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Faith

Faith

Grandparents’ joy, Christmas edition

Wayde and I absolutely love being grandparents. Our hearts stop when Jordana and Johnathan reach out their little arms to us, when they cry out, “GiGi…Papa!” I’m constantly taking pictures. I want to record, to remember every moment. They grow up so fast. So, I got our pictures taken for Christmas; it was a beautiful morning. We had gotten up early to make sure we were ready in time, gathering some last-minute items to hopefully hold the babies’ attention so we could obtain that perfect picture. As we pulled up to the tree farm, I could just make out the top of the camper through the trees. I was excited to see the scene that our photographer, Kristi Crawford, had created for this season’s shoot. She did not disappoint us. It gave the feeling of being on a cozy winter holiday, far away from all the complications of life. Continue reading

Marlon Furtado

Ask people on the street for their opinion about the Bible and you’ll probably hear four very different answers. One response will likely state that the Bible is a good history book but not to be applied to modern life. A second group discounts the veracity of the Bible because it contains accounts of miracles, which puts the Bible in the same category as fairy tales. A third group of people thinks the Bible is only a rule book, giving moral advice that may be unrealistic for today. And a fourth group believes the Bible to be God’s love letter to every person of every generation in every culture. Do any of these responses sound like yours?

If I was asked today, I’d be among this fourth group. But this hasn’t always been the case. Until I was nearly twenty I lived as though the Bible was completely irrelevant to my life. I had absolutely no interest in its content. What changed? One night I heard that after I died, Continue reading

Marlon Furtado

I’d like to suggest that there is a common misconception among us Christ-followers. I hear it when someone says, “I’m a better person since I’ve come to know Christ.” What we mean is that we don’t do the same outward things that we did before surrendering to Christ. Now, I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with being happy that we don’t do the same things that once brought us shame and embarrassment. But that doesn’t make us better people than those who haven’t come to know Christ and His forgiveness yet.

This error is insidious because it gives the impression that we don’t struggle with sin as much anymore. This leads to the misconception that we don’t need Jesus daily as much anymore. In effect, we’re thanking Jesus for our ticket to get in the door of heaven, but we’re also implying that we can handle the rest of life fairly well on our own. Continue reading

Marlon Furtado

Most of us don’t like the term “surrender”. It reminds us of our younger days when the playground bully had us in a headlock and taunted us to give up. On a much larger scale, wars rage between countries until one of them finally capitulates to the other. Surrender is always an admission of defeat. And no one likes to admit defeat.

But surrendering isn’t always a bad thing. It all depends on to whom I’m surrendering. It’s not a bad thing if it’s to God that I give in and stop fighting. Every Christ-follower experiences an internal battle between two opposing sides, his old nature and the Spirit of God. Notice what Galatians 5:17 says, “For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.” There is a conflict, a battle, because my old nature is still proud and selfish and wants my will to be done more than it wants God’s will. Like it or not, life seems to be a series of lessons to teach me to surrender my plans and my will over to God so that He can accomplish His plans through me. Continue reading

Connie McClellan

Sandy Snavely

Masterpiece – The Art of Finishing Well, began with a call on the hearts of two women who said ‘yes’ to producing a conference for women over 50.
Nearly a year later that call was brought to fruition, as approximately 250 women gathered together at Grace Community Church for an full day of heartfelt worship led by Maxine Lawrence and her incredible team of musicians, two keynote messages by Connie McClellan and Sandy Snavely, who drew life-changing messages from the life of Paul, whose letters to Timothy set the hearts for all of God’s women on finishing well. Continue reading

The writer of Psalm 139 must have given some thought to where Creator God exists. He concluded that God is everywhere. He was convinced that God knew everything about him ‒ his location, what he was doing, and where he was going. If he was content having Creator God knowing all of this, it must have been comforting.

I have been noticing how evidence of the Creator is everywhere. The colorful leaves of fall reveal just one phase of their life, which began with green buds that grew and became contributors to the oxygen that we breathe. Soon they will be in compost piles, helping to prepare the soil for other plants to grow. Continue reading

Marlon Furtado

Have you ever been sitting at an outdoor cafe watching people walk by, or walking down a crowded sidewalk, when the thought suddenly flashes in your mind, “None of these people know you. How significant are you, anyway?” I know that it’s happened to me many times. The thought may be fleeting, but it’s an important question for each of us. The way in which a person answers it is critical. In my opinion, most people don’t have an adequate answer. They try to convince themselves of their significance, or value, by quickly reviewing their accomplishments and how many people they have helped. They may also look for their significance in their job or education or bank account or social standing. Continue reading

Marlon Furtado

A friend of mine enjoys camping in the middle of the woods, alone and far away from people. It doesn’t matter to him if it’s clear, raining, or snowing. He loves to wake up to a cool morning, smell the fresh air, build a campfire and cook his breakfast. Myself, I prefer waking up in my own bed, building a fire in the woodstove, having a cup of freshly brewed coffee, and cooking breakfast in the microwave.

Though I’m not much for camping, I have observed the New Testament uses the imagery of a tent to describe the physical body. This is an appropriate euphemism since tent-life is temporary for most of us. I’m sure you’ve noticed that as we age, the condition of our tent changes. Mine sure has. Once strong and flexible, it now sags and is much weaker and fragile. But, regardless the current age or condition of our tent, there is coming a day when it will be packed up and we will go home. Continue reading

Marlon Furtado

As parents watch their young children argue and fight with one another, they have a nagging worry that they might grow up and not like their siblings. Thankfully, in many of our families, the children learn to get along and grow up to love one another. The Bible lets us peer into one family in which this was not the case. Rather, there was deception and bitterness in the home. The father’s name was Jacob and his story is recorded in the book of Genesis. He fathered a large family through four different women, all of whom lived in his home at the same time! [Talk about a dysfunctional family!] Of the four women, he loved Rachel the most. She had trouble getting pregnant, so his first ten boys and one daughter were born by the other three. Finally, Rachel gave birth to his eleventh son and named him Joseph. Continue reading

Did you know the Bible is a love story? At first glance, it can seem like a thick history book filled with random people, hard-to-follow rules, and nearly impossible stories. But at its core, the Bible is a love story between God and people. It also includes human romance, and one such story is captured in the short book of Ruth. Hidden within its handful of pages is one of the most significant and intriguing concepts of the entire Bible: the kinsman-redeemer. If that term sounds foreign to you, let me show you how it applies to each and every one of us today.

Ruth, for whom the book is named, was raised in the land of Moab, southeast of Israel. The two nations were not always on friendly terms. While she was young, a famine hit all of Israel, resulting in some families moving to her country to survive. A family with two boys moved from Bethlehem to Ruth’s hometown. One of the boys fell in love with Ruth and married her, but in the span of ten short years, he and his brother and their dad had all Continue reading

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