Jan 28, 2018
Building Faith in Families #4
Series: The Story
  • Jan 28, 2018Building Faith in Families #4
    Jan 28, 2018
    Building Faith in Families #4
    Series: The Story
  • Jan 21, 2018Building Faith in Families #3
    Jan 21, 2018
    Building Faith in Families #3
    Series: The Story
  • Jan 14, 2018Building Faith in Families #2
    Jan 14, 2018
    Building Faith in Families #2
    Series: The Story
  • Jan 7, 2018Building Faith in Families
    Jan 7, 2018
    Building Faith in Families
    Series: The Story
  • Dec 3, 2017Awkward Family Christmas #1
    Dec 3, 2017
    Awkward Family Christmas #1
    Series: The Story
  • Nov 12, 2017Soul Filled Living
    Nov 12, 2017
    Soul Filled Living
    Series: The Story
  • Oct 22, 2017Broken Expectations 3
    Oct 22, 2017
    Broken Expectations 3
    Series: The Story
  • Oct 15, 2017Broken Expectations 2
    Oct 15, 2017
    Broken Expectations 2
    Series: The Story
  • Oct 8, 2017Broken Expectations 1
    Oct 8, 2017
    Broken Expectations 1
    Series: The Story
  • Oct 1, 2017Cherish God’s Gift
    Oct 1, 2017
    Cherish God’s Gift
    Series: The Story

Happiness is a Movement!

At High School Camp this past week, we heard some amazing messages from Todd Austin and John Freed.  Specifically, John Freed shared on Wednesday night of camp about the story of the 10 lepers that Jesus healed in Luke 17:11-19.  Remember in this story that only 1 of the 10 lepers who were healed returned to thank Jesus for healing him.  We were challenged with the thought,
“Do we base our happiness on what we have or how thankful we are?”
Then the speaker challenged us with several points from Colossians 1:3-14 on how to be happy!  I needed to hear these and I wanted to pass them on to you.  Read them slowly and take each one deeply.  There is good truth in each one.
To be happy, you have to have faith!
To be happy, you have to be grateful and faithful!
Happiness is not a feeling.  It is a movement!
Happiness comes from being in community (church services, Sunday School, growth groups)!
There is a direct correlation between your prayer life and your happiness!

Prayer Life

Sometimes I feel stumped in my prayer life; not because I don’t know what to pray for.  There are plenty of prayer requests and concerns out there.  No, I get stumped because it begins to feel routine.  It begins to feel like a laundry list of things to pray for, and I’m not sure where to begin.  I feel like I go through the list and fulfill my duty to pray, but I don’t actually hear my Father speaking to me or sometimes even feel His presence.  Have you ever felt that way?  Lately, I’ve been trying to identify the reasons for this hindrance in my prayer life, as well as what I can do to change it.  Here is what I’ve come up with.

  1. I don’t always set aside enough time for my “quiet time”. I find myself putting God in a box and saying, “Okay, Lord, you’ve got about 15 minutes to speak to my heart…let’s get this show on the road!”  (I haven’t had too much success with that one.) Instead, I need to make sure that on some days I allow a little more time with Him, as well as recognize that not every prayer time is going to feel deep and spiritual.
  2. I don’t always make my prayer time a sacred, protected time. Instead, I allow annoying thoughts to creep into my head, like “Did I email back so-and-so?”, and “I can’t forget to wash that baseball uniform before tomorrow.”, or even, “I wonder if my friend, Suzy Q, was offended when I said this to her?”.  MY BRAIN JUST WON’T STOP! So, for the things that belong on a to-do list, I try to make sure I have my list right beside me so that I can write them down and get them out of my prayer time.  For those other roaming thoughts, I try to turn from analyzing myself or the situation, and instead lay it at God’s feet, so that He can do with it, what needs to be done.
  3. Another way to overcome these feelings is to seek the help of those who have been in a rut like this before. I am all about “how to” and inspirational books.  Recently, I’ve been using a devotional from Beth Moore called, Whispers of Hope.  She lays out a great structure for prayer that is different than what I’ve typically seen.  Using her structure has definitely improved my prayer time lately.
  4. Lastly, I don’t always take time to slow down and appreciate what is around me, and channel Him through the things that speak to my heart the most. For instance, sitting outside and listening to the rain fall or the wind blow; or going for a walk in the woods, where the silence is like a peaceful blanket on my soul.  I rarely get to do this, but whenever I get the chance to, I take it, because those are the moments in which He reveals himself to me.
Dear friends, I hope that if you are in a prayer rut right now, that you’ll be able to feel God’s presence more deeply in the coming days and weeks.  I pray that your heart can begin to feel alive in Him again, and that you feel the connection He desires to have with you.
By: Ashley Duff

Where Is Your Focus?

In Philippians 4:8 we find eight characteristics that describe where our focus should be. This week I have a little contest for those who read these blog posts! The first person to name the eight characteristics that are found in Philippians 4:8 and respond to me (Sarah) via e-mail () will win a prize! Want to go even deeper? After each characteristic, try to identify 1-2 things you can think about this week that represents that specific characteristic. I don’t need you to share that information with me by the way! Ok, ready…set…GO! Disclaimer: staff and those related to me are excluded from winning a prize. But feel free to still look up the scripture! Enjoy!
By: Sarah Cross

Band-Aids Don’t Heal Bullet Holes

Those are lyrics from a song that is on the popular music charts right  now. The entire song is about a relationship that has gone bad. As I heard that song on the radio today, it made me think about this: Every person on the planet is searching for a cure for the holes (real or imagined) in their lives. “I’m lonely.” “I’m stressed.” “I’m stuck in a pattern of abuse.” “I’m too big.” “I look too old.” Some look to other people, or the latest spiritual teaching, or a new diet or … fill in the blank. All of those “cures” for what is wrong with us are band-aids. They truly won’t heal our hearts.

The only TRUE healing of hearts comes through accepting Jesus Christ as our Savior. It is through his sacrifice on the cross that we can be made well and whole. Remember to share the love of Christ with every person you come in contact with today. Jesus IS the Way, the Truth and the Life. Everyone needs a Savior.

By Becky Clouse

Make Your Life A Ministry

As I stood before the altar this past Sunday, I couldn’t contain the tears that threatened.  We had all been called to the front of the sanctuary to praise God for our call to ministry.  God touched my heart and assured me that He definitely has a plan for me in ministry.  If you’re like me, you’ve asked questions like, “Where are you calling me, God?” and “What exactly is ministry?”  Ministry seems like a big deal, right?  Surely it must require that I be a part of the clergy, or on staff at a church, or even the leader of a huge program at church.  Right?  Wrong. {sigh of relief}  All those areas are definitely areas of ministry, but you don’t have to be a leader in the church to be in ministry. You don’t even have to be in the church to be a part of ministry, nor do you have to be a bible scholar or free of sin.  {What??}  That’s right. All that is required of you to be in ministry is a willing heart; a heart that wants to spread the love of Jesus Christ.  God calls each and every one of us into ministry.

Last Sunday’s message was focused on this, and I love how Pastor Todd pointed out that we don’t have to have all our ducks in a row to be involved in ministry, nor do we have to be a part of a church program to be in ministry. Those are wonderful opportunities that I highly recommend, but being in ministry can also be more of a personal call in your family and community.  The other day, I read the same message from one of my favorite authors, Lysa TerKeurst.  She wrote, “If you are a woman who honors God right where you are, YOU ARE IN MINISTRY.”  This wasn’t the first time that I had heard this type of message, but for some reason, it hit me that day.  I can choose to make my entire life a ministry if I honor God in every moment.

I was curious about the definition of ministry, and so I looked it up.  Here is what I found: “The office, duties, or work of a religious minister.”  I think I’d have to respectfully disagree with Webster on this one. {Is that allowed?}  That definition makes ministry seem very formal.  There is a time and a place for all types of ministry, but I’d like to challenge you today to make your life a ministry.  I intend to accept this same challenge. So, whether I am making dinner while all three of my children try to talk to me, or waiting in line at WalMart, or sitting in the stands with other parents at a minor league game, or dropping my child off at preschool…I want to remain in ministry.  I want to get to know people.  Be real.  I want to show love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  {Gotta love those fruits.}  Will you join me in the challenge?
by: Ashley Duff

Perfectly Imperfect

I recently saw these words on a t-shirt and it made me do a double take.  I actually had to stop, think, and let those words sink in.  Then I thought, WOW–how cool!  It reminded me of God creating us in His perfect image (Genesis 1:26, And God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…”). 

Now, I kimperfectnow I am FAR from perfect…in every way.  I could name off a multitude of physical imperfections and I don’t even want to THINK about all of my inner imperfections, or sins, because there are so many.  However, because I am a Christian, I know God is not going to give up on me even when I screw up…which is often.

We all have our flaws, our weaknesses, our imperfections.  2 Corinthians 12:9 states, But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  We all need to remember that our church is a group of sinners with a gob of weaknesses!  And THAT is why we need to turn to each other and to God.  THAT is what makes up a church—a whole bunch of imperfect sinners trying our best to follow our Lord.  We come together in our weaknesses and THAT is where our strength lies.

We are imperfect people, loved by a perfect God!
By: Sarah Cross

30 Hour famine draws teens?

     On April 18-19, 54 teens showed up to participate in the 30 Hour Famine Experience.  I am always amazed when this many teens show up to an event with “no food” being offered.  Our first event was a “Walk for Water” where we took all the teens to Pittsburg Spring and had them each carry a Gallon water jug 3 miles back to church while walking.  They had many people watching as the exuberantly walked and talked.
     That night, the teens made cardboard shelters in the grassy area in back of the church and slept outside in the 50 degree weather.  It was quite hard to go to sleep outside, let alone wake up several times in the night feeling cold.  This was to help them experience some of the hardships that kids, and even adults, experience around our world each night.

world vision

Then, Sunday morning the group made breakfast for around 50 people in our community.  This might have been the hardest things teens had done yet:  make food while going without food!  They did a great job!  After the morning breakfast, the group sat in 2nd service worship together and took up most of a section of seats. 

Of the 54 studentswho attended, 14 of the students helped to raise a majority of the $1,700 that our group raised to help support World Vision.  Thanks to everyone who gave to help this great cause.  Thanks for supporting our Teen Ministry as we plan events like this for our teens.  We want to do as much as we can to help our teens know that our faith and potential service should be global in nature and impact.  It was a great weekend!
By: Micah Hudson

Great Marriage Event!

The Art of Marriage Retreat was a wonderful event on April 10-11!  Twenty-one couples, plus four couples from our team, all learned new ways to improve and strengthen their marriages. Couples ranged in age from their 20’s to their 60’s and ranged from not yet married to married 43 years! Tables for two, candles and candy, wonderful snacks and fruit , even a wedding cake let these couples experience this retreat in a “dating” fashion.
Every marraomiage is different, but all share difficulties at some point. This retreat helped to identify areas where problems could arise and how to recognize when there IS a problem. This retreat is not meant to “fix” every marriage; rather, it is a tool for couples to use through different stages in their marriage.
We will be offering follow-up classes on Sunday mornings at 10am through June 6 at church during the Sunday School hour; the first class focuses on Improving communication. Our team is already anxious to consider doing another retreat. Marriage is a precious relationship; investing in strengthening it is invaluable! Watch for news of another retreat and/or classes in the future.

“Play a Game with Me?”

“Will you play a game with me, Momma?” These are the words I hear from my three year old almost daily. “I will in just a minute. I need to finish washing these dishes,” I say. I continue to clean my kitchen, and once the dishes are done I notice a pile of papers on my kitchen counter that belong to my Kindergartener. I begin to sort through them, to decipher which of them are treasures and which of them are destined for the recycling bin. As I deliver a stack to the recycling bin, I notice a pile of dirty socks, T-shirts, and pants left in the garage after some muddy adventures outside. I pick them up and head to laundry room where I realize I have a ton of laundry that needs to be done if all of us want to be clothed for the remainder of the week. I begin sorting pile after pile…and there you have it; I’ve officially forgotten that I am supposed to be playing a game with my little guy. At this point in time, he has too, because HE’S THREE. He’s off playing Super Weston or destroying all of his older brother’s LEGO creations at this point in time. But, I guarantee you, he WILL remember that we were supposed to be playing a game. When? Probably when I have just laid him down for his afternoon nap. “You never played a game with me!”, he’ll moan as I am just crossing the threshold to exit his bedroom. “I’m sorry. We both forgot didn’t we? We’ll play after nap”, I say as I try desperately to not let “mommy guilt” get the better of me. “Mommy guilt”…you know, that feeling you get when you realize you’ve done job after job and forgotten to attend to the little people that are number one on your job description. It is in these moments that we, as mothers, have to give ourselves grace and not let “mommy guilt” win the battle in our mind. There is always tomorrow. “Bad moments don’t make bad mommas.” This is one of my favorite quotes from Lysa TerKeurst. So, take heart, moms. There IS always tomorrow, and I guarantee that if you are speaking positive words into your children, and dishing out lots of hugs and kisses, they’re not going to remember the times that you forgot to play a game with them…or feed them. (Yep, I’ve totally done that.) They will remember that their mommy was encouraging, loving, and full of grace not only for them, but for herself.
P.S. As I finish writing this blog, my son looks at me and says, “Mom, we haven’t played a game!” Ha! I’m off to play, Hi Ho Cherry-O!
By: Ashley Duff

Unleash YOUR Superpower!

This was the theme to this year’s Hearts at Home conference. At first I thought it sounded a little silly. Having two boys, I had visions of little cape crusaders running around the house, wreaking havoc on the furniture, knocking over lamps, and being crazy LOUD! Then, as I listened at the conference, I was enlightened to the fact that we ALL have our own “superpowers” (or better known as “gifts”).

To the moms out there: God has given each of us our own unique superpower to fit us and our families. Not everyone has the same strengths. Can you get your craft on like no other? Do you have the ability to stretch a meal to feed an army? Are you

an all-star budgeter? Maybe you have talents in the fields of writing, singing, encouraging, cooking, teaching, or art.

Regardless of our superpowers, we need to realize that God gave us EXACTLY wha

t we need for our family. No more getting down, thinking and wishing we had the capabilities of another mom friend. God put us in a “superhero cape,” if you will, that specifically fits ONLY us. We need to rejoice in that! We also need to remember that God is our power source and without Him, there are no superpowers.

So, what superpower has God given you?

by Sarah Cross