mission statement

God Doesn’t Call the Qualified. He Qualifies the Called: Reviewing Our Mission


The other day I had prepared a devotional to share during the closing session at the Hinton Center Board meeting. As sometimes happens, another session ran over and I didn’t get to share the devo, so I thought it would be good to modify for my blog. I mean, why write something completely different when this is ready and waiting?!

As we are preparing for summer missions here, we have been thinking a lot about our ministry, our purpose and our mission statement. I think it’s good to regularly ask ourselves how we embrace our mission here at Hinton Center? I think it’s good for our staff, board members, volunteers, donors, and all of our “extended friends” of Hinton Center.

A good place to start is in reviewing the mission statement: Inspired by Jesus Christ, Hinton Rural Life Center’s purpose is to engage individuals, congregations and communities in transformation through retreat ministry and missional outreach.

Not only do we review the mission statement, but even more so – we look at it through the lens of scripture – God’s Holy, Living Word:

Romans 12: 1 – 11 CEB says

12 So, brothers and sisters, because of God’s mercies, I encourage you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice that is holy and pleasing to God. This is your appropriate priestly service. 2 Don’t be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you can figure out what God’s will is—what is good and pleasing and mature.

3 Because of the grace that God gave me, I can say to each one of you: don’t think of yourself more highly than you ought to think. Instead, be reasonable since God has measured out a portion of faith to each one of you. 4 We have many parts in one body, but the parts don’t all have the same function. 5 In the same way, though there are many of us, we are one body in Christ, and individually we belong to each other. 6 We have different gifts that are consistent with God’s grace that has been given to us. If your gift is prophecy, you should prophesy in proportion to your faith. 7 If your gift is service, devote yourself to serving. If your gift is teaching, devote yourself to teaching. 8 If your gift is encouragement, devote yourself to encouraging. The one giving should do it with no strings attached. The leader should lead with passion. The one showing mercy should be cheerful.

9 Love should be shown without pretending. Hate evil, and hold on to what is good. 10 Love each other like the members of your family. Be the best at showing honor to each other. 11 Don’t hesitate to be enthusiastic—be on fire in the Spirit as you serve the Lord!

If I could spend just a few minutes unpacking this passage…there’s a lot here that we could dwell on… but think about this verse: don’t be conformed by the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you can figure out what God’s will is – what is good and pleasing and mature.

What if we take this a step further and think about some of the patterns of this world. I’m not talking politics or hot button issues either (we see enough of that already)… I’m talking about some of the patterns we live into in our lives – you know the patterns – the “this is the way we’ve always done it” conversations.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not knocking tradition. But I am wondering if one of the patterns of this world we can fall into – that can leave us trapped – is the pattern of doing things for the sake that they’ve always been done. You’ve never experienced that before, right?

Seriously though, think about it. It’s easy to keep doing what we’ve always done because it’s familiar and comfortable. It’s easy to fall into this habit – this pattern of the world.

Yet, if we are stuck in the way it’s always been, it’s hard for us to be transformed, to experience the renewing of our mind, because we don’t even think there’s anything there to change.

Really, you can apply this to any ministry or any part of your life, but to focus on what we do here, we have to look at the mission of Hinton Center – and the ministries and programs that we do – really, truly look at them and run them through this lens of figuring out what God might be calling us to do.

We can ask ourselves how we’re most able to engage individuals, congregations and communities in transformation through retreat ministry and missional outreach.

The scripture then goes on to talk about how we are all a part of the body of Christ and we each have our gifts and our strengths that we bring to the table. We are all here, all invested in the ministries and direction of Hinton Center, and we all bring specific gifts. One of my favorite quotes – and one that is on our tool shed here at Hinton in a similar form is – God doesn’t call the qualified. He qualifies the called. We may not know we’re gifted in specific ways until we have an opportunity to use the gifts – to bring them to God and see what ways they can be used. When we work together, think of what good things we can accomplish!

Finally, the scripture calls us to love, and to serve God ardently – with enthusiasm! Not because we “have to” or “should” but because we WANT to. That’s one thing I noticed last night – you seem to be excited about the mission and ministries of Hinton Center. I know our staff is… we need to remember to cling to that when we’re feeling a bit tired, overwhelmed, and worn.

So let’s summarize a bit:

  • Not to get stuck in the way of the world, or in the rut of the way it’s always been done…
  • Add in some people with individual gifts and strengths
  • As we hold onto love and we serve God with enthusiasm…

I think we have here a great way to look at all that we do – personally, at our churches, and here at Hinton.

Re-read the mission statement:


Inspired by Jesus Christ, Hinton Rural Life Center’s purpose is to engage individuals,

congregations and communities in transformation through retreat ministry and missional outreach.

So with the formula outlined from scripture: not to get stuck in the way of the world + people with different gifts to offer + holding on to love and serving God with enthusiasm, we can ask ourselves again: What does it mean for us to engage individuals, congregations and communities in transformation through retreat and outreach?

How are our interactions with guests, the neighbors we serve, and our community transforming? How are we making a difference?

And what is your part in making a difference here at Hinton Center?

dawn mission

bible journaling

From Slurping Watermelon to Coloring in the Bible: Look How Far I’ve Come


Have you ever looked back and thought: “my, how far I’ve come”?


I have a Bible that’s made for journaling, writing in the margins, coloring and being creative. I love it. Now that I’ve found some writing tools that don’t bleed through and are fun to use, I think I’ll be spending more time with that specific Bible too. I know it’s not for everyone, but it allows me to spend more time with God’s Word in new ways. It’s kind of like a spinoff of lectio divina (you can find more about that here if you’re interested: https://www.contemplativeoutreach.org/category/category/lectio-divina).


There was a time when I NEVER would have written in my Bible. Never Ever. I remember one of my first Bibles that was bought just for me. I treasured that Bible and spent a lot of time reading it, but I would never have written in it, let alone COLORED or anything. I did get to a point where I would underline or highlight verses, but that was it. It is probably because I was taught as a little kid to not write in books, but to take good care of them. While this is a good practice, it took me a while to come to understand that journaling in a Bible is also a good practice (for me).


Maybe it’s because the adult coloring book thing is so “in” right now, but there are so many creative tools out there for Bible journaling. I’ve always been the type of person who learns better or retains information easier by writing it down. I am a huge note taker, list maker and post-it crazed person. I love writing things down… it makes me feel like I’ll remember more, feel more accomplishment when the list gets checked off, and post-it notes are just fun.


So I treasure my journaling Bible and the creative ways I can study scripture. I still treasure that first Bible too. Maybe more so now because of who chose that particular one for me. It ties back to one of the first pastors I remember, and what an example of a follower of Jesus he was.  He was the first pastor I knew that showed the love of Christ in such caring ways. You see, when I was about five-years-old, we moved from Illinois to my mom’s hometown in Ohio because my parents thought it would be safer.  I remember well sitting at the kitchen table eating watermelon when the local United Methodist Church pastor came for a visit, to welcome us to the community (back in the day when this was a common practice). Being young, I was enjoying my watermelon quite well, slurping the juice, actually. My dad chastised me for not having good table manners, but the pastor said to let me enjoy my watermelon.  For some reason, this has been an important memory for me and my first experience with a pastor that I remember. Of all things – watermelon. But it left an impression. So when I see that Bible on my shelf, I’m reminded of Pastor Gordon and I’m reminded of how even the littlest of things can have a big impact.


I think that’s why I enjoy journaling in my Bible and connecting on that creative level. It helps me to live out my faith more and more, because I’m immersed in the Word more and more. I hope that I can have a positive impact on someone else’s life, just as Pastor Gordon did in mine. Not because I’ve preached a “great sermon” or shared some “profound wisdom,” but because I lived out my faith and someone else saw Jesus – not me, but Jesus shining through me.


How do you connect with scripture? Have you tried different ways of studying God’s Word? If not, why not give it a try? You never know what will click for you and make it seem like you’ve opened a whole new world of opportunity, so you too can think, “my, how far I’ve come.”


spring hope

Spring Means Hope, Just Look at the Dirt


I love springtime (allergies aside). Seeing the different flowers beginning to bloom, the varying colors of green on the trees, hearing the birds rejoice with their songs, seeing the rabbits and squirrels in the yard, and the warmer days with cooler evenings/mornings reminds me of hope. I think it’s why I’m so fascinated by the season: things spring to life.

Today I was walking over to the Chapel to gather items from Easter’s service and these little flowers caught my attention.

I’m a bit of an aspiring/amateur photographer; ie. I love taking pictures. So after I noticed them as I walked by, I had to go back and snap a quick photo with my cell phone. Here are these little flowers just blooming in the middle of some dirt, alongside some weeds, near the walkway to the Chapel. Just randomly coming up. For those of you who are gardeners, it might be obvious I don’t know much about plants, so if these are really weeds, at least they’re pretty. I’ll choose to believe they’re flowers though, because they reminded me again of hope.

Hope. I guess maybe it’s because I need a little dose of hope today. You see, I am the type of person who chooses to see the good in people. Maybe even to a fault. I was dealing with this little trait of mine today, even considering it a character flaw in myself. I mean, there are things others notice about people that I don’t even see. Some may call it being naïve, but the more I reflect on it, I once again choose to believe it’s not a flaw or naïveté, but rather a gift. A gift that comes with a price at times, yes, but a gift nonetheless. I would rather live with hope and joy than look for the negative in people. I choose to believe there is good and see it in someone, rather than look for the bad.

I choose hope.

Just like the little flowers I found on my walk, I want to be the one who flourishes even in the midst of the dirt and weeds. I want to be the one to look for the good and find it in others, even when it doesn’t appear there’s much good around. I want to be the one filled with hope, who offers that spirit of hope to others, even when negativity spreads much faster.

Since we just celebrated Resurrection Sunday and are in the season of Easter, I think it’s fitting to continue thinking of hope… to continue being mindful of the new life and the blessings around us… to look for good, even in the dirt and weeds of life. Don’t you?

Get a renewed sense of hope this spring at the 9th annual World Labyrinth Day! All are welcome, May 6th from noon to 2.


We Can’t Celebrate the Resurrection Without the Cross


In preparation for the Easter Sunday Sunrise Service here at Hinton Center, I’ve been thinking a lot about how we can’t have an Easter without Good Friday. More specifically, we can’t celebrate the resurrection of Christ without the cross.

I think that’s often true in our own lives and circumstances too. Sometimes we can’t experience something new without something old dying first. It’s usually painful, difficult and oftentimes messy. We may even choose to continue living with the “old” thing just because it seems too overwhelming to think about moving past it. It may even make us feel like we should just keep on keepin’ on, because we’re uncertain about the outcome, even if we know we should give up whatever it is. Yet, it takes work and it isn’t easy. It’s usually pretty painful.

But we can’t celebrate the resurrection without the cross.

Sometimes we don’t really know what it is to have something good without first having something that’s bad. I think about the dog that chose to adopt me after I moved here to North Carolina. My other two dogs just don’t seem to appreciate how good they really have it, but Wesley certainly does. I know, I know, you might be thinking how can a DOG appreciate something? I haven’t lost my mind, at least not completely, not yet. It’s like Wesley has known what it is to be treated poorly and tossed aside, so he has this different way about him.

We can’t celebrate the resurrection without the cross.

I don’t know what you might be going through right now, but I know a lot of folks who are going through some difficult times. As Easter Sunday approaches, I hope you can find some encouragement – some hope – that you can carry with you through your situation.

Jesus endured great suffering, humiliation and betrayal. Good Friday reminds us of that, but thankfully, that’s not the end of the story! Sunday when you celebrate Easter, think about the contrast from Good Friday to Easter Sunday. Think about the betrayal, but then think about the love. Think about the pain and sorrow, but then think about the joy and hope. Think about your situation, but then think about what it might bring about once you’re on the other side of it.

We can’t celebrate the resurrection without the cross. Sometimes we need to be thankful in the midst of our circumstances as we look ahead with hope, knowing that we are “Easter people.”


If you would like to join us for a 6:30 a.m. Sunrise Service in the Hinton Chapel, please do! All are welcome, and refreshments will be served after.


To the Encouragers, the Helpers, the Non-stoppers: You Know Who You Are


I’ve been a little quiet on the blog-front lately. I guess it’s because there’s just so much going on and time is moving so quickly.


I’ve been thinking a lot about what to write, and those who help others are on my mind today: the helpers.


You know who you are: the ones who give and offer encouragement and support, without really expecting any recognition or anything in return. The ones who are compassionate and oftentimes work behind-the-scenes, probably not even getting much notice (and yet you’re okay with that).
Does that describe you or someone you know? I hope so. I hope you know someone like this and you recognize the good he or she does for the world. Or if you are that someone, I hope you can say to yourself “that’s me.


If it is you, thank you. I hope you too recognize the good you do for the world.


Oh, I’m certain you have your moments where you think a simple thank you would be nice, or you wonder how long it would take someone to notice all that isn’t getting done if you weren’t the one doing it. Maybe you don’t have those sorts of thoughts, or you wouldn’t even want to admit to yourself you have those thoughts…but even if you do, it’s okay. We all have bad days or stress that causes us to crack a little around the edges at times. Even if you can relate to these not-so-heroic thoughts, I truly believe God knows your heart and still wants you to hear: Well done, good and faithful servant. Because at the end of the day, even in those not-so-shining moments, I’m betting you still do the work. You still give and you still encourage.


Even when it’s hard, you still do it. Even when you’ve been hurt by someone else who you helped or if you were “fooled” by a situation and helped when they possibly didn’t “need” it, you pick yourself up and you give some more. You do it not because of the response, but because of the love that’s in your heart. Some might say you’re too tenderhearted or too kind to a fault; some may even say you’re naïve, but you know better. You desire to love people; knowing that it’s not so much about them, but it’s about showing the love of Christ. You help because it’s a part of who you are.


I imagine that if you are one who helps, it’s hard to switch roles and be on the receiving end. I recently had that experience. I’m used to being on the helping side, not the receiving, yet a situation arose that caused me to need a little help. And boy was it hard to accept.


It’s not because I think I’m “too good” to need help – in whatever form that help takes. It’s because I want to give. I found myself stressing out about being a burden or bothering other people, but that’s when the thought occurred to me: when I know someone else needs help, I never feel they’re a burden or a bother. So why would I think others would feel that way about me?


Do you struggle to be on the receiving end of help? Maybe it’s financial, or maybe it’s needing an extra pair of hands to complete a task. Maybe it’s a ride, or someone to watch your children. It’s okay to need help sometimes – and it’s certainly okay to ask for it. I’m sure there are people out there who would love the opportunity to help you. It would be such a blessing for them.


Do you know someone who is always helping others or doing the tasks no one else really wants to do? Maybe you shouldn’t wait until they “need” help or ask for it –maybe you should just offer to do something nice for them. They may be a little resistant at first, but don’t give up. Be there for them. Encouragers need encouragement and helpers need help sometimes. And it’s okay.


I give you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, so you also must love each other. This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, when you love each other.–Jesus (John 13:34-35)