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Fun Stuff / Lamaze Class
« Last post by Philippa on October 06, 2017, 09:35:47 pm »
The room was full of pregnant women and their partners, and the Lamaze class was in full swing. The instructor was teaching the women how to breathe properly, along with informing the men how to give the necessary assurances at this stage of the plan. The teacher then announced, "Ladies, exercise is good for you. Walking is especially beneficial. And, gentlemen, it wouldn't hurt you to take the time to go walking with your partner!"

The room really got quiet.  Finally, a man in the middle of the group raised his hand.  "Yes?" replied the teacher.

"Is it all right if she carries my golf bag while we walk?"
Fun Stuff / Mystic and Logic
« Last post by Philippa on October 06, 2017, 09:11:33 pm »
An engineer, a physicist, a mathematician, and a mystic were asked to name the greatest invention of all time.  The engineer chose fire, which gave humanity power over matter.  The physicist chose the wheel, which gave humanity the power over space.  The mathematician chose the alphabet, which gave humanity power over symbols.  The mystic chose the thermos bottle. "Why a thermos bottle?" the others asked.

"Because the thermos keeps hot liquids hot in winter and cold liquids cold in summer."

"Yes so what?"

"Think about it." said the mystic reverently. "That little bottle how does it know?"
Faith / Re: Devotion
« Last post by Philippa on October 06, 2017, 09:03:59 pm »

May 3, 2017
God Has Given You Precious Promises
Sharon Jaynes

Today’s Truth

“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness,” (2 Pet. 1:3 NIV).

Friend to Friend

Aren’t you excited to know that God has deposited rich blessings and a lavish inheritance into your account?

Tell me, what reason do we have to feel inadequate?

In light of what we have in Christ, I can’t think of a thing. But how do we access these magnificent promises?

Peter says: “Through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness” (2 Pet. 1:3).

The Greeks had several words for the word knowledge. The one used here is epignosis. This is a strengthened form of the word and implies a larger, more thorough, and intimate knowledge. It is not simply knowing something intellectually, but understanding and believing what you know in a personal way.  When Steve and I traveled to Ephesus, a local tour guide took us through the landmarks, ruins, and history of the early church. She knew the facts about Christianity and more about the dates, locations, and nuances of Paul’s visits than we did. When we stopped for lunch, I asked her if it would be okay with her if we asked God to bless our food. She bowed her head with us as we prayed. When she opened her eyes, she said, “Thank you. I’ve never experienced that before.”

This Turkish woman knew about Christianity, but she had no epignosis of Jesus. She knew all about the historical aspects of the religion, but she did not know the One who came to set her free.  Even demons know who Jesus is and they shudder (James 2:19). The devil knows exactly who Jesus is, what He has done, and what He will do in the final days. But the devil does not know Him experientially as Savior and Lord. Paul says that through knowing Jesus intimately, personally, and experientially, we have everything we need precious and magnificent promises.  Like a tiny baby born to be King, most of us have no idea what those great and mighty promises entail, what our rich inheritance contains, or what our spiritual birthright bestows. As we open the pages of God’s Word, He begins to reveal the truth of who you are and what you have as a child of God. And remember, this is not a promise of what you will have one day, but what you have the moment you believe.

These promises are called precious and valuable. I love how the NASB translation refers to them as “magnificent promises” (2 Peter 1:4). The word magnificent means “splendid, lavish, beautiful; as to arouse admiration and wonder.” And, oh, how God’s magnificent, splendid, lavish, and beautiful promises arouse admiration and wonder of who He is and what He does. Oh my goodness, why in the world would I feel inadequate! Thick-headedness and unbelief are my only excuses.  And how does He give us everything we need for life and godliness, how does He dole out the precious promises?

He gives freely. Pours out lavishly. It costs you nothing. It cost Jesus everything.
Faith / Re: Devotion
« Last post by Philippa on October 06, 2017, 07:58:02 pm »

May 2, 2017
The Gift of Friendship
Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken (Ecclesiastes 4:12, NIV).

Friend to Friend

Friendship is the springboard to every other love and the foundation for every healthy relationship. It is a proven fact that lonely people live shorter lives than those who have healthy friendships. Even Jesus needed friends when He walked this earth as a man. In fact, He placed great value on relationships. The Bible tells us Jesus spent much of His time deepening the relationships with a few not the crowd.  God created us to need each other. That truth is never more evident than when we are in pain or struggling with some crisis in life. One of the main factors leading to a two year battle with clinical depression in my life was the absence of replenishing friendships.  As I think back to that time, I am sure many women would have counted themselves as my friend when they were really just acquaintances because that was all I would allow them to be. My pride kept me from admitting I wasn’t Superwoman and that I did need the help of others. My insecurity held me back from reaching out to new friends and cultivating old ones. To admit my need of a friend seemed like a weakness instead of the precious gift God created it to be.  I refused to take the risk of being hurt, rejected or misunderstood. I did not have time to invest in building intimate friendships and was too busy doing the work of God to be a friend. As a result, when the darkness hit, I felt isolated and alone.  Friendship took on an entirely different meaning in my life from that point on. In fact, friends are a great source of strength and encouragement in my life today. Friends fast and pray for me, holding me accountable and confronting me when they see my priorities lining up in the wrong way. Friends make me stop and take time for fun. Friends have taught me to be transparent.  Have I been hurt along the way?

Yes.  Have I been misunderstood?

Yes.  Have the friendships been worth the price?

Absolutely!  The words of Jesus found in John 13:34-35, portray the perfect backdrop for God’s love. "And so I am giving a new commandment to you now love each other just as much as I love you. Your strong love for each other will prove to the world that you are my disciples."

Does the world know we are His disciples by the way we love and relate to each other?   

Chad was a shy, quiet little boy. One day he came home and told his mother he'd like to make a valentine for everyone in his class. Her heart sank. "I wish he wouldn't do that!" she thought.

She had watched the children when they walked home from school. Her Chad was always behind them. They laughed and hung on to each other and talked to each other, but Chad was never included. Still, she decided to go along with her son’s plan. She purchased the paper, glue and crayons and for three whole weeks, night after night, Chad painstakingly made thirty five valentines.  Valentine's Day dawned, and Chad was frantic with excitement! He carefully placed the valentines in a bag, and bolted out the door. His mom decided to bake his favorite cookies because she knew he would be disappointed when he came home from school. It hurt her to think he wouldn't get many valentines maybe none at all. That afternoon she had the cookies and milk on the table.  Finally, when she heard their voices, she looked out the window to see the children laughing and having the best time. As usual, there was Chad in the rear but walking a little faster than usual. She fully expected him to burst into tears as soon as he got inside. His arms were empty. When the door opened, she choked back tears as she said, "Honey, I have some warm cookies and milk for you” but he hardly heard her words.

He just marched right on by, his face glowing, and all he could say was, "Not one! Not a single one."

The mother’s heart sank. Then he added, "I didn't forget one, not a single one!"

When God is in control of our friendships, and when we trust Him with those friendships, we will be better friends and we will have more true friends.
Faith / Re: Devotion
« Last post by Philippa on October 06, 2017, 07:45:23 pm »

May 1, 2017
Closed for Renovations 
Arlene Pellicane

Today’s Truth

By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.  Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done (Genesis 2:2-3 NIV).

Friend to Friend

Have you ever driven to a store or restaurant only to find a sign on the door reading “Closed for Renovations”? 

What an inconvenience, right? 

But hopefully you were “wowed” at the grand re-opening when you saw the finished product and the improvements made.  Do you ever wish you could have a “Closed for Renovations” sign over your life?

Wouldn’t it be nice to take time out to renovate yourself without any interruptions? 

If only you could stop the texts and hit the pause button on your obligations.  Sure it would be inconvenient, but wouldn’t it be worthwhile? 

Let’s just imagine you have a few days without any responsibilities except focusing on the areas in your personal life that need some tender loving care.  What might your renovations list look like?

Read a book

Pray and fast

Plan for the next three months

Spend some time in silence

Get healthier meals in place

Apologize to a family member

Go on a date night with your husband


Give away the clothes I haven’t wore in ten years

Believe it or not, the world will not stop spinning on its axis if you take a short sabbatical for yourself.  Whether it’s a quiet weekend or a six-month period when you don’t volunteer for anything, give yourself permission to rest.

After all, God rested at the end of His work of creation.  The Fourth Commandment instructs us to remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.  Exodus 20:10 says, “The seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God.  On it you shall not do any work ....”

Later in Exodus 31:13 it reads, “You must observe my Sabbaths.  This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come, so you may know that I am the Lord, who makes you holy.”

When you take time weekly to renovate your soul, mind and body, you set yourself apart from the world.  The world moves too fast for this kind of inactivity that seems counter-productive.  Yet when you pause to rest and know that He is God, it will fill you up to live more purposefully.   Don’t just wait for “free time” in your life to make renovations.  That free time will never appear unless you create it.  Set aside time for the Lord on Sundays and other days and just watch what God will do.
Faith / Do You Have the Strength to Lead?
« Last post by Philippa on September 20, 2017, 09:59:37 pm »

Do You Have the Strength to Lead?

Healthy leaders possess the physical strength to handle the rigorous demands of life and leadership to the best of their ability. 

So your first mistake was taking your shirt off.  And your second mistake was standing in front of a mirror when you took your shirt off.  You were able to avoid it at the beach you kept your shirt on the whole time.  You stay away from gyms where people lift heavy things no reason to let anyone else know that you have a hard time opening a jar of pickles.  But here you are staring at yourself in the mirror. And it’s impossible to miss.  You’re not in good shape.  In middle school, I was ‘husky.’  When I started high school, I was 5’2″ and weighed close to 200 pounds.  I kept my shirt on at pool parties. I found every excuse possible for skipping gym class. I hated looking at myself in the mirror.  I wasn’t in good shape.

You Just Have to Start...

There was no Damascus Road moment for me.  No bullies kicked dirt on me at the beach.  No one made fun of me.  I didn’t get inspired by a parent or a coach or a superhero to train, eat my vitamins and say my prayers.  But at some point in high school, I made a choice to make a change.  I started lifting (small) weights. I started doing (a little bit of) cardio.  I didn’t know much. In all honesty, I didn’t do much.  If you’re not physically healthy, maybe that’s the most significant bit of knowledge I can pass on to you.  You don’t have to know much. You don’t have to do much.  You just have to start. And not stop.

It Takes Strength to Lead

In my most recent blog post, I introduced you to Five Factors Leadership [DOWNLOAD Our Free Overview], a new paradigm for leadership built around five elements of health: resilience, presence, hope, ambition and strength.

Healthy leaders - Five Factor Leaders - are strong.

Healthy leaders - Five Factor Leaders - possess the physical strength to handle the rigorous demands of life and leadership to the best of their ability.

What does that mean?

Here’s a simple strategy that you can easily remember.

Eat + Sleep + Move = Strength.
Eat, Sleep, Move

When you think about someone who is strong, what do you see?

If you imagine someone lifting heavy things, you wouldn’t be wrong.  But if you think lifting heavy things is all it takes to be strong, think again.  If movement the physical routine and ritual that builds strength is the pinnacle of physical health, then eating and sleeping is the foundation.  As one of my friends and favorite trainers likes to say, “You can’t out train a bad diet.”

Putting It All Together

If you’re not in good shape, eat-sleep-move is your strategy for building strength.

Eat: Less Calories Than You Burn

Sleep: 7-9 Hours Each Night

Move: To Minimize Stress and Maximize Strength

This simple strategy works for anyone man, woman, young, old.  How do you eat less, sleep more and move smarter?

Those are great questions. Feel free to ask specifics below in the comments section, and I’ll give you my best answer.  More important than the details is your intent and action.  Don’t let your quest for a perfect plan get in the way of progress.  Look, no one is gonna confuse me with a superhero. But after 20 years of showing up day after day, I’m not scared of what I see in the mirror.  More importantly, as a leader, I know I have the physical strength the focus, stamina and resilience to carry out the assignment God has given me as a pastor and business owner.  That’s my hope and wish for you.  Your physical health doesn’t make you. But it can break you.

Do the Next Right Thing

Do yourself a favor and commit to being a Five Factor Leader the kind of leader who cares enough to develop and maintain physical health.  If you want to learn more about Five Factor Leadership, here’s a FREE overview that paints a picture of what’s possible if you want your life and leadership to last and leave a legacy for the next generation.  And if you’re committed to building strength, take the next step in the Eat-Sleep-Move strategy.  If you’re not eating fewer calories than you’re burning, start here.  Then make sure you’re getting seven to nine hours of sleep each night.  Then and only then should you shift your focus to training for less stress and more strength.

BONUS: How to Minimize Stress and Maximize Strength

In their book Lose Weight Here, brothers Jade and Keoni Tata suggest using a 3-2-1 exercise plan that consists of:

3 or more rest and recovery activities per week

These activities include naps, hot Epsom salts baths, massages, sex, certain forms of yoga, playing with your family, friends, pets.  You can’t do too many of these activities.

2 traditional weight training workouts per week

These are standard weight-training, full-body workouts comprised of four movements: shoulder press, squats, bent over row and pushups. Four sets of each exercise, 8-12 reps, with 1-3 minutes of rest between each set. The goal of each movement is failure on the last rep of your last set.  Remember that you’re just getting started or hitting reset. Now is not the time to join a CrossFit box. For now, focus on lifting heavy weights (for you), so you overload your muscles and stimulate muscle growth or maintenance.

1 hour of slow, leisurely walking on all or most days

We’re not talking about power-walking. The emphasis is on slow and comfortable the speed you take when walking a dog. Include your family and make it even more valuable by spending time with others.  Leisure walking is incredibly healing to your metabolism. It is one of the few activities that lowers your cortisol levels and balances your nervous system. Translation it helps your body deal with stress in a healthy and productive manner.
Faith / 5 Reasons Jesus Would Be Fired if He Was Your Youth Pastor
« Last post by Philippa on September 20, 2017, 09:39:58 pm »

5 Reasons Jesus Would Be Fired if He Was Your Youth Pastor
By Greg Stier -
June 27, 2017

In the crazy “what if” world of impossible scenarios, I am convinced that Jesus would be fired within his first few months of becoming a youth leader at the typical church. Here are five reasons why.

1. He would shrink the group before he grew it.

In the Gospels, Jesus scared away the loud crowds and nestled into the committed core on several occasions. What makes us think he would do anything differently in a modern youth group context as a youth leader?

His large and thriving “youth group” shrunk to next to nothing after his hard-to-understand lesson on communion in John 6:66, “From this time, many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.”

In Luke 14:25-27, Jesus implemented his crowd-shrinking strategy in a much more direct way, “Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: ‘If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters yes, even their own life such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”

Calling for such radical commitment would cause pastors’ kids to complain to their parents. Not to mention how Jesus’ thought provoking teaching style (that often created more questions than answers) would cause parents and pastors alike to cringe. Their red faces would soon turn into a pink slip.

2. He would do most of his youth ministry outside the four walls of the youth room.

How much time do we see Jesus ministering in the temple or synagogues (the equivalent of a church building in the Jewish context)?

He was there some, but more often than not, his pulpit could be found by a fig tree, on a pathway, in a field, on a mountain, or in a boat. He used nature as sermon illustrations and “that just happened” incidents as his teaching curriculum.  Jesus was his own mobile app. He applied truth on the go to the lives of his mostly teenaged disciples in real life situations, and it would get him fired really quickly from most churches.

3. He would bring the “un” ones (dirty, flirty and rejected) into his inner circle.

Jesus reached the dirty.  “A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, ‘If you are willing, you can make me clean.’ Jesus was indignant. He reached out his hand and touched the man.” Mark 1:40-41

Jesus reached the flirty.  “When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, ‘If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.’” Luke 7:36-39

Jesus reached the rejected.  “When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.’ So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. All the people saw this and began to mutter, ‘He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.’” Luke 19:5-7

As soon as Jesus started bringing converted call girls, puss-oozing sickies and cultural rejects into youth group, many pretty and pristine Bible toting, Scripture quoting teenagers would evacuate the premises. Soon the elders would call a meeting, and, well, you know what happens after that.

4. He would confront the status quo in the youth group and church at large.

“When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts, he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the moneychangers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, ‘Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!’ His disciples remembered that it is written: ‘Zeal for your house will consume me.’ The Jews then responded to him, ‘What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?’” John 2:13-18

Imagine the scenario, Jesus flipping tables in the church foyer and screaming, “Why have you turned my Father’s house into a den of robbers?” Sure, our churches aren’t selling over-priced livestock for temple sacrifices. But many of them are selling the fattened calves of consumeristic Christianity that caters to self and not service to God. You wonder how many Sunday school classes Jesus would interrupt and ask, “Why don’t we get out of here and go down to the local shelter together? We can feed the poor, clothe the hungry and share the gospel. I can teach you the lesson in the church van on the way back.”

This would lead to the inevitable…“Our leadership team is headed in a different direction” conversation.

5. His hair would be way too long to be taken seriously.

Below the ears is risky but below the shoulders?

Come on! If you can’t trust a man to visit the barber once in a while, can you trust him to run a youth ministry?

I didn’t think so!
Faith / Re: Devotion
« Last post by Philippa on July 19, 2017, 10:41:33 pm »
Monday, March 20, 2017   

Wearied and Dissatisfied
Anne Carlson Kennedy

Today’s Verse Powered by the New Living Translation
“Because I am righteous, I will see you. When I awake, I will see you face to face and be satisfied.”  - Psalm 17:15

There is so much cause for dissatisfaction in the course of one single day. You can try to get a grip on your own life, your own choices and plans, but not having control over anybody else’s life means that we all wander around frustrating others and being frustrated by them. There’s the ruination of the beautiful couch by a mean cat with claws, the breaking of the beautiful hand painted platter by a child who doesn’t know what his right hand nor his left hand is doing, the misunderstanding that’s left a fragile friendship practically shattered. Frustration and woe. Dissatisfaction.  As for me, though, I shall be satisfied. I shall find it enough. And the source, the substance of my satisfaction, will be his likeness; the likeness of the one to whom the psalm is written. Who, in the very image and nature of God, became man so that I, even I, could look into his face and hear his voice and be satisfied.  There wasn’t anything about him that would have made me take a second look. There wasn’t anything in me that recognized or knew enough to know him. But that he called my name, and lifted up my head, and gathered up all the frustration and difficulty into himself. So, I shall be satisfied yet more when I behold him face to face; but I am pretty satisfied now, known as I am, by him and not another.
Faith / Re: Devotion
« Last post by Philippa on July 19, 2017, 10:37:47 pm »
Friday, March 17, 2017   

The Grid
Karen Ehman

Today’s Verse Powered by the New Living Translation
“The heart of the godly thinks carefully before speaking; the mouth of the wicked overflows with evil words.”  - Proverbs 15:28

If we are to pursue righteousness, we must heed the advice of Proverbs 15:28: “The heart of the righteous weighs its answers” (NIV).

Notice it says “the heart.” It doesn’t say “the mouth.”  Sometimes it’s too late to avoid damage by the time the words tumble out of our mouths. When I don’t first pause to pray and ponder in my heart, hurtful words may pour out. To avoid causing heartache and even regret, I’ve learned to contemplate words secretly in my heart, which means running my thoughts through the grid of Scripture before I ever let the words escape from my lips. Back and forth. Back and forth. Searching for just the right and righteous fruitful combination.  Are you ready to begin carefully weighing your words today?

The result will be a delightful offering, pleasing to you, to the hearer, and to God.
Faith / Re: Devotion
« Last post by Philippa on July 19, 2017, 10:30:08 pm »
Thursday, March 16, 2017   

Discerning Silence
Karen Ehman

Today’s Verse Powered by the New Living Translation
“Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut.”  - Proverbs 10:19

As the Amplified Bible version of Proverbs 10:19 says, “When there are many words, transgression and offense are unavoidable. But he who controls his lips and keeps thoughtful silence is wise.”

Have you ever let your constant stream of words get you in trouble?

I sure have more than once. When we constantly run our motor mouths, we create a situation with a greater chance of saying something that offends or that we’ll later regret. It is nearly unavoidable, as Proverbs 10:19 clearly states. The solution?

It’s found in the latter half of the verse we must seek to control our tongues and instead employ the tool of thoughtful silence. Thoughtful silence doesn’t mean we never speak; it means we need to zip our lips to avoid uttering something we will later wish we could take back. It means we must give careful and prayerful thought to the words we might speak, using discernment to decide if we should speak at all.  Today, let’s not just watch what kind of words roll off our lips; let’s also prudently monitor how many. Constantly running motors whether machine or mouth are prone to malfunction, thereby causing a mighty mess.
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