Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Jesus' Recipe for Popcorn - Part 2

Jesus has a special unique recipe for POPCORN – and it involves us!


We know from many eyewitness accounts that Jesus the resurrected Theanthropos (God-Man), appeared for 40 days after He rose from the grave.

During this brief time period, He also interacted with many people in the visible, physical realm of ongoing historical human existence, so that He could strengthen, encourage, and through the Holy Spirit (LUKE 24:45, ACTS1:1-11) to finish His teaching and training of His first disciples.

This post-resurrection period culminated in Jesus’ physical ascent to heaven, even while these disciples watched Him from the Mount of Olives outside Jerusalem. The amazing ascension event was followed up immediately, with an incredible angelic promise verbalized to the disciples who had been watching Jesus depart, concerning His visible and physical return in the same way to that same place!

In EPHESIANS 4:8 -10, Paul describes Jesus’ ascension as a visible sign to us, of His absolute spiritual victory over every false authority on earth (the cosmos world system of humanity) and under the earth (the dark demonic network of invisible powers, principalities, world rulers of darkness, and spiritual powers of evil). 

EPHESIANS 4:10 He Who descended is the [very] same as He Who also has ascended high above all the heavens, that He [His presence] might fill all things (the whole universe, from the lowest to the highest).

In the full exaltation of His ascension back into the Father’s Presence, Jesus fully manifested His triumph over all opposition, both natural and supernatural, completing His mission as the ultimate overcomer.

Jesus passed not only above all lower realms, both physical and spiritual, while destroying the works of the devil in each sphere, but concluded His sojourn on the earth, positioned with His Father together at the maximal spiritual pinnacle, highest over all the created universe and above ALL the heavens for eternity.

Only the Divine Person Jesus, God the Son and Son of Man, could be exalted alongside His Father God, above all the heavens forever!
Only the infinite Lord of All, Jesus Christ, could then proceed to fill all in all, which literally means to make complete in every particular, to cause to abound, to furnish or supply liberally, to flood, to diffuse throughout, to pervade, to take possession of and to ultimately control the whole universe, so that from lowest to highest realms might be filled entirely with His boundless Presence! 
As the apostle Paul states unequivocally in EPHESIANS 1:21-23, when Jesus ascended to His throne, He became positioned as the God-Man reigning absolutely over His new creation:

Far above all rule and authority and power and dominion and every name that is named [above every title that can be conferred], not only in this age and in this world, but also in the age and the world which are to come.

The Father has put all things under His feet and appointed Him the universal and supreme Head of the church [a headship exercised throughout the church],  Which is His body, the fullness of Him Who fills all in all [for in that body lives the full measure of Him Who makes everything complete, and Who fills everything everywhere with Himself].

Neil Uniacke
Executive Director

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Thanksgiving "vignettes"

It’s that wonderful time of the year again…the time we call Thanksgiving. How thankful have you been in the past year? I want to share a few short Thanksgiving “vignettes” with you that call us to reflect on how thankful we really are.
Vignette #1: Dr. H.A. Ironside, a well-known Presbyterian minister from Philadelphia in the early 1900s, once walked into a crowded restaurant for lunch. Just as he was beginning his meal, a man approached Ironside and asked if he could join him at his table. Pastor Ironside invited the man to have a seat. Then, as was his custom, Ironside bowed his head in prayer. When he opened his eyes, the other man asked: “Do you have a headache?” “No, I don’t,” replied Ironside. The other man asked, “Well then, is something wrong with your food?” Ironside replied, “I was simply thanking God as I always do before I eat. “

Ironside’s guest then said, “Oh, so you’re one of those guys, are you? Well, I want you to know I never give thanks to anyone. I earn my money by the sweat of my brow and I’ve become successful on my own energy and intelligence. I don’t have to give thanks to anyone when I eat. I just start right in!”

To which the pastor replied: “Yeah, that’s just like my dog at home. That’s what he does, too!”

Vignette #2: Many of us have heard of Captain Miles Standish, who came with the Pilgrims in 1620 to Massachusetts. We know the story; that first winter many of their group died. Standish’s wife, Rose, was seriously ill and was confined to the Mayflower, which was anchored in the harbor. Rose’s chills would turn to uncontrollable shaking and there were no medicines to cure her. By spring of 1621, only 5 wives remained of the 18 who had come to Plymouth. Rose was not among them.

Thanksgiving? What was that? The golden dreams of a new world that Standish and Rose had cherished together had evaporated into hollow hopes. And yet Captain Standish joined other bereaved Pilgrims in that first Thanksgiving celebration.

The real test of thankfulness is whether we can give thanks from the heart for what we do have, despite the wounds and pain of yesterday’s struggles. Ours in not some fair-weather faith, but a resilient trust in the midst of pain and struggle. The Pilgrims lived close to the edge of survival. Perhaps that is why they were so thankful.

Vignette #3: During the Great Depression of the 1930s, when it was at its worst, one day a group of men was sitting together discussing the sad state of affairs. One of them was a Methodist minister and college professor, William Stidger. The conversation concerned the decline in commerce and grew more dismal at every moment. But as Thanksgiving Day was near, another minister chimed in: “I have to preach on Thanksgiving Day. I want to say something affirmative, but how can I do that in such a period of depression and gloom like this?”

Pastor Stidger began to think of the blessings HE had enjoyed in life, and the things for which he was truly thankful. He remembered one of his teachers from school whom he hadn’t heard from or contacted in many years. Although it was years ago, he still remembered how she had gone out of her way to instill a love of poetry and literature in him, and Stidger had loved poetry and literature ever after that. So he wrote a letter to this now quite elderly woman. This is the reply she sent him. Barely legible because of her trembling hands, it began: “My dear Willie.” He was thrilled to read that. Stidger was over 50 years of age, balding, and a bit of a “pudgie” seminary professor, and he didn’t think there was anyone left in the world to call him “Willie.” Here is some of what Stidger’s school teacher wrote:

My dear Willie, I cannot tell you how much your note meant to me. I am now in my 80s, living alone in a small room, cooking my own meals, lonely, and like the last leaf of autumn, lingering behind.

You will be interested to know that I taught school for 50 years and yours is the first note of appreciation I have ever received. It came on a blustery, cold morning and it cheered me as nothing has in many years.

Stidger was not a sentimental man, but he wept over that note. There were numerous other notes he wrote during the next weeks, thanking people who’d had a vital part in shaping his life.

Who do you need to thank today?

Submitted by Tom Horst, MA MFT
Marriage and Family Therapist

Monday, November 11, 2013

A Special Blessing

On Friday evening, November 1, 2013, I had the honor of being the invited guest speaker for a Pastor Appreciation Service. The two pastors (a married couple) were my former pastors. I have known them for many years. I was asked to share my testimony and how these two pastors have influenced my life. I talked about how I have "[followed their] example, as I follow the example of Christ." (1 Corinthians 11:1).

I shared about how, through God's help and the help of others like these two individuals, I embarked on a journey from a young single parent on welfare to go on and earn my doctorate in social work. As I shared with those in attendance, I could certainly testify to the truth that "I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13).

I think I was blessed most of all when one of the pastors gave the invitation to accept Jesus Christ following my testimony. A teenage girl came forward. I was very overwhelmed with joy. I went to be a blessing to the pastors by sharing how they had impacted my life. A young woman was blessed as she decided to give her heart to Jesus (I trust that the other people there received a blessing as well). And I was truly blessed by pouring out what the Holy Spirit had given me to impart.

After I ended my story, I reminded everyone that my story is not over. I know this because in John 15:16 it says, "I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit..." I will continue to seek the Lord's guidance and strength so that I can continue to bear the fruit that he has left for me. Will you do the same?

Ann L. Gantt, Ph.D., LCSW
New Hope Counselor

Monday, November 4, 2013


Fall is a beautiful time of year. The trees change their color, the air is crisp and clean, and the squirrels scamper about to collect food for the winter. I was recently reminded during my devotions one morning that we don't prepare for the "winters" of our life. Winter in our life can be the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, the loss of our home or any other type of loss. So how do we survive our "winters"?

In order to survive we often have to come up with a "new normal" and it isn't easy to make changes or accept change. With the death of my father this year it has brought with it the beginning of a lot of "firsts" without him: birthdays, Sunday lunches, and soon we will experience Thanksgiving and Christmas without Dad. When my mother died 37 years ago my siblings and I had to bond together with our dad in order to survive and now we have to move forward once again.

So how do we get through all of our roller coaster emotions? My dad's favorite verse was Romans 8:28, "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." At first it is hard to imagine any good coming from difficult times; however, we don't know the whole story--only God does. All we see is a little sliver.

So how do we survive? We have two choices every day. Either we pull the covers up over our heads and don't deal with the situation or we face the situation head on and turn it into a positive. This is not always an easy task but life isn't easy. How we choose to deal with our "winters" determines who we will become through Christ.

Elaine Campbell, MA, MHC