You Are Not a Model Horse

     Annually, thousands gather in Lexington, Kentucky to celebrate what Jane Wagner (a retired engineer) calls “The biggest closet hobby you’ll ever find.” The event, “BreyerFest”, is an annual convention for individuals who collect model horses. Collectors, typically adolescent girls from Middle America and their mothers, come from every state within the continental US and places like the UK and Austrailia. Part of Breyerfest is a live event in which judges officiate near 1,000 classes of model horses. Seemingly insignificant differences in paint job and condition separate the best from the rest. The competition is intense, with some individuals have been caught cheating. One woman enlisted her family in order to allow her to show three times as many models as she would be able to otherwise. (source, gizmodo.com)      We all have, whether consciously or unconsciously, compared ourselves to other people. When I was very young I wanted the toys my friends had. When I was in high school I wanted to be as attractive and popular as some of my peers. When I was in college the first time, I wanted the grades and success with the fairer sex that other students had. I am overjoyed to know that my God doesn’t place us all in classes and choose winners. 1 John 4:10 tells us, “This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” He loves us all, even at our worse, and sent his Son to die for us. God doesn’t pick us apart, exposing only our sins....

Vacation Bible School

     When I first interviewed at Southwinds, I spoke about my experience with Vacation Bible School (VBS). VBS has been a part of my life since I was a small child. Every summer, I looked forward to making memories with my friends and family as we learned the joy of being followers of God. I met one of my closest friends at Vacation Bible School. To this day we continue to support each other, pray for each other, and talk about the love of God. I have been privileged to work with many amazing individuals over the years as I shifted from student to volunteer to director of VBS. Why is VBS important? Why does Southwinds continue to support a VBS program. I will tell you just a few of the many reasons.      VBS is an outreach event. Each activity points to biblical truths. God’s word comes alive through songs, stories, games, crafts, and snacks. For some children, VBS is the first event they experience that points them towards God. The benefits of VBS are numerous for both children and adults. VBS requires more volunteers than any other event at Southwinds. We are blessed to work together as one body, enjoying service as a family. Many leaders rise out of VBS as it is a relatively small commitment. You may find that you want to volunteer to be a mentor to our children all year long. Proverbs 27:23 reads “Know the state of your flocks, and put your heart into caring for your herds.” (NLT)      Please join us for VBS that’s a little bit...

Move Forward

     Today I read that 15 top European scientists met recently to discuss how the European Space Agency (ESA) might send a human in to deep space (motherboard.vice.com). More specifically, the scientists met in order to determine how they can purposefully induce hibernation. Cryosleep, putting a human being in to suspended animation using a drug, chamber, or something very cold, has commonly been used in science fiction. We see representations of cryosleep in several films including: 2001: A Space Odyssey, Interstellar, Aliens, Avatar, and Riddick.      Since the beginning of medical history, there have been people who have used cold temperatures to treat various conditions. Hippocrates is believed to have covered injured soldiers with ice and snow in order to slow their flow of blood and give their bodies additional time to heal. Many years later, in 1945, a researcher named TB Fay purposely cooled down patients who had sustained traumatic brain injuries. Fay did this in hopes that swelling would decrease, metabolism would slow down, and the bodies of these patients would be healed. In 1999, Swedish radiologist Anna Bagenholm was trapped under ice for 80 minutes after a skiing accident. Her heart stopped for three hours and her body temperature dropped to 56 degrees. She eventually made a full recovery outside of some minor nerve damage.      In chapter 17 of Job, we read Job crying out for God to defend his innocence. He laments his current state of being having lost everything. Job has hit a low point in his life, unable to see any more hope in the midst of experiencing tremendous...

Authentic Spirituality

But if we live in the light, as God is in the light, we can share fellowship with each other. Then the blood of Jesus, God’s Son, cleanses us from every sin. If we say we have no sin, we are fooling ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 1 John 1:7-8 (NCV) *** *** *** *** In Christian fellowship people should experience authenticity. Authentic fellowship is not superficial, surface-level chit-chat. It’s genuine, heart-to-heart, sometimes gut-level, sharing. It happens when people get honest about who they are and what is happening in their lives. They share their hurts, reveal their feelings, confess their failures, disclose their doubts, admit their fears, acknowledge their weaknesses, and ask for help and prayer. Authenticity is the exact opposite of what you find in many churches. Instead of an atmosphere of honesty and humility, there is pretending, role-playing, politicking, superficial politeness, and shallow conversation. People wear masks, keep their guard up, and act as if everything is rosy in their lives. These attitudes are the death of real friendship. It’s only as we become open about our lives that we experience authentic fellowship. The Bible says, “If we live in the light, as God is in the light, we can share fellowship with each other. . . . If we say we have no sin, we are fooling ourselves” (1 John 1:7-8 NCV). The world thinks intimacy occurs in the dark, but God says it happens in the light. We tend to use darkness to hide our hurts, faults, fears, failures, and flaws. But in the light, we bring them all out into...

When DEET Doesn’t Cut It

Some respectable scientists in jolly old England discovered that “mosquitoes can develop an immunity to DEET and breed offspring that are also impervious to the bug repellant”. (thestar.com) Female mosquitoes (the annoying ones) use their antennae to find humans. Humans contain the blood neededed to fertilize mosquito eggs. DEET, developed in 1958, isn’t completely understood but is believed to interfere with a mosquito’s ability to smell us blood filled humans. Scientists (perhaps evil scientists), found that some of the mosquitoes they studied weren’t reacting to DEET. When the researchers bred these non-reactive “skeeters,” their offspring showed resistance to DEET as well. I suppose this breeding of super mosquitoes isn’t all bad. Supposedly, this research can help us develop alternate mosquito repellants. In the meantime, make sure you are using repellant this summer. Mosquitoes carry some awful diseases. Satan, like a blood-sucking mosquito, can develop immunity to some of our safeguards. You might not be addicted to pornography or often found gossiping, but we all have our exploitable weaknesses. James 4 discusses full submission to God. We have to examine our motives and allegiances. If we are devoted more to this world than to God, we become his enemy. It is only when we are dedicated completely to God that we can “resist the devil” (James 4:7). Our ultimate goal is purity and there is no finality in our search to obtain it. – John Wriston, youth...

Sharing the Good News

As human beings we find it difficult to contain good news. There is a universal feeling that good news is meant to be shared. Why? It celebrates accomplishment, generates camaraderie, and motivates. To not share good news seems selfish. If I could bring you joy, relieve your pain or share opportunities then my silence would be cruel. When one considers the Gospel all of the above applies. It brings the joy of salvation, relieves the pain of the past and assures opportunity for future growth. The New Testament church multiplied in a matter of weeks because they shared the Good News. There was an excitement that could not be contained. The world was a mix of philosophies. Class distinction was everywhere. Religion was being seriously compromised. The populace needed some good news, someone to come on the scene, with a universal message of truth, hope and unity. A message so unique it would turn the heads of rich and poor, educated and simple, monarchs and the minions. That someone was the Christ. The message was the Gospel. Can you contain the message? If you know it, you believe it you must share it. 1 Corinthians 9:16  For when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, since I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! Jeremiah 20:9  But if I say, “I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name,” his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot. I will share the gospel...