Summary: This is a "preview" of the National Campaign of the 40 Days of Purpose, a spiritual growth campaign in which Bethany Church will participate.

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Preview of Coming Attractions at Bethany

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What are the best things about the arrival of fall? Its crisp air, brisk breezes, and dipping temperatures? Its radiant colors and ravishing smells?

The picture on the screen is from the Blue Ridge Parkway at Afton a couple of years ago.

This past Monday was the first day of Fall. I went out that morning in my shorts for a walk¡Xand what a thrilling shock. The air was brisk and the breeze was cool. I didn¡¦t expect it given the warm, humid air we have had most of September. The sky was clear and the air was fresh and invigorating from the rare rainfall we had the night before.

My first thought was ¡§I love this kind of weather. It¡¦s perfect. It¡¦s heaven on earth.¡¨

In fact, in many ways I love to take short day trips and vacations in the fall¡Xless traffic and people it seems anyway unless you go to the mountains on the weekend.

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Last fall I took a trip up to the Finger Lakes area of central New York state. There are 100s of vineyards there. I love to see the grapes hanging on the vines before harvest¡Xmakes me think of what Jesus said:

Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:6 (NLT)

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In the fall one time also I took a trip to Kiawah island and Charleston, South Carolina. Standing on the beach at sunset I thought of the words of the Psalmist who wrote:

When I consider your heavens,

the work of your fingers,

the moon and the stars,

which you have set in place,

what is man that you are mindful of him,

the son of man that you care for him? O LORD, our Lord,

how majestic is your name in all the earth! Psalm 8:3-4, 9 (NIV)

What is it that makes fall probably my favorite season?

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Maybe because the change in weather--the warm, sunny, crisp days are a welcome change to the muggy summer weather. Or the cool crisp nights make for good sleeping conditions. Maybe it¡¦s the changing of the leaves to the many varied colors.

I can¡¦t say it¡¦s the football season¡Xsince I¡¦m not a particularly big sports fan¡Xalthough I don¡¦t have pleasant memories of going to football games in high school and college. I think that was more for social reasons than for the sport itself. My father watched so much sports on TV as I was growing up as a child that I think I was burned out on sports before I got too old.

Or maybe it¡¦s because I was born in the autumn¡Xin October¡Xthat makes me yearn for this time of the year.

Or could it be that some new movies are released by Hollywood in the fall that seem better than the ones that came out in the summer. I like especially comedies so I want to try to catch My Big, Fat Greek Wdding or Sweet Home Alabama. After reading some reviews on the Banger Sisters I think I¡¦ll skip that one.

{A portion of what follows is adapted from Len Sweet¡¦s ¡§Press On¡¨}

How about the fact that in the fall, we no longer have to pretend that all we want for supper is fresh, crunchy salad or a bowl of one of those it-never-seems-quite-right-to-be-cold soups?

No, when fall finally settles in on us, it¡¦s once again time for real food¡Xfood that steams, sticks, and simmers. Food that fills the inside of the house with warming, mouthwatering smells. Food that fills the inside of our bellies with a comforting ¡§I can face the winter¡¨ heft. After all, if you plan on eating your way through the winter holidays, you need to start stretching out your stomach as soon as the leaves begin to fall.

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Among the most simple and satisfying of meals is a plate of squirming, steaming pasta. Kids love it because it’s play food¡Xyou slurp and string it along. Parents love it because mouthfuls are nourishing, inexpensive, and filling enough for a houseful. Spaghetti houses are still a great, affordable place to take a date or a family for a special night out. And even if you¡¦re not a great cook, if you can boil water, you can make pasta.

But pasta isn¡¦t as simple a staple of our diets as it might first appear. First of all, have you ever really studied all the varieties of pasta shapes available at any ordinary grocery store? An average supermarket will carry:

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* Rigatoni;

* fettuccini;

* capellini (thinner than thin spaghetti);

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