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Leadership Blog

Strong Hold of the Lord
Jan 12, 2018

As Pastor Sherm taught us how to Go Deeper into Psalms this past Fall, God took me into a deeper understanding these past months – into discovering the Stronghold of the Lord.

“I love You, Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer, my God, my mountain where I seek refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I was saved from my enemies” (Psalm 18:1-3, HCSB).

God is our stronghold! He is our safe place. And He resides inside us! We don’t have to wonder where He is. We don’t have to go looking for Him. He’s not going anywhere. But more than that, He has every resource we will ever need – an infinite supply of strength, safety, hope, peace, joy, and satisfaction. With these things in abundance, what more could we possibly want?

Have you learned how to seek the Lord in the stronghold that is your soul? Have you learned how to turn your heart away from the distractions of the world and seek His face, to seek your place at His feet? He’s waiting there for you, and He is more than able to satisfy your every need.

“For I know the plans I have for you”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. You will call to Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you”—this is the Lord’s declaration” (Jeremiah 29:11-14b).

Seeking the face of God is a spiritual activity. “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth” (John 4:24, HCSB). We don’t seek Him with our physical presence at Church. We seek Him in the spiritual place of the soul. God promises to respond when we draw near to Him in this way. Drawing near to God in the stronghold of the soul is a process that produces amazing results. It is the process by which His desires become my desires. It’s the process by which His will becomes my will. And when that happens, oh yes! I get exactly what I want! The more I discover God in the stronghold of the soul, the more I bask in His presence and delight in His impossibly strong hold on me.

‘May Yahweh answer you in a day of trouble; may the name of Jacob’s God protect you. May He send you help from the sanctuary and sustain you from Zion. May He remember all your offerings and accept your burnt offering. Selah May He give you what your heart desires and fulfill your whole purpose. Let us shout for joy at your victory and lift the banner in the name of our God. May Yahweh fulfill all your requests” (Psalm 20:1-4, HCSB).

Note: Carol is teaching a Bible study this semester called Engaging with Scripture about the Stronghold of the Soul – discovering it for yourself. Get involved in any of our Bible studies on Sundays or Wednesdays:

Leadership Blog

Green Bananas
Jan 12, 2018

So my morning routine at the Choate house ends with the creation of my protein shake. It is always chocolate, banana & peanut butter (smooth) unless a certain young lady has eaten my last banana the night before. My preference is a banana that is almost over-ripe - yellow with brown spots and getting squishy. Today I had a banana that was yellow, somewhat spotted but not squishy. As I peeled the banana, it didn’t peel like a ripe banana and was in fact resistant to its purpose...peel and eat. I gave it the sniff test and it smelled a little green but not bad. After a good blending, I tasted that it was very green. I thought “I don’t like you green banana. I wish a monkey at the zoo had eaten you instead.”

Then I thought about a book I recently finished entitled “The Insanity of God” by Nik Ripken. It journals Nik’s two year journey to interview believers in Russia, China and Muslim countries. The stories of how God is using the believers and still doing miraculous things are amazing. One thing that struck me was the attitude of the Chinese’s believers.

“If you accept Christ as your Savior, it’s not ‘IF’ you’ll be arrested for your faith but ‘WHEN’ you are arrested.”

Accepting Christ comes with a price and the change that is brought in a person’s heart must be genuine to pay the price of spending time in prison and the torture that goes with it. There must be a true transformation on the inside.

Proverbs 23:7a
Says “As he thinks in his heart, so is he.”

And Luke 6:45 finishes with this thought
“...for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”

I can look really good on the outside (all yellow with nice brown spots) but sometimes on the inside, I am not good (green and bitter).

My 2018 resolution is simple, ‘More Jesus’. I want Jesus to be the abundance of my heart and He will give us as much of Himself as we are willing to take. See we have all the Jesus in our life that we want. Why do I want more Jesus? Because when I heard the stories of Russian believers that spent years in prison but faithfully kept the faith, I asked myself could I do that? And my church answer is ‘yes’ but my honest answer is ‘I hope so but I’m not sure.’

At the end of the book Nik invites his readers to come on this journey where God transforms hearts, changes hearts,and develops powerful but humble men and women of God for His Kingdom. I accepted his challenge, I’m going on this journey with Jesus and it starts with more of Him in my life.

Here’s what I’m doing...

  • Ask Him to show me what in my life is more important than Him.
  • Ask Him to take the things I will not willingly surrender.
  • Ask Him to remove the fear that keeps me from being obedient
  • Expect Him to answer.
  • Be ready to follow.
  • Be ready to be amazed at the Awesomeness of my Savior.

I would love for you to join me on this journey to be a good ripe banana for the Kingdom.

Leadership Blog

All I want for Christmas is you
Jan 06, 2018

Jesus You are enough.

You are enough, even when there is no tree to gather around.

You are enough, when no stockings are hung.

Jesus You are enough, even when snow doesn’t exist and it’s 80 degrees.

You are enough, when there are no cookies to decorate or biscuits and gravy to eat on Christmas morning.

You are enough, even when there is no funny sibling picture in front of the tree.

You are enough, when there is no present with my name on it.

Jesus You are enough, when the alarm wakes me up and not the sound of my mother’s voice.

You are enough, even when family pictures are taken and I’m a mere face on a screen.

Jesus You are enough, even when I’m a world a way from my family during this Christmas season.

Jesus You are enough, because You came as a baby.

You are enough because Your name is Emmanuel... and You are with me!

Jesus this Christmas, You and only You, are enough for me.

Leadership Blog

Would You Eat These Ten Foods For The Gospel?
Dec 27, 2017

I’m looking forward to what God does in TBC, through TBC and All-around TBC in 2018!

Few activities hold more meaning across cultures than gathering for a meal together. We asked Pioneers around the world, apart from the many delicious and exotic food experiences, what were the strangest textures, fragrances and tastes they have encountered. (

Warning: Don't read any further if you just ate or have a queasy stomach!

10.  Live bee larvae in Southeast Asia.

9.  Fried starfish in East Asia. “It tastes like stagnant seawater. Horrible!”

8.  Grilled duck tongue in East Asia. “Because it was coated with seasonings and grilled, the flavor was good. But there wasn’t much to eat. Our hosts also gave us a bag of prepackaged duck tongues to eat as snacks on the go, but we haven’t been in a rush to open them up.”

7.  Roasted stinging caterpillars in the Americas. “They love to eat stinging caterpillars. They roast them over the coals, rub the stinging bristles off, and serve them with yucca (also known as cassava). They taste a lot like fried chicken skins.”

6.  Fried termites in West Africa. “This is actually a family favorite. They taste like French fries!”

5.  Fried guinea pig in South America is a delicacy. “When they serve it, it looks like a flattened guinea pig with the paws and head intact.

4.  Sheep eyeballs in Central Asia. “Sheep eyeballs are presented to the most honored guest.”

3.  Fermented potatoes in the Peruvian Andes Mountains. “It is called tokosh and is served as a dessert with the consistency of tapioca pudding. They ferment potatoes in cold mountain streams for up to a year. The smell turns your stomach and the taste almost does the same. The locals love it and proudly serve it as a regional dish, but they know the smell of it is horrid.”

2.  Balut (developing duck embryo pictured on the right) in the Philippines. “They boil it and eat it inside the shell. They sprinkle a little vinegar or sea salt on it and then pop it into their mouths.”

And the food that takes the prize for the most difficult food for our Pioneers to eat is…

1. Masata (spit beer) in South America. “They make it by chewing up and spitting out yucca and sweet potato repeatedly. They add water and then let it ferment. I thought it was gross until I helped a neighbor. She told me, ‘You need to get the spit from the back of your throat.’ Then I thought it was disgusting.”

Other items that weren’t quite difficult enough to make the list are…

  • Fried crickets
  • Cream-filled silkworms in East Asia
  • Snails in Europe
  • Durian, a slimy fruit eaten in Southeast Asia
  • Ox kneecap in Asia
  • Squid in Asia
  • Goat head in North Africa
  • Dried lamb preserved in it’s own lard in North Africa
  • Raw, cubed liver in North Africa
  • Satay monitor lizard
  • Jellyfish salad in Southeast Asia
  • Salted plums in Japan
  • Boiled sheep head
  • Cow tongue in Central America
  • Chitterlings (entrails of swine)

So, having a cup of great coffee with your coworker, neighbor or even a stranger doesn’t sound so bad…right?
I want to encourage you (or challenge you) to start praying and looking for that person you know God wants you to sit down with and share your story with them. Tell them what the Gospel has done in your life and then allow the power of the Holy Spirit do the rest of the work.

Oh, and don’t forget to enjoy that great cup of coffee (make sure there is no cow tongue in your coffee – LOL).

Cheering you on,

Leadership Blog

What is on Your Kitchen Counter?
Dec 22, 2017

Last week, there was a pecan pie sitting on my counter in the kitchen. And like any other woman with zero willpower, I took a bite of that pie virtually every time I walked by it. Just one bite. And don’t you know it, after a few hours, I consumed WAAAY too much of that pie. So it got me thinking. What if… what if I put something that was good for me in that space instead of pie? But instead of a healthy vegetable to nibble on, what if I put God’s Word there? I could take a “bite” of the Bread of Life throughout the day. Just one bite and munch on it while I walked away.

So one day I put a verse I wanted to meditate on in that spot. I read that verse countless times throughout the day. It became hidden in my heart. Another day, I put my actual Bible there. I chose a Psalm and took 15 seconds to read one verse as I passed by. Many times, I found myself stopping to read more than one verse. I feasted on God’s Word, one bite at a time, throughout the day.

Psalm 34:8

Taste and see that the Lord is good; 

How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!

Just 3 things to help you “taste” more of God:

  1. Write a Scripture passage. Our soul connects with words differently when we write it in our own handwriting. Printed looks pretty; but writing it makes it “mine.”
 Put it in front of you – your mirror, your desk, on the fridge, in the car, on the counter. Choose to take 10 seconds to read it every time you pass by.
  2. Read Scripture out loud. When you combine your senses, you intake more. By both using your eyes to read, ears to hear, mouth to speak and your fingers to touch God’s Word, you will “taste” more of it.
  3. Look up one of the words of the verse in the original language (Hebrew, Greek) that the author wrote it. This sounds super scholarly, but it’s actually very simple with online tools. There is so much depth in the words of the Bible, beyond what the English translation can contain. 
Try it! Do a Google search: “Greek meaning for peace in lexicon.” Just reading the 8 definitions brings me peace!

Enjoy consuming God’s Word today – one bite at a time. It’s much better for you than pie!

Link to Lexicon for “peace.” John 14:27: Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.

A 2018 message from our Pastor

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