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The GRAVITY of Prayer

Gravity, the movieWarner Bros’ new film, GRAVITY, set a box-office record as the highest-grossing October release in history. The movie and its stars and director – especially Sandra Bullock, who plays an astronaut adrift in space — are being mentioned in a lot of conversations that have the word “Oscar” in them.

Other, more spiritual conversations have sprung up around the movie, too. The story of GRAVITY can be seen as the “rebirth” of Bullock’s character, who has given up on life prior to her ordeal, only to rediscover hope and faith through enduring it. One pivotal scene, when she believes she will not make it out alive, is particularly meaningful in this regard, especially for men and women of faith.

Let’s take a look at a clip from the movie (Click on the link to download the 102 MB movie clip):  Gravity

 This poignant moment raises three truths about the principles and power of prayer:

 1.    Prayer doesn’t really need to be taught


a.  It doesn’t require training, like being an astronaut. It doesn’t require a manual, like  flying a spacecraft. It simply requires a heart willing speak honestly to God.


b.    Prayer is not an interview of God, or a speech to God, it is a conversation with God.  Listen for what He has to say back to you.


c.    Scripture – Philippians 4:6-7“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”


2.     Prayer means we are never alone


a.    Even when we feel we are completely isolated, floating aimlessly through space, prayer is our lifeline to God.


b.    God hears and answers our prayers. Those answers might not always be what we expect, but they are what God knows is best for us.


c.    Scripture: Deuteronomy 31:6:  “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.”


3.    Prayer changes things


a.    It’s not just about “getting things off our chest.” It’s not just about “pleading our case” to God. It’s about unleashing the power of heaven to make a difference in our lives and the lives of others.


b.    No prayer is ever wasted.


c.     Scripture: — John 14:14:  “If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.”

Gravity, the movie 2

Chuck Knows Church: Halloween

Trick or TreatThe Board of Discipleship series, “Chuck Knows Church,” continues with a short film concerning Halloween Week.

See film

Does Grace Make Us Lazy?

LazyThe Fall 2013 issue of Leadership Journal contains an interesting article by Tullian Tchividjian  addressing grace and our motivation.  (Tullian Tchividjian is pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.)

The gospel declares that, because of Christ’s finished work for us, we already have all of the justification, approval, security, love, worth, meaning, and rescue we long for and look for in a thousand different people and places smaller than Jesus.

The gospel announces that God doesn’t relate to us based on our feats for Jesus but Jesus’ feats for us.  Because Jesus came to secure for us what we could never secure for ourselves, life doesn’t have to be a tireless effort to establish ourselves, justify ourselves, validate ourselves.

He came to rescue us from the slavish need to be right, rewarded, regarded, and respected.  The gospel announces that it’s not on me to ensure that the ultimate verdict on my life is pass and not fail.

This means we don’t have to transform the world in order to have our lives matter.  We don’t have to build a big church to secure our own worth.  We don’t have to be successful to justify our existence.  

Because Jesus was strong for you, you’re free to be weak.  Because Jesus was someone, you’re free to be no one.  Because Jesus was extraordinary, you’re free to be ordinary.  Because Jesus succeeded for you, you’re free to fail.  Because Jesus won for you, you’re free to lose.

But hold on … wait a minute.

Doesn’t this unconditional declaration generate apathy?  Doesn’t it create an I-don’t-care posture toward life?  If Jesus paid it all, if it is truly finished, if my value, worth, security, freedom, justification, and so on is forever fixed, than why do anything?  Doesn’t grace undercut ambition?  Doesn’t the gospel weaken effort?

Understandable questions.

But the gospel actually empowers risk-taking effort and neighbor-embracing love.

The thing that prevents us from taking great risks is the fear that if we don’t succeed, we’ll lose out on something we need in order to be happy.  So we live life playing our cards close to the chest.  We do this relationally, vocationally, and spiritually.  We measure our investments carefully because we need a return.  We’re afraid to give because it might not work out and we need it to work out.

But, because everything we need in Christ we already possess, we can take great risks, push harder, go farther, and leave it all on the field without fear.  We can invest with reckless abandon because we don’t need to ensure a return of success, love, meaning, validation, and approval.  We can invest freely and forcefully because we’ve been freely and forcefully invested in.

The fear of not knowing whether I’ll get a return is replaced by the freedom of knowing we already have everything.  Because I already possess everything in Christ, I’m now free to do everything for you without needing you to do anything for me.

I can now actively spend my life giving instead of taking, going to the back instead of getting to the front, sacrificing myself for others instead of sacrificing others for myself.  The gospel alone liberates you to live a life of scandalous generosity, unrestrained sacrifice, uncommon valor, and unbounded courage.

When you don’t have anything to lose, you discover something wonderful: you’re free to take great risks without fear or reservation.  This is the difference between approaching all of life from salvation and approaching all of life for salvation; it’s the difference between approaching life from our acceptance, and not for our acceptance; from love not for love.

So, what are you going to do now that you don’t have to do anything?

Once your heart is gripped by the reality that you don’t need to do anything for Jesus, you’ll discover that you want to do everything for him.

This Time of Year

3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.  Luke 2:3–7

Our pastor, Rev. Heidi Helsel

Our pastor, Rev. Heidi Helsel

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

          It is amazing that it is nearly that time of year when we watch and wait expectantly or perhaps with dread, to witness that first flake of snow.  We are headed for winter and the holidays will quickly be upon us. 

We wait for lots of things in this season, especially as the lines grow longer in the stores and malls. As followers of Christ, we must also be aware that we continue to receive and to watch and wait for, above all, the presence and hope of God, Jesus Christ. We pray for Christ to enter into the bedlam of our everyday lives and speak fresh words of hope into our battle weary hearts.  It can be difficult to understand how this can be when we all know that Christ is already with us, always.

          While I have started here with a reference to Christmas, I in no way want to skip or gloss over the importance of the Thanksgiving holiday.  While a primarily American tradition, this holiday has given Christians the opportunity we long for-a chance to steal the occasion away (or back) from our culture and claim it for Christ.  Often the focus is on overindulgences of food and football. A day to revel in eating, drinking and, now, thanks to Macy’s and other retail stores, shopping- all to excess.

          The original celebrants of the day were just happy to be alive.  As strangers in a strange land, the Pilgrims were at God’s (and the local Native American population’s) mercy for survival.  Much has been debated about what they ate and the political motivations for the meal. In the end, the day was established as a day to corporately give thanks to God for the gifts and blessings of life.  As Christians we celebrate this not only on Thanksgiving Day, but every day and especially as we join as the body of Christ in worship together.

It is interesting that just about every year as we prepare for Advent I have encountered the historical debate about whether or not, when the Nativity set is put up in the church, the infant Jesus is “in” or “out” of the crèche.  A good case may be made for either option.  For many it is a matter of faith tradition or denomination.  It has been considered a traditionally Catholic “thing” to leave Jesus out of the manger until Christmas Eve and a likewise Protestant “thing” to leave the child there.  It really goes beyond all of that when we begin to look at the significance of the reason behind each choice.  You may have noticed that last year we did both.  Some nativity scenes featured the babe in the manger and others did not until Christmas Eve. This was not an attempt to appease one school of thought or the other, but an intentional choice to allow the experience of both to permeate and enliven our faith. 

The empty manger reminds us throughout the Advent season that we are waiting for Jesus to come to us again.  It also gives us an opportunity to reflect on what it means to be waiting for something. In our post-modern culture this is not expected.  We want what we want and we are used to getting it quickly. We try imagining what it was like so long ago to wait expectantly for hope and light to enter in and save the world from chaos and darkness. Even so, this is not difficult to visualize when we take look around at what is happening in our lives, our families, our communities and our world.  We cry out in our souls for that final consummation of God’s Kingdom when all things will be made new.

At the same time, as the called out people of God who may receive redemption through Christ, we recognize the baby in the manger as the one who has already come and remains with us, even in the midst of the chaos and darkness that threatens to overwhelm us.  We face difficult struggles and our world cries out for words of hope from us as those who witness to the light which has come and is still to come.  Christians live daily in that tension. That is, the urgency of the Kingdom realized now and the “not yet” reality of God’s final reconciliation of the earth and all that is in it. The baby’s presence reminds us that we have already received God’s ultimate gift of love-God’s self. We must witness to this great hope and light received. Above all, we are reminded to be thankful. 

So now we have come full circle, beginning and ending with thankfulness.  As we enter this season of Thanksgiving and Advent, we may cry out to God, “Thank you for providing for our daily needs of food and shelter and for coming to be with us and save us.  We pray in all hopefulness and faith for you to hurry to us once more and to finally gather us to yourself!”

Come, let us worship together especially as we celebrate Thanksgiving and enter into the exciting time of Advent and Christmastide.  Our Worship theme for Advent this year is:  Behold! Our Journey with Christ:  the “Advent”ure of a Lifetime.

I pray that you all ponder these things in your heart at this special time of the year and that the Lord’s favor is upon you as you give thanks for God’s many blessings of faith, home, family and friends.

Your Fellow Servant in Christ,

Pastor Heidi

Culture Can Be Redeemed – Being Salt

SaltWe think of salt as seasoning, and also a melting and water-softening agent.  But until recent times, its primary use was to preserve.  That made it a metaphor for permanence.

The term translated “everlasting covenant” in Numbers 18:19and 2 Chronicles 13:5, is literally “covenant of salt.”

Season all your grain offerings with salt,” God told his chosen people (in Leviticus 2:13), “to remind you of God’s eternal covenant.”


Interact with God’s Word

Matthew 5: 13-16

  1. What is the value of seasoning that has no flavor?  What is implied here about the value of Christians who make no effort to affect the world around them?
  2. What are some ways Christians can affect their society positively, bringing out its best flavor?
  3. What warning does Jesus’ remark about flavorless salt being thrown out carry for Christians who simply blend in with their culture?
  4. What qualities of Jesus’ disciples make them a source of light in their communities?
  5. What are some ways in which Christians hide their light?
  6. How can our good deeds lead not to smugness but to praise for our heavenly Father?


Spend Time in Prayer

Ask God for courage to stand out from the crowd coupled with a selfless caring that makes the faith you live attractively compelling.

Matthew 5:13-16

13 You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.

14 You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. 15 No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.


 Prayer for the Week:  Since you’ve called me to be salt and light, I’m not free to just blend in.  Empower me to make a positive impact where you’ve placed me.

Culture Can Be Redeemed – Deep End Economics

Kids in SwimsuitsKey Bible Verse:  They share freely and give generously to those in need.  Their good deeds will be remembered forever.  Psalm 112:9

Bonus Reading  2 Corinthians 9: 7-13

An Arizona church had a clothing drive to help a ministry that operates a summer day-camp for hundreds of poor children.  

One of their favorite activities is going to a city swimming pool.  But a swimsuit is required at the pool, and few children own one.  When this need was announced at the church, an out-of-town visitor was moved to donate $1,000 to buy swimsuits!

David, a church member, checked out several stores.  At the store that offered the best discount, he carefully selected 150 children’s swimsuits, and piled them all in front of the cashier!  Several people behind him reacted with dismay, knowing this big purchase would delay them.  An older woman asked if he had a large family.  “No,” he laughingly replied, and explained who the swimsuits were for.

The woman continued to watch as the clerk totaled the cost.  Finally, the total reached $1,000, which paid for 125 suits.  David told the clerk he’d put the remaining 25 swimsuits back on the sales rack.

“No!” the woman interjected, “I’d like to pay for those.”  David, astounded by this woman’s generosity, was sure he’d just seen another example of Kingdom mathematics.

—Bob Moffitt in If Jesus Were Mayor


My Response: A community need my church is—or could be—addressing is …


Thought to Apply:  [A true community’s] members are making the transition from “the community for myself” to “myself for the community.” —Jean Vanier(Canadian social worker)

Adapted from If Jesus Were Mayor (Monarch, 2006



Prayer for the Week:  Since you’ve called me to be salt and light, I’m not free to just blend in.  Empower me to make a positive impact where you’ve placed me.

Elder of Gospel for Asia-supported Believers Church Brutally Murdered While Praying

Debalal was a faithful servant, often giving his time to pray for the sick.

Debalal was a faithful servant, often giving his time to pray for the sick.

Debalal, 36, spent his last moments on earth praying for the man who would later kill him.

* Click on this Link for a short video report.

In the early morning of Sunday, October 20, Debalal, an elder of a GFA-supported Believers Church in Nepal, was called to the home of Kumar Sardar, 29, to pray for his healing.

Kumar’s wife had asked Debalal to pray for her husband who had been crying out with acute pain in his body. As Debalal prayed for Kumar with his eyes closed, Kumar left the room only to come back holding a sharp khukuri, a common Nepali knife with a curved edge that is much like a machete. Before Debalal could be made aware of the weapon, Kumar attacked him, slitting his throat. Debalal died at around 3 a.m.

News reports indicate Kumar is now in police custody.

“Opposition, persecution and martyrdom is part of the cost of following the Lord and bringing the Gospel to a desperately needy world,” said Dr. K.P. Yohannan. “We are always heartbroken when we lose someone, but while we weep here on earth, there is rejoicing over those who came to know Jesus through this man.”

Kumar had been ill for some months and was improving gradually as Debalal prayed for him. Debalal lived around 30 minutes away from Kumar and often visited the sick man to offer comfort and to intercede on his behalf.

Debalal’s wife and two sons, 9 and 15 years old, are being taken care of by the local church during this time.

Debalal’s wife and two sons, 9 and 15 years old, are being taken care of by the local church during this time.

“Debalal was a faithful servant of our Lord Jesus Christ,” said Bishop Dr. Narayan Sharma, senior leader of our work in Nepal. “He was diligent in the Lord’s ministry and helped bring many into the Kingdom of God.”

Debalal served under the leadership of GFA-supported Believers Church pastor Tuhinsurra for many years as the elder of the church. He often visited those in his area and shared the love of Christ with them, faithfully praying for those who were ill.

Debalal leaves behind his wife and two sons, who are 9 and 15 years old.

Please pray for:

  • Debalal’s family as they grieve the loss of their husband and father.
  • All the believers to stand firm in their faith during such a grave situation.
  • Kumar Sardar, that he would repent and come to know the saving and redemptive love of the Savior, Jesus Christ.
  • Kumar’s family, that they too would come to know the Lord through this circumstance and give their hearts to Him.


Culture Can Be Redeemed – Extreme Outreach

Parental ControlKey Bible Verse: … shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.  Philippians 2:15

Bonus Reading: Mark 2: 14-17

A striking example of engagement with the world is the story of Craig Gross and Mike Foster and their quest to redeem the porn industry.  Founders of (now under the umbrella of Fireproof Ministries), these two men have withstood withering criticism from within the Christian community for their attempts to reach out to the purveyors (and the victims) of the multibillion-dollar pornography empire.

They attend porn conventions (with their wives, no less), handing out “Jesus loves porn stars” T-shirts and challenging people to go without porn for seven days.  They even inaugurated a “porn Sunday” in 2005, calling on churches to wake up to the reality of porn and porn addiction in their midst.

I don’t know these men personally but I have benefited from their ministry (their accountability software is on my computer) and admire their courage in seeking to bring the light and life of Jesus into the darkest of places.  They didn’t wait for the lost to come to them—they went to where those people were and by their actions demonstrated the grace and truth of the gospel.

—Mike Erre in The Jesus of Suburbia


My Response: A hangout for the unchurched that I could “salt” with a Christian presence is …


Thought to Apply: Every Christian should be both conservative and radical; conservative in preserving the faith and radical in applying it. —John Stott (British preacher)

Adapted from The Jesus of Suburbia (W Publishing, 2006)



Prayer for the Week:  Since you’ve called me to be salt and light, I’m not free to just blend in.  Empower me to make a positive impact where you’ve placed me.

Culture Can Be Redeemed – Refurbished Reputation

Delivering Phone BooksKey Bible Verse:  Let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.  1 John 3:18

Bonus Reading:  1 John 3: 16-19

Our church recognized that its reputation in the community had deteriorated as the church grew.  We were known as “the church that causes traffic jams.”

Add this to the fact that we paid no taxes and you’ll see why the local government saw us as takers rather than contributors to the community.

So we went to the city manager and asked, “What can we do to serve the community?”  He looked at us skeptically and said, “I’ll get back to you.”

Three months later he called and asked us to deliver more than 17,000 town directories to every household.  “Can you do it?” he inquired.  We said yes.

Our church is large, but it was still a challenge to martial more than 200 volunteers to give a September Saturday to deliver these directories.  We found the volunteers, and we decided to make this practical service event into a prayer walk—praying for every home in our community as we walked.

The service project/prayer walk opened new ideas and opportunities for community outreach, and we entered that fall with a new sense of anticipation of God working through us.

—Paul Borthwick in Stop Witnessing and Start Loving


My Response: Is my church viewed as a negative, irrelevant, or positive factor in my community?  What might change that?


Thought to Apply:  According to the New Testament, God wills that the church be a people who show what God is like. —Stanley Grenz (theologian)

Adapted from Stop Witnessing and Start Loving (NavPress, 2003)



Prayer for the Week:  Since you’ve called me to be salt and light, I’m not free to just blend in.  Empower me to make a positive impact where you’ve placed me.

Will You Join Billy Graham?

Billy Graham 1Billy Graham 4Your friends and neighbors need Jesus Christ. 

The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association is working with thousands of churches and Christians like you to share Jesus through personal relationships.

  • Will you join Billy Graham as he presents a powerful new message starting November 7th?

Download your free My Hope America materials and compelling programs or request the DVD today at

Billy Graham 2

Culture Can Be Redeemed – Proactive Culture Changer

The Chronicles of NarniaKey Bible Verse:  Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable.  Philippians 4:8

Bonus Reading:  2 Cor. 10: 3-5

Film executive Micheal Flaherty, now 40, was first an educator who designed a program that dramatically increased the enrollment of minority students at elite Boston prep schools and co-founded a successful charter school.

After the Columbine tragedy of 1999, Flaherty noted that while Cassie Bernall and Rachel Scott loved wholesome films, the gunmen preferred dark flicks like Natural Born Killers.

This inspired him to transition professionally to Hollywood to make movies that would positively influence youth. He contacted his old college roommate Cary Granat, then president of Dimension Films.  Granat caught Flaherty’s vision and they co-founded Walden Media.

Most of Walden’s films are adaptations of well-known novels.  Flaherty hopes to provide librarians, teachers, pastors, and parents with resources for teaching kids positive, even biblical, values.

In an industry skittish about portraying religious themes, Flaherty is bucking the trend. “We’re after great stories,” he says, “and a key element of a great story is faith.”  

Walden’s credits include The Chronicles of Narnia megahits, plus adaptations of children’s classics such as Charlotte’s Web, and Amazing Grace, about the life of William Wilberforce.  They are starting to give Hollywood a good name.

—Drew Dyck in Today’s Christian


My Response: I think Christians are known more for darkness-cursing than candle-lighting because …


Thought to Apply: Better to light a one small candle than to curse the darkness. —Chinese proverb

Adapted from Today’s Christian (3-4/07).



Prayer for the Week:  Since you’ve called me to be salt and light, I’m not free to just blend in.  Empower me to make a positive impact where you’ve placed me.

Culture Can Be Redeemed – Who Do We Appreciate?

Thanking WorkersKey Bible Verse: So let’s not get tired of doing what is good … We will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.  Galatians 6:9

Bonus Reading:  Romans 12: 9-13

A group wanted “to do something special beyond [its] church walls to make God smile!”

They decided “to honor, encourage, respect, and applaud” the young adults working as cafeteria workers and nurse’s aids at a nursing home.  They sent a warm letter to 14 workers, inviting them to a dinner and celebration in their honor at the home of one of the group members.

After an icebreaker, a group member thanked the workers for their service to the elderly and announced the team’s plan to serve them this evening.  The church women cooked, and the men served the dinner and cleaned.

After the meal, the guests and hosts each told a little about themselves.  Several group members spoke, and the leader read scriptures [such as today’s Key Bible Verse] designed to affirm that each person is created in God’s image for a special purpose.

Each guest received a decorative bowl from Mexico, a houseplant, and an encouraging book.  To end the evening, the workers stood in a circle and received a group blessing.

One letter of thanks said, “It was wonderful to be appreciated.  I’ll never forget it.  The book really made me think how much I can achieve.”

—Bob Moffitt in If Jesus Were Mayor


My Response: A way I’d like to “make God smile” is …

Adapted from If Jesus Were Mayor (Monarch, 2006)



Prayer for the Week:  Since you’ve called me to be salt and light, I’m not free to just blend in.  Empower me to make a positive impact where you’ve placed me.

Culture Can Be Redeemed – Three Ways to Relate

Engaging CultureWho Said It … Mike Erre

Mike Erre is the teaching pastor at Rock Harbor Church in Costa Mesa, California, where he lives with his wife, Justina, and their two children.  He is the author of Why Guys Need God.

Mike is an avid fan of Buckeye football, the music of Pearl Jam, and the mythology of Star Wars.

What He Said … Three Ways to Relate

The Jews of Jesus’ day responded to the Greco-Roman culture of their occupiers in three ways: embracing it (Sadducees), separating from it (Pharisees), or attempting to take it over (Zealots).

Today’s Christians relate to culture in similar ways.  

  • Some, like the Amish and Mennonites, attempt to withdraw from culture.  
  • Many evangelicals partially withdraw by forming a Christian subculture with its own schools, music, novels, and movies.  
  • Still others—today’s collaborationists—have excised those parts of the Bible offensive to modern ears.
  • And Zealots no longer advocate armed revolt but rather use political and legal power to attempt to return the West to its “Christian” roots.

Jesus only direct response was to the many questions of his contemporaries, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s” (Mark 12:17).  

But how he interacted with his culture speaks volumes.  He didn’t withdraw from it (like the Pharisees) nor embrace it (like the Sadducees).  He didn’t advocate armed revolution (as did the Zealots).  He simply sought to redeem culture wherever he found it.

Adapted from The Jesus of Suburbia (W Publishing, 2006

Prayer for the Week:  Since you’ve called me to be salt and light, I’m not free to just blend in.  Empower me to make a positive impact where you’ve placed me.

Holy Hotlines

Holy Hotline

Converting to Wind Power – Sending the Holy Spirit

Holy Spirit 3Jesus described the Spirit he was promising with an unusual word (Greek parakletos, “called alongside”).

This term, used for a legal representative who spoke in a person’s defense, is translated “Advocate” in the New Living Translation.  The current therapeutic connotations of “Counselor,” another translation, have rendered it misleading.  And “Comforter” is accurate only in its older English meaning of someone who strengthens or encourages.

Interact with God’s Word:  John 14:15-26

  1. What is Jesus’ basic assignment to his disciples (vv. 15, 21, 23) in these paragraphs?
  2. What unspoken fear of the disciples (v. 18) is his disclosure about the Holy Spirit addressing?
  3. How is the sending of the Spirit equivalent to Jesus again being with them?
  4. Why are many (vv. 17, 19, 22) unaware of the Spirit’s activities?  How have I experienced the Spirit recently?
  5. When (vv. 17, 20) did the Spirit’s presence shift from external to internal for Jesus’ disciples?
  6. On what is the Spirit’s teaching and reminding (v. 26) based?
  7. Are you confident (v. 21) that Jesus is revealing himself to you?  Does this affirm that you know the Spirit?


Spend Time in Prayer

Ask God for strength to obey his commands through the instruction, encouragement, power, and sustaining presence of the Spirit in your life.


John 14:15-26:

John 14

15 “If you love me, obey my commandments.  16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you.  17 He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth.  The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him.  But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.  18 No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you.  19 Soon the world will no longer see me, but you will see me.  Since I live, you also will live.  20 When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.  21 Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me.  And because they love me, my Father will love them.  And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.”

22 Judas (not Judas Iscariot, but the other disciple with that name) said to him, “Lord, why are you going to reveal yourself only to us and not to the world at large?”

23 Jesus replied, “All who love me will do what I say.  My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them.  24 Anyone who doesn’t love me will not obey me.  And remember, my words are not my own.  What I am telling you is from the Father who sent me.  25 I am telling you these things now while I am still with you.  26 But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.

Converting to Wind Power – A Life of Its Own

Holy Spirit 2Key Bible Verse:  But you are not controlled by your sinful nature.  You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you.  Romans 8:9

Bonus Reading:  Romans 8:12-14

My hand moved like it had a life of its own, as if detached from my arm.  It was flat, horizontal to the ground, and floating like a leaf on the water.  If there was a ripple of air, it flowed with the ripple.

For an eight-year-old boy, that’s what it was like when I’d put my hand out the window of our car while traveling at 55 miles an hour.  Somehow my hand didn’t belong to me.  I just stuck it in the wind and the wind gave it life and power.

The wind had control of my hand, making it go up or down, forward or backward.  That’s why it didn’t seem like it was mine, because I’d surrendered control to the wind.

How then do you convert your life to wind power, to God’s power?  

Like my hand, you let the wind of God’s Spirit blow over your life.  You detach your life from your own control.  You let go.

You place your life so that it floats on the wind of God’s power, and let him empower you.  You place your life in the wind of God’s power, and let him control you.  You place your life with the wind of God’s power, and let him lead you.

—Joe Williams in Ohio


My Response:  Am I increasingly becoming an instrument in God’s hand (Rom. 6:13)?


Thought to Apply:  The Spirit’s control will replace sin’s control.  His power is greater than the power of all your sin. —Erwin Lutzer (Illinois pastor)



Prayer for the Week:  I’m not strong enough, Lord, to live up to your standards on my own.  Teach me how to rely on the internal power your Spirit provides.

Chuck Knows Church: Baptism

Chuck Knows ChurchWhat is the meaning of the sacrament of baptism?

What’s best: sprinkled, dunked or poured?

Chuck will explain a little about this important ancient act and perhaps have a surprise along the way in this United Methodist Board of Discipleship series.  Tune in to this new episode here.


Should Christians Celebrate Halloween?

Christian HalloweenYes, but not like an unbeliever with dark and demonic symbols. Christians can truly celebrate believers who l1ave died, for we know that death has been swallowed up in victory(1 Cor. 15:54)

And, though our bodies die, our spirits dwell with Christ (Phil. 1:23) until he returns to earth to make all things new(2 Pet. 3:13) and to clothe us with glorious bodies (Phil. 3:20- 21).

What a message of hope! So, though we mourn the loss of our loved ones, we do not grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope”(1 Thess. 4:13).

In light of the history of Halloween, here are some ideas for celebrating:


  •  Remembering Heroes of the Faith:


        Read stories about Christians who have demonstrated exceptional faith and courage. These stories inspire us to “live up to what we have already attainedin Christ (Phil. 3:16).


     Encourage children to dress up like a hero of the faith.  Costume choices can represent virtually every time period, every geographic area, and a wide variety of professions (even princesses and warriors).


  •  Remembering Our Loved Ones:


        The Reformation emphasized that all believers are saints and citizens of heaven (see Phil. 3:20); the destination of our loved ones who died in Christ is the same as that of the heroes of the faith.”  Remembering our loved ones connects our hearts to heaven in a more intimate way.


       Explore the Scriptures to learn what they teach about the afterlife.   Reflect on what your loved ones might be experiencing in heaven, and acknowledge your longing to be reunited under the perfect lordship of Jesus.


  •  Remembering the Lost:


          “There is a desperate need for light in our dark world, and the Bible says we are to “shine like stars in the universe as you hold firmly to the word of life” to those who are perishing (Philippians 2:15-16).


       Many aspects of Halloween are natural starting points for spiritual conversations:  Why do you think Halloween is such a dark’ holiday?”  Do you believe in ghosts?”  “Are you afraid of death?” Pray for opportunities to ask questions like these-that they may open a door to share the gospel!

Converting to Wind Power – Sputter or Hum?

Valley of Dry Bones

Valley of Dry Bones

Key Bible Verse:  I … pray to the Father … that … he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him.   Ephesians 3:14-17

Bonus Reading:  Ezekiel 37: 1-14

A couple of summers ago, my two boys and I bought a lawn mower.  They earned spending money mowing lawns with it.  

The mower operates on a mixture of gasoline and oil.  If it runs on gasoline alone, it’s just a matter of time before it burns up.

Living without the presence of God in our lives is like running the mower that way.  We function as best we can but never achieve our potential and eventually break down.  

The coming of the Spirit of God into your life is like putting oil in the machine.  If his Spirit is in us, we live life to the full, even beyond the grave.

Here’s how what Paul prayed for his friends [in today’s Key Bible Verse] happens.  Jesus said a change must take place in your life every bit as dramatic and important as your own physical birth.

Maybe this is what Tennyson had in mind when, frustrated with himself, he cried out [below in today’s Thought to Apply].  In a sense that’s what happens.  

Who we are doesn’t cease to be.  But the presence of Christ comes into our lives and helps us become who we want to be.

—John Yates in Preaching Today


My Response: I’ll thank God that the Spirit in my life guarantees that “these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life” (2 Cor. 5:4).


Thought to Apply: Oh, that a man might arise in me, that the man I am might cease to be!—Alfred Lord Tennyson

Adapted from Preaching Today (#87)



Prayer for the Week:  I’m not strong enough, Lord, to live up to your standards on my own.  Teach me how to rely on the internal power your Spirit provides.

Converting to Wind Power – The Force Be With You?

Holy SpiritKey Bible Verse: “The world … doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.”  John 14:17

Bonus Reading:  1 Corinthians 2: 9-12; 1 Corinthians 2: 12:11; Ephesians 4:30

Several years ago, I attended a bizarre weekend at a retreat center in the Colorado mountains.  Two groups—leaders from the evangelical Christian community and leaders from the new age movement—had been invited to see if any bridges of understanding could be erected.

Both groups referred to “the spirit” to articulate their positions.  But it soon became obvious that to the new age group the “spirit” was some kind of impersonal cosmic energy force.  You could possess more or less of this force, and of course, it was always with you.  Their explanations gave me the sensation of entering a theological “Twilight Zone” or of becoming an extra on the set of Star Wars.

But the Holy Spirit is not a force. He’s a person.

As Jesus told his disciples [in today’s Key Bible Verse] he’s a he, not an it.  Consistently throughout the New Testament, the Holy Spirit is referred to with masculine personal pronouns.  

The significance of the pronoun isn’t so much in its gender as in its being personal.  It’s possible to become a modern gnostic, even as a Christian, when we think of the Spirit in terms of a force or entity rather than person.

—Bob Beltz in Becoming a Man of the Spirit


My Response: How do the Bonus Readings demonstrate the intellect, volition, and emotion of a person?


Thought to Apply: No human power can replace the power of the Spirit. —Lewi Pethrus (Swedish pastor)

Adapted from Becoming a Man of the Spirit (NavPress/, 1999)



Prayer for the Week:  I’m not strong enough, Lord, to live up to your standards on my own.  Teach me how to rely on the internal power your Spirit provides.

Converting to Wind Power – Reality Check

Reality CheckKey Bible Verse:  Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind … so you cannot understand the activity of God.  Ecclesiastes 11:5

Bonus Reading:  John 3: 3-9

When trees are waving wildly in the wind, journalist G.K. Chesterton once observed, people have historically thought that it is the wind that moves the trees—that the invisible gives energy to the visible. More recently others have concluded that the motion of the trees creates the wind—that what they see and hear and touch is basic reality and generates whatever can’t be verified with the senses.

The word translated “spirit” in our English Bibles carries in Hebrew the primary meaning of “wind” and “breath.”  Imagine how our perceptions would change if we substituted these words for “spirit” in our language.  

For our ancestors, spirit was not “spiritual”; it was sensory.  Although invisible, it was not immaterial.  It had visible effects.  Air, after all, provides the molecules for the quiet breathing that is part of all life, the puffs of air used to make words, the gentle breezes that caress the skin, the brisk winds that fill the sails of ships, the wild hurricanes that tear roofs off barns and uproot trees.

It would clarify things enormously if we could withdraw “spirit” and “spiritual” from our language stock for a while.

—Eugene Peterson in Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places


My Response: Can I honestly repeat Paul’s claim that “we live by believing and not by seeing” (2 Cor. 5:7)?


Thought to Apply: Those who have the gale of the Holy Spirit go forward even in sleep.—Brother Lawrence

Adapted from Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places (Eerdmans, 2005).



Prayer for the Week:  I’m not strong enough, Lord, to live up to your standards on my own.  Teach me how to rely on the internal power your Spirit provides.

Converting to Wind Power – The Impossible Challenge

Impossible ChallengeKey Bible Verse: “I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you.”   John 14:18

Bonus Reading:  John 14: 15-17

“Life is difficult.”  That’s the opening sentence of M. Scott Peck’s best-selling book, The Road Less Travelled.  

The opening words of Peck’s sequel,,Further Along the Road Less Traveled, are “Life is complex.”

Let me take these observations one step further: “Life is impossible.”  This statement is always true when we view life from the perspective of a man who desires to be the kind of man God wants him to be.

“You are to be perfect,” Jesus instructed.

“I can’t,” the honest man replies.

One night, Jesus met with 12 ordinary men in an upper room in Jerusalem to share the Passover meal.  Jesus startled them by assuming the household slave role of washing their feet, and then telling them that they were to serve one another in the same way.  He then told them that the guiding rule of their lives was to have a love for one another that equaled his love for them.  These ordinary men should have been thinking, “This is impossible!”

This is the dilemma of the spiritual person living in a fallen world.  You and I don’t have the ability to live the way God intended us to live.  That is, not under our own power.  We need help.  We need a helper.

—Bob Beltz in Becoming a Man of the Spirit


My Response: How could Jesus say “It is best for you that I go away” (John 16:7)?

Adapted from Becoming a Man of the Spirit (NavPress/, 1999)



Prayer for the Week:  I’m not strong enough, Lord, to live up to your standards on my own.  Teach me how to rely on the internal power your Spirit provides.

Converting to Wind Power – Sweat, Drift, or…

Rowboat on the OceanWho Said It … John Ortberg

John Ortberg is the senior pastor at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church in Menlo Park, California.

He is passionate about “spiritual formation,” which is how people become more like Jesus. His teaching brings Scripture alive and invariably includes practical applications and warm humor.

The latest of several books John has written is Faith and Doubt. He and his wife, Nancy, have three teen and young adult children.


What He Said … Sweat, Drift, or …

Significant spiritual transformation is a long-term endeavor that involves both God and us.  I liken it to crossing an ocean.

Some people try, day after day, to be good, to become spiritually mature.  That’s like taking a rowboat across the ocean.  It’s exhausting and usually unsuccessful.

Others have given up trying and throw themselves entirely on “relying on God’s grace.”  They’re like drifters on a raft.  They do nothing but hang on and hope God gets them there.  Neither trying nor drifting are very effective in bringing about spiritual transformation.

A better image is the sailboat, in which if it moves at all, it’s a gift of the wind.  We can’t control the wind, but a good sailor discerns where the wind is blowing and adjusts the sails accordingly.

Working with the Holy Spirit, which Jesus likened to the wind in John 3, means we have a part in discerning the winds, in knowing the direction we need to go, and in training our sails to catch the breezes that God provides.  That’s true transformation.

Adapted from Leadership Journal (Summer.02)


Prayer for the Week:  I’m not strong enough, Lord, to live up to your standards on my own.  Teach me how to rely on the internal power your Spirit provides.

How Does God Feel About Feelings? – Suffering Hardships

SufferingAs you study today’s passage, keep this in mind: Truths and principles mean nothing to us if we are not honest and open with fellow believers.

This is the first important step—we must let others know our struggles.  And the wonderful result: healing for our soul and, if the Lord wills, for our physical ailments.

 It’s also significant to point out the essential role of prayer in the believer’s life.  While it’s important to share and talk through our issues, we must turn to God for real change to take place.


Interact with God’s Word:

James 5: 13-18:

  1. Underline words or phrases in today’s passage that leap out at you.  Why did these words or phrases seem particularly meaningful?


  1. According to verse 16, why is praying for each other so important?



  1. According to verse 16, what does it take for our prayers to have “great power and produce wonderful results”?  (For more insights into effective prayer, see also Mark 7: 24-29,  Mark 9: 21-26; Matt. 7: 7-11.)


  1. What action step could you take to apply a verse or verses from this passage to your life and/or small group?


Spend Time in Prayer:

Thank God for your Christian community and for men in your life who help you through difficult struggles; ask him to guide you as you listen to, respond to, and pray for your struggling brothers in Christ.


James 5:13-18:

The Power of Prayer

13 Are any of you suffering hardships?  You should pray. Are any of you happy?  You should sing praises.  14 Are any of you sick?  You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord.  15 Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well.  And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven.

16 Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.  The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.  17 Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years!  18 Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain and the earth began to yield its crops.

The Olive Mountain Traditional Bluegrass Gospel Band – Tomorrow Night!

Here’s a quick reminder – The Olive Mountain Band will be performing their traditional bluegrass gospel music tomorrow night at Central Church, beginning at 7 pm. 

The concert is FREE,  so grab three friends and “come on down” for an enjoyable evening of music!

Olive Mountain Band

How Does God Feel About Feelings? – Not an Emotional Guy

Stoic ManKey Bible Verse:  I took my troubles to the Lord; I cried out to him, and he answered my prayer.  Psalm 120:1

Dig Deeper:  Psalm 77

Joe was a tall and athletic man in his mid-50s.  He had grown up on the Sand Hills of western Nebraska and had been a cattle rancher all of his life.

When he came into my [counseling] office the first thing he said was, “I want you to know that I’m just not an emotional kind of guy.”  He went on to explain that some people, especially women, have a lot of emotions and some people don’t.  

He was convinced that he was someone who didn’t have or need many emotions.  That stoic philosophy had worked for most of his life.  However, when land prices fell and he found out that his wife had cancer, his emotion-free world began to crumble, and he discovered that he didn’t have the resources to deal with all of his newly discovered emotions.

Here’s the deal.  Some people are more aware of their emotions than others, but the experience of emotions isn’t optional.  

Regardless of gender, age, race, or socioeconomic level, emotions are an integral part of our standard equipment.  The only thing that’s optional is how we choose to express them.  I can’t always choose what I’m going to feel.  But I can choose how long I feel it.  With God’s help we can change our emotional pattern.

—Gary Oliver in Mad About Us


My Response: When it comes to how I respond to or deal with my emotions, one change I might need to make is …


Thought to Apply: There can be no transforming of darkness into light and of apathy into movement without emotion.—Carl Jung (Swiss psychiatrist)

Adapted from Mad About Us (Bethany, 2007) by permission.

Prayer for the Week:  Dear Father, thank you that you are a God who feels deeply and that you created me with deep feelings, too.  Help me to own my feelings and learn to express them in ways that bring honor to you.

Double Your Pleasure…

Central - Second Choir Loft Monitor 1 - 10-3-2013Remember the jingle on the old Doublemint commercials, “Double your pleasure, double your fun…”?

Our choir members may be humming that tune this Sunday as they have their first experience with seeing videos in the Choir Loft during the worship service as well as simply hearing them.

After we successfully tested the monitor set-up yesterday, we received a donation of a second monitor this afternoon.  That monitor has now been configured and wired into our system, so now every member of the choir can easily see the videos on one of two monitors.

Now, we should be all set to move forward with our “video experiment” – as long as our choir members don’t try to tune in a football game when the worship service runs over!


How Does God Feel About Feelings? – Our Painful Feelings

Painful FeelingsKey Bible Verse: For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him.  Philippians 1:29

Dig Deeper:  Job 1;  James 5: 10-11

One harmful view of Christian experience says the Christian life is to be a pain-free zone.

As Christians, we must not only expect hand-to-hand combat with sin, but we must also know there is no exemption from suffering in this life.  

Suffering is not indicative of a lack of faith. Pain is not the direct result of our sins and failures.  Certainly all suffering and pain is ultimately rooted in sin, but the notion that my pain and suffering is a payback from God is unbiblical.  That is the theology of Job’s comforters.

A theology of Christian experience that says only blessing, health, and prosperity are the lot of the faithful is a recipe for emotional disaster with deep accompanying damage to faith.  Such teaching is void of the very gospel itself.

If we expect that “every day with Jesus is sweeter than the day before” we will be in for some serious disappointments. If we expect that victory over sin will be one uninterrupted triumph after another, we will become disillusioned with God, his Word, ourselves, or all of the above.

A sound theology of Christian experience makes room for the struggle of the war-faring pilgrim and the suffering of the wayfaring pilgrim.

—Brian Borgman in Feelings and Faith


My Response: Someone I admire for his or her ability to keep trusting God in the midst of great personal suffering is …


Thought to Apply: Can we follow the Savior far, who have no wound or scar?  —Amy Carmichael (Irish missionary)

Adapted from Feelings and Faith (Crossway, 2009)

Prayer for the Week:  Dear Father, thank you that you are a God who feels deeply and that you created me with deep feelings, too.  Help me to own my feelings and learn to express them in ways that bring honor to you.

United Methodists and Communion: Some Questions and Answers

CommunionWhy do United Methodists call this sharing of bread and cup by different names, such as Lord’s Supper, Holy Communion, and Eucharist?

Each of these names is taken from the New Testament and highlights certain facets of this sacrament’s many meanings.

  • Calling it the Lord’s Supper reminds us that it is a meal instituted by the Lord Jesus Christ and hosted by him at his table whenever it takes place.
  • Calling it Holy Communion reminds us that it is an act of the most holy and intimate sharing, making us one with Jesus Christ and part of his body, the church.
  • Calling it the Eucharist, a term taken from the New Testament Greek word meaning thanksgiving, reminds us that giving thanks to God for all that God has done is an essential part of the meal.

By using different names we acknowledge that no single name can contain the rich wealth of meanings in this sacred act. 

What do United Methodists mean when they call this act a sacrament?

Our Confession of Faith states: “We believe the sacraments, ordained by Christ, are symbols and pledges of the Christian’s profession and of God’s love toward us.  They are means of grace by which God works invisibly in us, quickening [bringing to life], strengthening and confirming our faith in him. Two Sacraments are ordained by Christ our Lord, namely Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.”

The term is taken from the Latin sacramentum, which was a Roman soldier’s pledge of allegiance.  A sacrament is God‘s pledge of allegiance [love and faithfulness] to us, and our answering pledge of allegiance to God.

Do United Methodists believe that the bread and wine physically or chemically change into Christ’s flesh and blood in this sacrament?

No, we believe that the change is spiritual.  They signify the body and blood of Christ for us, helping us to be Christ’s body in the world today, redeemed by Christ’s blood.

We pray over the bread and the cup that they may make us one with Christ, “one with each other, and one in service to all the world.”

I am a Christian, but not a United Methodist.  Am I invited to receive Communion in a United Methodist church?

Yes indeed.  It is the Lord’s Supper, not ours, and it is Christ who invites you.As our ritual puts it: “Christ our Lord invites to his table all who love him, who earnestly repent of their sin and seek to live in peace with one another.”

We do not refuse any who present themselves desiring to receive.  Whether you should receive Communion with us is between you and God.

I do not wish to receive Communion because doing so would be disloyal to my religion or my denomination.  May I attend a United Methodist Communion service and not receive Communion?

Yes indeed.  We do not want anyone to feel unwelcome because, for whatever reason, they do not choose to receive Communion. Simply remain seated when others go forward, or pass the bread and cup along if they are passed to you, and no one will question what you do.

Should I receive Communion if I feel unworthy?

Two thousand years ago Jesus ate with sinners and those whom others scorned.  He still does.

None of us is worthy, except by God’s grace.  Thank God we don’t have to earn worth in God’s eyes by our goodness or our faith.  Your sacred worth, and ours, is God’s free gift. 

No matter what you have done or what your present condition, if you want Christ in your life you are welcome at his table.  Communion provides the opportunity for you to confess your sins, to receive forgiveness, and to indicate your intention to lead a new life.

May young children receive Communion?

Certainly.  As The United Methodist Book of Worship puts it, “All who intend to lead a Christian life, together with their children, are invited to receive the bread and cup.” 

We remember that when some of Jesus’ disciples tried to keep children away from him he said: “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs” (Mark 10:14 NRSV).

But do young children know what they are doing when they receive Communion?

Do they understand the full meaning of this holy sacrament?  No, and neither do any of us.  It is a wonderful mystery, and children can sense wonder and mystery.

Children cannot understand the full significance of family meals, but we feed them at our family tables and at Christ’s family table.  Young children experience being loved by being fed.  They sense the difference between being included and excluded at a family meal. 

They have the faith of a child, appropriate to their stage of development, which Jesus recognized and honored . Indeed, he said to adults: “Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it” (Mark 10:15 NRSV).

May I receive Communion without standing or kneeling?

Certainly.  In some United Methodist congregations most persons receive Communion while standing, while in others most receive while kneeling; but you are always welcome to receive while seated.

If others are kneeling at the rail, you may remain standing and you will be served.  You may also come forward and be seated on the front row, or come forward in your wheelchair, and you will be served.  Or you may notify an usher, and someone will come to you and serve you where you are seated.

If someone in my family wishes to receive Communion but cannot come to the church service, can Communion be brought to them?

Certainly.  As an extension of the congregation’s celebration of the Lord’s Supper, Communion is brought to persons, wherever they are, who wish it but could not attend the service.  This can be done by the pastor or other clergy, or by designated laypersons.

Is Communion possible at weddings, at healing services, or at funerals or memorial services?

Yes. If you wish to arrange this, talk with your pastor.

– Excerpt from United Methodists and Communion: Some Questions & Answers by Hoyt L. Hickman.

  • Additional information concerning communion can be found in this video episode of “Chuck Knows Church“.

Let There Be…….Video!

Central - New Choir Loft Video Monitor 2 - 10-2-2013Our experiment with video in our worship service continues!

Now that the Choir is back in the Choir Loft after their well-deserved summer recess, we’ve had to move our new large screen from the Choir Loft to the South side of the front of the Sanctuary.  While that’s a good location for those sitting in the Sanctuary, our folks in the Choir Loft couldn’t see the screen.

That is, until Pastor Heidi donated an ultrasharp, 19″ flat panel monitor for the Choir.  After more than a week of crawling around in the catacombs-like crawl space under the Sanctuary, video feed and power lines have been extended into the Choir Loft and the new monitor has been positioned so our choir members can “get the picture” as well as hear the sound when we use videos in worship.

The new system was tested today – in case our neighbors are wondering why the half-time show from Slippery Rock University’s Marching Pride band was emanating from the Sanctuary.  (After all, we had to test it!)

Our thanks to Pastor Heidi for her generous donation, and to our Trustees for taking on the role of coal miners to put the necessary wiring in place!

How Does God Feel About Feelings? – When Emotions Mislead

When Emotions MisleadKey Bible Verse:  The hotheaded do things they’ll later regret; the coldhearted get the cold shoulder.  Proverbs 14:17, The Message

Dig Deeper: Proverbs 9: 7-9

Some years ago I made a presentation to a group to whom I was accountable for leading an organization.  I was asking authorization for something I wanted to do, and they said no.  

I did not respond well.  I became silent, probably sullen, and for the rest of the evening.  I spoke only when spoken to.  Even then my voice must have been edgy.  After the meeting, a friend steered me out the door and into a corner.  His words, I shall not forget.

“You know, your behavior in there was not very classy.  Those people were there to help you and to save you from making a bad mistake.  But if they learn that you don’t like hearing the word no on occasion, they’ll stop telling you what they think, and you’ll have to face the consequences all on your own.”

My friend’s rebuke prompted an examination of my own emotional reactions.  He was right, and I knew it.  

What I learned that night has stuck with me for years and years.  When I feel things going against me and feelings of anger or resentment begin to rise, it is time to stop and ask what is happening.  Is this for the greater good or not?  Is God speaking through this moment, or isn’t he?  I must not let my emotions mislead me.

—Gordon MacDonald in A Resilient Life


My Response: What is my usual response when things don’t go my way?  How might Gordon’s two questions help me in the future?


Thought to Apply: Let’s not forget that the little emotions are the great captains of our lives and we obey them without realizing it.—Vincent Van Gogh (French painter)

Adapted from A Resilient Life (Thomas Nelson, 2005)


Prayer for the Week:  Dear Father, thank you that you are a God who feels deeply and that you created me with deep feelings, too.  Help me to own my feelings and learn to express them in ways that bring honor to you.

How Does God Feel About Feelings? – Gaining Self-Control

Self-ControlKey Bible Verse:  A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls.  Proverbs 25:28

Dig Deeper:   2 Timothy 1:7

Not only does God command certain emotions, but he also commands that we exercise self-control.

Self-control is about as popular as root canals.  However, there is a serious requirement for believers to exercise self-control.  

It is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal.5:23) and a gift of grace.  God straightforwardly expects us to exercise self-control.  (2 Peter 1:6).

What is it about self that we are to control?

We must control every aspect of our lives, especially our emotions.  As Spirit-filled believers, we are to be sober-minded, reasonable, sensible, exercising good judgment and prudence.  (Romans 12:3; 1 Peter 4:7).  The presumption is that our emotions are under the control of God’s Word and Spirit and sound mental judgment.  The Bible commands us to be in control of our emotions through Spirit-empowered self-control.  

But how do we obey these commands?  

Tthere are no seven easy steps.  When we stop believing the lies of the Devil—that certain aspects of our life will never change—when Scripture begins to infuse us with the hope, and when we start practicing the truth we believe, there is change.  Under the influence of the Word and Spirit, we really can begin to handle our emotions.

—Brian Borgman in Feelings and Faith


My Response: How have I bought into the lie that I can’t change my out-of-control emotions?


Thought to Apply: I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies; for the hardest victory is over self.—Aristotle (Greek philosopher)

Adapted from Feelings and Faith (Crossway, 2009)

The Olive Mountain Traditional Bluegrass Gospel Band – October 6!

Olive Mountain Band