Notes from the leadership journey!

Author Archives: Joleen Willis

Stretch!

What do you do when you first get up in the morning? Stretch? What do you do when you get up from sitting a long time? Stretch?

Stretching. We talk about stretching our body. We talk about stretching our mind. I wonder if we ever need to stretch our spirit.

“Stretching our mind” refers to being challenged in our thinking; expanding our thinking. “Stretching our spiritual mind” does the same thing. As we go about our day, we can be influenced by the world — by the attitudes of others, conversations of others and through media. When we read the Bible, worship together, and study God’s Word together, we stretch our minds to hear God’s voice. What does God’s Word have to say about our experiences and our cultural influences? God’s Word challenges us to think differently; for our minds to be renewed.

Physical stretching increases blood flow to the muscle. Perhaps spiritual stretching can increase our spiritual blood flow. When I think of blood flow, I think of the heart because the heart is what pumps the blood. We also refer to the heart as the seat of our emotions (i.e. “I love you with all of my heart”). Prayer, God’s Word, and worship are a few things that increase our spiritual blood flow. They stretch us by leading us to love God with all our heart. They stretch us to love with God’s love. They stretch us, challenging us to serve with compassion, and to speak in love and humility.

Physical stretching improves flexibility. Spiritually, improved flexibility means we are ready for whatever comes our way. Yes, there are surprises for life, but we serve a God who knows all things and is in control of all things. God teaches us to be more flexible, relying on him in his great power and love for us.

Lastly, one article on physical stretching says, “Don’t consider stretching a warm-up.” Morning devotions are not a warm-up. They are a solid part of starting your day and sustaining and leading you through your day! Morning devotions are the way to take God with you, acknowledging his presence with you, all the day long. Physical stretching, like any physical exercise, is a discipline. That’s why we call spiritual things like morning devotions, prayer, Bible reading and study, worship, and even serving, “spiritual disciplines.” We discipline ourselves to practice these things regularly … and we are stretched.

Let God stretch you! Perhaps you need to stand up right now and stretch your body, and at the same time stretch your spirit by saying a sentence prayer to God.

Here are four suggestions

  1. “Thank you, Jesus, for this day.”
  2. “Jesus, help me with this project, or this relationship, or this circumstance (name it before the Lord).
  3. “Thank you, God, for your great love for me; let me know your presence in my life.”
  4. God says: “I am the Lord your God.” (Introduction to Ten Commandments, Exodus 20)

10,000 Reasons to Give Thanks

Inspired by Psalm 103, worship leader and songwriter Matt Redman cowrote the song, “10,000 Reasons” with a Swedish friend, Jonas Myrin. In Psalm 103, David lists several reasons why his heart is full of worship for God. So, Redman and Myrin made a list of their own reasons and noted they were barely scratching the… Continue →

A Makeover for Your Mind

Have you ever gotten a makeover? Makeovers aren’t just for your face and hair or even for your house. They are also for your mind! The dictionary definition of transform is … to make someone or something completely different, usually in a way that makes them more attractive, easier to use, etc. When I think… Continue →

Discipleship Wanes When Christianity is Popular

I’m reading Longing for Spring: A New Vision for Wesleyan Community by Elaine A. Heath and Scott T. Kisker. I was challenged by the authors’ description of discipleship when Christianity is popular. In its earliest days, Christianity was at times “illegal and semi-covert” until the conversion of Constantine in A.D. 312. Constantine made Christianity legal… Continue →

Clear the Way!

This post is part of the Common English Bible Tour. The prophet Isaiah proclaimed … A voice is crying out: “Clear the LORD’s way in the desert! Make a level highway in the wilderness for our God! Every valley will be raised up, and every mountain and hill will be flattened. Uneven ground will become… Continue →

The Alleluia Singers

West Side UMC was blessed to host a concert by the Alleluia Singers from Towson UMC, Towson Maryland. The Alleluia Singers is composed of a talented group of middle school and high school students. As part of a tour that took them through our area, they presented a program of music and drama, creatively entitled,… Continue →

Chi Rho Singers

I sing with the Chi Rho Singers, the clergy choir of the Susquehanna Conference. We do one concert a month, meeting in a different district, nine months out of the year. We gather in a local church at 1:00 p.m. and rehearse until 5:00 p.m. After a dinner break, we conduct a concert at 7:00… Continue →