My digestive system is not designed for chili at 11:00 a.m. However, for a very good cause and a once a year occurrence, I managed a chili brunch without any lingering effects. This past Sunday was the 3rd Annual Pine Shores Youth Cook Off. As a pervious winner, (which entitles you to no advantage at all other than you can say it) I feel an additional pressure to compete at the highest level. After excessive conversation, this year the Pastor’s team went old school– a more traditional style chili, with a few added touches, charred Anaheim and Poblano chilies, home grown jalapeno peppers with ground turkey, sweet Italian sausage and crispy bacon. As the old saying goes “close but no cigar.” I looked up the phrase “close but no cigar” and discovered it most likely originated in the 1920s when fairs, or carnivals, would hand out cigars as prizes. Most carnival games, (even in the ’20s) were impossible to win. When the player failed to get enough rings around bottles or was just shy of hitting the target, the owner of the game would shout out “Close, but no cigar.” My thinking chair turned briefly into more of a sulking chair. I’m not harboring any ill feelings toward the winner and for all you who did not vote for us, I have already reached the pinnacle of success — winning the first ever PSY cook off. While resting on my chair, I pondered the notion of not reaching goals and wondered about the power of trying. How does my faithfulness, (even though it may come up short or falter in word or action) influence and impact the choices of others? So, I keep on trying to be faithful, knowing that being close is worth the effort and makes a difference.
“Team Bells” won this year. Chef Sally Seeger, concocted a highly creative chili with an original recipe which included handmade Mexican Chocolate. Congratulation to Sally Seeger and “Team Bells.”  The cook off raised $1512 to support our youth to attend summer camp and the youth conference in Montreat, N.C. 
Scripture Reading: Philippians 4:9
“Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.”
Reflection Questions:
How is the God of peace working in your life?
What do others see in you?
Who was influential in teaching you about Christ?
Prayer: Holy God, strengthen my resolve to keep on caring, and let my words and ways make a difference in the lives of others. Amen.