Welcome!

So glad you stopped by for some encouragement, inspiration and thought provoking articles, as well as author interviews, FREE book giveaways, and blog tours! This week I'm featuring When God Speaks : 40 Days and Nights of His amazing promises .

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Need for Hope

Here is an excerpt from my book that I think is applicable to this season when people are suppose to be happy, but many are not. It is one of the 40 Promises highlighted in When God Speaks...
God Promises Us Hope. From When God Speaks--40 Days and Nights of His Promises


If you liked The Purpose Driven Life then you may enjoy When God Speaks On Sale this week, kindle edition only $1.99.

Hope sustains many, especially in difficult times, but what is our hope attached to?

"Not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance, and perseverance character, and character hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God" (Romans 5:1-5).

Hope is an essential ingredient in the human condition. With it, many have endured unbearable circumstances and terrible atrocities. Without it, mankind easily sinks into the pool of despondency. As the saying goes, “Hope Floats.” But what does it float on?

There are many things we can put our hope in—a better job, a good marriage, a dream vacation or winning the lottery. Some of these may come true, but they are mere wishes. Hope that bounces along the tides of our desires is merely a bubble that can pop at any time. True hope is different.
Hope that is based on the Word of God is an anchor of the soul. Its life emanates from the Creator to the created. As God breathed life into Adam, so the Holy Spirit breathes spiritual life into us. As Edna St. Vincent Millay wrote in her timeless poem, “Hope is a Thing with Feathers.” It gives wing to our innermost yearnings. Yet hope that is anchored in the Christian faith is not a flighty creature. It not only promises a return, but delivers one.

As in years past, many Christians today are persecuted and tortured in other countries. They have endured starvation, beatings, imprisonment and even death, but their hope shines forth because of the grace of God. I met such a blessed one at a writer’s conference. She shared with the audience her story of cruelty and captivity. While it was a heart rendering and painful one, there was hope in her eyes as she shared. The seeds of her faith sprouted while in prison, and she grew in perseverance and character. Hope grew within her even in desperate circumstances, as she prayed for a miracle to be set free. Then she explained that she was miraculously released because of a clerical mistake, and now appears before Congress on behalf of her imprisoned brothers and sisters in Christ.
Her hope of freedom was not wishful thinking; it was rooted in Christ.

Even if she had remained jailed or her body starved to death, her hope rested in the promise of everlasting freedom. As the verse says, “Now hope does not disappoint because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts.” If our hope is rooted in God’s love, everything that comes our way can be transformed…trials and tribulations become tools for hammering out perseverance, which forms character and yields hope—a hope that takes flight on the wings of God’s eternal and steadfast love. And that’s not a bubble that bursts.

If you are interested in learning more about the persecuted church, you can find information from Voice of the Martyrs or Open Doors.


Prayer

Dear God,
Sometimes situations seem hopeless in the natural realm, but Your ways are above the world’s. You are a God of hope and promises. Help me to believe them, to claim them for myself and others. I lift my spirit up to You. Please breathe Your hope into my heart. Amen.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Nostalgia and Letting Go of Your Grown-up Children

Last weekend my 26 year old daughter married a handsome young man, as is the way of children. They grow up, move out, usually come back, move out again, and then most marry. They leave behind their boxes in storage down in the basement, if you're lucky enough to have one, and thousands of memories and pictures if you're like me. Everywhere I turn, I catch a glimpse of my daughter's impish smile, her rebellious stance and spirited attitude, even as she searched to please Jesus and do her devolutionals (devotions in kid language) and convert her trolls to Christianity!
Part of me grieves for the little girl splashing in the mud and putting her hand in mine as a teenager walking in the mall together. But that is the way of children. God gives them to us to raise but for a brief moment. Then they are returned to Him, all grown up, at least enough to venture into the world. We can become nostalgic or bitter like my mother did. She didn't have a good marriage and the kids meant everything to her, so when we moved out she said she had little to live for. This of course is not the attitude God would have for us. So have can we overcome empty nest syndrome and have a godly attitude?

For me the nest has been empty for a number of years, but I still struggle with getting nostalgic. Why? Because I'm looking back to the past, wishing I could freeze those days and what I romanticize as carefree years. I loved raising my children and we did a lot of great things together, which we still do, but I don't see them as frequently as I would like. Though I have many interests and a full time job teaching, I still miss my children's youth. I have to watch out that I don't look too much to the past for happiness or the future either, but enjoy what God has placed in front of me in the NOW.

If you struggle with this issue, then you know what I mean. We need to trust God with our children, but not look to them for our joy and happiness. That's a big mistake parents make today, putting too much emphasis on the children and not on the marriage. That's one reason why many long term marriages are ending in divorce. Once the kids are gone there's nothing holding them together. (So that's something we need to do. Work on our marriages, before, during and after having children.) Don't make your kids idols, and you'll still have a marriage when they leave.
So what else is the problem in letting go? Change. Change is hard for most of us, even the adventurous types. But God made a world in which everything is changing constantly, except for Him. Accepting change and what comes our way is a big part of letting go of children, and just about anything else that makes you sad, bitter or depressed. Entrusting your children to God and accepting change will help give you peace of mind or at least a piece of your mind!

But how can you keep your mind off all the memories that invade your mind every day? Put your hand to the plow, or in other words like the author of Ecclesiastes says, do what God puts before you to do, work. Do the job God has given you and look to minster to others. Inevitably when I'm feeling a little blue, God puts someone in my life who needs help or is going through a tough situation. This helps me to let go of whatever I'm holding onto, a daughter getting married or a kid's bad attitude at school. As a rule, helping others is probably one of the best cures for many of the emotional problems we face today. You don't usually have to look too far to find someone in need.

So the next time waves of nostalgia threaten to toss you around a bit, try looking outside yourself, first to God and then to others. Be happy for the memories you've had, enjoy the life you have now and trust God with the future. Spend time with your spouse if you're married and make new memories together. Let your children go and be happy for their new life. Look up. God knows what it's like to lose a grown up child and get Him back again!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Pray for ISIS?

As I was reading my Bible today, I came across a verse in the Psalms that usually convicts me. "Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth. Keep watch over the door of my lips" (Psalm 142:3). I know I need to be more sensitive to others when I'm speaking.
Talking is something I love to do! Watching what I say is not always top priority when engaged in conversation. So this verse prompted a prayer,"Lord, help!!" No sooner had I prayed that when the Lord whispered into my heart. Pray for your enemies.

That was an interesting statement as I had just finished writing an article on Examiner about the atrocities of ISIS. I elicited prayer for the persecuted Christian Iraqi's, but never thought about praying for the members of ISIS. Jesus challenged us to do exactly that. "But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you" (Matthew 5:44). ISIS is surely an enemy of Christians and Jews, for their desire is to eliminate them, but Jesus still calls us to pray for them. So I did.

"Dear Father, you know the evil intent of these men.Just like Saul who was on the Damascus road to eliminate Christians, I pray that the leaders in the ISIS movement will have their own epiphany. They believe they are following Allah's edict to eliminate the infidels. Show them who you really are: Jesus Christ, who they persecute. Reveal yourself to them. Draw them to yourself. Turn a Saul into a Paul. In Jesus Name. Amen."

After I finished praying, the Lord gave me another idea. Why not have others pray and write their prayers as a comment? So I invite you to pray for ISIS, as crazy as it seems.Who knows what God will do?

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Liquid Prayer

At the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writer's Conference this week during the Thursday general session, God's presence began to move among the audience. When the keynote speaker addressed us to write with power, passion and purpose, my heart stirred . I felt His calling. As we worshiped, I began to weep. A heavy burden fell on me for those who turned their backs on Him. My heart ached for them. They not know what they do, what they are turning away from.

I wept for those who walked blindly, not knowing the amazing love God offered. Why don't they accept His offer of love? My friend asked me if I was okay, but I didn't answer. I couldn't stop crying and had to run into the bathroom. My tears continued to flow. My Spirit grieved for the lost and dying. I ran into a bathroom stall and cried out to the Lord. What are we to do? What am I to do?

I hadn't wanted to come to the conference, but I wanted to bring my friend. My life is so filled with friends, ministry, work, art, reading and writing. Yet I wanted my good companion, who never went to a conference, to attend. So off we ventured. Now God confronted me with His heart. I must continue to reach out in love to those in need and utilize the opportunities He presents, which are sometimes writing related and sometimes not.

Prayer needs to be my major focus and He confirmed that today. While reading in Timothy, the commentary pointed out the importance of passion in prayer. He referred to Spurgeon's ministry called "liquid prayer." My heart leapt. That is what God did at the conference. He moved me to liquid prayer
and showed Me His aching heart.

I've known this type of prayer before. It motivated me to write Letters to God on a Prodigal Son, Overcoming Addiction through Prayer. But now God moved in the same way to cry out for others I did not even know. For me, that was the theme of the conference. The reason to write.
In the past I've reached out to help others through my personal experiences, which I will continue to do. Yet now I will be praying more and petitioning the Lord with "liquid prayer."

Friday, July 25, 2014

A Lot to Learn from Abraham (Abram)

“So Abram said to Lot, “Please let there be no strife between you and me, and between my herdsmen and your herdsmen; for we are brethren. Is not the whole land before you? Please separate from me. If you take the left, then I will go to the right; or, if you go to the right, then I will go to the left. And Lot lifted his eyes and saw all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere…(Genesis 13: 8-10).

When I was a young Christian I use to wonder why Abram allowed Lot to pick first and choose the fertile, well watered plain when he was the one who deserved it. After all he was called by God to journey to another land. Lot was Abram’s nephew, and he was invited along. Riding on Abram’s blessing, he too prospered to the point that their shepherds were fighting. So why let Lot get first choice?

As a more mature, but still a long way to go Christian, I now understand. Abram didn’t need to claim his rights. He had seen what God had done so far and completely trusted God to provide in this situation. Abram had already been mightily blessed,(even though he hadn’t completely trusted God and lied that Sari was his sister, not his wife, but that just goes to show you how forgiving God is) because Abram was “ very rich in livestock, silver and gold” (v. 2).

Not seeking his own will, he let Lot choose. Abram was assured that God would work it out. “And the LORD said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him: “Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are—northward, southward, eastward, and westward; 15 for all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants] forever. And I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth; so that if a man could number the dust of the earth, then your descendants also could be numbered. Arise, walk in the land through its length and its width, for I give it to you” Genesis 13: 14-17).

I have a bit to learn from Abraham. Unfortunately, I am a person who likes to claim her rights, especially when I perceive big companies and corporations have done me an injustice. Now there’s nothing wrong with trying to right a situation, but it’s the way in which I use to do it. I’m trying hard this summer not to be pushy and demanding, though it’s difficult.

Just the other day I was annoyed that I didn’t have phone access and had to use my cell phone minutes to contact the cable company. At first I was annoyed and short with the customer service, when I finally reached a live human being, instead of a million voice prompts. Beside the phone issue, I hadn’t had wi-fi access for four months. As time marched on trying to resolve the issue, I grew more impatient and irritated. Then I remembered what the Lord showed me about attitude and my speech in the beginning of the summer (See post below).

I quickly changed my voice and tried to be much sweeter and kinder. Things started to move along better, and I got connected to technical support Level 3. For over twenty minutes we tried to resolve the issue but couldn’t, but I had victory. I was no longer angry. We decided that the technician would call me back later because I had to leave to bring my husband to an appointment. Needles to say, he later fixed it and connected me to the billing department as I requested. Once again I got a little upset, but then remembered to calm down. After about fifteen minutes, and my compliments to the customer rep, I received a $150 credit, four times as much as I expected!! God did a work in me and my better attitude literally paid off!!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Grace and the First Day of Vacation

It’s the first day of summer vacation for me, and a beautiful one it is! The birds are twittering, delighting my heart, the sun warms my back, a gentle breeze refreshes my soul and the fountain from the pond soothes me. It is so wonderful to glory in God’s creation, and I feel glorious! But I know the day will have its frustrations, like working on this old computer. Feelings are fickle and we certainly can’t live by them, but we do need to both control and enjoy them. And there’s nothing like the Word of God to guide and temper them. Today my reading was from Ephesians 4:29 " Let no corrupt word proceed from your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification that it might impart grace to the hearer." Of course, this was the perfect Word for me to contemplate today as yesterday I get quite annoyed and didn't' apply grace to my words.

Out of frustration that my husband’s anxiety kept him from participating in my adult daughter’s birthday dinner, I spoke a little harshly. I felt I had a right to since this has been happening for years, and I want my husband to deal with the matter. He felt he is dealing with it by making an appointment with the doctor. I believe he needs to change his thought patterns and go to someone to help him do this. I let him know my feelings, perhaps a little too strong. So today I wondered if I what I said was okay, but wrong in in my attitude. There’s nothing like the Word of God to correct. “Let no corrupt word." Well the first three words already had my attention and then it goes on, "but what is good and necessary edification that it may impart grace to the hearer”. Good and necessary edification. Did my words edify? No, they hurt and depressed him.Did they impart "grace to the hearer?" Grace, no. Interesting, there’s that word again—grace. I don’t think my words were filled with grace.

So here comes the life lesson. I’ve been doing a study on grace and reading several books. I know that grace has a lot to do with forgiveness and God’s mercy. But what does Paul mean by it in this context? The apostle Paul makes it clear in the next few verses what grace is not: “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger…evil speaking be put away (v 31). He understands human nature that when we don’t apply grace in our speech, then bitterness, anger, wrath etc. follows from either party, the speaker and/or the hearer. Then comes evil speaking: slandering each other, malice and hatred. Certainly not the way of grace, but how about just a little edge to our words? The next passage tosses that idea by the wayside.

So how was I to handle the situation with grace? Paul identifies three positive actions to take. “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ did for you (v 31). Nothing like hitting the nail on the head and showing me exactly what kind of attitude I should have. Kindness tempers our thoughts, tenderness tempers our words and forgiveness tempers our heart. Certainly a tall order, but just in case we think he’s asking too much of humans, he reminds us of how much Christ forgave us and died on a cross for the forgiveness of our sins.

The next chapter contains the punch line, the total solution, just in case we missed it.”Therefore be imitators of God, and walk in love (Ephesians 5:1)” Okay, I get it. Jesus is my example and I need to walk as He walked-in love. Another tall order. But the great thing about it all is that I don’t need to muster up the love myself. Jesus is the source of both the love and grace. He has all the grace I need for “every good work’”(2 Corinthians 9). Now I understand why God has led me to do this study on grace. These verses in Ephesians show me the practical ways I can extend that grace. So while I can enjoy my glorious feelings, I don't have to give in to the frustrated, annoyed ones or negative attitude. I can show grace with my words and love with my actions because God poured both of them out in abundance though Christ, on me!










Friday, May 23, 2014

Sing to the Lord!!!


The cold grey skies of the last few days and my husband's surgery that landed him in the ICU with an infection and breathing tube has caused me to search out other joys. Looking over my Work In Progress I found this entry, just as the song "Blessed Be Your Name" came on the radio. I sang my heart out. It's a gift God has given to all, even if you can't keep a tune for beans like me!

"Sing out the honor of His name. Make his praise glorious" (Psalm 66:2).

Song gladdens the heart. Praise lifts it to heavenly praises. Worship My holy name and your soul will be blessed. Walk out of worry and fear with worship. Let the shackles fall. Let the river of life cleanse you from all sin. Bath in the river of life through praise. Wash away your sickness and disease. Come down to the Jordan River with Me.
I know your illnesses, both mental and physical. I can wash away your anxieties. I can restore you to wholeness. Soak in My presence. Spend time listening to Me. Sing your heart out. Let your soul sing praises in the night watch. Make My praise glorious! You will have nothing to fear. Nothing will cause you to stumble when your heart is singing. Trust in Me. Light will shine upon your darkness.