will be rewarded.
 
Pastor Doug
 
 
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February 2, 2016 
Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!
 
Ever wonder why David had so much confidence as he prepared to battle Goliath?
In 1 Samuel 17:36, he tells King Saul, 
“Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this ungodly Philistine will be like one of them.”
  
In other words….the lesser battles had prepared him for this ‘goliath’ of battles. In verse 37, David goes on to give credit where credit is due,
“The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.”
  
Could it be that in the effort to teach you to fight with the new weapons of your warfare (2 Corinthians 10:2-5) the Lord allows a lion or a bear – formidable foes to be sure – to enter your sphere? He knows we are addicted to comfort and security, but he also knows that if we do not become familiar with these new weapons that we will cower in fear when we are confronted with our Goliath.
  
So you see, it really is an act of kindness that he brings these lesser conflicts to see if we will wage war according to the pattern of this world or according to Christlikeness. In Psalm 119:67, 71,75 David writes, “Before I was afflicted I went astray” and “It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees” and “In faithfulness you have afflicted me.”
  
It is imperative that we taste victory in these lesser battles so that we gain confidence in the faithfulness of God.
 
Pastor Doug
 
 
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January 31, 2016 
Jesus Trees 
 

“But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.  It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought, and never fails to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8

Trust and confidence. Everyone desires these. When we are walking with Christ, abiding in Him, obeying Him, we can have deep-rooted trust and confidence. The picture of a tree planted by water, soaking up the moisture of a stream needed to be healthy and pure, and growing and bearing fruit without fail…a picture of serenity, calm, and beauty…this is lovely. Even in the midst of storms or drought, the healthy tree stands firm, strength from the roots carrying it through the elements that toss it back and forth, back and forth, back and forth…

As believers, we need strong roots grown from the stream of Living Water. Even though we WILL be tossed by storms of life (James 1:2), we can have the strength we need from Him to get us through the sickness, the financial struggle, the loss of a loved one, trusting in the One who gave us the strength to persevere through the trial without worry or fear. Yes, without worry or fear.

Are you a Jesus tree?
If not, learn to go to the stream daily, soaking up His Word into your roots for strength and refreshment. Jesus said in John 4:14 
“But whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
Not only does this Living Water keep us strong in this life with its trials and burdens, but it will carry us through to eternity.
 
Janet Perkins
Women’s Ministry 
 
 
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January 6, 2016 
Your Theme Song?
 
Psalm 98:1 says, “
Sing to the Lord a new song.
” Hmmmm…it makes me wonder about a few things. First of all, am I supposed to have a theme song that fits my life and where God is taking me? If I am, then I’d like to think that the song that goes, “Beautiful, Beautiful, Jesus is beautiful and Jesus makes beautiful things of my life” would be my theme song.
 
What would yours be?
 
Secondly, what if “
Sing to the Lord a new song
” means that as we get on key with the Lord we have the freedom to improvise and not be forced to sing like everyone else. Some people are quite content to sing the same tune everyone around them is singing; while some, like myself, enjoy some variety that might make others cringe.
 
I hope you understand that I am talking about lifestyle here and not vocal skills. The pattern all of us have been handed is Christlikeness and how that plays out in day-to-day life for you may remain to be seen. Jesus was ‘Rabbi’ to many but he redefined the title by going outside of the expected pattern on numerous occasions. Could it be that we may be called upon to ‘sing off key’ and go against conventional thinking from time to time? I hope so!
 

So….if my improvising sounds like heavy metal rock and yours sounds more like classical jazz, I’m certainly okay with that. I just hope we can both appreciate the variety of sounds.

Pastor Doug

 
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January 3, 2016 
One Little Word
 
Has it been a hard day, week, month, year? David wrote in Psalm 13:

“How long, LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? Look on me and answer, LORD my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death, and my enemy will say, ‘I have overcome him’, and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the LORD’s praise, for he has been good to me.”

Most of us have felt like God wasn’t listening when we cry out to Him. This psalm is proof that it’s okay to cry out to Him when we feel abandoned, scared, beaten down, ridiculed, sorrowful. The key to this psalm is that little word at the beginning of verse 5… BUT. We simply must trust what God is doing in our life, rejoicing in the fact that He has saved us, standing on the TRUTH of His Word. And, in what may seem an unnatural response, praising Him and rejoicing. Yes, unnatural, because if we are walking in the Truth of His Word, living by His Spirit daily, we have a supernatural heart of love, gratefulness, and praise to our Lord.

Psalm 102 is another example of one who is beaten down. Verse 4:

“My heart is blighted and withered like grass; I forget to eat my food.” And, verse 11: “My days are like the evening shadow; I wither away like grass.” Then, in verse 12, there’s that little word “but” again! “But you, O Lord, sit enthroned forever; your renown endures through all generations.”

When you’re going through a storm, remember that little word ‘but’. Remember Who God is and what he has done for you. Remember that He is working on your behalf, and that he loves you more than you’ll ever know, and will see you through the storm.

 
Janet Perkins
Women’s Ministry
 
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