Month: September 2015

Our World- Samson: The Cost of Low Living

By Karen Polich

Judges: 13-16

You and I live in times of chaos and confusion. Moral lines are blurred and biblical foundations ignored. It really isn’t new, though at times it can feel out of control.

Pastor Michael Cook’s sermon series Our World, continued with a look at Samson. The story of Samson is one many know well, but we must not miss the lessons to be learned from the choices Samson made. Listen to the podcast here. Pastor Cook explored the cause of Samson’s fall, the collapse of his faith and the forgiveness in his comeback.

Samson was a man set aside by God. His strength was both physical and spiritual. His hair was a symbolic picture of the distinction of being a Nazarite chosen by God. The source of all of that incredible strength was the spirit of the Lord upon him.

Samson demonstrated a bundle of contradictions. Bold before men but weak before women. He was graced with the spirit of the Lord upon him, yet weak in the flesh. Samson fought the Lord’s battles by day while breaking His commandments by night. His name means sunshine, but he ended his life in darkness.

Samson’s choices charted the course of his life. Time after time Samson made decisions that were clearly outside of God’s standard. Ultimately, God still remembered him for his strengths not his failures.  (Hebrews 11:32)

Choices are made every day. Some are easy while others can be hard.

Choices can bring us closer to God or send us spiraling into darkness. If we choose low living, we will pay the price.

God has called us to something more. He has called us to a life beyond our imagination when we choose Him first.

Like Samson, we have been given the ability to choose. Even if we had made the wrong choices in the past, we serve a loving God who forgives. Despite the chaos in this world, we can choose Him.

What will you choose today?

An Unusual Follower

By LuAnn Edwards

Has someone or something ever followed you around? Perhaps a small child who idolizes you or a pet that stays close to your heels? What about a duck?

We were living on a farm in Tennessee, and our back porch overlooked a small pond. I loved to stroll down by the pond and sit along the edge watching turtle heads pop up in the water. Sometimes a duck or two would visit. One year, I had a very special encounter with a beautiful male mallard.

He arrived at the pond one day. I slowly approached so I wouldn’t scare him off. He quickly swam away as I gently talked to him and tried to coax his return to the water’s edge. The next day, I brought him a treat of bread crumbs. As I tossed them into the water, I could see him watching me, but he kept his distance. After a few minutes, I left him alone to enjoy his treat and continued to watch him from the back porch.

This became a daily ritual. I brought out the bread, he would swim away until I left him alone, and then he would come up to eat. After a few more days, he started to swim towards me along the edge of the pond when he saw me approaching. Just as this duck’s trust in me was growing, we can trust the Lord is always near to care for us and know He does not want to harm us in any way.

Apparently, one day the duck thought I was taking too long to get outside so he decided to come and find me. We were inside the house and heard a tap, tap, tap on our sliding glass doors. This little duck was knocking with his beak! He wanted to spend time with me. He was ready and waiting for my visit and my treat. Didn’t Jesus say, “…knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7 NIV)? I opened my door to the duck and met his need. Jesus opens His door to us welcoming us with open arms. He supplies all our needs as well. We should persistently seek Him, hunger for His Word, and spend time in fellowship with Him.

Some people have dogs that follow them everywhere; not me, I had a duck! There were times when I would be walking down our long driveway, turn around and the duck would be following behind. It was the cutest thing! Jesus wants us to follow after Him, too. He said, “Come, follow me…” (Matthew 4:19 NIV). We can faithfully follow after Him and strive to fulfill His plans for our lives.

Something became more important to the duck than spending time with me. He flew away never to be seen again. I believe, however, there is no better place to be than in the presence of Jesus following after Him in complete trust.

When you come to Him and follow Him, He will never leave you. You can trust Him to always be there for you, wherever you are, in whatever circumstances you face.

Psalm 9:10 “Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you” (NIV).

This blog was originally posted on

Our World – Jephthah: Leader from the Wrong Side of the Tracks

By Karen Polich

Guilt is real, but grace is wonderful and forgiveness is free and full.– Michael M. Cook.

Pastor Michael Cook discussed what we can learn from God’s choice of Jephthah to lead His people. Listen to the podcast here and read about Jephthah in Judges 11.

There are three marks of Jephthah’s character that we can apply to our own lives.

  1. In the face of great difficulties, he showed character. Jephthah could have used his past as an excuse for poor behavior. For us, we must not blame our background or circumstances. We get to choose each day how we will live.
  2. In the face of great danger, have confidence. Jephthah did not let what he was facing intimidate him. His first focus before facing his enemies in battle was on prayer. We need to focus on God and stay connected to Him. People of faith are people of prayer.
  3. In the face of great disappointment, he showed commitment. Jephthah had made a commitment to the Lord and he stuck to it. When we start something, we should see it through. The integrity of our word matters.

In this messed up, upside down world, we can learn much from Jephthah about developing our character. Wherever you are today, there is a loving God that desires the best for you. (Jeremiah 29:11) His Word never changes and you can count on Him in all things.

Preparing for Battle

By LuAnn Edwards

With the recent release of the movie “War Room,” the importance of prayer and my desire to be a “Miss Clara” moved me to search the scriptures for some fundamental principles regarding prayer. When troubles are all around us and our lives are being shaken by disturbing circumstances, we need to be on our knees praying for God’s intervention. It is time to take a stand and fight for what God promised us in His Word. To pray effectively, we must prepare ourselves for battle by building up our faith, walking in love and forgiveness, and submitting daily to Christ, which includes bearing fruit.

Mark 11:22 says, “Have faith in God…” Mark 11:24 goes on to say, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

To have true faith in God, there is no room for doubt and unbelief. We must give ourselves to Him in total surrender and spend time in fellowship with Him. Our unbelief will fade away, and we will accept His Word as truth. We may then come before Him and make our requests known to Him in confidence that He will hear us.

“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins” (Mark 11:25).

Prayer and love go hand-in-hand.

We need a good relationship with others for our prayers to make an impact. Are we walking in love and kindness? Or, are we holding onto anger, bitterness and unforgiveness? If we are refusing to forgive, we are not walking in obedience. Forgiveness is a choice we make showing God’s love in action. Why do we think God will answer our prayers if we are unwilling to obey and forgive?

John 15:7-8 says, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit showing yourselves to be my disciples.”

We need a life fully submitted to the Lord to pray life-changing prayers.

Are our thoughts and actions pleasing to Him? Are we bearing fruit through our lives? It is not the eloquent words or phrases we use; it is our daily walk and commitment to Christ, living His Word, which allows us the opportunity to pray and believe our prayers reach Him and will be answered.

There are many other scriptures that teach us how to pray. These include 1 John 5:14—pray according to God’s will, Philippians 4:6—pray with thanksgiving, 1 Thessalonians 5:17—pray continually, and Matthew 6:6—pray in secret. It is time to enter our war rooms and fight our battles on our knees. Are we ready? Are we growing in faith? Are we loving and forgiving others? Are we fully submitted to Christ and bearing fruit? Prayer is a powerful weapon. We need to prepare ourselves for battle before we can fight!

Our World: Stumbling at the Finish Line

By Karen Polich

Everyone has troubles. Some are part of everyday life. (Ecclesiastes, a time for everything). But, there are many that come from a greater power.

Have you thought about how much of our life is tracked and monitored? The idea that my every move is tracked annoys me. Interests, demographics, location, shopping habits (even online window shopping), every address I’ve ever been attached to, education…the list just keeps going. The world’s tracking methods are endless. While it all annoys me, the impact is minimal.

Satan is the ultimate tracker. This enemy knows us. He knows the stuff that matters and seeks to use it when we are at our weakest. While he is not the authority, he does hit us in the weak spots with the plan of us falling into sin. Sin that will do tremendous damage, full of consequences and pain. The impact is more than minimal.

Pastor Michael Cook’s Our World sermon series took us to Judges 8  and another look at Gideon.  Gideon had almost completed his victory over the Midianites. In Judges 8, we see Gideon at the finish line. From victory forward. The hurdles he faced are things we must be aware of in our lives. Listen to the podcast here.

Hurdles at the finish line can cause us to fall flat.

Criticism can be handled best with a humble heart. (Proverbs 15:1) Handling criticism with discernment helps us understand the real motive of the critic. When we bring a tactful answer, it can breakdown the hurdle and we can take our hurt to God instead of escalating the situation.

How hard is it to control our tongues and our temper? (Ouch!) Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city. Proverbs 16:32

Contempt can hit us hard. It’s a hurdle that can bring the erosion of what was once good. Sometimes we return it to someone who has hurt us. When we get hurt, our fallen nature can raise its ugly head. Sadly, there will be times when our own will disappoint and hurt us. Even in that disappointment, we should not be derailed from God’s purpose. We must continue to move forward.

Compromise is a hurdle that can turn into a trap. Gideon said he did not want to be king, but he lived like one. Compromise spiritually, morally or domestically destroys everything in its path.

We will all have our own hurdles. Be aware. We should seek God for protection and discernment. Our hurdles are not random. They come where the hit will count and we are likely to fall.

We must not yield to temptation. We must stand firm and be strong. Some hurdles are easy to see because they are hard, but there are hurdles that will deceive. Things like success and popularity can become a hurdle that brings us to the ground if our focus is not on God.

Seek God day by day. He is the ultimate authority. In Him, we can stand firm and be strong, avoiding the stumble at the finish line.



Whoops, Naughty Gene!

By Karl Lee

…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God … Romans 3:23NIV

Here is something to ponder.  I am at times amazed at what humanist thinking comes up with. It is even more surprising that so-called smart people believe it.  On May 27, 2015 the CBS This Morning Show had a guest geneticist on their program.  The geneticist alleged that they had located an infidelity (unfaithfulness) gene within the DNA.

To me it seems to open up a whole lot of possibilities.  I would suppose that same anomaly would apply to a person being licentious.  I’m wondering if there is one abnormal gene how many more might there be within any genetic makeup.

If I pause and think for a moment, I may be able to excuse any and all of my “short comings” by claiming I have a naughty gene. Therefor it’s not my fault.  Now that’s an interesting thought, isn’t it?

Should we carry that thought further? Based on the alleged findings by that reparable geneticist there appears to be a host of unusual genes.  There could be an abnormal gene for murders, thieves, those who would like to change their sex, and the list can go on and on.  They too, can plead it is not their fault; it is their genetic composition.

I also wonder what would have happened and how would the network have responded if that same geneticist said to her host, “I believe that I have found the “sin‘” gene; the one passed down to us by our original parents, Adam and Eve?

It is amazing how the world can transfer sin into some innocent and non-threatening word. Should we acknowledge “sin” it would cause us to change or to ignore it.  The Bible tells us “all have sinned.” It also tells us to confess it.

What are your thoughts?

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9 (NIV)




Why Evangelism Matters

By Karen Polich

Evangelism is the fabric of followers of Christ.                    – Kevin Linthicum

The idea of evangelism causes most of us to stop dead in our tracks. Me, share the Gospel? The thought can paralyze us and drive terror through our minds, but it shouldn’t. The enemy would have us remain silent. He smiles as we sit in silence. Breaking our silence means communicating the life changing power of Christ.

On Sunday, Pastor Kevin Linthicum shared 12 Reasons to Share the Gospel. Listen to the podcast here.
1. Jesus commanded it. “But what about you?” He asked. “Who do you say I am?” Matthew 16:15. Enough said, but here’s more.
2. The Apostles commanded it. (2 Timothy 4:2-5) Keep your head in all situations.
3. Many people will be encouraged because of the truth of God’s Word.
4. It creates opportunity to work with and for God. (Luke 10:2) Not only are we called into the fields, but there is nowhere we can go outside of the fields. We should be seeking to do what God is asking of us.
5. It precedes baptism and salvation. (Mark 16:16)
6. It proves our love for Jesus Christ. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. John 15:12-14.
7. Evangelism opens the door for healing to take place. (Luke 10:9)
8. It is the gateway of repentance and remission of sins. (Luke 24:47) God IS the authority, not majority opinion.
9. It brings understanding of scripture to humanity. (Acts 8:30) Our evangelism efforts may bring new understanding to someone’s life.
10. It causes the Holy Spirit to move. (Acts 10:44)
11. It is the fruit of righteousness. (Proverbs 11:30) It should break our hearts when someone we care about doesn’t know Christ.
12. Evangelism unites nations, races and cultures by reconciling humanity to God through Christ. There are NO boundaries.

What do we need to share the Gospel? We need obedience. That’s it! Everything else God will give us. He will give opportunities, words and His presence. We are called to reach out.

Jesus has commanded us to be a light in this dark world. How can we choose to be anything less?

Learn more about Time for One here.

Because He Loves Us (Part 2)

By Robin Thomas

O, how He loves you and me
O, how He loves you and me
He gave His life
What more could He give
O, how He loves you; O, how He loves me
O, how He loves you and me
Words and Music by Kurt Kaiser

Inexplicably, He loves us and His love for us elevates us to a new status. It gives us value and worth and significance. What an amazing truth. Through the eyes of His love, we become more than the sum of our parts.

Because He feels so strongly about us, He loves to spend time with us. I’m always ridiculously pleased when my cat, Jasmine seeks me out to spend time with me. No matter where I am in the house, she will be somewhere close by. She will find a spot near me and just sit there close to me, purring with her eyes closed in perfect contentment.

There doesn’t seem to be anything else in it for her — she just enjoys being close to me. Sometimes she snuggles up next to me in bed or sits on my chest and purrs into my ear. I just love having that proximity to her.

In the same way, God is blessed when we seek Him out, and take time out of whatever we’re doing to just sit close to Him. We can talk to Him, or we can just be quiet and still with Him. I think I need to take Jasmine’s example more often and work on learning to just sit at His feet and enjoy being in His presence the way she enjoys being in mine, to listen when He tells me something or just pour out my heart to Him.

I’m still internalizing the concept. I really want to comprehend that perfect love because I want to turn it around and give it back to Him.

I think about my kids, Elizabeth and Robert, and how they demonstrate their love for me and how much I would hate it if our relationship was merely one based on respect. It wouldn’t be the same at all. I lavish love on them and they return it back to me. This should be the model for my relationship with Jesus. I don’t want to wait until heaven to learn to love Him more. I want to start now. I want my love for Him to consume my life.

I might still struggle with the concept of just how much God loves us, loves me, but when we think about the words to Kurt Kaiser’s song it helps us realize just how much He loves us. Why on earth would He die for us? Because He loves us.

Our World – Four Steps to Triumph

By Karen Polich

Fear suits you for failure. Faith suits you for triumph. – Michael M. Cook

Are you seeking triumph in your life? Pastor Michael Cook’s message gave us four steps to a triumphant life. Listen to the Our World sermon series here. To be triumphant, we must guard ourselves against spiritual defeat. Unexpected temptation, undetected weakness and an unprotected life will destroy triumph. Discernment and focus on God matters.

Four Steps to Triumph
1. Vision. We must meet with God. Triumph never comes when we are focused on the enemy. If we spend all of our time watching the enemy, what time is left for God? When we turn to God and spend time alone with Him, we can go out with courage and face whatever the day brings.
2. Valor. We must step into a courageous position. Paralyzed with fear? God won’t use you. Fear and faith cannot coexist. Faith brings triumph. Is there anything you are not doing because of fear? God did not give us a spirit of timidity.
3. Vigilance. We need shrewd awareness. Are we paying attention? God will thin the ranks. Don’t live in fear, but don’t be careless. Be aware. God won’t use cowards or the careless. Discernment is critical. God will test us on the little things when no one is looking.
4. Vitality. We need inner strength. It is not who you are, but Whose you are. We forget God uses the broken that we would throw away. God’s call often comes in the moment of brokenness. Look back on life. Has God ever broken you? What have you broken in someone else’s life?

Pastor Michael Cook took us into the story of Gideon in Judges 6-7 to demonstrate how we can triumph. Listen to the message here to go deeper into God’s Word. God’s people cried out and God used Gideon to save them.

God uses the ordinary to accomplish the extraordinary so He can get the glory. – Michael M. Cook