Door of Humility

By: Marcy Barthelette

I want you to be wise in doing right and to stay innocent of any wrong. Romans 16:19b

You’ve undoubtedly heard the phrase, “Get off your high horse.” As a matter of fact, if you’re anything like me, it may have been directed your way at one time or another, perhaps recently. Of course, in our day, it means to stop thinking so highly of ourselves, that our ideas are better than someone else’s, or that we do more for the church and our community and, likewise, we have difficulty understanding why others may see our ideas as arrogant.

There was a time, however, when it meant exactly what it says. You see, the Church of the Nativity, located in Bethlehem, on the west bank of Palestine, was built over the cave where Jesus was reputedly born. It was likely built originally by Constantine I sometime in the fourth century and is thought to have been destroyed by fire and rebuilt in the sixth century. Until around the fifteenth century, entrance to the church was accessed through a very large opening, so large, in fact, that soldiers and dignitaries rode right in on their horses, while others brought carts for looting treasures from the church. 

So a decision was made to fill in the original large entrance and create a smaller opening through which visitors had to bend in order to enter. It has come to be known as the Door of Humility as it causes everyone to bow low before entering the place where God humbled himself to become human. To humble oneself when entering this Holy place is an outward sign of respect and worship.

The theme, “Get off your high horse” seemed to follow Pastor Dennis’ sermon from Sunday morning. He spoke about our tendency to find fault with one thing and another that the church is doing, simple things like which time is appropriate for each service, the kinds of music that are chosen, and what people wear to church. These fault-finding comments tend to divide us at a time when, more than ever, we need to unite.

my dear brothers and sisters, watch out for people who cause divisions and upset people’s faith by teaching things contrary to what you have been taught… Romans 16:17

Let’s face it, God accepts us just as we are, warts and all. He isn’t concerned about when we worship.

Rather He treasures any time we spend praising Him. Any song that honors His name is certainly lovely music to His ears. And as for what we wear, He knows that it’s the love in our hearts that matters, not how we look on the outside.

God of Grace, when we start thinking too highly of ourselves, remind us again that every breath we take is a gift from you. Ray Pritchard, Why He Came  

So the next time we make a statement that sounds a little like gossip or a complaint about the way business is being conducted and somebody gives us that “get off your high horse” look, we’d do well to bow low and walk through that door of humility because, as every Christian should know, we are strongest when we’re on our knees and a little humility goes a long way toward uniting people.

May the grace of our Lord Jesus be with you. Romans 16:20b


You May Not Always Be Liked

By: Marcy Barthelette

If you listen to constructive criticism, you will be at home among the wise. Proverbs 15:31

My phone interrupted the silence with a text notification and it was about the time of day that my granddaughter usually drops me a message. Sure enough, it was Rachel and she was excited. She’d finally gotten the SIM card she’d been waiting for.  

It’s the conversation every parent wrestles with and the answer is not an easy one to discern; When should my child get a phone? In her case, Rachel’s iPad had been acting up, as computers do. It was older and had quite a few miles on it. She was also wanting a camera at the time. So about a year ago, she bought a phone with her own money, but with the condition that she could only use it on WiFi and a parent had to approve any apps she wanted to download. When they felt she had reached the appropriate level of maturity, she could get the SIM card and make it what she calls “a real phone.”

She’s heading into seventh grade this year and her parents had obviously reached the decision to let her make this pivotal change in her life. And trust me, it is pivotal. Of course, as in almost any life change, along with the joy and privilege of having a phone comes much responsibility. I had to wonder if she really understood that a phone, with all of its vulnerability to scammers, criminals, and a thousand ways to land in trouble, can be a real hassle at times. For now, it’s just the excitement of having it that matters to her.

And wouldn’t you know, a couple of days later, she sent her grandpa a chain letter. The content was offensive because it tried to convince the reader that if the instructions were not followed to the letter, not only would the reader have bad luck but they would also not be loved. And it suggested that if the reader were killed by another person, the sender would be in jail for having killed the person who killed the supposed friend, a kind of live together, die together pledge. But the thing that really bothered me most was that our granddaughter said she didn’t want to send it but her friend pressured her and she went along. Peer pressure reared its ugly head a mere two days after her phone was activated.

We know that love is not measured by the number of chain letters that come back to us. Nor is it measured by the number of likes we have on social media accounts or the number of friends who gather around us cheering us on when we’ve behaved in the way they want us to. Our culture is caught up in the belief that following the crowd is a normal way of life. All the young people in our life relish staging selfies, each competing with another to be prettiest, have the strongest abs, or the best hair. We’re so busy “posting” positive shots to make our lives look wonderful that we forget the things that really matter. And too many times those perfect lives depicted online are just a sham. Yet we measure ourselves by the way others appear on their social media pages and we continually fall short. We will always fall short of human expectations.

God sees us as He created us, as His perfect children. It causes Him pain when we try to change His own creation into something that will please other humans.

Wisdom isn’t learned overnight—it comes through curiosity to learn, the ability to admit wrongdoings,

and the capacity to ask for forgiveness. The Daily Proverbs Devotional

Hopefully, with age comes wisdom….our kids need a guiding hand to fortify them when times are tough and society demands behaviors that contradict their immerging faith. Ask yourself, “Who am I when no one is looking?” Living a Christian life will not always make us popular. In fact, most of the time we’ll be flying solo. The temptation to follow the crowd will always be there and it will be strong, but if we’re asked to do something that just doesn’t feel quite right, it probably isn’t. I’ll borrow an old slogan from the anti-drug campaigns of yesteryear, “Just say NO.”

Wisdom is doing now what you are going to be happy with later on. Joyce Meyer


Survival Mode

By: Marcy Barthelette

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they will help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. Romans 5:3-4

As our quiet Sunday was winding down, I’d just finished writing and Ken was enjoying his current read, our phones began a series of notifications that heavy storms would threaten the area within a short time. I began to collect the things I always take with us to the safe room. It’s supplied with a battery-powered radio and a wind-up version should the batteries die. There’s water, a few non-perishable snacks, a first aid kit, and the usual collection of disaster-related needs. I only need to collect devices and chargers, wallets, and prescription meds so we’re good to go on a moment’s notice.

Our sirens never sounded but our local TV stations were pretty sure danger lurked in the clouds and we tended to agree so we stationed ourselves in the safe room with both battery and electric lighting on. The wind was relentless but only for a short while and then our world went dark except for one battery-powered lantern. Clearly, the storm had settled but we had no idea how long we would be without power. It was 11:30 PM on Sunday, July 30.

Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand. Psalm 37:24

We looked outside to assess the damage, but it was so dark we couldn’t see a thing. Our best choice seemed to be a good night’s sleep if that was even possible. At about four AM, I awoke to a bright light on my face, the light I’d left on before racing to the shelter. I said a grateful thank you to God for restoring the power and made the rounds of the house to be sure all was well. My head barely hit the pillow again when darkness reappeared. The respite may have been all of four minutes.

The next sound I heard was chain saws and generators. The top had been ripped from a large tree across the street and was blocking it. Two hard-working ladies were aggressively removing debris. I went for Ken and he immediately joined the clean-up crew. There was another crew attacking a tree down the street. All the yards were filled with leaf clusters and smaller limbs, but most were gone by the end of the day. That was when we were told it would be another twenty-four hours before power could be restored, which prompted a trip to the library to email last week’s devotion. It’s tough without WiFi these days.

Our brick home had stayed reasonably cool but by late afternoon, we clearly needed to open windows, most of which did not have their screens installed. Once collected and brushed clean, they were placed in the windows and we had a breeze flowing through the house, a warm breeze but at least the air was stirring. It was also time to remove some of the perishable items from our frig. Ken opened one of the five cartons of ice cream he’d just bought on sale. The mint chocolate chip was just the right consistency for milkshakes, so we poured our liquid treat into glasses and enjoyed cool milkshakes on the deck. We then delivered the remaining ice cream containers to neighbors for their enjoyment. One of those neighbors offered us space in his freezer where he had packed eighty pounds of ice hoping to create a giant insulating ice pack. Of course, we accepted the offer and quickly transferred everything that was hard frozen to his freezer.

We ate most of the fresh produce left in the frig and spent the evening on the deck enjoying the rise of a sub-super moon. We fell asleep to the hum of cicadas, every window in the house open.  

The following day, I woke to kids laughing outdoors. I walked to the window to see what changes may have occurred overnight. It was then that my nose was assaulted by the leftover scent of a wandering skunk. Next, there was a slight sprinkling sound on the roof, and I found myself once again on the deck, listening to the sounds of falling rain and rolling thunder. The rain-cooled air was a balm to my skin. After grabbing some fruits and nuts for breakfast, I took the opportunity to clean the interior of our frig while it was basically empty and the air was cool.

Our neighborhood is a swath of homes about two blocks wide and six or so blocks long that is supplied by one power source. The rest of our town relies on another source. There were a few spotty outages in the larger area of town, but most homes and businesses had power. The street that is back-to-back with us had power except for a few hours in the beginning. It felt as if we were on our own little island, the world was whizzing past and all was normal for many of our neighbors.

At 10:30 on Tuesday morning, the power came on, not tentatively, but strong and sooner than expected. We gave it ten minutes to be sure and then began turning on ceiling fans, then the AC. And we said a very large THANK YOU!

A big blessing during our time without power was that our water towers remained operational. When wells go down, life becomes much more complicated. But we could wash and flush, and that means so much when nothing else we are accustomed to using on a daily basis will work. We also learned that our neighborhood will come together and help one another when a need arises. Of course, our milkshakes were an unexpected treat. All of our frozen meats survived, and we continue to enjoy them. In the end, we had little material loss.

Most importantly, we felt the presence of God surrounding us every moment. He had a plan and it worked perfectly. I’m not saying that I want to be without electricity often but the comfort of knowing He is there makes it much more bearable. We have a close friend who always views this kind of adversity as a challenge, a big adventure. We tease her about being an overgrown kid, but if we could all be a little more childlike in our approach to adversity, it surely would remove a lot of stress from our lives. And if we remember that each of us is a child of God, we can find the hope that exists only under his protective wings. That gives me another opportunity to insert one of my favorites…

Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. Psam 91:1 NLT



Dabbling in Darkness

By: Marcy Barthelette

Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God’s law. Romans 13:10

A few days ago a neighbor called to ask me if I knew anything about the trustworthiness of someone living close but not in our immediate neighborhood. She was needing someone to do some light housekeeping and had seen this person working for another neighbor and she appeared to be a hard worker. The difference was that the work the person was performing was outdoors and my neighbor needed help inside the house, creating more opportunities for wrongdoing. I didn’t want to be in the position of making a judgment on this person and I couldn’t, really, because I didn’t know her. The thing was, I did know some negative information regarding the person with whom the subject of this investigation happened to be living. I felt stuck between that proverbial rock and a hard place, not wanting my neighbor to become a victim and yet, not wanting to harm another person’s reputation or cause them not to be hired when perhaps the extra income was really needed. I hedged the topic and, as it turned out, my neighbor had already been given the information that I had been aware of. That time I was saved from saying something that may have been harmful to someone I didn’t even know.

A phrase that Pastor Sarah used in her very insightful sermon this past Sunday really reached out and grabbed me. She told us not to dabble in darkness. Her reference in that message had originally been regarding some major disagreement between Jews and Gentiles as Christianity was blossoming following Jesus’ ministry here on earth. Paul makes some pretty strong statements in Romans 13 about the ways in which we can “indulge {y}our evil desires” and he’s very adamant that we need to steer clear of said immoralities. He refers to “ the darkness of wild parties and drunkenness, sexual promiscuity, and immoral living.” Hopefully, we are able to abstain from those but he also mentions “quarreling and jealousy.” I would add gossiping to that list. And I think that the situation I described above is right on the border of gossiping and it could potentially have hurt another person.   

We hear of all kinds of evil that exists in our world today and many of us feel a major disconnect from it because we think it doesn’t involve us. But there are many subtle forms of evil that may not even appear as evil or darkness. And so we dabble just a little on the dark side. Maybe it was a bit of gossip that was just too juicy to ignore or perhaps it was that nasty barb we threw at a spouse as he or she was going out the door. Maybe that cashier gave us too much change but that’s okay. What’s the old saying, “Finders keepers, losers weepers.” Or perhaps a co-worker made a big mistake and the temptation to pass that little tidbit on to the boss was just too great. And we wonder why our kids tattle on each other.

In a confrontation, typically no one is entirely wrong or entirely right. None of us is perfect….we’re all human and we’re going to make mistakes. But recognizing those mistakes, asking for forgiveness, and trying to do better in the future is the life we accepted as Christians. When we stumble, and we all will, it’s imperative to get back up, make proper amends whenever possible, and have that little talk with Jesus. He wants to know we’ve acknowledged our shortcomings. Everything we say or think or do affects someone, even if it’s only ourselves. For the past few weeks, I’ve been hearing the phrase “engage core” from my physical therapists. For today’s purposes, I need to amend the phrase to “engage heart and mind before all else.”


When was the last time you “dabbled in the darkness?”

So let’s stop condemning each other. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause

 another believer (or non-believer, as well, because our behavior could either help or hinder their decision

to believe) to stumble and fall. Romans 14:13 NLT



Scatter Some Seeds

By: Marcy Barthelette

 And when two or three of you are together because of me, you can be sure that I’ll be there. Matthew 18:20 MSG

Once again I am writing on a Sunday evening. It has been a week of roller-coaster emotions. On Monday my scheduled visit with the physical therapist left me feeling refreshed and stronger than I had felt in a while. Some new techniques were applied that provided good stretching and strengthening and I began to believe that I really might get back to some of my gardening adventures. Yes, my movements might look a little different and I’d need to think first to engage the correct muscles before attempting any task. But it was looking doable. I was really looking forward to my Thursday appointment, but late Wednesday, it was suddenly canceled.

That evening, Ken and I joined about seventy-nine other Aldersgate family members in the youth building to commemorate thirty-five years of our church’s presence in the community; its past, present, and future. We didn’t really know what to expect but I can tell you that if you weren’t there, you missed a truly spiritual experience. The eighty-one of us represented a cross-section of attendees from each of our Sunday morning services. But this was no ordinary service. We sang, we prayed, we celebrated Communion, and the closeness between the people there was palpable. The presence of the Holy Spirit surrounded us with grace and love. There were prayers for healing and I was one of those requesting prayer, but we’ll get to that later.

My husband left the service with a memory of an object lesson he had shared with kids at a church many years ago. Dennis agreed it would be a good illustration to add to his Sunday message and so the planning began. Both Ken and I went home feeling at peace and encouraged about our path forward as a church family.

The next day my peace took a major hit. A call from the physical therapy facility canceled another appointment and I learned that the therapist I had worked with on Monday had developed symptoms of COVID on Tuesday evening. That placed me in the window for pre-symptom exposure. I had helped serve Communion the night before and the nature of that special service had precipitated lots of hugs. My concern for my church family escalated.

Not only that, but we had negotiated and purchased a truck that day and had to take care of all the attending paperwork, bringing us into contact with a number of people. We also ate in a restaurant. I was on a guilt trip of enormous proportion, wondering how many people I may have infected.

God, it is so comforting to know that when we are unsure of the future, we can trust that You notice us and You already know the outcome. – GABC Women

As I said earlier, I requested prayer for healing on Wednesday night and Pastor Dennis offered a very simple and non-specific prayer. Bear in mind, I was thinking only of my back injury because I didn’t know about the possible COVID exposure, but also remember that the prayer didn’t specify healing for my back. Dennis asked for general healing. So, here I am, on Sunday evening. My mobility is greatly improved, my pain is greatly diminished, and the COVID virus that I didn’t know about has not materialized. I didn’t know about it…but God did. And I think He went to work in a hurry.

To date, I have no symptoms and my tests have been negative. With those results, my doctor gave me the OK to be out among people. Having my worry over infecting others removed, I’m feeling better about the whole experience. However, I’ve learned we all need to continue to be vigilant with our personal hygiene and do what we can to protect those we encounter. It’s just good common sense.

I realize I’ve rambled a bit in this little piece and I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but on this beautiful Sunday evening, I’m feeling pretty good. And that object lesson that Ken shared this morning….well, the short version is that it essentially contained two questions; the first being; “How many seeds are inside an apple?” This is easily solved by cutting the apple and counting. The other question is much harder; “How many apples are in each seed?” Think about that. Only God holds the answer. The youth team volunteering at Camp Barnabas this week was asked to participate along with the younger kids and I got a kick out of watching them. They were pretty fidgety and were wondering why they were asked to join in a children’s exercise. Then came that question about the number of apples in each seed. Each of them perked up, their eyes brightened and you could see them begin to think. I hope they’re scattering lots of seeds this week as they go about their tasks and interactions.  

And of course, the object lesson as interpreted in our Christian walk is this; one of us going forth and scattering seeds of faith can make a big difference in the world. Now think about what can happen when we all scatter seeds of kindness, seeds of love, seeds of comfort, seeds of mercy, seeds of forgiveness. This was the message of last Wednesday’s service and, as Pastor Dennis pointed out on Sunday, it is not ours to worry about what happens to those seeds. God will take care of that. We just need to make sure we scatter them. And being a dedicated gardener, I can really identify with that seed metaphor. I think I’d better get busy and scatter a variety of very important seeds…..or, come to think of it, maybe I’ve already begun.

And he said, “My presence will go with you…….” Exodus 33:14



Safe Spaces

By: Marcy Barthelette

I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings. Psalm 61:4 NIV  

It’s a lazy summer afternoon and I’m allowing myself to embrace the luxury of a little stroll down memory lane. My musing takes me to the very middle of my life when, as a single mom, I was a manager at a camping resort in south-central Missouri. My daughter and I began this sojourn living in our small camper but then moved into housing on the premises. Our home was a restored- hundred-twenty-five-year-old log cabin, built originally in the dogtrot style commonly found in the Ozarks. It consisted of two rooms with a covered walkway in between. That walkway had been transformed into an entry hall and full bathroom, the kitchen updated for modern living, and two bedrooms along with a bath were added to one end. It was a very comfortable home for the two of us and the resort was a great place to raise a child. We had access to a clear, beautiful river for swimming, canoeing, and tubing. The horseback riding trails provided hours of entertainment, and we could enjoy hayrides and movies along with our camping guests when space was available. Jenny had no shortage of friends, from some of those aforementioned camping guests who were often short-term friendships, to her schoolmates and our neighbors who added consistency to our lives. We were truly blessed by our natural surroundings and the folks there who became our extended family and always watched over us.

Jeni was typically very active around the resort, jumping rope, playing hopscotch, and engaging in lots of little girl activities. Our staff and guests marveled at how long she could continue jumping and she was usually willing to entertain them. But every now and then, she

 needed to get away from everything and everyone. She’s still that way. The first time she disappeared, I became a little frantic. Okay, I was more than a little frantic. Just as I was about to really fall off the deep end, the resort owner happened to look out her window and saw Jenny sitting on a tree branch alongside the stream that flowed behind her house. A quick call assured me my daughter was fine and that my boss would keep a close watch over her. That was to be the first of many trips to the tree. Jenny had found her safe spot, tucked away from all the people and busyness of the park right beside that beautiful flowing stream. It became her thinking tree and the place she sought when something troubled her. I always knew where she would be, and my boss and I communicated regularly regarding her presence there to ensure her safety, but we never invaded her space.

Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him! Psalm 34:8

Eventually, she realized that we knew where her safe space was, but it remained just her place for as long as we lived there. Now that she’s an adult with her own daughter, she still loves to be near flowing water and so do I. It gives each of us a sense of peace and constancy, a place of reassurance that envelopes us in the wonder of creation and an opportunity to disconnect from the craziness of life and just bask in the quiet of the moment. In the quiet we find comfort. It becomes a safe space because it reminds us of God’s never-ending provision, both physically and spiritually.

Today, Ken and I have a safe room in our garage designed to protect us from destructive storms, and I’m really glad we have it. But I know that the safest place to be is always in the loving arms of God and that can happen anywhere I am because He is always with me. Where is your safe space? 

Be still and know that I am God. Ps 46:10


Beautiful Feet

By: Marcy Barthelette

How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things.

Romans 10:15b NKJV

This past Lenten season, as I read one of my favorite devotional guides, the one about Peter’s Feet snagged my imagination a little more than in years past so I set it aside in my resource folder thinking it might offer some good points for one of my pieces somewhere along the line. I’ve glanced at it a few times since, but the timing just wasn’t right. Pastor Dennis, however, lit a spark last Sunday when he focused in on the importance of feet. Once home, I pulled up my folder and began to gnaw on the topic a bit.

Of course, I’ve had reason to think about feet lately as my normal mobility has been impaired, and It’s hit home just how precious those feet of ours really are. We humans are typically born with two while the majority of animals have four, but some critters possess as many as six or eight. Imagine having to buy eight shoes for each of your children at the beginning of school. I think I’m grateful we only have two feet. The internet experts differ slightly but seem to agree that the average eighty-year-old human will have walked between 75,000 and 100,000 miles in a lifetime. That’s a lot of blisters and callouses and very tired feet. We punish them unmercifully by wearing shoes that are improperly sized or aren’t built for the purpose we are using them. We push through the pain and just keep going. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who thinks their feet are attractive. They’re just two overlooked and unattractive appendages that take us from place to place, activity to activity, in our daily lives.

Our four-footed friends are just as hard on their feet. Think about the horses of the American west carrying people and goods and mail to unexplored areas where danger lurked around every bend in the trail. Goodness, how their feet must have suffered. And how about camels traversing the scorching desert or the huskies of the Yukon? So many types of feet work very hard to get us to our destinations, deliver our goods, and carry us on dangerous adventures or the exploration of earth’s wonders. And we mustn’t forget the rigors of bodily exercise that keep us healthy. Regardless of their rather nondescript appearance, feet play a vital role in our lives and we would do well to take better care of them than we do.

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the messenger who brings good news, the good news of peace and salvation, the news that the God of Israel reigns. Isaiah 52:7 NLT   

I think God’s Word may have been speaking metaphorically here. Before venturing into indigenous villages high in the Andes Mountains or on the African desert or in the seemingly unreachable parts of our own country, “messengers” must train in the rigors of the lifestyles they will inhabit. They must be physically, mentally, and spiritually prepared to bring the “Good News” to people who may not have ever heard the name of Jesus. Their literal feet will have traveled countless miles in preparation before they hit the ground running and the beauty of their metaphorical feet becomes fruitful.

I’m grateful for those whose literal or metaphorical feet travel to the far corners of the earth to bring the message of God’s love and faithfulness, but not all of us can do that. Hear this though, even those of us whose feet are absent or not working correctly have metaphorically beautiful feet to bring the “Good News” to those in need of hearing. Our feet can be present in a classroom of children searching for meaning in their lives. Our feet can serve a healthy meal to hungry souls without the means to provide food on their own. Our feet can bring or send bottled water and prepared foods to disaster-ravaged countries and disaster areas in our own country. Our feet can send school supplies to places where classrooms are no more than a rudimentary structure or a tent or perhaps even just the shade of a tree. Our feet can bring the promise of hope to a hurting world.

We are blessed beyond measure and when we think there is nothing more we can do, we just need to open our eyes, ears, and hearts, then put our feet to work. Our “feet”, virtual or metaphorical, can always bring the beauty of hope to someone, somewhere…..maybe right next door.


How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news. Romans 10:15b NLT


No Spiritual Flabbiness

By: Marcy Barthelette

Stay clear of silly stories that get dressed up as religion. Exercise daily in God—no spiritual flabbiness, please! Workouts in the gymnasium are useful, but a disciplined life in God is far more so, making you fit both today and forever. I Timothy 4:7-8 MSG

This passage of scripture really caught my eye because of its lightheartedness but it rings with essential truth. Let’s take a look at a few statistics, always with a subjective eye, because we know that everything we read on the internet has to be “true”.

According to one site, roughly a third of Americans have a gym membership costing anywhere from $30 to $90 per month but here’s the good part, only about half set foot in the gym twice a week and many make a token appearance now and then just to say, “I went to the gym today,” to a friend or business acquaintance. And here’s a good one, Americans spend $1.3 billion annually on unused memberships.

In 2019, adults spent $34.8 billion on gym memberships, but that number fell to $8.2 billion in 2020 because of the pandemic. Many people turned to outdoor activities rather than spending time in crowded places. They also invested in home exercise equipment but again quickly lost interest and either sold the equipment or shoved it into a corner of the garage and buried it under all the other unused purchases acquired during that time of quarantine and no longer considered necessary.

Though I have never owned a gym membership, I must confess to purchasing a stationary bike during the pandemic, and it has seen quite a bit of use. But walking has always been our preferred form of physical exercise along with hiking when we’re able to get to trails. We’ve also enjoyed biking until very recent years. Actually, Ken still does but my biking days are over.

Of course, one reason the topic of exercise caught my attention is that I am currently engaged in a physical therapy program requiring two visits each week with a professional and a daily home workout performing prescribed movements targeting specific muscle groups that will hopefully remove some of the stress from a weakened lower spine. Some days I’m ready to get on the floor and run through my paces but others I’d rather sit in my recliner and let someone else do it for me. Whether or not I want to do the workout, I know I must if I want to have any hope of strengthening my body to feel better.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we put as large a time investment into spiritual exercise as we do monetary investment into the physical development of our bodies? I wanted to look at another version of our focus verse and chose the NLT which says:

Do not waste time arguing over godless ideas and old wives’ tales. Instead, train yourselves to be godly. Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come. I Timothy 4:7-8 NLT

It’s not as much fun as the Message interpretation and it might not have snagged my attention as quickly, but it clearly articulates our instructions for life. Almost anything worth doing requires some advanced thought and planning. If you’re going on vacation, you’ll likely check on lodging options, nearby restaurants, and interesting things to see or do. If traveling by car, you may want to have it checked over before leaving and make yourself aware of driving regulations along your route.

To ensure a healthy garden, you’ll need to know the soil, light, and moisture requirements of each plant. It’s important to make sure different varieties play well together before planting them next door to one another. Some will grow from seed and bloom in a single season while others will need a season or two to reach maturity. In short, we must train ourselves for the tasks we want to accomplish. When interviewing for a new job, it’s important to study the potential employer to find out if they are aligned with your values. You must also be prepared to present yourself in a positive light. And you surely wouldn’t go out for the football team if you’ve never played the game. It’s important to know the game well and, certainly, to prepare your body for the rigors it will experience.

We all take enormous quantities of time preparing for and agonizing over nearly everything we do, but when it comes to spiritual training, we seem to just cruise along thinking some miraculous understanding will overtake us and we’ll be perfect humans. People, we need to immerse ourselves in the only training that will offer us eternity. Don’t get me wrong, planning and preparedness are wonderful and necessary attributes, but training to be godly people should take priority over all else. Dive right into your Bible, open a dialog with God, and do your best to emulate the example set by Jesus.

As for my very boring physical therapy workout, I’ll keep slugging it out because I really want to strengthen my muscles so that I can continue to enjoy those new flowers I planted before this little detour of mine began. And here’s the thing, training for anything can be whatever you make it. You can whine and complain (which I admit to doing now and again) or you can approach any training with your whole heart and a bundle of enthusiasm. The latter will always bring sweet rewards. I’m pretty sure my days of strenuous hiking have gone the way of my beloved bicycle, but I trust I’ll still be able to handle level terrain and tackle those relentless weeds, and look for new adventures. They may just have to be a little easier on the old bones. And I’ll always have time to train my wayward spirit in the way it should go.

This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it. This is why we work hard and continue to struggle, for our hope is in the living God, who is the Savior of all people and particularly of all believers. I Timothy 4:9-10 NLT



Accepting Truths

  By: Marcy Barthelette 

Bear one another’s burdens…Galatians 6:2a

There are times when life can best be described as a roller coaster ride, full of exciting twists and turns, beautiful views from the mountain tops, and the rush of adrenaline when being plunged into a waiting abyss. And sometimes that abyss turns out to be something much different than we’d planned. Such has been my fate this past week. If you read last week’s article, you heard me describe gorgeous mountain vistas, sparkling streams, and visits with some of nature’s four-legged critters, but you weren’t privy to the other side of the coin.

On the last morning of our wonderful camping trip, I bent to pick up an item from the floor when something resembling a lightning bolt began at my hip and coursed downward through my thigh and calf, exiting my body at my toes. The pain was sharp and intense. The whole experience lasted maybe a couple of seconds but left me feeling as if I’d been through a major storm. When I tried to put weight on the leg, it trembled so hard, I feared I would fall. With Ken doing the bulk of it, we managed to pack everything without further incident. I took a pain reliever and prepared for an uncomfortable drive home. It wasn’t as bad as I’d expected but I must admit, I was grateful to arrive home and find two inches of rain in the gauge, eliminating the need to water our landscape areas.

Overnight, however, the pain became worse and when I tried to put weight on the foot, it was pure agony. This continued for two more days, and we determined that I needed to see a doctor. An examination convinced the Physician’s Assistant that I was likely experiencing a pinched nerve and x-rays verified that I had compressed vertebrae that were causing the pinch but, thankfully, no broken bones. The steroid shot I was given relieved my hip pain, but the foot continued to hurt. The PA referred me to Physical Therapy which commenced with my evaluation on Friday. For the weekend, I completed my “homework” exercises and am scheduled for two sessions with the therapist this week and several more similar weeks as we move through summer.

The words to the song, Everlasting God, have been my constant companion this week. Beginning with, Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord, and then on to the chorus;

You are the everlasting God, the everlasting God,

You do not faint; you won’t grow weary.

You’re the defender of the weak, You comfort those in need,

You lift us up on wings like eagles.

I can tell you that patience is not a virtue of mine and I am not good at convalescing. I detest being slowed down and prevented from doing the things that comprise my daily life. I have just reworked my front landscape bed and it needs my TLC. My house needs attention after the flurry of packing to go camping and my inability to address those issues on our return. We managed to replenish our grocery stock, but I really wanted to plan another camping trip.

As you’ve likely surmised, my body said an emphatic “no!”

But you know what? When I arrived at the Physical Therapy facility, I saw people with much worse problems than mine. When talking with friends we learned that they, also, had serious issues to deal with. In reality, I have plenty to do from the relative comfort of my recliner. I have lots of friends and acquaintances to pray for as well as requests on our prayer list from some people that I know and others that I don’t. But all their issues are important. So, I got busy talking to God about all those needs and writing for the Gatepost, and catching up on all my resource typing and time began to pass more quickly. You see, unlike many of those on my prayer list who experience pain all the time, as long as I’m propped up in my recliner, I feel minimal pain. It’s only when I walk that I hurt. Of course, the physical therapist says I have to keep my muscles moving without overdoing it, so I “walk” a fine line.

When troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. James 1:2-3

I guess God was telegraphing a message the old-fashioned way that I needed to slow down, be grateful for my blessings, take time to recognize the needs of others, and exercise patience in letting my own body heal. I also need to express my gratitude to those who have gone out of their way to help me, most importantly my caring husband and a great neighbor. We all need a little or a lot of help from time to time. I’m grateful it has been there for me, and I’ll need to pay it forward when I’m feeling stronger. For now, I’ll do the very best thing that any of us can do for those who have special needs…PRAY! And the Lord has seen to it that I have plenty of time for that!

Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. Jeremiah 29:12