Be Prepared

by Christina Hice

About two years ago a gentleman called the church; he had the wrong number. I don’t remember where he was trying to call but he called here. His name is Stanley, he is in his mid-sixties to seventies, and he speaks with the most delightful New York/Northern New Jersey accent. He continues to call, somewhat regularly; he called last week.

Stanley talked for about fifty minutes. When he calls, I just listen. It’s a challenge to get a word in edgewise with Stanley…he is both lonely and has a lot to talk about. He covers the spectrum from Romantic poets (think back to your English Lit class and Shelley and Blake) to the secular teachings of Jesus (I know…I was surprised there was such a thing also!). He seems well educated but lost.

And when he called this time, it was due to loss. His mom passed November 10, 2020, and he is struggling. He is struggling with that loss, with having no other family, with disconnection from neighbors during this pandemic, with legal issues, and, I think, with spiritual issues.

Stanley repeatedly tells me he is an atheist. He does not believe that God is real but does believe Jesus was a good man who walked this earth and had some excellent teachings on how to live. Yet in this conversation, Stanley asked me to send him some scripture because he was struggling so much. He asked for verses about peace because he is not resting and he is not at peace. He wanted some hope.

I emailed Stanley some scripture, but I also gently pointed out that knowing the Author is really where peace and hope are found, that verses separated from the One who authored them could be comforting in the moment but would not bring true peace.

We are two years into a global pandemic and there are many suffering and lost people who think they may need peace and want a little verse or platitude but who really need the Prince of Peace. Stanley cannot possibly be the only one. Somebody’s wrong number could be your opportunity to share the Hope that you have.

“But in your hearts revere 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.” (1 Peter 3:15 NIV)

Lord, as we walk through our days, help us to be aware of every opportunity You give us to share our Hope in You. Help us to see and hear the brokenness and loss around us. Give us wisdom and boldness to lovingly speak your truth. And help our hearts to overflow with thankfulness and love for you, that we may share this with those you put in our path. Amen.


Burden Us, Lord

by Mark Schumacher

Barb and I read a news article last Fall that grabbed our hearts and did not let go. After each of us read it, we both shared immediately, “we cannot allow this to happen.” The story shared the unthinkable challenge many Afghan families were facing when they could not pay bills owed to local landowners or merchants – selling their children. Fortunately, when we investigated with the author and were directed to a group that was trying to help, we found we were part of a large group of people who also felt they had to help.

Thankfully, in the case we read, involving an eight-year old girl whose mother was grief stricken with such a prospect, financial help from hundreds of people would allow for a payment to go to the person who was prepared to take the little girl as payment. The financial help provided also was changing the previously bleak prospects of many families to ones of hope and security for their children.

This situation reminds me of the role we all have to reach a world that is destined to much worse than even the unthinkable destination these children faced – that of eternity in Hell without God. Jesus tells us in Matthew 28:19 NIV – “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations.” Once we have accepted Jesus’s free gift of salvation and the promise of life eternal with Him, we are to share this news with others. Of course, this happens as we allow God to use us in the power of the Holy Spirit. Hebrews 13: 15-16 NIV says, “…let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise – the fruit of lips that openly confess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others.”

As with the Afghan children I cannot imagine being sold, even more so, I cannot imagine dear ones I love or people God places along my path in life being subject to an eternity with Satan instead of a glorious and joyful eternity with God in His beautiful kingdom. As believers, we have so much to be thankful for as we celebrate this Easter season. We are reminded of all that Jesus endured for us, His indescribable love for us, His resurrection from the dead, and the promise He offers of eternal life with Him. We have a story to tell – who He is and what He has done for us!

Let that gift, promise, and hope encourage and inspire us to willingly carry a burden for those around us. May we be available to go where God wants to send and use us. And by serving and loving others as He leads us, let us be open to sharing the message of Jesus from His Word, as the Spirit leads and empowers us.

Dear Lord, allow each of us to willingly commit ourselves to your leading. Show us the people you would have us love on, serve and share your message of Jesus Christ with today and each day you want to use us. It is in the redeeming and powerful name of your son, Jesus Christ that we ask this. Amen.


Made in the Image of God

by Laurie Kuhn 

So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. (Genesis 1:27 ESV)                                                                                                                                      

My mother is a member of Northwest Baptist Church in Reisterstown, Maryland, and has been for years. Both my parents were a part of starting this church in 1968; my dad actually named it. He knew the state was going to build the Northwest Expressway next to the property where church was going to be built. I’m very proud of my parents for that.

Mom started volunteering in the nursery on Sunday mornings for the babies and toddlers. She said she was “babysitting” because the children were too small to teach a lesson to. She would hold the little ones, rock them while they would cry for Mommy, and take them for walks around the Sunday School rooms. There was, and still is I hope, a beautiful picture of Jesus on the wall in the nursery and Mom would point and show the little ones saying, “Jesus”.

My mom was there just about every Sunday morning for over 30 years. The Pastor would use her as an example when he preached about serving in the church. Mom didn’t like that. She would say there are lots of other people serving just as much as she is. She thought herself undeserving of the accolades. 

Mom told me of a time, after years of” babysitting”, when she was grocery shopping and a young mom with her two-year-old came toward her. They attended church at Northwest Baptist Church. The little one noticed Mom and, with a crooked little finger, pointed at Mom and said “Jesus”. 

Gee, I think they’re not too little to be taught a lesson, how about you? I love you, Mom.



Overcoming Me

by Melissa Myers

My 19-month-old granddaughter learned to say “PopPop” very early on with ease. Audibly addressing Granny “MiMi” however, has been an ongoing process. In teaching her to acknowledge me by name, I would point to myself and say “MiMi”. I did not anticipate her emulating the gesture as well as the words. She will point to herself and repeat “Me, Me”. As she’s absorbing her world, she understands the meaning of “me” and it’s the center of everything. It only confuses her to redirect her finger point to my person instead of hers.

It’s an adorable stage of development – at least to her grandparents who aren’t required to correct or discipline. She wants what she wants and will squeal, cry, or tantrum at times to get it. She doesn’t want playtime or attention to end; it is all about “me”.

We are born with an imprint of sin and a selfish flesh. We learn and develop empathy, compassion, and selflessness, yet we can never fully overcome the “me” until we’re called to our eternal home. I see my infantile self wanting its way so often. Even in simple things like where we park the car at church, I want it my way. I believe that’s why there are so many scriptures about dying to self and overcoming the flesh; our nature is profoundly self-centered.

Thankfully we have a Savior that gave His own life as recompense for our selfish ways. We might throw the occasional tantrum or demand our own way, but we have the opportunity to repent and receive forgiveness. Our granddaughter’s tantrums are anticipated and quickly forgotten. So it is with our heavenly Father; He forgives and forgets because he knows where we are in our stage of development. There are consequences and discipline, but in His love, we never face the full penance that we may deserve. 

Is there an area where you require things to be your way? What will it mean to those around you if you surrender that need?

“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:22-24 NIV)

Father God, I surrender my need to have my own way and seek to selflessly serve those that You have put into my world to love through your gracious Holy Spirit.




Scripture Reading: March 19 & 20

Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand

The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.

By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. “This is a remote place,” they said, “and it’s already very late. Send the people away so that they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.”

But he answered, “You give them something to eat.” They said to him, “That would take more than half a year’s wages! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?”

“How many loaves do you have?” he asked. “Go and see.” When they found out, they said, “Five—and two fish.” Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties.

Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish. The number of the men who had eaten was five thousand. (Mark 6:30-44 NIV)



What If

by Chris Abbey

Matthew West has a song out called “What If”. The words are really cool and they got me thinking about any regrets I might have at the end of my life. 

I remember a man in our choir at the church where I fellowshipped in Atlanta talking about a friend of his who had passed away suddenly. He was berating himself because he knew he should have shared his testimony with his friend but kept putting it off. Until one day, it was too late. He was ashamed that he didn’t heed the call to talk to his friend about Jesus when he had the chance, and now he worried that if his friend wasn’t in Heaven, could he have helped change that outcome?

That confession has stuck with me all these years. Why is it so hard to share our testimony with those we love? We don’t have to spell out the whole Gospel, we don’t even have to have all of the answers. We only have to share about how God has worked and still works in our lives. It’s that simple, we just think it’s hard. All that matters is John 9:25 NIV, “One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see.” That’s all we have to say.

My best friend’s dad recently passed away, and although his absence in this world is profound to me, I have peace. A couple of years ago, I sent a letter to him and his wife simply telling them about how God worked in my life and how He was carrying me through my husband’s illness and death. I did my part, I obeyed God, and now it was up to God and my friend’s dad what they did with it. 

Face-to-face, phone call, text, letter, whatever you feel led to do, just do it. Know that if God wants you to share about His love, He will give you the courage and the words. They may respond, they may not, but you’ll be at peace because you obeyed God, and you’ll never have to ask yourself, what if? 

“What if today’s the only day I got?

I don’t wanna waste it if it’s my last shot

No regrets, in the end

I wanna know I got no what ifs

I’m running till the road runs out

I’m lighting it up right here right now

No regrets, in the end

I wanna know I got no what ifs” (Matthew West)

Lord, show us where, when, and how you want us to share your love with those around us. Give us the foresight to know when you are calling us to witness and the right words to say. Remind us that we only have to do a small thing, then move out of the way so you can do a big thing. Thank you for opening my heart to receive your salvation. Amen.