Smart Girl vs Silly Girl

Smart Girl vs Silly Girl

                Tracy Winkler

               Tracy Winkler

In just a few days, I am hosting 2 big events at my home. In preparation, I have been mulching, pulling weeds, painting my fence and painting my shutters. It’s a lot of work having company over. I want my guests to feel welcome, like I really want them there! I am determined…..I WILL BE READY WHEN COMPANY ARRIVES!

I have seriously put in a good 20 hours of work so far and I am only half way done! I got to thinking, how much time and effort do I put into preparing myself and my home for Jesus? I know for sure that I have spent way more time prepping for this party then I have worshipping this past week. I think I might have this thing backwards!

In Matthew 25, Jesus shares a parable about some smart girls and some not so smart girls (you could say they were knowledge poor). Here’s the story from the Message version…..                 25 1-5 “God’s kingdom is like ten young virgins who took oil lamps and went out to greet the bridegroom. Five were silly and five were smart. The silly virgins took lamps, but no extra oil. The smart virgins took jars of oil to feed their lamps. The bridegroom didn’t show up when they expected him, and they all fell asleep. 6 “In the middle of the night someone yelled out, ‘He’s here! The bride-groom’s here! Go out and greet him!’ 7-8 “The ten virgins got up and got their lamps ready. The silly virgins said to the smart ones, ‘Our lamps are going out; lend us some of your oil.’ 9 “They answered, ‘There might not be enough to go around; go buy your own.’ 10 “They did, but while they were out buying oil, the bridegroom arrived. When everyone who was there to greet him had gone into the wedding feast, the door was locked. 11 “Much later, the other virgins, the silly ones, showed up and knocked on the door, saying, ‘Master, we’re here. Let us in.’ 12 “He answered, ‘Do I know you? I don’t think I know you.’ 13 “So stay alert. You have no idea when he might arrive.  

Listen! When my guests arrive at my house, I want to be ready BUT I really want to be ready when Jesus shows up! I want him to recognize me. I want Him to say, “Tracy! It’s so good to see you! I really love our talks everyday. I especially love that you think of me so often and are always trying to learn more about me!” Yeah. I am not going to be a silly girl and let my oil run dry! Never! How about you?

Methodical Trees

Methodical Trees

                  Denise Horgan

                 Denise Horgan

Methodical Trees

I recently took some time to sit on my deck on a beautiful day staring at the woods which line my backyard. Even my sweet puppy dog, Ruby girl, decided to join me on the deck to soak up some of the sun rays. I recently rearranged my deck furniture so that all of the seats face the woods instead of having our backs to the trees. Why would we not take the time to enjoy the scenery that is right on our property? Rearranging the furniture makes perfect sense.  If any of you really know me, you know how much I rearrange furniture to freshen up a space.  The truth be known, it helps to relieve my stress. It is very therapeutic and calming. Rearranging gives a  fresh outlook in my life and could also be viewed as a distraction from whatever is currently nagging at me.  All that said, trees are interesting in what they behold and how they change from night to day. I’m now content with how I rearranged my deck furniture and that I have the chance to experience time with the Godhead while enjoying His nature.

As I look at the trees blowing in the summer breezes I feel the troubles of the day start to melt away. Have you ever watched the leaves and branches move in unison as the wind blows through them? The limbs bend back and forth according to the strength of the wind.  They dance in sections perfectly orchestrated.   With the slowing of the wind, the branches slow their movements and settle back to their original positions.  The lasting bit of breeze blows the leaves into a gentle soft flowing wave.  The wind reminds me of the Holy Spirt blowing in the much needed refreshing breaths to revitalize, regenerate, and restore our spirits.

John 3:8 New International Version (NIV)

8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

As I watch this methodical movement of the dancing, rhythmic waving of the trees, it reminds me of God patting His children gently on the head and saying, I have this, do not worry any longer,  you will be ok.  Trust in me.  Nothing is too big for me to handle.  I love hearing from God through nature. It is when I least expect it, when I become still or free of distractions.  This is when He can grab my attention with the simple things in life to comfort and reassure me.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 New International Version (NIV)

Praise to the God of All Comfort

3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

After watching this gift of nature as I see it from our Creator, the next phase of healing and strength becomes evident. Jesus is here! My worries or troubles are erased and washed away.   The overwhelming feeling of confidence that everything is being taken care of and that I am loved. I do matter, I am worth it, and I am ok. 

Psalm 52:8 New International Version (NIV)

8 But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever.

It appears to me that my four legged friend, Ruby girl, has finished her sun bathing and that also means that I need to get back to reality.  My precious time with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit is finished for now.  At least until evening time.  Have you ever stared at the trees at night time on a warm summer night?  It is the pièce de résistance to the end of a summer day! The activities of the day have settled down and the tweeting of the birds have become quiet. The chirping of the crickets grow louder. Night life in the woods becomes mysterious and almost scary until the lightening bugs or fireflies illuminate the trees.  It is the most magnificent light show ever!  The hotter the evening the more lights in the trees I see.  Some fly around like shooting stars.  One of God’s natural fireworks are displayed.  A gift to treasure. 

James 1:17-18 The Message (MSG) 16-18 So, my very dear friends, don’t get thrown off course. Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light. There is nothing deceitful in God, nothing two-faced, nothing fickle. He brought us to life using the true Word, showing us off as the crown of all his creatures.

My prayer for all of you is to enjoy the nature that God has created for all of us.  Connect with God by letting Him speak to you through your everyday experiences and trust in the unexpected gifts from Him.  Allow the wind to blow healing into your life and restore your body, soul and spirit.  In Jesus name, Amen.

 

 

Safe and Unsafe

Safe and Unsafe

                  Ryan Detzel

                 Ryan Detzel

Safe and Unsafe

I aspire to be a safe person. I also aspire to be an unsafe person.

False-community is prevalent. We've all been let down in a time of need when we thought our friends/family/church/ were going to be there for us. People who you thought you could share your "stuff" with turned around and hurt you with that very "stuff". Someone you trust turns out to be someone not-so trustworthy and all of the sudden gossip is spreading like a cancer.

This is the area that I desire to be a safe person.

To be a person someone can spill their guts to without the risk of rejection, without the pain of judgment, without the chance of lost confidentiality. This is difficult because everyone wants to have the scoop on someone else. We all want to feel more important or as if we have a leg up on a subject over someone else. It's a part of our nature to want to gossip, whether it's in the form of a water-cooler discussion, or a prayer meeting.

Do you know how important it is for someone to have a solid rock friend in their life?

 

Not only is it important to BE that solid rock, but it's also a MUST to let them know. If people haven't trusted you with something, they have no idea if you're a safe person. I want to inform as many people as I can that if they need to talk, I'll be there...and I'll keep our conversation close to the vest. And I want to hold to that promise. In this, I shall be called safe.

On the other side of the coin, I am relinquishing my desire to be a safe person. In the context of complacency and mediocrity and the status quo...no thanks. I don't want to be like everyone else. I don't want to wake up in the morning, go to work, come home, eat dinner, watch TV, go to sleep, wake up to do it all over again. Should my biggest desire in life be to just get through it all with a half-smile hoping to maybe own a boat? Bah.

This is a tough thing as well. Everything in me wants a motorcycle, tattoos, adventure, and danger of all sorts - but society reminds me that I have a responsibility to stay safe. I have a family to look after and apparently you are not able to do that unless you're planted firmly on the sofa with a remote in your hand. Growing up you think you'll be an adult when you turn 18 years old, only to learn that everyone considers you a "kid" until you turn 30...or 40. Well, this kid isn't going to do it the way it's been done before.

Not me. I'm going after the prize and I'm not turning back. I'm going after radical authenticity to spread realness and transparency around me. I'm going after insane and unsafe grace towards those who don't seem to deserve it...because we've all blown it at some point and need a second chance...or a seventeenth. I'm going after a life that is unusually safe and ridiculously dangerous at the same time.

Who’s with me?

 

 

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God's the Father of Mutts

God's the Father of Mutts

 Sue Knisley - Guest Blogger

Sue Knisley - Guest Blogger

God is the father of mutts. He’s also the Father of all those other folks on the planet who seemingly have their life together, all their ducks in a pretty little row. This story isn’t about them. I’ve always considered myself a ragtag mutt in God’s kingdom. A grateful pooch, because wiser people clued me in… I am welcome in God’s family! There’s room at His great big table for ME. 

I’ve got this mutt mentality going on. Sometimes I slobber when my excitement runs away, with me trying to rein it in. God has lovingly assured me it’s OKAY that I’m daffy. I provide hours of entertainment for Him and the angels when things are quiet in Heaven, some days.

Sometimes I quiver because seriously can I do this thing, can I be a follower of Christ and his mission? I know sometimes it’s just feeling inadequate, but man, I'm a head job. I'm not certifiable, I have been checked over by professionals, they assure me I fall within the scope of normal. I’m not always sure I believe them, but they’ve gone to school for these things, hopefully they should know. 

So I come before God and I say, “Lord I don't know what part of me you can use but I'm here. I'm offering and if you’ll lead me, point out the person I'm supposed to minister to, I'll do it. I accept if you lead me to that person you're going to equip me to have what it is I need to carry out the mission.” The Bible backs me up on that.

16 Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another - showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God's way. 
Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 MSG

Makes me feel kind of like one of those adorable cartoon St Bernards who bound to the rescue with a keg of rum attached to their collar. I don’t have rum but I do have God’s message of hope. That lasts a whole lot longer than a keg of rum anyway!

Here’s a crazy thing He clued me in to some years back… my St Bernard self and that keg of God’s promises and leadings is needed at home before I go galloping off to save the world. I was so busy thinking the goal was to save the planet that I didn’t see my world starts at my front door. I had people and four footed creatures here hemorrhaging for love and attention. I was actually volunteering at an animal shelter (how noble) cleaning cat cages, but hadn’t scooped out my own kitty’s litter box in weeks. Yeah, I know. GROSS. 

Did I hear a whisper, “Hey, Super Dog, they need you to be there for them too. It’s good to be My hands and feet for everyone you meet, but don’t forget those closest to you.” I have to admit, Susie St Bernard fell woefully short in that category. I think I told you in my previous blog, I snorted busyness on a regular basis. I saw an anagram once for BUSY:

B - Being

U - Under

S - Satan’s

Y - Yoke

True, dat. True, if I’m using busyness to not minister to those God first puts in my path.

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:14‭-‬16 NIV

Save the world. Pop on your Underdog cape if you must and conquer injustices. Just don’t forget the little doggies, the kitties and your family at home.

The Children of Honduras

The Children of Honduras

                    Matt Martini   matt.martini@vineyardwestside.com

                   Matt Martini

matt.martini@vineyardwestside.com

I’m gonna try something a little different this week and invite you to contribute to this post. In Matthew 18 Jesus instructs: "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” So I implore you to invest a few minutes of your weekend in a quiet place, away from distraction. Grab a cup of coffee. Take a minute or two per photo and just look, pondering what Jesus might have meant when he uttered those words. What do you see? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Boundaries

Boundaries

                     Denise Horgan

                    Denise Horgan

 

Recently I’ve been dealing with boundary issues concerning my family that I grew up with.  Generally speaking for me, life is like an onion.  There are many layers to peel away.  In my younger years my boundaries were destroyed by a trusted adult.  I’ve had to learn healthy boundaries over the years and for the longest time thought my boundaries were good.  Then life throws me a curve and makes me wonder all over again, what just happened.  Did I miss something? Did I change again? Is this another layer to the onion? 

I’m thankful for what I have learned and where I am in my Christian walk.  I know I am called to forgive others.  I know how important this is, because it is a release for me and a protection spiritually from spiritual darkness and their activities in my life or my loved ones.  After multiple confrontations over a family issue, I could see myself and my family doing the dance of anger and I didn’t want to participate in it any longer.  I had to break the cycle.  We were not getting anywhere.  We kept going in circles with our conversations.  I was feeling angry, hurt, lost, and becoming resentful.  All of it felt horrible to me.  I knew I needed to lean on God even more.  I had to release these feelings.  I repented to God for my part in all of the family dynamics and forgave the others and myself.  I wanted to be free of all resentment.  I gave it all over to God.  Immediately I felt a release, and the heaviness left.  The enemy had to go, because of my prayers of submission to God and using my authority to rid myself of the negative feelings and thoughts. 

I put time and distance between myself and certain family members.   This time of space and quietness was needed to clear my head and to clearly see what to do next as I consulted with God about my next move.  I set a boundary for myself.  Setting good boundaries prevents resentment, stops the dance of anger, and closes the door for the enemy to come mess in your life.  God continues to enlighten me and peel back the onion.  Deep patterns of our childhood often carry through our adulthood.  We act automatically out of memory instead of growth.  We have to move from the under the powerful hold of how we grew up into the relationship of God being our Father.  By turning from our old patterns we stay out of resentment.  We learn to love with proper limits and at the same time stop evil behavior.  Family dynamics can pull you back into old patterns in a second.  Awareness is key, and self examination is not easy.

Matthew 7:3-5 New International Version (NIV)

3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

In my situation these verses pierced me. I was focused on how wrong they were and I didn’t realize my lack of boundaries were allowing me to be pulled back into familiar dysfunctional patterns.  I lost control of my personal property. My boundaries were being violated.  My needs were not being fulfilled by the family.  I had to face the reality of my deficit and the need to be filled by the wrong people.  Trying to win a fight or to hear sorry come from someone can be exhausting.  Hope seems to fade away while we are trying to fix it on our own, and at the same time, the enemy is wrecking havoc in our lives. 

Proverbs 13:12 New International Version (NIV)

12 Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life

God is the one who can fill that need, and bring hope.  I had to break the patterns, the old cycles with clear boundaries.  It leaves one to wonder what to do next, but God is showing me my path.  Sometimes it feels like I’m in slow mode, but I know He is teaching, equipping and healing me.   I’m laying down old thought processes, habits, and the way I look at loved ones and situations. 

The difference between responding and reacting is a choice.  When you are reacting, you are not in control.  When you respond, you are.  Boundaries are best done with love.  We can still love the ones that we have to put a strong healthy boundary around.  In the process we are gaining freedom to love.  Boundaries help us get to that point. 

Let’s pray,

Father God, I pray for self awareness for all of us.  Break the unhealthy cycles, patterns and spiritual holds from our pasts.  Holy Spirit come! Fill us with wisdom and the purity of visions to remedy broken relationships.  Jesus guide us in our relationships with truth and honesty.  Thank you for helping us to grow in freedom and love.  In Jesus name we pray.  Amen. 

I Am Lioness

I Am Lioness

 Sue Knisley -Guest Contributor

Sue Knisley -Guest Contributor

 

Iron Man, Black Panther, Thor, Hulk, Captain America, Superman

Lioness is who I’d be in the world of superheroes.

Before I knew Jesus, even way after… when I looked in the mirror, I saw a scared little kitten. I acted out what I saw. Going through my days, remembering to pray once in awhile, when it suited me, or when I needed/wanted something.

What a pathetic, empty life it was. Void of joy, serenity, confidence. I ‘hid’ a lot. That’s what kittens do. All that time, Lioness waited in the wings. Jesus surrounded my very being 24/7. I may have made Him an afterthought, intentional or not, but I was never an afterthought to Him.

I let so many things get in the way of my relationship with Jesus. Food was my primary drug of choice. Busyness also got snorted on a regular basis. Parts of me feel tears while writing this. I didn’t use illegal street drugs. Well, they DID give me fentanyl when I got a spinal epidural. Isn’t that stuff for horses? Booze didn’t do it for me. But junk food? Watch out. I stayed numbed out for years.

Different times at church, Ryan would say something that struck a nerve or piqued my interest. I might join a life group, volunteer, even crack open a Bible. Who knew God was talking to me all those times? He had time for me, a scared kitten?
Yeah, He did.

Whenever I’d draw near to Him, He’d welcome me with a huge, squishy hug. It would bring me to tears of gratitude, relief, puzzlement that He could love even me. Me, who’s done some awful things, really bad stuff.

When Jesus came down to Earth and chose to die on the cross to pay the ransom for all our sins, we got this amazing gift of forgiveness and the promise of Heaven.

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

This was such a boatload of freedom to me. I spent so many years of my life paying lip service to those Scriptures, but not truly believing them for me. I felt like I made God shake His head and walk away in disgust when He looked at me.

That was a lie of the enemy, one of many, and I believed it for a lot of years. Here’s the truth: God loves me! I am not a scared little kitten anymore. Yes, I’m still human and I’ll always have imperfections while I’m on this side of the grave. Yet, accepting Jesus’ forgiveness of my sins and believing who I truly am in Christ…

Psalm 139.14 I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made, Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

I am Lioness! More than able to carry out God’s message. Hear me roar, take THAT puny enemy. Get out of my way.

Here’s the thing: just like my heroes Iron Man, Super Man and the rest of the gang, if I choose to be on my own, I’m just a scared kitten. I have to stay connected to my power source, Jesus Christ, if I want to be Lioness.

Be the scared kitten or be the Lion or Lioness...meow or roar...it’s your choice

Why I Go

Why I Go

"You reap what you sow" is a concept that exists in every culture and every period
throughout history. We paraphrase this concept in lots of ways that are familiar to all
of us...

"WHO WAS GRACE AND WHY WAS SHE SO AMAZING?"

"WHO WAS GRACE AND WHY WAS SHE SO AMAZING?"

"You reap what you sow" is a concept that exists in every culture and every period
throughout history. We paraphrase this concept in lots of ways that are familiar to all
of us...

Religious Choke Hold

Religious Choke Hold

"You reap what you sow" is a concept that exists in every culture and every period
throughout history. We paraphrase this concept in lots of ways that are familiar to all
of us...

Spirit Influences

Spirit Influences

"You reap what you sow" is a concept that exists in every culture and every period
throughout history. We paraphrase this concept in lots of ways that are familiar to all
of us...

Reaping and Sowing

Reaping and Sowing

"You reap what you sow" is a concept that exists in every culture and every period
throughout history. We paraphrase this concept in lots of ways that are familiar to all
of us...