Thursday, December 9, 2010

Lessons From Mary

In the midst of a miracle. Mary, the mother of our Lord, has let God the Holy Spirit overshadow her plans. She was going to marry Joseph but now all she knows is that she has been blessed and is carrying a blessing. Her cousin, Elizabeth, six months pregnant is where she flees.

"I see so much the need for one woman to run to another in this very unusual cricumstance ..."
"Blessed are you of women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb," is part of what Elizabeth says. "My soul magnifies the Lord", says Mary, "FOR HE WHO IS MIGHTY HAS DONE GREAT THINGS FOR ME". 

Mary's plans for her life have been overshadowed by God's plans. She accepted this because she had understood for some time that she was the "handmaiden of the Lord," The Lord was number one to her.

In the midst of a miracle, Mary keeps her focus on the One she serves.
It is easy to get the focus on the "I".
- I want this perfect situation. Jesus was born in a manger with odors of animals around him.

- I want the perfect gift. Jesus is my perfect gift. 
- I want security, certainty and control.  Mary and Joseph had nothing after taxes, but then the wise men came. 

Mary and Joseph had no certainty except the  Holy child they guarded. They had no control. Their circumstances seemed "out of control." But they were not BECAUSE GOD WAS IN THE MIDST OF A MIRACLE not just for them but for the entire world.

Joy to the world, the Lord is born..
May you be ready for the unexpected, the uncertain, the plan that is beyond you!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving Party-November

This Thanksgiving dinner has been a wonderful turnout and we have been recapping the whole year's event. We have seen what God has done for us. We realized how great it is when we trust God and miracles are performed according to God's will every time. Everyone is so special in every way and gifted. It is our very wish to bring the best versions of each other and ourselves in this life time.

Enjoy the photos and guess who is in it!!
Patty Cardona’s parents enjoy dessert.
President Patty Cardona
Volunteer, Jack Wilson with Chris Dueker
Elaine Biser, guest, and Patty

Alex, from Verbo after school program with Dad.
Terrell Slawson, supporter, with Barb Siegal VP  Project Lost Sheep
Catherine Parlanti, treasurer, with guests: Irma and Sue Stevick.
Doris Bates, camp co-ordinator, and hospitality co-ordinator, sets out desserts.
Joyce Dueker and Jack Wilson clear tables with smiles.
Joyce Dueker with husband, Chris Dueker.
Pastor Orlando Cardona and volunteer from camp.
Alex with Teacher/Guide
Alex with parents.
Alex's cousin
Darlene Stethem, Bible teacher, with guest, Michelle Bedecarre
Alex's cousins
Elaine Biser, Circle of Prayer
Jack..always helping
Pastor Cardona, camp volunteer, and founder, Joyce Dueker

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The World Would Be A Better Place

Are you discouraged about this world? 
Here what a Dad whose son, Alex, is in the Verbo after school program said, in front of us all before the meeting even started.

We were all a little surprised at this honoring statement. Later we heard from Alex, his son who said. “I like multiplication tables.”

The after school program is going well. There are 24 children who went to Touchdown Camp and are now “in” this free program. The ball is rolling. The school has a waiting list.

How did this come about?

Ingredient #1

VISION. A pastor who saw the church as a place that could be used more than on Sundays.

Ingredient #2

PRAYER. Prayer with pastors from a larger church.

Ingredient #3

NEED. A small child “The Little Man” who talked to an adult about how he couldn’t go to an after school program.

Ingredient #4

MIRACLE GIFT. The release of funds from the large church to the smaller church for this program for one year.

Last time I was talking about miracles. Do you think this would be considered a small miracle or not? When the kingdom of heaven comes down to this sorry earth, something should change that you can see, feel and touch.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Come visit the school
2798 Bay Rd. RWC 

Weekdays from 3:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
It might be a good idea to call Verbo Church first.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

What kind of miracle could God do if He made
you one of His ingredients?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Miracles Do Happen-Trust. Believe.

The crowds around Jesus were watching to see what would he do next.
Some came with personal needs like the woman who had suffered much from doctors and still was not healed. Some came because they were outcasts-lepers...unconnected to only the unclean. Some came to hear Jesus speak words of truth in a time, which like ours, was filled with lies. Some parents came because they had a desperate need: a sick child, a dead child. These all came to Jesus because they had a smidge of faith that HE COULD DO THE MIRACLE.

Today we are rather casual about all this, aren't we? We hear "talks" rather than the word of God preached. We don't really expect "intervention" by God in our problems. We for most part in America have sunk into a pond of unbelief so that these things we read about really seem like fables. But, wait, they aren't.

Katherine Kuhlman had a healing ministry years ago and I had the privilege of attending. Real miracles of healing happened. She was a pretty funny woman because behind her she had a bunch of pastors and at one meeting I heard her say. "If you were doing your job I wouldn't have to be here."

A miracle draws attention to the reality of the Kingdom of Heaven in our midst. A miracle is not normal. A miracle is "super normal". What happened that we have sunk so low? We are so unconnected to the power of God. And yet, every Christmas, we are reminded that a small baby was born, who was CHRIST THE LORD.


Our Blessed Community 2010

As we come to the close of another year of serving local children we are rejoicing as a team that we are growing in seeing God at work in our midst.

We saw God working as he greatly blessed our pre camp information brunch and a dinner. We anticipated the largest camp ever and we saw God bring an average of 150 children a day. Thanks to God's provision through his people camp was funded before it opened and we had the great joy of seeing God feed the multitudes both physical and spiritual.

Also, because of the generous gift of a local church Verbo was able to open an after school program for children that had attended camp. 25 of the most needy children now get tutoring in English, Math and are well cared for. The prayers are answered and we see this as a model for other cities i.e. start a Touchdown Camp, encourage the other local churches to see what is happening and then open a school.

One of the things God has impressed on my heart is the miracle we are seeing are coming out of us being in Christian community. We continue to grow in our understanding of the Lord's words to "love one another as I have loved you." It is impossible to experience community without a close connection to the body of Christ. To just "attend" church does not get one to this level. Community involves a life commitment to each other to care for, care about, and sacrifice for the needs of the others.

Salvation comes from the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ who really is with us and for us. There is no other name whereby man may be saved.

We are bearers of good news. We are bearers of the miracle of God to the poor, the lost, and the sick. But, we do not do this "on our own". We link ourselves together in a committed community and then we reach out our arms with strength.

Wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas and true community.
Joyce Dueker, Founder

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

God Is Faithful To His Children

When leaves fall we are aware another season is upon us all. We think of the things we missed but we look forward to the coming holidays.

This year we anticipate serving the children who are in an after school program with a Christmas party and RED BOX gifts. We want to give a family sized box. More on this at our annual meeting in November.

It is in our country a season of much uncertainty.  We can't count on our job, we can't count on much of anything. But, there is one thing we can count on.  GOD IS FAITHFUL TO HIS CHILDREN.

We may have to wait.  We will have to pray. But we have been promised
Fail means to not be there or not do the job that needs to be done. Please note: God may provide for us in many ways..most we could not every imagine in our wildest dreams.  We may have to go out like Abraham, not knowing where we are going but just knowing the direction. One of the reasons we get disappointed is we try to out guess God. We try to figure it all out or plan it all out. Now, we are to plan, but God DIRECTS OUR STEPS.  These, I have found, are rarely in a straight line. His priorities are: putting us where we can be used to introduce a lost soul to the savior. (I would like to think that I think of that first, but usually it is only looking back that I see what was really going on.)

Forsake means to "abandon" or give up on one.  We all fear being left on the side of the road The more we understand the heart of our Good Shepherd, the more we know that it is we that abandon Him..not the other way around. In fact Jesus goes after the wandering sheep and that includes us.  His goal is to restore us and bring us back to the fold where we will be safe.

Why should we be so worried like everyone around us.  In the worst case scenario we have a GREAT BIG GOD with a HUGE ATTACHMENT TO US.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

God at Work

God accomplishes His Work Through the Holy Spirit which indwells each believer.  Jesus said "I will not leave you comfortless, I will come to you."

Comfort is one of the signs of the presence of this Holy Spirit. Years ago I was bucked off a horse in the midst of a thunderstorm. I landed on the only bare place on the edge of the path and after almost fainting got back on the horse and made it back to the cabin. My family went to dinner and I was all alone. Very scared because there was a question that my hip might be broken. I was lying in bed when I heard some tinkling bells. I gingerly got up and looked out the window. There were some ponies munching grass. All at once I felt comforted. God sent the ponies. I had a very sore hip for months but somehow the sting had gone out of the incident.

The Holy Spirit works to accomplish and finish the work of the Lord here on the earth. The Holy Spirit inspires certain people to pray using "God given" prayers. The Holy Spirit leads the start of new works that need to happen here on earth.

Last summer a little boy at camp talked to someone about hardship in his family. This Little Man, 9 years old, couldn't do anything about not being registered for an after school program. The Holy Spirit urged the Christian to get some pastors together with Pastor Orlando Cardona, at Verbo in Redwood City. There was prayer for this child and others like him.

I am happy to report that God has moved to provide funds for an after school program. Twenty-four children now have tutoring and help each school day.

Be encouraged. God does things via His Holy Spirit that rarely make the news but these "works" are real and you might even be used to be a part of the wind of the Holy Spirit moving for your city.

Monday, August 9, 2010


There are few words we like less. We do not like to wait in line or wait for a computer to boot up. However, there are many times when God asks us to wait.

There are many times in life when we have to wait. We may wait for a job. We may wait for a vacation. We may have to wait for enough down payment for a house. We may be waiting for the right person to marry. We may be waiting for someone we love to come to faith.

Waiting tests our character because we want to do something to resolve the problem or situation. The kind of waiting I am talking about is when we are called to wait upon the Lord. We don't have an answer or a direction. We so easily run out of our answers or solutions. This depletes our strength.

How can we wait on the Lord?
We can stay in prayer.
We can ask our friends to pray for us if we can't pray.
We can look up and focus on God not on ourselves or situation. This is most helpful.
We can “seek the things that are above not the things that are below”.
We can rejoice in our salvation.

We have a future and a hope no matter how fragmented, fragile or stressed things are down here. Waiting exercises our faith. Waiting when we see no next resolution can lead to hopelessness or it can lead to endurance and long suffering in our eternal character.

The fire of the trail will burn off the dross. God is after us and every wait is a time for him to see HOW ARE WE REALLY DOING WHEN THE RUBBER HITS THE ROAD. 

Are we burning up? Are we burning out?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


This is not a quality that is brought to the front in our society but it is essential for us as Christians to exhibit as a "witness" to a very rude, demanding, get what I want now...culture.

Paul wrote: "The servant of the Lord must be gentle."

The entire section states "And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those who oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth...(2 Timothy 2:24,25)

Being gentle does not come with our flesh, but only as the Holy Spirit controls us. When we are aware of the presence of the Lord gentleness is possible. This quality Paul is stating to Timothy is of utmost importance in our witness "unto all men".

A calm and reasoning tone with gentleness is what the Lord wants as we teach. A very important note here is that we do not "win" anyone to the Lord but it is the Lord who gives them "repentence tot he acknowledging of the truth."

I can list many times when I have not been gentle in my life. These times are always when I try to respond on my own. Then I look like everyone around me in the world and there is no victory. I can react badly when I want my way over someone else's.  I can get upset when something doesn't happen in the timing I think it should. I can respond negatively to good criticism. I can hold a grudge.

Recently I was reading the autobiography of Luis Palau, one of the world's foremost evangelists, and he said a moment of victory came when he heard a talk that broke through to him that it was Christ in him that was going to do all the work.

When we are aware of the presence of the Lord as we speak to another we can be very gentle aware of the holy presence with us. We can even be patient in the process knowing that we fought and argued, didn't we, before we came into the Kingdom.

We have in Project Lost Sheep some gentle teachers of children. Their effectiveness is not in there personality or words but in Jesus who is shining through their gentle and meek hearts. 

Remind me Lord, that you were gentle, and I must allow awareness of you to create a gentle and meek spirit in me, even under opposition or hardship.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


What really can we trust?

Can we trust in things? Can we trust a house will always be there or a stock portfolio will perform the way we want it or that even a person in our life will always be around. These are things we migh think of as "permanent". We might say "oh, they are doing so well..they have a house, a good job, a good retirement. But these are all positions or things that can change in very short order.

Things appear to be certain because we can see them or we can count them but that is not where Christians want to trust.

What if circumstances change?
What if the interest rates go up and the value of a house goes down?
What if the job disappears or the stock market crashes (again)?

We are told in scripture to "trust in the Lord and not to rely on our own insight." However, in reality even those of us who have walked in relationship to our Lord, Jesus Christ, for years can stumble and go back to self trust or trust things mode.

Trust involves faith that God is above our circumstances. If we see our stocks go down, we do not have to believe the end of the world has come. If our heart is too tied to THINGS God may allow adversity so we can learn that He can provide for his own in famine. That is the God we see who provided for his people in the wilderness. They didn't have a Trader Joe' God had to provide the daily bread out of the blue.

Can you imagine each day in the desert the entire people of Israel waking up and looking for it to rain down there daily portion? God was teaching them to trust Him for their needs. Sometimes I think that poor people are much richer than people who have tons of things because they live in a trust relationship. Many of them do not know where the next meal comes from.

Psalm 4 admonishes us to "offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the Lord". When the world sees a Christian trust God for something He needs and then God provides "out of the blue" that indicates the Christian is connected to something or someone that is unseen.

There is a saying we can chose to live "under our circumstances". We can whine, complain and be as edgy as anyone without faith, or we can raise up our eyes to God who sees all of our circumstances and exercise trust that God is there, that God will provide, that God is still on the throne and knows what He is doing in us and through the circumstances and that eventually, it will all turn out for the good of those around us, and for the Kingdom of God. Because, dear friends, there is a Kingdom of Heaven and there is a King who is very much alive.

One thing I know.. I do have the choice to look up and live the kingdom life in trust or I can look down at my feet and just walk around in my circumstances. And so can you.

Monday, May 10, 2010


The other day I had a few minutes before a meeting so I sat on a bench and looked up into the azure sky and watched very fluffy white clouds. There were two of them. One slowly was moving into the other as if pushed by an invisible hand.

We know that "The heavens declare the glory of God." And just for a minute I saw the incredible beauty of what God had made.

Beyond what we can see, there is a Kingdom of Heaven which can only be seen through eyes of faith. When we look at the physical world in all its beauty we can be in awe of what we do not understand about the Creator of it all.

We cannot grasp the unseen through the seen because we have to have our spiritual eyes opened to see the Kingdom of Heaven. Much like a little kitten whose eyes are closed for a time after being born cannot see the real world until its eyes open, we cannot see what God has revealed in the spiritual world until we have our eyes of faith opened. Faith comes from the hearing of the Word of God (the Bible).

Jesus was born as a helpless baby. He was crucified, died, and was resurrected. During his final days on earth Jesus told the disciples that He would come again in clouds of glory. When He left them He was taken up to heaven in a cloud and disappeared from their sight.

Can you imagine those big, tough guys all looking up into heaven until that cloud slowly disappeared. They waited and looked, but Jesus was gone.

They walked away with a promise that He would come again "in clouds of glory." I don't think that any of them for the rest of their lives could ever look at a cloud in exactly the same way.

I am sure many of us have had the experience of flying through clouds. There is a kind of holy hush as the plane goes through these clouds because we are aware that we are in a different place from planet earth. We can break through from gloom into sunshine on the top of the clouds,or we can encounter unexpected turbulance...if the clouds are storm clouds.

How often do I miss God's message in a cloud, a tree, a mountain, a sunrise or a sunset?
Clouds are being moved today. Are you looking up?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Good Shepherd

One of the most wonderful things in the world is to discover that we are under the care of the most tender shepherd. The Good Shepherd cares for his sheep. He leads them and He goes before them. They may not know where they are going but they follow the One who knows the way.

The Good Shepherd speaks to his sheep.

My sheep hear my voice.

The Good Shepherd never deserts any of His sheep. In his life, Jesus, the Lord, lay down his life for his sheep. Peter denied Jesus..but Jesus came back to claim him.

The cross shows our Good Shepherd and where his love for us led him. We can never fully understand this kind of commitment. We can only be in awe of a shepherd who cares for us in all our sin and brokenness and stretched out his arms on the old wooden cross for a world of sinners.

He came for all of us. He calls all of us. We reach out to others with our imperfect love and imperfect ways.

Christian, the Lord says, "Follow me."

Jesus has given us all we need to find protection and grace. He ever lives to make intercession for us, his little sheep. When we don't know where to go, we can always go to the Shepherd of our souls.

And so as we reflect on His commitment to us we look out at the world he died for and pray
Lord, help me to hear your voice and help me to obey.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

A Call is an Assignment from God.

Calls do not only come to pastors and other leaders: they can come to any Christian at any time.

Calls are mysterious in that they originate from God and tend to be a "bigger" task than the individual would have attempted on his own. The call stretches us beyond our comfort zones or abilities into a dependency on God to work through us to complete the assignment.

Paul was called to "preach to the heathen." Galatians 1:15-16. This was not Paul's idea, to say the least, but he obeyed the assignment and this took him many places and he endured many hardships.

Calls come with power that you might call "staying" power. The call is not a one season thing. It is a life direction.

I can't think of any Christian work in which the leader has had the "call" that has failed because it is God's idea, not man's and God knows what He is about. Most of the time we don't

When I was first called to plant seeds of Biblical truth in children, I did not have a clue what to do. I went to my mission's pastor and he instructed me to start a non-profit for children. At the same time I was talking to my friends about wanting to do a work for children in the local area. God started to give me a deep concern for the children that I didn't have before. I saw the faces as I walked the main street of my town. I had no idea that I would become president....not ever having had a position like that but when we incorporated in l994 that was the unfilled spot and my friends told me I was it!

The heart of the call is obedience to the Lord and bowing to His plan over us for Christian service. Never in my thoughts had I considered children's work. The call changed all that.

The leader must continue to hold to the call and not let up. When discouraged get back to home base which is prayer. God is always over the call and the called person.

In putting together a team we must allow God to position people as He directs not as we might think. In several cases I thought I know who would be good in a position but allowing time for prayer the person got a "no" and another person got the "yes". We need to allow God to pick and wait for God's pick.

When we star to lead we are in the wrong position. Nothing will happen. We have to let God work and go where He is working and not worry about the rest. The call directed Paul and it must direct us.

Monday, February 15, 2010

On Love and Christian Community

Over the weekend I had the very dusty job of helping clean out our garage that really needed a makeover. I had some great helpers and we were able to get through the archives of the garage and pull out boxes that hadn't been touched in years.

One of these boxes contained love letters from my husband written many, many years ago. Since it was Valentine's weekend I read the letter and it hit me in a very powerful way that what was there was LOVE just in its beginning stages. I was in college and he was in medical school.  We had exams, 100 miles apart, and only weekends to get to know each other. That included strict dorm hours in those days.

One of the good things was we had lots of time to build up a friendship and there was no email so letters were long, personal and reread for nuances. We were uncertain; we were fragile; we were under pressure but we continued.

It seems to me there are some things that would pertain to us as Christians in community.

We are instructed in 1 Peter 3:8  "Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love a brethren, be pitiful, be courteous..."

How do we as a group get to this stage?  We have to go through a process of getting acquainted with each other. We have to not just go out there and do a project. We have to let God work on us so that we are of one mind and have the compassion between us that reflects who we are.

"God is love and he that dwells in love, dwells in God, and God in him."   I John4:16

When we are in true Christian community we should be experiencing God's love in us and through us for the members of the group. Not that that is perfect but there should be a warmth and caring that is real.

Love is consistent or constant.  We want to be there for each other in a deep way not just because we have a job to do together.

Love is persistent. We need to keep loving and caring for each other through times where a member of the community may hurt.

Love is overwhelming. Once we experience God's love in community we will just want more of that time together because we are having God's love perfected in us as we care for each other. One of the things about falling in love is that the "I" becomes "us".  A group in God's type of Christian community will reflect this.  Of course this oneness is not a matter of months takes years.  It is like a marriage that has gone on so long that one person starts a song and the other can finish the next stanza. It is like a couple so content that they can just sit reading the paper happy in each other's company.

It is impossible to share all we have learned and how much being in community has change each of us. But, above all things as you start your group...aim for this kind of oneness.