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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Not for The Faint-hearted




As we were vacationing near the Robert Frost Trail in Vermont, I decided to take a walk one morning and penned a few poems. Here is one inspired by the poem, The Path Not Taken:


The Chosen Path

He has led me to the woods
Deep into the forest
                        on a path few have chosen
                        yet chosen for me.

It is a path most guarded
                        from imposters and soothsayers.
                                    though some wanders have found it:
            I am called.

It is a road of promise,
            less trodden than others;
                                                for initially it may be filled with briars.

                        It leads up a steep hill
not for the faint-hearted.
Then plunges into the depths of the vale
below,
along a solid rock mountain wall.

It journeys for some steps
in the valley
trodden,
                                                by the footfall of mankind.
So that you may be given His heart.

Some slip upon the sparkling brook mosses
            and loose your balance.
Hold My hand, My child
He whispers softly.

You look up to the steep mount,
            and the windy, crooked path
                                    that only sheep and mountain goats
                        can negotiate
                                                such narrow passage,
                                    unsurefooted.
You shake your head in fear.

But His eyes pierce your soul,
and you take His hand.
"Come," He calls.
                        "Come," He calls again.
                                    "And find green pasture."

"Trust Me." His hand extends.
"Together,
 We can make this journey."

It is a path
NOT FOR THE FAINT-HEARTED.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

I AM Everyhting You Need



 It's been a busy summer, though I've been writing a little here and there.  Here are three excerpts I edited recently from my WIP (Work In Progress).

 “Casting all your cares on Him, for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).


As in the days of long ago, there are many things for you to deal with, but only one way to handle them and not be burdened. Place ALL your concerns in My Hands. Casting involves action and it takes practice, so don’t lose heart. Trust Me with all you plans and be at peace. I do not expect you to sit idly by, for there is much to do. However, when you trust Me, you will have the wisdom to know what to do and when to do it. Peace will follow. All else is striving after wind. Anxiety causes you to make wrong decisions. When you are at peace, you can hear My voice even in times of silence, for My Word will speak to you. Your life can be imbued with peace and you will then make wise decisions. The nectar of peace will attract the hummingbirds of this world. You will feed them by just being who you are and abiding in Me.
 


“Oh God you are my God. Early will I seek you, my soul thirsts for you in a dry and thirsty land” (Psalm 63:1).

            Are you thirsty for Me? If not, from what fount are you drinking?  Only two wells exist. You either quench your thirst from My crystal clear waters or you drink from the polluted ones of this earth. Though they may appear lush and green, they quickly turn rancid and disease filled. The world’s water will become sand in your mouth. It will cause you to be even thirstier than you were before. Eventually, it will kill your spirit. A man can live longer without food than water. As it is true in the natural, so it is true in the spirit. I am the living water. Only I can quench the thirst of your spirit, but only you can make the choice to drink from My well. All else will leave you dulled and groggy. Come thirsty to Me, and I will satisfy your needs more than you ever imagined.



I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness,
but have the light of life” (John 8:12).
        
            I call you to be light bearers. You need not conjure up the light yourself as the mystics attempted to do. All you need to do is surrender to Me, and My light will shine through. Take the opportunity while it is still day, as the Spirit calls to surrender. Walk in the way of the light, which may require a difficult choice. Yet I Am here to help you with My grace. Do as My Son did, and you will not walk in darkness. But remember He walked in the desert, was tempted by the devil, rejected by man, suffered for truth, healed the sick, fed the hungry and was raised up into heaven. Walking in the light is not often easy, though it has eternal rewards. Following Me comes naturally to those who know Me, and have My nature living in them.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

The God Attraction

Once a moth for the summer, I'll be posting interviews with exciting, new Christian authors. My July author is Craig Merrett, author of  The God Attraction--a Christian non-fiction piece that deals with healing  and inspiration through the Law of Attraction.Here's what he has to say about himself and his book:


Upon launching a start-up business in my early 20’s, I began to research innovation, entrepreneurism, and business principles.  I distinctively remember being floored that the vast majority of the books in the business section of book stores and libraries were littered with content that dealt with psychology, spiritualism, and faith principles. Shockingly, I soon discovered that this content was basically the bible regurgitated - with a glaring omission: God. I was stunned that the teachings of Jesus and the faith principles of the bible had merely been paraphrased and wrapped into a secular packaging. And of course, people were benefiting!       

Upon meeting and researching many of the world most successful and wealthy I learnt that they made no secret of attributing their success to these faith principle and yet I found the lack of acknowledgment towards God stunning, and even rude. God’s instruction, methods, and divine laws of blessed and prosperous success principles were utilized with passion and yet He was omitted and overlooked.         

Rhonda Byrne’s 2006 release, The Secret, exemplified this approach of embracing the gifts buts overlooking the Gift Giver, of celebrating God’s hand, but not looking at His face.   
The wisdom that God has shared with us in truly breathtaking and I am humbled to be just one of many vessels to shed a light on His Law of Attraction. Additionally however, the mandate of this book is to not sell our selves short -  as captivating as The Law of Attraction is, the true prize, the greatest Attraction is God from whom such wonderful laws flow.
In discovering the Creator the greatest discovery is found. This book offers a fresh perspective of operating in harmony with and by God’s spiritual laws through intimate partnership with Himself.


EXCERPT:

As we parked out the front, my wife and I realized that we had not seen our investment property together since we had purchased it 17 months earlier. A pleasant sea breeze gently floated past and we could not believe that in the middle of summer with vacancy rates at a low of 1.5% that our coastal unit had been untenanted for 17 weeks. After week upon week rolled into months we realized we simply could no longer keep the issue out of sight and out of mind and merely just hope for the best. Seeking God’s direction in prayer over this anomaly He spoke to us through my brother: there was a blockage in the spiritual realm and we had to visit the property and pray.
We decided enough was enough. The night previous, Melissa decreed that a tenant would be found and signed up that very next day.

Never mind that it was already 1pm in the afternoon, as we sat in the car my wife boldly reaffirmed her proclamation that we would gain a tenant and have them signed up that day. I entered into agreement and we found ourselves saying three times “It’s done”.

At 7:30 pm that evening my property manager called, the first we’ve heard from them in several weeks: a good tenant had been found, signed the papers, and had moved in that very day!
The pattern that is Attraction shares a common thread: it responds to things that you release. Thoughts, visions, words and emotions are all living and active vibrations of energy – they are all things! In this same vein faith to is a thing, a moving and abiding substance: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:11).
When faith is activated it points to a reality before it is physically seen, evidencing the wonder that is belief and its fusion of trust, confidence, and assurance. Just as tangible as the other faculties of Attraction in your possession, like a WiFi hotspot the force that is faith is invisible yet connects you with outcomes.

Faith gathers determined intention and wilful belief and releases this frequency. Importantly, that which you have faith for is always secondary to what you have faith in: it must have an object. What is your faith in? It is not much good if you have a living and full faith if your faith is placed into something that leads to death and emptiness.

Faith in yourself, others, possession, career, or even in faith itself is like a puppy dog chasing its tail in circles – there will be a lot of activity with little lasting results. Not only can your own expectations be imperfect, but humans and their decisions, are also imperfect. Only the Perfect object of faith can stave of disappointment. Only the Immutable stands firm admits life’s shifting sands. Inevitably it is the Perfect Source of Attraction, our Father God whom is the object of our faith, for He gives, guides, and sustains faith. Real faith is therefore relational and personable, built upon His faithfulness.



Author bio: An ever inquisitive mind, Craig has spent years carefully crafting a mosaic of rich philosophy through his study of the positive faith, mind-set and action connection and marrying these insights into practical living. With a message on his heart and an anointing to share rich and deep insights, Craig’s book ‘The God Attraction: A fresh revelation of the Law of Attraction’ can be found on Amazon
www.amzn.com
The God Attraction: A fresh revelation of the Law of Attraction - Kindle edition by Craig Merrett. Download it once and read it on your Kindle device, PC, phones or tablets. Use features like bookmarks, note taking and highlighting while reading The God Attraction: A fresh revelation of the Law of Attraction.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Leeks, Fish and Spring Cleaning


 It's amazing how God teaches you lessons from your current reading of His Word that parallels your life at that particular time! I've been learning a lot from Moses these days in the book of Exodus. Though I've read it many times before, I'm in the midst of my own Exodus now. Exodus from sin and self. I use to be able to look at Moses from a distance, but now I feel like I'm going through his whole experience up close and personal

Somehow, the world, typified in Egypt, has retained a grip on me in area I thought I was free, but I'm not.  I've gone back to some of the world's ways of thinking. Failure, not measuring up to people's standards, rejection, fear and depression. Moses experienced these too. After he killed the Egyptian who was beating an Israelite, he fled Egypt because  He was fearful of losing his life. He fled to Median, where he unlearned everything he learned in Egypt. He was no longer the Pharaoh's son, a learned man of high rank, but someone who "tripped over his words," a stutterer.

Lately I've been doing that, unable to express myself clearly, not stuttering, but just being misunderstood.Maybe you feel that way too. People are misjudging your intentions.That can bring on a whole host of issues as mentioned before as well as self doubt. I think that's what Moses experienced in the desert for 40 years. Yet I believe God was using that to strip him of himself and then pour His Spirit into Moses. That's where I can identify with Moses. Lately, all of my self confidence has gone down the drain. I thought it was in the Lord, but somehow self crept back in, and I find myself in a desert place--again.

God needs to do more refining, to get more of Egypt out of me. I've been grumbling for those "leeks and fish" of Egypt: success and happiness. Not that God doesn't want me to be happy. I believe in being a joyful Christian, but I would be foolish to think I'm not going to face tribulation and hardship in this world. The Bible tells us, "All of creation groans awaiting Christ's return." I'm groaning because I see how the ways of the world have infiltrated back into my life. Even though  I've been set free, Pharaoh (a type for Satan), doesn't want to let me go. And he's got more ways then one to keep me and you from being an effective or joyful Christian.

Now Satan's trying to pull that rejection and failure card, but interesting enough God can use that and any other card that enemy of our soul tries to deal us. As Christians we just can't look at our lives in comparison to the world. We have to continually be looking to God for His help and strength, as Moses did. After He was called at the burning bush, and he listed all his deficiencies for the task, it was God all the way. No mix of self, worldly knowledge, privilege or success. Sure, Moses had to work out some issues with God, we all do, but if God told him to do something, Moses did it. 

And it wasn't successful at first. Pharaoh made it harder on the people and grumbled against Moses. Then Moses complained that the people were upset with him. Sometimes when we do God's will it just doesn't look successful at first. But God told him just wait and see. Do what I tell you to do, and you will see some mighty miracles. And Moses listened.

So here I am Lord, listening. Tell me what you want me to do, no matter what the world thinks, or sometimes even Christians (though we should never trespass the principle's of the Bible). Help me not to look back to Egypt for my feeling of well being, but to Your face and Your ways.

I'm not sure how you are feeling today, but I know the world can beat you down. Sometimes it's okay to be a little blue because we are living in troubling times in this temporary tent of flesh. Perhaps God is trying to show you something about yourself that needs to be renewed or cleansed. I know He's showed me a lot of my sinful ways. It can get you a little depressed, but we don't have to stay there. We have a Savior who takes all our junk: the longing for leeks, the success of the world, the selfishness, anger, bitterness, grumbling and on and on. As we lay them before Him and confess our sins, He wipes it all away. We don't need to wander the desert for 40 years because we have a Savior!

Sometimes God just needs to do spring cleaning in our lives. Throw out the junk and re-prioritize our life. Let Him show you and I what is truly important so we can be set free from the grip of the world's demands! Be planted in the rich soil of His Word. Be cleansed by the forgiveness of sin and filled with the joy of The Holy Spirit. As the Psalmist David says "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning." That's the best spring cleaning--in our hearts.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Let My People Go!




Most Christians know the story of when Moses confronted Pharaoh. God told Moses to tell Pharaoh, "Let My people go that they may worship me" ( Exodus 5:1). Every time Pharaoh refused another plague was sent to Egypt. We may think of this as an Old Testament story with little application today, since we are not ruled by Pharaohs or kings, though it's getting increasingly that way. Yet all politics aside, we do have a task master--Satan.

He wants to keep us enslaved--too busy to spend time with the Lord, to go out from the everyday tasks and worship Him. He cracks the whip and like Pharaoh, calls us "lazy." He is the Father of lies, for most Christians are not lazy. We are busy serving the Lord, helping others, fighting for good causes and taking care of our family. As women, we are often too busy, but the task master in our head drives us further and further on. 

He takes away the straw as Pharaoh did, and demands that we make the same amount of bricks. We don't have the body and substance that holds everything together, the Holy Spirit, and we "fall apart," just like a mud brick with nothing to bind it together. I know I just went through a week like that. Sick with a cold that zapped me of all my strength, I still went to work because that was what is expected of me as a teacher. We only take off when we are really, really sick, well most of us.

Anyway, I was so grumpy the whole week-- complaining, getting easily angered, frustrated, impatient and exhausted! My words went right along with my rotten mood, until I confessed that I really needed the Lord's help. Even with that it was difficult to keep it together. I should have taken a day off, but instead I let the father of lies--Satan pressed me to keep on going. I finally got a four day break, a little mini vacation because of unused snow days. I so needed this!

I needed to stop, get off the merry-go-round of life and just breathe, which was my chief problem. I could hardly breathe all week through my stuffed nose. Yet I saw another principle art work. The work schedule I set for myself is sometimes just too much. A bit of a type A personality I usually enjoy my business with work, friends, family and hobbies. The problem was I resented having so little energy and let those expectations become my slave driver. Until I realized what I was letting the enemy of my soul do to me, I couldn't get off the tread mill.

We need breaks, time to put aside the everyday tasks and worship Him. If you're raising children (I raised three) it might be more difficult, but we can take life slower, not accomplish as much and just breathe. Breathe in His presence, His Spirit and life. Don't let Satan rob you of this as Pharaoh did to the Israelites. Eventually, he let them go when death came to his firstborn son. I pray we don't need a tragedy in our life or sickness to wake us up to this truth. Relax and bask in His presence even in the midst of the world racing by. You'll be glad you did!

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Ordinary Woman--Extraordinary God

What do we do when life throws us a curve? How do we react? Does our view of God change? What is the secret to surviving crushing loss or sorrowful circumstances and still praising God?  This book contains stories of 14 ordinary women (and one ordinary man) who have gone through various degrees of difficulty or tragedy. These women have come through their trial (or in some cases, are still going through the trial) with a prayer on their lips and praise to our extraordinary God in their hearts.

Along with these present-day sisters in Christ, there are enlightening stories from a few Biblical sisters in the faith.  There are also messages from God’s word on such topics as fear, tears, His all-sufficient grace, and beauty from ashes.
Available on Amazon  Sandra's books 

The author of Ordinary Woman--Extraordinary God, Sandra Barker is featured here on my blog. Here is what she has to say about her life as a writer."Over a period of ten years, I wrote several hundred articles as a freelance writer for two newspapers in our area, one of them is the large metropolitan paper that is primarily used in our Hampton Roads area.  I have a story in Chicken Soup for the Mother’s Soul.  I also wrote articles and short stories for dozens of magazines, and won first place for one of my short stories from the Oklahoma National League of American Pen Women and an Honorable mention from a Writer’s Digest short story contest.  Although I do very little such writing anymore, I still write travel articles for Recreation News.
    More recently, I’ve been concentrating on writing books.  I’ve self-published four novels, a collection of short stories, a children’s illustrated book, and two inspirational books geared toward women.  They are available in print and e-book through Amazon.
What inspired you to write the book?
It may sound trite, but I really believe God led me to write, “Ordinary Women – Extraordinary God.”  I drug my feet for a while, but He kept after me to keep working on it.    Once I committed to writing it, He led me to the 12 women in the book.  It was quite amazing to see Him working through it all.
My purpose for writing the book stems from my own search for an answer to how women who’ve gone through tragic and extremely difficult circumstances are able to rise above their struggles and praise God in such powerful ways.  I’ve had my share of struggles, but thus far I’ve been spared the “biggies.” I tend to be fearful that a major tragedy of some sort will happen in my life, and I wonder if I’ll be able to handle it with grace and praise on my lips.  I wanted to learn from the experiences of these sisters in Christ – and I wanted to share what I learned with other women.  I believe that we all want to know what the secret to victory in Christ looks like.
I feel honored that God used me to get these women’s stories out there, and I’m thankful for the encouragement it has brought to so many readers.

Read the stories of ordinary women like you and me.  You’ll cry over their pain and loss, laugh at their humorous tidbits, rejoice in their victories and, hopefully, whisper a prayer for those who are still going through the floodwaters.  Be encouraged – our extraordinary God loves you!

 Here is an expert that tells about each "Ordinary Woman." Each woman tells her story in her own unique way.  Formats will vary, but faith in God ultimately shines through the darkness.  Each woman’s story reveals a facet of Holy God’s plan for our lives.  Without further ado, let me introduce you to these lovely – and extraordinary women:

--Gretchen:  At 42 years old, she’d made peace with the fact she would never have a child.  She was content serving God in children’s ministry.  Then, a miracle occurred and she discovered she was pregnant.  She was ecstatic – until the baby became ill even before birth and then lived only two months in the NICU.  Her story shows how we can praise God in the midst of loss and pain.

--Kyla:  She’d been a foreign missionary serving God among tribal people for 22 years when she received the shock of her life.  Right in front of her eyes, her 19-year old son, a Christian raised on the mission field and soldier in the Army, was arrested for armed robbery of a bank.  He was convicted and sent to prison for ten years.  Her story reminds us that God could have kept her son from having a part in the robbery, but He allowed it to happen, and we can learn to trust His purposes.

--Judy:  Her husband Bobby left for work as maintenance man at a Christian school before she woke that morning.  When she kissed him at bedtime the night before, she was unaware she’d never see him alive again.  He had a massive heart attack at work and she was suddenly thrust into widowhood.  Her story shows the tender hand of God as He prepares the way before us.

--Sharon:  She went from being a happy homemaker and fitness instructor to being beset by trial after trial and then becoming a fighter of cancer in various parts of her body.  Six years ago, one of her great desires was to see her little one year old granddaughter celebrate one more Christmas.  She has now celebrated six Christmases and has five grandchildren.  God has given her peace as she undergoes treatment for yet another cancer diagnosis.

--Mary:  Her 22-year old son Chas was a handsome, hard-working young man, friendly and loved by all who knew him.  He’d just asked his girlfriend to marry him and they had looked at engagement rings that week.  Mary’s phone rang that morning with the sudden news that Chas was dead, killed instantly when his work truck ran off the road on a foggy curve and crashed into a tree.  Her story reminds us how God will be there with us in our darkest hour.

--Elizabeth:  With two teenagers at home and a thriving career as a teacher and writer, she began losing control of her body and was crushed to hear a diagnosis of MS.  Gradually, the disease crept through her muscles until she needed help with even the simplest functions.  Still in the prime of life, how do you cope with day to day dependence and an unknown future?  How do you redefine your identity?

--Eleanor:  A single mother struggling to support herself and two young children, asked God to provide them with a home.  He answered her prayer and the miracle of that event still bolsters her faith.  Her story shows God’s hand of mercy as He lovingly provides for His children.

--Lora:  How do you forgive the man who murdered your mother?  When she was only 14 years old, her mother, a Christian school teacher, was brutally shot and killed by a student in a school shooting.  Although the pain of her loss still haunts her, she reveals how God changed bitter hatred into full forgiveness.

--Sandy:  She watched her active, young husband become an invalid after his liver failed and a liver transplant backfired so badly he spent 20 months in ICU before finally succumbing to pneumonia.  As she copes with this tragedy, she also cares for two young daughters who have insulin-dependent diabetes – and are heartbroken at the loss of their Daddy.  Her constant comfort is the fact that God knew all of this was going to happen and He is in control of it all.

--Cindy:  When she was born, the doctor said, “We never should have let this baby live.”  Her childhood was beset by surgeries, struggle and guilt.  Even though she was saved in her mid-teens and married a Christian, she was still haunted by guilt and feelings of worthlessness.  Continuing health problems added to the toxic mix and divorce was the result.  How does God heal gaping spiritual and emotional wounds and bring about restoration?

--Shannon:  For ten years she and her husband prayed for a baby.  They even mortgaged their home to pay for rounds of in vitro and suffered the crushing failure of every effort.  Her husband turned to drugs and their marriage was on the verge of collapse when God stepped in and gradually healed every problem.  God works in mysterious ways His glory to show.

--Lynda & Chip:  While Lynda’s story is dramatic in itself, Chip’s story only makes their situation doubly difficult, so I had to include his amazing story alongside that of Lynda.  When Lynda suddenly became ill eight years ago and lost the ability to do almost anything, Chip was beside her, helping all the way, until she improved more than any doctor thought possible.  Then, six years later, as he sought to be a Good Samaritan on the interstate highway, a driver lost control and Chip’s leg was cut from his body.  What happens to Christians when the ax of tragedy falls twice?
Here is her contact information:
blog:  http://www.sandra-ramblingrose.blogspot.com/
public email is:  joyfulwriter@hotmail.com