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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

Saturday, February 13, 2016

True Love

Here are three entries for February from my WIP (Work in Progress). I hope they minister to you. I'd love to hear what you think! Though they don't directly speak of love, they show how we can know the love of God when we trust Him and have such joy.

13. “Trust in the Lord with all our heart” (Proverb 3:4).

            When you trust in Me, your heart will be glad. You will have a lightness of spirit the world cannot posses. The world’s happiness is based on temporary gain. True joy and gladness of heart reaches deep into the soul and spirit. You can rejoice both in difficult circumstances and abundance when you trust Your Holy Father to provide for all your needs. “Your paths will drip abundance” even in lean times because you heart will be filled with the My fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, self-control and perseverance. These are yours for the taking as you trust Me. When you are tempted in any area, remember to lean on Me in child like trust, and I will supply what you are lacking.

14. “He shall be like a tree, Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth fruit    in its season (Psalm 1:3).

            How does spiritual fruit grow? Look first to the natural world, then you will understand the spiritual. First the seed is planted. It is watered and given the proper nutrients. It is shielded against harm. Ample sunlight is provided. The seed is the truth of My Son planted in the soil of your heart, the seat of your emotions and soul. In order for fruit to grow, you must nurture it. Feed it with the nutrients of My Holy Word. Water it with My rain of the Holy Spirit. Protect it from those who would destroy it by daily putting on your spiritual armor: cover your head with the helmet of salvation, the breastplate of My righteousness, the shield of faith, My sword of the Spirit—the Holy Word of God, the peace of good news wherever you go. Walk in obedience to My Word and listen to what I am telling you. Endure the heat of the summer and the floods of spring with the proper clothing and equipment. Stay rooted and grow in Me. After a time you will produce fruit. Given more time and various trials, your fruit will ripen as you are planted in Me. Then it will then become nourishing, truly sweet food for a hungry world. Nothing artificial about it.

15. “Oh, sing to the LORD a new song! For He has done marvelous things; His right hand and His holy arm have gained Him the victory (Psalm 98:1).

            The bird sings its song whether it is rainy or sunny. The song comes from within; let that be a lesson to you. I have told you before to be of good cheer. There is much to be cheerful about. Your name is written in the lamb’s book of life! Angel rejoice over this truth. You know My Son. He did everything for you and endured all things so that you might have freedom. He paid the penalty for your sins. Do you understand the depth of freedom He secured for you? You can have victory over your circumstances, and over the power of sin and death. That is something to celebrate every day of our life, even when the sun is blocked by clouds. Into everyone’s life, a little rain must fall. Let the rain soften your heart, so that the seed I planted can sprout and produce a song of victory!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Inspiration for The Dividing Stone

As a young girl I always loved reading because it took me to a different place and time. Of course, I fell in love with the Nancy Drew series which developed into a penchant for mysteries. When I began to write The Dividing Stone, it started out as a mystery, but then I felt the Lord got a hold of my pen and led it another direction. It became my quest to understand the forces behind the breakup of a vital church.

The more I wrote, the more He revealed the Satanic forces at work to divide Christian marriages and churches. Years before, as a young Christian living in Vermont in an isolated area, God began to reveal to me about the spirit world and in  particular principalities that ruled over regions.  When I moved back to New York there were ministries that were being shown the same thing. As my circle of friends began to grow, I met more people that lent credence to what God was showing me. Then my historical research  led to me uncovering  the presence of "secret societies" in the formation of our nation and a rift in our community.
I wove everything into a complex tale of  mystery and intrigue, but had difficulty finishing it.  For years, I struggled with getting the book polished and ready for publication, until God lit a fire under me and a publisher was interested. I believe the timing is perfect with the increasing persecution of Christians around the world and the rising dark forces in America.
 I was very excited when "War Room" came out because it dealt with a similar theme: attacking the root reason for many of our relational problems that cause division in the church and marriages, while waging warfare not with guns but in prayer. Though The Dividing Stone is a  fictionalized account it unmasks these root causes and what we can do to overcome them! 

The book follows the tale of a young artist, Margo Pierson, a young artist with a penchant for truth, sets off to find the identity of a missing ancestor. Unknown to her, she ends up discovering something far more significant—a key stone to a dark secret. Though she doesn’t realize the importance of the hidden message inscribed on it, the heavenly forces do. Stirred by her finding, a host of angelic beings resume an age-old struggle to reveal the truth about the town of New Coven, formerly New Covenant. Margo too is determined to uncover the facts surrounding her secreted relative. However, she never thought it would lead her down such an unexpected path. As mysterious events unfold and visions mark her dreams, Margo and her husband Chris are thrust into a battle to expose a secret society’s plans. With God’s help, they are led every step of the way. 

Come join Margo and her companions for the roller coaster ride of your life!

For anyone purchasing a copy of The Dividing Stone between January 18th to the 24th, your name will be entered in a drawing to win a $25 gift certificate. Leave a review and you'll be entered into a contest to win a signed FREE copy of The Dividing Stone!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

A New Year Brings Good News

Here are the first three days of my work in progress, which is a daily devotional.

1.The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind” (Luke 4:18).
A new year is upon you. Light has dawned and a warm wind of the Spirit is blowing. It is a gentle breeze, so you must stop to feel it. It is a year of reprieve and favor from the Lord. It is the Word My Son proclaimed, “The acceptable year of the Lord” (Isaiah 61:2). Enter into His favor and do the works My Son did. Not by might or by your own power, but by My Spirit you will be able to perform them. Let the Spirit breath upon you and quicken your mortal body and give you vision. Let Him set you free from the things that have tripped you up all your life, roadblocks like worry, fear, bitterness, indecision and lack of revelation. “Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint” (Prov. 29:18), but this doesn’t need to be your story. I am sending you My Holy Spirit.  He will give you insight, wisdom and the strength to do My will.

2. "And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you’” (Exodus 3:14).

            When I spoke to Moses, I called Myself “I AM."  Why? Because I am all; I am everything. I am existence. Think of what that means. I always was and will always be. I am all things good and wise. I am the essence of goodness. I am Alpha and Omega, Almighty God, King of Kings, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. Think on this. I can not only give you peace, I can be your peace.
 I can be all things to you. "I AM everything you need.” I am your rock of protection in dangerous times, your provider in time of need, your healer when you hurt, your strong tower when you are troubled, your delight, your living water, your bread of life. And that is not all. I can be your love, your hope, your salvation, your everlasting joy. Stop and take notice. See what is happening around you; the burning bush is not consumed. Listen. I call you to discover who "I am."

3.  “Therefore humble yourself under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time” (1 Peter 5:6).

            Turn off the television, the radio, the noise and clamor of this world. Quiet your spirit. Focus on Me, your eternal Father. Put away those things that distract you from your purpose. Get down on your knees. Humble yourself before doing anything else. Be ready to listen. I cannot speak truth into a proud heart. It clouds the message. There is a dying world out there that needs to know the truth. You, My children, need to bring it to them in love. This is the challenge. All of you who are called by My name are to speak My truth, not your own. Listen and hear what I have to say. Be careful not to be puffed up because I have spoken to you. Recognize I do this for the good of others and not just yourself.