Saturday, February 25, 2017


by Sylvia Gaston
We’ve all been there. Overloaded with what feels like a ridiculous amount of frustration in your day caused by others around you. Have you been at the end of your rope because of a family member? Or co-worker? Or even a stranger?

In fact, as I type this, I’m on, what I call “eternal hold” with a governmental agency. Now that’s to be expected EXCEPT when I called earlier they gave me the option to not wait 12-18 minutes on hold but, instead, to get a call back when it was my turn. So, I did. They called back and an automated voice put me on hold. For quite awhile. WHAT? That wasn’t the deal! I’m frustrated.

To make matters worse, I can’t multi-task and keep working while I’m on unjustifiable hold because my phone doesn’t get great reception in our brick-walled offices. So, I need to stand next to the glass doors overlooking our back alley, watching the rain form puddles…while on hold…frustrated. So, I hang up. Very frustrated.

Frustration is the feeling of being upset or annoyed, especially because of the inability to change or achieve something. It is inevitable and a part of every day life.

Sometimes, though, it feels like it stacks up in our day. Before we can decompress from one frustration, here comes another. And another. And another. Here comes wave after wave of irritation, annoyance, anger. That’s when we feel the urge to punch someone in the face.

So, what’s the solution?
Usually, our frustration is caused by people. Most of the time we have no idea what another person’s struggle is that day. Perhaps their husband just moved out, their kid is cutting themselves, they are months behind on all of their bills, they are lonely, or they just received a horrible diagnosis.

Every day our paths cross with people who are deep in the problems of life. Many are feeling hopeless, sad, desperate.

So, when I want to punch someone in the face, I think of that. God’s quiet voice speaks to me that I need to see that person through His eyes. They are His little boy or girl who is struggling and just wants to be loved. My solution is to BE KIND even when I don’t feel like it. Why? I’ll be kind because it’s the right thing to do; because our world needs more kindness more than ever. But, mostly because that’s what God wants me to do.

Over the years, I have assembled a handful of Bible verses that I recall when I need to shift my perspective or attitude. One of them is Philippians 4:8 (ERV). Brothers and sisters, continue to think about what is good and worthy of praise. Think about what is true and honorable and right and pure and beautiful and respected.

As I stood there, on eternal hold, watching the raindrops form concentric circles in the puddle in our alley, I was reminded to be kind.

I shifted my focus to see that my one raindrop of kindness will ripple out and touch those around me. But, my one raindrop of kindness won’t reach the entire puddle. However, as I watched the many raindrops fall, all rippling outward and overlapping, every square inch of that big puddle was touched.

Be a raindrop, radiating in your puddle. Be kind!

Saturday, February 18, 2017

You Can’t Stop Love

by Tim Howard 

Valentines Day has come and gone! Cards were received. Flowers were purchased. Chocolates were eaten and presents were given – in the name of ‘LOVE’

LOVE seems to be the descriptive word used to define this day for most people. Many either heard or spoke the words: ‘I love you’ to someone they care about.
Love is a verb and is activated when it does and doesn’t do certain things. Paul the Apostle in 1 Corinthians 13 says: If you really love someone on any level there are some thing you will continue to do and other things you will stop doing. He actually gives 10 descriptions of what love doesn’t do and 5 illustrations of what Love does.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.  Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. NLT

The simple truth being conveyed in these verses is: Love doesn’t remain silent. It knows when to speak up and when to shut up. It knows when to advance and when to retreat. It knows when to give and when to receive. Most important: Love never ceases! You can’t stop love!

The test of real love is not a one-day celebration. It’s not a one-time purchase of some flowers or candy. It’s not the big things but a lot of little things. The real test of true love is time! If the words ‘I love you ’ are still being acted upon in May, Sept and November – then the words spoken on February 14 might be genuine! Why? Because love never ceases – You can’t stop love.

God wants you to find true love on every level. He’s willing to teach you about the different kinds of love and how to love people as He loves people. The love of emotion is based on a desire but the love of devotion is based upon a decision. Every time a mother decides to change a baby’s diaper, even though she has no desire to do so, she exercises true love.

Whenever you decide to sacrifice something for the benefit of another by putting their needs before your own desires, you express true love. True love is a decision that never stops.

When my wife and I were married on Feb 16, 1973. – we made a commitment for better of for worse! I didn’t know what that meant back then – nor did she but we both do now.

True love is offered 24/7 and 365 days of the year. When things are good and when things are not so good.

For better or for worse! When you feel like it and when you don’t feel like it.

That’s how God loves us and that’s how we are to love Him and others. You can’t stop love!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Monday Moments

by Candace Cortez

I must admit, I love the month of February. But not because of Valentine’s Day, or even the President’s Day sales. I love February because it’s the month that means it’s no longer January! 

I have decided that January is the “Monday” of months! 

It’s true! January marks the end of the holiday season. The calendar is free of parties and festivities, which, as relieving as that seems, it can also be a little disappointing.  It’s back to the regular grind, granted (or maybe graced?) with the inspiration of a fresh start, but with the fatigue of social exhaustion! 

The month of December is much like the weekend. There are many moments with friends and family that I’m excited about. In youth ministry, I call these “post-able” moments, meaning things that happen in your life that you would take a picture of and post on Instagram or Facebook. 

I’ve come to realize that most of life is more of a January or Monday experience rather than a December experience.  As a mom of two young children, not every day is picnics and birthday parties. As a wife, not every day is our anniversary or even a date night. As a follower of Jesus, not every day is our baptism day or another mountain top experience. These are all big things. 

God has called us to be faithful with the little things. 

In Luke 16:10, Jesus tells His disciples, “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities.” This verse can be directly related to monetary stewardship, but I believe it relates to our time, talents and relationships as well. 

 My husband and I work hard to make date nights happen as often as possible, which typically means it happens about once a month. These nights we connect, laugh, share hearts, and usually eat good food. If I were to totally ignore him during the other 30 days of the month until our next opportunity to do something special, then most likely, our relationship would cease to thrive. It’s the purposeful embraces after work, the texts throughout the day, and the loving glances over our children’s head during a family movie that make up the difference. Just little things. 

As a parent, I am given around 5 hours a day (minus sleeping and regular school and work schedules) to spend on my kids. Honestly, when I count it out, it doesn’t seem like much, especially considering that those 5 hours have to include brushing teeth, cooking meals, cleaning, checking homework, basketball practice, and all the other little things that make up our day. How I feel about those moments directly effects how I invest those opportunities. I cannot wait until their birthday to let them know I love them. I have to show them in the “Monday Moments.” I have to be faithful in the dozens of little things that present themselves throughout the day. 

The same is also true of our walk with the Lord. I don’t always get to go on a retreat to reconnect with my Creator. So, I am left with a choice. I have 24 hours today. Will I be faithful with my few, and worship God even if it’s not always glamorous or post-able? Will I love God with everything on a Monday, even when the rush of Sunday is over?  Will I be faithful, as my Heavenly Father is faithful? 

So here’s my challenge for you and for me. Let’s find God in a Monday Moment this week. Doing the dishes, driving to work, walking the dog, all of these little moments count. He is there. Even on a Monday! 

Saturday, February 4, 2017

You Belong

by Tim Howard

It’s a great feeling to be around people who embrace you when you are difficult to deal with – love you when you’re not as kind as you should be and forgive you when you mess up in a big way. They may not approve of everything you are doing but their acceptance of you as someone important and significant to them is never questioned.

Jesus offered this to people. Individuals came to Him and felt comfortable in His presence. They didn’t feel judged, condemned, alienated, or out of place. He made them feel like they belonged. He challenged them, cautioned them and even corrected them at times but always with acceptance, love and a spirit of compassion. Non-religious people loved being around Jesus. If you question this fact, check out Mark 2:15 and Luke 5:29 in your Bible.

I know people who won’t come to church or follow Christ because they don’t feel good enough or worthy. They think they must change their ways first and then Jesus will accept them. The truth, however, is just the opposite. When people came to Jesus – many were anything but religious. They didn’t change first and then come to Him, they came to Jesus who welcomed them as they were and from that encounter He changed their lives forever.

The Bible is clear – You can’t make internal and eternal changes without Jesus. You may be able to alter your behavior because of self-determination and self-help books but only Jesus can change you from the inside out. All of us have things in need of being altered!  The true answer to our challenges, however, is not: ‘change then come’ but come just as you are and He will change you. Jesus invites you to come into His presence ‘just as you are.’

Here’s the irony! You would think that religious people who claim to be followers of Christ would function the same way and have the same attitude as Christ. The opposite, however, is too often – true! The religious leaders of that day were ticked off at Jesus for embracing people who weren’t like them. They required people to believe first and then they could belong. Change your behavior and then you can fit in. Become like we are and then you will be accepted. In other words: You must believe, behave and become like us before you can belong.

Allow me to simply state: Jesus did not give us that model! Romans 5 reveals that before we believed in God, before we became anything of significance; before we changed our behavior He loved us enough to send His son Jesus to help us. He died so we could belong.

In this day and age, we can’t afford to get the cart ahead of the horse.

Do we need to behave differently? Absolutely!
Do we need to believe the truth? Positively!
Do we need to become all we were created to be? Without a doubt!

But BEFORE any of these things – You belong to Him – He is your creator – and He loves you!

You Belong in God’s presence… Warts and all!