NEW EACH DAY
DAILY DEVOTIONALS

THE CHRISTIAN PRESS​


NEW EACH WEEK
WEEKLY COLUMNS

Below the Daily Devotionals
Gary Miller's Outdoor Truths,  May 22, 2017
Angie Land's Heart Matters, May 22, 2017

Guy Sheffield's But Anyway, May 15, 2017


Capacity crowd attends Dixie County High School graduation

Dixie County High School Salutatorian Lora Beth Cooper and Valedictorian Savanna Beckham are happy as they await the start of the 2017 graduation ceremony.

Story and Photos
By Terry Witt, Senior Reporter © May 21, 2017 at 3:37 p.m.
All Rights Reserved
     CROSS CITY --
The 108-member Dixie County Class of 2017 received diplomas Friday night as a capacity crowd of parents, grandparents, friends and extended family members watched commencement exercises at the school stadium.
     Valedictorian Savanna Beckham and Salutatorian Lora Beth Cooper said Dixie County High School provided them with excellent opportunities to excel academically and prepare for their futures.
     Both have earned a two-year Associates Degree through the dual enrollment program at the Florida Gateway College campus in Lake City. They are halfway to a Bachelor’s Degree as they graduate from DCHS.
     Beckham said she plans to earn a Master’s Degree in Business Administration and plans to found a business where she would be owner and Chief Executive Officer.
     Cooper plans to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Occupational Therapy.
     Beckham said a wise man once told her that the only grade worth earning in school was an “A” grade.
     With that in mind, she set a lofty goal as a fifth grader. She decided she would be valedictorian of her high school. She said some people might have thought she was setting her sights too high, but she didn’t.
     “I wanted to see if I could do it,” she said.
     Her best friend, Bailee Osteen, said Beckham wasn’t the first in her family to become valedictorian. Her brother and sister were both valedictorians.
     “This shows the perseverance she and her family have,” Osteen said.
     Beckham was a busy student at DCHS. She was senior class president, an FFA member, FBLA member, an Honor Society member and Miss Dixie County High School while working six days a week at Dairy Queen and earning a two-year college degree.
     Beckham said she believe in pushing herself to do her very best. She encouraged fellow seniors to do the same.
     “When you push to your limits you can achieve your dreams,” she said.



Dixie County High School students wait for their turn to receive a diploma.


Graduate Alyssa Hailey Corbin excitedly reaches out to accept her diploma from Dixie County School Superintendent Mike Thomas.


Latresha Harrell is all smiles as she enters the Dixie County High School stadium minutes before graduation begins.


The home side bleachers are packed with parents, grandparents, friends and others -- eager to watch the graduation. The entire stadium was standing room only.


 

Softball coach speaks
about team's success


Coach Wayne Weatherford and Lena Weatherford at a Tampa Bay Rays game last year when the Lady Indians Softball Team was honored at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.
File Photo of HardisonInk.com All Rights Reserved

By Jeff M. Hardison © May 20, 2017 at 7:27 p.m.
Updated May 21, 2017 at 1:17 p.m.
     CHIEFLAND --
Wayne Weatherford is retiring as a softball coach after 25 years now, he said in a telephone interview Friday (May 19).
     Coach Weatherford built the Chiefland High School Softball program during the past few years so that the Lady Indians won the Florida High School Athletic Association Class 1A State Championship in 2014, 2015 and 2016.
     And the Lady Indians were the runner-up finalist in that state championship for 2017.
     During this past week, Coach Weatherford, Assistant Coach Jimmy Anderson, Assistant Coach Harland Stalvey, and Lena Weatherford were among the adults who joined the girls at Historic Dodgertown in the City of Vero Beach.
     This year's team of Lady Indians playing in the finals included the starting lineup of Sydney Parks (#11), Emily Hallman (#14), Lauren Parker (#3), Takiya London (#4), Macie Thomas (#15), Samantha Rolfe (#9), Erika Gilliam (#33), Aleaha Rhoomes (#1), Taylor Simpson (#19), and pitcher Kensley Durrance (#20). The substitute players were Tristan Drummond (#2), Brittany Tindall (#7), Karlie Meeks (#10), Raven Sheppard (#12), Simone White (#22), Jocelyn McGee (#17), and Chrystian Wetherington (#71).
     The graduating seniors this year were Hallman, London, Rhoomes, Parker, Parks and Rolfe. These are the young ladies who earned three consecutive state championships and one state runner-up title.
     These six young ladies were ninth graders when the Lady Indians earned the first state championship for the school, Coach Weatherford said. Over the years before and since, the coach said, they have matured together and bonded as a team.
     The coaches, like the girls, are all like family, Weatherford said.
     All of these girls are part of a special set. And now with graduation from high school they are all going to the next level, as they are playing in college next year, having been awarded scholarships.
     The coach spoke first about the two-day championship finals.
     As they traveled to Vero Beach, the team wanted to make history again by earning the fourth title. In fact, for Chiefland High School and Levy County, they had already become the superstars of sports, not just girls' sports.
     The coach spoke about the regular season of CHS Softball in 2016-17. The team had been defeated by the Union County Lady Fightin’ Tigers twice in the regular season.
     Even before that probable game, the team was facing the Lady Gators of Wewahitchka (Washington County).
     That game on May 17 was a nail-biter, with the Lady Indians being down 0-1 at the bottom of the final inning when they turned it around and were victorious 2-1.
     Coach Weatherford said they knew they were facing Union County, and no one had ever won a FHSAA state championship four consecutive years.
     The coach said the girls felt like they had progressed since the regular season games against the team from the City of Lake Butler and they were ready for the final game.
     “We really had high hopes that we would beat Lake Butler,” he said, “but they have a lot of speed. That really hurt us.”
      The Union County Lady Fightin’ Tigers bunted a lot in that final game, Coach Weatherford said. And while the Lady Indians can handle bunts very well, that just was not a very good day in that regard, he said.
     “I just think Lake Butler was the better team that day,” Coach Weatherford said, “and the best team did win.”
     The coach is retiring, however he has faith that the coaches coming after him are going to continue the trend of having a strong softball team in Chiefland.
     When Weatherford was asked to coach softball in the early 1990s, he said, there was not a lot of coaching talent in that sport in Chiefland.
     “So when we took it,” Weatherford said, “it was a huge challenge to us. We wanted to make a big difference in Chiefland for our youth, who would go on to high school and then be where we are at today.”
     The coach said now that he is stepping down, he hopes to see “new, fresh better ideas” from the coaches who will be stepping up to continue the softball legacy of Chiefland High School.
     The coach said he prayed about his decision a lot, and he talked about it a lot, and he decided now is the time to retire from softball coaching.
     While he is retiring, to see this many young ladies continuing in the sport after high school “is the ultimate payoff.”
     “You work during your younger life,” he said, “to get to the middle school level. Then you get to the high school level. And then to earn a scholarship – that’s an ultimate payoff.”
     The coach said these players, with the support of their family and friends, have made a significant investment in softball.
     And the success of Chiefland year after year has now “put Chiefland on the map for softball.”


CF summer hours
of operation in effect

Published May 20, 2017 at 4:57 p.m.
pn the Life Page of HardisonInk.com
     OCALA
— The College of Central Florida has implemented summer operating hours.
     The college is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and closed on Fridays through Aug. 4.
     Several CF departments have extended hours Monday-Thursday to better serve students through the summer.
     The Bryant Student Union, Student Affairs, Admissions, Academic Advising, Cashier, Financial Aid and Registrar, 8 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
     Ocala Learning Resources Center, 7:30 a.m.-6 p.m.
     Citrus Learning Resources Center, 8 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
     Ocala Campus Bookstore, through May 19, 9 a.m.-5:30p.m. and Fridays 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and May 22 through Aug. 9, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
     Citrus Campus Bookstore, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
     CF Postal Services, Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
     The college will be closed for Memorial Day Monday, May 30, and Monday, July 4, in observance of Independence Day.

 


First Graders Rewarded
In Yankeetown School Reading Program


Melody Carson (in the hat at the right) tells her students that they are to have fun, however they absolutely must not shoot water at each other in the face. If they do, then they will have to sit aside from the group for five minutes. The other two adults in this picture are Ruth Ruppert of the Inglis Yankeetown Woman’s Club and Debbie Woodard, a paraprofessional teacher’s assistant.


(above) Ruppert shows the children the gallon jugs that will be used to measure the Kool-Aid spit contest. In this game, students put Kool-Aid in their mouths and travel to the jug and spit it into the jug. Then, the students return and their team members go and perform the same task. The team with the most transported Kool-Aid wins.


Woodard is a target here, however she found an opportunity to return the cooling action of squirting water on the students.


First grade students in Melody Carson’s class at Yankeetown School were the first best readers to enjoy a day of fun with water on Thursday (May 18) for their success in the Red Hot Minutes Reading Program. Ruth Ruppert of the Inglis Yankeetown Woman’s Club and Debbie Woodard, a paraprofessional teacher’s assistant, assisted Carson in helping the children safely enjoy squirting water at each other, sliding down an inflatable slide into a pool of water, and participating in water-oriented games for fun. This was a reward for the students’ success in having an adult read to them, or for them reading, at least 900 minutes during the nine-week grading period. Yankeetown School has children in pre-K through eighth grade. Some grade levels have more than one class.


Almost every class improved on their reading percentages this most recently past nine weeks, Ruppert said, over the previous nine weeks. The first place trophy in the most recently past nine weeks went to Carson's first grade class. Those students are Leland Roberts, Anna Green, Aryanna Rushing, Brayden Bolin, Ashlynn Porterfield, Colton Best, Nathan Kennedy, Kyra Dykes, Johnny Carbaugh, Jayse John, Amber Shearer, Savannah Seamen, Zack Hall, Jessica Baker, Ely Robinson, Frank Huggins, Alesha Adams, Jacob Gerber, and Aiden O'Bry.


(above) in this game, the students compete to see who can transport the most water from one point to another, while the recipient player holds a jug on his or her head as the place to put the water.


This inflatable slide is for the first graders. Not only were they the class with the most minutes of recorded reading, but the slide is for relatively small children.


Some of the water-oriented toys are on standby here. Yankeetown School is a very small school. It has total enrollment of about 250 students. It is located in the southernmost section of Levy County. The other top readers in the school are scheduled for a similar set of fun-oriented water activities in the early part of next week.

Photos by Jeff M. Hardison © May 19, 2017 at 1:47 p.m.

 


Scholarship Recipients

(from left) Sierra Williams, Kelly Leplante, Chelsea Curvin, Austin Fowler, Savannah Thompson, Alysa Hall and Chairman of the Yankeetown-Inglis Woman’s Club Education Committee Lynne Tate are seen here. The Yankeetown-Inglis Woman’s Club was proud to present six scholarship awards at its May meeting. The money for scholarships is raised at the club's Thursday night Bingo games. The recipient of the Nancy Lou Miller Scholarship, money raised from raffle baskets at Bingo is Austin Fowler who will attend the College of Central Florida (CF) pursuing a degree in the medical field. Savannah Thompson will attend CF in the Nursing program. Kelly Leplante will attend the University of Florida (UF) to study environmental engineering. Sierra Williams will attend the University of South Florida (USF) to become a veterinarian. Chelsea Curvin will attend USF to become a physician's assistant. Alysa Hall will attend UF in an undergraduate program designed as pre-law. The Yankeetown-Inglis Woman’s Club wishes all scholarship recipients continued success in their education endeavors.
Published May 16, 2017 at 10:07 p.m. on the Life Page of HardisonInk.com

Photo and Information Provided by Marty Hilliard of the Yankeetown-Inglis Woman's Club


Patrick Whitehead wins again

Patrick Whitehead is seen with his ribbons and his blueberry pound cake.

Photo Provided by UF/IFAS Levy County Extension

By Jeff M. Hardison May 16, 2017 at 2:37 p.m.
     BRONSON --
Patrick Whitehead was the Overall Winner of Youth and Adults competing in the recent Blueberry Bake-Off at the Third Annual Bronson Blueberry Festival, according to information provided by Levy County 4-H Agent Genevieve A. Mendoza.
     The bake-off on Saturday (May 13) was a fundraiser for one of the 4-H Clubs in Levy County -- the Levy County 4-H Bridle Brigade Club is oriented toward horses. There is at least one Bridal Brigade. That one is among the Chicago-area companies serving weddings.
     Patrick Whitehead earned the top spot in the bake-off competition with 190 total points.
     Following are listings of the first through third place winners in the three youth divisions and the one adult division of this 4-H event. The young Mr. Whitehead is not only an extremely accomplished baker, but he is very talented in other aspects of 4-H, including public speaking, and he is known for making extraordinary scale models -- especially of vehicles.
     4-H is the nation’s largest positive youth development and mentoring organization. 4-H life-changing programs are available through 4-H clubs, camps, afterschool and school enrichment programs.
     To learn more about Levy County 4-H, please contact 4-H Agent Genevieve Mendoza at 352-486-5131.
~

Winners

Overall Winner -- Patrick Whitehead - blueberry pound cake


Junior Division
First Place - Patrick Whitehead - blueberry pound cake
Second Place - Haley Springs - blueberry pie
Third Place - Matthew Gilbert - blueberry cookies
 
Intermediate Division
First Place - Mckenzie Mencer - blueberry cake
Second Place - Tristan Rector - blueberry bread
Third Place - Aubrey Catlett - lemon blueberry muffins

Senior Division
First Place - Alexis Pinkard - blueberry bread cake
Second Place - Gilbert Gossett - blueberry scones

Adult Division
First Place - Pamela Whitehead (Patrick's Mom) - blueberry cake
Second Place - Marsha Lockhart - blueberry pie
Third Place - Renda Springs - blueberry whoopie pie

     PUBLISHER'S NOTE: Patrick Whitehead is also known as P.J. Whitehead, and he was the first successful softball pitcher Saturday to dunk a person in the tank at the Third Annual Bronson Blueberry Festival.


Opportunities for fun abound
at Bronson Blueberry Festival


(from left) Melisa Thompson, Caitlin Robinson, Jennifer Waters and Monica Christie of Palms Medical Group were present to help people learn about Palms. Palms Medical Group is a medical ‘home to the people it serves. The group offers a full range of healthcare services meeting the needs of all the stages of one's life, from infancy to maturity. Those services are available at multiple locations throughout North Florida including Trenton, Williston, Chiefland, Gainesville, Orange Park, Starke and High Springs. For patients who are uninsured, financial assistance is available.

Story, Photos (except one) and Video
By Jeff M. Hardison © May 14, 2016 at 12:01 a.m.

Updated May 15, 2017 at 8:07 a.m.
     BRONSON –
Live entertainment, several food vendors, arts, crafts and fundraising-entities dominated the Third Annual Bronson Blueberry Festival on Saturday (May 13).


Mike Crutchfield of LifeSouth Community Blood Centers holds a 'Give Blood Today' sign on Saturday (May 13). In the first hour of the festival, one person had donated blood. The goal of the day for this bloodmobile was 13 donors. Sometimes, the goals are not met. Sometimes they are met. Sometimes they are exceeded. One donor can help as many as three people whose lives depend on that blood.

  The final tally at the Bronson Blueberry Festival was 9 registered, 2 deferred, 7 actual blood donations.  (Six whole blood and one apheresis donation.) There were two individuals who donated for the first time at the festival! 


     Light rain seemed to dampen the start of the annual event, however the participants went undaunted by the weather onward into this year’s Bronson Blueberry Festival held at James H. Cobb Park.
     For the first hour of the event in the morning, the drizzle did seem to keep most visitors away. There were more vendors than visitors in that first hour.



The Levy County Department of Public Safety sent representatives to answer questions from the public about the countywide service that operates ambulances and provides firefighters. Seen here are LCDPS Firefighter-Paramedic Nicholas Ritter (left) and Firefighter-EMT Mike Fowler.


P.J. Whitehead prepares to throw a pitch to dunk Town Councilman Jason Hunt.


Among the blueberry royalty at the festival this year was 2017 Tiny Blueberry Queen Remmie Meeks, seen here held by her mother Stephanie Nettles Meeks (above) and she was in the Blueberry Festival Parade the day before as shown here in this photo that was taken by her mother (below).



FUNDRAISERS

     One fundraiser that was a popular hit at the start was the dunking booth.
     Money generated by people purchasing throws of a softball at a target to dunk a person into the tank brought joy to many.
     The very first person to go into the dunking booth was Bronson Town Councilman Jason Hunt.
     “Remember the hose that we needed that you wouldn’t get us?” Bronson Fire Chief Dennis Russell asked.
     Then the chief pushed the button and Hunt was off of the platform and into the water.
     The next person to try and succeed at dunking the town councilman was P.J. Whitehead, a young man who has a good throwing arm. He sank the councilman on his fifth throw.


Seen here, Town Councilman Jason Hunt is dry. Within minutes of this photo being shot, he was dunked.


In this video, the fire chief is seen sending the town councilman into the dunking booth, and then the first thrower of a successful pitch – P.J. Whitehead – dunks Councilman Jason Hunt.


     The money raised in the dunk tank, Councilman Hunt said, is to be used to buy new uniforms for the members of Bronson Fire Rescue.
     Another group raising funds by seeking donations was Free Florida First. This is an organization that advocates the independence and well-being of the people of Florida. It advocates the establishment of the Republic of Florida based upon the principle that true rights are given of God and that governments are instituted to protect and preserve those rights.
     Another Way, which has a mission statement that "Another Way shall offer counseling, support, and safe shelter to survivors of domestic and sexual violence; while providing a positive alternative to violence through community education," was selling raffle tickets for $10 apiece to win a Harley Davidson motorcycle.
     This fundraiser is being sponsored by Suncoast Federal Credit Union.
     Emily Hague, an advocate at Another Way, and Another Way Board of Directors Member Ray Tremblay were manning the tent for that group.
     Tremblay, who is also a captain in the Chiefland Police Department, has helped provide self-defense classes for many women over the years.


Levy County 4-H Agent Genevieve A. Mendoza, stands with her son Sergio Mendoza, 10, as she holds another son Jonathan Mendoza, 1. She was at the area where the Levy County 4-H Bridle Brigade Club was having a blueberry baking contest. This contest involved children in the junior, intermediate and senior youth divisions, and there were adult bakers too, 4-H Agent Mendoza said. Levy County 4-H has many opportunities for children and adults to learn and have fun. Here is a website to look at to see more about Levy County 4-H http://levy.ifas.ufl.edu/4-h_enrollment.shtml.


BMHS Varsity Cheerleader Autumn Rose Boyd (left) stands with her friend Caeli Conquest at the table where they had hoped to sell baked goods as an individual fundraiser to help Boyd attend cheerleading camp this summer


     One very enterprising member of the Bronson Middle High School Varsity Cheerleading Squad was selling brownies, cookies and cupcakes to raise money.
     BMHS Varsity Cheerleader Autumn Rose Boyd said she has raised $200 of the $800 she needs to attend cheerleading camp. She is striving to have the money by August. Joining her in this mission on Saturday was her friend Caeli Conquest.
     The Episcopal Children's Services booth was manned by people, but it was so close to some speakers that communicating with them was even more difficult than with other folks at tents and booths.
     Among the for-profit interests was Nathan W. Comstock of Comstock Landscaping & Yard Maintenance of Bronson, which is located at 261 Cobb St.
~
LIVE ENTERTAINMENT

     Rodney Thomas of New Beginnings Entertainment (seen above)
served as the emcee for the event.
     The first performer to take the stage was Reggie Stacy, a renowned karaoke singer who has won awards in several places.
     Thomas provided plenty of background music for the festival and offered to make announcements for people who gave him information to announce at the entertainment area.


Reggie Stacy performs

FOOD INTERESTS
     With “Blueberry” in the name of this festival, that was bound to have been something that visitors sought.
     Seth Hulett Sr., his wife Tina Hulett and his mother Donna Hulett were at a tent where they sold blueberries on behalf of Williston Blueberry Farm and Florida Blueberry Farm.


(from left) Seth Hulett Sr., his wife Tina Hulett and his mother Donna Hulett

     Seth Hulett Sr., though, said their farm is Wekiva Blueberry Farm of Bronson. The blueberries from their farm that day were in blueberry crunch, blueberry jam and blueberry jelly.
     Mr. Hulett said he felt that he should bring freshly picked blueberries even if they are from other farms. He said it was his speech to the Bronson Town Council that led to the first Bronson Blueberry Festival three years ago now.
     Another of the various blueberry-oriented interests at the festival this year was Tommy Gateley of Palatka. This was his second festival ever in his life as a blueberry purveyor.
     He found his fried blueberry cream cheese doughnuts were a hit with the crowd. Even with just a few people in the park, there was a gathering of people waiting for the fresh, deep-fried doughnuts.
     Food vendors came from near and far.
     Southern Fried Pork Skins were from Old Town.
     The Tea Jug of Hudson brought its famous assortment of excellent teas.


Abundance of Grace Kettle Corn of Dixie County included (from left) April Corbin, Connie Brosam and Jacob Brosam. Ms. Brosam said God gave her the name to use for her kettle corn stand and she stuck with it.

     John Abbott of Tallahassee brought his Astronomical Italian Ice stand to serve people Italian ice. “It’s out of this world delicious,” he said.
     Abbott travels around North Florida to sell his Italian ice at festivals.


Bronson Mayor Bruce Greenlee (left) greets Robert Arnold at the Third Annual Bronson Blueberry Festival.

     Nostalgic Soda of Bronson, owned by Robert Arnold and Lynda Arnold, had an assortment of delicious old-fashioned soft drinks available. 
     Coming from Branford, Mike and Linda Poindexter provided diners with funnel cakes, beef jerky and boiled peanuts.
~
CREATORS
     Among the many individuals and groups who built things for show and sale was Conquest Custom Creations of Bronson, which offered cups and vinyl decals.
     Hardwood Design is the name of a company that made wooden letters for people.
     Alexandra Fowler, formerly of Bronson and now from Pensacola, brought her metal stamped jewelry under the name of Leilani Studios.
     Among the other makers of products was Matt Florio of Ocala, who brought B-Kool Neck Wraps to help people keep their necks cool.


Tommy Dulaney of Bronson holds a potted plant that he has painted and for sale. His parents Teresia and Jack Dulaney were also at the event, where they sold things via their business T & J Auction Finds LLC.


Willy McGhan of Fanning Springs creates art in wood.





     On Nov. 1, 2010, The Christian Press section on The Life Page of HardisonInk.com, started. The name was derived from an encounter a decade earlier, where and when a man mentioned to a journalist that this particular journalist must work for "The Christian Press." Although the presumption was incorrect and misplaced, the name sounds good.
     Since then, The Christian Press section of this page has run daily devotionals, and then within a relatively short time, weekly columns. 
     The Rev. Dr. Thomas "Tom" Farmer Jr. of St. Paul's United Methodist Church of Largo retired several years ago from that church, although he appears to continue serving the people by preaching the Gospel at a United Methodist Church in North Florida. He is among the first contributors from way back. There are several other individuals who contributed over the past seven years. There are a lot of daily devotionals pulled from Strength for Service to God and Country (Whitmore & Stone © 1942; Renewed 1969 by Norman E. Nygaard; Second revised edition © 2002 Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, Providence House Publishers). I note my appreciation for the use of those devotionals from that now-defunct publishing company. I welcome contributions of daily devotionals.  Daily devotional authors are asked to please send only their own original works to hardisonink@gmail.com.

 


Monday, May 22, 2017 at 7:37 a.m.

THE POWER
OF CHEERFULNESS


Read John 16:29-33

     These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
     – John 16:33


     The prospects for cheer in Jesus’ life were far from right when He spoke the words above. It was midnight. Jesus was to face the betrayal by Judas, the denial by Peter, the desertion by His friends, and the arrest by His enemies. And on the morrow were to come the trials, the sentence of death, the bearing of His cross, and the agony of the crucifixion. But He was cheerful and courageous, ready to meet whatever awaited Him.
     Jesus was cheerful because He knew that God was with Him, that His Father was pleased with Him, and that He had committed Himself to the will of God. He believed that His heavenly Father, who cared, understood and loved Him, would not fail Him in His hour of need.
     Cheerfulness springs from faith in God and fellowship with Him. Cheerfulness gives strength and courage to trust in His love, wisdom and power. Cheerfulness deepens sympathies and enlarges visions of obligations and opportunities to tell others. Best of all, cheerfulness is the power which enriches and makes real spiritual comradeship with God.
     What the experiences of tomorrow will be is known only to God. But the cheerful individual will make the most of these experiences of life. Out of the power which cheerfulness will give, will emerge a better self, a keener sense of human values, a constructive philosophy of life, and a creative fellowship with others and God.
     GOD, our Father, make available to us this cheerfulness and courage. Help us to understand that “all things work together for good to those who love Thee.” Enable us, we pray Thee, to take cheerfulness and courage with us into whatever life may bring. Guide our steps and our lives by Thy Spirit of Love, Understanding and Wisdom. Amen.
Pastor Elmer D. Palmer
First Methodist Church
Sheldon, Illinois

Strength for Service to God and Country
(Whitmore & Stone © 1942; Renewed 1969 by Norman E. Nygaard; Second revised edition © 2002 Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, Providence House Publishers)

 



Outdoor Truths Ministry
By Gary Miller © May 22, 2017 at 7:37 a.m.

     Turkey hunting, where I live, is not for the faint of heart. Even though there are some easy places, much of the hunting I do is in the mountains. Our mountains are not like the Rockies but they are also not like the Deep South. The highest peak is about three thousand feet. Needless to say, to traverse the ridges and valleys in search of turkeys can be a very exhausting experience. It seems if I’m on this side of the hollow, the bird is always on the other side. So, here I go down in the depths of the hollow on this side only to climb up to the top of the ridge on the other side. By the second week of hunting I’m in great shape. What I have noticed, however, is the view is always better the higher I get. And not only is the view better but it’s that particular view that always lingers in my mind. I never think about the wonderful sites in the small, dark valleys but the picturesque landscape from the top of the mountain remains permanently ingrained in the recesses of my mind. I often think of the possibilities of getting lost when I keep climbing and climbing. You know, it’s easy to do that when we’re so wrapped up in getting to the top. You can get so turned around you lose your bearing. The experts say when this happens to find a water source and follow it down stream. Downstream?  You mean to find where I’m am, I have to go down?  You mean down in the hollows? You mean down in the valleys? You mean down where it’s dark and where the view is limited and confined? I guess so.
     Sometimes we all get caught up in climbing higher and higher in things other than hunting. We get wrapped up in the possibilities and what my lie just ahead. In the climb, sometimes, we lose sight of whom and what we are and where we are as well.  It’s at that time the Lord has to awaken us and bring us back to Him and to ourselves. How do we get there? In the valley. But don’t fear the valley, because it’s there where He always shows us the way back home.


~
Gary Miller has three books that are compilations of the articles he has written for nearly 15 years. He also speaks at game dinners and men’s groups for churches and associations.

Gary Miller's website is located at http://www.outdoortruths.org/


Heart Matters
By Angie Land © May 15, 2017 at 9:47 p.m.
     What terms have you and your conscience been on lately? Any sleepless nights, tossing and turning over questionable behavior, or have you decided to simply dismiss the idea of a clear conscience as overrated? Should a clear conscience even be of concern in the “end-justifies-the-means” mentality of our culture, or any culture for that matter? In Acts 23:1, the apostle Paul is standing before the Sanhedrin, the highest court of the Jewish nation in New Testament times. In response to the charges brought against him, “Paul looked straight at the Sanhedrin and said, ‘My brothers, I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day.’” Why on earth would this be Paul’s defense?
     In order to answer these questions, the first thing we need is a good working definition of our conscience. What is it exactly? According to the New Testament Lexical Aids, the Greek word for conscience is “syneidesis” which “denotes the faculty of the mind whose nature it is to bear witness to one’s own moral conduct.” In other words, when you are pondering over a situation, it is your conscience that casts a vote about the rightness of your behavior. For me, this answers at least one of our questions: given that my conscience will be voting on my conduct for the rest of my life, being on good terms is a priority! Since Paul voiced this as his defense, I think he felt the same way.
     I am so thankful the Bible includes these words of Paul, because his past had more than a few blemishes, and yet he pronounces his conscience clear. This means it is also possible for anyone without a spotless past to enjoy a clear conscience! Doesn’t that include each of us? So how do we trade in the sleepless nights for an affirming vote? First, recognize as a believer that the Holy Spirit plays a critical role in creating and maintaining a clear conscience. It is His job to confirm a clear conscience (Romans 9:1) and to convict a guilty one (John 16:8). Of course, what we would prefer is to ignore our sin, and often try diligently to do just that, but our conscience is the one part of us that refuses to look the other way.
     The second thing we often attempt is to soothe of our conscience by good deeds. If we have wronged someone, instead of admitting the wrong and asking for forgiveness, we try to smooth it over by a nice gesture. According to Hebrews 9:9, gifts and sacrifices are not able to clear the conscience. Even when we don’t want to hear it, our conscience brings awareness of what we ought to do to get to the bottom of the issue. The rest is up to us.
     With his clear conscience, Paul encourages us in Hebrews 10:22 to “draw near to God.” Often, when we feel guilty, we tend to avoid coming into His presence. When our conscience condemns us, what we need most is to come clean before God. He already knows the intent of our heart, so let’s go ahead and get it out in the open. Confess. Ask forgiveness. Ask for instruction if we need to make something right with someone. Then, be assured of God love and forgiveness, and finally get a good nights sleep!
Because Every Heart Matters,

Angie
~

     PUBLISHER’S NOTE: Heart Matters is a weekly column written by Angie Land, Director of the Family Life Ministries of the Lafayette Baptist Association, where she teaches bible studies, leads marriage and family conferences and offers biblical counseling to individuals, couples and families. Please contact Angie with questions or comments at angieland3@windstream.net.

 


Recognizing Jewels Along The Path
By Guy Sheffield © May 15, 2017 at 11:27 a.m.

     If I had all the money back I’ve spent on music equipment in my life I’d probably be able to retire to my own island in the South of France. I spent the better part of my youth saving up to buy whatever guitar or amp that promised to help me achieve that ever allusive sound my soul longed for. I don't know, maybe I should’ve just spent more time practicing?
     The very first guitar amp I ever bought was this little brown job called a Princeton, made by a company called Fender. I was a little less than excited about it. In fact, I probably wouldn’t even have taken it if the guy wouldn’t have insisted on throwing it in on the deal for his $30 genuine imitation off-brand remake guitar. I didn’t give the old amp a second thought until I began toting it the three blocks back home. Then I came real close to tossing it off into someone’s hedges. 
     The little Princeton just wasn’t loud enough. It was old, and sorely lacking the screaming distortion so essential to a fumble fingered fifteen year old Ted Nugent want-to-be. With only four knobs it was simply behind the times. It didn’t even have reverb! Still, my bass player Ray and I both continued to play out of it for years. It was all we had. We couldn’t find anybody who’d trade something for it. All the other bands were playing those new ultra manly 500 watt solid state jobs; we had the sissy little tube Princeton. Those guys were getting the cops called. Cranked all the way up we couldn’t even get the neighbors to complain. Man was I jealous.
     After a few Christmases, and the discovery of something called a job, both Ray and I were both able to move into something more substantial. In fact, before long, we’d each acquired walls of wattage capable of attaining volumes known to trigger seismic readings in Thailand. The little Princeton was retired to a hall closet.
     With the passage of more time, I began to realize I was spiraling dangerously close to that day all garage musicians dread- the day they come to grips with their day jobs. I was about to haul all my gear down to the pawn shop when God mercifully stepped in and rescued me from such a horrid fate. He wooed me until I gave my heart to Jesus, and then He gave me a spot on a Church praise team. My late Pastor Buddy Adams took me under his wing and helped me to see that my passion for music was not by accident. Soon I was finding myself in Jesus’ plan.
     One of the first things the Lord had me do was to dust off that little Princeton. What a jewel it turned out to be, especially now that my playing had matured. I reckon God had seen the end from the beginning. The sound I had always longed for was finally being unleashed from the depths of my heart… and it was coming through the speakers of that little brown amp! Oh how my soul spilled forth glorious praises to my wonderful Savior. I realized… to this end was I born.
     But anyway- Many of you probably have God given talents you’ve grown weary toting and have tossed off into the hedges somewhere along the way. Maybe your closet is full of undiscovered treasures hidden away because the enemy lied and told you it would never register on God’s Richter scale. Remember, sometimes our greatest gifts lay right before our eyes. We just crank our lives up so loud we stop hearing the drum beat of our own heart.
     Maybe it’s time we dust off our dream off again, and get plugged back in. If Pastor Buddy were here he'd encourage you to recognize all the precious jewels God has placed along the path to your destiny. (Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it. Matthew 13:45-46 KJV) Jesus Himself is the greatest of these jewels. He is that Pearl of a great price. Make sure to keep Him center stage.
     Oh, by the way… that little 1962 ‘thrown in on the deal’ Princeton is now one of the most sought after guitar amps in history.

Guy Sheffield's website - But Anyway is located at http://www.butanyway.org/

--UPDATED--
MONDAY  May 22  8:07 p.m.
Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties



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