Inspirational thoughts and random writings from the alumni and friends of Quad-Cities Christian Writers Conference.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

What kind of Pool Party are you being invited to?


By Helen Knueven

In Matthew 18:21, Peter asked, “Lord – how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Seven?” Peter was being generous, since he was taught to forgive three times.

Imagine his amazement at Jesus’ answer. Probably expecting to be commended, Jesus tells him, “Not seven, Peter, but seventy times seven.” Of course, God was not really talking about counting, but forgiving.

Do you think that God’s standard for Himself would be lower than the one that He gives to us? Will God forgive us as much as we are commanded to forgive each other?

In Hebrews 8:12 – The Word says, “For I will be merciful to their iniquities and I will remember their sins no more.” (NASB)
Another great scripture that I love I Micah 7:19: “Once again you will have compassion on us. You will trample our sins under your feet and throw them into the depths. Of the sea.” (NLT)


Many Christians are almost drowning in the sea of God’s forgetfulness. As Corrie Ten Boom said, “No Fishing.”

The Lord says that He forgives us when we ask. He throws our sins in the sea and chooses to forget them! It’s not that Jesus really has a bad memory, but He chooses to forgive and to forget.

Our sins are like evil sharks that could destroy us if we could not receive God’s great forgiveness.
But Jesus throws these sharks in the sea of His forgetfulness! How great and how unlike us He is!
You may be struggling with the same sin for a long time. But God knows your heart. When you ask Him to forgive you, He does not hesitate.

Get out of the sea of those forgiven and forgotten sins. Those sharks would like nothing better than to paralyze you and condemn you and cause you to run from God.

I’ve learned from experience that it just doesn’t work to try to pay for my sins by playing the movie in my head. Jesus paid for every one of them when He hung on the Cross. (John 3:16)

I, for one, am very happy to dwell on this subject. It clears my mind, it feeds my spirit, and energizes my heart in forgiving others when I remember the great mercy He has given me. How freeing to know that He looks at me so differently than I look at myself.

I recently heard a lady tell a friend struggling with condemnation– “If you have asked Jesus into your life, when God looks at you, He sees Jesus, not your sins.” The lady replied, “Now I’m starting to understand because when Christians are hard to work with, I try to see Jesus in them. Are you saying that God is seeing Jesus in me?”

Yes – that is what she was saying. And that is what God’s Word says about Jesus being the perfect sacrifice.

God’s love is like an ocean – free of danger, and rich in mercy. Wouldn’t you rather be there? I know I do.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

God's Gift to Write is in My DNA

By Marvin Ferguson

I thank God for the gift to write and be a published author. It's an exhilarating experience that I will never forget.

It would have been great if I were lucky enough to be a professional league baseball player, but it wasn't meant to be. Instead, my passions went into a different direction, and as a die hard Cub fan, I put the play-by-play action on the playing field and wrote three baseball stories for Junior High students to enjoy.

Like anything else worth achieving, it requires hard work. And little did I realize it then that my childhood would prepare me to write. Yes, God provides.

At twelve years of age I purchased some plastic baseball players off a cereal box. Like the Little Rascals I made a ball park out of scrap wood I found in the back of a grocery store and some green and some gray construction paper, barrowed a spinner from another game, kept score, and played baseball to my heart's content.

With a compass I drew a baseball diamond and made some dugouts up against a four-inch wall. The shape of each player intrigued me and I was able to be anybody I wanted to be—Ernie Banks, Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, Lou Brock, Stan Musial, and more. I gave the teams a name, created my own lineup, and even became a broadcaster in the TV booth. There wasn't anything I couldn't do, it was fun, and fueled my imagination to write latter in my adult life.

If we allow God to work in our lives, He will prepare a way. Amen! Thank you God for giving me an interest in baseball and a desire to write.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Talk is Not Cheap

By Marie Tschopp

“It is not for Kings, O Lemuel. It is not for Kings…” Proverbs 31:4 NIV

Paula Deen has an amazing story. As a divorced mother of two young boys, she started a lunchtime catering business to office workers. Because she was afraid to leave her house due to agoraphobia, her sons delivered the lunches via their bicycles. As business grew, so did Paula’s confidence. She eventually opened a restaurant and self published a cookbook. One stormy Georgia afternoon, a TV producer ducked into Paula’s restaurant to get in out of the rain. He sampled the food and bought a cookbook. And, as the cliché goes, a star was born.

Paula now hosts her own show on the Food Network. She publishes her own magazine. She sells her own line of cookware and dishes. In short, Paula Deen is an empire.

But recently, the Food Network announced it will not be renewing Ms. Deen’s contract. A former employee filed a lawsuit accusing her of racism and Paula admitted in court to using racial slurs and telling racist jokes.

Fair or not, a different standard is set for those in leadership, for the risk of loss is so much greater. Now, staff from her show, the magazine, the products, and the restaurant are at risk.

For with great privilege comes great responsibility. As Christians, we, too, are held to higher standard. We are the only Gospel some people will ever read. Our actions matter. We cannot afford to be a stumbling block that prevents someone from seeking His Kingdom.

The stakes are too high.

Heavenly Father, grant me wisdom in the way I conduct my life. May my words bring glory to You, and may my actions not cause You embarrassment in any way. When people see me, may my life reflect You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Monday, July 29, 2013

God Provides

By Charis Seeley
(written June 19)

I have a maximum of 70 days left being pregnant and I feel a bit like a bird.

My nesting instincts are kicking in.

It’s a bit complex. We’ve been trying to sell our house this spring/summer, attempting to move before the new baby comes. And we have a contingent offer on another house.

But so far, we haven’t gotten any offers on our house. It’s discouraging because we live right on the Mississippi River and it’s prime boating season. And not knowing where we’re going to be living when the baby comes is really messing with my nesting.

Because of the timing of the closings, we’re in the last month that we’re willing to have our house on the market. If we don’t sell by early July, we’ll be staying put until next spring, when we’ll try selling again.

The new baby might be getting a new nursery in a new house. Or she’ll be going into our current nursery and our three-years old daughter will move into the spare bedroom that currently functions as a guestroom.

But I just don’t know yet. And there’s no sense in converting our adult guestroom into a princess play palace if we end up moving a month later.

So, among all the opportunities to get creative and nest, I’ve had to put that instinct on hold. Well, sort of.

I crochet, and summer time crochet projects tend to be small and sweet. They’re typically candy colored flower motifs done in cotton yarn. Or airy dishcloths and towels shaped like watermelons.

Not so with me.

Since my nesting has gone into overdrive, I’ve almost completed an entire afghan blanket in less than five days. And I have plans for at least three more.

It’s frustrating to wait for something that’s out of my control.

I don’t know where we’ll be living this fall, but I do know this:

God always provides, and wherever we end up, we will definitely have enough blankets to keep warm.

-Charis

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Humor

By Marvin Ferguson

Everybody enjoys a good laugh and so do I. In fact, I've often heard it said that laughter is good medicine for the soul.

Some of my favorite humorous moments are watching an old film with Laurel and Hardy. Just thinking about them makes me laugh. See if you can identify with this one and enjoy it with me.

Following the First World War Stanley spent three months in a VA hospital recuperating from his wounds and totally separated from his friend Oliver Hardy. Now, it was time to pick him up and take him home.

While waiting for his ride in the hallway of the hospital Stan couldn't find a chair to get comfortable in. Ultimately, he found an old wooden wheelchair but couldn't get his feet to fit in the stirrups, so he sat on them.

Meanwhile, when Ollie finally arrived and noticed that his dear friend didn't have any legs, he insisted on wheeling him out to the car. After Ollie struggled to get Stan into the car, his dear amputee friend got out of his wheelchair and offered to help solve the dilemma by walking around to the other side of the car.

Shocked, Ollie said, "Wait just a minute. Why didn't you tell me you had legs?"

And looking very innocent like he always did, Stan replied, "Because you didn't asked me."

The comic role played by two superb actors kept me laughing all the way home.


Thursday, June 13, 2013

Creator God Revealed

Photo essay by Gail Smith

Psalm 36
5 Your unfailing love, O Lord, is as vast as the heavens;

your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds.
6 Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains,

 
your justice like the ocean depths.
 
You care for people and animals alike, O Lord.
 
7     How precious is your unfailing love, O God!  All humanity finds shelter in the shadow of your wings.
8 You feed them from the abundance of your own house,
letting them drink from your river of delights.
 
9 For you are the fountain of life,
 
the light by which we see.


 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Lessons Learned from a Wire Fox Terrier

By Krisi Paxton



1. Do everything with passion, whether it is licking a hole in an old railroad tie or eating a friend’s last bite of pancake.
2. Eat when you are hungry. Bounce when you are happy. Sleep when you are tired. Get dirty.
3. Cuddle with your loved ones. Read their moods. Sneak a kiss whenever possible.
4. Take long and frequent walks with your two-legged friends. Stop to smell the flowers or rub your face in the snow. Detour from the plan once in a while.
5. Be patient with small children.
6. Ask for nothing more than simple food, water and an occasional last slurp from a cereal bowl.
7. Be content to hang out with those you love. Travel with them every chance you get. Make friends in strange lands.
8. Explore the woods. Mingle with other species. Be afraid of nothing.
9. Expect little.
10. Appreciate everything.

Ziggy, a loyal companion, passed away May 9. She was only eight years old, but she crammed 100 years of pleasure into each moment. People smiled and chuckled when Ziggy entered a room. She lived her last spring day at home, lying in cool grass, basking in soft breezes and warm sunshine. Her loved ones sat with her, touched her, laughed at her quirks and admired her fine qualities.

I want to be just like Ziggy.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

KEEPING THE DREAM

By Marie Tschopp

“He will not grow tired and weary, and His understanding no one can fathom.” Isaiah 40:28 NIV


I could not believe it happened again. For the second time in less than a year my husband lost his job due to a plant closing.

I looked around my kitchen at the cabinets my husband installed a few years before. It was his dream to build his own home, doing the majority of work himself. Now, we were faced with selling. Thoughts of unfairness darted through my mind like shooting stars in a meteor shower.

“God, we thought it was your will to build. Why did you have us build only to sell?”

Needing an answer, I grabbed my Bible from the table and flipped pages. I sensed an urge to turn to Isaiah 40, so I did and read about the greatness of God. Verses like 18, “With whom, then, will you compare God? To what image will you liken him? “ And verse 26, “…He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name, because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.” (NIV).

To be honest, I felt worse—insignificant even. I doubted an all powerful creator cared what my family faced. Still, I continued to read on to verse 27, and it was as if God took my face in his hands as He said,

“Why do you complain, Jacob? Why do you say, Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God?”

I read the verse again and again, “…why do you say…my cause is disregarded by my God?”

I closed my eyes as the tears fell. God cared, and I knew my family would be okay no matter the circumstances.

I took a deep breath and prayed, “Thank you Lord. You are great and mighty and you really do understand.”

When I opened my eyes another verse caught my attention,

“….The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.” Isaiah 40:28 NIV

I fell to me knees and prayed, “Father, thank you for loving us so much. You tell us that nothing in our lives is insignificant to you. I choose not to worry, but to trust in your loving care.”*


*Within a week, Brian had a new job because the previous employee quit unexpectedly and without explanation). 


Friday, May 31, 2013

A spring of wonder

 By Jeannette Doran
 
 A spring of wonder
 


 
    April came with ice and snow
 
    Treasured moments of solitude
 
     Long awaited in a Minnesota
    
     Hermitage clothed in frost and white
 
      One last snow
    
      Deer searching for food
 
      By May seeds planted in soft soil
    
      Rain soaked fields
 
      Drenching downpour
 
      Leaves sparkle with showers 
   
      Behold the loveliness even
 
     In the midst of storm winds
 
     Puddles abound yet
 
     Red Poppies open as
 
    Sun shines on
 
    Velvet green grass
 
    Beauty surrounds us
 
 
   How awesome is our God
 
 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Baseball Inspiration

By Marvin Ferguson

 
The sun shined beneath a clear blue sky.  The temperature was in the eighties. Spring was in the air and along with it another baseball season.

 As a Clinical Technician at a local hospital my days were all routine. There was nothing unusual until one day recently I was congratulated by one of my peers for winning an employee survey raffle contest.

What? I asked. I was shocked because I never won anything in my whole life. Then, when I learned that I just won four tickets to a Cub game at Wrigley Field, I went bonkers.



And so with my wife and some friends we had a bird's eye view from the left field bleachers. We saw everything, and with popcorn, hot dogs, peanuts, and soda pop, we were in our second heaven.

Baseballs traveled swiftly on the infield grass. There were long throws from third base to first. Fly balls sailed deep into the outfield. And a fan scrambled for a home run that landed near my seat.

Sitting with thirty-five thousand baseball fans watching all the play-by-play action was fun and got my juices flowing to write another book. Yes, baseball was in my DNA. Talk to me about baseball and it wouldn't be long before you saw me with a pen in my hand filling all the pages with my favorite subject.

 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A Small Tribute to Big Heroes

By Lori Boruff

Papa teaches me to count—
one flag, two flags, three.
I am his helper,
just Papa and me.


Papa teaches me colors
like red, white and blue.
He tells me a story,
of a soldier he knew.

Papa teaches “never forget,”
those who sacrifice all.
Brave men and women die
so I can grow tall.

Papa teaches me respect—
“Hold the flag high,”
for today we remember
soldiers who have died.
 
 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Multi-tasker Malfunction – How to Recover from the Stumbles of Life

By Kathryn C. Lang

My multi-tasker suffered a malfunction. It happens to me now and then – often around the same time of the month. It is never pretty.

Normally my family and I are the only ones to suffer from its demise. This time around I failed a friend and a supporter and that makes it much worse. I want others to know they can count on me . . . maybe I should hand out “Beware” cards when there is a chance for a multi-tasker malfunction.

I know better. These issues have been coming up for years. I have started to recognize and adjust for them in my daily life (for the most part). I know it is possible to avoid the multi-tasker meltdown. This time, I just did nothing.

For the record, doing nothing never fixes anything.

Tips for Avoiding Multi-Tasker Meltdown

1. Plan ahead. I know that I am going to guest post each month. The date may change, but the posting remains the same. I should make my article due on the 1st of each month. Then I know that Gail will have it when she needs it.

2. Have a backup plan. There are times when the unexpected keeps me from doing what I know I need to do. It is worse during the multi-tasker meltdowns. I run from room to room trying to remember why I am in that room. I told you it was not pretty. Having several articles in my database that I can tap into in one of those situations will help me avoid missing a deadline or leaving someone else in the lurch.

3. Be honest (with yourself and with others). There will be times when you have to take on less than you might otherwise be able to manage. Know those times and let others know those times. Be sure you also let others know when you miss the mark. Giving a reason why you missed the mark is not necessary. The why does not change the fact that the other person may be missing something they need. Just say you messed up and then make arrangements to try and repair the damage if possible. Things happen, and you have to open and honest when they do if you want to move past them.

We all stumble. It is what comes after the stumble that will make the difference. Plan, prepare, and be honest. These three things will make a big difference when you find that your multi-tasker malfunctions.

# # #

Kathryn shares words to ignite hope in the hearts of those the words encounter. She knows that life can be difficult, but she also has experienced how hope can overcome even the hardest times. Visit Kathryn at www.kathrynclang.com to learn more about her journey or to discover her books.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Shell Seekers, Truth Seekers Part II

By Sharon Wilhite



Shell Seekers sometimes find treasures on the dry sand out in the open.
Truth Seekers can find truths that surprise on a first reading of a passage.

 
Shell Seekers have to wade into the water at other times.
Truth Seekers frequently have to dig a bit deeper into their passage’s meaning.

 
Shell Seekers may have to dive under the water to bring up a shell that they have glimpsed from the surface.
Truth Seekers will take special time to throw their whole self into the study of a truth that is just beyond their grasp.

 
Shell Seekers have found wonderful shells hidden beneath a stretch of murky, weedy water.
Truth Seekers can’t be afraid of unclear, vague passages.  They keep looking, and praying, and sifting through the words for treasures.

 
Shell Seekers often admire and keep their best finds for themselves.
Truth Seekers know that some truths were given by God for their hearts only.
(“But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.” Luke 2:19)

 
Shell Seekers multiply their enjoyment by sharing many of their shells with others.
Truth Seekers realize that their understanding is deepened when they share what they are learning with others.

 
Whether you ever get the opportunity to be a shell seeker, anyone can be a truth seeker.  God is just waiting to reveal His vast storehouse of treasures to YOU!

 
“My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee;  so that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding; yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; if thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; Then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God.”  Proverbs 2:1-5



Thursday, May 2, 2013

Forming Great Teams

by Michael Elmore

Many people who read this blog are interested in writing. I know I am. Writing takes talent, practice, learning and encouragement. Perhaps you are not an accomplished author yet. But God has this in mind for you because he has put the desire in your heart. Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Recognize that the dream to become an author is not just your aspiration but it is a desire that God has purposely placed within you to glorify His name and fulfill your destiny.

Regardless of the genre you are interested in, God can use your gift to touch countless lives. I don’t know if you realize this or not but the Bible includes a variety of writing genres. For example, you may not be aware of this but about 60% of Scripture is written as poetry. Poetry touches the inner life like few genres can. God also used prose, history, accounting and record keeping, prophecy and storytelling to communicate to humanity. So be encouraged, regardless of the genre you are interested in God can use you!

The question remains for most of us, “How can I hone my skills, connect with literary agents, market a product and sell it successfully?” That’s where learning how to form a great team comes in. Zechariah 4:10 states, ”Do not despise the day of small beginnings.” You probably know someone who has an interest in writing like yourself. You may belong to a writers association, perhaps you’ve attended a conference or workshop or two. Great! That’s how you begin to form a team.

When forming a team pray for divine connections. If you are serious about writing God will put you in touch with just the people you need to serve on your team. One way to help you form a team is to remember that serving others is an excellent way to form a team. Volunteer to help an experienced author. Learn from them, let them mentor you, assist them with their projects and you will be surprised at how rapidly a network of possible team members will soon cross your path. This is called the Law of Association. If we want to be successful then we need to spend time with people that we want to be like. Jesus said, “I came to serve not to be served.”( Mk. 10:45) If serving was good enough for Jesus, then it should be good enough for us.

Finally, be selective who you allow to be part of your team. Look for quality not for quantity. Learn from the best people you are able to connect with. One way to do this is to build networks through conferences, workshops, and seminars. These types of places are chock-full of published authors, promoters, marketing people and literary agents. But when you network with other people I use one word of guidance: listen to the Voice of the Holy Spirit and let His Voice guide you to the right people. Be aware of the agendas that others may have. What are their motives, character, lifestyle and spiritual life? Do they honor God through their work? I have found a good rule of thumb for hearing from God is stopping long enough to hear the Shepherds Voice. Jesus said in John 10:27 “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”

Welcome to the concept of forming a writing team. I believe as you work in this direction and in the way God leads you, you will find good success! (Joshua 1:8).

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Shoot

By Kristi Paxton

What was the personal weapon of fashion when the second amendment was adopted in December of 1791?
Musket? Bow and arrow?  Blunderbuss muzzle loader? Slingshot?
Part of me thinks we need to look at history to determine the intent of the second amendment. Leave history out of it, and I am free to bear my weapon of choice: an assault rifle, a semi-automatic handgun, or a hand grenade. How about a pipe bomb? Arms is arms, right?
I need to look no further than biology to fight against my own argument. For if we are animals, and we are, we must have a way to control our population. Survival of the fittest. Survival of the fittest with the most powerful weapon? Perhaps the assault rifle or the handgun is the answer. Issue one to each citizen, no background checks, no problem. Zero population growth.
Or look at historic intention of the second amendment, and issue each newborn a musket.
The NRA has some possible solutions for both sides of the argument. NRA says only good guys with guns can combat bad guys with guns. They suggest the USA install an armed security guard in every public school. The price tag is merely $80,000 per school per year, or so I’m told. Let’s see, $80,000 times 99,000 public schools equals $7,920,000,000.

If that sounds like too much, consider how many individuals we currently arm in Afghanistan. We have already spent national security money, and “good guys” already have guns. How about we bring the troops back from Afghanistan to combat the school shooters at home?  Would our militia be happy to guard school entries? If so, what do we tell the kids, some who have been expelled for bringing squirt guns into the classroom? There at the front door stands a military hero with an assault rifle, teaching young people how to solve any conflict that may arise.
On a positive note, there also stands our military recruitment program, a respected, gun-wielding military person, up front and personal, in the school from kindergarten on.  Little eyes look up in admiration. Erase that pentagon budget item for recruitment costs.
I’m stymied. Why is an American 20 times more likely to be killed by a gun than someone from any other “developed” country? (According to United Nations data) Why is gun ownership in USA the highest number per 100 people in the world? (88 guns per 100 people) The closest second is Yemen at 54.8 per 100. Why is USA often compared with Honduras, El Salvador and Jamaica, first second and third for worst firearm murder rates? (US is way down the list at 28th) USA gun death trends resemble those in Mexico and Colombia.*
Yes, we have a problem. Just what is the problem?
*Data is all over the place and subject to interpretation. Will someone please shoot us some credible scientific research?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Spring Fever

By Helen Knuever
With all the events that have troubled America lately, it’s hard to have optimism when we look across our country. We see terrorist attacks, devastating floods and more. But because of the promise of Christ – I sense a spiritual spring fever sneaking up on me. One day there will be an end to all of this suffering.
Mark Twain said of Spring Fever: “It's spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you've got it, you want - oh, you don't quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so.”
I think that’s also true of heaven. I Corinthians 2:9 says “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”
Although we have His promise – we don’t know what it really looks like.
As the song says, “I can only imagine” - but to imagine sure brings a sense of deep comfort.
Spring fever – brings with it a certain restlessness and an excitement with a certain feeling of laziness. Have you felt that way at all? Spring fever also has a certain romantic feeling. The restlessness of being a pilgrim; the excitement of the future with Christ? I am not sure how the laziness fits in – perhaps it is the feeling we have to wait for God to do something. Although faith is not passive – there are times when our own activity needs to stop and wait on God’s direction. And so even that action is passive. The romance of a heavenly lover - who really does care for us - and whose we belong to -not out of fear, but love.
I don’t want to become so heavenly minded that I’m no earthly good, though. So many people are looking for peace. So many people need a person in their lives to show the love of Christ. That is another anticipation that I have. Imagine a revival sweeping across our land where God draws millions of people unto Himself. Imagine the body of Christ advancing in love – no longer caught up in their personal differences – but all taking orders from Jesus Christ.
Maybe this is it! When we pray (we may feel lazy while doing so) as we put our own plans on the shelf. Restlessness caused by the desire for something better calls us to go beyond ourselves and our typical routine. A spiritual spring fever where the excitement of true believing that God will cause America to be drawn to Him!
Do you feel it? Are you tired of normal religion? Are you restlessness for more of God? Can we pray together for a massive revival in our country? Can a feeling of laziness be replaced by a waiting on God to give us clear directions? Do you crave heaven? Do you crave knowing that others are going there with you? Can we believe that God cares about this world even more than we do? Do you sense your first love for Jesus sparking your heart? Then maybe you have spring fever!
Solomon 2:10-11 My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.
For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land;
 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

SHELL SEEKERS, TRUTH SEEKERS: Part I

By Sharon Wilhite



"You search and investigate and pore over the Scriptures diligently, because you suppose and trust that you have eternal life life through them. And these very Scriptures testify about Me!" John 5:39 (Amplified Bible)

A few thoughts I unburied from the sandy shores of Fort Myers Beach, Florida this week:

Shell Seekers check the tide charts and know the best times to shell.
Truth Seekers check their schedules and know their best times of alertness and quietness for their daily time of Bible reading and prayer.

Shell Seekers put on beach wear and sunscreen appropriate to the weather.
Truth Seekers prepare their hearts and minds by putting on quietness and humility.

Shell Seekers take a bag or bucket to put their beach treasures in. (A shell seeker who only has his hands or pockets for collecting won't be able to collect many treasures.
Truth Seekers take a journal or notebook in which to write down truths they've unearthed in their Bible reading so they can treasure and remember them.
 


Shell Seekers go to the beach with the express purpose of finding wonderful shells.
Truth Seekers read their Bibles intentionally - looking for new truths or rereading familiar passages for strength and comfort.

Shell Seekers keep their heads down and narrow their focus to the area around their feet.
Truth Seekers focus on what they're reading and block out distractions.

Shell Seekers either keep moving steadily along or stand still to search in one place.
Truth Seekers will search related passages or keep reading steadily on in their search for God's wisdom. Other times they will meditate on just one word, phrase, or verse.
 

To be continued...

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

HOW A SOCK DRAWER SAVED MY MARRIAGE

By Marie Tschopp

Ephesians 5:33 NIV: “…and the wife must respect her husband.”

“God, I don’t want to be married if this is the way it’s going to be. Please help us,“ I pleaded.

I sat on the edge of the bed and twisted my wedding ring around and around my finger. I loved Brian, but didn’t want to be with him any longer. Yet, I had two children without a way to provide for them on my own. I was at my wit’s end.

If someone had told me a year before I would feel this way, I’d have said they were crazy. Our marriage was wonderful. We even had a new home. My husband had just accomplished his dream of building his own house doing most of the labor himself. But within months of completing the project, things changed.

He started to sleep a lot. I understood he was tired from building the house, and I didn’t push him. But, over the next few months I noticed other changes, too. He lost interest in things—his woodworking, friends, church, our kids, even me.

I sat on the edge of the bed imploring God for help.

“Show honor to your husband.” I sensed the Lord saying to me.

“But Lord, I don’t want to show him honor. The way he’s been behaving, he doesn’t deserve honor.”

Again, I sensed the Lord urging, “Show honor to your husband.”

I stared at the floor and wondered what I could do.

I looked up and noticed Brian’s chest of drawers. I remembered he once told me how his mother kept all the family’s dresser drawers in perfect order. I decided to completely organize his dresser. I sorted though his drawers and carefully folded everything, including his socks and underwear.

Over the next few weeks, my husband’s mood improved. Months later, he was back to himself. We now realize the stress from working his job while building the house caused depression. Silly as it sounds, the catalyst in bringing him out of the depression was the folded underwear and socks. Somehow that little bit of organization triggered a sense of control and well-being.

“Show honor to your husband.”

Thank you, Father, for giving my husband back to me.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Getting Around the Things of Life

By Kathryn C. Lang

Things get in the way – no matter how much I plan or how great my intentions – things find a way to get in the way. At least, that is how it seems. My life will be moving along with gusto. I will see the signs of confirmation all around me. The joy of it all will bubble over onto anyone that I encounter.

And then it isn’t.

One little thing pops up and all of those amazing and wonderful moments are lost. I struggle just to breathe - forget about moving forward. That one little thing manages to crush the enthusiasm under its tiny foot. The darkness closes in and I am left alone.

Only I’m not.

A song comes on to remind me that I am not alone. A friend calls unexpectedly just to let me know she is thinking about me. A letter arrives in the mail just to say hello. Suddenly, I catch a glimpse of that possibility that I was living in when it was joy driving the day instead of darkness hiding it.

Things get in the way – but I do not have to let them stay there. I can kick them to the side like a stick in the path. Things will try to darken my horizon – but I do not have to remain in the dark. I can see beyond the darkness to the dawn or beyond the storm to the rainbow.

And you? Do things get in your way?

# # #

Kathryn C. Lang shares words of inspiration on her website www.kathrynlang.com. Join her there as she finds new ways to face down the storms, discover the rainbows and live in a river of peace.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

A Grateful Pair Of Eyes

by Marvin Ferguson

Among all the components of the human body I think the eyes are most intriguing. And without them where would we be?

The coach always said to the hitter to keep his eye on the ball. Don't worry about the color of his eyes or hair. And so he grimaced staring at a ball hidden behind the pitcher's knee. Then, suddenly, like a bolt of lightening from out of nowhere it crossed the plate.

Traveling on the infield grass, a pair of eyes watched the ball as the shortstop scooped it up into his glove. Another pair of eyes watched while diving for a ball that escaped into left field.

In the movie "Trouble With The Curve" Clint Eastwood, hitting coach, started having problems with his vision. When baseball fans and players watched in awe at a called strike, even Clint Eastwood insisted that it was a strike. Yet his attorney daughter was amazed at how he could see it. His reply, "I heard it." And the viewers laughed.

Sitting in the waiting room I pondered the thought about my wife's cataract surgery recently. My mind was racing. How fortunate we are for God to give us the gift of sight.

But God always provides. The late Ray Charles, blind from his childhood, was a gifted piano player and singer. Ronnie Milsap, blind from birth, became a popular country singer.

On another note the Bible says to live more by faith and less by sight. From a different perspective our walk with God depends more on trust and faith than what we see or intellectualize.

And so I live with a grateful heart for the gift to see, and even more so that our faith doesn't depend on our sight.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Does God Still Heal Today?

By Gail Smith

Do you believe God heals today? By that, I mean do you believe that our God still performs miraculous, supernatural healings for people alive today, in  year 2013?  There was a time when I believed that God no longer worked in supernatural ways to heal people.

I recently had the privilege of doing some research for authors Cecil Murphey and Twila Belk on a book just published, "I Believe in Healing". Cec has written over 125 books, including "90 Minutes in Heaven and Gifted Hands."  My job on this book was to look for documented, divine healings by God, before the year 2000.

Subtitled “Real Stories from the Bible, History and Today,” "I Believe in Healing" is an exhaustive collection of healings ranging from the very earliest recorded healings to stories of people today that can’t be explained by natural means, reminding us that God is the same, yesterday, today and forever.
I say “exhaustive” because as one involved with the research I can tell you that I was blessed to spend many hours searching, reading and documenting these healings, online and in books, too. From barren Sarah (Gen 11:30) to the acts of the apostles, to first century healings, continuing on to Saint Bede, Kathryn Kuhlman and C. H. Spurgeon, God’s power and compassion has been reaching out to touch the sick, the blind, the lame and others with divine healing throughout all of time.

If you should be looking for evidence that God still heals today, this book will answer questions, give examples and save you a lot of time.

Written in two large sections, Part 1 “Stories and Testimonies of Healing” is just that, while Part 2 answers “Questions About Healing.” You can click here to see chapter titles and the “Table of Contents.”

As for me, I became a believer in healing a long time ago, thanks to the ministry of an extraordinary pastor, Ron Dunn. And if I hadn’t changed my mind way back then, I certainly would have believed after reading 20 centuries worth of healings, or at least a tiny fraction of them.

What a great job I have-- it was an incredible blessing for me to be able read story after story of people who were touched by God in so many miraculous ways. No matter the time, place, or circumstances of those in need, God is still at work. My faith has been strengthened, my heart has praised God and my life has been enriched by a growing awareness of God’s magnificent works of healing down through the ages.

I’d like to invite you to experience the same blessing. Take a look at "I Believe in Healing". You’ll find biblical answers to the most common questions about healing as well as amazing acts of God’s mercy and grace.


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Making a L.I.F.E.

By Kathryn C. Lang

I have been caught up in living. Between the doing for the family, doing for the church and squeezing in some doing for my own career, I have lived so fast that I have almost missed out on life. Stopping to smell the roses is not about going through this world in a slow pace. It is a reminder that as we go through this world we are to remember that life should be more important than living.

L.I.F.E

Love – first and foremost, we are designed to love. Love God and love others and everything else will fall in to place. I keep seeing the need for relationships in every part of my day and from every direction. I was not designed to be a solitary animal. Relationships are important and love must be the foundation of them all.

Invest – growing anything takes time. Growing strong relationships requires an investment of time, energy, and self. Until I get to the place where I am willing to invest, I will always be missing that something more that makes the living worth it.

Forgive – a heart fostering hurt only hurts itself. Forgiveness is not for the benefit of others, but for the blessing of my own heart. I can learn to live when I first begin to forgive.

Encourage – a happy heart is good medicine for self and for all those it encounters. Share a smile. Share some hope. Through sharing, you will find that encouragement grows best in your own life when it is released freely and without concern to others. It comes back and makes the day full of the Son.

Make the most of your life. Love, invest, forgive and encourage and see that the roses have a new scent, the laughter dances on the wind and hope springs eternal.

# # #

Kathryn C. Lang shares words of hope and inspiration as a full-time wordsmith. Come on over to her website, www.kathrynclang.com and visit with her. She would love to hear from you.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

EMBRACING BRACES

By Sharon Wilhite


Three years ago, in February of 2010, our daughter was blessed with braces (compliments of a generous neighbor!). Now, when I was growing up, braces were considered more of a curse than a blessing. Taunts, pain, and metallic ugliness were endured while awaiting orthodontic perfection.
 
These days, most adolescents embrace braces (get it?!) as a fashion statement. Every month my daughter (and her sister who also flaunts braces) coordinate a new color of dental rubber bands to fit their current wardrobe. Thousands of dollars invested to straighten teeth, and all they focus on is if neon green or hot pink would be the better shade for that particular season, month, or approaching holiday! Sure there is also pain involved; sometimes LOTS of pain. But, it all seems worthwhile when that special someone (or anyone) notices the new shade and comments, "Wow! that rubber band color looks really great on you!"
 
Today, she finally had her braces removed, and we celebrated with a Culver's hot fudge sundae. Was she ecstatic over a new, perfect, filed-down smile? Or was she sad about the loss of a very visible fashion accessory? I don't know; you'll have to ask her!
 
 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Wondering About God?

By Michael Elmore


Have you ever wondered about God? I mean really wondered about him? ...That's good because that means you have begun a spiritual journey and you have a sincere desire to find God. So as you are wondering about God, you may be relieved and excited to discover that God has provided several ways for us to learn more about him. Besides this, God promises us that "everyone who seeks will find (Matt. 7:8)." You can depend on that!

One of those ways is that God has revealed himself to us is through his Son, Jesus. Jesus said that he and God are One and that if you have seen him, then you have seen God. The best way to learn about God then is to learn about Jesus by reading about his life in the Bible. Open up your mind to learn more about God.

Another way that God reveals himself is through his actions. One of the greatest things God reveals is that He is Love. God loves you and me so much that he acted by sending Jesus to earth to give his life for us. Jesus said that no one can prove his love in any better way than by laying his life down for them. Open up your heart, let God's love touch you deep inside and invite him into your life.

Finally, one of the most important ways to learn about God is by talking to him and getting to know him. Can you imagine trying to get to know someone but never even talking to them? Praying (talking with God) is crucial to someone wondering about God. It's the best way to get to know him personally. You may be surprised to learn that God is longing to talk with you. Open up your spirit and discover that God wants to know you and that he is vitally concerned for you.

Wondering about God is a journey. It starts with a glimmer of hope that maybe there is a God and if so what are the personal implications of His existence to me. Wondering about God leads to discovering God and a revolutionary and fundamental change in your world view. Suddenly, God is at the Center and you have a personal relationship with Him through Jesus Christ. The beauty of it all is wondering about God never ends – it’s a life long journey that grows, and grows, and grows. We discover new things about God every single day. Keep wondering, you will find Him as your journey continues. (Matt. 7:7).

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Frequently Thought Responses to FAQ in Pregnancy

By Charis Seeley

My husband and I are expecting our second child in early September, and few things bother me quite so much as the grammatical implications of, “Do you know what you’re having?” A baby. It’s a baby.
 
 
Frequently Thought Responses to FAQ in Pregnancy


We’re due in September.

This is our second child.

No, we’re not having any more.

Oh, that’s nice. Yes. Mm-hm.

I’m glad having seven children worked out for you,
but I’m really sure two is enough for me.

More to love, yes.

No, two. I’m really extra sure on this.

What?

Oh, we think we’ll have a boy, but we’ll see.

It might be a velociraptor or a litter of kittens.

I guess you just never really know.

Yes, I am getting larger.

Thank you. Thank you so much for that.

All the mirrors at my house broke.

It’s so helpful to have people like you around.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

QUESTIONS, ANYONE?

By Nerola (Rolie) Grady


Mom always told me that I had tons of questions from the time I was little. What makes this go? Why does that happen? She welcomed my naptime as a silent oasis in the middle of each day. Little did she realize that I was recharging my batteries for Round Two in the afternoon!

Then as now, my mind is usually going at a fast pace. How about you? What puzzles you, frustrates you, or just keeps you up at night? Here are a few of my latest bunch of brain teasers:

-How do you stop the automatic number indentation in WORD documents?
-Are there any politicians with common sense?
-What ‘special place’ did I designate for the birthday fund?
-What can I make for supper when brain fog rolls in at 4:00 p.m.?

These are small items…nothing earth shaking, but they do pilfer emotional pocket change if I let them. It got me to look more closely at this subject. Can anything good come out of a pile of questions?

I used to think the answer was no. It’s easier to settle into a daily routine and know exactly what is coming next. But all routine and no change saps the color out of life.

If you want to get from Point A to Point B, you usually need some kind of road map to show the way. What if questions are the brain’s way of spurring you on to the next change point? Something like a mental walking stick.
Big challenges seem insurmountable until broken down to bite size pieces.

Next to a good belly laugh, don’t you love it when the light bulb turns on…when the answer finally comes? It’s like a tiny bubble of resolution in a sea of ambiguity. One problem down, several more to go. Will I ever get all my questions resolved? Probably not, but what makes the process special are the answers that become life changers for me.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Some reflections on February Snow

By Jeannette Doran



God’s mercy reflects in the pristine snow

With the dawn comes the radiant light,

Glistening diamonds thru the window pane,

Boughs of snow clothed branches hang everywhere,

My Beloved showers me with gifts of beauty,

The creation of God fills me with wonder.

“As God sends forth the rain and the snow to water the earth

And makes it bud and flourish so Your Word, O God comes to nourish our

souls and will not return to You empty. But will accomplish Your

desires” (cf Is.55 v: 10-11)

“You send the snow like white wool; and scatter frost upon the ground like

ashes, hurl the hail like stones. Who can stand against Your freezing cold?
Then, at Your command, it all melts. You send Your winds, and the ice

thaws. You have revealed Your words to Jacob...” {and to us} (cf Psalm 147 v:15-19)
God graces us with an abundance of gifts to fill our hearts with wonder

Your Word calls us to respond to Your unconditional love with our whole

minds and hearts and thoughts. May our hearts be filled with loving

gratitude for all God's gracious gifts each day in Word, beauty of


Creation and loving mercy which never ends.




Thursday, February 21, 2013

CAN YOU HEAR HIM, NOW?

By Marie Tschopp


My friend, Paula, tweeted several funny sentences under “stuff moms never say.” Things like,
“Yes, you may use your birthday money to buy a tattoo.”
“I’ll do your homework while you hang out with your friends.”
“Here, have another Mountain Dew.”

I laughed because I knew moms never say such things.

Then it struck me that there are things God never says, either. He never utters,
“I sent my Son to die for everybody—but you.”
“That sin you haven’t forgiven yourself for—I haven't forgiven you either.”
“I bless her more, because I love her more.”
“End it all. No one cares”

God’s voice never says such things. Instead, these mutterings are from “the thief (who) comes only to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10 NIV).
God’s tone is gentle and kind, never sarcastic—“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matt. 11:29 NIV)
His words might convict, but they never condemn—“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:17 NIV)
He speaks hope, not despair-“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).
Whose voice are you hearing?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Finding Hope in Relationships

By Kathryn Lang


The dark place captured me and threatened to drag me down into a deep pit. I clung to the edges of hope, but my grip weakened with each moment. I looked around for something, anything. I was alone.

I had followed the rules. I had marched along in stride down the well-trodden path. I had listened to the steps that they provided. And yet, the more I tried and the more I did and the more I followed, the darker it became. My hope slipped more with each passing day.

Words from another writing friend managed to re-kindle my flame. “You can.” The words were not prophetic. They offered no magic beans. They were not even that fancy – especially for a writer. They had the spark of inspiration simply because they were sent from someone that genuinely cared about me.

We had a relationship.

I thought long and hard about how those words managed to give me the light that nothing else could provide. I looked through my notes and ideas. I even reviewed something that my hubby had said to me just a few months back. I discovered that the place from where she had offered the words was the common thread to all that I had accumulated.

It is all about relationships.

I dove into connections in a way I had never attempted before. I am a naked writer (and I do not mean that I have to keep my shades shut to keep the neighbors from getting nosey). I write without much of a filter, and I hope that my raw words will be an inspiration or revelation to others. But, I never expected anyone to write back.

Now, I am attempting to engage my readers and make them companions in the journey. So, “Won’t you be my . . . companion?” Tell me how you engage your readers – on your website or even through your books or other writings. Share with me how you felt about the words I shared. Visit my website and link to my articles from your website. Connect with me.

Because all of it – writing, business, and especially life – is about relationships.

# # #

Kathryn C. Lang lives and works as a wordsmith – sharing inspiration and encouragement through words that are written, spoken and drawn. Visit her website, www.kathrynlang.com, to learn more about her and to join her in her journey.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

L O V E

By Sharon Wilhite

He loves me, he loves me not.
He loves me, he loves me not.
The petals on the daisy
One by one they slowly drop.
Is this love, or is it not?

Some say love is an ocean.
So vast and wide and free.
But what if a storm rages,
Cold waves wash right over me?

Then there is cute puppy love,
All warm and cozy and sweet.
But, then what if I grow up,
And my needs he cannot meet?

Oh, love is like a rainbow
With each color neon bright.
But what if rain clouds return
And obscure each hue from sight?

Sometimes love is like a rose,
Its perfume a fragrance rare.
But what if I grasp too tight,
And its thorns rip me and tear?

Maybe love is really blind,
Not a flaw before my eyes;
But what if my vision returns,
Revealing hidden faults and lies?

True love is always a choice,
Eyes wide open, focus clear,
Seeing the good, seeing the bad,
Drawing closer year after year.


He loves me, he loves me not.
He loves me, he loves me not.
The petals on the daisy
One by one they slowly drop.
I choose to love - time to stop.


This Valentine's Day CHOOSE to love!

"Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another." (I John 4:10, 11)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

By Lori Boruff

The real-life love story of Dave and Jo Lawson looks like a Hallmark movie. The divinely written script weaves war, romance, tragedy and happy endings together for an enchanted story of destiny and unending love.

It begins during war time when Germany invades Europe. But in a land far from bombs and bullets, two high school friends are separated by their dreams for adventure.


Jo's four year college education didn't satisfy her thirst to see the world. Joining the Coast Guard did. Her first assignment landed her at Air-Sea Rescue in San Pedro, California. While on duty she receives an emergency call about a mid-air collision between two planes. The pilots ejected landing them 20 miles off the coast. She learns later, one of the rescued pilots is her high school friend—Dave.

Dave loved the military and his near death experience couldn't keep him out of the sky. He spends a year overseas flying a SBD dive bomber searching for Japanese submarines. At war's end he continues to fly in the ferry command transporting aircraft. After receiving orders to transport a plane from San Francisco to San Pedro, an extra large heart-shaped box of chocolates made it's way to the two-seater Helldiver for special delivery to Jo still in San Pedro.

Just before take off, an unexpected passenger jumps on board and buckles in.

“What happened to the package in the seat?” Dave yells over his shoulder.

Silence.

“I'm sitting on it,” the sailor sheepishly admits.

Determined Dave did not abort his Valentine's Day mission. Love is in the air and the smashed box of chocolates melts her heart.

After discharge from military duty, Jo returns to the midwest teaching in a one-room schoolhouse. Dave continues his reserve training in Chicago.

Their relationship blossoms and one spring day love is in the air—again.

The rumble over head lured Jo and her students outside just in time to see something fall from the plane. The curious kids ran to the drop site like a covey of quail. They confiscated a knotted pillowcase and opened to find a coded message: .. .- ..- –...-. .----..-

Who could make sense of dots and dashes? The former Coast Guard SPAR could—that's who! Dave delivers a morse code love note reading I love you.

The long time friends tied the real knot on May 13, 1950 and renew their wedding vows every year—
but that's not all.

Every Valentine's Day, Jo affectionately receives a smashed box of chocolates from her soldier sweetheart.