Thanksgiving is right around the corner and one thing that is on my mind is sweet potatoes. I have always loved sweet potatoes. Sweet potato pie, sweet potato casserole, sweet potato French fries, even sweet potato ravioli.

Last week, I wandered into the kitchen and noticed that there were some sweet potatoes on the counter about to find their way into a wonderful casserole dish.  I opened up a drawer…..withdrew a fork….inched myself over to the bowl of sweet potatoes that were awaiting their smashing, mixing and delicious additions and I inserted my fork into the bowl. There was steam rising from the bare potatoes…but I was willing to take a chance.  I pulled out a tiny bite.  It was quite hot…but I ate it any way and found myself making the “hot hot hot” noise as I let the potatoes dance around my mouth attempting to cool them off.  I went for another taste.  This time I blew on the potatoes long enough to get them to at least a bearable temperature for tasting.  I began to chew and taste….and to be quite honest…

I was a little bit underwhelmed.  I took another taste and it wasn’t much better.  They were bland and simply… so.

I had tasted plain sweet potatoes before, and never really given it much thought…but on this day….I kept tasting and kept thinking to myself….I am just not that  in love with sweet potatoes.   It wasn’t that they tasted bad….it was just that BY THEMSELVES they didn’t have much taste to me….at all.   I reflected on the dishes I liked that had sweet potatoes in them…..the pie, the casserole, the ravioli and such.  What I came to realize is that my addiction wasn’t to the sweet potatoes…rather it was to all of the amazing things that surrounded them. The nuts, the marshmallows, the brown sugar, the heavy cream, the butter……those were the things that I truly craved.  Those were the things that got my taste buds dancing..and the main thing….the sweet potato……it was simply along for the ride.


I fear we often make the same mistake in our relationship with Jesus Christ.  We claim that we have always loved Him but we live in such a way that seems that He might be simply along for the ride. We can easily spout off five, six, or even seven weekly or monthly routines that either center around Him or are somehow attached to His name……but when all is stripped away and it is purely us and Him….have we become a little underwhelmed…..a little bored with simply…..Christ alone?  Have we gotten distracted by all the brown sugar, marshmallows, butter, and crème and have we simply lost focus of the pure love and relationship that is supposed to be the center of our life….the center of our world?  Is He enough or might we at times find ourselves a little underwhelmed?


May we truly examine our hearts and truly question our pure love and addiction for Christ alone.  May we ask God to stir our spirit and feed us with the truth in such a way that we will be overwhelmed with His love and with His presence. May we realize that there are some actual good things that are distracters….not just sin.  May we evaluate and may we make needed changes in our life that elevate who He is and that eliminate or at least de-value things that have gotten wedged between the purity of our walk with Him.  May we study Him, may we know Him, may we seek Him and may we find that we re-discover our love for Him as the true center of our life….the center of our world.  May we cherish that truth and may we spend the rest of our life searching and growing to the place that the answer is “yes, yes, yes”… the question ……Is Christ alone enough?  May we taste and see that the Lord is good.

 Written by our Pastor Dr. Mark A Bedwell


True Story.  Harry was in the front yard trying to teach his son Shane how to ride a small motorcycle that he had purchased for $50.  It looked like something that clowns would ride in a family circus. As Shane stood beside the bike, he grinned as if he were standing beside a Harley Davidson.  He had an adult sized helmet on….so big in fact that you could have fit two of his heads inside of it.  This was shaping up to be one of those Hallmark father and son moments.  As Harry was trying to explain the nuts and bolts of riding a motorcycle….Shane was looking off in the distance and saying what sons say at a time like this….

”I know, dad.”


Harry was pointing out how to give it gas…and how to apply the brakes, how to lean in for the turn, and how keep your lower leg away from the 1,000 degree exhaust that a high caliber machine such as this would emit.  The boy…fidgeting with his helmet as it flopped from left to right kept responding with “I know, dad.”  “I know.”  Here this kid had never even seen a motorcycle before, yet in his mind, he already had a doctors degree In bike-ology. As Harry thought for a second, he realized that his son simply wasn’t listening to his instructions.  Here he was pouring out valuable information that was going to allow his son at an early age to enjoy the open road….or the open front yard at least….and his son didn’t seem the least bit interested in the helpful and even quite possibly…life saving….information.   Harry saw this as a teachable opportunity and he turned to his son and said. “Okay…since you already know how to ride…take off.”  Pretty risky time to pull out a teachable moment.

  Dad’s are like that..aren’t we?  Harry’s hope was that the son would ride, the son would fail, and the son would come back to the father humbled by this experience with apology in hand and say ….”Father, I am ready to listen.”  His desire was for the son to simply see that he actually needed his dad’s instructions to be successful. His desire was for wisdom to be received….or at least acknowledged.


Harry placed Shane on the bike….held him up…and off it went.  That little seven year old boy zoomed across the front yard as if he had been riding for years…..then suddenly it was evident that he had not been riding for years… the bike was headed  straight for the front porch.  Like most of us in a situation like this…panic set in…and instead of hitting the brake, he just gave it more gas….then BANG…..right into the front porch. He flew five feet.  The helmet flew twenty. ( I just knew that the oversized helmet was a bad idea.) The little boy stood up and dusted himself off.  He wasn’t hurt too bad…..just a little jarred from the crash and a little dirty and skinned up.  His dad was quite thankful that he was okay.  He thought to himself, however, that THE MOMENT was about to occur.  You know…the moment where the son was going to come to the father and say  “I should have listened.  I should have received your instruction.”  He waited patiently for the son to come up and say those words.  Instead the young lad turned to his dad and walked over to him with his hands on his hips and stated  quite forcefully. ”Way to go dad…you pushed me too hard!!!!!”


Do you see yourself in the story?  I know I do.  How many times has God patiently been trying to give us instruction, point us in the right direction, tug at our heart, our will, our mind, our character?  How many times have we refused His guidance, looked away ….and with our spirit said…”I know, dad.”  The funny thing…not ha ha funny, but ironic funny is that most of the time when we don’t heed God’s instructions or don’t listen or even seek them, we actually think it is because we can do it better on our own.  We act like we have a “doctors degree in bikology” when in actuality we have never even seen a bike before. Furthermore, we believe that He is trying to keep us FROM experiencing something good, instead of providing us with the proper tools TO experience something good.  Harry was simply trying to equip the son to ride the bike…SO THAT…in the end the experience would be richer.


……..AND then after our porch hitting failures….we come back to Him when we blow it and blame Him for allowing, not preventing, and often even causing the calamity that we brought upon ourselves!!!!!  Oh what a tangled web we weave…..  Quite simply folks….sometimes we are just a mess.  I am glad that God has a forgiving, loving, and caring  heart.  I am glad that even though time after time I say “I know, dad”…..that  time and time again….He is patient with me to teach and guide me the very next time. I wish I could be more like Him.  And that is the irony of it all.  That is what this lesson is all about..the helmet, the instructions, the pep talk before the ride…they are all tools…all words….all actions….that if followed…will make me and make you…more like Him.


May we simply stop saying “I know, dad.”  May we learn to hear the Father.  May we learn to listen to the Father….and may we learn to heed the Father’s voice.  May we recognize that He isn’t trying to hinder the ride, but to enhance the ride.  May we not blame God for things that are our own fault.   May we not blame anyone.  May we go so far as to always replace excuses for ownership.   May we strive to be as forgiving and patient as our Father is.   May we desire to be like Him.  But most of all….may we ride.  May we recognize that we were built to live life out loud.  May we go live it in Him.

 Written by our Pastor Dr. Mark A Bedwell


I have a really nice closet.  Actually, it is more than a closet…it is an entire room. You see, we have a room in our house that is a combination scrapbooking haven, office, and home for my clothes.  While I actually am supposed to use the closet in the room, I have found that the room itself..i.e….the chair, shelves, ironing board, and desk all make perfect homes for such things as t-shirts, shorts, or other clothes that I don’t “have time” to hang up properly.  Basically the scrapbooking/home office has become Pastor Mark’s World’s Largest Closet.  And I am good with that.

But a few months ago something changed.  My daughter entered college and she invited me on a tour of her cramped little closet in the back corner of the den that she had been using to house her clothes.  As I looked into the tiny abyss that was her closet…I quickly knew why this viewing had been requested.  On this day, she wasn’t after my money, she wasn’t after my time my time…..”gasp” …she was after my closet!!! 

I stood in the midst of a huge decision….closet vs. daughter….and as in most cases where dads and their little girls are concerned….daughter won over closet….in a landslide.   As I began moving from mansion closet to shack closet….I had several realizations.  1. I had allowed my closet to get rather messy.  2. I found clothes that I hadn’t seen in years.  3. I found clothes that I loved, but were hidden. I used the downgrade as an opportunity to assess, purge, and re-organize.


It has been two months since I have moved into my tiny little closet, and I want to tell you something….”Life is so much better.” I don’t have any room to make a mess.  I only have the clothes hanging up that I can actually wear.  Since I have limited space, I have to organize, pay attention to where things are, and make a conscious effort to put things where they actually belong.  I hate to say it…..but what looked like a downgrade…..was actually an upgrade.  The tiny corner closet is the perfect home for my clothes and my college girl is enjoying life in the mansion.


Friends…we have been tricked into believing that bigger is better and that more is more.  As Christians we have spread ourselves out so thin and piled on so much stuff that sometimes we find it hard to remember what is even important….or we have misplaced the important underneath piles and piles of unnecessary.  We think the abundant life is about abundance when indeed in retrospect we find truly that it might just be about…..simplicity.  When we work through this realization….we might find that we do have less…but realize that is where abundance can be found.


May you focus this week on accessing your choices. May you purge…get rid of the unnecessary things that are clogging up the paths of abundance that God is trying to bless you with.  May you re-organize around His purpose and His plan.  May you figure out what makes you special…what you are called to do…and may you find the clothes that actually fit.  May you upgrade your life.  May you work through the fear of letting go and may you simply choose the smaller closet.

 Written by our Pastor Dr. Mark A Bedwell