Monday, March 31, 2014

Jesus Recipe for Popcorn (Part 6)

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


Some of these ways were referred to by Jesus and others in the Bible, through the use of the names and qualities of common substances metaphorically, attempting to capture the essence of how and what He is doing for us by His outpoured Holy Spirit in each one of our lives.

These include Oil, Fire, Salt, and…. 


Finally, we have the kernel of God’s Word sown into us by Jesus, through His messengers in the earth.
God’s Word is sown into our hearts by Jesus through His Holy Spirit, who works through His messengers that walk the earth today, and by His words preserved for us over many centuries in the Bible.
As Jesus’ well known Parable of the Sower tells us, there are many heart conditions into which this kernel of His Word falls.
This broad range and variation of results in people’s life experiences, is certainly influenced and affected by our own openness and obedience, or our personal resistance and reluctance, to the work of the Holy Spirit within and upon each of us.
Some with these heart conditions either reject God’s Word outright or do so over time, when faced with difficult conditions or rejection by others.
Others, with different heart conditions can slowly strangle the life out of the Word, because of all the other things from this world (cosmos) system already growing and taking over within them!
Jesus’ description of this fourth and final heart condition speaks of good soil and fruitful results, but also shows us several differing levels of productivity.
This variation in the level of our fruitfulness may be based on divine callings and giftings, but is also influenced and affected by our openness and obedience to the Lord in receiving and reflecting His many graces offered to each of us:
It finally comes down to how well we choose to receive and reflect our Lord Jesus and His many graces, offered freely to every one of us:
MARK 4:14 The sower sows the Word. 15 The ones along the path are those who have the Word sown [in their hearts], but when they hear, Satan comes at once and [by force] takes away the message which is sown in them. 16 And in the same way the ones sown upon stony ground are those who, when they hear the Word, at once receive and accept and welcome it with joy; 17 And they have no real root in themselves, and so they endure for a little while; then when trouble or persecution arises on account of the Word, they immediately are offended (become displeased, indignant, resentful) and they stumble and fall away. 18 The ones sown among the thorns are others who hear the Word; 19 Then the cares and anxieties of the world and distractions of the age, and the pleasure and delight and false glamour and deceitfulness of riches, and the craving and passionate desire for other things creep in and choke and suffocate the Word, and it becomes fruitless. 20 And those sown on the good (well-adapted) soil are the ones who hear the Word and receive and accept and welcome it and bear fruit—some thirty times as much as was sown, some sixty times as much, and some [even] a hundred times as much.
Jesus sows His Word into those of us who have been prepared, and now have the blessing of this fourth and final human heart condition.
Within our prepared hearts, the works of the Holy Spirit, depicted to us by Jesus, as Oil, Fire, and Salt create a dynamic combustion within our human spirits, eternally transforming our hearts, souls, minds, and wills!
This divinely produced transformation begins to blow away the hard outer shells we have developed within ourselves, because of wounds from others, and our own negative reactions to our hurts.
As we then begin to have softened, enlarged spiritual lives, we open up more and more to give and recieve love, to be loved by God and love other people.
This dynamo of love within our expanding hearts and lives flows from deep within us, until our true destiny to become like Jesus blossoms forth, growing upward, forward, and outward, toward full realization in and beyond our lifespan here on earth, and on into eternity!


Neil Uniacke
Executive Director

Monday, March 24, 2014


I have been thinking lately about apologies. What is an apology? Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary defines “apology” as “a statement saying that you are sorry about something: an expression of regret for having done or said something wrong.”
What is the reason for making an apology? The reason is this precisely: we are human and from time to time we fail and hurt those we love. How do we restore the relationship after we’ve done or said something hurtful? We apologize! To apologize is one of the most healing things we can do in a relationship.
Here is an example of an apology two brothers I was working with in a family conflict situation made to each other:

To my brother _________________:

Over the years of living and working together as brothers on the same farm, there have been times I have wronged you, in word and action. Some of these wrongs have been unintentional, while there are other times, I am sure, that I have wronged you and knew that I was sinning against you. I apologize for sinning against you both unintentionally and intentionally, and ask your forgiveness. I want the two of us brothers and couples to be able to separate in peace. May God go with you and ________________ as you move to another place and raise your family.

How difficult is it for you to apologize? For most people it is a very difficult thing to do. After all, underlying apology is the admission to oneself and to others that I was wrong. For many people, this admission in itself is daunting. But to arrive at the place where one can admit that they have been wrong can be very freeing. After all, who of us in never wrong? No one! And yet, some people live as though they never err in any way.
There may be a number of reasons why people have difficulty apologizing. One may be that a person grew up in a home environment where apologies were never expressed. Or perhaps children were made to apologize, but parents never did. I worked with a man who shared that he never heard his mother apologize even once in all his life. This man knew there were times his mother could have and probably should have apologized but she never did. This client also found it very difficult, as an adult, to apologize to his wife and children.
Another reason people may have difficulty apologizing is due to a perfectionist approach to life. For some people, to ever admit that they were wrong and apologize to others, is to lose control over their life situation. For some, the only personal strength they may have is wrapped up in the aura of perfectionism, and to admit wrong or failure would be devastating to their self-image.
Try apologizing! It is very freeing. It also greatly improves relationships! Apology breathes new life, grace and openness into marriage, family, friendships, and workplace relationships.

Tom Horst, MA MFT
Marriage and Family Therapist

Monday, March 17, 2014


Happy and blessed almost Spring! I want to share this poem with you:


A walk in the woods this warm spring day,
Brings me into Your presence as I walk along the way.
The warm damp breeze has me breathless as I,
Take in creation awakening right before my eyes.

The oak as its branches are raised in rigidity,
Reminds me to raise my praise to You, Your majesty.
A downy white feather floats softly to the ground,
Reminds me of all the blessings this day has found.

The ferns and the moss have awakened from their slumber.
And I am reminded of Your return as I hear the distant thunder.
A storm that is impending, the rapidly darkening skies,
Reminds me to be thankful, for every season of life. 

Danette Kettwich

Submitted by: Ann L. Gantt, Ph.D., LCSW, NEW HOPE counselor

Monday, March 10, 2014

Conditional vs. Unconditional Love

Imagine being told that you are loved but it has a condition attached to it. Is this the way you want to be loved? Is this the way God loves us or intends for us to love others? Working with many children and teenagers I often hear them say they don't understand what I mean when I say that they are loved unconditionally by God or their parents.
How sad to be told by a child that their parents only love he/she if they are good or they do something for them. God does not tell us that He will love us if we are in church every Sunday and nice to our siblings and friends. God demands us to love others no matter what--just like He loves us. God loves us so much that He gave His only Son to die on the cross for you and me. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:167 KJV)
Unconditional love is when I am loved no matter what. It does not give me license to constantly do bad behaviors; however, it does let me know that when I have done something wrong, God still loves ME. Parents should love their children unconditionally as well. Knowing that you are loved no matter what means that your behavior may not always be approved of but you are always loved.
I don't know about you but I want to be loved unconditionally by others just as God loves me. I don't want to have conditions placed on me for someone to love me.

Elaine Campbell, MA, MHC

Monday, March 3, 2014

Afraid of Failure

I am guilty of not doing something because I am afraid to fail. If I feel like I might not be able to do it correctly I will choose not to do it at all. This was brought to my mind recently during this snowy winter. Whenever a big snowstorm is predicted, my children (even though none live at home right now) clamor for homemade doughnuts. I always sigh to myself, because I am always afraid to make them because I feel they will be a total flop. Let me give you a little history.
When I was a child, if a big snow was forecast and it looked like we might not have school the next day, my siblings and I would beg Mother to make homemade doughnuts. She would mix up the ingredients and knead the dough into a big ball before she went to bed and then put it in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning, the dough would have at least doubled in size and look like a big basketball. She would roll out the dough and we children would help to cut the doughnuts out. We would carefully put them on cookies sheets and place them in front of the fireplace to rise. After they were deemed to have risen enough (usually after about 2 hours), the fun really began. We would form an assembly line. Someone would lift the soft dough carefully from the cookie sheets and place them in cooking oil to fry. Another person was in charge of the frying and would turn the doughnuts at just the right time when one side was a perfect brown. The other side was done to perfection as well and then the doughnuts were taken out of the oil and put in a colander to drain. Someone else took them out of the colander and dropped them into a glaze and then lifted them out of the glaze and slid them through their holes onto narrow sticks placed over bowls so the excess icing could drip into the bowl. They would stay on the sticks until the icing was dry and then the doughnuts were removed and placed on wax paper. Not much beats the taste of a freshly homemade doughnut and we would all eat as many as we were allowed and then Mother would freeze the rest and we would enjoy them for weeks to come. My brothers used to "steal" them from the freezer and eat them frozen. (Okay, I might have done it a time or two as well.) They even tasted wonderful frozen.
When I had children, I wanted to share this fun time with them, but I was afraid. I thought there was no way I was capable of doing this. It was a huge undertaking. Fortunately for me, my mother was available to help me and she would mix and knead the dough for me because that's what scared me the most. I wasn't good at kneading and how could I tell when the dough had just enough flour in it? But one day, my mother was no longer around to help me. If we were going to have homemade doughnuts it was all up to me. Not wanting to disappoint my children, I forged ahead. Just as I thought, they never got as good as my mother's; in fact sometimes they were a complete failure. I remember one time, they didn't rise at all. The kids didn't care--they ate them anyway and thought they were delicious, but I was frustrated. Why couldn't I make them just like Mom?
I think what I have learned through the years, is that it doesn't matter that my doughnuts don't get like my mother's. To my children they are perfect and delicious and something they look forward to. I think sometimes we try so hard to be perfect in God's eyes that we don't give ourselves grace to be human. God loves us through all our imperfections. Being afraid of failures or saying the wrong thing should not keep us from doing the work of the Lord and from sharing His love to those around us. Even though my doughnuts weren't perfect, they allowed my children to experience a family bonding and cherished memory that will stay with them throughout life. In the same way, through my bumbling and insecurities God may use me to show His love to someone that has never felt it before. I have to be willing to try.
To my children's delight, I chose a Saturday and invited them to come home to make doughnuts. We had a wonderful time, and no they did not get as good as my mother's but you know what? They were "perfect." not be frightened. But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have...I Peter 3:14,15.

Mary Lehman