What Makes A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood?

 What makes a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood?… Children! 

By Machelle McDowell

“ A heart that beats in rhythm with a child is one that captures the essence of God‘s love for kids.”

We as parents, grandparents, and educators, sometimes do not appreciate the value of children we have been rewarded the privilege of sharing the neighborhoods of our lives with. Psalm 127:3 reiterates that children are a valued reward

Do we see them as such? I realize some children may not seem like a reward and appear to be everything but. This is not true in God’s eyes. We must see all children through the eyes of Jesus.

God shows us his deep love and respect for children in Psalm 139. The writer points out that God formed our inward parts; and knitted us together in our mother’s  womb. We are wonderfully made. His eyes saw our unformed substance; in His book was written every one of them, the days that were formed for us.

God gives us children as a gift, not a burden. They are a heritage from God, created in his likeness! No wonder Jesus himself declared, “For the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” He in essence is instructing us to Steward  them well.

What an example of Jesus’ love for children than the host of the television series for 33 years, Mr. Rogers Neighborhood! 

Fred Rogers was the epitome of demonstrating a heart for children. He recognized the worth of a child in a manner that led him on a lifelong journey loving and respecting children as a valued part of society. A  lesson we can all learn from.

When I think of Fred Rogers, I can envision Jesus himself wearing one of the 25 hand knitted long sleeve sweaters that Mr. Rogers wore on each episode as he welcomed his audience into a safe haven where children could be themselves. Mr Rogers reflected the same love and warmth that fills our souls when we speak of the name of Jesus.

I can just imagine his kind gentle voice quoting Matthew 19:14, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Fred Rogers believed this scripture! He modeled it!

Every episode of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood was filled with the presence of a sweet spirit that welcomed all children no matter what the issue discussed. They would learn;

  • It is OK to feel our emotions and talk about them.

  • It is OK to make mistakes; we learn from them and tomorrow is a new day.

  • It is OK that you were not perfect, but God takes our imperfections and mold them into something beautiful for His glory.

Children have an uncanny ability to see through the motivations of adults. They can read us better than we read ourselves. If we don’t take the time to be personal and relational with our children, grandchildren, or students, we have missed out on the very blessing God has bestowed upon us!

Sometimes, it appears we treat our children, grandchildren, or students, like an inheritance of an invaluable heirloom. We leave them sitting on a shelf only recognizing them when they make us feel good or gives us a sense of pride. We don’t appreciate them as much when they needs a little dusting or a little TLC.

Parents! Grandparents! Educators! I feel, our job is one of the most important God-given responsibilities ever created. We have been given a reward.

How we relate to children in the early years of their lives can change the trajectory of who they become as adults. They need to be listened to and given an opportunity to share their thoughts and ideas. God has designed them that way. Jesus beckoned the children to come to Him in Matt 19:4. Be proud of the reward we have received.

Fred Rogers demonstrated a sweet Godly spirit that welcomed children into each episode and at the end of the program they would leave a better human being than when they entered.

That is my challenge for us today: let’s help our kiddos enter this world knowing they are loved, respected and hold a special place in the neighborhoods of our hearts! Let’s help mold them to become disciples of Christ that they may exit the same world a better human being because of it!

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood when we treat our children like a reward!

Jesus loves the little children

All the children of the world

Red, yellow, black, and white

They are precious in his sight



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Be A Storehouse of Blessings

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By Machelle McDowell

What are you harvesting this Fall?

Fall brings us into a new season of our lives. We leave behind Summer and hotter temperatures, t-shirts, baseball, and cook-outs, only to be replaced with cooler air, sweaters, football, and bonfires!

We transition into a new phase of life!

We begin to see a noticeable change in our surroundings. The green line of trees that capture my attention as I look out my kitchen window is now dotted with a burst of color in random places. 

If we are honest, our pasts are quite colorful as the autumn leaves appearing on our trees right now. Unfortunately, not as pretty. Most of us are quite ready for a new season to burst forth and bring about a change. 

God shares a horn of plenty when it comes to good things for those who love Him, for those who are called according to his purpose. 

Paul speaks of this in Romans 8. He also speaks of how we cannot live to please God by pleasing our fleshly desires. He goes as far to say that when our minds are set on the flesh, it leads to death, but if our minds are set on pleasing God it leads to life and peace. Romans 8:1- There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. What a truth to rely on as we head into a new era of our lives.

This time of year brings about harvest for our farmers! A farmer loves this season. Why? It is one in which they witness the fruit of their labor. As Christians our harvest should be that of love, Joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These characteristics bear witness to the fruit of a Godly harvest. 

Unfortunately, we don’t witness these things abundantly in the storehouses of our hearts. Instead we find an over abundance of anger, bitterness, resentment, depression, jealousy, selfishness, conceit, and pride. These rotten fruits prevent us from from being who God has called us to be and from plowing the world in search of the lost soul in need of harvest. We must weed them out of our lives! They are toxic.

Harvesting is the most labor intense activity of the growing season! Producing good fruit in our lives takes work! Living our lives in a way that is pleasing to God will reap a cornucopia of good things in our hearts and minds. 

The beauty of a spiritual harvest is that it just doesn’t take place in the Fall of the year! This is an everyday experience for the Christian. John 4:35 instructs us to open our eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest! The world is filled with lost souls in need of the Savior! 

The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. Let us begin this new season in our lives focusing on weeding out the thistles that keep us from being a laborer that fills God’s storehouse! 


“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.”  Robert Stevenson



Songs From the Soul

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Songs From the Soul

By Machelle McDowell

“Music drives away the devil and makes people happy”

Martin Luther King


We find in the book of Psalms one of the greatest biblical leaders and a man after God’s own heart whose love for music gave birth to one of the most referenced writings in the Bible, David.

As did David, music has a way of piercing into the deepest  parts of our souls.. It helps us to express ourselves and respond to God in a way that is pleasing to his ears and brings glory to his name, even if you can’t carry a tune in a bucket! 

There are over 1000 verses in the Bible that reference music and the power of song. Singing about  the precious name of Jesus sears the very ears of the enemy who prowls around like a lion in attempt to defeat God’s people. 

The power that comes from the soul through a song can defeat armies! Really

Check out 2 Chronicles 20:21! God placed singers in the front line of a battle! We find in this chapter, King Jehoshaphat places singers, (not soldiers), charging the front line with songs of victory! Prior, God assured Jehoshaphat the victory was already won! 

So, Jehoshaphat charges the enemy with songs of Thanksgiving. God gives us spiritual songs as an effective tool to use against the enemy.

Ephesians 5:19- Addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Your battles may not be like the armies that came against Jehoshaphat. Your attackers may be in the form of anger, depression, loneliness, addictions, fear, and on and on! 

Put a song of praise and worship in the forefront of your mind and in the depths of your heart. And when these attackers come against you... begin to sing!! 

Allow the Holy Spirit to heal your heart and mind with the anointed words that the spirit brings forth from the depths of your soul through hymns of worship!

Need more proof? Paul and Silas are found in the book of Acts16:24-26. 

They have been severely beaten and thrown into prison. About midnight they were praying and singing hymns to God and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly, there was a great earthquake and the doors of the prison was opened and everyone’s bonds  were unfastened! The jailer found Jesus that night! 

Gods spirit was present in that singing that night! That singing wooed the heart of the jailer into the very presence of our Father!! 

“Then sings my soul, my savior God to thee, how great thou art, how great thou art!”




Should Christians Be Politically Involved?

When you watch political news do you find yourself getting excited or angry? Our emotional responses to changes in politics may point us to having an identity that is too tied to our political preferences. Join Jonathan Carl as he helps us to think through our political involvement and it's connection with our identity.

"To clothe oneself with or to put on a person means to put on the characteristics of that person and become like him or her. Paul says we are to "clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ. (Rom 13:14). This spiritual transformation has a decisive beginning, but it is not final or complete. The process of putting on the new self who is in Christ is the sanctifying process that makes real in our experience what has already happened at salvation. In other words, we are to become by God's grace the people that He has already made us." Neil Anderson, "The Daily Discipler", p.108

Galatians 3:27–28 "For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." (ESV)

Our Words - Danger! (Part 1)

before you post…tweet…or talk…

before you post…tweet…or talk…

Has anyone every hurt you with their words?  Have you ever regretted something you said and wish you could have taken it back?  Our tongues can be so quick to speak but yet can deeply damage others at length.  It is important that we consider the dangerous aspects of our words.  God cares for us and warns us about our tongues, we would be wise to listen…

Harshness Multiplies.  Our words are like a “fire” (James 3:6) that can quickly turn a disagreement into a disaster.  Fights can escalate and expand quickly with the wrong words.  When people handle fireworks or weapons they are extremely cautious because they realize the danger embedded within them.  Don’t disregard the explosive and damaging potential of your words.

Proverbs 15:1 “a harsh word stirs up anger”

Foolishness Displays Itself.  Think about a time when you did something stupid.  Did you feel embarrassed or ashamed?  Did you quickly try to cover up or explain away your mistake or mess?  When we speak people begin to form opinions about us, our character, and our competence.  Don’t give people a reason to think poorly about you.

Proverbs 15:2 “the mouths of fools pour out folly”

Words Hurt Us.  We can often lash out to find temporary relief from our bitterness only to realized the poisonous brew we drank in our cruelty.  We can tell crude jokes to gain a laugh but in the end we lose our reputation.  Don’t hurt yourself with your words when there are so many opportunities for good. 

Proverbs 15:4 “perverseness in it [the tongue] breaks the spirit.”

Words Hurt Others.  Ever give a piece of bad advice that you wish you could take back?  Ever witness the hurt you caused someone with your malicious or manipulative mouth?  God calls us to prioritize others above ourselves.  May we pour out love and truth from our lips instead of hatred and lies.  Don’t tear down others when you have the opportunity to build them up.

Romans 16:18 “For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.”

Words Hurt God.  Our tongues are meant to bring God honor, but often we are self-focused and miss the purpose the mouths God gave us.  Scoffing and mocking bring God’s opposition (Prov. 3:34).  God’s hates lies and divisive words (Proverbs 6:16-19).  Don’t disregard God’s warning about His hatred of wicked words when He has created you for a greater purpose.

James 3:10 “From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.”

Words Evidence A Path Headed to Hell.  Doctors use scans and tests to evidence and diagnose the physical condition of a heart.  Our words can evidence and diagnose the spiritual condition of our souls.  Jesus lovingly warns us that “on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak” (Matthew 12:33-37).  Will your words justify you as being on a path to Heaven, evidencing a saved, good heart?  Or will your words condemn you as being on a path to Hell, evidencing a lost, evil heart?  Examine your heart through the evidence of your mouth and be concerned if you think you are saved but your tongue tells another story.  Don’t be a hypocrite and be surprised by a future rejection from Jesus’ eternal presence (Matthew 7:23).

James 1:26 “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless.”

We can we do about all of this today?  We can listen to God’s words about our words and sincerely seek His forever forgiveness, cleansing, and change.

1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Mission Trip Packing List

Mission Trip Packing List

Do you consider a mission trip as an opportunity to go or an opportunity to grow? 

This is an example where equal opportunity is not the case! A mentality of “going” versus “growing” does not merit the same harvest!

If your heart leans toward being part of a mission team that grabs a bag and jumps on a van/plane without properly packing first, your experience will result in a superficial glean and your trip will be nothing but a glorified vacation. 

If your heart leans towards being a part of a team and wanting to grow your faith and His kingdom, then the only one glorified will be our Father who commissions us to go!

This only happens when you properly pack before you head out:

  • Pack your days with prayer for guidance and direction. -Fold your hands and lift yourself up before the Lord totally submitting to His plan for you and those you will minister to. 

  • Strap on scripture in your heart and mind.

  • Don’t exceed Baggage weight limitations by carrying too many selfish expectations. 

  • Don’t forget your itinerary; may your trip itinerary be purposely centered around God and His direction and not your own. 

  • May your boarding pass be one that ushers you right in the center of God’s will!

When you delight yourself in the Lord He shapes your heart to desire the things He desires.

Psalm 37:4- Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart!

Not only will you grow but God’s kingdom will grow exponentially as well. 



Secret Agent Christian

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Are you living out your Christian life in secret?

Judges 6-7

Do you bless your food in a restaurant, but do it with a low voice so no one can hear you?

Are you the same person six days a week that you appear to be on Sunday morning? Or do you live in a manner in which no one would ever even know you were a Christian by your actions?

Are you like Gideon was,(Judges 6) and obeyed God but in secret?

Gideon received a calling from God to tear down the altar of baal and cut down the Asherah poles (commonly used in idol worship). He was then to replace them with an altar to the Lord.

Sounds simple enough, right? The tiny kicker was, it was located in his father’s household!

Gideon obeyed God! But, out of fear of his family he completed the task during the night where no one would see him and he took 10 guys along with him, just in case!

Like us, sometimes we live out our walk with Christ on a secret path and in fear!

We hide our Lord instead of displaying him through our lives.

No one would know we were a child of God by our actions. It is a slippery slope to tread by claiming to love God and doing it in secret. Can it even be done?

Gideon began as a cowardly, skeptical, doubting warrior and God turned him into what He called, “A valiant warrior!”

Gideon stepped out from being a secret agent and into an unconcealed agent! His secret weapon is found in

Judges 6:34, “ The Spirit of the Lord Clothed Gideon” and empowered him to fulfill his purpose God had revealed to him. There was no hiding! He blew his trumpet loudly for the Lord!

Are you blowing your trumpet for God? What are you hiding from? Fear is a liar! The gospel is to be heralded.

Joshua 1:9- Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go."

We are clothed in the same spirit Gideon was wrapped in! Let’s stop living in spiritual incognito! Let’s turn from being a secret agent into a saving agent!

HOW DO I KNOW I'M HEARING GOD AND NOT MY OWN THOUGHTS?

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What does your active life, prayer life, and thought life evidence – obedience or hatred? Test yourself with the truth.

“Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgement.” John 7:24

It is a natural reaction to lean on your own experiences or seek out experiences of those close to you when you should be seeking the one who knows all things.

Seek him with a humble and patient attitude, trusting that his way is the right way – his timing is the right timing. Without your ideas of what’s right, but fully giving over all that it is that you are bringing to him.

The world has a multitude of ideas and “advice” on what is right and we are tempted to give in to those, but again, there is only one who is always right, God.

“So Jesus answered them, ‘My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me.’” John 7:16

God has sent his word to us for our benefit. Don’t let your thoughts/experiences and this world persuade you into believing that the answers are anywhere other than there.

God’s word. God’s wisdom. God’s will. Not your word, wisdom, or will. Not the world’s word, wisdom, or will. Aligning all parts of life with Him is only possible by the daily discipline to spend time with him.

The author of life is speaking to you, you need only to listen.