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When 15-year-old Amanda Jane Cooper saw Wicked on Broadway, she imme-diately wanted to play the role of Glinda. She enrolled at Carnegie Mellon University to study theatre. Within months of graduating, she won the role of Glinda in the show’s traveling production. Amid phenomenal success, however, she developed an eating disorder, frequently not eating during the day and binge eating alone in the wee hours of the morning. The struggling actress began carelessly sharing her body with strangers, putting herself in extremely dangerous situations. Though applauded by millions, Cooper hated herself. more
Luke 23:32 There were also two others, criminals, led with Him to be put to death. more
In our diverse and interconnected world, it is a striking and troubling aspect of human nature to reject, and often mock, beliefs that differ from our own. This tendency is not only pervasive but also harmful, breeding division and misunderstanding. As individuals, we make our choices and have our reasons for believing what we believe. But why isn't that enough for us? Why do we feel compelled to discredit and even ridicule differing ideas? more
As I walked to my car following a very busy Sunday, a man called across our parking lot, “Are you the pastor?” I answered I was one of the church’s pastors and asked what he needed. He began crying as he told me this sad story. He had been hired by a lady in a subdivision near our building to cut down a tree in her front yard. They agreed on a price, but no formal contract was drawn up. However, as he completed the job, she called the police, claiming he had cut down her tree, and she did not know why. According to him, the police refused to get involved, explaining it was a dispute over a relatively small sum of money and there was no contract. The gentleman said the police officers were very kind to him, but he was not paid and was relying on the money from the job for his rent. I bought him something to eat and drove him home. more
Luke 1:41 And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: more
“The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.” Psalm 28:7 (NIV) Our God wants us to trust him. To trust God is to believe in God’s reliability, truth, and strength, and the Bible shows us the many ways God cares for us. Again and again in the scriptures we are encouraged to “trust in the Lord with all our heart.” (Proverbs 3:5) Jesus said that he longed to gather his people and shelter them like a mother hen shelters her chicks under her wings (Matthew 23:37). Our God gave us life, and God provides for us, shelters us, and, through Christ’s sacrifice, saves us. This is the Good News of God’s love in Jesus Christ. May we trust God in all things and experience the peace he offers, the peace that passes all understanding. May God bless your week! Diane Cooke, Pastor, Presbyterian Churches, Willow Springs and Mtn. View. more
The time has come for a real, honest conversation about faith. Not the tidy Sunday school version, but the gritty, everyday kind that has you wrestling with doubts before your morning coffee. In the world of Christianity, faith is often seen as this gold standard—a measure of how tight you are with the Big Guy upstairs. The more unshakeable your faith, the closer you're perceived to be to the divine. It's like spiritual street cred. For some, faith is as natural as breathing. They hear "God created the Earth and everything on it, and Jesus died for our sins," and they nod along, no questions asked. To them, it's as obvious as the nose on your face. more
The 2023-2024 season came to an end Saturday, April 27, for the Missouri State University-West Plains (MSU-WP) Grizzly Softball team. more
Our church staff has been reading James Clear’s fascinating book, Atomic Habits, Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results. The book began with the history of how the governing body of professional bicycling in Great Britain hired Dave Brailsford as its performance director in 2003. At the time, English cyclists had suffered a nearly 100-year slump. In 95 years, British riders had won only one Olympic gold medal, and in cycling’s biggest race, the Tour de France, no English rider had won in 110 years. more
Romans 1:32 They know God’s justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too. more
“Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day.” (Psalm 96:2) “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises.” (Psalm 98:4) Throughout the Bible, we are encouraged to sing to the Lord! In Exodus 15:21 we read that after the Israelites crossed the Red Sea, “Miriam sang to them: ‘Sing to the Lord for he has triumphed gloriously.’” To sing to the Lord is central to the practice of our faith. We sing to affirm our faith… “On Christ the solid rock I stand” …describe God’s traits… “Great is Thy faithfulness!”… express a prayer… “What a friend we have in Jesus.” Singing deepens our faith, strengthens us as God’s people, and prepares us for that day when all the faithful will sing in God’s kingdom. (Rev. 5) Let us sing to the Lord! May God bless your week! Diane Cooke, Pastor, Presbyterian Churches, Willow Springs and Mtn. View. more
There’s a saying from my childhood that pops into my head every once in awhile: “God don’t like ugly.” more
The Bible isn't just another book on the shelf. It’s special, not just because of its spiritual significance but because of how we, as readers, engage with it. Unlike a novel where the story is generally accepted at face value, when it comes to the Bible, it seems everyone’s got a scoop on what the text “really means.” It’s not just about reading; it’s about interpreting, sometimes over-interpreting. more
I took my grandson to the library for the first time last Friday. J enjoys being read to, so I hoped he would eagerly pick out books. He was more interested in playing with toys in the children's room, so I allowed him to play for 20 minutes before I picked out four books for us to read later. more
Today we have GPS to tell us the way to a location. Fill in your starting point and your destination, and the way is described for you in words and a graphic. To find our way geographically, we need specific directions, like…take this street, turn left at the park, etc. To find our way in life, we need God’s guidance. In Psalm 86:11 we read, “Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth.” In John 14:6, Jesus told his disciples, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” He asked them to follow him, to follow his teachings and way of life. Jesus taught them God’s way. Did you realize that one of the earliest names for Christians was people of the Way? (See Acts 9:2 and 24:14). Our faith is not primarily a set of beliefs but a way of life that reflects all that Jesus has shown us. May others recognize that we too are people of Christ’s way. God bless your week! Diane Cooke, Pastor, Presbyterian Churches, Willow Springs and Mtn. View. more
Recently, as part of ongoing discipleship with one of the groups I help lead, we have read through the epistle of Paul to the Philippians. more
In the sweeping expanse of Christian history, marked by schisms, reforms, and continuous adaptation, a disconcerting trend casts a long, chilling shadow over its contemporary landscape. This trend, which is not new but has been magnified in the glaring light of social media, involves labeling various aspects of culture—books, music, and public figures—as "satanic." What is profoundly troubling is not just the act of labeling itself, but the willful ignorance that fuels it, an ignorance embraced and perpetuated by many who have not bothered to investigate the truth of their claims. more
In the vast landscape of human behavior, a peculiar pattern emerges, particularly among Christians, though it is by no means exclusive to them. This pattern involves the tendency to reshape, reinterpret, or even manipulate the teachings of the Bible to align with personal views, prejudices, or narratives. This is not just a religious practice; it's a human one, reflecting deeper issues of cognitive bias and interpretative challenges that are widespread across cultures and beliefs. more
Ephesians 5:11 Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. more
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