Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The following is a devotional written by Rev. Kristin Heiden at Roswell UMC in Roswell, Georgia. She may be reached at kheiden@rumc.com. Have a blessed Holy Week!

Monday, March 14
Free to Forgive
They continued to question him, so he stood up and replied, "Whoever hasn’t sinned should throw the first stone." Bending down again, he wrote on the ground. Those who heard him went away, one by one, beginning with the elders. Finally, only Jesus and the woman were left in the middle of the crowd. Jesus stood up and said to her, "Woman, where are they? Is there no one to condemn you?" She said, "No one, sir." Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on, don’t sin anymore." John 8:7-11
The Pharisees once again try to trap Jesus, as they present to him a woman caught in adultery. They remind Jesus that law states she should be stoned as a result of her egregious act. They then ask Jesus, “What do you say?” They think they have him now - if he says to stone her then maybe he isn’t so different from the teachers of the day, and if he says she is not to be stoned then they can accuse him of disobeying the law of Moses. But, in typical Jesus fashion, he responds in a new way - only he who is sinless may carry out the punishment. Of course, none of the Pharisees can honestly say they have never sinned, and so the woman is left without any accusers.
I think we can identify with a lot of the characters in this story, whether we want to or not. How often have we been the woman, caught in our sin and awaiting the punishment that will come? Frightened, embarrassed, ashamed, we stand before God and our peers feeling dirty and exposed. But, have we not also been like the Pharisees, quick to point out the sins in the lives of others? We may feel a sense of pride and our ego is boosted as we position ourselves as greater or holier than the sinner. But, that feeling is fleeting, as it is not long after that the situation is reversed once more.
Jesus sets us free from both characters, reminding us that, yes, we are all sinners, but that we all are deserving of forgiveness. May we seek to live a different life, not of the accusers or of the accused, but of the forgiven and redeemed people of God.

Let us pray:
Forgiving God, how quick we are to see the sins in the lives of others and seek to judge them, ignoring our own sinful nature. Help us to live into the freedom of forgiveness for ourselves and our brothers and sisters in Christ, remembering that we are not to cast stones but to live a life transformed by your grace and forgiveness. Amen.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Expanding Circles

Here is a guest post today from the amazing Rev. Pam McCurdy at Bethany UMC!!

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Bethany UMC’s Walking Prayer Group meets on Sunday afternoons. We begin with a devotion and pray and then it’s time for our walk. Sometimes we walk in the neighborhoods around the church and on other occasions we walk the trails or tracks of our local parks. I wrote this devotion for a Sunday when we walked at Mud Creek Soccer Complex, which has a giant oval track, several fields and a great playground. It’s a busy place where our community gathers for soccer practice, games, exercise and fun.


Walking Prayer Group Devotion

February 28, 2016

I have been thinking about “circles” lately. No worries, I won’t break out singing “The Circle of
Life” from The Lion King. Maybe I am thinking about circles because we are about to walk “around in circles”.

Okay, yes, the track is really in the shape of an oval. Work with me.


Anyway, a circle doesn’t have a beginning or an end. It is said to be “never ending.” God’s love is never ending. That’s good to know. We never have to fear a shortage of  God’s love. There’s enough to go around. There’s enough of Divine love for God to share it with all of creation into infinity and way, way, way beyond it.

We also use the word “circle” to talk about our relationships. i.e. “church circle”, “social circle”, “circle of friends”, or “circle of influence.” We are connected to others in these circles by kinship, interest, careers, politics, beliefs or more. There is “something” or “someone” that brings us together to form these “circles.”

As Christians, we are brought together through the experience of knowing Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. We are a diverse circle of “believers” growing in grace. We are a diverse circle of believers called to love God with our heart, being and mind and our neighbors as ourselves.

This “Christian Circle” is designed to be expandable. It’s been that way for over 2000 years.

So, let’s expand the “circle of believers”. It grows when we share the Gospel of Jesus Christ and encourage others to experience saving grace. It grows when the community around us encounters the never ending love of God through our words and deeds.




Matthew 22:36-40 Common English Bible (CEB)

36 “Teacher, what is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 He replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 3 And the second is like it: You must love your neighbor as you love yourself.b40 All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”


John 13:34-35 Common English Bible (CEB)

34 “I give you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, so you also must love each other. 35 This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, when you love each other.”


Rev. Pam McCurdy

Pam is the Minister of Discipleship at Bethany UMC in Smyrna, Georgia. You may reach her at associatepastor@bethanyumc.net.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

44 Leadership Tips You Really Can't Ignore (these are truly tranformative)

Today is my birthday!!!!!!!! Yay me!! Everyone should celebrate who they are once in a while.

So my birthday gift to you is the following list of leadership tips I've gained in my studies. Its very scientific. Everyone should read it because it will make me feel good, it will make you feel good, and because of #28.

Enjoy these leadership tips - feel free to add your own in the comments or let me know your favorites!


  1. Know who you are. It helps to know your style and flair. Its what sets you apart! It also helps to know your name so that you get the right drink at Starbucks.
  2. Take a Sabbath. Because God said so.
  3. Keep moving forward! Here's 1 minute of why. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LmW3H-EXYS0
  4. Have clear expectations on what outcome you want. Otherwise you'll end up ...
  5. Learn from the past. Sometimes you can make things betters. Other times things are never going to change. May God grant us wisdom to know the difference.
  6. See what I did with #4?
  7. Write down three things each day that you are thankful for.
  8. Go for a walk or run. Leadership is about movement. You can't move people to places if you don't move.
  9. Meditate. Turn off the distractions and sit quietly. It will help you focus later.
  10. Always learn something. God gave you a brain - continue to use it.
  11. Laugh. 
  12. Love. 
  13. Everyone has personal and moral advice on who to love. Here is mine: one of the most important decisions you make is who to spend your life with so choose wisely.
  14. Communication is important. Apparently lists are helpful.
  15. Storytelling. When lists fail...have a great story ready.
  16. Sit up straight. Cause grandma told you too and it makes you look better.
  17. Loose the texting hunch. Smartphones are for convenience not for joy. Jesus brings you joy. Hunching is why grandma said #16. #9 helps with this too.
  18. Don't tolerate negativity. You don't need it in your life.
  19. You tolerated #18 even though it was phrased negatively. Did you even catch that?
  20. Be positive.
  21. Surround yourself with positive people.
  22. That doesn't mean people who always agree with you. You need some "stretch people" too.
  23. Encourage creativity. Otherwise we would never find Nemo, Andy would be without his toys, and "Better out than in" would never be a standard response at our house.
  24. Everyone has a leadership book but mine is the best. I haven't written it yet but I just know it will be.
  25. If you have to remind people that you are in charge, then you're probably not.
  26. It's ok to be nervous. All of are at times.
  27. Praise the effort more than the result. Praising the result gets more of that result. Praising the effort gets innovation.
  28. Drinks are on me! For the fourth year in a row I will walk into a Starbucks and yell, "Hey everybody! It's my Birthday! Drinks are on me!" This will last until the money runs out (which is fairly quickly). But its fun and yummy. If you are reading this before 9:00 am on Feb 9 then feel free to stalk me at The Avenue in Peachtree City.
  29. Don't fit the mold. Make it.
  30. Sometimes lists can get too overwhelming and its best to take a break. Process what you've learned. Put things into action. And repeat the process.
  31. Sometimes lists can get too overwhelming and its best to take a break. Process what you've learned. Put things into action. And repeat the process.
  32. Sometimes lists can get too overwhelming and its best to take a break. Process what you've learned. Put things into action. And repeat the process.
  33. Sometimes lists can get too overwhelming and its best to take a break. Process what you've learned. Put things into action. And repeat the process.
  34. Sometimes lists can get too overwhelming and its best to take a break. Process what you've learned. Put things into action. And repeat the process.
  35. Sometimes lists can get too overwhelming and its best to take a break. Process what you've learned. Put things into action. And repeat the process.
  36. Sometimes lists can get too overwhelming and its best to take a break. Process what you've learned. Put things into action. And repeat the process.
  37. Sometimes lists can get too overwhelming and its best to take a break. Process what you've learned. Put things into action. And repeat the process.
  38. Sometimes lists can get too overwhelming and its best to take a break. Process what you've learned. Put things into action. And repeat the process.
  39. Sometimes lists can get too overwhelming and its best to take a break. Process what you've learned. Put things into action. And repeat the process.
  40. Sometimes lists can get too overwhelming and its best to take a break. Process what you've learned. Put things into action. And repeat the process.
  41. Sometimes lists can get too overwhelming and its best to take a break. Process what you've learned. Put things into action. And repeat the process.
  42. Sometimes lists can get too overwhelming and its best to take a break. Process what you've learned. Put things into action. And repeat the process.
  43. Sometimes lists can get too overwhelming and its best to take a break. Process what you've learned. Put things into action. And repeat the process.
  44. Repeating what you have learned solidifies it in your memory.
So that's it. Time for another trip around the sun.

Until Everyone Hears,


Monday, January 18, 2016

Everyone Needs a Corby

I will get to what a Corby is in a second. But first think about those times in your life when you conquered a new challenge. Perhaps it was learning to ride a bicycle or applying and interviewing for a new job or getting off the bunny slope or applying for a doctorate. In all of those types of situations who was there with you? Most of the time you probably had someone there cheering you on. For me, my dad ran next to me when the training wheels finally came off. Susan told me I needed to use my gifts in a more challenging place. Nicole and Hans sat with me on the ski lift and let me fall on top of them. And Rick said “The time is now.” Not all of these instances were huge successes but the process of taking a risk and the connections with these people were priceless.

All of the cheerleaders in my life have made me who I am. I could have gotten here without them but the journey would have been much more slow and much less fun. Recently God has placed a new cheerleader in my life. Her name is Corby. Corby is a smart, sassy, petite, fierce, beauty queen, high heel designer shoe wearing, woman of God encourager. I probably left off a few key adjectives but I want you to keep reading. She is new on our staff and works with the children, women, and hospitality teams -and exudes the Holy Spirit. Oh and she's also a certified life coach and chaplain for the Miss Oklahoma pagent. Her husband has written several books, one of which is “Everyone Needs a Sam.” It is about mentors and encouragers in our lives.

After reading it I realized that Corby has become my Sam (Frodo’s friend who carried him when he needed it the most). Corby has helped me to truly believe that with God all things are possible. She sends me texts often to let me know that I'm on the right track. She hears negativity and turns it into something positive. She is a prayer warrior who will fast and pray for any need small or large because she knows it is important to you.

When you are in leadership, people can often seem to be against you as they live in the tension of change. I'm honored that God  sent me Corby just when I needed her most. Look for the Corbys or Sams in your life and stay connected to them as you make transitions in your life. No one does things alone and honoring your encouragers enables you to be all you can be and helps you encourage others in the future.

Until Everyone Hears,

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Spirituality in Transformative Leadership

Transformative leadership connects people with God and each other so that they may grow to be the people they were created to be. I believe that every person can grow in intelligence, relationships, and spirituality. The Means of Grace help us achieve this growth. The Wesleyan Means of Grace are spiritual practices that enables us to live out our faith. John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement, taught that God’s grace is unearned and that we are not to be idle waiting to experience it. The Means of Grace are ways God works in the interiority of a person that overflows into the church or a group of people. This means that spiritual practices can be both individual and communal. Individual practices include reading, meditating on and studying the scriptures, prayer, fasting, regularly attending corporate worship, healthy living, sharing our faith with others, doing good works, visiting the sick, visiting those in prison, feeding the hungry, and giving generously to the needs of others. Communal practices include regularly sharing in the sacraments, Christian conferencing (accountability to one another), Bible study, seeking justice, working to end oppression and discrimination, and addressing the needs of the poor.When people do this together the church can grow as well. My vision is to help others to improve and grow in their knowledge, spirit, relationship, and leadership skills so that they can fulfill the mission of the church. The Means of Grace offer me a toolbox of practices to lead others in the interconnectedness of all of these skills.

At times we practice spirituality so that we may be transformed and at other times we practice spirituality and embody the message of Jesus because we have been transformed. These practices are not only transformational but are also connectional. They connect us to God, to each other, and to the world. A spiritual practice is an action, experience, or discipline that connects someone to God, to others, and/or to the world as they live out their faith with the hope that they will encounter the grace of God and be transformed in the process.

“Spiritual practices are not about mindless repetition, but a deepening of what is already happening.” (Perrin) God is already at work in the world and invites us to join in the missio Dei. As I connect the church with the world, these practices give me a system for connecting people apart from one-time events but also in the day to day lives of those seeking to connect to the transcendent love of God.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Leadership with a Growth Mindset

When disciples have a growth mindset, they understand that leadership can be developed. Leaders with this mindset will focus on improvement and transformation instead of worrying about checking off their todo list. They work hard to learn more and reach more people. Based on years of research by Stanford University’s Education Department, we know that people who learn this mindset show greater motivation and unlock their potential.

I used to think that one day I'd become a leader. I felt like it was a linear progression in my career path. But unlocking the discovery of a growth mindset, made me realize that my potential for greater intelligence, leadership skills, and holistic improvement was within my own ability to cultivate. 

Think about your house plants. You may feel as if you either have a green thumb or that anything green that crosses your doorway will wither instantaneously. Yet with a bit of repotting, pruning, fertilizer, watering, sunshine, and seasonal placements most plants with thrive and grow.

Your leadership abilities are the same way. In the right location and with the right fuel and nurturing, your ability to create a synergistic environment can thrive and grow.  Never doubt that Ina world of constant change that you cannot change as well. Stretch yourself to learn something new. Love challenges that cause your to grow. Cultivate your resilience in the face of setbacks and you will see your efforts pay off!

Until Everyone Hears,

Storytelling in Leadership

Time for confession: I buy into Disney's propaganda. I believe that one day people in lands far away will tell stories of my journey and paint pictures of me in pretty dresses and tiaras. Of course I also believe that they will cheer for me as they remember how I save a prince in distress from his own ineptitude. He in turn will treat me like royalty; others will come for miles around to listen to my sage advice and I will live where cute animals do all the dirty work and we will live happily ever after.

Perspectives of stories matter. I see myself in the hero role but at times I'm both the protagonist and antagonist and often I'm my own worst enemy. But when I'm telling the story I often forget my power to shape the outcome. The power of words allows us to tell stories and have othe people see their role in the journey.

My leadership vision encompasses the core values of growth through learning, loving, and laughing. All creation enters this world with an intense drive to learn. Infants stretch their skills daily and learn to walk and to talk, but at a certain point the desire to learn wanes in certain areas. By revisiting this intense drive for learning, one can be led to not only improve but to inspire others to change as well. Loving others is key to Christian faith and the greatest commandment (Luke 10:27). This radical love and respect for others builds trust and integrity as a foundation for leadership. When seeking to answer the primary questions for leaders involved in social transformation: “What are you trying to do with your life? What kind of person are you trying to become?” there is a tendency to take life seriously verses living life seriously. Living life seriously involves laughter and fun through the joy of abundant life.

As I continue to articulate and cast this vision, the story will unfold. I've searched for years for the six steps, three ideals, four workshops, and ten books that will be the answer in all situations. Yet they aren't out there. They aren't out there because this is my story. I need to see where God is working and do my part to help it unfold. Along the way I will learn, love, and laugh and this adaptive style will enable me to be who God created me to be.