Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Meditation On The Wise Men

One of my favorite carols is about the wise men who came to Bethlehem following the star. They came from the orient. They were learned men. The were astrologers. When they saw the new star, signifying the birth of a very important child, they were intrigued.

The wise men were humble enough to know when something astonishing was happening and by interpretation at some point they knew it was the birth of the Kind of the Jews. Before the journey they prepared their gifts to be presented to this king. Each of the three, picked a present to carry on what must have been a long, dangerous journey with only the star to guide them. They were in constant movement. They slept when they could, mainly in the daytime because they had to follow the star's light at night. They were tired, dirty, hungry at times but they persisted because they believed that they would find what they sought if they continued.

Finally, the wise men arrive in Jerusalem. At that time the area was under Roman authority. King Herod was ruler. And, if you read Mattthew chapter 2 you will find out that he was very mean and devious.

The wise men are important enough that they get an audience with King Herod, himself. "Where is the King of the Jews?" they ask. This causes pandemonium to break out. Herod calls in his people: the chief priests and scribes and asks where Christ should be born.

The answer is Bethlehem, in the land of Judah. "...for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel." The wise men receive this and are directed onward on their journey. I don't imagine they spend much more time in Jerusalem. They are very focused in their quest. There journey continues.

At last the star stops moving. They rejoice. They know they are at the right location. They go inside and they see the young child and Mary, his mother. They fall down and worship the child, Christ the Lord. Then they present their gifts each one brings a very good gift.

Being wise, they do not return to visit Herod (see Matthew, chapter 2) but go back to their country another way. The wise men came prepared to worship and to give.

Finding the child was worth the time, energy, danger and journey because they were filled with joy and got to experience the presence of the miracle of the child born King of the Jews.

Some of you have been on journeys that lead you away from finding the Christ child, but now you are hungry, thirsty and tired and you are looking for something out of this world. You are ready to start the journey. Prepare your gift and prepare your heart to follow the light, as the wise men did long ago. You won't be disappointed at journey's end.

The Greatest Gift

Christmas is in the air. Gift giving is all around us. In the stores, on the shelves. We are thinking of others and what we can give them. The perfect gift for the person is what we would really like to give.

For some people on your list, the perfect gift might just be a phone call. They'd like to hear your voice. For some without food, they would like you to put canned and other non-perishables in the bins provided. I love that there are so many opportunities to give. I like to see overflow in those bins because I know there are hungry families and those who will eat and be glad over these offerings.

There may be somebody on your list who you need to forgive. Forgiveness would be a gift you could give to God and to yourself. We all need to let go and grow larger by the gift of forgiveness. We know that one of the greatest gifts we have received at Christmas, if we are believers, is the gift of forgiveness.

We have been forgiven so we can extend forgiveness to others. It doesn't matter if we don't feel like it we can reach way down in the bag of grace and be given the moment to pray like this.

"Father, because I have been forgiven by your son Jesus Christ who died on the cross, I want you to help me to forgive x from my heart."

When we act out of the gift we have received at Christmas of salvation and love and the incredible humility of God delivering us to himself in such a small package as Jesus, helpless, sinless, but fully God we can only say "thank you" and fall on our knees and worship, no matter how far we have wandered or how long the journey has taken us to get to this moment in time.

My prayer for each of you this Christmas is that you will receive the perfect gift of the LORD JESUS CHRIST, KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS

into your life, into your family, into your community. I pray that you will have fresh eyes to see the work that is there for you to do. I pray that you will get together with others and reach out in love to those who need to know that Christian love is real because God really is real and God is love. I pray that you will be blessed as you work and as you give to extend His Kingdom down here in this world that needs the perfect gift of Christ more than every before.

What is your part to bring God's perfect gift into real time?
"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights... " James 1:17

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Safety of Children

Children need to be protected. Sometimes from themselves and sometimes from others. In urban environments where there are dangers on every corner, unsupervised children can be shot, kidnapped or abused. This is America today I am talking about.

Adults who are used to protecting their own children with constant paid for after school activities may not realize the plight of the poor who have no helper. But, God has promised to be "a father to the fatherless". Wonderful programs like PAL and others can provide help for those who need it, but most programs cost something.

Project Lost Sheep encourages tutoring programs inside churches for no cost.  First, children who get discouraged in elementary school are not likely to go beyond 8th grade. They will then be "on the streets" and targets for gangs. Children in many immigrant groups do not have parents who can help them even with basic homework. Survival is literally what many of these parents care about. I mean food and rent..

Against this backdrop we have the all seeing, merciful eye of God and His goodness that reaches out in so many ways to tend these needy ones. There is a mountain of need. They children need help with their school work but their parents often need help and resources that the community centered church can provide. Because of the overloaded classrooms, the child who is behind, may only get further behind and be passed onto the next level to face more challenges of failure.

I will never forget a Project Lost Sheep meeting in which a teenager stood up and cried in front of us all because she was so glad that her little sister was in a tutoring program and wouldn't have to go through the embarrassment and humiliation that she had gone through in school.

Can a few hours a week of your time make a difference? Look back on the blogs and find the one with children from Onurri Church in San Jose. These children have smiles and self confidence because they know that they can get help in a caring environment. Every week there are adults and teenagers there to help them. They get food. They get to play games. They sing Bible songs. They sit down and have homework help.

Grace abounds as we expand our hearts to help. Let's inspire change by rolling up our sleeves and finding a place to serve. What would happen if every child in your city had a good old American chance at help getting the basics: reading and math? Would more of them make it through high schoo and beyond? And those who can will do a great deal for the community they grew up in by way of being models for change.

There are needy children all over the world but look out your window and see the little ones in your city.


Have you noticed that the "thank you" note is almost extinct? People are just letting that go. Also, the habit of thanking people for opening a door or picking up something you drop.

This is too bad. Because thanksgiving is an acknowledgement of a favor done for us that we didn't earn or deserve. In our walk with God, and even if you are not there yet, I suggest you start the good habit of thanks-giving.

Thank God as soon as you wake up for something good. Allow a few seconds or minutes and more thanksgiving items will come.

What good came to you yesterday? Thank God for sunshine. A cancelled meeting. A good meal. A conversation with a friend, etc. Once you go down the thanksgiving trail you will become aware, more than ever, that you are not alone in the day that is facing you.

"Give thanks in all circumstances for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."

For others, it may be a different trail. But, if you want to be getting closer to God today then start the day and keep going on the thanksgiving train. Count your blessings one by one.

For others, it may be a different trail. But, if you want to be getting closer to God today then start the day and keep going on the thanksgiving train.

Count your blessings one by one.

Board Meeting in September 2013

Left to right:
Joycce Dueker - Founder, Catherine Parlenti - Accountant, Patty Cordova - Pastor's Wife, Elaine Biser -Treasurer,  Doris - Bible Study Teacher and Tutor,  Terrell Slawson - Real Estate Guru, Barbara Seigel - Business Owner in Food Industry
If I miss anyone, please email: ultraviolet.black2@yahoo.com

Monday, October 7, 2013

Seed Time And Harvest

There is a natural cycle that we all know from nature. If you plant in due time you will reap. If you plant grass seed then in time and with much care you will have a nice green lawn. But, it is not just that one seeding that counts, it is the reseeding.

My mother in law, Ruth, used to seed her lawn in S. California in January with new seed. Her lawn always looked good because it was reseeded. I am very concerned for America that we are counting in are moral fiber if you will on some old seed. It is not that the seed isn't good. We know that God's Word is always good. It's just that the Word must be reseeded in many ways in this generation. If we want to have a generation of God fearing adults it starts with the children having good seed put into their lives.

We all know that the evil one is constantly seeding tares or weeds. We are not to worry about that but we should be concered with our roll in getting the Word to this generation. As you know we really seed Biblical truth at our camps. We see results in a few years in teenagers who have chosen to enter the church, to stay in school and to have a different life from that of drugs and gangs.
by Grahame Rees
If we want a strong America, we Christians all need to be active in our lives in seeding into our children, grandchildren and yes, beyond our family circle. Support the seed planters. Become a seed planter yourself. Roll up your sleeves. Look at the lawn of your own community. Where are the bare spots. is it time for you to buy seed and top soil and get out there and do something?

We encourage you to be inspired and to first pray for your city and then get out there and broadcast seed as much and as often as you can. Without seed planting there will be no harvest.

Latest Developments In October 2013

Dear Friends,
The 9th Touchdown Camp is now part of history. We with your help were able to serve 161 children for the week. Over 20 teen volunteers helped besides volunteers from Verbo. From the youth volunteers, 10 had been former campers.

As Darlene Stethem wrote me. "The ones who were little children a few years ago are leaders today." We do not just provide an activity with camp we provide a door to a different life in both the spiritual and physical sense.

Darlene says, "We will never really know the impact we are making when we reach a child." Darlene and her team from Chlld Evangelism make sure the children get plenty of spiritual food. I just this hour received the report that there was a good response all week to invitations to receive Christ. These are real and we will see the fruit in changed lives further on. A highlight for me of camp was hearing the story of Hudson Taylor that was dramatized by Patty Cardona and her team. The costumes and drama again caught the attention of the children. Patty invited those who wanted to serve like Hudson Taylor with their lives to come forward and pray and about 30 children responded. God only knows what He will do with those as they become adults and are deployed.

So from small seeds and tender hearts great things again come. The scripture up on the wall was: HERE I AM - SEND ME. I also want to share with you that we are expanding to other cities. San Jose has a camp and tutoring program and now we are looking and praying for other cities in the US. This is just the start. Please pray for Chicago and any city in LA area that you have concern for.

It's a big country, with big needs. The children really are lost. They are kidnapped and blinded by the God of this world. Wouldn't you like to make a difference?

Joyce Dueker, 
Founder of Project Lost Sheep

Waiting In His Glory

One of the things I still am working on is to be patient when made to wait. Very few of us like to be put on hold with piped in music or made to wait for anything. Yet, waiting with God can give us a different perspective.

Why are we sitting in that room? Does someone nearby need prayer? That is frequently the case and if we stop being impatient we will see the person who needs us to pray. Or, it maybe that we need to talk to someone or give someone a Word from The Word.

Painted by Judy Douglass

We are to be ambassadors for Christ wherever we are. We are not to get ourselves into a state over waiting. We need to know that waiting can have eternal consequences for someone near us. As soon as we do what we need to do for the kingdom, we will feel a lot less pressure.

A number of years ago when in long lines at the post office, I started to pray for people. I'd like to say I am still good at waiting and praying.

Today, I was reminded that God has me "waiting" for His purposes. If I just tune into what He wants me to do, the answers will be revealed. Prayer... is the key. God will redeem the times when I wait for his purposes.

Doris Says

I love Touchdown Camp because it is a wonderful way to give children, who might not get to go to camp, a camping experience. It provides a safe and fun atmosphere for children to play sports, arts and crafts, bake, dance, sing and goof around. But most of all I love camp because the gospel is presented in many ways, children get to know Jesus. Did I mention the food and water ballons? AWESOME!


Anticipation is a wonderful thing. Sometimes we adults get out of the habit of looking forward to something with unmitigated enthusiasm.

We may get excited the day of the trip but we are too busy getting ready to have that child like buzz of anticipation. Every year before camp, the phone starts ringing at Verbo Church in Redwood City. The children are calling: "When is camp this year," a little voice asks. The answer is: not until August 5th.

That is a long time to wait if you are small and mainly you stay inside your apartment because that is where it is safe for you to be. The days go by slowly. Maybe you went to camp last year and you remember how great it was.

The games, the fun, the new friends you made. And yes, the sports, and the good things you learned about God. It was fun! And beyond that you were in a different place one that you can't wait to get back to. Yes, you want all your friends to come and your little sister and your cousin.

Why does it have to be such a long wait? "I can't wait" is something a child will frequently say. They are in anticipation mode. Let me tell you it looks like this camp nine in Redwood City is going to be very large.  The needs are real. The time is short. Childhood lasts such a short time.

One week of fun and learning is a highlight of the summer for most of our campers. We know that camp makes a difference. We see campers, now teenagers, back to serve because they remember how great camp was and they are anticipating a different life ahead because they are hoping to go to college and they want the kids to have what they got only a few years ago.

It's a short season of anticipation. Every year, we count on God. We anticipate help and all needed as we go forward in faith. Let's hope together and work together for the BEST CAMP EVER! And this is just the start, asyou know. There are other children in other cities who only long for camp. Let's anticipate something good for them, too.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

God Given Life Direction

It isn't easy to see a parent struggle because he has an adult son (over 21 year old) living at home, who has not found a path to follow. A parent who sees a grown up child struggle with lack of direction or addiction can only advice and at some point, exhibit "tough love".

In America, children can be pampered into believing that they will always be taken care of. There is always a soft spot at home. But like the mother bird, at some point, must nudge the baby bird out of the nest, so that the bird must fly.

Each parent must evaluate the situation and say: "Am I helping or hurting this young adult by letting him stay in the nest?"

There is a Biblical principal: In order to find, we must seek. Jesus said "seek and ye shall find,". This is true in the spiritual realm and also true in the real world. How do we know what fits for us if we aren't out there trying?

Years ago, I had a food business. It wasn't easy. We made fancy sauces and I was the one who made the deliveries. The product was good but one day I entered the wrong door of a grocery store and was told. "Lady you're in the wrong place."

It took me sometime after that to figure out that the food business was just not right for a mother with three children, nor was it right for a full time working husband who had to be involved in manufacturing.

But, to get back to the reality of life with the children whose parents are barely putting food on the table, working three jobs and for the most part have little education: what kind of life experience can they share except the very limited world view they experience.

Children, as we know, are sponges: they absorb everything around them- good and bad. So at camp, when we have different speakers giving them a vision of becoming: a teacher, a nurse, or a policeman etc, this information is really new to them and they respond with eagerness.

Children can get excited about a direction and will keep studying and persevere, because they want that vision to come true with the help of encouragement and support.

That is one reason why we opened the "LEG UP Scholarship" fund so that college can help at least one person who is moving in a "God Given" life direction, against all odds.

The Starfish Story

Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.

One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, so he walked faster to catch up.

As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects and throwing them into the ocean.

He came closer still and called out, "Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?"

The young man paused, looked up and replied, "Throwing starfish into the ocean."

"I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?" asked the somewhat startled wise man.

To this the young man replied, "The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don't throw them in, they'll die."

Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, "But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can't possibly make a difference!"

As if he hadn't heard, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he turned, smiled and said, "It made a difference to that one!"

-Adapted from The Star Thrower by Loren Eiseley (1907 - 1977) 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Camp Came About In This Way.

More than 10 years ago I had the desire and name for the camp: Touchdown Camp. Then, I put it aside. We as a small non-profit were not in a position to fund such a camp. I had met Patty Cardona, now president of our group, and saw how she loved and served the children.

She and I had a heart to do more but our pockets weren't exactly full. And then, one day, a friend of mine, Doris Bates came to me with a question. What would you do if you had more funds?

Without even thinking I said "Open a Touchdown Camp for the children." Doris smiled and then told me she had been collecting 100's on her "adventure with God" which started out with her pastor, John Ortberg, giving out $100 in church to a number of people who wanted to invest it in missions work. Doris idea before she even left church was to ask her friends to match her money for God.

When I told Patty we started to dream and plan. I also really tried to put into camp activities that would appeal to unchurched children. We would have food. Lots of good food. We would have sports. We would have games.

My son suggested a "Stay in School" Speaker series. Each day someone came to motivate them with ideas: a nurse, a policeman, etc. Crafts turned out to be so popular that everyone did them. Patty added the dramatization of the missionary story. Camp started because God wanted to be kind to lots of children.

We are about to have camp #9 this summer in Redwood City. I don't think Patty and I every could have imagined that one thousand children would get the benefit of the camp in these years. Nor, could we see the great impact on the children who went and then a few years late became teenage "staff" to help run the camp. No, God starts small but when He blesses, HE BLESSES BIG.

This is just the start. My goal is to see 10 new camps started in the next five years. We have another camp here in San Jose. It's small but guess what? It will grow.

Don't miss the blessing of seeing God work. Come visit us. Camp is seeing God paint the face of a child with a big smile.

Friday, June 14, 2013

The World is Mine

Today, upon a bus, I saw a very beautiful woman
And wished I were as beautiful. When suddenly she rose to leave, I saw her hobble down the aisle. She had one leg and wore a crutch.
But as she passed, she passed a smile.
Oh, God, forgive me when I whine.
I have two legs; the world is mine.

I stopped to buy some candy. The lad who sold it had such charm. I talked with him, he seemed
so glad.
If I were late, it'd do no harm.
And as I left, he said to me, "I thank you, you've been so kind. It's nice to talk with folks like you.
You see," he said, "I'm blind."
Oh, God, forgive me when I whine.
I have two eyes; the world is mine.

Later while walking down the street,
I saw a child I knew. He stood and watched the others play, but he did not know what to do.
I stopped a moment and then I said, "Why don't you join them dear?"
He looked ahead without a word. I forgot, he couldn't hear.
Oh, God, forgive me when I whine.
I have two ears; the world is mine.

With feet to take me where I'd go..
With eyes to see the sunset's glow.
With ears to hear what I'd know.
Oh, God, forgive me when I whine.
I've been blessed indeed, the world is mine.

If this poem makes you feel thankful, just forward it to your friends. After all, it's just a simple reminder that we have so much to be thankful for!

Good Posting by Chain Mail

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Father Day

It is important that we honor both our father and our mother. Tonight I want to share a small story from the long life of my dad: Sid Sutherlin. When I was in 7th grade I ran into trouble in math. Do you remember or do they even have story problems any more?

Something about a train leaving a station at such and such a time and then another one and you were supposed to build an equation and come up with a number. I couldn't. It was beyond me.

And so, after dinner, my Dad cleared a space on the dining room table and he went through each of the story problems with me. He didn't give me the answers, because he was a natural teacher, but he let me struggle till I saw the solution. It took time and patience. He was there for me and I knew he would always help me if I ever got stuck.

I want to honor the memory of a man who taught me much. Perhaps I learned the importance of having a tutor to help at that table many years ago. I was blessed.