The Butterfly and the FlowerComments Off on The Butterfly and the Flower

“So I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it

will be yours.”   Mark 11:24

Like many of you, I have been using this time to clean out things that have been collecting for a long time.  While going through some old papers, I found this hand written message.  I have no idea who gave it to me, but it spoke to me and I would like to share it with you.

The Butterfly and the Flower

“Once there was a man who asked God for a butterfly and a flower.  But instead God gave him a cactus and a caterpillar.  The man was sad.  He didn’t understand why his request was mistaken.  He thought – oh well, God has too many people to care for…..and decided not to question.

After some time, the man went to check up on his request that he had left forgotten.  To his surprise, from the thorny and ugly cactus a beautiful flower had grown and the unsightly caterpillar had been transformed into the most beautiful butterfly!

God always does things RIGHT.  His way is always the best way even though to us it may seem all wrong.  If you asked God for one thing and received another you can be sure that He will always give you what you need at the appropriate time.  What you want is not always what you need.  God never fails to grant our petitions so keep on going to Him without doubting.

Today’s thorn is tomorrow’s flower; today’s caterpillar is tomorrow’s butterfly.  God gives the very best to those who leave the choices up to Him!”

During this season of Lent most of us are looking more closely at our prayer life.  Pastor Bill repeatedly tells us that God ALWAYS answers our prayers, but that they are not always answered in our time, but in God’s time!


Barbara Sollers


Small BeginningsComments Off on Small Beginnings

Small Beginnings

Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin…

-Zechariah 4:10

Well, it seems Spring may finally be on its way. Still, Baltimore is notorious for its finicky weather, so I expect some more unpleasant weather before the tulips bloom. March always feels like Winter’s last, desperate fight for control, but we know Spring will win in the end.

I love the feeling of newness that Spring brings – that wonderful sense of rebirth and growth.  The first day of Spring is the Persian New Year, so I am usually thinking of that side of the family’s culture, but this year, I’ve been thinking of mine — the Celtic side.  St. Patrick was also big on new beginnings, although not always ones he planned.  Snake myths aside, I do know that in the end this religious slave and orphan ended up bringing the hope of Christ to the entire island of Ireland.  I wish all my beginnings were so profitable! Nevertheless, I have learned to regard even the smallest things in a new way.  First of all, worth is measured differently by God and the world.  The world values status, money and possessions, whereas God values your relationships — with Him and with others.  How you care for others counts.  Also, even the tiniest seeds can sprout and grow into something great.  Billy Graham didn’t start out trying to evangelize the world, although he has, and St. Patrick didn’t intend to convert an entire island of pagans, but that’s what God had planned for him.

So, in this season of beginnings, I am happy to trust that God is moving me to the place I need to be.  I encourage you to also spend this Lenten season seeking Him out and prayerfully considering what He has planned for you.  Fast, meditate, spend some time alone, read the Bible and let that breakthrough happen!  If you are like me, our 40 Days of Prayer study may have given you new insights, inspiration or a promise. Nurture that tiny seed of faith or promise from God. Who can imagine what it might grow into?  I pray that it will blossom like the crocuses and tulips (and shamrocks!)


Lord, our Lord, you are so awesome, and your creation is so wonderful.  Thank you for being a Good Shepherd who leads His flock by still water and green pastures.  Help us to turn our eyes to You this Lent, to seek you and listen to your ‘still, small voice’.  Show us the path you have prepared for us and help us to avoid the temptations of affluence and indolence, because You know what is best for us.  Amen.

Stay blessed,

Jen Jahromi


Love Broke ThroughComments Off on Love Broke Through


There are some moments that are anticipated and upon entering and passing through them, they disappoint instead of meet our expectations.

I grew up with this little bit of wisdom thrown in from my mom. Don’t anticipate too much and then you won’t be disappointed when it isn’t as great an event as you thought it would be.

God gave me a fairly easygoing nature, so this bit of wisdom made sense to me. Take it as it comes. And in most cases I do.

My daddy often told me not to wear my feelings on my sleeve; I confess, I never learned that one.

And then, there are moments that not only meet, but also exceed our expectations. I could list some but I’m sure you can fill in several in your own life.

Usually these times are astounding. Almost too great for explanation, these appear too wonderful to be true.

Science even tells us hope and anticipation can help divert sadness and depression for years, in rare cases centuries.

The Israelites knew this kind of anticipation. They understood that Jehovah would send a Messiah to rescue them from the evil of the world. Every so often as the years passed a God sighting would rejuvenate these Israelites. They would breathe deeply as they experienced God’s presence in some way; and once again begin their journey with eyes of anticipation toward the future that would bring their Messiah, known as the One. This Messiah would come to save and rescue them into an era of peace and justice. This Messiah would conquer their enemies.

When Jesus Christ was born to the Virgin Mary and her betrothed Joseph, the Holy Spirit pricked the awareness of those that were seeking. Those gently listening souls traveled from near and far around the known world and kneeled bringing gifts. However, the rest of the world failed to recognize. Their anticipations had distorted the Messiah’s coming. They rose against Jesus continuing to expect chariots and wars to arrive bringing the Jewish nation into power and control.

Jesus Christ entered the world with angels attending but few had eyes to see. He lived his daily life as a child, teen, and young adult. There is little written or known about these years. Until the age of thirty He lived a fairly innocuous life. We don’t hear about Him making waves, or causing a raucous. He lived his quiet life with his family.

Until, he didn’t.

When the rumors began to swirl around Jesus Christ possibly being the Messiah, those that had determined what that would look like were disappointed. They kept waiting for those chariots to arrive with those armies to come and destroy any person, nation, even cultures against the Jews.

Yet, Jesus Christ rippled gently across the world as he grew in recognition instead of ripping it open. He came calmly, and gently.

He came as a Lamb.

There were no crashing swords, no chariots screeching, and no cries of attack.

And as the Lamb of God was taken to slaughter, he quietly accepted the cross. His job on earth was to come and show us Yahweh.

Jehovah’s compassion was brought to Golgotha. Those who had eyes to see and ears to hear were pricked to something changing.

Could they describe it? Probably not. But they knew something was happening. Through the passage of Via Dolorosa to the Hill of Golgotha, hanging in shame on a cross, and giving up his Spirit as he entered the depths of darkness to battle Satan for us and our redemption. In the depths of darkness we could not observe, the Messiah warred against Lucifer and his demons and conquered them with the Righteous Sinless Blood of the Lamb of God.

And when LOVE BROKE THROUGH and Jesus walked out of that tomb the world would never be the same.

Those of us that know Him as our personal Savior,

Redeemer and Friend anticipate His return.

We don’t know what that will look like, or when it will be. Yet, we anticipate.

When the world rumbles we get busy trimming our lanterns. We discuss it, get excited about it, wonder if this is the time and remind ourselves, probably not, because He promised no one would know and it would be a total surprise.

With that said, if you don’t know Him in this way, please ask Him for the salvation, and redemption he is anxious to give you. Be adopted into his family. He will never let you go, he fought for you, he is waiting in anticipation for you to receive his free gift of everlasting life with him.

Please don’t be caught unaware. Please receive the Lamb Slain and Risen as your Savior.

For when the LION of JUDAH returns riding on His white horse, on the clouds, in the skies it will way exceed our expectations!

We wait in anticipation to celebrate this day.

Because HE IS the I AM, i am,

Robyn Rochelle Cox

©RR&BC, LLC 2021


Be Thou My VisionComments Off on Be Thou My Vision

Be Thou My Vision

“Where there is no vision from God, the people run wild,

but those who adhere to God’s instruction know genuine happiness.”

Proverbs 29:18 (VOICE)

I read two things this week that inspired me. The first said that who we are is based on our dominant thoughts and desires. The second is a quote by Kevin Eikenberry: “We move toward our future one day at a time. But where we move depends entirely on our vision.” For me, these thoughts directly tie in to our two church-wide studies. In “40 Days of Purpose” we learned that each of us has a unique combination of talents, and that God has a purpose to use these talents to serve others. In “40 Days of Prayer” we are learning how to communicate with God, and that it is through prayer and studying the Word, that we understand God’s will for us. The goal of both studies is to encourage us in our faith journey and assist us in maturing as Christians.

So we need to be honest with ourselves. Who are we today? What consumes our thoughts, and what do our hearts desire? If we say we are Kingdom seekers, but are not pursuing Kingdom goals, we may need to refocus our priorities. Likewise, if our vision is not aligned with God’s plans, we may need to spend more time talking with the Father and discerning a clear direction. The good news is it’s never too late to get it right. God can use our missteps for his good, but we need to do our part. We need to communicate with God through prayer and submit to his will, trusting that our heavenly Father has only good plans for us.

It is believed that the words to today’s hymn could date back as far as the 8th century. Mary Byrne (1880-1931) translated the old Irish text into English in 1905. It was then put into verses in 1912 by Eleanor Hull (1860-1935) and published in her “Poem Book of the Gael.” In 1919, it was published in “The Irish Church Hymnal,” and paired with the hymn tune SLANE. SLANE was written by an unknown composer in honor of St. Patrick. On Easter Sunday in 433, an Irish king, in observation of a Druid festival, prohibited people from lighting fires. St. Patrick climbed Slane Hill and lit a fire, in direct defiance of the king’s decree, to show people that God’s light shines through the darkness. ( and

Be Thou My Vision (UMH #451)

Words: Ancient Irish; trans. By Mary E. Byrne, 1905

Music: Trad. Irish Melody (SLANE)


Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;

Naught be all else to me, save that thou art.

Thou my best thought, by day or by night,

Waking or sleeping, thy presence my light.


Be thou my wisdom, and thou my true word;

I ever with thee and thou with me, Lord;

Thou and thou only, first in my heart,

Great God of heaven, my treasure thou art.


Great God of heaven, my victory won,

May I reach heaven’s joys, O bright heaven’s Sun!

Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,

Still be my vision, O ruler of all.

We should all be asking ourselves two questions: “Who am I?” and “Where am I going?” We want to be sure we are focused on God, allowing him to show us his vision for our lives, and following the path he sets before us. Are you walking with the Father daily? If you have gotten off track or have lost your way, stop and turn to God, and He will show you the way.

Have a blessed week,

Julie Morgan


ForgivenessComments Off on Forgiveness


This week in our “40 Days of Prayer,” we are continuing to discover the richness and depth of using “The Lord’s Prayer” as a model for our prayers. Jesus gave it to us not so much as to show us what specific words to pray, but more as an example of “how” to pray. Using this model prayer, Jesus shows us the various components that will enrich our personal prayer life. Jesus introduced “The Lord’s Prayer” by saying, “And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.9 This, then, is how you should pray…” Matthew 6:7-9

Two nights ago, in our Wednesday Night Gathering, we spent much of our time sharing about confessing our sins to God asking for His forgiveness (“forgive us our sins”), and forgiving others who have hurt and offended us (“as we forgive those who sin against us”).

In his video teaching for this week, Pastor Rick made a powerful observation as to how God forgives us. He said, “God forgives us instantly, freely, completely and permanently.” If you think of each of these 4 truths, we begin to understand that God’s forgiveness is truly stunning! It stands in stark contrast in a world that knows so little about forgiveness. Even among Christians who regularly pray “The Lord’s Prayer,” we find a fragile and malnourished concept and practice of forgiveness. We pray asking God to forgive our sins, while we choose to hold on to past hurts, offenses that others have done to us. (Re-read Melissa’s poignant devotional sent to you yesterday!)

How do we break the stronghold in our hearts of unforgiveness and walls we’ve built around us as the result of our holding on to past hurts reliving them again and again? God gives us the key in Ephesians 4:32 – “Be kind and tenderhearted to on another; and forgive one another as God has forgiven you through Christ!” To break free, we must forgive others the same way that God has forgiven us! We might recoil at the thought. Some of our hurts are severe and from our perspective, seem humanly impossible to forgive. Pastor Rick reminded us, “You will never have to forgive anyone more than God has already forgiven you!” 

The key to releasing the hurts and sins of others against us, no matter how severe and traumatizing, is to fully comprehend – not only with our intellect but our hearts, too – just how much God has forgiven us. I know that if God kept a record of all my sins, just how endless and long that list would be! But God, in His unfathomable grace and the work of Jesus on the cross, has chosen to forgive me when I ask instantly, freely, completely and permanently! God, in His great love, refuses to keep a record of our sins (1 Cor. 13:5) and chooses not to remember them as some of us do to each other. Not only that, God tells us that His steadfast love never ceases, and that His mercies never come to end – they are new every morning! (Lamentations 3:22-23)

On June 12th, 1987, President Ronald Reagan stood at the Berlin Wall that separated East and West Berlin. That wall represented a barrier between freedom and oppression. The wall kept those in tyranny from experiencing liberty. Sternly and passionately, President Reagan addressed the Soviet Premier and world demanding “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

In our life’s quest to be more like Jesus each day, and to experience true liberty from guilt, shame, remorse and regrets, let us answer the passionate cry of the Holy Spirit to each one of us, “Tear down this wall!” Let’s partner with God and tear down our walls of unforgiveness towards others built by holding on to and reliving all our hurts and pains – and release them to God by forgiving others as God has forgiven us!


Pastor Bill


From Broken Pieces to a Kaleidoscope of Beauty…Comments Off on From Broken Pieces to a Kaleidoscope of Beauty…

From Broken Pieces to a Kaleidoscope of Glorious Beauty…

In life, each of us carry an abundant memory bank full of breathtaking and treasured moments.  Priceless times with those we love and cherish and yet there are also the moments we would rather soon forget. Memories of words spoken in the heat of anger, moments of betrayal where we were the betrayed and in other instances, we were the betrayer.   Then there is the sin.  Forgoing our conscience, knowing something is wrong and yet, choosing to do it anyway.  And like the apostle Paul, we can often wonder, “why in life, we sometimes do exactly what we don’t want to do.”

Romans 7:15: “I do not understand what I do.  For what I want to do, I do not do, but what I hate, I do.”

Have you ever done that?  You knew it was wrong and yet, you went ahead and did it anyway?

Maybe it was taking credit for an idea or job which was not yours to begin with.  Maybe it was keeping silent about an issue when you knew you should speak up.  Maybe, it was finishing off the bottle instead of stopping after 1 glass or maybe it was giving that person a second glance and then a third.

And with this large album of painful memories, comes the shame.  The awful regret, the overwhelming remorse, the suffocating guilt which can torment us day in and day out, during our waking hours and even in the dark of night, invading our dreams like a thief, stealing our peace, robbing us of our joy.

Afraid of what others may say or think, we push the shambled heap out of sight, constructing an outward wall of strength and beauty for all to see in spite of the ugliness we secretly live with.  Trying to keep our mess hidden from the view of others, we choose to believe the lie, “out of sight, out of mind.”  And when we do this, we become a slave to the sin, a captive to the shame, a prisoner of war – the war that’s waging inside of us.

And yet, the moment we get real and stop pretending we have it all together, the moment we confess our mess before the Lord Almighty, bringing our secret sin out from the shadowy darkness and into His light – in that moment and in that confession, walls come down and chains are broken. God steps in, washes us clean in the blood of His Son, then takes our broken pieces in His hands, turns them about and like a kaleidoscope, and transforms our brokenness into a masterpiece of beauty.

Proverbs 28:13; “Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.”

There is no sin too great, no broken piece beyond God’s repair. And with Him, He promises to make all things new. 

I’m thankful for a merciful God who isn’t shaking His head in disappointment every time I mess up but, instead whispers, “give it to me, I can use that too.

Revelation 21:5

Then He who sat upon the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.”  And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”


Melissa Daniels


The Blessings of RelationshipComments Off on The Blessings of Relationship

The Blessings of Relationship

“‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” ~Luke 10:27

Relationship.  At its core, that is what Christianity is all about: an outpouring of love toward your fellow man born from the overflow of love toward God.  Other religions claim that God or the gods demand(s) obedience, but there must be more to it than that, or else why would we have free will?  He could have formed us as obedient servants, but instead he allowed us a choice.  Yes, God wants us to obey, but more than that, He wants our love and adoration.  And even our obedience to His laws is for our own good.  He wants what is best for us.  And what could be better than a loving relationship with a God who knows us intimately?  And when we can get our head around the Truth of the All-Powerful God wanting a personal, intimate relationship with us, it leads to an overwhelming feeling of gratitude and humility which we should then pass on to our neighbors. 

It seems to me that relationship is a key ingredient to sharing the Gospel message, too.  Jesus demonstrated love toward people by healing them, feeding them, dining with them, etc. before he shared the message about the kingdom of God.  And nothing can open the door to someone’s heart like kindness and caring.  I think that the fact that it is such a challenge to love our neighbor shows that it is the right thing to do.  It is easy to love a puppy, but hard to love a challenging co-worker.  It is easy to be kind to a stray cat, but harder to be kind to our own family.  Nevertheless, the relationships we create here on earth are a glimpse into the relationship God wants to have with us: trusting, kind, intimate, personal, loyal, encouraging and so much more.

Every day we have the choice to be a blessing. I love that there are so many Irish blessings. I love that you can buy them and hang them around the house or embroider them on pillows as reminders of God’s goodness. But blessings are not just for us. We are blessed to BE a blessing. Pass those blessings on to others. They need that encouragement. They need that reminder of God’s goodness. They need to know there is goodness and compassion in the world. They need a favor, or some help, or a random act of kindness.

Even in this dark time of pandemic and social upheaval we can bring hope and reconciliation. With this in mind, say a prayer for the people of the world who are wholly relying on the compassionate love of others to help them through their tragedy – whether war, illness, political strife, natural disaster or financial crisis. And pray that that compassionate love will point them toward God so that they might find peace in His abundant love.

Stay Blessed,

Jen Jahromi


Thick PlacesComments Off on Thick Places

Thick Places

Recently, I shared information about Thin Places to seek out and find in our surroundings. Those thin places that lend themselves to getting close to God. A chair, a closet, a corner, or as the Wesley brothers experienced with their own mother, Susanna Wesley, an apron to throw over our heads. On any given day between 1700 and 1720, Susanna would quickly throw her apron up over her head with ten children running around, learning their facts, how to read, how to cook. She would find her thin place right amongst the little ones. It reminds me to reassure young parents homeschooling their children in this pandemic, you are not alone, your situation will not damage your children, in fact, as they see you lean on the Lord, they will learn themselves to lean into Him. Just look at John and Charles Wesley.

However, that brings me to the Thick Places we are all encountering today. Are these places harder for us than our ancestors? No. Are these places difficult to maneuver? Yes. Our ancestors had to learn to maneuver through them and we have to do the same. Every generation has endured hardship. These are the thick places I am referring to.

Some of the thick places that we are attempting to manage and live joyfully through are not just out of our control, but downright depressing. We have the Pandemic right now. Thank God we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel — yet, we are not out of the woods. We have the political positions of not just our country, but also other countries. We have the ugliness of murder and mayhem, the shame of sexual attack and dysfunction. We have children being exposed to inappropriate behavior and some stuck in homes with disheartened or angry parents. The thick places multiply.

How do we live a Kingdom driven life with so much energy being spent on picking our feet up and pulling them out of these thick places one-step at a time?

Continual prayer. It is the only way we are able to climb into bed at the end of our days finding the peace that passes all understanding. Allowing our minds and hearts to usher into our thin places with God the Almighty; the Three-in-one God as we are continually hit with another barrage of thick places is the ultimate challenge. Do we give up? No. We remember that even Christ asked for the cup of the cross to be taken away from him. Where did He look? Where did His help come from? It came from Abba, His Father. We have been given guidance by Jesus himself, “Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Give us this moment LORD. Get us through this with Your strength, Your knowledge, Your love. Give us the courage it takes to live expecting miracles from your hand, let us be brave enough to ask for what we wish in your name. Remind us that when we asked you into our hearts you came in and now reside in us and we are able to ask you to give us wisdom in every situation, in all the thick places we walk into all day long.

Let us fall to sleep every night knowing that you are in this place with us. You were in these places in the past with our ancestors and with all of the struggles they had to forge forward through, and you are already in the future where we are going.

As a believer of God, Lord and Savior,

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13


Because He IS the I AM, I am

Robyn Rochelle Cox

©RR&BC, LLC 2021


Prayer is the Soul’s Sincerest DesireComments Off on Prayer is the Soul’s Sincerest Desire

“For where your treasure is, there your heart [your wishes, your desires; that on which your life centers] will be also.”

Matthew 6:21 (AMP)

Several interesting articles hit my inbox this week. The common theme running through these articles is that you have to practice your “craft” – whatever it is – if it’s important to you. And if you aren’t regularly practicing your craft, it’s not important. Can you call yourself a painter if you never paint, or a builder if you never build, or a teacher if you never teach? If you aren’t spending time doing whatever your thing is, why not? Maybe it was part of your past, something you used to enjoy, but outgrew. Or maybe it’s something you still like doing, but don’t make the time to do. The Bible tells us in both Matthew and Luke that where our treasure is, that is where our heart is. How we invest our time is important, and it says a lot about who we are.

It made me think about our “40 Days of Prayer” study. We are learning about prayer. We are learning how to pray. We are learning how to be a praying Church. Many of us are learning how to make prayer a priority. It’s important. If we don’t spend time talking to God, how can we say we want a relationship with Him? We have a wonderful, merciful, and loving Father who just wants to spend time with us, and he’s given us direct access to Him through prayer.

James Montgomery (1771-1854) wrote “Prayer Is the Soul’s Sincere Desire” in 1818.  His poem originally had eight verses, and was used in Sunday School classes before he published it in “The Christian Psalmist” in 1825. This hymn is considered by some to be the greatest hymn on the subject of prayer. Montgomery wrote over 400 hymns, six of which are included in our hymnal, including “Hail to the Lord’s Annointed” (UMH #203), “Angels from the Realms of Glory” (UMH #220), “Go to Dark Gethsemane” (UMH #290), and “Stand Up and Bless the Lord” (UMH #662).

Prayer Is the Soul’s Sincere Desire (UMH #492)

Words: James Montgomery, 1818

Music: USA campmeeting melody


Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire, unuttered or expressed,

The notion of a hidden fire that trembles in the breast.


Prayer is the burden of a sigh, the falling of a tear,

The upward glancing of an eye, when none but God is near.


Prayer is the simplest form of speech that infant lips can try;

Prayer the sublimest strains that reach the Majesty on high.


Prayer is the contrite sinner’s voice, returning from their way,

While angels in their songs rejoice and cry, “Behold, they pray!”


Prayer is the Christian’s vital breath, the Christian’s native air;

Their watchword at the gates of death; they enter heaven with prayer.


O  Thou, by whom we come to God, the Life, the Truth, the Way:

The path of prayer thy self hast trod; Lord, teach us how to pray!


As we continue to learn about prayer, let’s also continue to build the habit of praying. Let’s make being in relationship with God, communicating with Him, our priority. Being able to talk with Him is a privilege and a blessing. Our heavenly Father is eagerly waiting to hear from us.

Have a blessed week,

Julie Morgan


What Is God Really Like?Comments Off on What Is God Really Like?

What is God Really Like?

Have you ever asked people, “What’s God like? Not your “church” definition, but for you personally, what is God like?” You’ll get some surprising answers. Some people think God is like an angry parent. Nothing you do ever measures up and quick to scold you for failing to meet expectations. You never know whether you’ll get a hug or a spanking!

Some people view God as the “cosmic cop” waiting for you to cross the line, to violate the law, and come down hard to punish you!  Others see God as a cosmic “Santa Claus” who keeps a list of who’s naughty or nice – and checking it twice!  Others see God as a “genie in a bottle” obligated to grant your every wish and desire. Still others view God as the creator who threw this world together, then vacated the premises to live trillions of light years away. Disinterested, uninvolved, He watches your life unwind from a distance.

Here’s the deal. It really doesn’t matter what we think God is like or how we view God. What matters is who God really is, and what He is really like. We can be very sincere in our view of God, and be sincerely wrong.

During this Lenten season we’ve been studying Rick Warren’s “40 Days of Prayer.” One of the things Pastor Rick points out is this difference between what we think God is like, and what God is really like. And in this study, Pastor Rick presents 5 amazing truths that we can know about God because God has revealed these truths about Himself in His Word, the Bible. I found these truths to be so helpful and powerful, that I shared them two days ago when I spoke at a funeral of a young man who was one of my son’s best friends through High School and thus, part of our family. I shared these truths because of the comfort and encouragement they bring. I also used them to share with the readers of the Carroll County Times newspaper in my religious column for this month.

First, God is our Father. God desires an intimate, up-close personal relationship with Him. Jesus said, “Pray this way, “Our Father…” The Greek word for “Father” is “Abba.” It translates as a term of endearment known around the world by every culture: “Daddy” or “Papa.”  Through faith in Jesus Christ and His work on the cross forgiving our sins, we can know the eternal God of the universe as our “Father!” That’s the relationship God desires with us!

Second, God is a caring Father! The Bible says we can cast every care, worry and burden upon God for He cares for us! (1 Peter 5:7) God wants us to experience His care in every area of our lives. Pastor Rick said, “If it’s big enough to worry about, then it’s big enough to pray about!” God is a caring Father. He is always sympathetic to our needs and cares enough to get involved.

Third, God is a consistent Father. His love for us is constant and unchanging. God’s love for us is not based on our performance, but on His character – which is love! God never breaks His promises and we can always count on Him to see us through.

Fourth, God is a close Father. God is not distant, absent or unavailable when you need Him. You never get a “busy signal” from God. He is always with us, each and every step of our lives. He never stops thinking about us, as we are always on His mind. Psalm 34:18 “God is close to the brokenhearted…” and Jesus said, “I will never leave you or forsake you.”

Fifth, God is a competent Father. God can handle every problem and situation we bring to Him because nothing is impossible for God. (Luke 1:37) God can do it all!

There are still several weeks left before Easter. If you are not participating in our 40 Day journey, why not finish this Lenten season studying who God is and what He is like – not from people’s views or opinions, but from God’s Word? Such a study will motivate you to not just to learn about God – but to really know Him and build a relationship with Him as your Heavenly Father. There’s a world of difference between knowing about God and knowing God. The deep desire of God’s heart is that we know Him as our Father who is caring, close, consistent and competent. And He took the first steps by coming to the earth He created as Jesus Christ, dying on a cross for our sins, and rising from the dead. Our step is to believe – to trust in the work of Jesus and make Him our Lord and Savior. It’s a simple prayer of faith that profoundly changes your life both in the “here and now” and for all eternity!


Pastor Bill


Praise Him AnywayComments Off on Praise Him Anyway

Praise Him Anyway…

Psalm 96:1-3 “Oh sing to the LORD a new song!  Sing to the LORD all the earth.  Sing to the LORD, bless His name, Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day.”

The other day, I was listening to Pastor Bill’s sermon on prayer while walking on the treadmill and as I listened, God brought to mind Ava’s final days in the hospital.

For months, my family had prayed and believed the Lord was going to miraculously heal Ava.  We laid hands on her as a family, taking turns praying over her.  We anointed her with oil and prayed.  We cried out loud and silently, day and night, begging God for her healing.  There were times I could even be found marching around Ava’s room, quoting scripture and almost shouting my prayers, like a mad woman. 

During this time, Ava and I were both struggling.  We knew God could heal her body in a single breath.  We had seen Him do it before, but we couldn’t understand why our prayers seemed to go unheard and completely unanswered now.  I had explained to Ava months before, that God was not a genie in a bottle and there to grant our every wish and every prayer, but this – what my baby girl was enduring every single day – was almost too much for my heart to bear and my mind to comprehend.

The day before Ava died, my family and I were gathered around her bed, crying and praying.  Ava hadn’t spoken or opened her eyes in over 36 hours and it was clear her body was shutting down.  As we all held onto Ava, I prayed out loud reminding God that just as Jesus raised Lazarus and Jairus’s daughter from the dead, we were still believing He could raise Ava too. 

I remember telling God that if He was going to turn the situation around, now would be a good time because it looked like we were in the b0ttom of the 9th inning.  And then as the tears streamed down my face, I looked up at everyone in the room and asked the question, “When God doesn’t answer your prayers the way you want Him to, what do you do?”

Almost in unison, each of us answered, “you praise Him anyway.”

You praise Him anyway… 

You praise Him in the moments when your heart is shattered and you praise Him when your joy is overflowing.  You praise God when you are on the mountaintop and when face down in the darkest valley.  When you understand life and even when you don’t.  You praise Him when your bank account is full and when you have less than a dollar left to get by.

You praise Him in the storm and in the rainbows.  In the reunions and in the missing.  You praise Him with every new birth and like our family, you praise Him even in death.  In all ways and in all things, praise Him.

Although God did not answer our prayers the way we wanted Him to, He did answer our prayers, giving Ava a full and glorious healing, once and for all.  I take comfort in knowing Jesus was there, waiting to welcome my baby home, with arms wide open.  And so today, even in the quiet, even in the missing, even when it’s hard, I choose to praise Him anyway.  It’s a decision made not based on feelings but based on knowing who God is, having a relationship with Him and standing firm on His truths. 

The question is: when life gets tough, will you, choose, to praise Him anyway…

Psalm 95:6-7

Oh come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.  For He is our God, And we are the people of His pasture, And the sheep of His hand.


Melissa Daniels


Spring is Sure to FollowComments Off on Spring is Sure to Follow

  See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone.
Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come,
the cooing of doves is heard in our land.

~Song of Songs 2:11-12

My son lives in Phoenix now. The one thing he really misses is the changing of the seasons. The winters there are mild, and spring lasts a month if they are very lucky. Here in the northeast, winter was not so bitter, but it was especially snowy and icy, which made it feel long. Nothing is so unwelcome as snow when the crocuses should be blooming…or when Easter is around the corner. 

But as I considered this, I found it to be all the more appropriate. The night is darkest before the dawn, and perhaps winter is bitterest right before the spring. Certainly, God was thinking along these lines when He sent His Son into our world.  He waited for just the right time, when sin and injustice were rampant, and when a conquering regime (Rome) was threatening to eliminate Judaism outright – either through cultural assimilation or imperial law. Things looked bleak. It had been 500 years since God had spoken through a prophet. Faithful Jews were convinced God had forgotten them, and then – boom – here comes Jesus. And when he had built a successful ministry that looked to rival the Sadducees and Pharisees for the hearts of Jews – boom – arrest, conviction and crucifixion.  Talk about bleak. Things seemed absolutely dismal. But wait – there’s more! On the third day, there was Jesus, appearing to the women, and to the disciples in the upper room and to those guys on the Emmaus Road, and later to hundreds.

Just like a long, bitter winter concludes with a burgeoning of blooms on trees, bushes and bulbs, so Jesus’ crucifixion concluded with a wonder so magnificent we struggle to comprehend it today. Through Jesus’ death, all peoples everywhere have received the ability to be reconciled to God, adopted as his children and heirs, and receive eternal life! The ultimate chance to be born again with a clean slate is ours. What a miracle!

But what if the disciples, feeling defeated and fearing reprisals from Rome, gave up and ran away, or hung themselves like Judas? Grief and disappointment have a way of clouding our rational thought. Pain and sorrow can create a tunnel which seems to have no light at the end. This is where the real lesson comes:

Hold on for your miracle! 

Jesus promised He would rise, and He did. No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow. Though everything seems cold and dead and hopeless, new life and new meaning is just ahead. Hold on for your miracle. Golden Eagles sit incubating their eggs for 45 days with no sign of life, no hint at whether that egg will hatch or not. They have no choice but to hold on. If they quit, that chick will surely die. But if they are patient, new life emerges! Jesus promised He would never leave us nor forsake us. No matter how desperate your situation seems, no matter how hopeless, no matter if you can’t see a way through – ESPECIALLY IF YOU CAN’T SEE A WAY THROUGH – know that God has a springtime of renewal waiting for you. Hold on for your miracle! Our world has been huddling indoors, separated, worried, unsure of the future. Don’t give up. Just hold on a little while longer and watch for your miracle of rebirth. Use this time of tribulation to grow closer to God through prayer and Bible reading. And rest confidently knowing that your spring, our spring, WILL follow.

Dear Heavenly Father, be with all of those who are struggling through a time of spiritual winter. Surround them in Your love. Lead them to those who can light their path to springtime. Grant them strength to keep holding on, peace in their struggle, and give them the reassurance of Your love until their springtime comes. Amen.

Stay blessed,

Jen Jahromi



A Peculiar Person For GodComments Off on A Peculiar Person For God

A Peculiar Person for God

She was a person I admired. A mother of one of my second grade students, an administrator in the school district, and the wife of an officer fighting in Desert Storm.

I was her daughter’s teacher leaving my teaching career and flying to a foreign country to live and teach European women how to write Bible Studies in their own language with Greater Europe Mission

Her husband had sent an email from overseas asking her to support the mission I was called to.

We talked after school one day.

“Ms. E., You are what my father called ‘a peculiar person for God.’ ” Her father had been a minister. On the envelope that held their donation was written Titus 2:14 and 1 Peter 2:9

To be honest, I didn’t really know how to receive this comment. Thankfully she added verses as a reference.

“Our Great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself up for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous for good works.” Titus 2:14 KJV

“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show forth the praises of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” 1 Peter 2:9 KJV

In this context we find that peculiar people are the treasured of God. His children that are living lives sold out to His Light. What a blessing that this woman shared this with me. They are a source of encouragement to this day.

Are you aware of your calling to be a peculiar person for the LORD? It is a marvelous place to live. The word has a different connotation in today’s world, but it doesn’t hinder us from taking the word and questioning ourselves. Are we in the world and of the world? Or are we walking that treasured line of being in the world but not of it.

John 15:19 “If you were of the world the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

Today I share this truth with you. You, no matter your name or your history, if you are a person that has received Jesus Christ as your savior, you are hated by the world yet a valued treasure to the One True God. So, when the world knocks you down, remember He holds you up.

Sweating – October 2006

I’m in a country that likes to work. They are workers, these Germans. I myself like a good, hard challenge. Obviously: I’m forty-nine years old, learning a new language, living in a new culture, investigating new relationships, investing in intense relationship with God.

But, what about sweating? I’ve read that little book, “Don’t Sweat the Little Things.” It had some interesting thoughts, although most I found less than revolutionary, some I completely disagreed with. But sweating? When I think of hard work, I think of good, hard work.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about working – working for God. Do I really need to work? What is really important? What does Christ say about working?

From what I can discover, Christ isn’t really into hard labor over the same things that we have a tendency to be ‘working on’ – i.e. sweating over for Him.

He made it clear that His yoke is easy, and His burden is light. So, why do I insist on falling into that ‘hardworking/sweating’ model?

I’ve come to the conclusion it is because I don’t work on what He wants me to work on.

What does He want me to work on?

My relationship with Him.

That’s it. That’s all.

Prayer, communion in Him, sliding into my red prayer chair and going to that place where we commune together, or as Jill Briscoe told me once, “Learn how to close your eyes and see Him right there with you.”

I want to make a difference for Him.


Counter to my thought process:

Spending time with Him

REALLY spending time with Him

WORK at spending time with HIM

Commit to spending time with Him

On my knees

In my chair

Face on the floor

Journaling to HIM in a café

Sharing a thought with HIM

Sharing ALL thoughts with HIM

Loving Him

Snuggling with HIM

Desiring Him

Meditating on Him

On His word

On His promises

This is the WORK that makes a difference for HIM!


I want to learn how to sweat in my enjoyment of Him.

Good Grief! He’s doing the big stuff.


By: your mutating missionary Robyn Rochelle


Sharing a journal entry I wrote my first months on the mission field in 2006.

Because HE IS the I  AM, i am

Robyn Rochelle Cox



Hymn Leave it ThereComments Off on Hymn Leave it There

“Cast your burden on the LORD [release it] and He will sustain and uphold you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken [slip, fall, fail].”

Psalm 55:22 (AMP)

Last week was physically and mentally exhausting. There have been more than a few of those weeks in the past year. I know I am not alone in this. The pandemic has increased the workload for employees at many companies. We are being asked to do more and more, often with fewer people to do the work. The human resources blogs are cautioning employers to watch for signs of fatigue and burnout among workers. And outside of work, there’s masking, physical distancing, not being able to gather with friends and family, worries about vaccines, and just the need to always stay vigilant. It’s emotionally draining and can be overwhelming.

So how do we combat this? Professional journals and magazine articles tell us to get enough sleep, eat a healthy diet, and be sure to make exercise a priority. These are all things we should be doing to live a healthy lifestyle. But there is something else we can do that will help us cope with whatever we are going through. Pray. Our heavenly Father longs for us to turn to him for help. He loves us with a love that is unmeasurable, cares about what we are going through, and is sympathetic to our situations.  The Bible tells us to hand our burdens over to God, and that nothing is too big for him to handle. God wants us to ask for his help, and he will answer our prayers. Release everything to God and let him take your stress and replace it with his peace. Today’s hymn is another by Charles Albert Tindley (1851-1933). It reminds us to take everything to God and leave it there.

Leave It There (UMH #522)

Words: Charles Albert Tindley, ca. 1906

Music: Charles Albert Tindley, ca. 1906


If the world from you withhold of its silver and its gold,

And you have to get along with meager fare,

Just remember in his Word how he feeds the little bird,

Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there.



Leave it there, leave it there,

Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there.

If you trust and never doubt, he will surely bring you out;

Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there.


If your body suffers pain, and your health you can’t regain,

And your soul is almost sinking in despair,

Jesus knows the pain you feel, he can save and he can heal,

Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there.



When your enemies assail, and your heart begins to fail,

Don’t forget that God in heaven answers prayer;

He will make a way for you, and will lead you safely through,

Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there.



When your youthful days are done, and old age is stealing on,

And your body bends beneath the weight of care,

He will never leave you then, he’ll go with you to the end,

Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there.


When life gets you down and starts to be too stressful and overwhelming, turn to God. Release whatever is burdening you and let him sustain you. Trust that he is with you through everything, and dwell in his peace.

Have a blessed week,

Julie Morgan



Hymn Devotional 2/22/21Comments Off on Hymn Devotional 2/22/21



Asking GodComments Off on Asking God

Something that Pastor Rick Warren said in one of his teaching videos that we’re watching through the week as part of our church’s “40 Days of Prayer” really caught my attention. He talked about imagining in heaven, that an angel showed you a massive room filled with every kind of blessing and answer to prayer you could ever imagine and more! “These are all the blessings and answers to prayer that God wanted to give you while you were on earth.” Our natural response would be, “Why didn’t I get them when I needed them?” And the angel replies, “Because you never asked for them!”

James 4:2 “…you do not have what you want because you don’t ask God for it.” Often times I don’t pray because I know that God knows what I need and if He wants to give it to me, He will! Some of you may feel that way, too. In fact, in Matthew 6 just before Jesus teaches His disciples what we call “The Lord’s Prayer,” Jesus says, “Your Father knows exactly what you need before you ask!” However, after Jesus reveals that truth, He goes on and says, “Pray like this…” God wants us to pray about everything, talking to Him and listening to Him. Part of our prayers is “supplication” – asking God to meet our needs.

Pastor Rick’s illustration helped me to understand more fully that our Father loves to answer our prayers. And He also loves to have His kids (you and me) come into His presence and ask Him to meet our needs. He loves our “Father-child” relationship. This is why we were created: for God to love us and for us love God in a personal, up-close relationship. And because of Jesus and His work on the cross, we can have this intimacy of “Father and son,” or “Father and daughter.”

I love when my kids come and ask me for help. (For decades I was the “official jar opener” when no one else could do it!) I love to feel like they still need their Dad, even though there’s much they can do themselves. Our Father in heaven feels the same way. Everything is His, and as His children all He has is freely given to us – but, He loves us to ask! He loves when we depend on Him and trust Him with every area of our lives. He loves when we come to Him admitting our need and our own inability to meet that need ourselves, and then asking for His help.  In all things big and small, God wants us to pray, asking for His help and depending on Him.

One of my decisions and commitments made so far in our 40-day journey is to be more intentional in having an ongoing conversation with God including asking Him to meet my every need. Not just the ones I can’t manage by myself, but every need so I grow more and more dependent on Him.

So, how about we make it a point to pray and ask – and empty that storehouse in heaven of all the blessings and answers to prayer that God wants to give us?


Pastor Bill


Teachable SpiritComments Off on Teachable Spirit

I want to go until my death with a teachable spirit.

When I asked Pastor Bill what he likes the most about my man, Biff Cox, he said, ‘He’s teachable.’ And he is. It is one of his most endearing qualities (he has many.)

Last week I got a call from a dear friend from the Dallas area of Texas. A friend for over 30 years touched base. We caught up on what God has been sharing with us in the last few months. I got a little excited. ‘What amazes me, Sharon, I know how to pray. You know how to pray. We’ve been praying for years and years. I love to pray. I pray all the time. I really didn’t see a need to get into this Rick Warren study on 40 Days of Prayer, but we decided to do it for cooperation with our body of believers during this Lent Season.” Now, Sharon knows I’m not bragging when I say this, not blowing a horn for attention. She too has been on this Jesus Journey since her thirties. But it is true. We do know how to pray. Then I continued. “But since I opened the book and asked God to teach me afresh, this new fire is kindling. Sharon, I’m being re-awakened to truths I haven’t meditated on in years. It feels so fresh and new and lovely. I am so thankful, there is never a time when we can’t experience more with God.”

Sharon just giggled and said, “That is what is happening to me too. We are going through a Lent study and the book we are reading in church is just igniting me with His words.”

Sharon and I are no spry chickens. We’ve been in Women’s Ministry in church and all over the world for over thirty-five years. But having a teachable friend is delightful. Being a teachable person is refreshing.

One of the comments I’ve heard about the workbook we are using by Rick Warren: “Well? I don’t understand why it is such a big deal. He could have written more. These are the same questions over and over again. Just the verse is different. “

I have to giggle at that statement. As an educator I understand the reasoning behind Rick Warren’s open-ended questions with each verse. Don’t ask me to do anything mathematical, or mechanical, or IT related. But brain stuff, information about how it works and how to push it forward, this is the stuff we educators sink our teeth into. And oh, I’m sinking my teeth into those ruminating questions after each verse in the book. They are open-ended. Don’t really have a correct answer (right or wrong). They are questions that cause you to think about and ruminate over the verse. And what is thinking about and ruminating? It is meditating. And what does God call us to do? He calls us to feed on his word and hide it in our hearts. (Chew on it.)

Sometimes we gorge on the WORD of God. We take in so many sentences and thoughts much of what we read gets barfed out (excuse me for my bluntness). We got the idea but we got none of the nutrition.

I have been with God in the cold loneliness of the nights. I have been with him on days I could barely move my feet through the day because I was so overwhelmed with life. The verses that massaged my broken spirit weren’t always the books of the bible, but the words like. “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Or, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Or, “He holds onto me, and does not let me go.” Or, “I am a child of God. What does that mean? I am protected, provided for, loved, cherished, and fought for. I am loved by the Most High God, He goes before me and has already fought and won.” The list goes on and on.

These are the snippets of God’s Truth that rise up from my heart when the road is long and weary. These are the pieces of meat of the word that I have gnawed on over the years. Hidden deep in my heart, they rise up and fly out of my mouth as I walk or pace or cry or pray.

I encourage you to join us in this study. It’s not too late and it is refreshing. I invite you to join us, or buy it for your own pondering.

As for being teachable? There is a verse I am reminded of right now. “I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief.” Mark 9:24.

Come along and join us in a little bone gnawing over the sweet promises in the Word of God.


Because He is the I AM, i am,

Robyn Rochelle Cox

RR&BC LLC ©2021


Please feel free to contact Biff and me when you have questions, prayer requests of just need a word of encouragement. We love God and our desire is to serve Him.

You can buy the book on line. Here is an Amazon link, but there are others. You can even order it from a book store with the #ISBN – consider it.


40 Days of Prayer Workbook


Facing the FogComments Off on Facing the Fog

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.  In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.  What can flesh do to me?

Psalm 56:3-4

It had been cold and snowy in the Berkshires, until a sudden warm front rolled in that January night, shrouding the old hills in a thick, velvety fog.  I let Gracie (our Golden Retriever) out after dinner for her evening reconnoiter. I was poking the fire in the woodstove and when I heard her barking rather emphatically out in the yard.  I looked out the window.  There she stood in the mist, turning a slow circle and sounding off into the gloom.  A deep, chesty bark, assertive but not aggressive, slightly muffled, the effort lifting her front paws a bit off the ground with each volley.  “What’s got into her?” my wife, Julee, asked, joining me at the window.  “The fog,” I said.  “It messes with her night vision”.  Goldens have superb eyesight, even in the dark.  But not tonight.  She couldn’t see past her own wet black nose.  “Should I go get her? I asked Julee.  “No leave her.  She’s just doing her job.”  

What a thought!  Gracie was barking out warnings to any would-be-intruders who might infiltrate her yard under the cover of fog, warding off threats, letting the hills know she was on duty, keeping us safe.  What a brave dog!

I wondered if I was that brave – brave when it counted, brave in my faith. I like to believe my faith is clear and unwavering and yet there are times when I can’t see my way, when my spiritual visibility is comprised by the fog of fear or doubt or regret.  It is at those moments that I must stand in the dark and proclaim my trust in that unseen heaven. 

“Gracie is too brave to let a little fog bother her,” Julee said.  I would be brave, too, the next time a spiritual fog found me.

Prayer:  When I grope and falter, when I fear and I doubt, lead me, Lord, through the gloom to Your eternal light.

Written by Edward Grinnan – 2021 Daily Guidepost

Submitted by Sharon Fryer


Hymn Devotional 2/22/21Comments Off on Hymn Devotional 2/22/21

“Cast all your care upon Him, because He cares for you.”

1 Peter 5:7 (MEV)


I’ve been singing at Hereford Faith & Life Church for as long as I can remember. I started out singing in Sunday School, then with the children’s choir, then joined the adult choir in my teens. I sang with the Praise Team for a while, and with the Coffee House band. Now I am the choir director for our traditional, classic worship service. Music is part of who I am. I sing the old hymns, contemporary Christian music, country gospel, and praise choruses. No matter what genre you prefer, it’s all music that praises God and connects us with our Creator.


I was texting with a dear friend and fellow singer over the weekend. We were chatting about what a blessing the hymns are. There are hymns for all seasons of the Church, and for all seasons of our lives. No matter what we go through, there is a hymn of encouragement, comfort or praise. I know a lot of people have a favorite hymn. For me, though, every time I turn the page, I find a new favorite. We have great well-known hymns like “Great Is Thy Faithfulness,” “Amazing Grace,” and “It Is Well with My Soul.” And we have less familiar, but equally wonderful songs like “The Summons,” “God Is Here,” and “O God, Beyond All Praising.” They speak to our relationship with God. But sometimes our favorite hymns are so familiar, we sing the words by rote instead of really hearing and understanding what we sing. Our hymns – both traditional and contemporary – are great material to use in our daily worship time, and can be wonderful prayers.


Some weeks when Pastor Bill shares his sermon title and the scripture with me, I spend hours researching, and pouring over lyrics, and praying that God will lead me to the perfect hymns to support the week’s message. Often, though, I read a scripture, and a song immediately pops into my thoughts. That happened when I read this week’s memory verse for our “40 Days of Prayer” study. I read “Cast all your care upon Him…” and immediately started humming “Cares Chorus.” In Sunday’s message, Pastor Bill said that sometimes the simplest prayers are the most powerful. This song is a perfect example of this. Sing these words slowly and prayerfully, and release all your cares and worries to God.


Cares Chorus (TFWS #2215)

Words: Kelly Willard, 1978

Music: Kelly Willard, 1978


I cast all my cares upon you,

I lay all of my burdens down at your feet,

And anytime that I don’t know what to do

I will cast all my cares upon you.


This week find an unfamiliar “new to you” hymn to reflect on, or revisit an old favorite with new eyes. Is God speaking to you through the words of the songwriter? Are you learning new truths or gaining better understanding of God? Most importantly, are you growing closer to God by praising and praying through the hymns?


Have a blessed week,

Julie Morgan


Try A Little TendernessComments Off on Try A Little Tenderness

Try A Little Tenderness

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. ~Philippians 2:1-4

“What the World Needs Now is Love Sweet Love…” “All You Need Is Love…” “They Will Know We are Christians by Our Love…”  These songs reveal that culturally, we know that love IS the answer. It is a powerful tool for forgiving, compromising, healing and reconciling. It is the very essence of Christianity. And yet, in our supposed Christian nation, we find very little of it being exhibited on our streets, in our media or by our leaders, not to mention in our churches or the myriad households across the country. Certainly, it has been prophesied in the Bible:  “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold,” Matthew 24:12. But why?

I wonder if the problem is more fundamental. I wonder if we have failed to learn what real love is. The depictions of love in the media are very simplistic: romantic love, familial love, lust. These depictions show love as a contract: if you love me, I’ll do x; or as an obligation: you must love your children, your parents, your siblings. These are very far from the Biblical love described in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, patient, kind, humble, putting others’ needs before our own, dealing with personal issues privately. I can’t really say that in my 50 some years on the planet I’ve witnessed many examples of this kind of love. It is admittedly very difficult. Trying intentionally to live lovingly for the last 20 years has been a real struggle. And living with love conflicts with some strong cultural values, like holding a grudge, publicly airing grievances, being right, getting our way, having control, saying ‘I told you so’…. 

Love includes concepts of integrity, humility, compassion, compromise, tenderness, kindness, tact, diplomacy and self-sacrifice. These qualities are often portrayed as weaknesses which can be exploited by the savvy or cruel. I imagine very few textbooks on business administration link these qualities with success. And fewer practitioners dare to use them in the world of business, law or politics. Certainly, our recent and prolonged standoffs between the President and Congress are evidence of this.

Our personal actions always have consequences for those around us. Always. Although it can certainly be taken too far, it is nevertheless a good practice to consider the impact our actions will have. On a personal level this will change your life and relationships for the better quickly. On a national level, it can change the world. Politicians might decide to compromise rather than leaving innocent workers without a paycheck for months. They might consider actual capabilities and expectations before sending brave, intelligent, highly competent soldiers and patriots into harm’s way. They might come to realize that the only way to truly address the exploitation, violence and criminality of illegal immigration is to stay in a chamber room negotiating, compromising and considering until rational, well thought out policy can be revealed and passed. They might come to grasp that although fixing our crumbling infrastructure will take years of work which will not yield them many re-election votes, it is nevertheless crucial for the thousands of people and businesses using our bridges, ports, roadways, power grids and sewers.

And so, my prayer is that we, as a nation, and a world, might wake up to the power of tenderness. We need to stress this to our children and grandchildren. Instead of belittling strangers on social media, we might encourage and uplift. Rather than believing the worst about a public figure, we might reserve judgement and pray for them instead. Instead of pointing a critical finger at all that is wrong, we might seek to see what is right, and broadcast and nurture that. Or perhaps seek to fix it ourselves. Mother Teresa, Gandhi, Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther and others saw injustices that were not being addressed and did not think it beyond them to step up and work for change. They started small, individually, and the rightness of their cause grew into a movement.

All of us have the power to brighten the corner we’re in. A kind word or gesture at work, shopping or dining. Pitching in at home. Biting our critical tongue. Refusing to repay meanness with meanness. Letting go of the need for the last word or revenge. Gently encouraging those we might have turned our backs on in the past. Nothing else could be more important. Nothing less will change the world for the better.

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. ~John 13:35


Jen Jahromi


Unlimited ForgivenessComments Off on Unlimited Forgiveness

How many times do I have to forgive somebody who hurts me? As many as seven times?” What a great question Peter asks Jesus. We’ve all been there. We all have people in our lives that need continual forgiveness because they’re always offending us and hurting us. Peter’s asking, “When is it OK to give up on somebody and just stop forgiving them?” Jesus’ answer is going to stun us. He replies, “Seventy times seven!”  Peter gasped thinking that forgiving 7 times was way over the top of human endurance and far more than anyone deserved! I’m sure like many of us, Peter broke out his calculator and figured it out – 490!  We’ve got to forgive people 490 times before we can drop the ax on them? Peter didn’t get it – and neither do we. To make his point clear, Jesus told a simple parable of a King who had a servant who owed him such a huge and unpayable debt, he was about to yank him from his family and throw him in debtors prison where he would rot! However, the King had mercy and grace, and forgave his servant of all his debt, down to the last penny. Imagine the burden gone, a new future and a second chance. But that’s not the end of the parable. A fellow servant owed the now debt-free servant just a couple of bucks. The forgiven servant demanded that he be paid. And when the other servant couldn’t repay the debt, the forgiven servant had the other thrown into debtors prison. Other servants caught wind of what happened, and reported it to the King who immediately cast the servant into prison. “Couldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant as I had mercy on you?” Then Jesus summed up the parable by stating, “So also My Heavenly Father will do to every one of you if you do not forgive your brother from your heart!” Jesus made the point that it’s time to throw away our “sin-counting” calculators because as Paul wrote, “love keeps no score of wrongs.” 1 Cor. 13 That was always the message of Jesus. When He taught us to pray, He said, “Pray this way: “Father, forgive us our sins – in the same manner and way – that we forgive the sins of others.”  Treat us the same way we treat others. Forgive us in exactly the same way we forgive the people in our lives! To Jesus, nothing less is acceptable in the Kingdom of God! It’s not 7 times, or 490 times – there is to be no limit to our forgiveness because God’s forgiveness is unlimited to us! What could possibly motivate anybody to forgive like that? Simple. When dealing with others, constantly remember the incalculable debt of sin that God has forgiven us of.  No person’s sin against me can possibly compare with the volumes of sins that God has forgiven me of. Jesus simply says, “Live forgiving others the way you have been forgiven by Me!” A true sign of Christian maturity is a lifestyle of forgiveness found in the truth of how much we ourselves have been forgiven by God.  We need to constantly remind ourselves that in this often unforgiving world, “I will forgive others, because God has forgiven me of so much more!”


4 Keys to Changing Your LifeComments Off on 4 Keys to Changing Your Life

How’s everybody doing with your New Year’s resolutions?  They’re hard to keep! Most people have already given up just days into the new year!  Someone remarked in making resolutions “to set the bar high so you can easily walk under them!” It’s not easy to change your life for the better. We’re all creatures of habit and routine. Almost 3 thousand years ago the prophet Jeremiah asked, “Can the Ethiopian change the color of his skin, or the leopard his spots? Can we do good, if we are accustomed to doing evil?” (Jeremiah 13:23 NLT) I’m glad that God answered with a resounding, “Yes!” The Bible is saturated with accounts of people who radically changed their lives for the better. I’ve found over the years that there are 4 necessary keys in bringing about lasting change in our lives. First, we need desire. Do we really want to change? And how badly do we want it? I remember pushing a heavy 7 man blocking sled across the football field with our coach shouting, “How bad do you want it boys? How bad do you want to win?” It’s not great English but them message is clear: change takes sacrifice, work and persistence. If you want it enough, you’ll pay the price.  You’ll do whatever it takes with all that you’ve got! God says, “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart!” (Jeremiah 29:13 NLT) Second, we need a plan for change. We need to set specific, measurable and realistic goals for moving us toward the changes we desire.  Coaches not only instill the desire for winning, they construct a game plan to win! Most changes we want to happen in our lives fail because we had no plan outlining the specific steps necessary to get where we want to be. One of the most important yet often forgotten part of your plan is accountability. Tell someone about the change you’re making, your plan to get there – and then ask if they will check in on you regularly asking about your progress and if you are sticking to your plan! Accountability is huge in effecting change. A plaque hung over the mantel of the doorway to a half-way house for recovering addicts read, “We do together what we can’t do alone!” Ecclesiastes 4:9 reads, “Two are better than one and a threefold cord is not easily broken.” Third, we need power to facilitate change. Unfortunately, our own “will-power” may get us started on the way, but often it’s too weak for dramatic change. We need power outside ourselves – the power of God!  The Apostle Paul, who experienced dramatic changes in his life wrote, “I can do all things in Christ who makes me strong!” (Philippians 4:13 NLT) Real and lasting change takes a power beyond human strength! It takes Jesus Christ, knowing Him personally as Lord and Savior of your life!  Paul wrote, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me!” (Galatians 2:20) With the power of Christ living in us, nothing is impossible! Faith based recovery programs have by far the greatest success rates for real and lasting change because they teach their clients to depend on God’s power and not their own strength to change. Last, we need to make the decision to begin! We must be daring enough to take the first step in working our plan.  It’s takes a conscious decision of our will to say, “Yes Lord, with Your help and in Your power, I will change!” This can be both risky and hard. This is where we try to talk ourselves out of it all. “I’ll start my diet…Monday! I’ll start working out when it’s more convenient!”  Nike has it right: “Just do it!” A patented slogan that comes right out of scripture: “Now is the acceptable time! Now is the day of salvation!” (2 Corinthians 6:2 NLT) Everybody knows the phrase, “Today is the first day of the rest of your life!” Even Mary Poppins (in her new movie) tells us, “Today or never! That’s my motto!” The change you want to happen in your life is possible when you desire it, develop a plan for it, trust God for His power to accomplish it, and then just do it! Go ahead, go for it! Author Mary Lamb reminds us, “One year from now you will wish that you started today!”


Come to God’s StandardComments Off on Come to God’s Standard

The battle was intense. For hours there seemed to be no clear victor, until finally, the Union line broke and the soldiers in blue began to run to safety. In the fray, the Standard bearer carrying the company flag fell, mortally wounded, and the Standard lay on the blood-soaked ground. A young drummer boy observing the battle from the rear saw the colors fall. He immediately tossed his drum aside and ran against the tide of retreating soldiers. When he got to the site of his fallen comrade, he bent over and grabbed the Standard, and stood on a shattered tree trunk nearby. From there the boy waved the large company flag back and forth while bullets flew all around him. The retreating soldiers, having found the safety of cover, began to scream at the boy, “Bring the Standard back!” But the boy shouted defiantly, “No! You come to the Standard!” One by one the beaten soldiers, inspired by such heroic courage, came out from hiding and together charged the hill where the boy was and pushed the enemy into full retreat from the battle ground. We’ve seen it all around us. God’s people running from the battle for moral standards.  Scores of people – including many Christians and churches, are cowering in the fear of being labeled politically incorrect, offensive, bigoted and narrow minded. Many in the effort to not offend people, are embracing and bowing to the standards of our godless culture.   During WWII Nazi Germany exterminated over 6 million Jews, 3 million Soviet prisoners and perhaps another million or more undesirables in the shadows of towns and villages where the average citizen went about their daily routines. They saw the endless boxcars of people transported like cattle. They saw and smelled the smoke rise from the horizon. Yet for the most part, they shut their eyes to the horror going on within their reach. And through it all, the Church remained silent. A similar silence is happening today here in America. When Planned Parenthood was caught selling baby body parts for profit, there was no outcry or prophetic stand by the Church.  Should it surprise us that the Church remains mute now in the fury of politicians promoting infanticide? As if abortion used as birth control wasn’t enough, New York legislators cheered and applauded a bill that allows the snuffing out of a full term, fully developed infant after birth. It’s hard to imagine such blatant disregard for the sanctity of life and protecting human rights! It’s hard to imagine that people who so passionately embrace the science of climate change willfully choose to ignore the indisputable science of human development. When our President challenged Congress to protect these helpless pre-born children from late term abortions, and from post born murder, only half the room rose in applause while the other half sat motionless, many with scorn on their faces. I know. I hear it all the time: “Be quiet. Don’t make waves. Don’t rock the boat. Don’t be controversial or worse, politically incorrect. Let it alone. Look the other way.” Unlike our brave Christian ancestors who heroically gave their lives making a stand for Jesus Christ in declaring God’s truth to the immoral pagan cultures around them – the Church today has muffled its voice to the point where it’s not heard at all in public arenas.  We’ve been in retreat, moving God’s standards back instead of calling our culture to come to God’s standards. We have bowed our knees to our culture instead of calling our culture to its knees! Why the silence? It may be in part that if you’re in the business of growing bigger numbers of attenders, it’s not popular or “cool” to be swimming upstream against the raging current of our culture. After all, the Bible seems so narrow minded, bigoted and intolerant when it addresses the moral questions of our culture. Its truths appear antiquated, irrelevant and “out of touch” with “the real world today.” I’ve even heard respected Church leaders caution that if the Church speaks out the truth, we will lose the millennials and next generations – including our own kids and grandchildren. What if we reversed that kind of thinking and taught these next generations what the Bible really says about God’s timeless standards and the blessings that come to people and even to Nations who abide by them? The ethical conundrum and moral mayhem happening right before our eyes is the direct result of the Church’s refusal to speak with a clear, definitive prophetic voice – the timeless, eternal truths of God’s Word. It’s time for us, Christians and churches across our land, to stop running away from the fight and hiding in the safety of our church buildings, ever moving God’s standards back – and instead run into the battle together calling the people of our Nation to come to God’s standard!


New Year and ChangeComments Off on New Year and Change

With 2018 behind us, we know the year ahead will be full of life’s typical highs and lows but always hoping and praying life’s troubles will somehow skip over us and pass us by!  That’s because most of us lack a Biblical perspective of trials, troubles and suffering. We complain when the church building is too cold in the winter or too hot in the summer. We moan when our cars break down. We feel ripped off when we find ourselves pinching pennies. We feel abandoned when we face sickness, and punished when bad things roll our way.   If one would take a moment on the internet and discover the intense suffering and persecution that many Christians face daily around the world, we’d be more thankful and tolerant of life’s disruptions. Jesus told us that we would face trials, troubles, persecution and even suffering in this world.  He told His followers, “A slave is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you.”  (John 15:20 NLT) Moments later He said, “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows.” (John 16:33 NLT). God makes it pretty clear that we all go through seasons and circumstances of pain. Some more than others. Since our faith in Jesus doesn’t insulate us from trials and troubles, how should we respond to those hard times we all face living on this planet? First, we should find comfort, encouragement and strength in knowing that in the midst of our troubles and trials, we are never alone. The full verse of John 16:33 reads, “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But be of good cheer for I have overcome the world!” Though we often have no explanation for the troubles and trials that come our way, Jesus – the victor and conqueror over sin and death – is right here with us each step of the way! That means we can lean into Him and depend on Him when life gets brutally hard knowing that when we’re too weak to keep putting one foot in front of the other – He will gently lift and carry us all the way through! Jesus promised “I am with you always!” And He said, “I will never leave you or forsake you!” Second, though God is never the source of our suffering, He promises to use it for His glory and for our benefit in making us more like Jesus. The Apostle Paul wrote, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” (Romans 8:28 NLT) God can take everything life (and the devil) can throw at us, and turn it around for good!  James echoes the same truth and teaches us that in such hard times our faith, character and endurance grows stronger. “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So, let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. (James 1:2-4 NLT) Finally, realize that God never wastes our pain. He comforts us and brings us through it all so that in time, we can comfort others with the same comfort He gave us. “God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NLT) Those gut wrenching trials, troubles and suffering we experience, are often God’s springboards launching us into ministry to others. Have you, with the awesome grace and comfort of God endured the heartache of addiction? A painful divorce? Chronic illness? Loss of a child or loved one? Lose your career and job? Faced bankruptcy? Homelessness? Incarceration? Then you are equipped to share the same comfort and grace with others in the midst of their storms! You can confidently and truthfully say what most other can’t, “I know how you feel!” Why? You’ve been there! And then comes the opportunity to ministry: “Let me walk with you in this season of pain and share with you how God comforted and sustained me and got me through to the other side!”


Thomas: God’s Love Rises Above Our Problems, Struggles and Frantic LivesComments Off on Thomas: God’s Love Rises Above Our Problems, Struggles and Frantic Lives

Published December 22, 2017 2:00 PM
Religion Columnist 

After much planning and many rehearsals, the big night had arrived. As the pastor began his sermon, he asked the overflowing Christmas Eve crowd, “What one word embodies the full meaning of this special season?” On that cue, four members of the second grade Sunday School class were to walk in, each one carrying a large poster board with a letter on it. They were supposed to spell the word “STAR” — from which the pastor would build his Christmas message. As the children entered, first there was just silence in the pews, then a snicker or two, and then outright laughter.

Somehow, the kids got reversed. Confused by the response of the congregation, the pastor turned to look at the children. They proudly stood in their holiday clothes smiling and waving at family and friends — but they hadn’t spelled the word “STAR.” Instead, they had spelled “RATS.”

Unfortunately, “Rats!” could summarize the way many people feel in this hectic season of shopping the sales and rampant spending. In the holiday rush, the true meaning of the season often gets distorted or lost altogether amid the tinsel, toys and troubles.

At a time when we should be reflecting on the One who came to bring peace, joy and fulfillment in life — we find ourselves seated before a doctor trying to explain the growing anxiety and depression we are suffering. More people contemplate taking their own lives during these dark winter months than any other time of year. Instead of feeling the keen connection of family, we often feel isolated and alone. If you were feeling lonely before Christmas, watch out. That empty feeling multiplies as you watch all the Christmas specials that remind you of the family and relationships you don’t have. With these simple ways to help keep toasty indoors and out, you can better enjoy all the snowy season has to offer.

During the Christmas season, we can easily drift into comparing our lives with others around us. They seem happier, wealthier, and almost carefree! They look like they really enjoy life! But beyond outward appearances, we really have no idea of what others are going through chronic illness, loss of loved one, broken relationships, marital discord. It doesn’t have to be this way. The world may not know what this season is about, but God does. He left the glory and splendor of heaven to come to us wrapped in frail humanity. God did that as an expression of the deepest love you could ever imagine. A love for you and me. A love that rises above our problems, struggles and frantic lives. A love that calms our anxious souls, and lifts the depressed spirit. A love that clears the confusion and clatter, and points us to a life filled with purpose and meaning.

There’s a popular Christian plaque that I’ve seen many times. It reads, “I asked God, how much do You love me?” And God replied, ‘This much.’ And He stretched out His arms and died.” It’s equally true if God had said, “This much!” And He emptied Himself of His glory and came to earth as one of us!

God loves you that much. And that kind of love is more valuable than any present you can order online or find under your tree on Christmas morning.

So, take a deep breath and slow down. Look up at the stars. As big and immense as this universe is, there is a God who loves you and wants to have an intimate friendship with you. Just open your heart and tell Him how you feel. Tell Him about your emptiness, your hurts and your struggles. Let Him shower you with His love. Let God remind you of the greatest love story ever — that He had you on His mind and in His heart from the manger to the cross. Do that, and it could be the best Christmas you ever had!


Always Vote For The Perfect CandidateComments Off on Always Vote For The Perfect Candidate


Published in the Carroll County Times newspaper October 28, 2016

History records that there was a perfect candidate. He lived in every way a perfect life.

No one could find any dirt on him from the past. No scandals. No shady deals. There were no skeletons in his closet or moral failures or “ethical” wanderings. He was a simple carpenter who made chairs, tables and plows. He wasn’t a politician or community leader. He had no following or political ambitions.

In his early 30s, he hit the campaign trail. His popularity soared. He was loved by the masses. Large crowds quickly formed wherever he showed up, often begging him to speak to them. His words echoed in his listeners’ hearts as he painted life not only as it is, but what it could and should be.

He was a rebel who goaded the establishment and made enemies with traditionalists by exploding their paradigms of thought and practice. At the same time, he revered and supported the deeply established teachings and values of the ancients. He had a way with words that cut into the human soul, giving people great comfort, hope and encouragement. Someone described his speeches as being “words of life.”

He was a champion of the poor. Not just in rhetoric, but in practice as he fed thousands and healed many of their diseases. He gave the poor hope and value — and often remarked of their special place in the nation he was building. He stood valiantly against the injustices endured by the poor and disenfranchised. He included those people who society excluded. He consistently broke down racial and gender barriers that separated people from others, and from fully experiencing life. He genuinely embraced all types of people and invited them to join his movement. It became obvious that he was changing the system by changing people, one by one.

His detractors were crafty and influential. Try as they may, they just couldn’t win back the crowds. These leaders were pegged as “establishment” leaders who only cared about their place in society — and keeping their “cushy” positions of authority and respect. To protect themselves and their jobs, they secretly plotted against him. They tried again and again to outwit and trick him through verbal gymnastics and unanswerable questions about the law. But to no avail. He countered every question with powerful truths that amazed the crowds and dumbfounded the inquisitors. Eventually, the ruling party dragged him to court on false charges. The “rigged” system found him guilty! They beat him and killed him.

Then the unprecedented happened. Something no one could have predicted. This candidate, dead in the tomb for three days, rose from the grave and continued his campaign — a campaign that is every bit as alive and active now as it was then, 2,000 years ago.

As we prepare for the final days before this year’s presidential election, remember the perfect candidate who still is building a nation — a kingdom without end — who still actively seeks those who will join him on his quest of changing the hearts and lives of people; of building a world without suffering and pain, without hatred and violence, without hunger and want. He’s still looking for those who will stand with him to advocate for the poor and disenfranchised, who will love the unlovely and care for those this world excludes; who will work for justice, righteousness and peace to prevail.

No matter which candidate you vote for Tuesday, Nov. 8, make sure that in your heart you have voted “Yes!” for the perfect candidate, Jesus Christ!

The Rev. William Thomas is pastor at Hereford United Methodist Church. He can be reached at