Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear you are more valuable than many sparrows. ” -Matthew 10:29-31 (NAS)

For the last eight months I have been the interim pastor at the First Baptist Church of Montezuma, Georgia. This week, one of the elderly men in the church had a massive heart attack. Jack was in the

army during World War II and was part of the Greatest Generation.

Now he lay in an intensive care unit, connected to tubes and depending on a respirator for life.

Last night I stayed up late with Jack’s son in the hospital. I drove home and fell into a deep sleep. As dawn broke, I was jerked awake by the flutter of wings and a small object flying across our bedroom.

Somehow a sparrow had entered our house and was now trapped inside. The bird was seeking the nearest light flooding through a bathroom window. Carefully, I entered the bathroom and dosed the door.

There was the poor sparrow, plastered against the dosed window glass and trembling in fright. There was no escape.

Slowly I moved toward the bird, and it flew to the sink and minor. I carefully opened the window and walked quietly out of the room, closing the door behind me. When I returned, I found the sparrow gone

and was delighted that it was now free.

Several minutes later the phone rang and Jack’s son told me that his father had taken his last breath. I instantly thought of the bird. Death is not a closed door but an open window, not the end of life but the


God, may I live my lift confident that the best is yet to be and that You are good!

-Scott Walker

Digging Deeper: Isaiah 31:5; John 5:24




–  Old pacifists never die, they just go to peaces.

–  Old photographers never die, they just stop developing.

–  Old pilots never die, they just go to a higher plane.

–  Old policemen never die, they just cop out.

–  Old printers never die, they’re just not the type.

–  Old programmers never die, they just branch to a new address.



Friday, July 20

We also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance …. -Romans 5:3 (NKJV)

Adversity does not build character; it reveals it,” American novelist James Lane Allen is credited with saying.

I wondered if that was true. Didn’t adversity make us stretch beyond ourselves, so we would get to a better place?

My body strained. Muscles complained. Four weeks after disk-replacement surgery in my spine, I was okayed by the doctor to start exercising again .. After several months of forced inactivity due to injuries, stretching was my number one priority for getting my mobility back. “Reach a little farther than you’re comfortable with and then hold it for thirty seconds,” the physical therapist instructed. “It’s as

simple as that.”

My muscles trembled as I held on. Finally, time was up. I got up and walked around. Immediately, I felt freer. The stiffness that had locked up my movement had been reduced. Maybe that’s why God is always right there, just out of our reach. It’s so we have to stretch beyond ourselves toward Him.

It’s not only good for my muscle tone, but it’s good for my spirit too.

Lord, please help me stay the course and remember I am gaining strength in difficult times. Help me grow as I stretch out to You.

-Erika Bentsen

Digging Deeper; 1 Chronicles 29:12; Romans 8:18-21;

2 Corinthians 12:9-10



Marriage Secrets

People ask us the secret of our long marriage. It’s really quite simple. Two evenings a week we take time out to go to a restaurant. A quiet dinner, soft music, some candlelight, a slow walk home…She goes Tuesdays; I go Friday.


It was mealtime during our trip on a small airline in the Northwest. “Would you like dinner?” the flight attendant asked the man seated in front of me.

“What are my choices?” he asked.

“Yes or no,” she replied.


Thursday, July 19

There are companions to keep one company, and there is a friend more devoted than a brother. -Proverbs 18:24 (JPS)

I had purchased an Alex Beattie needlepoint canvas of The First Day of Creation, starting it before my husband, Keith, became ill and picking it up again after I began to recover from his death. The beauty

of the design helped to heal me, so as soon as I found out that this canvas was the first in a series covering six days of creation, I phoned to purchase the next five. Somehow the idea of re-creating all that splendor gave me a sense of peace.

The person taking my order told me that day six was sold out, and the artist didn’t think he would return to the series. I bought days two, three, four, and five and asked to be put on a list so that if Beattie ever

rereleased day six again, I could get it.

The canvases exceeded my expectations. As soon as I finished the first, I began work on the second, which surprised me by being even more beautiful, as if I had never realized that creation became lovelier as it went on. I was sad I would have to stop once I finished the flfth canvas, that I would never finish the series.

I mentioned it to my friend Dawn, who thought about it for a short time and then said, “It’s appropriate, really.”

“Why?” I asked.

She smiled. “Because creation is really never finished.”

Thank You, God of Creation, for including friends among Your gifts to us.

-Rhoda Blecker

Digging Deeper: Job 42:10



A Jewish lady named Mrs. Rosenberg who many years ago was stranded late one night at a fashionable resort – one that did not admit Jews.

The desk clerk looked down at his book and said, “Sorry, no room. The hotel is full.” The Jewish lady said, “But your sign says that you have vacancies.” The desk clerk stammered and then said curtly, “You know that we do not admit Jews. Now if you will try the other side of town…”

Mrs. Rosenberg stiffened noticeable and said, “I’ll have you know I converted to your religion.”

The desk clerk said, “Oh, yeah, let me give you a little test. How was Jesus born?”

Mrs. Rosenberg replied, “He was born to a virgin named Mary in a little town called Bethlehem.”

“Very good,” replied the hotel clerk. “Tell me more.”

Mrs. Rosenberg replied, “He was born in a manger.”

“That’s right,” said the hotel clerk. “And why was he born in a manger?”

Mrs. Rosenberg said loudly, “Because some thoughtless hotel clerk wouldn’t give a Jewish lady a room for the night!”


Wednesday, July 18

Test me, Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind …. -Psalm 26:2 (NIV)

Gabriel and I sat under the shade of our old maple. I read, and my ten-year-old Cub Scout whittled.

“What are you making?” I asked.

He held up a stick that had a thick bottom and an upper part that split to a V.

“I don’t know,” he said. “Maybe a slingshot. Or a rabbit. The top could be ears.”

His dimpled grin warmed me. He tipped his blond head and went back to whittling. His wrists flicked, and bits of bark flecked off and fell into the long, cool grass. J let my book rest on my lap and watched, and as I did I thought of the Psalm I had read earlier in the day: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life” (Psalm 139:23-24, NLT).

I adore the relationship between David and God. Because David is secure, standing in the safety of their love, he offers a bold prayer. His desire to be upright before the Lord is as powerful as his need for breath. He knows that God is just, and he also knows God’s love. This must be the kind of prayer that the Lord delights in-an invitation to shape the human spirit with holy hands.

 “Look at this, Mom!” Gabriel said, holding up a stripped stick. “I’m going with the rabbit. It’s not finished, but it’s a start.”

I could see it! Undeniable beauty is revealed through the process of paring.

Search me, Lord. Remove what isn’t pleasing and lead me. Amen.

-Shawnelle Eliasen

Digging Deeper: Job 13:23; 1 Corinthians 11:28




Men are like slinkies…….not really good for anything but you still can’t help but smile when you see one tumble down the stairs.


Church sign: Jesus Saves!  Safeway sign across the street: Safeway saves you more!

(For the group of ladies called Moms Who Care and pray for the children in school). When their meeting was cancelled one week: “There will be no Moms who care this week.”

This one I said myself during the congregational prayer when leading prayer for our unsaved loved ones:  Father, we just want to pray for our unloved saved ones.

Please welcome Pastor Don, a caring individual who loves hurting people.


The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. -Isaiah 11:6 (KJV)

My friend Mary leads Bible Witness Camp for girls each summer, and there’s always something new to learn.

“Do any of you hold grudges?” she asks the girls.

As a leader, I’m tempted to answer, but remain silent.

Several of the campers raise their hands. Mary chooses one of the campers and places a basketball in a girl’s open palms. It’s comical to watch as she balances the balls with her outstretched arms. “My arms are getting tired,” the girl whines.

“But you have to hold on to the balls. Those are your grudges.” Then Mary picks up a bag of candies. The other girls sigh with delight. “Hold out your hands,” Mary says and pours candies into their outstretched hands. “These are the blessings of the Lord.” The blessings are beautiful to behold-showers of red, blue, yellow, green, and orange.

It is a lesson for the girls, but I look into my own heart. What grudges am I holding on to? The ones that come to mind first are childhood memories to protect me from those who hurt me, abused me.

Mary lifts the two balls from the camper’s hands and replaces them with candy. I’m not a girl anymore. I’m safe, and I don’t need grudges to protect me. I forgive and then feel a weight lift from my shoulders.

My hands are open now, ready to receive blessings.

Lord, show us the weights that we carry, grudges that are invisible to us. Give us the courage to forgive, then shower Your beautiful blessings on us!

-Sharon Foster

Digging Deeper: Ezekiel 34:26-27; Matthew 6:14-15; Luke 18:17




–  Walt Disney didn’t die.  He’s in suspended animation.

–  Old white water rafters never die, they just get disgorged.

–  Old wrestlers never die, they just lose their grip.

–  There is no conclusive evidence about what happens to old skeptics, but their future is doubtful.

–  Old preachers never die, they just ramble on, and on, and on, and on….

–  Old ministers never die, they just get put out to pastor…



Joy and Peace Will Guard Our Hearts

For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock, -Psalm 27:5 (ESV)

Sarah handed me a pair of scissors right as I walked in the front door. ‘Take a big piece off from wherever you want.”

She turned around and showed me other places on her head where huge chunks of hair were missing.

I took a deep breath and dosed my eyes. Sarah’s smiling face urged me forward. I snipped a large chunk off the top, staring as tufts of brown hair floated to the floor and landed in a pile around her green flip-flops.

I blinked back tears and looked into her eyes, expecting to see anguish. Instead, I saw peace. Pure, God-given peace that seemed to hover in the air, making what would otherwise be a terrible evening one of laughter, of joy even.

She took the scissors out of my hand and gave them to my ten-year-old, who wavered between relishing the idea of being allowed to hack off a chunk of an adult’s hair and fear that there would be repercussions. But there weren’t. And his wide eyes turned to laughing eyes as he sheared off what was left of Sarah’s bangs.

And so the night progressed, one snip after another, until Sarah’s hair was a mottled mess of missing chunks and frazzled tufts. And then came the grand finale: her hushband shaved her head.

We all watched and cheered. Sarah laughed. And the torment of what could have been terrible-chemo stealing away my beautiful friend’s hair-was replaced by a peace that transcended understanding.

Lord, be our peace and joy in otherwise desperate situations. Amen.

-Erin MacPherson

Digging Deeper: Isaiah 41:10; 1 Peter 5:7




–  Old mathematicians never die, they just disintegrate.

–  Old milkmaids never die, they just lose their whey.

–  Old musicians never die, they just get played out.

–  Old number theorists never die, they just get past their prime.

–  Old numerical analysts never die, they just get disarrayed.

–  Old owls never die, they just don’t give a hoot.


A Fiend loves at all times …. -Proverbs 17: 17 (NIV)

Knee-high weeds suffocated the carrot patch. The larger, quicker- growing vegetable plants like cucumbers and beans had been easier to protect with mulch. However, carrots with their wispy foliage

disappeared under rampant weeds. Seven months’ pregnant, I could no longer bend over to yank them. Even in could, my toddler and infant demanded all my energy not already sapped by the ninety-degree heat.

This year’s carrots were a dead loss.

When my friend Sonya dropped by one sweltering afternoon, I was too wiped out to be embarrassed by my weed patch. Sonya’s garden, by contrast, deserved a color spread in a glossy magazine.

“Looks like you could use some help,” she murmured.

“Oh, Sonya, you do not have to pull my weeds. Just let them go.”

So many times Sonya had come to my rescue. When we adopted our first child, she mentored me on feeding, fevers, and “normal.” When I had the flu, she sent over dinner and collected my children for a play-date. She taught me how to hang wallpaper and stitch buttonholes by machine. Now these detestable weeds had brought her again to my aid.

“I’ll be here early tomorrow morning, when it’s cool. I know what it’s like to be pregnant with a garden!”

At six thirty the next morning, I found Sonya smiling and tearing out my weeds. The more the trash sacks bulged with weeds, the more feathery carrot tops emerged in neat rows. Thus revived, my carrots

continued to grow far into October and fed us until February. They tasted doubly sweet that season: thanks to good earth and a true friend who did a very dirty job out of love.

 Lord, l find Your love everywhere-even in a weed patch.

-Gail Thorell Schilling

Digging Deeper: Job 6:14; Matthew 7:12




I was commuting from the Borough of Queens to my job in Manhattan.  I’d finished reading the morning paper and was saving it to bring to friends on the job. How do you save a newspaper on the subway?  You sit on it.  A new commuter came in, saw the newspaper under my rear and asked the second most stupid question I’ve ever heard (someday I may tell of the first), “Are you reading that paper?”  I stood up, turned the page, sat down on the paper and answered, “Yes.


For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving …. -1 Timothy 4:4 (NIV)

Please, Logan, we. don’t need to save it,” I plead with my seven-year- old grandson, who holds a flattened pinecone.

“But I want to keep it,.” he whines.

I give in because Logan is a collector. Our back porch is loaded with evidence to prove it.

On a recent trip to the beach, he returned with a bucket of seashells and sand dollars, many broken; a huge horseshoe crab shell (which is pretty cool, I must say); some seaweed; and something that looks like a bone.

He also has a bug collection, one I avoid and delegate to my husband, Chuck, to admire. Of course, some of those bugs were alive when he caught them, but they didn’t do well as pets.

To Logan, these things are treasures; I bite my tongue to refrain from calling them “junk.” They’re important to him, and I appreciate his childhood fascination.

What I really value is that these treasures are all part of the natural world. He is captivated by the beauty and uniqueness in things I’ve long ignored. What’s more, I’ve begun to notice things I had never

seen: the design of a shell, the colors of a lizard, the spiky uniformity of a sweet gum tree ball-features I see as evidence of a creative God.

Having raised three sons already, I know how fleeting these little-boy years are. Logan will eventually lose interest in his collections, and I’ll have a clean porch. But until then, I’m learning to cherish his treasures.

Thank You, God, for a child’s perspective to open my eyes to the intricate details of Your creation. May I never take these wonders for granted.

-Marilyn Turk

Digging Deeper: Colossians 1:16; Revelation 4:8-12




One day in heaven, the Lord decided he would visit the earth and take a stroll. Walking down the road, the Lord encountered a man who was crying.  The Lord asked the man, “Why are you crying,my son?”

The man said that he was blind and had never seen a sunset. The Lord touched the man and he could see and he was happy.

As the Lord walked  further, he met another man crying and asked, “Why are you crying, my son?”

The man was born a cripple and was never able to walk. The Lord touched him and he could walk and he was happy.

Farther down the road, the Lord met another man who was crying and asked, “Why are you crying, my son?” The man said, “Lord, I work for the Government,” and the Lord sat down and cried with him.


 God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin. -1 Corinthians 1:30 (NLT)

On a family vacation, I lost my credit card halfway through the trip. I tore apart the rental car to find it. No luck. Labels from my childhood immediately raised their ugly little heads: Stupid, Dummy.

Five days later, I lost my driver’s license after making it through airport security, something I discovered only after boarding an aircraft and flying home. Where could it be? Did I leave it on the plane? At

The airport? The old labels practically screamed: Stupid! Dummy!

I know I’m not, and on a deeper level I know that Jesus Christ became for me the wisdom from God (1 Corinthians 1:30). God says I share Christ’s wisdom; He says I “have the mind of Christ” (I Corinthians 2: 16). The ugly labels don’t apply, yet there they were, sticking to me like a gooey mess.

My wife, Margi, encouraged me. “You just have a lot on your plate. Don’t worry about it.” She was right. I knew those names from my past didn’t apply. I am who God says I am, and He says I’m perfect in His

sight. I just had to see myself that way.

I smiled, leaned over in the rental car, and gave her a kiss. “Thanks for the reminder.”

Heavenly Father, help me to see myself as You see me- through Christ. Amen.

-Bill Giovannetti

Digging Deeper: Ephesians 2:4-7





Church sign: Jesus Saves!  Safeway sign across the street: Safeway saves you more!

(For the group of ladies called Moms Who Care and pray for the children in school). When their meeting was cancelled one week: “There will be no Moms who care this week.”

This one I said myself during the congregational prayer when leading prayer for our unsaved loved ones:  Father, we just want to pray for our unloved saved ones.

Please welcome Pastor Don, a caring individual who loves hurting people.


The godly care for their animals, but the wicked are always cruel. -Proverbs 12:10 (NLT)

My mother, could never bear to hurt another living creature, even spiders. Shed scoop them up with a newspaper and set them outside over my father’s protests. He favored using the newspaper to dispatch them by another method, but Mom insisted that God cherished all His creatures.

My first pet was a box turtle I found one summer meandering through our yard. Mom said I could keep him until school started. I christened him George and installed him in a basement window well where I would bring him water and food every day. He had beautiful geometric markings on his shell in brown and gold.

Then disaster struck. A neighbor’s dog somehow got hold of George. I rescued him but not before his markings had been chewed off. All he had left was a plain yellow shell. I was sure he was going to die and prayed desperately for God to intervene.

As it happened, my uncle Eddie, a research biochemist, was visiting. He rushed George inside and gently washed his shell. “The dog’s teeth scraped off George’s keratin,” he explained. “That’s a little like

our skin.” Uncle Eddie then applied Bactine to George’s poor shell. George protested by waving his legs. “It probably stings a little but it will prevent infection. He should be fine.”

I put George back in his window well with fresh water and a piece of iceberg lettuce, which he crunched hungrily. And that night I added a covering over the well. When I released him into the woods a weeks later, his markings had already started to grow back.

Father, Your love extends to all creatures great and small and You have given us dominion over them. Loving the creatures of this earth is another way for us to honor and love You.

-Edward Grinnan

Digging Deeper: Genesis 1:26; Psalm 50:10-11; Matthew 10:28-30





Glory of God to all and peas to his people on earth

Applications are now being accepted for 2 year-old nursery workers.

Brother Lamar has gone on to be the Lord.

The pastor will light his candle from the altar candles. The ushers will light their candle from the pastor’s candle. The ushers will turn and light each worshipper in the first pew.

Song Lyrics: What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and briefs to bear.


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