Radcliff United Methodist Church
Wednesday, October 16, 2019
God's People Filled with God's Presence Fulfilling God's Purposes


Sermon Notes and Stories from our Ministry Activities
RUMC Blog Email radcliffumc@gmail.com

2019 UMW Reading Program

Saturday, February 09, 2019 View Comments Comments (0)
 Claudia Castenir shared a Mission Moment about the UMW Reading Program. Below is the bulletin insert with the information about the various plans.  We have a small library with many of the books at the church, or they can be purchased online, including in Kindle and other electronic formats.

An Ash Wednesday Devotional

Wednesday, February 18, 2015 View Comments Comments (0)

Lent is a season for forty days, (not counting Sundays) which begins on "Ash-Wednesday" and ends on "Holy Saturday" (the day before Easter Sunday). Historically in the Church, Lent has been a season of fasting and preparation for the great Resurrection celebration of Easter.

"Ash-Wednesday" emphasizes a Duel-encounter. In it we confront both our own mortality and our own sinfulness. The use of Ashes as a sign of mortality, and repentance for sin is found throughout the Bible.

1 Timothy 4:7-8 says, "Have nothing to do with godless and old wives tales; rather train yourself to be Godly. For physical training is of some value, but Godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come." (NIV)

We have often said that the goal of the Christian life, is to become more and more like Jesus in character. It is to "be more like Jesus today than I was yesterday, and more like Jesus tomorrow than I was today." The Scripture calls that kind of growth in Christ's character the Fruit of the Spirit. (see Galatians 5:22-23)

Now, while it is true that only the Spirit of the Living God can grow these kind of "fruits" (characteristics) within us, we also have a role to play. As followers of Christ, we have both the free-will and the opportunity to COOPERATE with the work of the Holy Spirit within us to enhance the growth of these characteristics in our lives. That's why the Bible tells us to "...train yourself to be Godly".

Train yourself? There is a real intentionality about that. It implies choice and work and discipline. The Lord has given us certain core disciplines to help us in our Godliness training. Some of these foundational ones are: Scripture, and Prayer, fasting worship and service.

So, as we begin this season of Lent, I would like to challenge each and every one of us to intentionally work to cooperate with the Holy Spirit and "train ourselves" to be more and more like Jesus. Commit to spend some time in the Word each and every day. Commit to spend more time in prayer daily than you have been. Practice some form of fasting (give something up during this season). Find new and fresh ways to serve. Make worship a priority.

May God give you and I a Holy Lenten season, so that we may become more and more like Jesus in our character to the Glory of God the Father!

Live God Strong: You Have the Roots - June 1, 2014

Friday, June 06, 2014 View Comments Comments (0)
      LIVE “GOD STRONG”…. YOU HAVE THE ROOTS!      Colossians 2:6-7

        What is the difference between these two trees?


   Both trees were tall, and both looked very strong. Both faced storms… strong winds, hail, rain… But each tree’s life came out with a very different outcome. One broke, and one stood strong. What is the difference?     ROOTS! DEEP, STRONG, ROOTS!

 ** Quote about deep, strong, roots**

  Today, we start to take a look at how to live , not just “strong”… but GOD-STRONG!  Now, living “God-strong” requires the same thing that the tree that weathers the storm needs…. Deep roots!

In Colossians 2:6-7 the apostle Paul writes to believers  and shares with them (and us) what it means to Live Strong in the Lord.   (God-Strong) The Word says, “ So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in Him”.   How? What is the key? What must we do to live a God-Strong life?

                                  STRONG ROOTS!


 The strongest force in the entire universe is the very One who created it…. God almighty! Think about this; He spoke and the world came into existence. It is He who breathes life into every living thing. He is strong enough to shake the mountains, to calm the storms, to cure the diseases, to save souls, and even to beat the grave!  He is the Almighty, all knowing, all powerful God! We see His face in Jesus! He is strength incarnate!

  So, if we are going to stand strong, it only stands to reason that we should tap into the strongest power source in the universe! It only stands to reason that the ultimate strength comes from the ultimate source of power. It stands to reason that the strongest structure is built on the strongest foundation! That is why the Word says, “ …rooted and built up in Him”.


Notice the “In Him!” A life that is centered in Christ, is strong. A life centered in Christ…. It means to be connected to Him in prayer, and built up by Him through Study and application of His Word. It means to  be empowered through the fellowship of the church, and to fulfill our purposes  through service and ministry. A life centered in Jesus means that He is at the core of EVERYTHING we do, say, or think. When He is at the center… we are strong!


   When I was in the military, I was stationed on board the U.S.S. Eisenhower, which is an aircraft carrier. The Air-craft carriers  carry the most powerful fire-power in the entire Navy, and so, in a Carrier Battle Group, everything centers around the Carrier. The Subs and the Frigates keep other subs away from the Carrier. The destroyers keep enemy ships away from the carrier. The Cruisers prepare the attack area. The supply ships keep the Carrier supplies with fuel and food and ordinance. Many times, the Admirals “flag-ship” would be the carrier. Everything centered around the aircraft carrier…why?  Because, that where the military might came from! (the air-power, the bombs, the missiles etc…) As long as the battle group centered on the Carrier… it had strength!

    It’s the same way for the Christian… As long as Christ is at the Center of our lives… we will be living God-Strong!



  When we place our faith in God, we trust Him for the things we need. When we trust Him, we rely on Him. When we rely on Him, we tap into His strength, rather than our own. The more we trust… the more we rely… the more He provides… the stronger we are!

That’s why the Word says, “…strengthened in the faith as you were taught”. Trust God and you will find strength!

           My bride and I have been married for 23 years, and although our marriage is not perfect, I can confidently say that we have a “strong marriage”. It’s stronger now than when we started our life together. As each year goes by, our marriage gets stronger and I am convinced that it will continue to do so. Why? Why do I truly believe that our marriage will get stronger and stronger and stronger? It’s because of TRUST. Paula and I believe in each other. We have Faith. As I have gotten to know her more and more throughout the years…I have seen more and more of her great compassion for people, her love for the Lord, her desire to bring joy to her friends, her passion for her work with youth, and her deep and abiding care for our family. The more we’ve seen and the more we know each other’s hearts….the more trust we have. The more trust we have… the stronger our marriage is!


 It’s the same way in our relationship with Jesus. The more we know Jesus… the more we trust… the more we trust, the stronger we are!



  A thankful life…is a strong life! An “attitude of gratitude” not only helps us… but it also brings help to others. When we are grateful for the everyday things in our lives (families, home, work, friends, our Lord etc…) then we will be joyful. When we are joyful, we will be positive. When we are positive we find motivation and energy….. and energy is strength!

Thankfulness strengthens, that’s why the Word says, “ and overflowing with thankfulness.” When we are thankful… we are strong!

        Jerry Kunkel was a Methodist evangelist and Christian comedian whom God used to lead hundreds of people to Christ. When Jerry was young, he played football for a major university in Texas. One Thanksgiving, the players were helping their community by delivering meals to the less fortunate in the city. Jerry and a team-mate went to the house of a man who literally lived in a shack. He had a small table, and 1 chair. He had a cot to sleep on. He didn’t have a TV, but he did have a transistor radio. He had nothing, really…. But Jerry described how thankful this man was. He showed  those boys around his tiny shack. He went on and on about how good the Lord was to provide Him a place to live and to put food on his table. He thanked God for the food the boys brought and said, “boys the Lord always provides”. He showed them his Bible and told them to “live your life by this book”. He even gave them some little home-made wooden crosses that he made from sticks. This man had “nothing”… but he was so grateful. That gratitude changed Jerry’s life! His extreme thankfulness helped Jerry to see who God really is and how good God can be. It showed Jerry how blessed he really was, and helped Jerry to answer his call to ministry. He answered that call and led hundreds of people to Jesus! Jerry’s life was strengthened by an old man’s gratitude!



  Friends, we can live our lives in our own strength…and end up like this:    ** See Above Picture of broken tree**


Or we can put Christ at the center, go deep in faith, and be thankful in everything… and live like this: **See Above Picture of strong tree**


Strong roots make strong lives!





Horse Sense: A White Horse - May 25, 2014

Wednesday, June 04, 2014 View Comments Comments (0)
                         “A WHITE HORSE”

                    REVELATION 19:11-16


  In the old movies, it was real easy to tell the “Good Guys” from the “bad guys”. The “Bad guys” (the gun-fighters, the train robbers, the horse thieves, the evil knights etc…) were easy to spot, because they always were the ones wearing the black hats (and many times riding a black horse.)

 So, the bad guy wearing the black hat would be holding up the train…threatening to kill the women and the children… when all of a sudden, out of nowhere in comes a white horse with the good guy wearing a big white hat and he saves the day!

 In the old movies, the hero comes in on a white horse to save the day.

    One day, another “hero” will come in riding on a white horse. We are not talking about a western movie, or some fictional character… but rather, the Hero of all heroes’!  He is coming! He will save the day! He will be riding a white horse!

 “I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse….”

Our “Good Guy” is coming on a white horse!



                                    ** Verses 11-13**

     TRUTH… the universal, all knowing, all encompassing Truth, brings real and final justice to the world. Truth wars against the lies that the world tries to make us believe. Truth sets people free from those voices that say, “ You don’t measure up”, “you have no worth”, you’re no good”. Truth combats the devil’s lies when he says, “ “all religions are the same”, “ It doesn’t matter how you live”, “ just sin…no big deal”.  Truth shows us the way to salvation. Jesus said, “ I am the way and the Truth and the life and no one comes to the Father except through me”.  Truth sets us free!

      I know a lady, who was fed a lot of lies in her life. She was told that she wasn’t wanted at birth. She was physically and sexually abused. She felt as if no one loved her at all.  Her life was constant pain.  So she turned to the bottle.  She drank to kill the pain and to escape from life.  Lies!

But then, through the grace of God… Truth rode in! Jesus came into her life. A church family adopted her and loves her to this day.

She is now clean and sober and has been now for 29 years! Her name is Lynda  and Truth has set her free!



  We are in the midst of a great and a mighty war! It’s a war for our souls… and the souls of our families. We are in the midst of a fight for  righteousness and purity and the honor of entire nations and entire populations. This war has been going on since the dawning of time, and will continue to the end of it. Our enemy is vicious… our enemy is deceptive…our enemy is deadly!   There is good news, however.  The Calvary is coming! Help is on the way! The Army of God is riding! Jesus will show up and Jesus always wins!

                                  ** verses 14-15**

The Lord will ultimately give evil a beat down! Good will overcome bad! Tyrants will be overthrown and terrorists will be brought to eternal justice. The Holy will rule and the sinful will suffer. Help is on the way!

    ** As we celebrate Memorial Day, think of all the peoples and nations the American military has set free. Our nation was founded on the principles of “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of freedom”. We fought a war amongst and against ourselves and set the slaves free. In WW1 we set France and nations of the German and Ottoman empires free. We warred against the evil Nazi Regime in WW2 and liberated France and Britain and Poland and others. We saved millions of Jewish lives in liberating them from the Nazi Death Camps. South Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama. In the Cold War we set the stage for free elections in former Soviet Communist countries as the wall came down. We rescued Kuwait in the first gulf war and for the first time in history women are voting in Afghanistan. We took out a brutal dictator in Iraq and have and are taking out terrorists around the world. When people have been in trouble… the Americans show up to help.


  In an even greater way, an even greater army is coming. God’s army liberates the entire world! God’s army is on the way




There are many “leaders” in the world. There are a lot of powerful people. Our nations are filled with the “Movers and shakers”, the people who get things done, the superstars. Throughout the history of this world, we have seen both the good and the bad rise to power. As a nation, we Americans know what it means to be the most powerful nation on earth. Our President is referred to as the most powerful man in the world. There are kings and leaders, generals, presidents and even tyrants…. But the most powerful in all of world history, pale in comparison to our hero… our king…our Lord!

                                            ** V 16**

Jesus … the ultimate King.

Jesus… the ultimate Lord!

Jesus…He is coming back!

                                        Are you ready?


** Herod was a powerful king. He was a reigning king in the world after the death and resurrection of Jesus.  He steps up.. Wearing his royal robes and addresses his people…his nation..His subjects. As he speaks, the crowd begins to roar, they are overtaken by his greatness, and his power. They began to chant, “ This is the voice of a god, not of a man”. Herod didn’t stop them. In fact, he believed their words. He accepted their worship. In his mind, He wasn’t just a man. He wasn’t just a king. He was god.

 But he wasn’t. The real King showed himself that day. The Bible says, “An angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died.”.

 There is only ONE King of Kings and Lord of Lords! His name is Jesus and He is coming!


       Friends, in a world that is filled with hurt and heartache, brokenness and violence, disease, tragedy, and war…. There is some good news! Help is on the way! The Good guy does show up!

Look up…Look close…pray hard… listen for the hoof beats…

                               A white horse is coming!


Horse Sense: The Winner's Circle - May 18, 2014

Tuesday, May 20, 2014 View Comments Comments (0)
                    THE WINNERS CIRCLE

                            Proverbs 21:31

         ** WHAT DEFINES A “WIN” IN LIFE?**

   Each and every person in this world defines a “win” in a different way.

    **   Reaching goals”, “a parking lot close to the store” “peace with your decisions” beating your opponent”, “my family” “a greeting from my dog” “healthy children” “Knowing Jesus”, “My team in the Super Bowl”, “Every Soul Saved”, “Losing 5 pounds”.

 See, we humans have our own personal version of the “winners Circle”…. But I wonder what the Lord’s would be? What does the Lord consider a “win”? Who would be in the Lord’s winners circle?

  Proverbs 21:31, is a simple proverb, with a complex depth. “ The horse is made ready for the day of battle…..” The Horse--- the things of the world---the things we rely on to bring us victory, to get us to the :winners circle” of life, don’t always do the trick! Those things we believe will bring us “wins” can’t bring the ultimate victory… as the Word goes on to tell us. It says, “ But victory rests with the Lord.”  It is the Lord who defines a “win”. It is the Lord who makes the win possible. It is the Lord who determines who will be in the “winners Circle”!  So, the question for us to consider this morning is this: Who will be in the real winners circle?



  The Lord loves us all and the Lord desires that everyone would love Him back! To know that we are truly loved for who we are by the very one who created us, is one of the greatest gifts we can ever receive. To show our love for the One who created us is one of the greatest blessings we can ever give. Being in a loving relationship with the One is the very definition of love is a “win” that will set the tone for everything else in our life.

 Look at what Jesus said in ** Matthew 22:37-40**

 Now notice verse 40, “…all the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments”. Love creates “wins” in every area of our lives!

     Love created a “win” in the life of a young man named Jess Daniels.  Jess was a kid who liked to play guitar, hang out with friends, and even smoke a little pot. He was a nice kid, whose life had been filled with a lot of trouble. Some of the “outsider” kids from a church youth group, would see Jess hanging out and so they invited him to this church. Since they were pretty much like him, since they kinda dressed the same and hung out with the same people and were willing to ask…he accepted. He came to that church, and he was loved. He wasn’t judged, or looked down on, he was loved. That church loved Jess enough to help him get free guitar lessons. They loved him enough to let him play in a praise band. They loved him enough to hire him to do some odd jobs to help him have some cash. They bought him clothes for his first summer of serving the Lord at a church camp. They helped raise money to pay for his college. They prayed for him, they encouraged him, they even kicked his butt when he needed it… they loved this kid, and his life has become a “win”! He is now serving an internship with Upton United Methodist Church as a worship leader for their new emerge service.

               Love will put you in the winner’s circle!



  We are created to serve. When the Lord formed us… He made us with a purpose in mind. He fashioned us with the right gifts, the right talents, the right personalities, to carry out our life’s mission! The Word says we are Fearfully and wonderfully made”. When we use the talents He has given us to carry out the purpose He has for us…. Then we will have victory in life! We are created to serve…and those who will serve will find victory!

  Joshua was a leader of the people of Israel and he was calling on Gods people to renew their commitment to the Lord. They had followed the Lord at one time… but the battles of life and the grind of the everyday had caused both their passion and their commitment to wane. So, in calling the people to a renewed covenant with the Lord, Joshua made a bold statement. He said, “…choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve… but as for me and my house we will serve the Lord!

Joshua knew that continued victory for both he and his family rested in serving God. Serving leads to victory!

      There was a man who was born in an obscure village. He was the child of a peasant. He never owned a home. He never wrote a book. He never went to college. He never travelled more than 200 miles from the place where He was born. He didn’t lead an army, he didn’t hold a political office, he wasn’t considered societies best or brightest…But, HE SERVED! He cared, He loved, He helped….he gave His life and he changed history! He is the centerpiece of human history and all the armies that have ever marched, and every government that has ever sat, and every king that has ever reigned, can’t hold a candle to this guy…. He is Jesus, and he won through serving!



   Good news is meant to be shared…. And Jesus is the greatest news! When we tell someone about Jesus….When we pray for the people in our lives who don’t know Him… When we invite a neighbor or a co-worker to church… when we bring a meal to the sick, or give a child a ride to Sunday school… When we do that we are more than a little “slice of religion”… We are offering Life!

 As we pour our lives into people; (learning God’s Word together,  laughing and crying with each other, praying together) we are pointing them to the One who gives eternal life… and that is the greatest victory! That is the biggest “win”!

   Jesus called us to the Winners Circle in ** Matthew 28:18-20**

When we share the Lord… people win!

   Christian, have you ever wondered what life would be like if no one had shared Jesus with you? If someone would not have prayed for you, or taken you to church, or told you about Jesus, How bad would life be? How many “losses” would you have?     

 Some people, (in fact many people) shared Jesus with me and that is why I serve the Lord today! A grandmother who prayed for me everyday… a mom who insisted “we will go to church”…Sunday school teachers and church camp counselors who taught me to follow Jesus by both word and example…. A missionary who preached at my home church…pastors who cared about me…. all these folks and many others shared Jesus with me, and I accepted Him.  That’s the greatest win!

  The greatest “wins” in life are those things that land us in the Lord’s “winners circle” in eternity!

                         ** LOVE THE LORD!

                             SERVE THE LORD!

                             SHARE THE LORD!


                      ** THAT’S A REAL WIN!**


Horse Sense: A Sure Bet - May 11, 2014

Thursday, May 15, 2014 View Comments Comments (0)
                               “A SURE BET”

                                Psalm 20:6-7




 Some would say “Death and Taxes” are the only sure things. Other folks have put big money on big schemes that were sure to return a big profit, only to see their investment disappear. Thousands of people just “knew they had the winning horse” last week, and ended up with worthless, losing, pieces of paper called betting slips. People “bet” on careers, people, relationships, wild living, and a million other things…. But each and every one of those things and those people will sometimes fall and fail and mess up. None of the things or people are “sure bets”…. But there is One who is!

     Psalm 20 speaks to us of some of the things the world “bets” on.  “ … some trust in chariots and some in horses…” These are the things of the world…. Career, people, relationships, etc…. The problem is, None of those things are sure bets! Chariots break, and horses fall! There is only One sure bet……The Lord!




  As human beings, we inherently know that something is wrong. Down deep in our gut, we somehow sense that this world is not all that there is, and all is not right in our souls, and we need some sort of help. That spiritual part of us shows us clearly that  we hunger to know that which is “spiritual”…and so we “bet” on many things to “save” us. Some people are “betting” on religion… “If I just live by the right rules” or “follow the right philosophy” or “say the right prayers in the right way”, salvation will come. Some folks “bet” on all the “good” they do… They spend their lives trying to give more, work enough charities, have a better name than the other guys in the community, and doing some good works, all in the hope that their “good” will outweigh their “bad”. Surely that will be their saving grace. People “bet” on Karma or a certain name of a certain church, or their own “goodness” to save them…. But all of that is putting their money (lives) on the losing horse!

The Word says, “ The Lord gives victory to His anointed”. The Lord! Not someone else. Not good works, or the right prayers, or religion, or goodness… but the Lord! He is the only “sure bet” to save!

  What about the story of one of the greatest heart surgeons the world has ever known. Some of the techniques for the modern by-pass surgery and use by surgeons around the world were invented by this guy. Those techniques are literally being used to save hundreds and thousands of lives in hundreds and thousands of surgeries. How ironic, if he died from a heart-attack. All the training, the wisdom, and the life-saving techniques he spent his life developing…couldn’t save himself.

 Friends, all the things we do in this world can’t save us….ONLY the Lord can do that! He is a sure bet!



      As human beings, we try a lot of things to help us through the difficult spots in life. We look to the “self-help” sections in the bookstores, to help us “lose the weight”, “gain the mate” and “influence our fate”. We turn to the wisdom of the world for advice and counseling and guidance. We try to maintain tight control of our world, our work, our family and friends, by making decisions, being the boss, and living out the mantra…”I do it my way”. We live our lives betting that we can make things happen in our own way and on our own strength…. And we lose that bet!

   The Truth is, there is ONLY ONE who is in ultimate control…He is the Lord and He is the One we can turn to. That’s why the Word says, “ He answers him for His heavenly sanctuary with the victorious power of His right hand.”

  He answers…not us…not me…not some other person or thing…but the Lord! The Lord answers prayer!

    How many of you have ever tried to contact a business in order to get a question answered…only to have to go through 20 steps with an automated response system? ( push 1 for________, push 2 for _____________ etc…) It’s so frustrating trying to get answers from a machine when we need a person!

   That’s how many people are living their lives….looking for answers to life’s biggest questions… but looking in the wrong places! That’s a bad bet! The Lord answers prayer….bet on Him!



 We tend to put our trust…in a lot of un-trustworthy things (and people). We trust in our nation and our government to protect and defend and to “look out for the good of the people”. We put our faith in career and money to always pull us through the hard times. We trust family and friends to never hurt us. We place faith in the market, or the economy, or a life-style, or even our “favorite team” to come through and give us happiness. We put our trust in un-trustworthy things!  That’s a bad bet!

   Why? Because only God is ultimately worth our complete and total trust. That’s why the Word says…. “ we trust in the name of the Lord our God!” The Lord always comes through. He always loves. He always gives. He always wants what’s best for His people. We can trust the Lord!

  ** I read the story of a woman who had put all the money she had saved for over 60 years in the hands of a “friend” who was an “investor”. She was guaranteed a “sure return”. The only thing she got returned, however, was the receipt for the investment…

Because he took her money and gambled it all away. 


  Now we can look at her and say “you are foolish. Never give everything over to someone. Don’t put all your trust in one place.”

And yet, the whole world is doing the same thing, not with our money, but with our lives. We put our trust in the things of the world…and we lose it all! PUT YOUR TRUST IN THE LORD…HE IS WORTH IT!


   Someone once said, “ life is a gamble”.  In some ways, that is true. So the question is….Who are you going to bet on?

I have talked to a lot of people, who are not only Non-believers…but people who are against all religion…. And especially against Jesus. I witnessed to one man for months…. And then ultimately came down to this conversation.  “Let's pretend that I am completely wrong- that there is no God, the Bible isn’t true, and all this Jesus stuff is just a myth. Well, I have lost nothing. Even if it’s not true, I’ve had something to believe in, I’ve been surrounded by people who love me, I’ve had a calling and a purpose in life…I’ve lost nothing!

But now, let’s say that I am right. God is real. The Bible is true, and eternity in heaven or hell depends on your relationship with Him through Jesus. If I’m right…you have lost everything!

Lose everything….lose nothing… which is the better bet?


There is only “one sure bet”. His name is Jesus. Do you know Him?


Horse Sense: A Good Trip - May 4, 2014

Tuesday, May 13, 2014 View Comments Comments (0)
                             “A GOOD TRIP”

                               Hebrews 12:1


                         **HAVE A GOOD TRIP**

  That is what Jockey after Jockey, and owner after owner, and race fan after race fan says to each other before a horse race. It’s like a ball-player saying “good game” or an actor saying “break a leg”. It means “ run a good race”…. “Be safe”… “Run Hard”….. “Finish well”.  For a race-horse to “have a good trip” is a good thing.  “Having a Good Trip” is also a good thing for those of us who follow Jesus. So the question is, What makes for a “good trip” in this race called life?

        Hebrews 12:1 speaks to us, (those who are following Jesus or those who want to follow Jesus) and it tells us how to make a “Good Trip” through life. The Bible uses the imagery, that we who live in Kentucky know so well , (especially during derby time) of a race. It describes a life of following Jesus as “The race marked out for us”. If this life of following Christ really is like a “Race”, then how can we have a “Good Trip”.



  There are Christian people in my life and in your life who are always “Cheering us On”. They are those moms and grandma’s who prayed for us long before we knew we even needed Jesus. They are those Christian Fathers or Grandfathers or Pastors or Camp Counselors who showed us what it means to be both strong and Godly. Those people cheering us on are the Sunday School teachers who give time and energy to teach us all about Jesus. They are the brothers and sisters in our church family who cry with us and love us even when we are pretty tough to love!

You need to know that even in the toughest of times…even when Jesus seems so far away… you have people who are cheering you on! That’s why the Word says, “ Since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses”… We can have a “good trip” because we have people cheering us on and helping us out!



 Megan Vogel was a Junior runner from West-Liberty High School. She was running the 3,200 meters race, when another runner, Arden Mcmath, a sophomore from a different school, collapsed in front of her with only about 20 meters to go in the race. Instead of going on, passing her, and winning the race, Meghan stopped, helped pick Arden up, and carried her across the finish line, even making sure that Arden crossed the line ahead of her.  The 1000’s of spectators stood and cheered as they saw this great act of sportsmanship and mercy. Many spoke afterwards of how they would be inspired to help others.


Friends, as you run this race called life… realize that there are people who are praying and helping and loving you…and will help you cross the finish line! We can “Have a Good Trip” because we have people cheering us on!



   There are many things that can weigh us down in the Christian life. Those things we have done wrong in the past, bring hurt and regret and guilt. The hurts we have suffered at the hands of life and other people can make us bitter and resentful. The temptations we face and fall to can frustrate us and make us give up. Our “hurts” and “habits” and “hang-ups” can easily trip us and enslave us and Knock us out of the race!  Sin will cripple us….. so turn away from it! Throw it off! Let it go!  As the Word says, “ …. Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles”.

Throw off that which hurts….. and you will have a good trip!


    Do you know what the average size of a jockey is in horse racing? It is between 109 and 121 lbs. Why so small? Because, the folks in horse racing know, that it doesn’t matter how big and strong and fast a horse is… If he has to carry to much weight…he won’t run a good race!

  Sin…hurt… temptations… can weigh us down. Throw them off and run your race!



   It’s easy to start off strong… but its also easy to finish weak. (or not finish at all)!

There are many moments where it would be so easy to simply “trot” and take it easy. There are circumstances that come our way, which make us wonder if we will ever see “the finish line”. It is very tempting to compare ourselves to other Christians, to see how god and strong and Godly they are… and to think, “ I’ll never live up to that standard, so why try?” It is easy to think that we have “arrived” in the Christian life, and so we start to take it easy, and we fail to guard our hearts! If we are not careful, we can run ourselves right out of the race!

That’s why the Scripture says, “…and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” A “good trip” is only “good” if you cross the finish line!


       Growing up, I always played sports. Baseball, basketball, football, Tennis. Through the years I have had a lot of coaches, and I have done a lot of “conditioning” drills. “Wind-sprints”, “Laps”, “bleachers”, “gassers”, etc…One of the toughest of those drills, was called “lines”(we called them “suicides”). On the basketball and tennis courts, you would start at the base-line, and run to the free-throw (or service) line, and back, then to mid court, and back, then to the other free throw line and back, then to the other base-line and back, and then you would start again. I’ll never forget what one coach told us.. “boys, athletes run to every line, winners run past every line!” What was he saying? To win… you must finish the race!


   That is true in sports and even more true in the Christian life! Run the whole race!!!!!!!

        The Lord has a race for us to run. It’s called LIFE! It’s more important than the Kentucky Derby and the prize is found in eternity!

 People are cheering you on. Throw off that which is weighing you down. Run the whole race!

                         HAVE A GOOD TRIP!




A Miracle Named Sonny...

Monday, March 31, 2014 View Comments Comments (0)

                       A MIRACLE NAMED SONNY……..

  The song “live like you were dying” popped silently into my head as I heard Sonny’s story. We were at a laundromat on a Saturday morning as a part of Radcliff United Methodist church's “Hope and Soap” ministry… paying for peoples laundry, talking, connecting and especially listening, when I met Lisa. She was taking clothes out of the dryer, and as I introduced myself and we began to chat, she made an incredible statement. “My husband is facing terminal cancer”.  For a moment I was taken aback, and then I said, “I’m so sorry to hear that. What’s his name, I would love to pray for him”. She let me know his name is Sonny and “he’s out in the car”.  I went out to talk with him, explained that I am a pastor and would like to pray for him. He got out of the car, came into that laundromat and absolutely rocked my world!

   See, a short time before, Sonny was hurting in his back, so he went to the doctor. He walked into that office hurting in his back…. He walked out being diagnosed with stage four terminal cancer. “My whole world was shaken, then”, Sonny said. But “my faith is strong”. Sonny then described some of the fear, the treatments, and worry that had been a part of such a diagnosis. It was interesting, that as he described the fear that had been there….it was no longer present in his voice, his face, or his demeanor. Sonny went on to say that before this diagnosis, he “had been a sinner,” and “never been into the church stuff much”. But with a smile, he said, “but that’s not the case now. The Holy Spirit is in me, and I love the Lord and I pray all the time. I’m not afraid to die”. Pointing to Lisa, Sonny said, “We pray together all the time”.  There was no fear. No worry. Just strong faith… There in that laundromat, Sonny and Lisa and I prayed. I gave him our church card, and he gave me his number.

   Later that night, I felt compelled to call Sonny and tell him how inspiring he and Lisa were to me and I invited him to be my guest at the church anytime. “I would love to have you tell your story, Sonny”. Sonny said, he would be glad to do that sometime, but “Probably not tomorrow” (remember this was Saturday night)  he said.  As we hung up, I prayed that the Lord would open the doors for Sonny to come and share at just the right time.

   Early Sunday morning, as I was alone in the church, I received a call. Sonny said, “Darren. I’ve thought about this and prayed, and I think the Lord wants me to share in church today.”. My heart was racing and tears were falling as I said, “come on”.

Sonny came… and as we began the preaching with the question, “ who would you die for,  I began to describe that those who are really following Jesus aren’t afraid to die… I started to tell the congregation about this incredible man named Sonny…. And then I invited Sonny up to tell his story.  As he shared his story…as he told the congregation that “he had only been given six months to live” and that “he had been a sinner but now God’s Spirit was in Him”  as Sonny stood there physically weak, but spiritually strong and proclaimed,  I’m not afraid.  I will Live with God and die for God” our lives were changed. We experienced what following Jesus really meant. As the invitation was given, the altar was full, and God was glorified. On that day, we experienced a miracle named Sonny. Praise be to God! 
~Pastor Darren

November 24, 2013 - Enough to Financial Stress

Saturday, November 30, 2013 View Comments Comments (0)

                                1st John 3:1

    **I would just love to be able to see someone needing something and have the money to get it for them**


   Those were the words of a lady I know, as she shared about her and her family’s financial struggles. Her husband has a job, and they have a home, but like most people in America, they are living pay check to pay check, and just barely making ends meet. There were late notices in the mail… calls from different bill collectors….. Arguments over what was just a “want” and what is a “need”. She had some sleepless nights and hidden tears when the kids wanted something they couldn’t have. The stress was high!!!!!! On top of that, she is a generous and giving person, and so her prayer… “I would love to be able to see someone needing something… and give it to them”.


Is that your cry? your prayer?

  The Love our God has for us is described using a term of extreme generosity. The Word says, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us…”  He doesn’t just love us… He “lavishes” love on us… He goes “Overboard”, to the “extreme” to the “outer –bounds of generosity”. Our God is a lavish giver and the incredible thing is….. WE ARE LIKE HIM. We have the “mind of Christ”. We are filled with His Spirit. We are “created in His image”. God has lavish plans for His children to be lavish givers.

He says ENOUGH to our financial stress!



 Underline the word “worry”. The real issue is not “financial problems” ( we are all going to have those)… but rather the “Stress” caused by those problems. How do we respond to the  “stress” those problems can cause? Many of us worry.. And worry up the stress!    More than anything else, “worry” is a control/trust issue.

  As one who is prone to “worry”, I can say that. Worry, in its rawest form is a failure to trust in God’s ability, God’s resources, and God’s desire to take care of His people. When we worry, we are trying to take some sort of control over the problem at hand. We are putting ourselves in God’s place and saying, “ Lord, I’m not sure if you are going to provide, so I had better handle this.” Worry doubts the lavish generosity of God… and worry adds to the stress. ENOUGH!

  Jesus tells us a better way in **Matthew 6:25-26. “ Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”**

Jesus is saying, “ TRUST ME”, “I GOT THIS”, I CAN HANDLE IT!”  Enough to worrying about finance!

     John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement said, “ I could no more worry than I could curse or swear”.    Paula’s grandmother (a Godly woman) once said to me “ Darren, don’t you know that worrying is a sin?”.

What were they saying? We have to TRUST!  

My parents are now at the age, and in the physical health where their memories are starting to fail them. I am now at the point where we are intervening and they are having to sign power of attorneys so that if emergencies should happen, or if they get to where they can’t handle the finances and business themselves…They entrust it to me. They trust me, to handle what they can’t.

  That’s exactly what we do when we trust God. Sign the spiritual power of attorney and hand that worry over!




   An unhealthy focus on gaining more and more money ( greed), or an ever increasing debt will both have the same consequence: SLAVERY! Money and finances can be a hard task-master and can take our thoughts, our actions, our lives, and our families and place them in chains. That’s why Jesus said:  “… You cannot serve both God and Money”. Notice the Word:  “serve”.  Money can become that which we serve… instead of being used by us, we become used! Money becomes the master, and we become the slaves! The Word of God says, “ The borrower is slave to the lender”. That’s exactly where many, many of us are living. Enslaved!   ENOUGH OF THAT!

    I was talking with a friend who just recently worked His way to freedom from debt using Biblical principals from Dave Ramsey. (A Christian financial teacher). It took a lot of work, and a lot of time. The solutions were not easy. Extra money didn’t just arrive in the mail. He had to make hard and tough choices and really work…. But he said, “ It was literally like being unchained!”

See, he was at the point of saying ENOUGH, to the slavery…. So he got a plan, a budget and slowly but surely got out of debt. He is a slave no longer… and neither do we have to be!   Enough!



  The Lord provides what we need to make a living and to carry out the ministry He has for us. His plan for His people is NOT poverty or the stress of financial problems… but rather He created us to be generous givers, who use everything He has given us to enrich, and bless, and help, those who have various needs of various kinds. Our God is a lavish and generous giver and as those who are “created in His image”… are called to be generous givers as well. But then, that old “sinful nature” creeps in. We begin to see the things that God has provided to us… as “rightfully ours”. We start playing the : “My Money-My Car-My possessions” Game.

We start thinking in terms of MORE-MORE-MORE! We look at our “lack” rather than God’s abundance. Soon “selfishness” replaces “selflessness”. We “hoard instead of “give.   ENOUGH OF THAT!

Proverbs 11:24-25 says: “ One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A Generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.”

Enough of selfishness….. BE GENEROUS!

      I heard of a man who had dreamed all of his life of owning a corvette. He saved and worked and worked and saved and finally was able to buy the car he had always dreamed of. When he finally got it… a big fear came over him. What if he wrecked it? What if someone scratched it? What if the engine blew? He didn’t want anything happening to his car… so he just parked it in the garage. He never drove it, never took it out, and never used it. It just sat in that garage. Useless!    

That’s what many people and many churches do with the money that God has provided to us. God gives it to be used for His glory and for His mission…. But we get selfish!  ENOUGH OF THAT!


  Is the cry of your heart that same as the lady who just wanted to be able to give what people need? Are you ready to say ENOUGH to financial stress?


                 He’s the answer to worry about finances!

                 He’s the answer to Slavery to finances!

                 He’s the answer to selfishness in finances!

                       OUR GOD IS ENOUGH!



November 10, 2013 - Enough to Career Problems

Saturday, November 30, 2013 View Comments Comments (0)

                            Colossians 3:23-24


     40% of Americans say they “hate their jobs”. 2 million Americans quit their job every month. People are vastly more qualified and yet less and less satisfied. The average American will make 5 to 7 career changes in their life-times. At the same time, many people are looking for jobs in order to put food on the table and pay the bills. People are having career problems… this very week we saw a pro-football player walk away from millions of dollars because of being harassed in his work place. We are a nation of people who have career problems and problems with our careers! Isn’t it time to say ENOUGH!!!!!

    In Colossians 3, the Word of God is giving instructions to Christian households regarding Christian living. The Apostle was showing these new and maturing Christians that the Lord could transform their way of thinking and living in such a way that even their work could be for the Lord! Can ours? Can we say ENOUGH to career problems?



  The Lord created each and every one of us for specific reasons and for specific purposes. He geared us for relationship to Him… to love.. to serve.. and to carry out a specific mission and ministry in the world. Our “vocation” (calling) is part of who we are created to be! The Lord has a reason for giving us the gifts, the talents, the passions, and the opportunities He gives us. These reasons go far beyond a pay-check or a “job”. Our real “work” is a vocation, a ministry, a calling… that’s why the Word says… “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.”

Enough of seeing our work as just a job…… Our work is a CALLING…It is our ministry!


    Mary was a lady in a congregation I served who had a real heart for ministry, especially counseling ministry. She had a tough life financially: Her husband is legally blind, they live in low income government housing, and money is always tight. Mary has some physical limitations, and because of that she can’t drive, which severely limits her opportunities to work. Mary does have a Christian counseling degree which she obtained by overcoming a lot of obstacles, but because of her life situation, a job in that field has been impossible to find. She pays her families bills by working at the “Family Dollar” store.

  Mary was very frustrated, and came to talk to me about her “calling” to counseling ministry. She knew that God had created her to help people with their problems.. to give wise and Biblical counsel. She said, “ My calling and my training are just being wasted.” But then we looked at it a different way. I asked, “how many people come through your check-out line in a shift?” She answered and we determined, that each and every day she works she gets to meet and establish some sort of relationship and trust with many, many people. “How many of those people are facing a crisis?” What if you intentionally built these relationships  to the point where you could give Christian counsel? You could do what God created you to do in that place. What if you could live out your calling in your work-place?” Mary did just that, and the family dollar store was no longer just a job…. It was her place of ministry. IT BECAME ENOUGH!




 For many people, work and career are all about the “benefits”. Pay raise-promotion-Title-Office-Perks, etc…is what their life is all about. They ride the career roller coaster: happy when the boss is happy… crushed when she isn’t. People’s idea of success and even their self-worth depends solely on the “earthly-rewards” the job can provide.   ENOUGH OF THAT!

The Bible shows us that earthly rewards don’t last… but heavenly rewards do! The Word says, “ Since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward…” Our real reward, is not a raise in pay… or a new title in the corporation…or a new stripe on our uniform sleeve. The work we do for the Lord brings a much greater and longer lasting reward: a promotion into heaven!


  Ron was a young man who grew up in Appalachia. He had a hard life: poor family, very few job prospects, and tough circumstances. The life of many in Appalachia. Ron was a bright student, who excelled in the mission school he attended, got a scholarship for college and then medical school. Ron finished so high in his class, that he could have specialized in any field, and could have made millions of dollars throughout the course of his career, but he didn’t. He became a practicing family care physician and he went back to Appalachia to serve. He never made a fortune, many times not even being paid for the “doctoring” he did. He established a free Christian medical clinic in the deep parts of the mountains, and he dispensed not only medicine, “ but a lot of Jesus as well”. While attending a re-union of his medical school classes, he saw his colleagues, those who had finished behind him. He saw their fancy cars and suits and pictures of their practices and homes and boats. One colleague asked, “ Ron, do you regret your decision to go back to the hills to practice? You know you left a lot of money on the table to do that.” Ron smiled and said, “ My rewards are a lot more than green pieces of paper…”

Enough of seeking only earthly rewards!



 Each of the gifts, the talents, the passions, and the opportunities we have… has been given to us by God, and He expects us to use them for God.

 The most important thing we can do in this world is to use what God has given us for His glory! Why? Because when we serve Him… the effects last into eternity. Serving self (living life for that which is worldly) doesn’t  last!

That’s why the Bible says, “ It is the Lord Christ you are serving”. Enough to serving self….. Serve Jesus!


  In the military, we have what is called the “Chain of Command”. This is a system of authority in which we answer to: direct supervisors, who answer to their direct supervisor, who answer to their direct supervisor on up. So, when I was in the Navy, I would answer to the watch supervisor, who would answer to the chief, who would answer to the division officer, to the commanding officer of the ship, to the admiral of the fleet, to the chief of Naval Operations, to the Secretary of Defense, who answers to the Commander-in Chief (president) who answers to the Constitution of the United States of America, which represents the American people. But even with that chain of command in place… even with an oath to “protect and defend the constitution of the United States of America”as a Christian in the military… I served an even higher authority! The highest in my chain of command, is the Lord Himself. So I tried to not only serve my country… but  to serve the Lord while doing it! The orders I received and some that I gave while in the military have long been forgotten…. But the men whom I led to Jesus while I was in the military will live forever in Heaven. ENOUGH TO SERVING SELF…. SERVE JESUS!


  I don’t know where you fit in when it comes to those people who “hate their jobs” or who just want to quit. I don’t know if you are looking for work or have more work than you want…. But I do know this. We can say “ENOUGH” to career problems.




                 You will see that that is ENOUGH!