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If BJ Funk looks familiar, she should. She has been writing for Good News since 2009. Her bi-monthly article appears on the last page of the magazine. And as you know, the best is always saved for last. BJ's devotionals are full of wisdom and encouragement. Feel free to share her writing with your friends or women's group. She has a way of illuminating the heart of scripture. And no wonder, she is an extraordinary woman. Before going into the ministry, she was a wife, mother and kindergarten teacher; she has experienced the tragedy of divorce and the loss of her beloved second husband. Her relationship with Jesus has given her strength, warmth and a joy that will bless you.




Mayberry Every Day
B.J. Funk

I have always enjoyed reruns of the Andy Griffith Show, especially when his deputy, Barney, added his unique touch of humor. After Andy died, I started taping all of the Andy Griffith Marathon shows. I don't want to miss a one. It's not just that I lose myself in laughter, but I lose myself in thirty minutes of peddling backward into the simplicity of another time. My mind and body slow down when I walk into Mayberry. There's nothing quite like a visit with Andy on his porch, with Aunt Bee in her kitchen or with Opie as he rides his bike in complete confidence that nothing bad could ever happen on the streets of Mayberry. I loved Barney's favorite expression dealing with life's trials: 'Nip it in the bud!'

Ah, those were the days! Even if you are not a fan, you still realize that the relaxed life portrayed in this show is something we would love to have today. How did we lose that tranquil pace that characterized life in the l950's? How wonderful if those slower days of yesteryear would reappear. My friends say to me, however, 'Those days are gone, never to return.'

I'm not sure about that. I believe there is a way to salvage the peace of Mayberry. Just as a script guided Andy and Barney through thought-provoking situations in which they never seemed rushed, you and I have a script that guides us into that same slowed-down feeling. The Bible's script says to us in Isaiah 32: 17-18, 'The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever. My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest.'

While my study notes point to this time in Isaiah as occurring when the worldwide kingdom of God is established for all eternity at the end of time, we can also know this quietness and confidence now. There is a way to bring that awesome peace into your daily hustle. Outer circumstances might not change. A fast pace society is here to stay. But, Scripture tells us that the inside of us—the part in which the Holy Spirits whispers His peace-- has a great chance of living in Mayberry again.

I think of my late mother often, but always when I think of inner peace. If her peace could be marketed and sold, the world would pay anything to buy a bottle. She knew the secret of staying connected to her Source, Jesus Christ. I never saw her frustrated or 'out of sorts.' She carried peace inside, and it dribbled out on every body who passed her way. I was so blessed...am so blessed...that she was my mother!

I remember a time when everybody around me was in a tizzy! Suddenly, I looked at my serene mother, and she said, 'I'm perfectly content.' She was not bragging. She was simply stating a fact. She was content. I think she was not sure why everyone else was not!

The reason most of us do not know this kind of peace is that we are trying to find peace in all the wrong places. Gleaning daily from the Bible's amazing promises will give us a different perspective on anything troubling us. For today, make this your Bible assignment: read Isaiah 32:17-18 and ask for that inner peace that truly can surpass all earthly understanding.

God's Word will be better than Mayberry as you allow Him to help you with your anxiety. Allow your heart, soul and mind to concentrate on God and the tremendous truths of His Word, and watch your fluttering and anxious life find peace that you did not know existed. Circumstances likely won't change. But you will. Who better than God could take your worried heart, replace it with inner peace and "nip your worries in the bud!"




Mercy Kept the Light On
B.J. Funk

Motel Six television commercials are known for their 'We keep the light on' advertisements, which might not mean much to some, but which send a comforting beacon to many for whom the light has been turned off. For those who have ever had a door slammed in their faces, or a rejection that feels like hard fists in the stomach, the encouragement of  finding a place that actually keeps the light on is an oasis of hope, a contrast to their desert of darkness.

Already today, you have probably passed by someone in the grocery store or at work who longs for a light to be left on for them. You likely did not notice, for many searchers of light are masters at covering up their need. They mix their hurts with an addiction to numb the pain, taking on excessive swallows of poison as they grow deeper into their belief that they don't really matter to anyone else; why, then, should they matter to you?

Or, perhaps it is the opposite. They laugh a little too loudly, tell a few more jokes than anyone else, and maybe, if you look deeply enough, they never allow you to really get into their lives. We only see portions of them, the sunny side of them, the 'I've got life, and I'm great' side of them. One gets the feeling that honesty has never rested its head on their heart, as they cake on layer after layer of 'Everything is okay! Really, it is.'

Then, on a night when no one expects, a crash comes through their cover-up plans, and a raw pain that hurts deeper than they ever imagined comes forth. Pretense falls, and truth walks in. It is not fun. It's not fun to realize that all your hidden secrets are hidden no more, that now your family and friends will see the dark side of you. It is more than you can bear. You want to climb in a closet, and shut out the world.

Except for one giant, marvelous word, you might. One word that dares to break the closet door open and pull you out. A soothing, yet forceful word that is claimed by the One who made it, the One who is the very same, the One who is over and above all others. Mercy. Mercy takes the same hammer that nailed Him to the cross and yanks out the nails that hold you captive inside the closet. Mercy paid too much for you to live in an embryonic state inside of mold, dark and nothingness, inside winter clothes crammed together and falling on the floor.  Mercy claims you, holds you, enfolds you and calls you His own.

Come out from hiding. Your life is not over yet. Mercy will always keep the lights on for you.



Four-Way Stops: Demonstrating the Golden Rule
B.J. Funk

Have you heard of the Parable of the Four-way Stop Sign? It's the Golden Rule in action. Four vehicles can reach the stop sign around the same time, from four different directions. Each stops, allowing the first that arrives to be the first to move forward. You stop and wait your turn. Another waits his turn. In this world of law suits running rampant because someone has violated another's rights, the four-way stop brings a pleasant reminder that 'doing unto others' actually can work. I go through one every day on my way to work, and I've yet to see an angry motorist exit his car for a fist fight with the driver of the car who got there first.

We teach our children to take turns. While a child is bursting to always be first, we tell them they cannot. How many times has a parent said to small siblings, 'You take a turn. Then give your brother a turn'? In homes that value guidance, the Golden Rule is taught daily. Yet, I grow weary of TV talk shows where grown-ups have forgotten what they were taught as children. Men and women engage in nightly battles of interruption to see who can be the loudest. Sometimes, I want to write them and tell them the Parable of the Four-Way Stop Sign!

Me, my and mine seem to have become the buzz words of our era, and the message of the Golden Rule gets pushed aside. Instead of the admonition of Jesus to 'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,' we often hear 'Do unto others before they get a chance to do it unto you!'

Taking turns is not the only aspect of this rule. But it's a beginning. Start a Matthew 7:12 Ministry in your Sunday School class, and watch the differences that can come when we treat others the way we like to be treated.



The season of lent begins march 5. It can be a rich time in our lives and the life of the church. Lent is meant to be a forty day journey that leads us to holy week, takes us to the crucifixion of Jesus on good Friday, and culminates on easter sunday.

I am sorry to say I have not always taken advantage of this time in the church calendar. A few years ago my pastor challenged my local church to take these forty days more seriously. For the past two years, um bishop Michael McKee has challenged our conference to join him in fasting for one meal per week in honor of lent, using this time to pray and delve deeper into his word.

There are many ways to observe lent. The important thing is to use this time to come closer to Christ and the cross.

That is why I am excited to recommend several resources from women on the renew team. These books and studies will enrich and deepen your relationship with jesus any time of the year. They are a special blessing during the Lenten season.

In Christ, Katy Kiser


Rev. Kris Key, pastor of women's ministries at trinity on the hill UMC, recommends:

 

 

In Six Hours One Friday, Lucado delves into the meaning of Jesus' last hours on the cross. I found reviews of this book on the web and they were very moving and heartfelt. One reviewer writes, "The way Max Lucado portrays the cross and how our Father must have felt with his son on the cross gave me chills and brought me to tears throughout the book, especially the last page". As a parent, I simply can't imagine.

 

Another Lucado book, He Chose the Nails, explores the depth of what Jesus did for us. He writes about how much Jesus loved us...a love that led Him to choose the cross. Lucado explains the significance of symbols such as the crown of thorns, the burial clothes, the sign of the cross, and many more. One reader describes this book as "very emotional and eye opening. This will most definitely be a book I read every year!"


Rev. Karen Booth, leader of transforming congregations, recommends:

Karen shared that every year she tries to read the day Christ died by jim bishop. The author approaches this day from the viewpoint of a journalistic historian rather than a theologian. In fact, the book reads like a narrative from a storybook. It is written in hourly increments and opens at 6:00 p.m. with jesus and ten of the apostles coming through the pass between the mt. of olives and the mt. of Offense en route to Jerusalem and the last supper. It closes at 4:00 p.m. the following afternoon when jesus was taken down from the cross. One cannot help but be drawn into the "most dramatic day in the history of the world-the day Jesus of Nazareth died".


Sara Anderson, chief operating officer at Bristol House publishing, (800-451-7323 or www.bristolhouseltd.com ), has three recommendations for seven week studies that are not specifically for lent but lend themselves well for growing closer to Christ and deepening our walk with him. These are:

Everyday Christian: living like Christ seven days a week. this study encourages us to become followers of Christ, and invite god's spirit to infiltrate every area of our life, both inside and out. "Whether it be in our business practices, how we treat our family, how we react on the sports field, how we take care of our bodies, or how we treat god's creation.....our lives are to be consistently Christ-like and holy spirit-filled--no matter where we are or what we are doing."

Christian disciplines: creating time and space for god. "discipline is necessary to realize our desires and goals. It is the means to an end, a method of moving forward, a path toward a destination, a way of living that enables accomplishment....this study focuses on the Cristian's yearning for a deeper life in god and more faithful living out of faith in Jesus Christ." (Available at www.bristolhouseltd.com )

The sower went out: and other parables of jesus. this bible study gives fresh depth and meaning to seven parables; the sower, the good Samaritan, the prodigal son, the Pharisee and the tax collector, the wise and foolish builders, the workers in the vineyard, and the ten virgins.


katy kiser, renew team leader, recommends:

The one resource that has been very meaningful to me is Richard john neuhaus' book death on a Friday afternoon: meditations on the last words of jesus from the cross. Neuhaus devotes a chapter to each of the seven words of Christ from the cross. I have underlined so many deep insights as I have read and re-read this book. With each reading, my understanding of Jesus' death and resurrection has deepened as I am pulled into the drama of what is taking place on my behalf and the behalf of humanity. In the preface I found this quote, "...Good Friday is the key to understanding what dante called "the love that moves the sun and all the other stars". I can highly recommend this book.

All the books, with the exception of Christian disciplines, can be found at www.christianbooks.com or www.amazon.com . Enjoy


 

 



Press Release: RENEW Rejoins good news and liza kittle will be stepping down as President

Read the full article


Do you want a deeper relationship with Jesus - the radically loving, transforming, redeeming Messiah? United Methodist pastors, Carolyn Moore and Kris Key offer us the opportunity to interact with our Savior in this new resource Encounter Jesus. It is more than the traditional Bible study - it is a deeply personal encounter!

Read more...


 
New book release! Fifty-Two Sundays by Ruth Baird Shaw:
"Sermons that Speak to Your Heart and Challenge Your Mind"

 

Ruth is an ordained elder in the north Georgia conference of the UMC. She raised seven children and served with her husband Rev. Charles Shaw for 37 years before his retirement. Rev. Shaw graduated with a Master of Divinity degree at candler school of theology at Emory University. She was in her sixth decade. When her husband died from a heart attack in Dec.1986, she was asked by the people of Rico UMC to become their pastor....three weeks later, at Christmas, she stood in the pulpit of her late husband and preached her first sermon.

Rev. Shaw says, "This book is in celebration of the ministry into which the lord graciously called me and the door he opened wide and invited me to enter! This book is also in celebration of he sermons prayerfully prepared after I answered god's amazing call and appointment to preach the gospel from age sixty-three forward." She is truly a treasure to the United Methodist Church.

Go to her Facebook Page "Fifty-Two Sundays" and "like" the page. there is information on how to order this book that I know you will treasure.



Great Websites related to women's issues Here. (From Concerned Women for America)



3540 Wheeler Road - Suite 410 - Augusta, GA 30909   |   P.O. Box 16055 - Augusta, GA 30919
phone: 706.364.0166   |   fax: 706.364.0186    |   info@renewnetwork.org