Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Jesus' Recipe for Popcorn (Part 5)

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


Salt as a symbol of the Spirit of the Lord brings us understanding of the ancient world's high value of this substance and its properties. Salt was known as a wonderful enhancement of the taste of food and as a great preservative, permitting salted foods to last much longer and remain useful.

These qualities are being considered as the New Testament speaks to us about or own degree of saltiness in how we speak and act, with extra grace, preserving the goodness of God among ourselves and out to those who need to know Jesus as well.

The combination of saltiness as a quality, with the fire and light of the Holy Spirit, reminds us of His personal involvement in every fruitful endeavor by any single disciple or group of believers:

Colossians 4:6 Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.

Mark 9:49 For everyone shall be salted with fire.

50 Salt is good (beneficial), but if salt has lost its saltiness, how will you restore [the saltiness to] it? Have salt within yourselves, and be at peace and live in harmony with one another.

Matthew 5:13 You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste (its strength, its quality), how can its saltiness be restored? It is not good for anything any longer but to be thrown out and trodden underfoot by men. 14 You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a peck measure, but on a lamp stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men that they may see your moral excellence and your praiseworthy, noble, and good deeds and recognize and honor and praise and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

We have been given the combined qualities of the earthly substances of salt, fire and light, as well as oil, to teach us of the heavenly realities of the person and presence of the Holy Spirit residing or abiding within each true follower of Jesus.

Knowing that there is variety, quantity, and quality of these earthly substances, helps us to also see that we are responsible to be continually filled with whatever heavenly resources are made available to each of us by the Holy Spirit, in all these ways as well.

The only way for us to be filled in these ways, is to be emptied of self as we die to its influences and hand more and more over to Jesus, on a daily basis.

We are also emptied by pouring these divine resources out of ourselves into the lives of all those around us, so that they are also filled and ignited and seasoned to become more like Jesus!

All of these substances are simply metaphors to show us qualities of the Holy Spirit and His work around, upon, and within those of us who have chosen Jesus as our Lord and Savior, and continue to choose daily to follow Him.

There is one final ingredient to be added to the Oil, Fire, and Salt of the Holy Spirit, so that Jesus' recipe for popcorn is completed within us. That is His Word, His kernel sown as seed into each receptive heart that hears it.

Neil Uniacke
Executive Director

Monday, February 17, 2014


My parents took me to church before I could crawl. I learned about God and His love for me since before I can remember. One of the first things I learned was John 3:16 which says "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life." I always believed that God loved the world, but was not always sure that God loved me. We moved quite a bit during my early years, and I saw friends turn away from me more than once. Without realizing it, because I perceived that friends might not love me, I became very unsure of God's love for me. I still knew that God loved the world. I just was not sure that God loved me.

As I read and meditated on God's word several years ago, I came across I John 3:1 which says, "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God." We do not use the word "lavished" very often. I could not get the word out of my mind. I kept thinking about God lavishing His love on me. Somehow--perhaps through God's still small voice--I began to believe that God did indeed love me, and he was lavishing His love on me. This one simple word made a huge difference in my life as I began to truly believe for the first time that God did indeed love me.

I also learned from an early age that the Bible talks a lot about how to love others. I had a lot of knowledge about what the Bible said about love. I had spent a lot of time doing different Bible studies and had a lot of general knowledge about what was in the Bible, but I did not always treat others with love.

One day as I was spending time with God, I thought about I Corinthians 13. It uses the phrase "if I have not love, I am nothing" over and over again. It even says that "if I have all knowledge, but have not love, I am nothing." I realized that it is easier to know about love than to actually love others. I knew that my life needed to be more about love.

We are going through "The Story" at church this year. It goes through the Bible in story form. As I read "The Story," I see God's love and pursuit of His people over and over again. I see God's patience towards those He loves. And, it causes me to ask myself, what difference will this make in my life? How will I love others more as God loves me?

As I spend time with God and listen to His voice, I feel him gently showing me how to love more each day. When I treat others with love, it looks different than how the world treats them. It looks different than how I would treat them on my own power. God has been very patient with me as I have journeyed with Him. Loving others can be difficult, but when I hold tight to God, He gives me what I need to treat others so they can have a better view of God's love for them.

Deb Riddell
Closet Manager

Monday, February 10, 2014


I recently saw this quote:

"Sometimes memories sneak out of my eyes and roll down my cheeks" (author unknown).

Since October 4, 2013 that thought has been my experience. On that day, my mother unexpectedly died while she was staying in my home. Ever since, my memories produce a stream of tears...some happy, most sad. They come with the "missing." I miss her in so many ways...the phone calls, the shopping trips, the visiting. I miss her voice. I miss her presence.

And with the missing, I remember. I remember how she used to put her hair up in curlers, put a scarf over her head and go grocery shopping (it was the 70's). I remember playing 500 Rummy on winter nights. I remember her sitting watching TV with a cat on her lap. I remember our first microwave and how she liked to make brownies in it (they were terrible). I remember when she was first teaching me to drive how she clutched the dashboard and hissed, "Get off the berm!" I yelled back, "What's a berm?!?!" (it's the side of the road).

I remember the recent years after Dad died. Mom became a lot braver. She changed jobs, took trips and expanded her taste buds (she ate her first Thai food with me in Lancaster). She and I took mother-daughter trips to see the Grand Canyon and The Hoover Dam. That was just a year before she died.

And now I tear up with the thought of all the missing things we didn't get to yet. We were going to take a trip to New England and maybe Williamsburg. I wanted her to travel with me to California to spend time with my best friend. So many things we won't get a chance to do.

These memories that flow down my cheeks are sweet reminders of a lovely woman. They are my emotional memory album that documents our sweet relationship. I know they are good tears. I wish I wasn't crying them...wish she was still here, but to not cry them would be dishonoring the specialness of who Mom is to me. And so, I stock up on tissues and let the memories roll down my cheeks knowing that one day there won't be any need for them. We will reunite and then the Lord will wipe away every tear.

Shannon Shertzer, MS, NCC
New Hope Counselor

Monday, February 3, 2014

Present But Not Connected

Everyone has heard the saying that “appearances can be deceptive”. How true this is! 

There are some cell phone providers that offer the ability to “direct connect” which is being able to push a button and talk. The principle of this is that the receiver can communicate back and forth effortlessly. My husband and I have this ability on our phones, but sometimes, (more often than we like) one of us is talking believing that the other can hear what is being said only to find that we have loss connection. We are both present….but not connected.

Isn’t this how relationships can be?
One might be present in their marriage, come home every night; they are present ….but not connected.  Some employees show up for work every day …. Present but not really connected. You may be a mom or dad, present with you kids…but not connected.  Attend church but not plugged into ministering in any capacity, you are present…but not connected.

Any time you have everything you need to function but the things don’t function that are in place, that is dysfunction. When we are not connected we are dysfunctional. If we are not connected we are paralyzed.
As people of God, we need to be defined by more than just holding a particular title: Husband, Wife, Dad, Mom, Pastor, Counselor, Worship Leader, CEO, CFO, (You get the picture). If we were connected with the roles that we have and the people that we say we love and life we want to live….

God has called us to be relational people. Building relationships requires more than just outwardly being somewhere, around someone. It is connecting our hearts through the expression of our thoughts and ideas. It is having the power source of God’s love flowing through us, to those in our environments.
I wonder how much richer, fuller, stronger and vibrant our lives would be if we would just plug up and really be connected.  Just like my cell phone that is ineffective if the power source is blocked, so it is that our relationships are pointless if we are not plugged into them.

Connie Hanten, BCMCLC