Friday, December 19, 2008

HE SAID, SHE SAID -- December 19, 2008

JOSEPH THE DREAMER --He Said
By: Eddie Jones
Joseph The Dreamer -- He Said, Eddie Jones


"An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. ‘Get up,’ he said, ‘take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.’” Matthew 2:13

Dreams are the lifeblood of ideas. Before the world began, before there was man and woman and matching his and hers bath towels with monogrammed initials God dreamed of world filled with creatures made in His image.

For some, for the lucky few who see the world in Technicolor rather than shades of gray, God still dispenses dreams. Not the cheap, plastic disposable dreams thrust upon us by the marketing types on Madison Avenue, but the rich and raw and utterly terrifying dreams of the unbridled imagination.

What if the world is not flat? What if man could fly to the moon? What if the dead do not stay dead?

As I read the Christmas story anew I’m struck by the number of dreams God gave to the characters in His story. The Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, assuring him that all would be well. And it was. The Magi, having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, went home by another way and lived to boast of the new king they’d found. An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him to take his boy to Egypt and later an angel appeared telling him it was okay to return home. Before he reached Judah, however, he was warned in another dream to settle in Nazareth.

God is in the dream business. In fact, it seems that sometimes he does his greatest works through dreams. His dreams are found in Old Testament stories where men of faith built boats in the desert, fathered children in barren wombs and climbed ladders to heaven. We can find God’s dreams within the pages of the New Testament in the letters of saints like Paul, Peter, Stephen, James and John, who gave their lives because of the visions they received from God.

What if this Christmas God gave you a dream instead of a toy fire truck, pair of socks or flat screen TV? What if he gave you a really big, blow you into the fifth dimension dream? Would you shun the dream and wish for cash instead? Would you scoff at the vision?

If Jesus came back on his birthday and asked you to give an account of the dreams you’ve been given would his audit bring visions of sugar plums dancing in your head or the terrifying nightmares of misspent days squandered on the tawdry and cheap daydreams we pass off as the good life?

This Christmas ask God to place His dreams in your heart. He’s in the business of big ideas. And nothing we imagine can come anywhere close to what He has in store for us.


SWEET DREAMS -- SHE SAID

By Cindy Sproles



Sweet Dreams! by Cindy Sproles


When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. "Get up," he said, "take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him." Matthew 2: 13

The phone rang several times. Startled, I sat up straight in the bed. The room was pitch black, and all I could imagine was something must be wrong. I glanced at the clock, 1:10 a.m. March 6, 1997. Groggy and incoherent from sleep I grabbed at the portable. “Hello.” My heart raced as I waited for what had to be bad news. “Hello!”

“I’m fine. It’s time you rested,” a crackled voice squeezed through the static on the line.

“Dad?”

A click on line and then nothing. I stood staring at the phone thinking, this is impossible. Dad died a year ago. I’m having a really weird dream. I climbed back in bed and eyed the clock again. March 6, 1997, 1:10 a.m.—one year to the day and time when dad left this earth.

When I woke the next morning, I was clutching the phone in my hand. Dreams are not always joyful. Sometimes, as in my case, they offer us an opportunity to grasp hold of acceptance and move forward. Other times they move us to understanding a situation we may face. Our dreams are our mind’s way of working us through the realizations of life.

Joseph had a few of those dreams—four in fact. The first, a calming dream telling him Mary carried the Son of God. What a way to find out you’re about to be a step-father. But imagine being woken from a deep sleep and told to get up right that minute and flee for your life, someone was trying to kill your child.

I often think we give Joseph too little credit. The focus lends itself to a virgin birth and the gift of eternal life she bore. But Joseph, a noble man, with noble intentions, who’s sleep was interrupted more times than not with bad dreams, saved the life of Christ three times. When he took on the responsibility of fathering the son of God — his dreams were not restful. They were filled with worry, concern and warnings, and Joseph obeyed, protecting the ready-made family he had not asked for.

I imagine Joseph cradled the baby, kissed his forehead and tucked him safely in his bed. Perhaps he whispered, “I love you.” And before he lay down to sleep himself, he might have said, “Sweet dreams,” knowing his own would never be sweet again.

This Christmas as you tuck your little ones in bed and bid them sweet dreams, remember the sacrifices that were made so that you might have hope.

From the Father listen for these words, “Sweet dreams.”

Eddie Jones and Cindy Sproles
are friends and co-founders of
ChristianDevotions.us. They
co-write the popular He Said, She Said
devotions and host BlogtalkRadio's
Christian Devotions Speak UP! along
with Marianne Jordan.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Merry Christmas from ChristianDevotions.us

video

Birthday Blues -- Andrea Merrell

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11 NIV


Over the last decade, I have developed a love/hate relationship with birthdays. A constant reminder that I am getting older, they present another milestone that makes me look back at all the things I have failed to accomplish. They cause me to look a little closer in the mirror, searching for new wrinkles, gray hairs, and age spots.

Birthdays are bittersweet. Along with the unwanted feelings and regrets, they bring lots of smiles, laughter, and time spent with friends and family. Cards, cakes, and gifts always seem to make an appearance. Even e-cards and text messages are welcome surprises. Birthdays are a time to celebrate and recognize the difference one life can make in this world.

Children love parties, ice cream, and all the hoop-la that comes with birthdays, but I’ve noticed when you pass forty, then fifty, and start inching toward the sixty mile marker, you want less fanfare and more time for quiet reflection. You begin to take inventory of your life – what it means – what you’ve done – what you still have left to do. Someone once said, “I love birthdays because the more I have, the longer I live.” A true statement, but maybe we could add, “The longer I live, the more I appreciate the time I have.”

The truth is, age, like everything else, is relative. If we constantly compare ourselves to others or despair over our lost youth, we miss the peace, joy, and fulfillment of living one day at a time, looking forward to the experiences and opportunities God brings our way.

Life is truly a gift. We were given breath because God has a wonderful plan and purpose for each of us. We can take that gift for granted, or embrace it and determine in our heart to become all God created us to be, savoring every moment and living life to the fullest.

With that attitude, we can boldly say, “Birthdays don’t bother me – bring ‘em on!”


Andrea Merrell is a freelance writer with a passion to help others see God’s Word as practical and relevant for ordinary, everyday life. She has written material for ladies’ groups, marriage retreats, skits, websites and brochures, and served as both columnist and editor for Pan Am Bank Notes in Tampa, Florida. She loves Christian fiction and is currently working on three novels, along with countless devotions.
Andrea (a new “grandma” with two more on the way) has been married to her husband and best friend, Charlie, for 37 years and lives in South Carolina.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

We Need a Revival -- Pat Patterson

"I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes…" Romans 1:16


Someone needs to tell these kids. They’re all gonna die…

“Medic-7,” the dispatcher announced. “We’ve got a subject shot!” I grabbed my stethoscope and headed for the ambulance. Colorful images flashed through my mind as I climbed into the passenger seat. The dispatcher continued her voice high and sharp. “A teenaged male shot once in the head. Police officer on the scene requesting Code-3 response. Code-3.”

“10-4,” my partner responded jumping behind the wheel. “Medic-7 en route.”

I tried to calm myself as we hurried to the scene. Relax. You’ve been a medic a good long time. Surely by now you’ve seen it all. But as we pulled onto Hopkins Street and arrived on the scene, I felt my stomach tighten. My palms began to sweat. There’s just something unsettling about a young man with a bullet hole in the side of his head, his life blood spilling out all over the ground and a dangerous crowd pressing in on you demanding you get to work.

There was nothing we could do of course. He was already dead. But for the sake of our own skins and the fact that we were standing on their turf and outnumbered about a hundred to one, we made a good show of it. Loaded him up and moved to the truck assuring the angry crowd we would do our best to save him. Once clear of the scene, however, my partner killed the lights and sirens and slowed down to normal traffic. I stared into the victim’s lifeless eyes trying to guess his age. Eighteen years old, maybe? Nineteen? Oh, Lord, what a waste.

“Duke ER,” I said keying the radio mike. “I’m sorry but we’re bringing you a corpse. Another gang member. There’s nothing we can do.”

*
What in the world is happening out there? It’s like warfare. The gang situation in our cities has never been worse. Drugs, robbery, murder—they’re as common on our streets as rain. And I often find myself angry, craving righteous revenge. After all, those kids are killers. Punks! We should just put ‘em all away and be done with them, right?

Well that might be the thing to do if we had nothing more to offer them, but we do.

This is Christmas. The time we celebrate Jesus—the light of the world. And I can personally attest to that light. If it weren’t for him I would be lost, living in darkness, with no hope for the future and no idea which way to go. But thank God for Jesus Christ, and for the people who cared enough to lead me his way. He saved my life. And if he can do it for me, he can do it for them. So it occurs to me, why don’t we tell them about Jesus too?

Now I realize that gangs are here to stay. I’m not naïve enough to believe they’ll disappear. Shootings will still occur. People will always die. But sending those kids to prison, just locking them away, that won’t solve the problem. And one thing is certain: they will never know the truth if no one tells them. So I think it’s time for a revival. Time to stop talking and start acting. The gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation. Are we using it? Are you? Let’s take our streets captive for Jesus. Take the gospel out there and see what God can do.

*
Please join me in praying for a revival in the city where I work. Pray that God will organize a group of people with a burden for the gangs. Pray for power and protection. Pray for opportunity. And pray that when the time comes we might find the courage to risk it all for Christ.

Lord, we need a revival. Every one of these kids is going to die. Send someone to tell them before it’s too late. Send someone soon!



Pat Patterson is a novelist, a paramedic, and an instructor of Emergency Medical Science. His stories are true, based on real experiences from the streets of Durham, North Carolina where he has served as a paramedic since 1992.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Divine Opportunities -- Cathy Bryant

"Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone". ~Colossians 4:5-6
(NIV)



She and I were so different from one another. I was educated; she wasn’t. I was employed; she couldn’t work. I was healthy and whole; she was an invalid. I struggled with the decision to reach out to her. We had so little in common. Or so I thought.

The truth is that we were more alike than I could have ever imagined. Both moms of boys—the love we felt for them fierce and undying. Both women full of questions of how to best survive the daily rat race. Both children of a God who lavishes His grace on us in ways we can’t even begin to comprehend. But the biggest and best lesson was that by reaching out to bless others, I was blessed.

Everyday we are faced with innumerable opportunities to make a difference. Just as God purposely set Peter and John at the temple as a crippled man was being carried to the temple gate, He also places us at different places around the globe, where someone needs a touch from God. It’s so easy for us to view our daily lives as mundane and routine, ordinary and unimportant. But God’s truth is that He uses ordinary circumstances and ordinary people like you and me to bring about extraordinary results.

The challenge for us is that we would see each day, each encounter, as an opportunity and a divine appointment. When we are the hands and feet of Jesus, it often opens the door to becoming His mouthpiece. Who knows what impact we can make for the Kingdom by living our lives with an opportunity-seeking mindset?

My prayer is that as we go about our daily lives, God will help us to seek out the opportunities He gives us to make a difference in the lives of others.


C.J. Bryant lives in a small Texas town with one amazing husband, two spoiled cats, and a garden-full of flowers, hummingbirds and butterflies. Her desire is to turn her God-given abilities and opportunities into an offering back to Him, in order to make Him known. She is currently working on learning more about the craft of writing and is testing her writing wings.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

I Quit!-- Cindy Sproles

I Quit! by Cindy Sproles




Jacob was in love with Rachel and said, "I'll work for you seven years in return for your younger daughter Rachel."… So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her…I served you for Rachel, didn't I? Why have you deceived me?"… Finish this daughter's bridal week; then we will give you the younger one also, in return for another seven years of work." And he worked for Laban another seven years.Genesis 29:18, 20, 25 & 30

I’m an encourager—a cheerleader. My gift lies in being supportive to my friends, believing in them, standing firm behind the efforts they make. For me, the greatest thrill is seeing them succeed.

However they, like myself, do not always find success. Regardless of how I cheer them on, they may not always win. We often work toward goals and fall to disappointment. It’s frustrating and tiring, even somewhat depressing to work diligently toward a goal and continually hit obstacles—be rejected, told no. And though we are happy for those who do succeed, we ache inside for our own loss.

I love the story of Jacob and Rachel for a couple of reasons. First, what woman alive wouldn't die to have a man love her to the extent Jacob loved Rachel. Secondly, Jacob wasn’t a quitter. He loved Rachel and he worked seven years to earn her hand in marriage. Even though her father deceived him, and gave him her sister instead, Jacob loved Rachel. He’d lost round one but he kept working. He slaved another seven years to win the prize.

When we work hard and lose the fight we want to quit—convince ourselves it’s fruitless, not worth the effort. What if Jesus would have quit after His first confrontation with the Pharisees? What if He’d thrown His hands in the air and said, “These children of God aren’t worth the effort. I quit.” Where would we be? But He didn’t He pushed through—all the way to the cross.

I may be a lousy cheerleader, fail to be the encourager God meant me to be. I may never see my own hard worked efforts materialize but it’s not a license to quit. Earthly success and affirmations are great but they’re not always easily found. Remember Jesus didn’t find His pleasure in earthly success. He found it in the bigger picture. Our eternal salvation. Run the race, work as though tomorrow will never come. Never give up. Jacob didn’t and thank goodness, Jesus didn’t.

Will you chose to work or quit?

Cindy has her BA in Business from the University of Phoenix. She is the co-founder, along with Eddie Jones, of ChristianDevotions.us and TINKERTIME Productions, a video trailer production company.
Cindy is an author and newspaper columnist and writes the popular He Said, She Said devotions with Eddie Jones.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Searching for Hope -- Sue Payne


A voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight paths for him.’Luke 3:4

It was nearly 10:00 PM when I arrived home from work. The neighborhood was strangely quiet and the air had a crisp chill. After retrieving the mail, I headed back up the driveway. That’s when I heard the lone call. I stopped, rather puzzled as my eyes and ears were drawn in its direction. It was the voice of one Canada goose.

From what I knew about these loyal birds, it was odd to hear its solitary cry so late at night. By nature, they stay in community and need companionship. Geese are known to establish partnerships that last for their lifetime. I immediately wondered whether it was in search of a lost loved one, hoping to reunite.

Many of us spend our lifetime searching in hope of something or someone. We hope to find happiness in our relationships. We hope to achieve success through our labor. We hope to find peace in the midst of storms. We search, yet how many of us think to prepare for the hope to come?

In the book of Jeremiah, chapter 32, God tells the prophet to buy a field outside Jerusalem, a city that had been under siege for almost a year. Enemy soldiers occupied this particular piece of land. A poor investment, you say? But Jeremiah decided to place his hope in God’s promise of returning His people to Jerusalem and rebuilding it. So he bought the land and signed the deed in the presence of witnesses. Jeremiah was prepared to live, to act, and to trust God as if the promises had already come true.

Our world is under siege and the enemy occupies much of our land. But have you heard the call? Prepare the way of the Lord! Make straight paths for Him by removing the obstacles of hopelessness. Begin to live like God’s promises have been fulfilled! Be a witness of the hope that comes from trusting in His amazing grace! Anticipate the good things God has in store and live each day preparing your heart to receive them!



Sue Payne is a freelance writer whose articles have appeared in home schooling newsletters and church news bulletins. She is experienced in curriculum planning and design and uses her writing skills to encourage and teach others. Sue lives in Delaware, is married, and has two boys whom she home schooled for a total of fourteen years.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The Coolest of the Cool -- Pat Patterson

"Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ." Acts 28:31

I couldn’t believe it! He was my hero. The coolest of the cool. Warlord of the most vicious gang of teenagers that ever roamed the streets of New York, and he was coming to my hometown. I had to see him! It was a teenaged boy’s dream come-true.

I had read his book several times, at least to the point where he became a Christian, but I never ventured past that page; I just wasn’t interested. But what I didn’t realize at the innocent age of 13 was that God was interested in me. He had a plan for my life and it all seemed to begin the day I first picked up that paperback book—Run Baby, Run.

“Nicky Cruz? He’s coming to town?”

“Yeah,” my sister said. “You wanna go?”

“Are you kidding? Yes!”

I felt wild with anticipation. Something thrilling was about to happen. I put on my coolest denim jacket and boots, slid a fake switchblade knife into my pants pocket, and followed my sister downtown.

The auditorium was packed. A feeling of intensity gripped the room. And then suddenly I saw him. He walked to the podium. I gazed in utter amazement. He was everything I had imagined and more, solid, tough looking and scarred with a no-nonsense approach that thrilled me to the core. I couldn’t believe I was actually looking at him.

Nicky Cruz!

And then he started to talk. He spoke of the ghetto, and of switchblades, and of zip guns and chains and blood. Of girls, of killing, of drinking and fighting and drugs. His story came to life. Filled me with wonder and awe. But as he continued to speak and shared the rest of the story that I had avoided so many times—of the skinny preacher who walked into Brooklyn and boldly shared the gospel that had forever changed his life—something happened to me. I began to feel a deep yearning, an emptiness that longed to be filled. And whatever it was that tough Puerto Rican kid had found after so many years of fighting and running from God—I wanted it.

“Jesus,” Nicky exclaimed. “He saved me. He can save you too!”

The service drew to a close. He gave the altar call. I inched forward with a hundred other people. I didn’t even know why. But as I made my way to the foot of the stage and gazed into his eyes something remarkable happened.

“Did you do it?” my sister asked me. “Did you pray to receive Christ?”

“Me?” I said, coolly shaking my head. “Nah, I just wanted to see what Nicky looked like. He was cool!”

But you know the truth—I did do it. I bowed my head and prayed. I asked Jesus Christ to come into my heart, and since that night my life has never been the same.

*
Fifty years ago a bold young preacher walked into Brooklyn and risked his life to share his faith with the gangs, and a boy named Nicky Cruz responded. And the night Nicky came to my hometown, I responded too. Now what about you? Have you met the Lord Jesus? Have you responded to his call? If not, don’t waste another day. Get down on your knees tonight and invite Christ into your life. Take it from a man who knows—from a naïve teenaged boy who responded almost forty years ago—you’ll be glad you did!

*
Dear Nicky, God used you to ignite a fire in my heart. Then Jesus did the rest. I thank God for your boldness. I thank God for you. Happy Birthday! You are still the coolest of the cool! --Pat Patterson

Learn more about Nicky Cruz and his outreach at http://nickycruz.org/



Pat Patterson is a novelist, a paramedic, and an instructor of Emergency Medical Science. His stories are true, based on real experiences from the streets of Durham, North Carolina where he has served as a paramedic since 1992.

~~ ~~


Monday, November 24, 2008

The Right Place at the Right Time -- Irene Brand

Who knows but that you have come to the royal position for such a time as this?
Esther 4:12b NIV

When my husband, Rod, and I planned a vacation to Ireland, September 2001, we didn’t know that we would be overseas on one of the blackest days in the history of the United States. Yet as God placed Esther in a Persian harem for a purpose, so He used us in the aftermath of 911.

We were eating lunch in an Irish village when we heard the tragic news. Occasionally, I have questioned the truth of Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose.” My doubts were never greater than they were that day.

Subsequent situations convinced me that God had a purpose for us to be in Ireland at that time. Several of our tour group turned to us in the crisis. That night at dinner, although it hadn’t been done at prior meals, the tour guide asked Rod to pray. Ireland declared a national day of mourning, emphasized by a minute of complete silence. When our group gathered for that tribute, the guide looked at us, and said, “Does anyone want to say anything?” My husband and I prayed audibly, as did a retired Methodist missionary who traveled with us. My husband started singing, “God Bless America,” and the others, through their tears, joined the singing.

During the remainder of our visit, we comforted those who were concerned about their families at home. Others sought us out to talk about things of the faith. And even the guide who was not a Christian questioned us concerning our beliefs. Without doubt God placed us in Ireland at that time so that we could encourage some of our fellow travelers, whose faith was weak or nonexistent. While we were helping others, our faith was also strengthened. Our experiences confirmed that God will use us as His chosen vessels when we’re obedient to His leading.

Whenever incidents come into your life causing you to question the wisdom of God, remember that He’s also called you to be His witnesses “to the uttermost part of the earth.”
(Acts 1:8b KJV)


Irene Brand began writing inspirational novels in 1984. Forty-five books and over 2 millions copies in print, Irene still holds to her grass roots, of faith, family and friends.

Irene and her husband live in rural West Virginia. Her newest book,
Love Finds You in Valentine, Nebraska next month.

Friday, November 21, 2008

He Said --She Said November 21, 2008

Borderline Christians -- He Said
by Eddie Jones


Borderline Christians-- He Said


Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, "Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” - Luke 17:11

We may never know what impact our touch may have on another. As Christians we walk in the valley of colliding cultures. To our right is the kingdom of heaven with its promise of eternal life, God’s love and, ultimately, freedom from pain and disease. To the left is kingdom of the world with its promiscuity, deceit and perversion of God’s grace. And up ahead in a coffee shop or break room or at a bar there are people desperate for our touch and God’s word of hope. These are the border-line leapers sick with sin.

A few years back I received a letter from such a man.

“Here I sit alone in jail, in a state where I know three people (two of which would prefer that I didn’t exist.) After years of going my own way I’ve managed to alienate my friends, relatives and wife. Two years ago I asked God to get out of my life. I told him to handle his own affairs and I’d handle mine. Wow, talk about getting what you pray for. I finally managed to get myself in a fix where I can’t lie, cheat or steal my way out of. If you’d pray for me, that would be great. And a visit would be even better.”

The more I study the ministry of Christ the more I’m struck by how he went his own way and out of his way to touch the untouchables. He refused to follow the road rules. Instead, he veered off into the back alleys and slums of society to call the aliens, outcasts and despised to His feast.

As followers of Christ we too are called to be “border-line” Christians walking in the land of the leapers. Sunday morning worship is fine. A weekday Bible study vital to our spiritual growth. But to make an impact, to lead a man or woman to the love of Christ sometimes requires that we take their hand and become soiled with their filth and smell.

Here is another letter from my “border-line” friend a few months later. “I can’t begin to thank you enough for stopping by to visit. It’s the best thing that’s happened to me this year.”

He is now out of prison, married and raising a child in a Christian home.

Walk along the edges. Touch the untouchables. Dare to get dirty. Christ did.

Who needs your touch today?




No Way Out -- She Said
By Cindy Sproles


No Way Out — She Said


"Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, "Jesus, Master, have pity on us!" Luke 17:11

The door opened and a long darkened corridor lay in front of me. In the rooms on either side of me men screamed without making a sound. The epitome of silent terror -- the cry that cannot be heard, the feet that cannot outrun the fear.

I pushed open the door to the last room and shivered. A ray of sun seeped through the prison bars providing just enough light for me to see what I'd hoped I wouldn't see.

Feet swinging in the shadows.

His laces dangled untied, a pant leg resting atop the cuff of his boot. As the body turned I saw his hands. The veins bulged. His palms were dark and bloated, fingernails black.

Now I screamed, but no one heard.


* * *
The alarm startled me and I sat up in the bed, a cold sweat coating my skin. My heart raced and my breath quickened. I buried my face in my hands and began to cry, grateful it was only a dream.

There is nothing worse than seeing those you love lost to addiction, peversion and sin. Was it sin that caused the skin of the lepers to rot? I don't know. Was it pain that caused the young man in my dream to subcumb to drugs and crime? I don't know.

All I know for certain is that the progression of sin is a slow slide that leads to the borders of society -- a "slow motion sinking" into the never-ending nightmare. There seems to be no way out.


But I know, too, that while I cannot corral and save what I cannot find, I can pray. So I do. I pray for the young man in my dream who's face I know, who's hands I've held, who's voice I've heard. I pray that my Lord will find him, hold him close and bring him back from the edge. Please, Jesus, search the borders and bring this boy home.



His parents wait.





Eddie Jones and Cindy Sproles write the popular He Said, She Said Devotions and co-founded ChristianDevotions.us.
They host the BlogtalkRadio show, Christian Devotions Speak Up!

The mission of Christian Devotions is two-fold. First, to provide personal and relatable devotions on the Internet daily for those who may not otherwise be exposed to the Word of God. Second, to promote Christian writers of all types and Christian books. A devotion may be someone's only Bible for the day so read, write and if you find a particular devotion touches your heart pass it on.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Be Careful Who You Put on a Pedestal -- Sue Payne


Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. John 14:6

I grew up attending church. For as long as I can remember, our family life revolved around the involvement in services, choir, youth group, church suppers and bazaars, plays and committees. I was fortunate enough to have role models and mentors through the church family whom I looked up to during this time of my life.

Among my mentors was our pastor. I held him in very high regard, went to him for advice, and always felt he had an interest in all I did.

I was in high school at the time when I found out that he had had an affair with a woman in our congregation. Not only did it shake up our church, it just about rocked my whole world. I thought, “This man who I had placed on a pedestal, looked up to, and admired, had been a fake!” I felt betrayed and gravely disappointed. I even began to wonder whether the whole “church thing” was for real.

Lacking the experience and the relationship with God that I needed to understand, I turned out the light in the spiritual “room” of my heart, closed the door, and walked away.

Looking back, I can see now that my pastor had had a mistaken identity. And I was the one who had been mistaken. I did not have the right to place him on a pedestal just because he was a pastor. He was just a man, a sinner, as we all are.

My realization did not make what he did right, it just showed me where I was wrong.

Jesus is the only One we should hold in such high regard and at that time of my life, He was not the Savior of my heart. The role models I had chosen to exalt in my life could not have possibly lived up to perfection.



Sue Payne is a freelance writer whose articles have appeared in home schooling newsletters and church news bulletins. She is experienced in curriculum planning and design and uses her writing skills to encourage and teach others. Sue lives in Delaware, and lives with her husband and two boys whom she home schooled for a total of fourteen years.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Best of the Best -- Pat Patterson

"Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might…”
Ecclesiastes 9:10

To be the best: To excel, to outdo all others, to reach a level of accomplishment unsurpassed in one’s field. And for a brave young man I know—my good friend’s son— it means even more than that. It means to be willing to lay down your life, to sacrifice your freedom that others might live…

“Pat-Man, I need your help.”

“Are you okay?” I said. “What is it?”

“They’ve called him up again.”

“Again?”

“They’re sending him back over there. I called to ask for your prayers.”

As he explained the situation I could hear the fear in his voice. I assured him I would pray for his son, and that everything would be all right, but my heart felt heavy as I hung up the phone. His young man had just gotten home, retired from the military and started a bright new career as a firefighter and EMT, and suddenly, without warning, they had decided to call him back. It didn’t seem right.

“But that’s not fair,” I said. “He’s already given so much. Why can’t they just leave him alone?”
But deep inside I knew the reason why. It’s because he’s one of the best shooters in the U.S. Army. One of the elite. The best of the best.

Now I’ve known many brave 1st responders: police officers and firefighters, EMTs and paramedics. Men with tough jobs who work hard to save other lives. But this young soldier has the hardest job of all. Surgical removal. One shot, one kill.

“A sniper! Wait a minute,” you say. “How can that be right?”

Well first of all, that’s war. But tonight when you’re lying in bed, comfortable and warm and leading a normal life, consider this too: God has a divine plan and He uses men to accomplish it. Men who are willing to follow and obey, to use the gifts He gave them, and to serve without question regardless of the cost.

Look at King David, that humble shepherd boy. He attacked and killed the giant Philistine with a simple sling and a stone. And what about Samson, the man empowered by God to kill a thousand Philistines with the jawbone of a mule? You see, some men are asked to do the job no one else will. And when I consider this young man’s sacrifices, his skills and his God-given talents, I suddenly understand what it means to be the best: It means to do whatsoever your hand finds to do, and to do it with all of your might!

So, Lord, please tell him how proud I am to know him, how much his sacrifice means, and how much I appreciate his willingness to fight…for my family, for my country, for my home. Honor and bless him, Lord. Grant him the strength to do his job well—with all of his might—and then bring him back home again so that he, too, may enjoy the blessings of liberty for which he has fought.


*
Dedicated to a good friend’s son whose name must remain unspoken. Thank you! God knows you’ve made a difference.




Pat Patterson is a novelist, a paramedic, and an instructor of Emergency Medical Science. His stories are true, based on real experiences from the streets of Durham, North Carolina where he has served as a paramedic since 1992.

Monday, November 17, 2008

He is Everything -- Cindy Sproles

He is Everything


Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings. Day and night they never stop saying: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.” Revelation 4:8

I believe prayer is essential. In fact my personal prayer time has grown to lengths I never expected. Early on, it was hard to lie down at night and pray. My intentions were good. I began bedtime with prayer but rarely remembered getting past thanking God for my family before I fell into a deep sleep. But really, it was okay. God knew my prayers because He’s omniscient (all knowing).
Soon I realized I needed to make a greater effort in my prayers, perhaps change when I prayed—see if I could keep my eyes open or closed or….whatever. I opted for my quiet time in the tub. When I crawled in the tub my family left me alone, a perfect prayer opp; but my mind wandered on the events of the day. Still, God knows my prayers because He is omnipresent (always there).
Finally I grew into my prayer life. I began to rise early and pray for five minutes. Chincey, but an effort. I wrote my prayers down. Soon my efforts became desires and I longed for the time I had with Christ one-on-one. My prayers grew longer and more intense, more directed…..more personal as God crept into my heart and burrowed in for the long haul.
I can’t say God answers my prayers more than an occasional one. Still I continue to pray even when I think He has turned a deaf ear, and even when I feel He’s refusing to answer. I guess there are times He doesn’t answer because in His omniscience, He knows the hurt lies in the reply.
But I’m persistent. And through every instance of my life I’ve prayed, God is omnipotent (all powerful and with all authority). He never leads me astray. Even when I don’t understand His will.
Do you really pray? Do you truly seek after the Master even when the answer is no? Make the effort.
God is omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient. He is now, he was, and is what’s to come. He’s never surprised and He never learns anything new because He already knows everything. So trust in His presence. Trust in His authority. And trust in His knowledge. He is, after all, God.


Cindy Sproles, along with Eddie Jones
is the co-founder of ChristianDevotions.us.
Together they host Christian Devotions Speak
Up on BlogTalk Radio.com and
author the popular He Said, She Said
Devotions.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Let Down Panic -- Jane Hampton Cook


Contend, O LORD, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me. Psalm 35:1

They had panicked.

Not only was George Washington shocked over his own miraculous preservation after General Braddock’s defeat, but he was also disappointed in the British regular soldiers who fought alongside him. Washington couldn’t have felt more let down had his fellow soldiers committed treason.

“We were attacked by a party of French and Indians, whose number, I am persuaded, did not exceed three hundred men; while ours consisted of about one thousand three hundred well-armed troops, chiefly regular soldiers, who were struck with such a panic that they behaved with more cowardice than it is possible to conceive,” Washington wrote to his mother shortly after the battle.

The failure and flight of the regular British fighters was a sight he would never forget. “In short, the dastardly behavior of those they call regulars exposed all others . . . they ran, as sheep pursued by dogs, and it was impossible to rally them,” he wrote.

The warfare Washington had witnessed was far from the traditional forms of fighting practiced by regular British soldiers and their American militia. Braddock’s European-style firing lines were no match for the French and Indians’ tactics of shooting from behind trees.

In his letter to his mother, Washington explained his role in the battle: When General Braddock fell mortally wounded on the field, Washington had stepped up to direct the retreat. “I was the only person then left to distribute the General’s orders, which I was scarcely able to do, as I was not half recovered from a violent illness, that had confined me to my bed and a wagon for above ten days,” he wrote, noting only thirty in Virginia’s regiment survived.

Washington’s statement revealed that he questioned his own leadership abilities. Could he have done more? But he was angrier at the behavior of his fellow Englishmen. He may not have been sure which was more revealing, the failure of the British regulars to fight or the successful surprise tactics of the enemy. Both were lessons he would not forget.

Although Washington was discouraged, others were encouraged. News of his bravery spread throughout the colonies and to England as well. The Reverend Samuel Davies spoke about Washington in a sermon he gave a month after Braddock’s defeat. “As a remarkable instance of this, I may point out to the public that heroic youth, Colonel Washington, whom I cannot but hope Providence has hitherto preserved in so signal a manner for some important service to his country,” Davies proclaimed prophetically. Like many great sermons of the era, Davies’ message was published and distributed in a pamphlet in America and in England. Through Davies, many heard of the miraculous preservation of young Washington.

George Washington may have been down when he wrote his mother that day in 1755, but he was not out. His life had purpose. He had hope.




Best selling author and columnist Jane Hampton Cook, www.janecook.com, is known for making history both memorable and relevant to today's news, political events, and issues of faith. A former webmater for President George W. Bush (1999-03), Jane is the author of Stories of Faith and Courage from the Revolutionary War, a 365-day devotional chronicling the story of the nation's founding from the viewpoints of 20 key players.






Publisher: Living Ink Books
Release Date: October 2007 BUY NOW
ISBN-10: 0-89957-042-9
©Jane Hampton Cook, used with permission.

Stories of Faith and Courage from the Revolutionary War is a 365-day devotional of America’s quest for independence. One book reviewer noted: “Amazingly I was caught up in the sights, sounds, conversation and convictions of the colonists in such a manner that I thought I was there.” With the pace of a novel, the book reveals the miraculous story of the American Revolution, its political struggles, military strategy, and pulpit perspective from the viewpoints of George Washington, John Adams, Abigail Adams, John Witherspoon and others who lived loudly for liberty.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

He Said, She Said -- November 15, 2008

She Won't Shut Up -- He Said
by Eddie Jones

Click on this button to hear this devotion Listen to She Won't Shut Up- by Eddie Jones


"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak." - Ecclesiastes 3:1 & 7

When it comes to talking men are at a serious disadvantage. Experts tell us that women speak, on average, 20,000 words a day. Men might utter 20. We process information, calculate our response and carefully weigh the impact of our words. Often we do this in front of the TV.

Let's say, for example, that your wife asks if the new pair of jeans she bought makes her look fat. If you're like most married men you may have some vague idea that a conversation is about to transpire that could seriously damage your marriage, not to mention your ear drums, so you run to the garage. But suppose, as you open the door and step into the pantry, you remember that you don't have a garage. Well this would be a good time to keep quiet.

The writer of Ecclesiastes didn't have cable or TV but he did have 700 wives and 300 concubines, so in addition to having some serious dinner conflicts come Valentine's Day, he also struggled to find a quite place to read the sports section. This may explain why Solomon spent so much time writing things in his journal like, "Wife 587 is talking again. Oh God, can't you make it stop?" This may also explain the origins of the garage.

If there's one thing we can learn from the wisest king on earth it's that there is a time to speak and a time to remain silent. A few centuries later when the King of Kings was asked if the woman caught in adultery should be stoned, Christ kept quiet. When he was arrested, beaten and sentenced to death for a crime he did not commit, Jesus remained silent. When mocked and encouraged to call on His Father and save himself, our Lord refused. I'm not suggesting marriage is anywhere near as excruciating as a slow death on the cross. Okay, maybe just a little on the days when you have to vacuum, dust and fold the laundry.

But I am saying that when it comes to verbal communication Solomon provided wise council and Christ a good example to follow. Everyone needs to be noticed, understood and heard. We all need more affirmation and less confrontation. So compliment, don't criticize and if you can't say something nice, keep your mouth shut. Or at least hide in the garage.

He Won't Open Up -- She Said

by Cindy Sproles

Click on this button to hear this devotion Listen to He Won't Open Up- by Cindy Sproles

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven....a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak...."

Ecclesiastes 3:1 & 7

I peaked around the door into the living room and saw my husband staring through, not at, the television, his brow furrowed. Obviously he had more on his mind than his team's injured quarterback who was being helped off the field. The network cut to a commercial so I walked to the couch and wrapped my arms around him, burying my face into the fold of his neck. He shifted his weight, leaning away.

"Is it my breath or are you mad at me?"

"Just trying to watch the game."

"But it's a commercial." He shrugged and continued to stare at an ad for fabric softener. I snuggled up next to him and asked what had happened to the player, if he was out for good or just a few plays. My husband reached for the remote and changed the channel.

I asked his opinion of the election, how things were going at work, and if he'd given any more thought to our travel plans for Christmas. He just glared at me with dead eyes and said, "Not now, Cin. I'm not in the mood."

Not in the mood? To talk? He has a mood for that?

I understand that women converse on a whole different level than men. When it comes to talking we got more gears than a logging truck. But I also know that solitude can be deadly, isolation the first step toward depression. Given enough time, what begins as a sulk grows into a full blown funk.

I mentioned my husband's foul mood to a co-worker. He said I should give my spouse some space; that sometimes guys just have to think things through. I thought that through and decided it was pretty lame advice from a guy with a college degree and most of his teeth, but I took his advice and kept quite. I didn't prod, push or ask what was wrong with my husband. Just let him brood while I went about the house humming Kenny Chesney songs, as I projected a positive attitude.

I still don't know what was bothering my husband that week. He never said. I don't think it was anything I did, but I'm a wife so when he's in a bad mood I assume it's my fault. I wish he would open up, share his feelings and expose his heart the way I long to share mine with him. But he's just a guy who's not so much tall as he is handsome and quiet. The wisdom of Solomon directed us that there is a time for everything under the sun -- a time to speak and a time to be silent. I suppose this was my time to be silent. And as hard as it was....it was good advice.

If he wants to talk, I'll listen. If he wants to walk it off, I'll hike behind him. And if he just wants to be loved and left alone, I can do that, too. The important thing is that I heard him say "I do." If my husband never says another word to me he's said enough.


Eddie Jones and Cindy Sproles write the popular He Said, She Said Devotions and co-founded ChristianDevotions.us. They host the BlogtalkRadio show, Christian Devotions Speak Up!Christian Devotions Speak Up!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Kisses to Heaven -- Sue Payne

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Ephesians 3:18-19

She sat in the front row and from where I was sitting I had the privilege of witnessing one of the most beautiful and touching scenes I’ve ever encountered. It was a private, intimate moment and I almost felt as though I was intruding, but as she tenderly blew kisses towards heaven, I was caught up in the moment and was blessed.

Amy was 13 years old when she lost her mother, Cindy, to pancreatic cancer. The solid foundation of love and faith were obvious as family and friends grieved, remembered, and celebrated her mother’s life.

As I sat in the midst of this beautiful tribute observing the peaceful presence that brightly reflected from her young daughter’s face, I began to wonder what a mother would say and communicate to prepare a child to face such a loss. It was clear to me that Amy’s mother must have given her several priceless gifts.

Roots are established when loving care is given in the growth process. Love grows deep roots that give power to withstand the storms of life. Surrounded by the support of others who are deeply rooted in love provides the strength and understanding to grasp the revelation of God’s love and blessings.

God’s love is wide. It touches every part of our lives, custom fit to each one of us personally. God’s love is long. As long as we live, walk, and continue to breathe, He is faithful never to leave us or forsake us. His love is high and deep. From celebration and joy to our deepest sorrows and disappointments He reaches and understands the most intimate places of our hearts.

I am certain that Cindy prayed earnestly for her family to be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. The radiant presence I saw that day as kisses were blown heavenward surely was the work of the Spirit of God, planted, rooted, and grown up through the heartfelt and earnest prayers of a faithful mother.

In Memory of Cindy Dill






Sue Payne is a freelance writer whose articles have appeared in home schooling newsletters and church news bulletins. She is experienced in curriculum planning and design and uses her writing skills to encourage and teach others. Sue lives in Delaware, is married, and has two boys whom she home schooled for a total of fourteen years.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Enemy -- Shelby Rawson


You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off”; fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.Isaiah 41:10

“The enemy of your soul will keep trying until he finds a way,” I heard him say. The enemy of my soul will keep trying until he finds a way to dismantle my faith, bind me with shame and dissolve my knowledge of freedom. It is the enemy who claws at my heart, making false threats and accusations, whispering lifelong lies to my depths.

The phone rang. That piercing sound which has often aroused fear calls on me to answer. Much like experiences of my past, this call blew my sails of fear unexpectedly and pushed me into a faith-refusing current. I hung up the phone and cried for an hour until my phone rang again. The call ended and more tears began their descent down the familiar curve of my face. Each tear seemed to know the well-worn paths… abandonment, betrayal, fear, hurt and shame.

The women who called me that day had no idea they were breathing salt into my deepest wounds. Needless to say, my reaction caught them by surprise. Neither intended to hurt me. And while my logic grasped those facts, my memories held fast to their own facts. My past proved to me that friends will readily betray, abandon, and malign me. Relationally, my experiences hadn’t caused growth in me – they formed scars. The thing about scars is that the flesh tightens around them leaving a mark, making the statement, “Hurt lives here. No longer will this place yield to growth.”

My Father’s Word tells me He will “not cast [me] off” and not to be dismayed for He is there to help and uphold me. Fear not, Shelby. I hear Him whisper. I hear Him proclaim to the far corners of my past. Just like that day, many of my days are plagued by distracted ears. Ears that listen to the voices without instead of the Voice within. God was with me when the phone rang that day and every other day. He was there as fear overpowered me and faith escaped me. Call on Me. I clung to that which I loathed. I called on my experience. And I answered with things of this world.

The enemy of my soul will keep trying to find a way to destroy my faith in a loving and holy God. In every situation, I am faced with opportunities. Will I look to my past, or His presence? Will I respond in fear, or faith? This is what I know. Faith roars in the face of fear. And I am on the side of that roaring Lion – not the lion who prowls waiting devour. Oh Lord, let me roar as the Lion blows wind in my sails.




Shelby Rawson is a mom and the co-author of Daddy Do You Love Me: a Daughter’s Journey of Faith and Restoration (New Leaf Press, 2006).

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off”; fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.Isaiah 40:31

“The enemy of your soul will keep trying until he finds a way,” I heard him say. The enemy of my soul will keep trying until he finds a way to dismantle my faith, bind me with shame and dissolve my knowledge of freedom. It is the enemy who claws at my heart, making false threats and accusations, whispering lifelong lies to my depths.

The phone rang. That piercing sound which has often aroused fear calls on me to answer. Much like experiences of my past, this call blew my sails of fear unexpectedly and pushed me into a faith-refusing current. I hung up the phone and cried for an hour until my phone rang again. The call ended and more tears began their descent down the familiar curve of my face. Each tear seemed to know the well-worn paths… abandonment, betrayal, fear, hurt and shame.

The women who called me that day had no idea they were breathing salt into my deepest wounds. Needless to say, my reaction caught them by surprise. Neither intended to hurt me. And while my logic grasped those facts, my memories held fast to their own facts. My past proved to me that friends will readily betray, abandon, and malign me. Relationally, my experiences hadn’t caused growth in me – they formed scars. The thing about scars is that the flesh tightens around them leaving a mark, making the statement, “Hurt lives here. No longer will this place yield to growth.”

My Father’s Word tells me He will “not cast [me] off” and not to be dismayed for He is there to help and uphold me. Fear not, Shelby. I hear Him whisper. I hear Him proclaim to the far corners of my past. Just like that day, many of my days are plagued by distracted ears. Ears that listen to the voices without instead of the Voice within. God was with me when the phone rang that day and every other day. He was there as fear overpowered me and faith escaped me. Call on Me. I clung to that which I loathed. I called on my experience. And I answered with things of this world.

The enemy of my soul will keep trying to find a way to destroy my faith in a loving and holy God. In every situation, I am faced with opportunities. Will I look to my past, or His presence? Will I respond in fear, or faith? This is what I know. Faith roars in the face of fear. And I am on the side of that roaring Lion – not the lion who prowls waiting devour. Oh Lord, let me roar as the Lion blows wind in my sails.




Shelby Rawson is a mom and the co-author of Daddy Do You Love Me: a Daughter’s Journey of Faith and Restoration (New Leaf Press, 2006).

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Inner Rage -- Cindy Rooy



“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”
Romans 7:15

Just the mention of my media company’s name triggers hostility in me. Spending a hefty monthly fee for telephone, internet and TV service and having all 3 inoperable not only frustrates me but angers me. I mean dead, nothing, zilch for 10 days with a no-show technician. The many pleas for technical service are useless. At first I felt helpless, but that feeling transformed into exasperation. Rage and vengeance unexpectedly surfaced. I thought the Holy Spirit would have prevented those harmful feelings from emerging; I’m supposed to be controlled by the Spirit, not by my sinful nature. Perhaps the Spirit within us is ready to be called on, not taken for granted.

I hate how my negative emotions affect me physically. My body was on fire, my heart raced, tears formed, and I couldn’t sleep which allowed me to contemplate as I stewed. Why didn’t I have better self-control? Where were my love, joy, peace, and patience?

I realize I should have immediately released my anxiety to God in prayer. I forgot about Philippians 4:6-7. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Why didn’t it occur to me to pray and ask God for help before the problem escalated?

It is ironic that I’ve just written a Bible study about trusting God through troubles and tears. I am being tested and need to practice what I preach! Therefore, while praying for peace and a quick return of those services, I will trust God who allowed this predicament for a reason.

I’m grateful that our “light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far out-weighs them all.” This trouble does not seem light or momentary, but it will be nothing compared to what Jesus has waiting for me. In the meantime, I am still a work in progress.



Cindy Rooy is a columnist in two Tennessee newspapers and has been published in a devotional book titled Daily Devotions for Writers. She recently wrote a Bible study, Trusting God Through Trouble and Tears, which is being considered for publication. A wife and mother of three grown children, Cindy enjoys a writing and speaking ministry.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Where the River Begins -- Cindy Sproles


Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb. Revelation 22:1

I climbed the steep bluff, my boots slipped on piles of wet leaves. I never used to fall when I hiked. These days I find myself on the ground looking up more than I care to admit. But today, I was going to the top, even if I had to crawl. I wanted to find the source.

There is great solitude in the forest and I love exploring the mysteries that hide beneath the fallen foliage. The beauty in a mushroom jutting from a stand of moss, or the tender shoots of tiny green plants popping through the moist dirt, force me to ask, how can you NOT believe in God?

I pushed my fingers through the roots that raised above the ground to steady myself. The top of the mountain was in sight. I’d dreamed about the river and wondered could I find where the water begins?

It must begin from the highest point of Mount LeConte. And as I followed the rocks that trailed up and over the ridge, question after question filled my mind. How does God do it? How does He decide, “Here is where the river begins.” Still the closer I came to the summit the more the river eluded me, twisting and turning to places that were impossible for me to reach.

At the crest of the mountain I rested against a boulder. There, as I gazed across the valley below, I realized where the river begins. Uncanny that I had to continue to climb upward—upward toward my Father in heaven; and that it took me this long to understand the real river, the river of life, lies within the heart of God. He is the beginning. He is where the water flows from. And it’s His water that washes away my sin—His water that offers eternal life.

Living water.

I never found where the river started, at least not the one I could dip my feet into. But I did climb the summit and find that God is my source. Without Him I cannot survive. When I thirst, He quenches.

Do you wonder where the river begins? Search for the Father and there you will find where the water bubbles. He is the source.

Christian Devotions

Cindy Sproles co-writes with
Eddie Jones, the popular
He Said, She Said devotions.
They are friends and co-founders
of ChristianDevotions.us.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Morning After -- Ariel Allison



I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving, be made for everyone – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.1 Timothy 2:1-4

Red states. Blue states. Exit polls. Electoral votes. My mind spins as election results scroll across my television screen. And fear rises in my heart.

What if my preferred candidate doesn’t win? What if my values are not shared by the next president? What if…

One thing I know for sure: half of this country will wake tomorrow overwhelmed with disappointment, possibly even anger. Uncertainty will reign. Fear will be rampant. This nation will be divided, and Christians will find themselves right in the middle. How then do we live in the tension that surrounds us? Where do we find common ground when our worldviews are so divergent? And how can we be at peace with the results – especially when we passionately disagree?

As I pondered this election I was encouraged by these reminders from an online friend named Rona:

1. The Bible will still have all the answers.
2. Prayer will still work.
3. The Holy Spirit will still move.
4. God will still inhabit the praises of His people.
5. There will still be God-anointed preaching.
6. There will still be singing of praise to God.
7. God will still pour out blessings upon His people.
8. There will still be room at the Cross.
9. Jesus will still love you.
10. Jesus will still save the lost when they come to Him.

ISN'T IT GREAT TO KNOW WHO IS REALLY IN CHARGE!

I take comfort in the knowledge that “all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God” (Romans 13:1). And I find reassurance in the mandate to pray for those that He has placed in authority over us (1 Timothy 2:1-4). Too often we consider prayer a last resort when it should be our first course of action. Will you join me in committing to pray for our new President and the others who will lead us over the next four years?

Ariel Allison writes, reads, and lives in a small Texas town with her husband and three young sons. She is the co-author of Daddy Do You Love Me: a Daughter’s Journey of Faith and Restoration (New Leaf Press, 2006). Her days are filled with toothless grins, muddy hands, and a never ending stream of words that try to find their way to her laptop. She ponders life as a mother of all boys at www.themoabclub.blogspot.com and her thoughts as a redeemed dreamer at www.arielallison.blogspot.com. She and her husband are expecting their fourth son in December.

Monday, November 03, 2008

To Him Whom I Trust -- Loree Lough


"He is my loving God and my fortress,my stronghold and my deliverer,my shield, in whom I take refuge....." Psalm 144:2

Just about everybody knows.....I’m crazy about wolves. My favorite sanctuary spans acres of tree-lined hills where nearly fifty wolves, rescued from abuse and neglect, were brought to live with as much dignity as can be achieved.

You’d think my first stop, during visits, would be the cubs. While they’re cute and more photogenic than The Gerber Baby, the creatures that lure me closest are the lone wolves.

Each wolf pack is led by strong, capable Alpha males and females. At any time, at least two lone wolves pace the outskirts—wishing for welcome that will never come. They crave inclusion among four-legged counterparts, but it’s simply not tolerated. Meals consist of what’s left after the others are full. Affectionate pats from caretakers are allowed.....if the actions go unnoticed. Mostly, they skulk away, starving for food and friendship.

Loners can’t join ‘wolfie’ games. Can’t nestle for comfort when thunder clashes, for warmth when cold winds blow. Living this way—always watching, never participating—teaches them a powerful lesson:

No one can be trusted. Not your father or your sibling, not your mother. You’re on your own, and trying to change pack hierarchy might would be costly.

How like us—who’ve suffered the death of loved ones, divorce, job loss—the lone wolves are. And how unlike us.....Each visit, I watch helplessly as loners dash in to steal biscuit crumbs and meat scraps. Though they rarely succeed.....

.....they keep trying!

They don’t trust their own kind, and that lack of trust drives them deep into the forest. It drives us into hiding, too, though we call our forests ‘work’, ‘alcohol’, ‘drugs’, the Internet. We hide from spouses, neglect our kids. Stop doing good deeds, give up walking the dog.

We’re afraid to ask for help, even from God!

If only we’d remember that, in times of greatest need, we’re cradled in His loving hands. “He is there, to protect and shelter us, no matter how dark the nights or how stormy the seas of our lives. “Again I will put my trust in Him.”

Yes, my heart aches for the sanctuary’s lone wolves, unable to trust their own kind. But those I pity most are the lone wolves of the wilderness, for they’ll never know the kindness of human caretakers.

The Lord is our caretaker, and His promises is that we never have to live that way. Isn’t that a miracle? Isn’t it a blessing! He will provide perfect peace.....if we trust Him.

I wish all lone wolves had access to The Father’s word. Maybe then, their hearts would calm and their spirits could rest, knowing “.....he is my goodness and my fortress, my high tower and my deliverer, my shield.....and he is whom I trust......” Perhaps then, they’d never feel that death is preferable to a trust-less life of isolation.

The Irish have a saying, quoted when visitors depart: “I pray you’ll never miss a sunset or a rainbow because you’re looking down.”

I pray your days will be filled with the joy that’s sure to come…

.....when you put your trust in God.


Loree Lough is a successful Christian
Romance writer and teacher, having authored over
60 books, her newest release, Love Finds
You in Paradise, Pennsylviana
hits
bookstores in the spring of 2009.
Visit Loree at www.loreelough.com

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

ChristianDevotions.us on BlogtalkRadio.com

On next week's show we welcome Christian author Loree Lough as we discuss how God works through Christian authors to get His message out to the world. Loree will explain how God provides storylines, characters, and helps her devise realistic situations, problems, and solutions that bring Him glory.

"Christian books are just as deserving as those in secular market," says Loree. "And I think it's crucial for authors of these books to 'be true to the reader, because without readers, none of this would be possible. Inspirational romance, in particular, has changed a LOT over the years. No longer are readers forced to be content with the chronic whinings of prairie-bound preachers' wives whose lives are little more than a string of prayers to help 'em keep the grit of the dust bowl from blowin' in under the door! Today's readers are far more savvy and sophisticated, and they demand way more than that for their hard-earned dollar. They want believable who are facing true-to-life situations, who either find their way BACK to God or turn to him yet again in time of need…and find solace and solution through the story's tests and trials. "

As you can tell Loree has an opinion or two.

We'll also explore Loree's upcoming book, Love Finds You in Paradise, PA (Summerside Press, April '09) plus, Chicken Soup for the Chocolate Lover's Soul (HCI, spring '08) and The Ultimate Gardener (HCI, spring 2010)

So join us Tuesday, November 4th at 6:30 for this half hour interview with best selling author Loree Lough.