The Faith of Friends

Written by Kim Hardin
Luke 5:17-26
The scripture tells the story of how a group of friends set out to help their paralyzed friend. They had faith that Jesus would cure their friend if only they could get him to Jesus. The crowd was so large that they couldn’t get the mat that the paralytic was lying on in through the door of the house where Jesus was teaching. So, the friends went to the roof, removed some of the tiles, and lowered the paralyzed man into the house in front of Jesus. When Jesus saw the friends’ faith, He was impressed with them and He responded by healing the man. Jesus said to the him, “your sins are forgiven.” At that point the man was healed, stood up, picked up his mat and went home, praising God.

Seven years ago, my faith was at an all-time low. My daughters and I were struggling after the recent death of their father, my husband Steve. I was upset at God and feeling alone. However, remembering Steve’s unwavering faith even as he dealt with ALS, a paralyzing, fatal disease, I went on the search for a church family. I started attending Wesley Chapel, and the friends I made there helped me begin my journey back to a relationship with Jesus. One of my first experiences at Wesley Chapel was attending GriefShare. This Christ-centered support group not only helped me find peace amidst my grief, but I also made my first friends at Wesley Chapel. As my participation at church increased, so did the number of my friends, and in equal measure so did my support system.

This support system became like a mat carried by my friends so that they could lower me in front of Jesus. Because of the friends I’ve made at Wesley Chapel through classes, the Hospitality Team, the Praise Team, worship, the trip to Israel, and the friendships that thrive both inside and outside of church, I have been able to repair my relationship with Jesus. Of course, He was always there to forgive my sins and love me, but I needed my friends to remove the roof tiles and let me in to be set at the feet of Jesus. Forgiveness leads to a renewed relationship with the God who loves us and desires to be in relationship with us.

We all need friends who have faith enough for both us and them, but we also need to be that faith-filled friend for others. When we see the people we care about struggling, it is our turn to be the friend carrying the mat. It is our turn to be the one with the faith to get that friend to Jesus. It is not up to us to judge that person or to be the Pharisee who knows best. We don’t forgive sins and heal; that authority belongs to the Son of Man. Let’s be that friend who has faith enough for our friends. Our faith impacts our actions and attitudes. When others see Christ-inspired action and compassion, that shows them the way to a relationship with Jesus. That is how friends help our faith.

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Faith Shines Through a Touch of the Hem

By Becky Perkins

When I think of women of faith, I immediately think of Mother Teresa and Corrie Ten Boom. There have been many books written, movies made, and interviews given about these two women of faith. In their lives, they suffered much for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and directed other people toward Jesus through their faith. But there is a small, lonely, woman of meager means in scripture who shows a terrific amount of faith. We find her story in three Gospel books, and what happened to her was a miracle because of her faith in Jesus.


In Matthew 9, we see Jesus answering a question, which the disciples of John the Baptist had asked, concerning why Jesus’ disciples do not fast. I am sure Jesus was in a deep conversation when Jairus, a leader in the synagogue, comes in and disrupts his teaching. Jairus’ daughter had died and he wanted Jesus to come heal her and raise her to life. So, Jesus leaves the conversation and walks with Jairus to his home. Jesus’ disciples are following behind. I can imagine the scene of the busy street, people chattering, the marketplace filled with people, and Jairus is filling in all the details as he walks alongside Jesus to his home. I am sure Jairus was in a hurry to get there, so he is walking, almost jogging, while Jesus calmly walks along at an unhurried pace with the disciples following behind. The disciples are probably talking and wondering how a leader of the synagogue could know about Jesus and had the faith to believe that if only Jesus would come home with him, his daughter would be healed.


As they were walking along, a small, lonely woman steps up from the crowd of people and says to herself, “If only I may touch his garment, I shall be made well.” This woman had an issue of bleeding for 12 years. She was probably shunned by most people around her, because Jewish people were not to touch anything with blood because it was believed they would be defiled. I imagine she was lonely, hungry, afraid, and trying to live day by day. She had to be tired just from the loss of blood. Where and how did this woman come to know about Jesus? How did she have the faith to come so boldly? Did she realize when she touched the hem of his garment that Jesus would know someone touched him? Jesus did see her, and he looked at her and said, “Be of good cheer, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And the woman was healed right at that moment. See Matthew 9:20-22.


This scripture leaves me with more questions, and I would love to know the backstory of this woman and her story after her healing. I believe these three little verses about this woman are pretty powerful. She did not get attention from others like Corrie Ten Boom or Mother Teresa, but there is much boldness and power in these three verses. She must have had much love and hope in her heart to acquire the faith to step up and know that Jesus could heal her. I also love the fact that Jesus, although interrupted by Jairus and then interrupted by this woman on the way to heal Jairus’ daughter, stopped to notice this woman and heal her. The woman’s needs were important to Jesus, the death of the daughter was important to Jesus, and showing his disciples and John’s disciples what was most important was all met in a short time in the middle of a busy day by Jesus. People will always be the priority to Jesus, and I believe that is still the ultimate priority today for Jesus. All we have to do is have faith to reach out and touch the hem of his garment to know his power and his love. All we have to do is have the faith and do something.

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Faith Outside the Box

Written by Cindy Music

The Faith of the Centurion Matthew 8:5-13

When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.” Jesus said to him, “Shall I come and heal him?” The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that moment.

Why was Jesus amazed with the Centurion’s faith and so disappointed with the faith of those in Israel?

Let’s look at Israel first. The Jewish people, especially the leaders, didn’t accept Jesus as the Messiah. They missed all the signs in prophecy, the miracles, and his teachings that pointed to him being God’s Son. They had their own thoughts and expectations of what the Messiah would be like. How he would save them from the Romans. How he would be a political leader. They had created a “box” to put the Son of God in. By doing this, they limited him to their own worldly knowledge and experiences. When Jesus didn’t rise to the political occasion and save them from Roman rule, they turned on him. They looked for reasons to disqualify him as the Messiah in prophecy. They closed their eyes to the miracles he performed and closed their ears to his teachings. They wasted the time they had with Jesus, when they could have been experiencing all God had for them. Hmmm, sometimes we can all be a little like Israel.

The Centurion’s faith was different. That day when the Centurion asked Jesus to heal his servant, he knew what Jesus could do. Even though he had power and authority over hundreds of men, he recognized Jesus as someone who spoke with authority and a power that were not of this earthly realm. He recognized that his own power and authority were limited, and he could do nothing to save his servant. The Centurion knew he was not liked by Jewish people, but he put aside his pride. He came that day with a humble heart expecting Jesus to speak and his servant to be healed. The Centurion knew that day he had nothing to lose but everything to gain by having faith outside of the “box.”

What would it look like to have faith that goes beyond what our minds can dream? We are limited in our knowledge and experiences because we only have what we see around us. What if we look outside of our “boxes” and believe that Jesus can do so much more than what we can fathom? The only box God lives in is the one we put him in. We limit what we believe he can and will do based on our small amount of knowledge. He is so much more. He can do so much more. He doesn’t want us to limit him or limit our faith in what he will do.

Dream big and live with a faith that is even bigger. Go outside the box and expect Jesus to work as only he can. What have you got to lose?


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Living Like Jesus

Written By:  Rhonda Alstott
Titus1:5-9  “For this reason I left you on Crete that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you, namely, if any man is above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion.  For the overseer must be above reproach as God’s steward, not self-willed, not quick tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.”


In Paul’s letter to Titus, Paul reminds him of the expectations he had regarding the island of Crete. Crete had a reputation for ungodliness, but Paul did not let that dissuade him from having expectations for the gospel to produce fruit. Paul understood personally what an encounter with Jesus could do in a person if they let the Spirit have their way. He understood that as a Christian, real godliness would be lived out in our families, workplaces, and places of worship. When I read through Paul’s list for the qualities of a leader, I am not surprised that they are qualities we see in the character of Jesus. Of all those that are listed, I want to take a minute to focus on one, “sensible”, found in verse 8. Some translations use the word self-controlled. Sensible, in the original Greek is the word sophron (sozo-to save and phren-the mind), meaning safe in the mind. Strongs concordance describes it as one who can moderate their opinion or passion.

I do not know about you, but having a sensible mind seems like a lost art nowadays.  I do not know how many times I have heard the phrase “Oh he or she is just passionate about that”.    This excuse is often given when a person has gone too far and crossed some sensible boundaries with words or deeds.  Passion and opinion that is not controlled seem to grow into obsession until that seems to be the only focus a person has.   I think if we are all honest, we all can become passionate about issues, events, and people, but how do we handle it when we or someone else crosses the line with that opinion or passion?  We can become so obsessed or passionate about something that we lose all resemblance of Jesus, even if we think it’s an issue he’d be passionate about too.  

Another way to describe a person that is sensible from the Greek definition, is to say that they know how to stop.  That can be applied to not only our passions and opinions, but our behaviors as well.  We live in a world where addictions, greed, consumerism, overeating, overbuying………. the list goes on and on of the ways we don’t know how to stop.   As part of my job, I show images of brains that show the damage done when people don’t know how to stop using drugs.    My kids, and my husband, would tell you that I don’t know how to stop lecturing to make my point.  I would confess I don’t know how to stop eating candy.

 The reason this word sensible in scripture catches my attention is that I really do not think anyone can escape being convicted of one area where they need help knowing where to stop.  Maybe we worry too much.  Maybe we are on our phones too much.  Maybe we gossip too much.  You get the point.  Our lives bear witness to this.  Another irony I see is that we are quick to point it out in someone else, to escape what is happening within ourselves.   We would rather focus on someone’s unsound mind and inability to stop than to look within.  I think Jesus said it this way, “Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?”

Maybe God’s Spirit, when asked, would show this log to us.    Maybe we could be more honest with one another about our logs and ask Jesus to help us get it out.  Maybe in the confession, our sin would lose its power, and maybe just maybe, we could all be more like Jesus.

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Getting Lost in the Weeds

Written by Rhonda Alstott

“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love, He predestined us for adoption to Himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will, to the praise of His glorious grace, with which He has blessed us in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:1-6).

I titled this blog “Getting Lost In The Weeds” because for too long, the focus on this passage has centered on the opposing sides of chosenness and predestination, an argument that has been debated by theologians for centuries. When we do this, we get lost in the weeds and we miss some richness of the text. Regardless of which side of the debate you fall on, we should remember that salvation is an act of grace by God through Jesus Christ. This was the plan from the foundation of the world.

Paul’s letter to the Ephesians reminds them from the beginning greeting that grace and peace are found in Jesus. The entire letter reminds this town of Christians, made up of both Jews and Gentiles, that they are to walk in a manner worthy of their calling. Before Christianity came to Ephesus, it was steeped in idol worship. Acts 19 portrays Ephesus as a town steeped in confusion because their lives and livelihoods were being built around idolatry. What a spiritual shift to go from worshiping false deities to putting your faith and trust in a God, motivated by love, who gives salvation as a free gift of grace. Paul reminds them of this time and time again in this epistle. He explains to them throughout the letter that their walk should be different since experiencing this gift and so should reflect it. Their walk should be different and reflect the values of Jesus.

In verse 2, Paul begins with “Blessed be the God and Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.” “Blessed be” in the original Greek is eulogetos, a word with eulogia (blessed) as its base. It means to “speak well of” and you can see how our word eulogy comes from this. At a funeral, people are asked to eulogize the deceased, and a well-written eulogy will speak well of the one we are there to honor. So how do we, as Christians, speak well of our Heavenly Father? Do our actions, motivations and words speak well of our Heavenly Father? Does our walk?

The month of July was the month where I found myself sitting through a few unexpected funerals, all with well-delivered eulogies to honor godly people. Their lives, as Paul says in verse 6, brought praise of His glorious grace. I don’t know about you, but sitting through a eulogy always has me asking, “What will be said about me?” “Will I wield my power as a force of good to build God’s kingdom or will I use it to destroy?” This past year has shown me the fragility of faith, friendships, and life. It has shown me that nominal Christianity (Christian in name only) is alive and well and so is pettiness. I have realized I can continue to dwell on all of this, which is a form of idolatry itself, or I can speak well of God the Father of Jesus Christ, who gives not only His grace but His eternal peace.

Our lives as children of God should cause others to see His glory. Our lives should point others to who God and Jesus really are. Our lives should cause others to glorify and speak well of God and the grace He has given us. Our eulogies are being lived out every day. May they point the world to Jesus.

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Blessed Peacemakers

Written by Laura Swessel

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God (Matthew 5:9).


Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers” during the Beatitudes section of his Sermon on the Mount.  This got me wondering what exactly a peacemaker does, which then made me ponder about the true definition of peace.  I came up with seven possible types of peace, and I am sure someone else could add a few more.  Here they are:


  • The absence of conflict
  • Tranquility and quiet
  • The feeling of being safe and secure
  • Freedom from oppressive thoughts (inner peace)
  • Harmonious personal relationships
  • A calmness
  • A pact/agreement between two groups to end hostilities 


So, what is a peacemaker?  I believe a peacemaker is simply someone who helps others find peace.  This can take a variety of forms and actions based on which type of peace the peacemaker is trying to bring about for the other person.


We have all seen people acting as peacemakers.  I will give you a few of my personal examples.  Every time I visit my mother at Harrison Springs, I see peacemakers – the caring staff, other family members, and even the residents.  The peacemaking comes in many forms:  a loving touch, a kind word, settling a dispute, asking a resident to join you at your table if he/she has no family members attending a family function, acting as an audience for someone who wants to share life stories, giving some reassuring words when someone seems agitated or confused, lending a hand at mealtime on days when they are understaffed…the list goes on and on.  On another note, the staff at Harrison Springs brings me peace just knowing that my mother is safe and surrounded by such caring people.


Sometimes, a peacemaker’s role can be quite stressful.  For example, when two or more people are in conflict, a peacemaker might serve as an unbiased, non-judgmental mediator.  This is a tough position in which to be, especially if the peacemaker has a prior relationship with at least one of those in conflict.  When faced with this type of situation, it is helpful to remember that the verse does NOT say “Blessed are the favor-makers” or “Blessed are the judges.”


Another difficult situation arises when we are called to bring someone peace because they are living a life of sin.  In this case, the peacemaker must gently (again without bias or judgment) guide the person to confess and repent of their sins.  The peacemaker will only be successful if he/she has a loving, close relationship with the person whom they are helping.


Lastly, we all know at least one person whose very presence brings peace and a sense of calm to whatever room they enter.  Their inner peace is contagious, and it is most certainly founded on their faith in Jesus Christ and their ability to trust that He, the greatest peacemaker of all time, will always care for them.


This brings me to my final thought, the second half of verse 9 – “for they will be called children of God.”  The “rewards” in most of the other Beatitudes are very logical.  If you hunger or thirst, you will be filled; if you mourn, you will be comforted; if you are merciful, you will be shown mercy; etc.  However, I had to ponder on the reward for the peacemakers to truly understand it.  Being called a child of God is the greatest reward of all, at least in my opinion.  So, here are my thoughts as to why this reward is given to the peacemakers.  As mentioned in the previous paragraph, Jesus is the greatest peacemaker of all time.  So, those who model Jesus’ behavior will gain a similar status of being a child of God.


Well, I have really enjoyed writing this blog.  It has made me aware and appreciative of all the peacemakers in my life.  I am truly surrounded by a lot of God’s children.

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