June 2018


They Notice
By Mike Woolley

Have you ever seen a group of people all looking in one direction and you wondered what they were looking at? I was at the beach one time and I happened to look over toward the water and I saw a group of people all looking in the same direction out in the ocean. Since they were looking I looked. After just a few seconds I saw the unmistakable movement of dolphins gliding up and down in the water.

I stopped for a few minutes so I could enjoy the free Sea World show. A dolphin sighting is like finding a rare treasure. If I was alone on the beach I would have missed them, but I noticed the people who noticed the dolphins so I got to enjoy the treasure.

My life works like that a lot. Yours might too. I’m rarely the first person to read the great book or see the great movie. I notice the people who notice and then I get to enjoy the treasure.

I’ve been thinking about how people come to a relationship with Jesus. I remember hearing a story of a guy who actually started reading a friend’s Bible while serving on a submarine in the Navy. When he got to the story of Hosea he thought, “If only this was true. If only there was a God who would pursue us like this.” By the time he got to the gospel of John he was convinced and gave his life to Jesus. He had literally come to Christ in a submarine by borrowing someone else’s Bible.

More often than not, when I ask someone how they came to know Jesus, the story starts with noticing someone else. They notice the difference in a friend or a co-worker. They get invited to a concert or a church service and they find themselves in the same position I was on the beach. They noticed someone noticing, so they noticed and then they found the treasure.

I guess I just wanted to encourage you to keep noticing Jesus. When you talk about Him when you are at work or out with friends, they notice. When you pull out of your driveway to go to church at the same time your neighbors are heading to the beach or the golf course, they notice. The day may come when they will stop and ask you what it is that has your attention and your heart.
That’s when you can point them to Jesus. The treasure is waiting for them. All they need is someone to help them notice. 
Think About These Things
By Taylor Roche
Time is a pretty incredible thing. Rich or poor we all get the same amount of it each day. Each of us are (at least largely speaking) free to do with it what we please. The special thing about time is that it has a unique way of exposing us. Exposing what we really value and what we really care about. I could easily tell you all the things that are important to me in my life, all the things that I value. But what if you saw a graph (scary thought) of exactly how I spent my time today? That would serve as a pretty good indicator of what I really valued in my life. I might say that my kids are the most important thing to me, but if the graph showed that I got home in the evening and crashed in front of the TV all night, you might rightly question how important my kids really are to me.

With that in mind, let me throw out some frightening stats. Adults today spend on average two hours a day on social media, and ten total hours in front of a screen in some capacity. Teenagers it’s even worse, spending on average nine hours a day on social media alone. All totaled up, average adults will spend around five and a half years of their life on social platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. That doesn’t count television, and that isn’t a drop in the bucket to how much time your kids will spend in front of a screen in their life time. In contrast, the average adult spends only a little over a year of their lives socializing with friends and family in real life. Now let’s be clear, there’s nothing inherently evil about social media or television. Or the internet. But all too often when we engage in on screen activities, we turn into passive receivers. An open conduit that affects our hearts and our minds in ways we don’t even begin to understand.

So let’s be honest with ourselves, where do we really spend our time? What is constantly being pumped into our brains? Messages from the world? Or messages from God’s Word? Let’s make Philippians 4:8 our goal, filling our mind with praise worthy things. Guarding our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Phil. 4:8

Challenge: Download the app “Moment” and track how much you use your phone and tablet each day. Including which apps you use the most.  
What I Love About Kids
By Brenda Woolley

I am coming up on my 38th year of teaching Sunday School.  I started volunteering when I was a junior in High school, and never looked back.  I still remember my very first class.  I was scared to death! I still laugh thinking about my first day teaching and not knowing what the heck I was doing.  I just knew I really loved them and knew that Jesus valued them greatly.  They knew that too.  The kids were awesome! They welcomed me with open arms.  I was new, and they all just wanted to get to know me, and show me everything in the classroom, and make me feel at home.  I did. 

What has kept me teaching after all these years?  I wanted to share a few reasons.

Kids have a great capacity to love wholeheartedly.

I don’t think I have ever walked into a classroom where at least one child has not ran up to me and hugged me…or ran up to me to tell me something about what I was wearing…or told me they missed me…I could not walk into my classroom and feel sad.  They always can turn around my day when I have been down.

Kids are honest.

Okay, remember when I said they would tell me they liked what I was wearing?  Well, they also will tell me when I have two different shoes on…or a cold sore…or my shirt is on inside out…(all things that I have been told).  They will tell me their true gut heartaches, and not bat an eye worrying about what I will think.  They will share with me when they are angry, sad, ecstatic, hopeful…they will tell me family secrets I am sure their parents would kill them for!  (Don’t worry, I keep it all in my vault!) I love their unhindered honesty with almost everything.

They are the best gift givers.

Some of my very favorite notes and hand drawn pictures have been given by children I have taught over the years.  I have kept them all and they are my dearest treasures. I have been so encouraged by a few simple heart felt words.  I often think God uses children to do many things adults just don’t take the time to do. 


I am nearing the end of being a children’s Director here at CCC.  I am so thankful that though I will not be leading this WONDERFUL ministry, I will never stop teaching the children here at CCC.  I am called to that pure and simple ministry, and I pray that I will be able to do that well into my senior years.  My heart loves their sweet innocent lives.  It has been my life’s greatest privilege to teach them that Jesus truly does love them.  To be able to share with them a story or a principle from the Bible that they are often hearing for the very first time.  My days are well spent when I am doing this.

Maybe God is calling you too…I would encourage and ask you to pray about serving in this special place.

May 2018

Spring Rain
By Mike Woolley

No one wants a drought, but here in Southern California it seems like we are always in need of more rain. We are having another subpar rainy season, but a little storm passed through our area this week just when we thought we were done. That moisture makes the hills green all around us, the flowers explode into living color, and the trees produce another gazillion leaves. This always reminds me how rain brings life and joy and beauty.

All this has me thinking. There is no spring without winter. It is the hardness of winter that makes me long for and appreciate spring. I wonder how many other areas of my life fit that pattern.

I remember when I was playing sports growing up. Coaches don’t believe in easy practices. As players, we were firm believers in fun and easy practices. We wanted to win a lot of games, we just wanted to win without the pain of hard practices. We wanted spring without winter.

In my life I find I seldom want rain. I want days full of laughter and goodness and ease. But I need some rain. I need some days where clouds of discomfort and struggle roll in and even storms cause tears to fall like rain.

Scripture reminds me that sorrow lasts for a night, but joy comes in the morning. I’ve seen it in some of my favorite people. These are friends who have gone through storms, and there is an array of color that flows from their lives. If compassion and patience and joy had color, then these people are like flowers exploding in the midst of a glorious Spring.

Sometimes rain is the only way to get the hills and flowers to be at their best. Sometimes it’s the storms of life that bring out the very best in human beings. If you are in a storm then know that the rain that feels like it will never stop falling can lead to rich and wonderful beauty in you that can come no other way.

But I still find myself praying for good days instead of praying for God to give me the kind of days I need to become what he really wants me to become. Today I’m reminding myself as much as I’m reminding you that there isn’t a spring without a winter.

So, if you’re struggling in some area and life has just been hard for way too long, then look around right now. Look at the buds on the trees and the flowers pushing themselves out of the ground. The earth itself is vibrating with life and reminding all of us that winter never lasts forever for any of us. Darkness lasts for the night but joy comes in the morning.
By Taylor Roche

We as Christians have our own language for things. We use fancy theological words like propitiation, and transubstantiation.  And we say things like God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. This last sentence translates rather simply to, God is all powerful, all knowing, and all present. Which doesn’t sound quite as good, or quite as smart, but it’s ever bit as true. As I was reflecting on these three truths recently I realized that the first two, the God is all powerful and all-knowing statements have been well impressed upon me since I was a youth. The third however, God is all present, seems to have been mysteriously marginalized. I wonder if it’s the same for you? This revelation started me on a mission to increase my awareness of God’s presence in my life. I read some of the works of St. Ignatius (a monk who lived in the 1400’s), who made finding God in all things one of the chief aims of his life. The more I read and reflected the more I realized how easily I slip into compartmentalizing my life in such a way that I only see God in certain places and at certain times. For example, when I’m at church or when I’m reading my bible it’s rather easy to feel God’s presence. But by contrast when I’m at football practice or working out, it’s easy to forget that God is still just as present.
How might our lives look different if we began to find God not just in those obvious places but also in the places we often forget to look? How different might our perspective be? Would work seem more spiritual? Would school have a higher purpose? I think of the renowned Olympic runner Eric Liddell (think the movie Chariots of Fire) who said, “When I run, I feel His pleasure!” What an incredible statement! There is a man who saw the presence of God in everything he did. And it changed his perspective.
So, join me in seeking the presence of God. Even in places that it doesn’t seem obvious. Next time you begin to get upset with something, try reminding yourself “God is here.” And see if your attitude changes. See if your perspective changes. See if you find God in a place and in a way you never have before.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.
Matthew 28:19-20

Mother’s Day
By Brenda Woolley

When I was a little girl I loved to follow my momma around the house.  I loved her so much.  She was probably one of the sweetest souls I have ever known.  She was so smart, and she was funny!  She was the best cook ever!  She had an extraordinary love for those who were alone or were going through a hard time.  My mom worked for the County of Los Angeles as the supervisor for Social Services.  Talk about a tough job.  But she never lost her love for people…she never let her heart become hardened by the things she saw.  For many of our Thanksgivings and holidays, she would invite many people over for our dinners.  My sisters and my brother loved it as much as I did.  We met such an assortment of lively and interesting people.  My mom was a lovely lady.  I love to remember her as Mother’s Day approaches. 
What about your own mom?  What are your fondest memories of spending time with her?  I love that God gave us mothers.  God told mothers to “love their children” (Titus 2:4-5).  That always surprised me that He had to even say that.
God speaks specifically to mothers regarding how to take care of their children.  Some of my favorite scriptures regarding this, and the one principle I think has the most bearing on your children is to model with integrity.  Live what you say, live what you believe to be true about God in your daily life.  Being a model so that your child can learn by catching the essence of what it looks like to love God with your whole heart. 
“Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long you live.  Teach them to your children and to their children after them.”  (Deuteronomy 4:9)
          Moms are our best teachers when it comes to teaching what the bible says.
These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.  Impress them on your children.  Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7)
That word to “impress” means to “prick, to pierce, to teach diligently, to whet…it implies that just as words are cut into a stone tablet with a sharp object, so the Law should be impressed on the hearts of the children of every generation.”
          I am thankful this day for my mom and all mothers out there who are loving and teaching their children to love God with all their heart.  Happy Mother’s day Moms!

April 2018

You Are Never Alone
By Mike Woolley

My wife and I each got a Google Home Mini for Christmas. Not to be confused with the Amazon Echo Dot, the Home Mini is about the size of a hockey puck, but with a more rounded top. It’s a pretty remarkable little thing. You can put it anywhere in the house, and my wife says, “Hey Google, play Chris Stapleton radio,” and in seconds the room is filled with country music.

We can be sitting on the couch and think of a question and ask, “Hey Google, what is the weather going to be in Moorpark tomorrow?” And a very intelligent female voice will tell us that it will be partly cloudy and a high of 70 degrees.

Google is very handy. But the other day I heard a report on these “electronic home assistants” and began to wonder if Google was eavesdropping on us. She must be since she has to respond every time we mention her name. She is always on. We can unplug her but then she doesn’t respond to anything.

If I decided to talk about ski boats in her presence would I start to see advertisements for ski boats showing up on my internet sites? Maybe not, but that doesn’t mean she wasn’t listening. She may be smarter than we think. It’s a little creepy.

At any rate, I have realized with Google in the room we are never alone. She sits there and is pretty much invisible until we say her name, but as soon as we say her name we realize she has been there the whole time… listening. If we are going to have Google at all, we have to deal with both parts of having her. If we want her to respond when we call out to her, we have to be okay with her being on all the time.

The Google Home Mini is as close to the characteristic we call the omnipresence of God as we can get. We love the idea of God being around us so at any time we can call out to Him when we need Him. But if God is going to be there for us when we cry out to Him, it means He is always there…listening. There is nothing He doesn’t hear. There is no time when He is unplugged.

There are many Home Mini users that have decided with Google that the good outweighs the bad. They’d rather have her when they need her then not have her there at all.

I decided the same thing about God a long time ago. I love being able to cry out to Him at any time day or night. I just need to remember sometimes that means I am never alone. And neither are you.
A Living Hope
By Taylor Roche
“Blessed by the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,”
1 Peter 1:3

The second weekend in March the college group and I continued our spring tradition of travelling up to Hume Lake CA for their college and young adult winter camp. It’s always a fantastic time and I truly look forward to it every year. The verse above from 1 Peter was the theme verse, which guided our meeting times for the weekend. Our speaker did a fantastic job reminding us that as followers of Jesus we have been born into, through the death and resurrection of Jesus, a new hope in God. A hope that is unlike anything else in this world, a hope that shines brightest in the darkest times of our lives, and gives us a reason to seek something beyond this world.
I can’t help but think how well this message fits with Easter. It is precisely through the death and resurrection of Jesus that you and I find ourselves born into this new hope. I recently read through Luke and Acts and was reminded first hand of the fear of the disciples when Jesus was arrested and crucified. Down to a man they scattered, terrified, denying they ever knew him, and hid for fear of the Jewish leaders. And that’s pretty much how the gospel of Luke ends. At least for the disciples. But by Acts 2, we see the disciples we knew in Luke have gone through a top to bottom transformation. The greatest of these is Peter, who goes from swearing he’s never met Jesus to standing before the same people that crucified Christ and defying them. The transformation is undeniable. This is not the same Peter. This Peter has a hope, and hope that is based firmly on the resurrection of Jesus.

It’s my prayer for you and I this Easter that we would experience, like Peter and the rest of the disciples did, the hope that Jesus’ resurrection provides. That we might know the great mercy of God, who caused us to be born into a living hope through the resurrection of his Son.  He has risen!
The Hound and Hare
By Brenda Woolley

Have you ever known someone that you thought was unreachable?   You may have said in your heart, “They’ll never come to love Christ.”  I have a red journal that I have kept for years and in it I would write down family and friends and people I knew who did not know Christ.  I would pray for them often.  In this list of people there are some that I hate to say but I thought it would be a miracle if they someday would love God.  Well, years have passed and in that list I have crossed off name after name and written next to their names “loves Jesus now”…people I had thought were unreachable, God had chased down and found.    
In college I read a poem called, “The Hound of Heaven”, by Francis Thompson.  The poem was written in 1890.  (Find it and read it!) I have never forgotten it.  I recently pulled it out of my box of “long ago papers” that I keep in my Hope Chest.  It is a story about a Hound, which represents God and the Hare, which represents all of us.  The hare tries to flee the relentless pursuit of the Hound…always feeling his presence behind him, chasing and chasing him.  There is not nearly enough space to share all that is in this poem, but I will condense a bit of it.
The hare desires to flee from the presence of the Hound, the Almighty. He tries everything to fill his soul’s desires, but in the end to only self- destruct.  He runs away from the very source of life in search of happiness.  He desires to flee the lover of his soul, for worldly satisfactions.  After many ways in which the hare tries to find satisfaction in pleasures, in his own mind, in nature, in people, he finally surrenders to the might of the approaching hound for he knows and acknowledges the supremacy of the hound and his helpless state. He surrenders his soul after the hound has him in his grip and could easily end his life.  Instead, he is spared by the hound.
 The writer in this poem expresses his unworthiness and his sins to discourage the hound, God, from pursuing him but the hound pursues him with “Unhurrying chase and unperturbed pace, deliberate speed, majestic instancy.”  He finally knows that he is unworthy of the grace-filled love of Christ and that he has done nothing to merit it. As the hare knows he is unworthy of being shredded by the hound, we too know we are unworthy and yet he still chooses to pour out His mercy and love upon us.
I was once the hare.  Those that I have been praying for year after year, night after night and moment by moment are being pursued by God.  He will keep chasing because His grace is endless, and His mercies are vast. I praise God for His love, for His constant pursuit and have hope because of who God is.  That’s it, not if the person will decide or not, but the fact that God is who He says He is. The Hound of Heaven will chase us down and never let us go.

Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there!  If I made my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.  If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.  For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  Wonderful are you works; my soul knows it very well.” Psalm 139:7-14

March 2018

Birds of a Feather Flock Together
By Mike Woolley
Each year as the weather turns frigid in the north; you can look up at the sky and see the uneven “V” of geese heading south to play shuffleboard. The geese never invite the chickens or even their duck cousins. It’s just geese – hence the famous saying, “Birds of a feather flock together.”
 They fly in formation, rotating to the front to conserve energy. They leave together, fly together and arrive together. A goose left behind is in trouble.
All too often I hear of Christians who have begun to break away from the flock. It usually starts innocently enough. I notice a more sporadic attendance at church. Then I’ll check with somebody who is closer to them, and they will shrug their shoulders and say, “Yeah, they’ve kind of disappeared. I reached out to them a couple of times, but they never responded.”
That’s when I know it’s serious. That’s when I’m pretty sure they’ve found a different group to fly with, and that new group is almost always flying in a completely different direction.
When the Bible says the first-century believers “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship” (Acts 2:42), the word “fellowship” comes from the Greek word koinonia. It can be translated, “partnership,” “communion,” or “fellowship.” The idea being communicated is that the early Christians were being taught the Word of God, and they wanted to share it with one another.
When you are walking with God, you will want to be with God’s people. And if you are not walking with God, you probably won’t want to be around God’s people. I have found that when you are in fellowship with God and getting into His Word, then you will want to share it with fellow Christians. You will want to be around fellow believers.
I have also found that people who are out of fellowship with God are almost always also out of fellowship with other believers. Fellowship is praying together. It is serving together. It is growing and aging together. These are the fibers of fellowship. Fellowship with God and fellowship with other believers go together.
Christianity is supposed to be a lot like a flock of geese. We all get tired and when we do, we need to have someone help us keep flying. We need friends who will fly with us, stick with us, leave with us, arrive with us.
If you are tired right now, don’t drop out. Find someone who will help you keep flying. One of these days they may need you to encourage them. You are flying somewhere. Make sure the flock you’re with is heading where you want to end up.
God gets the Last Word
By Taylor Roche
I got a lot of good advice from a lot of people a lot wiser than myself in college. That shouldn’t really come as any surprise. But as I look back on those days now years down the road, some advice stands out a little more clearly. Some continues to stand out in my mind and direct my actions as a Christ follower even to this day. One such piece of advice came from a Romanian professor I had in a class titled “Life and Teachings of Jesus.” I’m ashamed to say I have forgotten the professors name, but I do remember that his thick Romanian accent made him very hard to understand. But that’s not the point. The point is the advice he gave us, his students, on our final day of class that semester. He told us, “God gets the last word.” That struck a chord with me. It made me think back to when I was little and my younger brother and I would get in screaming matches  over whatever the topic of argument was that day. The argument would never end because neither of us was prepared to let the other get the last word. The person with the last word was by default in the right. They controlled the story. They spoke the truth. And neither of us could live with the thought that our brother may be right. So we refused to let the other have the last word.
But what does it mean to let God have the last word? Well, ultimately it means submitting to His word, knowing His word, and receiving His word as He intended, not as we intend. All to often I slip into a pattern of thinking where God and His truth is merely a part of a large whole in my life. That is to say I have many beliefs about the world, about politics, about people, about relationships, and I routinely turn to God’s word as vindication in those beliefs. Sadly, when this happens I’m merely using God’s word as I intend, so far as it serves me. Rather letting God have the final word means worshiping Him because He’s God and His word is Truth. Whether those words fit the framework of my thinking or not. I give God the final word by approaching His Scripture not in so far as it serves me or speaks what I want to be true, but rather reading earnestly and honestly, seeking His Spirit for guidance towards His Truth.
Interpreting God’s Word
By Brenda Woolley
I am always looking for a new book to read and I recently read a book about a woman who had endured being in an Independent Fundamental Baptist cult. It was hard to read. It was hard to see how herself and her sisters and brothers and other parishioners were treated and lied to and manipulated and abused both physically and spiritually.  It was good to read.  It was good for me to see how easily it can happen.
 It made me rethink many things about how we interpret the Word of God. I know that Satan is such a schemer and a liar and a destroyer. He loves messing with God’s people. But I have to say, when Satan twists scripture and has men and women use the Word of God for their own evil desires it makes me sick to my stomach. 
There is a verse in Acts 17:11 that talks about the Bereans and the Thessalonians and it talks about how the Bereans were more noble than the Thessalonians. Why? Because they received the Word with eagerness and they didn’t just hear it and accept it, they examined the scriptures daily to see if it were true. 
Every cult has one thing in common, they want to feed you the teachings, they don’t want you to question anything.  We should be checking out everything we hear from every Sunday Morning service, or Bible Study or any studies we hear on the radio or any books we read by anyone. The church/cult that this poor girl was a part of denied  them questioning anything and definitely did not want the men or women to examine anything. I was fuming reading it!  
It caused me to reflect upon man made rules we have let go in the churches today.  We have got to be so mindful of setting up these “rules” that have nothing to do with what God has called us to.  I am guilty of it too.  I have realized things I had heard when I was a new believer and just accepted them as fact.  I am just realizing now that they were man made, not doctrine or biblical. 
I love our church and that we value women, and children and are encouraged to dig deep into the Word, and to spend time examining what it says. I am not a scholar, and am actually quite far from it. However, I have all the means in front of me to study and know what God was intending in any particular passage of scripture.
I am praying for all those damaged by cults, or really bad teaching, or manipulative church leadership.  Today, I am challenged to question what I hear and read, and ask the Holy Spirit to help me discern what God has left for us in the Word. Praying the same for you too.    

February 2018

God See’s You
By Mike Woolley
We live in a time where everything is being recorded. If you run a red light, your picture will be taken and a ticket will arrive in your mailbox. Whenever you shop at a store chances are a camera is recording your visit. One article I read on this subject said, “We may not realize it, but we are all movie stars, thanks to the roughly 30 million surveillance cameras throughout the United States that capture each of us on film about 200 times daily.” There’s no question about it, you are being watched. You are not going to get away with anything.
It is not a matter of “if” but “when” we are going to say or do something we wish we would have never said or done. But the truth is cameras aren’t even needed when we think about how God sees and knows everything about us. Over and over again the psalmist reminds God, “You know me.” And of course he’s right. And God knows you too.
But God doesn’t know all about you just because He knows everything like a super surveillance genius who knows a ton of both useful and useless information. God knows you because He loves you. God says to the psalmist at one point, “Before I formed you in your mother’s womb, I knew you.” It is his way of saying, “I loved you before you were you.”
Deeper than knowing God is being known by God. What defines us as Christians is not most profoundly that we have come to know Him but that He took note of us and made us his own while we were yet sinners.
Gal.4:9 “But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?”
One of my favorite things about the Gospel is it solves a primal need of human beings. We cannot truly be loved without being truly known. But our fear, and it is well founded, is if someone really knew us they would reject us. So we all put up false fronts and beneath those false fronts we are dying of loneliness. But the Gospel says that God demonstrated his love toward us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.
So remember God’s surveillance camera is rolling, but He is looking deeper than our actions. He looking at our hearts and wanting us to love Him just as we are. When I was at my very worst, God loved me the very most.
By Taylor Roche
As some of you may have known I got to spend last weekend up in Running Springs with some of our high school and junior highers, not to mention about three hundred other similar students from around southern California. We had a great few days of fellowship and worship. Each year at either winter camp or summer camp there is a new “theme”. Some phrase or concept that the whole retreat is built around. In general I’m a fan of some of the themes and others I don’t relate to as much, this year however, was probably one of my favorites. The theme this last weekend was the word “Kaleidoscope”. This refers to, as you probably know, an old toy where you peer in one side of the tube and depending on where you point it, see a fantastic symmetrical pattern of colors and shapes.
The message of camp was that the gospel should have a similar affect on our vision as a kaleidoscope does. The good news of Jesus should be something that radically changes the way we look at the world. It’s a powerful and convicting reminder. I think of how often Christianity becomes simply something I believe, or something I do on the side, like working out for instance. In contrast to this, Jesus in the gospels provides us with a powerful new way of understanding and viewing the world. I wonder, how different might not just our lives but the inner workings of our mind be, if we really began to use the Gospel not as just one of many things that make up who we are, but the powerful lens through which we see all things. If we constantly prayed, “Lord am I seeing what you’re seeing?” how different might even ordinary mundane things look? Isn’t there a chance that things like washing the dishes, going for a walk, being a spectator at a sporting event, or even driving on the freeway, might begin to be seen in a radically new light? That’s the real power of the gospel. It’s transformative. It changes and reshapes every aspect of our lives. So let’s ask ourselves, do we see what the world sees? Or do we see what God sees?
Do you THINK before you speak?
By Brenda Woolley
I have come to the conclusion that teaching kids about the truths in the Bible has changed my life.  This past week at our Tuesday night kids bible study, I taught a lesson on the damage of Gossip.  I was so convicted about my own life while studying that I came to them and confessed of my own sin in this area.  They were real quiet as I shared but listened intently to every word.  They all had something to share and were so eager to learn. 
We talked about what a gossip is… a gossip is someone who reveals secrets without permission.  One who has privileged information about people and proceeds to reveal that information to those who have no business knowing it. This person likes to make others look bad and likes to exalt themselves.  They speak of the faults and failings of others, or they enjoy revealing embarrassing or shameful details of the lives of others without their knowledge or approval.  The kids had so many examples, without naming names of course!
We then talked how it can so easily move to slander, and that is so hurtful to our friends and family. Slander is malicious and intended to purposefully hurt another person.
Together myself and the kids went through scripture and God is very clear on how He feels about gossip.  Check out these verses:
Psalm 101:5 says, “Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor, Him I will destroy”.
The end of Romans lists what a depraved mind is and in it are gossips and slanderers…and it further says in 1:30,32 “backbiters are worthy of death and so are people who approve of others who practice it.”   Those are some very strong words and that is just a few verses. We talked about so much more, but then I had to give them some practical application for their everyday lives.   We did some role playing, which was priceless, just to get the point across.  We also did a few object lessons with a tube of toothpaste.  I had Ava squeeze out all the toothpaste and then asked her to put it all back in.  Obviously, she could not do it, and we made the point that once you say something it is out there, damage done, and you can’t take it back.  You can apologize, but the damage has already been done. The kids got it!
We all left with a paper in our hands with words to remind us to “Think” before we speak!
“T” – is it true? “H” – is it helpful? “I” – is it inspiring? “N” – is it necessary? And “K” is it kind? 
We all promised to work on this the following week.
Matthew 12:33-37 talks about our hearts.  What the mouth speaks depends on the condition of the heart.  So, to correct our speech, we must correct our hearts. We need to pray like David did in Psalm 141:3, “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips.”

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Our mission and vision at Ablaze is to transform the hearts of people into a close and personal relationship with Jesus where they know Him as Lord, King and Savior. We believe in physical, emotional and spiritual transformation the instant a person accepts Jesus as Lord and Savior.