Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Hakuna Matata

Is anyone else hearing Billy Crystal from the Lion King? I thought of that song this week because of a study my small group is doing. We are reading a book called Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World. This book is based on the Bible story of Mary and her sister Martha (Luke 10:38-42). One of the chapters really spoke to all members of the group including myself, a chapter on worry. I thought it was comical what we worry about:

40% are things that will never happen

30% are about the past, which can’t be changed

12% are about criticism by others, mostly untrue

10% are about health, which gets worse with stress

8% are about real problems that can be solved

I never felt I was much of a worrier, more of just an overactive imagination. I love to do drama and would act out things in my mind. These “daydreams” can get very realistic and emotional. The book helped me to realize that this is not a case of the dreamers, but is true worry.

The book had such a great suggestion for how to combat worry. Philippians 4:6-7 says “Don’t be anxious about anything, but by everything in prayer, petition and thanksgiving present your requests to God.”

The author very practically said if you start to worry about your husband getting into a car accident, stop and turn it into a prayer, “God, please protect my husband today.” Or, if you, like me, begin to imagine some outlandish scenario, I literally say “Stop” and will turn it into a prayer, “Jesus, please protect my dog Chai from a pack of wild dingos attacking her in the back yard.”

I have only been doing this for a couple of weeks, but what a difference! Jesus, please help me to continue taking my worries to you, the only one who can actually take care of them!

Michelle Heriford

Monday, June 28, 2010

‘Tis the Season for Weddings

I have six weddings in the next eight weeks. As I think about the festivities ahead, I’m excited for the happy couples. Despite the fact that I have no ring on my finger (and don’t expect one anytime soon), I feel like I can, without reservation, celebrate the joining of two lives and the celebration of one love.

Having said that, I understand that for a lot of single ladies weddings can be difficult, dreaded, and maybe even traumatic experiences. Sometimes it’s difficult to be happy for someone who has a relationship we want. At the same time, maybe there are women who are cynical about new marriages or wedding celebrations because they are struggling in their own marriage or have even had a failed marriage.

I want to encourage you that whatever your relationship or marital status, your relationship with God is the ultimate romance! Your purpose does not lie in your relationship with a spouse, or a lack thereof, but in your relationship with God. And if you think that’s not enough, you’re wrong. I challenge you: If you’re looking for romance, let God woo your heart. If you want a friend to know and understand you at your very core — He does and will show you.

I’m reminded of Hosea 2:14: “Therefore, I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her.”

If you find yourself at a wedding this season and are feeling a little cynical or find yourself dreading the event, I pray that you’re encouraged by the love of God. Ask Him to reveal His love to you so that you can — without reservation — celebrate the love of others.

Andrea Perry

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Road Less Traveled

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference

Robert Frost
How many times do you get bored with your life; feeling that all you do is the same thing day in and day out? The Christian walk is supposed to be exciting, right? Well … the only way it can be is if we are willing to try new things and trust God as we follow His lead.

About six months ago, I started to challenge myself to try out just a few things that I had traditionally said no to in the past. The results have been a great journey of seeing God weave lives and events together in the coolest ways! I discovered that by studying His word and making a weekly choice to fellowship and interact with other believers, God was able to weave together conversations, lessons and friendships I could have never dreamed possible! Pardon my excitement here, but it has been the coolest thing! I found that after studying His word for the week and listening to Him in prayer, He would open up conversations with others who were meditating or studying the very same thing. The odds of things like this consistently happening week after week are statistically impossible … but not with our God! I’m curious to hear about others experiences with this. How have you seen Him work in your life when you’ve stepped out of your comfort zone?

Sheryl Patry

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Fruit at the Pharmacy

Recently, I began working as a cashier in the pharmacy at Meijer. I know my job is to help guests get their prescriptions, but — motivated by Pastor Marvin’s sermon ( several weeks ago — my desire is to give away Fruit.
Do you remember that delicious bowl of fruit Marvin had with him on the stage? And how he walked around at the end of the message, dropping fruit everywhere as an illustration of how we can allow the gospel to bear fruit in us? He encouraged us to leave Fruit everywhere we go.
It was shortly after I listened to Marvin’s sermon that I was hired at the pharmacy. And soon after I became employed, God spoke to my heart about leaving Fruit around the pharmacy. Every day at work I am going to meet people who need Fruit: 
  • the young mother picking up antibiotics for her fussing toddler
  • the tired woman who is caring for her aging mother
  • the frazzled man whose wife has just had surgery
  • the discouraged college student who didn’t expect his prescription to cost so much
 And because I am on the same side of the counter as the prescriptions these individuals need, I have the opportunity to give them Fruit. An understanding look and a warm smile, a kind word and a gentle touch, listening patiently and sharing a laugh, whispering a prayer for the one in front of me — these are ways I can be the love of God. These are ways I can give Fruit away while I’m working in the pharmacy.
How about you? Where in your life does God want to bear Fruit? Who are the people with whom you come into contact every day that need some of the Fruit you’re carrying? Let’s give it away!
Karen Hossink

Monday, June 21, 2010


As I used my cleaning solution and moisturizer this morning — it’s called Ageless — I thought to myself, “I have used this stuff for months and I don’t look one bit younger!” It’s tough being a woman in today’s society. Everywhere you look and everything you read communicates the message about looking younger and being beautiful. If you are not in a size three, with porcelain skin and you don’t have long flowing hair, you won’t measure up! I wore a size three when I was three years old … what’s up with this new sizing?

I am so glad that my confidence and my worth are not measured by my looks, because looks are fleeting and the world’s idea of beauty is certainly not biblical. Proverbs 31:30 says, “Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.”

As David Roper recently said in the Daily Bread, “Physical beauty all too quickly fades away; all one’s efforts to keep it are doomed to fail. But there is an inner beauty — authentic beauty that will endure forever — in the one who fears the Lord.”

We need to concentrate on The Book that reveals the truth about beauty, real beauty, and pay no attention to all the hype that magazines make. These words are lies and they just cause us to feel bad about not measuring up to the world’s standards of beauty. I see so many lovely ladies around Trinity that have a glow about them that doesn’t come from a bottle of make-up, but can only flow from the Holy Spirit within. That beauty is ageless!

Slide into your jeans — no matter the size — dab on a little make-up and feel good about yourself and who you are. You are a child of the King!

Patricia Harvey

Friday, June 18, 2010

You Can’t Hide from God

When I was in high school in the 1940s, the boys at my school loved pranks. One I remember well was when the pranksters went to a local farmer’s place and turned his outhouse over — while he was in it! Continuing the outhouse theme, they pushed one over that was on a high embankment that went down to a river. That one had a dog attached to it and the dog went with it. That was the end of turning over outhouses, but the pranks didn’t stop. One week the boys stole someone’s hens and released them during the chapel service. What a distraction that caused!

Sometimes the boys got caught but other times they got away with their pranks without punishment. Occasionally, they thought they got away with something but, in reality, it was known who had done the prank. The recipient just had mercy and didn’t confront the boys.

At times, we are no different from the prank-loving boys. We think we get away with things in our lives that we know aren’t pleasing to God, even though we know in our hearts that He knows our every thought and our every move. He may let us make choices that disappoint Him but He is never surprised. And He loves us in spite of the areas of our lives that we haven’t given over to Him yet. What have you been “hiding” that He knows about anyway? Won’t you confess it and ask Him to give you the strength to overcome your weakness?

Annie-Laurie Robinson

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Truth be Told

Not too long ago I was venting to my BFF about my husband. As only a BFF who’s known you for years can do, she told me that I was the one with the problem. Now, when your BFF takes your husband’s side over yours, you know two things. First, she’s a true friend and, second, the problem is TRULY yours!

We talked more and she shared some insights that she has learned through struggles in her own new marriage. She recommended Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands by Dr. Laura Schlessinger. While she doesn’t promote herself as a Christian author, Dr. Laura has some good things to say about relationships and, in this book specifically, she challenges wives. God used that open door to show me the error of my ways!

It’s a dangerous place to be when we let our own selfishness get in the way of caring about and for our husbands. No, I don’t mean the very basic needs they have, but caring. What kind of day did he have, what does he need right now, what can I do to make his life better, easier. What kind of stress is he feeling from his day?

As a wife, I was starting to feel like my husband “owed” me because of all the things I was doing to manage our life and home — and I don’t even have kids! I imagine how much more that temptation is when there are children involved. That’s a bad place to be. It’s a breeding ground for resentment, disappointment and loss of warm, fuzzy feelings. I had to ask my husband to forgive me and then I had to take a serious look at my heart and my attitude. I quit praying so much for him to change and started praying for God to change me — yep, me. Funny thing … I started liking my husband again.

Sally Hall

Monday, June 14, 2010

Fizzled Fire

Does anyone else ever feel like their once burning bonfire for Christ has turned into a fizzled flame? I have been a Christ-follower for a long time. I dedicated my life to Christ as a sophomore in high school. That was when the song “Jesus Freak” by DC Talk was still very popular, and I was a proud Jesus Freak!

This continued until about just out of college. I can’t really point to one thing that stopped fueling the fire but Luke 8:14 mentions that the cares, riches and pleasure of this world can choke the word of God in our lives. This is probably what happened as a new career, new marriage and some family changes occurred.

God has brought a person into my life through work and I always think of us as unlikely friends. We were talking recently and mentioned a town near Detroit. I had been there in high school with the youth choir doing a concert in the park and evangelizing. She was there doing other not-so-upstanding activities like partying and drugs.

Throughout the last two years she has become interested in learning more about Christ, so I invited her to the starting point class. I didn’t really expect to get a ton out of it. It was my intention to use this class as a tool to begin discipling her. But God had something else in store for me!

If anyone wants to add fuel to their fire again, just hang out with new believers. They are so excited and hungry to learn about Jesus. They were just the fuel needed to get my fire burning brighter! It was such an exciting experience to see these new believers discover more about Jesus. One practical solution to a fizzling flame, start discipling someone! No matter where you are at God can use you! It will restore that fire to the burning bonfire it used to be.

Michelle Heriford

Friday, June 11, 2010

Running the Race

A few weeks ago I participated in the Heart of a Spartan 5k race. It was on a Sunday morning and to my very bitter disappointment, it was raining pretty hard. I decided that I wouldn’t run with a raincoat (or put a trash bag over my head as some were doing), but that I would just run with the running gear I used during training.

About a minute before the start I panicked and decided that I wanted a windbreaker to shield me from the rain. It worked well for about five minutes, until the rain penetrated the jacket. I took off the jacket and tied it around my waist, but it was still a heavy, wet nuisance. Eventually, I untied the jacket from my waist, wrung it out, and wadded it into one hand. That’s how I crossed the finish line — with a wadded up jacket in my hand.

This isn’t all that I remember from that race. It was a great course and the chance to run across the Spartan football field was an incredible experience. But I’ll admit, I was distracted and frustrated most of the race. The jacket bothered me more than the rain!

This reminds me so much of my spiritual life at times. I alternate from God’s original plan because I think I need something other than what He’s given. Then I end up struggling in my walk because I’m carrying this burden (that I chose to bring along) that distracts me and weighs me down. That’s not how God says we should run. His Word says, “Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1b

I encourage you to lose the baggage that’s dividing your attention from the race set out for you and to run like you mean it!

Andrea Perry

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Shadow of the Almighty

You know those times where you feel like you don’t do anything right? You offend everyone you talk to? You waste time that you don’t have? You look around at your life and all you see are failures? Maybe it’s just me but I struggle with these thoughts every so often. I’m never sure how I got here, how I slipped so low that I can’t seem to pull myself out. I was fine just the other day, wasn’t I?

I know that this is Satan. He is a master of discouragement and loves to see me wallow in depression and despondency. And I hate to give him the satisfaction of victory in pointing out every flaw I have and having me focus on them.

If you are like me and occasionally find yourself standing face-to-face with every area of your life that isn’t up to snuff, let me share a thought — take a step to the left. I think the reason I can get lost in my sin is because I’m no longer standing behind Christ. I’ve moved from His shadow and am standing on my own, a prime target for Satan and his nasty darts. Christ needs to stand between me and the Devil in order for me to be victorious. His blood covers me and is the only thing that can overcome my human nature and help me become Christlike. Psalm 91 is a great passage that encourages me when I’m feeling vulnerable. I especially like verse 2: “I will say to the Lord, ‘My refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust!’”

What verses encourage you when you’re feeling like life is getting the better of you?

Patty Dextrom

Monday, June 7, 2010

Lord, Keep My Fire Burning

Some days I get so mentally and physically exhausted, I could just cry. While the day may hold many things to be thankful for, I get weary and find that the only way I can truly rejuvenate is to be alone in peace and quiet. Traditionally when I take these alone times, I have found myself feeling guilty or selfish for needing this time to just let my mind rest, but God showed me something this week which struck my heart.

God instructed the Israelites to keep the fire burning continuously. The altar fire was holy fire ignited by the presence of God. This sacred fire was never to be extinguished. “The fire on the altar is to be kept burning on it ... [The] fire shall be kept burning continually on the altar; it is not to go out” (Leviticus 6:12–13).

After reading this, I thought, “How were the people able to keep the fire going continuously?” Then I read Numbers 4:13 where God instructed the Israelites to remove just the ashes from the altar and cover them safely with a purple cloth. With this thought, God was not concerned with the fact that there was an actual flame burning, but that there would be hot coals from which the fire could be ignited later in time.

If fire could be compared to the fire of my heart, then this lesson gave me great comfort. It is only natural for a flame to grow high and low. The purple covering mentioned in Numbers 4:13 could be compared to His holy presence as protector of the fire (or our heart). God is not so concerned that my life is a continuous raging flaming fire, but that I simply depend on him to keep the coals “simmering” with His love.

Sheryl Patry

Friday, June 4, 2010

Would He See Me?

But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. This is the account of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God. Genesis 6:8-9

Do you remember in December when Don Cousins was preaching at Trinity? I appreciated so much of what he said, but there was one statement in particular he made that has really stuck with me. Don said that in the midst of the evil in the world — when God was ready to wipe out all of humanity and start over — He saw Noah.

God saw Noah.

In spite of the way his neighbors were living, Noah chose righteousness. He walked with God. Noah was starkly different. And God saw him. I know Don had a lot more to say that morning, but the message God was speaking to me — the question that has stayed with me — is this: If I was alive in Noah’s day, living as I am today, would God see me?

Oh, how I desire to live a life that is pleasing to God! How about you? How has God been speaking to you lately?

Karen Hossink

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Mystery Trip

My husband called me before Spring Break. I was having coffee with a friend at a local bookstore. Jim said, with a sparkle in his voice, “How would you like to go on a Mystery trip with me for Spring Break?” Of course, I was excited and said, “Yes. What do I take to wear?”

During Easter weekend, I could hear him on the phone and computer making arrangements for our trip. I love surprises, so I didn’t cheat and try to listen or look at any of his notes.

We had a wonderful weekend with our family, 14 of them, on Easter Sunday. Come Monday morning, we were packed and on our way. I had no idea of the destination, only what I should bring to wear and that it was nine hours away. I’ve gotta tell you … I was excited! What a romantic idea for the “love of my life” to do for me after 40 years of marriage.

We drove eight hours, stopped for the night and arrived at the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, WV, on Tuesday morning. The beauty was breathtaking! For lack of space, I cannot go into all that we saw and enjoyed, but if you ask me, I will certainly tell you about it.

I began to think about our Lord and how He has that same idea for our life … a Mystery Trip. Just like I trusted my husband who loves me, I need to trust Jesus to lead me thru this life and to the most special place of all … Heaven. We are never sure where life will lead us, but we can be sure Who will lead us thru life. Enjoy the adventure!

I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. Revelation 21:10
Patricia Harvey