Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Dress to Bless -- Sue Payne

"Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience." Colossians 3:12

Lately, one of the important decisions I make daily is how many layers of clothing to wear in order to stay warm. I am not a cold weather person, so I take great care in dressing properly during these chilly winter months. Our thermostat is set at 65 degrees, so I have been known to wear a hood or winter hat inside the house to keep my body heat from escaping. These kinds of layers can become quite burdensome and time consuming. The time I spend getting dressed and then removing layers, not to mention doing the extra laundry it creates, takes a lot of extra effort and still some days I find myself chilled to the bone.

According to God’s Word, we’re also responsible for dressing ourselves with “moral excellence”, which is Webster’s definition of virtue. Compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience are the wardrobe for the “chosen” who choose to put it on. These are layers we must decide to wear in order to share the warmth of Jesus.

Unlike the insulated attire we put on during the winter that holds the heat in, this virtuous line of clothing shares the warmth! And though there are more of them than layers of winter clothing, you’ll find when you wear these virtues, you can move about with ease, your heart and soul lifted with the joy and privilege of dressing like Christ.

Sharing this kind of warmth is never a waste of time, in fact, time management skills improve when you’re “dressed” appropriately. Others will notice your new look, too. You will be “dressed to bless” and they will be the recipients.

I have to admit, though, once you put these clothes of virtue on, it takes quite a bit of effort to keep them from coming off. That’s where the perfect accessory for your new outfit comes in! Colossians 3:14 says, "And over all these virtues, put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

Now, all you need to do is a little “soul searching” in your prayer closet. God has chosen the perfect attire for you to wear. Be a super model for Christ.

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.

Friday, February 13, 2009

HE SAID, SHE SAID - Eddie Jones & Cindy Sproles

“…stand firm then,…with the breastplate of righteousness in place.” - Ephesians 6:14b

Listen to "Tents" Moments

What would you attempt to do if you knew you wouldn't fail?

A few years back I found myself sleeping in a state park near Newark, Delaware. Some months earlier I'd lost my job. Oh, I knew where it was. The job was hiding in a cubicle in Bangalore, India but I wasn't flying halfway around the world to bring it home. I couldn't afford the plane ticket, anyway. Couldn't afford a room at the Howard Johnson, either. So, that evening I set up my tent, unloaded my gear and then drove my twenty-year-old Toyota hatchback up the road to a writers conference. I had a dream and a manuscript and not much else.

Dreams are funny things. When you're not watching, they'll slip off and become real. Mine sat in the passenger seat staring out the window. I birth big dreams.

Before I left the house that morning I'd "prayed on" the breastplate of righteousness. I'd asked God to keep my thoughts pure and my dreams secure. Righteous thoughts are the lifeblood of Christians. What we think, we do and become. Lust long enough and you take what's not yours. Meditate on God's Word and your spirit aligns with His.

I have a heart full of dreams, some of them from God. God says He knows the plans He has for us. Plans for good not ill, plans for a future and hope. One of the dreams He placed in my heart is to write for Him.

The last night of the writers conference I returned to my campsite and found my tent in a heap and my sleeping bag soaked. The wind and rain had blown it down. I threw it all in the trunk, crawled behind the wheel and looked at the award certificate on the passenger seat.

"Come on, dream," I said. "We're checking into a hotel. God's given us an upgrade."

The award money for winning first place was more than enough to pay for a dry room, but none of it would have mattered if I hadn't put on the breastplate of righteousness each day and asked God to keep my dreams secure. The dreams, the heart of serving Him, are what drives us forward.

Jesus says where our treasure is our heart will be, too. Guard your heart. Purify your thoughts. Strap on the breastplate of righteousness and protect your dreams. Then march to the sound of His still small voice. Who knows how far He will take you.

Listen to Unprotected and Injured by Cindy Sproles>

“…stand firm then,…with the breastplate of righteousness in place.” - Ephesians 6:14b

I grabbed at my chest as the pain seared through my heart. I never knew anything could hurt so deeply. I thought I could press hard against my breastbone and the ache would stop but it didn’t. Instead, it resonated into an overwhelming throb. I lost my breath as I looked toward the ceiling, holding back the tears.

It wasn’t much of an anniversary—the day my ex-husband asked for a divorce. We’d enjoyed a nice dinner for our seventh anniversary and I thought, He wants to make a go of this. But I was wrong. He’d given me a sweet anniversary card and a pretty shirt, then slid a business card across the table with the name and address of an attorney.

It was over. Just like that.

The dreams of a long happy life with my husband and sons sailed out the front door of the Steak and Shake never to return. I wasn’t ready….wasn’t prepared, so when the spear was hurled, it struck center chest and sunk deep. The burred tip slipped into the flesh and tore away chunks when removed. I was unprotected and nearly down for the count.

As I crawled away, bleeding and wounded, the importance of being protected became reality. Policemen wear bullet-proof vests, firemen wear fire-retardant cover-alls. I had a breastplate. Why hadn’t I suited up? I’d walked into battle vulnerable.

I’d studied the armor of God as a child, but never absorbed its importance—never grasped the concept. So as an adult, I found myself prime prey for personal and spiritual attacks.

I wish I’d have understood then, what I know now. Had I have been armed with the armor of God, I could have protected myself. I could have laid claim to the promises Christ reiterated through the scripture. Took His victories and made them mine.

God’s armor doesn’t prevent our chaos. Bad things still happen to good people, but when we are clothed with His righteousness, protected by His breastplate, the spears cannot penetrate. We may stumble, but we do not fall.

God saved me that year. I geared up, bucked up, and stood up—this time fully protected. My life is amazing now. I’m surrounded by the love of a man who stands shoulder to shoulder with me when we’re faced with hardships.

Protect yourself with His righteousness. Wear His armor. The battle is not always easier but it’s certainly less deadly.

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.

Devotionlist -- Pat Patterson

The disciples went and woke him, saying, "Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!" He replied, "You of little faith, why are you so afraid?" Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. Mt 8:25-27

"How long was she under?"

"Five minutes?" the teenager cried. "Maybe more, I don’t know!"

I scooped my patient out of the water and laid her on a dry portion of cement beside the pool. The pretty little pig-tailed girl with chubby cheeks and dimples looked to be about eight years old, and as cute as a button, but her lightly freckled face looked dull and colorless, her eyes as lifeless as a plastic baby doll’s.

"I only took my eye off of her for a minute," her sister exclaimed. "I’m so sorry! Is she going to be all right?"

"Quick," I said tearing open the plastic wrapper for an Ambu-bag. "Get the monitor." My partner grabbed the EKG monitor and removed the electrode cables. "Somebody start compressions." I placed the resuscitator unit over the patient’s mouth and gave the bag a squeeze. Her chest rose and fell. Water trickled from the corner of her mouth. One of the firefighters removed his helmet and knelt by my side. He placed his hands on her chest and started pushing against her breastbone with a verbal cadence of one, and two, and three…

"Folks," I heard my partner say, "please stand back. Give us room." He pulled the backing off of a sticky electrode pad and attached it to one of her legs. He repeated the process on each of her other limbs while the firefighter and I performed CPR. "Okay," he said turning on the unit. The EKG monitor beeped. A harsh, erratic, jumpy yellow line traced across the screen. "Let’s take a look." He placed a hand on the firefighter’s arm. "Hold compressions."

The firefighter stopped. I held my breath. The EKG line flattened out, hiccuped once, and then grew into a regular patern of uniform complexes. Oh, thank you, Jesus!

I gave our patient two more full ventilations and then watched in amazement as she opened her eyes and began to cough and choke. We rolled her onto her side, careful to protect her head and neck as the clear pool water drained from her mouth and nose. "Non-rebreather," I said reaching out and snapping my fingers. Someone placed a hissing oxygen mask into my hand. I placed it over her face and waited, speaking quietly to her and praying silently as I coaxed her back to life. "Come on," I said. "You can do it. Come on back to us, come back." And slowly but surely she did. She pinked up. Her eyes opened. And then as if waking from a nightmare and realizing it was all just a terrible dream she closed those innocent blues again and began to cry. I closed mine too, but I began to pray. "Thank you, Lord. Oh, thank you, Lord."


Lord, I’m struggling. I feel like I’m drowning down here. I can see the surface but I just can’t seem to get there. Help me! Give me your hand, Lord. Please save me!

Have you been there? Where the cares of this world make you feel like you’re about to drown? Well next time you find yourself in the midst of a raging tempest with the wind shrieking and waves crashing all around, remember you’re not alone. Jesus is right there with you.
"Save us," his Disciples cried. "We’re going to drown!"

And look what Jesus did. He woke from his sleep. He stood and boldly rebuked the storm. And the wind and waves subsided. And peace fell over the scene.

* * *

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

How Does God Work -- Cindy Sproles

I've often wondered how God really works. Let's face it. He's not always easily understood. You have to wonder what kind of God expects His follower's to trust in what they can't see. Better yet, accept His will when He seems so intangible.

Over the last 7 years I've grown to expect the unexpected from God. I never expected to be in the ministry (well, at least not after I divorced a minister). But when my writing career began it became my ministry. I spent so much time worrying that God would send me to Africa that I never looked at the possibilities that He would use the talents He built into my wiring.

So, how does God work? How do we know His will? Still questions that are hard to answer. But I can say without difficulty, that the day I laid my talents before Christ and said those infamous words....the words that we have such a hard time saying..."Use me," that my life turned around.

I've never held a job that was overtly exciting--they were fulfilling but not exciting, but when God blessed me with a ministry, I found excitement I never thought I'd know.

God works when we ask Him to step into the lead. Our desire is to be the head dog, but that's not what God wants. He can't and won't work in us when we insist on taking the lead, scarfing the credit and basking in the glory. It's not about us. It's about Him. My ministry partner and I talked extensively about the "comment" lines on the ministry site. We agreed wholeheartedly that the comments needed to go. The site was God centered not "us" centered. It certainly wasn't the popular choice of our writers but the site and the ministry belongs to Christ. We are simply the messengers. We took the comment line away and God blessed the ministry over and over.

And knowing His will -- well, that's even harder. I've learned that I can know His will by assessing the blessings He's given me. When I look over the successes, whether big or small, count the blessings and give credit for the joys, then I can clearly see His will. Knowing God's will is not always understanding the future, rather it's praying for His discernment and then following the path step by step. I look ahead one step and access the results of what I've done. If the results are good, have worked well then I trust that I am within His will.

I mess up. But God continues to lead me and love me. Go figure.

He drives the words that I place on the paper and with each letter I offer them fully to His service. He has filled me with a passion to write and though my personal goal is to be published my spiritual goal is to be His servant. I want to be a writer. I am a writer above all else. I write continually, whether successful by human standards or not, and He uses me to speak to the guy next door, or the lady in the next office.

How does God work? Wonderfully and amazingly. And He has chosen to work through me.