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Forbidden Territory

Recently a leader asked a group of Christians, “What sort of things should Christians be able to discuss with one another?” The unanimous answer was that Christians should be able to discuss anything with one another—but the follow-up discussion revealed that there...

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Continual Long-Term Faithfulness | Lake McGinty

Continual Long-Term Faithfulness | Lake McGinty

Lake McGinty pulls out his chair and sits at the table, tossing his long brown curls away from his face and smiling a jovial smile. He begins to share his story, his slight accent revealing itself every so often, softening the harsh vowels of the standard American...

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What’s in the Bible?

What’s in the Bible?

Sue was a very bright five-year-old. She loved to show what she knew. So when the pastor visited Sue’s home, she was quick to point to a big family Bible on the table. “I know everything that’s in the Bible,” she happily said. When the minister asked, “Tell me, what’s...

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Beyond an act of Service | Mitchell Neth

Beyond an act of Service | Mitchell Neth

Mitchell Neth is no stranger to the halls of Pleasant Valley. In fact, if walls could talk, they would tell of Mitchell’s boyhood, running to and fro in the nursery and preschool areas and beyond. Mitchell has called Pleasant Valley home for as long as he can remember...

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God Uses Broken Things

God Uses Broken Things

God uses broken things…and bruised-but-not-yet-fully-broken things.  Truthfully, we are all “damaged goods.” Satan would use our broken and bruised places to shame us.  Satan wants us to think God can’t love us because we are “too far gone” – too broken, to...

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Take all of me. I surrender | Rah’Keshia Blue

Take all of me. I surrender | Rah’Keshia Blue

Rah’Keisha is known around Pleasant Valley for her warm smile, her deep and heartfelt prayers, and her passion for Jesus. Rah’Keisha explains that the suburbs of Kansas City haven’t always been her home. She lived in the inner city of Kansas City until she was four or...

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Cling Tightly to Jesus | Holly Mast

Cling Tightly to Jesus | Holly Mast

Holly Mast emits sincerity and peace with every single interaction. Her gentle nature, intricate vocabulary, and deep wisdom make it hard to believe she’s only a senior in high school. Holly pulls out her chair, her baggy sweatshirt falling below her palms and her...

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To Do or To Be

The “to do” list is infamous today. Not all of us have a written list of things to do. We may get by with an inner list of what we need (or want) to do today, this week, or whenever. Written or not, a “to do” list can help us set priorities, find the resources...

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The Spirit Has Come

Do you ever get the feeling that the Holy Spirit is at work around you? As I write this blog Pentecost Sunday is on the horizon. (It’s May 23 this year.) Here at Pleasant Valley, speakers have given a series of messages on the Holy Spirit. And in our particular...

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God is All You Need | Caleb Ezzell

God is All You Need | Caleb Ezzell

The next generation has much to offer the world, the United States, and even better, the Kingdom. Discipleship is crucial and Pleasant Valley is passionate about raising leaders who will continue to make disciples. Caleb Ezzell is an example of one of the many...

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The World Crept In

Scripture is full of warnings against loving the world more than we love God and His Kingdom (examples 1John 2:15-17, James 4:4).  Clearly this is a very real and present danger for believers.  The odd thing is, I have met very few believers who even talk...

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My Identity is in Jesus | Danielle Hornbeck

My Identity is in Jesus | Danielle Hornbeck

Danielle’s smile spreads across her face, her hands wrapped around the Keto coffee just delivered to the table. She shares that she isn’t always good at verbalizing her story, but likes to write things down so she’s a little nervous. However, with a brave breath,...

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The Garden Shed

Much to my surprise, I have learned that many people are not “gardeners”.  Their eyes don’t twinkle with anticipation when seed magazines show up mid-winter, or watch the temperature like a vulture waiting for things to get above 40 degrees.  They may not...

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To All Wonderful Women

To all wonderful women, whether you are a biological mother, stepmother, adoptive mother, spiritual mother, or soul friend, may you be reminded that each one of you is created in the image of God. You were knit together in your mother's womb. You are a unique,...

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What Do You Say?

“Mom, Dad a friend of mine at school has told everyone that he’s gay. Everybody thinks that’s great, that he’s brave and real. What do I say to him? What do I do?” “Pastor, I want to join your church; but you need to know I’m a lesbian. I am a Christian and trying to...

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Becoming Whole

Today, I will obey nine of the Ten Commandments.  Or, maybe just six.  I don’t know which I will ignore, but surely at least one.  Maybe several.  For I am human – a house divided -- wanting both the things of this world and things divine.  I...

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Jesus is My Peace | Carlie Ross

Carlie Ross is no stranger to the anxiety that plagues nearly 2.6 million adolescents across the United States. Her first memories of anxiety began when she was just four years old.  At four, Carlie was diagnosed with an arrhythmia. She and her parents learned...

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Trust and Obey?

“Obedience” seems to be an uncommon word among believers these days. We sing of God’s love and mercy. We pray. We celebrate His work in our lives—and rightly so! But we don’t talk much about obeying the Lord our God. Maybe obedience is implied in our lessons,...

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Jesus is My Constant | Jay Gordon

It is often childhood memories and experiences that mold the way God and self are viewed. This is no exception for Jay Gordon, whose journey has been marked with illness, loneliness, and a calling.  Jay’s story begins with a strange skin rash when he was in...

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Encouraging Authenticity

The culture in the USA today is one of inauthenticity.  We are quick to put on our public manners and publicly acceptable face.  We airbrush our professional photos and carefully edit our social media presence so we look good and smell good to other...

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The Miracle Baby | Brittni Kingston’s Story

Sometimes we see a beautiful, happy family and never know the mountains climbed and pain endured for such a family to even exist. Brittni’s family’s journey began before she was even married at just 18 years old when she was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome...

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The Easter War

Easter weekend – as celebrated in the USA – makes it easy to focus on the celebration of Easter.  It means family, good food, easter egg hunts, flowers budding, maybe a new dress or tie.  But the Friday before Easter was not a celebration.  Friday was...

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Regrets

Regrets

We all have regrets.  Our choices in the past can leave us disappointed in our present life.  Life hasn’t turned out the way we expected or wanted. The longer we live, the more “opportunities” we have to look over our shoulder, wondering what might have...

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Biblical Truth and Science

Biblical Truth and Science

Time magazine recently profiled Dr. Francis Collins, a scientist who believes in God and science in that order. Collins heads the National Institute of Health. He is and has been in the middle of our nation’s struggle with the pandemic. (He is Dr. Fauci’s boss.) More...

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Leaving the Parking Space

Leaving the Parking Space

Parked The sun came out – after a long, winter cold span.  I sat in my parked car with the sun streaming in and thought, “Oh!  It is good to rest here!”  It reminded me of Peter’s statement to Jesus after the transfiguration on the mountain. ...

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Intercession for Others

Intercession for Others

How long do you think the apostle Paul’s prayer list was? He prayed for churches by name. He prayed for the Jewish people. He must have prayed for his co-workers, his enemies, the emperor, and on and on. No wonder he wrote that we should pray without ceasing. Paul...

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In this angry world…

We live in angry times.  Joy and peace can be thin on the ground when there is so much divisiveness, name calling and anger. Even among the brethren of believers we can hear grumbling, discord, and general kvetching about this politician or that, these people or...

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Evangelical Confession

Evangelical Confession

Confession of sin—specifically, one person confessing to another person may be one of the most misunderstood and yet one of the most helpful spiritual disciplines believers can use. The Bible rarely refers to this practice. James 5:16  “Confess your sins to one...

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Welcoming Doubt

Welcoming Doubt

Welcoming Doubt Many of us are afraid to voice our doubts – perhaps especially around other believers.  We live in a culture that tells us truth is relative.  When we are confronted with other people who devoutly believe their faith, we wonder if ours is...

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A Gentle Answer

Can you imagine apologizing for your Christian faith or behavior? I don’t mean saying “I’m sorry” when you speak or act as a Christian should. I mean did you ever have a chance to defend or explain your lifestyle as a Christian or your way of thinking? Defending or...

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Begin Anew

Begin Anew

January lends itself to self-examination:  out with the old, in with the new.   If you haven’t noticed, we serve a God who does “new” very well.  The Israelites had been 400 years in slavery in Egypt and he sent Moses to do a new thing among...

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Growing in Grace

Grace is NOT a Blue-eyed Blonde is the title of a book by a Christian counselor. But we knew that already. Indeed, many of us have heard grace defined as either God’s unmerited favor or, using the acronym GRACE, as “God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.” “Grace” is a...

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Glory of God in a Wee Babe

I have family members who are not members of God’s family (yet).  One of them, knowing my faith, reminds me upon occasion that she does not need “a white male to save her.”  I forget that the culture in the USA usually shows Jesus as a white male. ...

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The Prophet Who (Almost) Couldn’t Believe

Habakkuk (hu-BACK-uk) didn’t know whether to curse or cry when he saw sin of every kind around him. Injustice, immorality, greed, violence, and fake religion were just part of his nation’s sin. But God’s answer to all this seemed as bad as the sin. God was sending the...

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WHEN IT ISN’T ALL TINSEL AND JINGLE BELLS

It is tinsel time.  And jingle bells. However, not every person is jolly this time of year.  As the tinsel goes up, for some, the soul drops into despair.   I have a very short word of hope for this:  God.  He is the first and the last...

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Homemade Religion

OK, it isn’t the greatest mystery in the world. But, those goods in the store that say “home made,” in whose home were they made? Are stores implying the ingredients for these goods were chosen with loving care then prepared with personal, loving interest, maybe even...

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Chutes and Ladders

Most of us played a game in childhood called “Chutes and Ladders”  (or perhaps “Snakes and Ladders”?).  All players start in one corner of the game board with the objective of getting to another corner of the board along a meandering path.  Along the...

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Trusting God

The chorus of an old hymn begins with “Trust Me, try Me, prove Me says the Lord of Hosts.” The words reflect God’s challenge to His people in Malachi 3:8-10. In those verses God challenges His people to trust Him, bring Him their whole tithe, and to discover that He...

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Walking Among Immortals

Walking Among Immortals

A good friend of mine recently sent me an excerpt from a C.S. Lewis’ sermon called “Weight of Glory”.  In this sermon, Mr. Lewis admonished that every person who comes into your presence is immortal.  Whatever you think of them, this is an immortal: a person...

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A Blank Check

A Blank Check

Have you ever given God a blank check? Imagine signing a check that says “Pay to the order of God.” Then, instead of writing in some dollars and cents, you leave those lines open. God gets to fill in what He wants. In a sense, when we come to Christ and receive His...

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Peace of Mind and Heart

Charlie Johnson was my boss and occasionally he would call me to come to his office. But I was in Columbia, Missouri, and Charlie’s office was thirty miles away. Still, when he called, I stopped what I was doing and drove those miles—with great peace of mind. Don’t...

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