Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tim Hawkins on People

Monday, November 28, 2011

Shelter in the Shadow

With the weather gradually turning cooler, I'm trying to take advantage of every opportunity to work outdoors.  I love to sit outside in the sun.  I can write or read.  Somehow, I seem to focus better when I'm surrounded by nature.  Mitch also loves the chance to run and play.  He digs holes, chases squirrels and races with the neighbor's dog along the fence line.  Tippy, on the other hand, is not terribly fond of the back yard.  Take her on a hike, she's happy.  Let her swim in the lake, she's content.  But send her to the back yard, and she acts as if I've sentenced her to some form of cruel and unusual punishment.  She reminds me of the giraffe on Madagascar, "Nature!  It's all over me!  Get it off!!!"

So when we're outside, I always know where to find her.  She is generally tucked securely behind my chair, resting in the shadow I cast.  While there, she is content enough to rest and seems more or less undisturbed by her surroundings.

As I watched her the other day, I was reminded of my need and desire to stay in my Master's shadow.  I long to find that peace and contentment that can only be found under the shadow of His wings.  I seek to be less disturbed by the world around me, and I know that is only possible if I abide in the shadow of the Almighty.

Sometimes, I feel just like Tippy.  "The world!  It's all over me.  Get it off!!!!"  And so, just as she does, I seek shelter in the shadow.  I guess my fat, little beagle is smarter than I give her credit for.

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.- Psalm 91:1-2

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

May I Never Forget to Be Thankful

And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole. - Luke 17:11-19

My, my, my! How rude! How completely and totally ungrateful. I'm sure those healed lepers were anxious to go home and see their families, but certainly they could have spared a moment to say, "Thank you," right?

How about us? How often are we guilty of the same thing? So often we come to God with our expectations. We expect Him to work. We expect Him to meet our needs. We expect Him to answer our prayers in the way we see fit. When He doesn't, we get angry, we pout and complain. When He does meet our expectations, we often have no reaction. We're pleased that God did what we asked, but we don't voice that pleasure in the form of thanks. We expect so much and give thanks for so little. Shame on us!

Today, be thankful for all things, even the little things that don't seem like a big deal. Let's spend the day giving thanks and praising the Lord for who He is and for all He's done.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Four Reasons to Be Thankful


As we approach the holiday season, our minds turn to thoughts of our many blessings . . . or at least they should. When we turn on the news or listen to conversations around us, it doesn't seem like there's much to be thankful for. Wars. Layoffs. Economic crises. Violence. Greed. The world is becoming a very dark place, and in that darkness it becomes easy to forget how good God has been to us. Just like the children of Israel in Psalm 107, we gripe and complain about how bad things are and neglect to praise God for how He has blessed us. But in that blessed Psalm, God gives us four reminders of why we should be thankful.

1. He leads us in the way we need to go. - vs. 7
If we are faithful to follow the Lord's leading, we will stay in His will. If we are in His will, then all will be well. Does that mean no bad things will happen? No, but it means we will have peace knowing that we are where God wants us to be.

2. He brightens our days. - vs. 14
Ever feel like you're surrounded by darkness? Ever feel like there's no light to be found? I have, but the truth is Jesus is the Light. He can brighten even our darkest days if we'll allow Him to. Spend a few minutes with Him and see if you don't notice a ray of light on the horizon.

3. He speaks to us - vs. 20
What a privilege to know that the God of this world takes time to speak to His children! He has given us His Word as a lamp for our feet and a light for our path. He speaks to us through messages and songs. He nudges our hearts and whispers to us in His still, small voice. God still speaks. The question is, "Are we listening?"

4. He calms either our storms or our souls - vs. 29
The McKameys sing a song entitled "Sometimes He Calms Me." The message of the song is that sometimes it is God's will for us to go through a storm, but during those times in which He will not calm the storm, He can calm us. He gives us sweet peace to make it through the trial. He knows what we need, and as much as we don't like it, sometimes we need the storms. But even during those times, we need to not stress, for God can calm our troubled hearts.

I encourage you to take time to read through this entire Psalm, but if nothing else, meditate on these four points. God deserves our thankfulness. He deserves our praise. Whether we praise Him through the sunshine or praise Him through the storm, let's remember to give all glory to Him for He alone is worthy!

Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the lovingkindess of the LORD. - Psalm 107:43

Friday, November 18, 2011

If I Had Known

Typically, Wednesday is my errand day.  If there's shopping to do, it gets done on Wednesday.  It just works for me.  This past Wednesday, however, was nasty.  It rained all day.  Thunderstorms darkened the sky, and I had no intention of going out.  I didn't need anything that badly.  I decided it was the perfect day to pull my laptop into my lap and work from the bed.  I didn't even get out of my pajamas until it was time to get ready for church.  In this instance, procrastination seemed to be the way to go.

Imagine my dismay when I awoke Thursday morning to find the same dreary skies and pouring rain.  "Well, that's just great!" I complained.  "The rain was supposed to be over.  That's why I waited."  Not only was it rainy, but it was cold.  At least Wednesday had been warm.  But because I had put my errands off, I now had to go out in the cold rain.  I was not pleased.

If I had known it was going to be so cold and rainy on Thursday morning, I would have gone ahead and run my errands on Wednesday.  But I had no way of knowing.  All I could do was rely on the forecast, and we all know how reliable that truly is.

Wouldn't life be easier if we knew what tomorrow held?  If we knew what was in our future, wouldn't it make our present a little easier to deal with?  But we don't know, and that's why we have to trust the One Who does.  That's why it's not wise to make decisions on our own -- because we have no idea what the future holds.  But God does. 

Plowing through life without heeding God's direction can lead to much worse than soggy shoes and goosebumps.  Let's ask God what He wants us to do and follow His leadership.  Not only does He know what tomorrow holds, but He's already there.  And with such knowledge, He can help us make the right decisions.  We need only to listen and obey!

I'm happy to report the storms abated and the skies cleared. . .on my way home.  But hey, I'll take sunny skies anytime!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Nature of God by Mona Hanna

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. - Romans 8:35-39.

In her book, The Nature of God, author Mona Hanna explores the limitless depths of God's love and acceptance.  She details the nature of God by describing His mercy, forgiveness, patience and grace.  Each of the fifty short devotions delves into a deeper understanding of the attributes of God.  We are reminded that even when we feel unlovable, God is there.  His love in unending.  His mercies are new every morning.  His faithfulness is without end.

The book is well-written, and the structure allows for the reader to begin each day with one of the short devotions.  What better way to start each day than with a reminder of God's love!

Doctrinally, the book had a few areas that troubled me.  There were a couple of topics on which the line between truth and error was blurred.  For example, many times God's acceptance is described in such a way that it seems God accepts our sins as well as ourselves.  I Peter 1:16 says, "Be ye holy; for I am holy."  It does not say, "Do the best you can, and that will be good enough for God."  Yes, God accepts us as we are, but He loves us too much to leave us that way.  He longs for us to grow in Him.  He will forgive our sins, but He will not accept them or excuse them.

Another area that brought me grief was how the author made the relationship between God and the Christian seem like a one-sided arrangement.  From what I read, I inferred that Christians can live their lives as they see fit, and as long as their happy, God is happy.  They are not required to be separate from the world and do "Christian" things.  I disagree.  I Corinthians 10:31 says, "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God."  The word "Christian" means "Christ-like".  Everything a Christian does should be Christ-like and for the glory of God.  Yes, God wants us to be happy, but He also wants us to follow His plan for our lives.

Whether or not these blurred lines were intentional, I do not know.  I may have totally misunderstood what the author was trying to say, but if that is the case, there needs to be more clarity. For stronger Christians who have studied the Bible and are firmly grounded in their faith, this book might be a beneficial addition to their libraries.  For weaker Christians, I fear there are too many gray areas for me to recommend it.  

Monday, November 14, 2011

I Have a Plan!

I'm a planner.  I like to make plans and stick to them.  I enjoy a routine.  I don't feel bound by it or suffocated by it.  On the contrary, I relish the freedom it gives me.  By having a plan established, I don't have to waste my time walking in circles, trying to figure out what to do next.  It's all laid out for me.  All I have to do is follow the plan.

My love for plans goes far beyond just my writing.  I like to plan out my day, my meals, my errands, the songs I'll play for the church offeratories, and anything else that needs to fit into my overwhelmingly hectic schedule.  I try to even plan for the unexpected because I just never know when I'll get a last-minute phone call from someone requesting my time for something. 

But the hardest area for me to plan is my finances.  Jason gets paid hourly.  If the work is there, he gets a good check.  If the work's not there, well, that's when we really tighten our belts.  I'm paid by the job or by the sale (in regards to my books and e-books).  Again, when there's work or people are in the mood to buy books, I get a little pay.  When the opposite occurs, we tighten our belts a little more.  It's impossible to budget because I never know how much money will be coming in on any given week.  For that reason, I have to plan.  I have to look ahead and see which bills are coming, when they're coming, how much they are, and whether or not I can afford to go to the grocery store this week or wait for the next paycheck.  It's a depressing procedure, for in trying to plan, I'm forced to focus on a very unpleasant reality.  That focus always leads me to the same place:  fear and worry.

You see, I'm still struggling to find the balance between planning for tomorrow and worrying about tomorrow.  Planning is good; worrying is not.  There's nothing wrong with being prepared and organized.  In fact, there's everything right about it.  The Bible says that God is not the author of confusion.  He does things in an orderly fashion, and we are to be like Him.  The key is to seek His will, plan accordingly and then leave the results up to Him.  I'm okay with the first two parts, but I really struggle with the last.  Even when I think I've left the results up to Him, I find myself wondering, "But what if the mortgage comes out before the next paycheck goes in?"  That's where the following verse comes into play:  Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. (II Corinthians 10:5)

Bringing every thought into obedience.  That means catching those sinful thoughts, those thoughts of worry and fear, and saying, "No, I will not harbor you. Get out. You have no place here."  It's the process of getting our thoughts under control, which is important because when our thoughts are out of control, our emotions follow.  Worrisome thoughts lead to discouragement, depression, resentment and unthankfulness, among other things.  We cannot let these thoughts run wild.  They must be expelled.

Before I wrap up this post, I want to make it clear that God has been good to me and my family.  Despite our fluctuating income, we have never gone hungry or done without anything we need.  God has always provided, and I know He will continue to do so.  Yes, even when I've not been faithful to Him, He's been faithful to me.  That being said, I would appreciate your prayers as I seek to find the balance between planning for tomorrow and worrying about tomorrow.  My prayers will be with you as well!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Yes, You Matter

There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead. - Luke 16:19-31

This is a bittersweet passage in that we are told of Lazarus passing on to Paradise and the rich man passing into hell.  It's important to understand that the rich man was not cast into hell because he was rich.  No, it was because he was trusting in those riches to get him into Paradise.  But no matter how good or how rich he was, he didn't have the key to entrance into Paradise.  He didn't know Christ.  He had not accepted the gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus.

What I find so fascinating about this passage, however, is that the beggar is named while the rich man remains anonymous.  That's backwards from the way things are done today, isn't it?  The wealthy are known.  The names of the famous grace the covers of magazines.  Many people today are striving to make a name for themselves.  Why?  Because no one likes to go unnoticed.  Everyone likes to be recognized for who or what they are.  We all like to feel at least somewhat significant in the grand scheme of things.

Yes, if it had been left up to man to write the Bible, I believe this story would read somewhat differently.  The facts would be the same, but I think the rich man would have been named and the beggar would have been left anonymous.  Thankfully, the writing was not left to man.  Sure, God used human instruments, but He told them what to say.  He specified for Luke to name Lazarus and not the rich man.  Why?  Could it be that He wants to remind us that no one is insignificant in His eyes?  Could this passage serve as a reminder that we are all special to Him?  Could it point out that it isn't wealth or fame that makes someone "stand out" but those who have accepted Christ?

To this day, the rich man remains anonymous.  Until we reach Heaven, we'll never know the man's name.  But we will always know Lazarus, the name of the lowly beggar.

Perhaps you're going through a time where you're wondering if anything you say or do really matters.  It matters to God.  You may be going through a spell where you feel lost, alone and insignificant.  Never fear; the eyes of Heaven are watching.  No deed goes unnoticed.  No tear is missed.  No cry is unheard.  God loves you, and He knows your name.  Never forget that!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Provisions, Prophets and Promises

And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word. And the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, Get thee hence, and turn thee eastward, and hide thyself by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan. And it shall be, that thou shalt drink of the brook; and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there. So he went and did according unto the word of the LORD: for he went and dwelt by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan. And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening; and he drank of the brook. And it came to pass after a while, that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land. And the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee. -- I Kings 17:1-9

There is some very important information in these few verses, and it can easily be missed. I know I didn't notice it until my pastor pointed it out a couple of weeks ago.

God commanded Elijah to go to the brook and wait for further instruction. But before Elijah left, God said "I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there." Notice that--"I have commanded," not "I will command." God had already made provision for Elijah. Before the prophet even realized he had a need, God had met that need.

Now, if you'll notice, in verse 9, God commands Elijah to go to Zarephath. He tells the prophet, "I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee." Did you catch it again? "I have commanded" means that it was already done. God knew what Elijah would be needing, and He met those needs.

I know that many people right now are going through difficult times. It seems like darkness is all around us and our prayers are going unheard. Don't despair. Just as with Elijah, God knows our needs, and He will meet those needs in His time. It's hard, and often, it's confusing, but we must have faith. God will pass by at the right time!

Excerpt from Random Ramblings of a Raving Redhead
now available in e-book format for only $2.99.



Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Monday, November 7, 2011

Stained Glass Hearts by Patsy Clairmont

Can people be likened to objects?  Best-selling author, Patsy Clairmont, seems to think so. Clairmont likens us to stained glass windows, molded together into something beautiful despite the shattered fragments we possess.  In fact, the subtitle of Stained Glass Hearts sums it up masterfully: "Seeing Life from a Broken Perspective."  We've all experienced brokenness of some kind -- broken hearts, broken dreams, broken families, etc.  In her witty style and conversational tone, Clairmont discusses the issues of brokenness and the beauty that can be attained when we allow God to re-create us using those jagged shards.

This was not one of Patsy Clairmont's most humorous books.  In fact, because of the seriousness of the topic, there were times I found myself crying rather than laughing.  Nevertheless, the book brought a smile to my lips and peace to my heart.  Through her heartwarming tales and personal revelations, the author reminded me that I'm not alone in my journey through the Christian life.  Her stories of struggle and triumph encouraged me to face my own troubles head on instead of running away in fear.

In addition to her delightful writing, Patsy included an "Art Gallery" at the end of each chapter.  Each gallery contained information and links to paintings, sculptures, music and Scripture related to the topic of the chapter.  I discovered some new favorites and was reacquainted with some old.  Each time I set the book down, I felt renewed and refreshed, and while I would have loved to have read it all in one sitting, I found that reading only one chapter at a time gave me time in between to meditate on what the chapter taught me.

If you've ever experienced brokenness, you'll be able to relate to the stories within this book.  It's a must read for every Christian who's ever asked the question, "Am I the only one who feels like this?"

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”




 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Stillness and Smiles

Each year in November, Jason's parents (who are photographers) gather the immediate family together for a group photo to be placed on the year's Christmas card.  By immediate family, I mean Ed and Tina (my in-laws), Brad (Jason's brother), Pearl (their dog), Jason and I, and both are dogs, Tippy and Mitch.  The entire ordeal is comical and frustrating all at the same time.  It is nearly an impossible feat to get all five people and three dogs looking at the camera at the same time, and getting everyone to smile is like trying to cut an oak tree down with a butter knife.

This year, because the weather has been so pleasant and the foliage so divine, it was decided we should do pictures outside.  From the moment I heard the plan, I knew we were in for a LONG day.  For my dogs, outside time means hiking, especially since we went to a state park for the pictures.  We went for a car ride and attached leashes.  In the minds of my furry children, they were going hiking, and they were excited about it.  The last thing they wanted to do was to sit still for the camera. . . especially Mitch (aka the Energizer Bunny).

It took every bit of effort and patience I possessed to get that dog to be still long enough to take a picture.  He ran, hopped, flopped, jumped.  He wanted to lay on his back and get his belly rubbed.  He wanted to face his mommy and daddy instead of the camera.  He was confused and agitated.  He didn't want to be still; he wanted to hike!  He wanted to commence with his plans for the day, and those plans did not involve staring into a funny-looking black box and being blinded by its bright flash.

Oh, how much I understand what Mitch was feeling, for like him, I do not like to be still.  I don't like for someone or something to waylay my plans.  I don't appreciate feeling confused and agitated when things are not going as I had foreseen.  My natural tendency, just like Mitch, is to try to go about my plans anyway.  I'll run, hop, flop and jump, struggling to have my own way, heedless to the Master's  pleas to be still. 

In my eagerness to do what I want to do, I forget that God has brought me to this place for a reason.  We took the dogs to the park so that we could capture their likeness in a picture we could share with others.  God has brought me to this place for the same reason, only He doesn't want to capture my likeness, but His own likeness within me.  He wants to instill that likeness within me so that I can share it with others.  But for that to be done, sometimes I just have to be still.  Even when I don't understand.  Even when I'm frustrated.  Even when I think I know a better way.

You see, what Mitch didn't know was that I had stowed the backpack in the back of the truck early the morning of pictures.  Jason and I had every intention of taking the dogs for a hike once the photo session was done.  The reward had been planned and was only a moment away.  How much sooner could we have begun the hike had Mitch been more cooperative in the first place?  How much sooner could he have gained his reward?  How much sooner can I gain mine if I'll only learn to be still?

Lord, I ask You today to show me Your will,
But above all else, please help me to be still.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Sophie, Pay Attention by Susan Barnett Braun

As a teacher of nine years, I understand the difficulty of finding good stories for children. Many of the stories being written today are not appropriate for young audiences, and some of them are not appropriate for audiences of any age. Disrespect, bad language, and bad attitudes run rampant in many of today's stories. Unfortunately, many Christian works, while clean and free of negative traits, have a tendency to be dry or predictable. "Sophia, Pay Attention" is like a breath of fresh air to the Christian children's market.

Ms. Braun does an excellent job of weaving together a realistic tale with a familiar Bible story. The main character, Sophia, makes the reader laugh and at times, feel sorry for her. In a sense, I believe every reader, young or old, can relate to Sophie's desire to stay more focused yet falling short of that goal. Her character is lovable and a joy to follow around through the wonderful tale of her efforts and the important lesson she learns from the Bible via her Sunday School teacher.

This book would make a wonderful addition to any library for young readers. The story is easy to read and short enough to be read in one sitting. But I think what I love most is that the book offers more than mere entertainment. It offers an insight into how Biblical principles are not outdated and can be applied to our lives today. Even a young child can find valuable truths in the Word of God and apply those truths to his own life. "Sophie, Pay Attention" fits the bill of being a book that both teaches and entertains.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Decisions in the Dark

Today I would like to deal with a very sobering topic from a lesson I taught in Sunday School this past weekend.  The entire lesson was from my newest book (the one that's not even finished yet) called "Footprints on the Water."  God revealed several interesting nuggets for the lesson, and I was eager to share them with the class and later with you.  But as I prayed over what portion to post this morning, I strongly felt the Lord leading towards the following excerpt from the story of Paul and Silas in prison.  I don't know why He chose this portion or who it's for, but I pray it will be a blessing to someone.


And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. - Acts 16:27

Poor guy! He was just trying to do his job, although I don't think he was actually supposed to be sleeping, but that's another thought for another day. This poor soldier is awakened from his sleep, no doubt by the earthquake, and the first thing he notices is that all of the cell doors are standing open. He naturally assumes the prisoners have escaped. Why wouldn't they? Why, indeed! In his forlorn state, his first instinct is to take out his sword and end his life.

Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem, yet sadly is the only solution some can see when surrounded by darkness. Statistics show that suicide is attempted once every 40 seconds in the US alone. For a myriad of reasons, people see death as their only option or escape. The Philippian jailer felt the same way. We can only imagine the thoughts that must have been running rampant through his mind, but I feel they were thoughts many of us can relate to.

I'm such a failure. Despite his desire to do his job, the jailer thought he had failed, and failure is a powerful thing. It can sap you of your strength and your joy. It can bring about feelings of worthlessness. It is a popular tool in Satan's workshop, one that's proven its effectiveness. It's a shame the jailer didn't have the words of Winston Churchill, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” Yes, failure is hard. Sure, it's difficult to get back up, dust ourselves off and try again. But our effort is not in vain, and we must remember that we are not walking alone.

My family would be better off without me. I often wonder how many times these have been someone's last words. They messed up (as we are all prone to do), but rather than bring disgrace to their family, they decide to end it all. The cause seems noble, but I guarantee you that if you asked that person's loved ones what they thought about it, they would tell you that they would much rather have lived with the shame than lost their loved one. In the heat of the moment, in the midnight hour, everything seems so dark and hopeless. That is not the time to make a decision. Wait for the dawn. If the jailer had waited until the light of dawn filled the prison, he would have seen that the prisoners were still there. He wouldn't have needed Paul's intervention. No matter how hopeless the situation may seem, give it time, and talk to your family. I'm sure they're willing to walk the road with you.

I have nothing left to live for. At this point, the jailer realizes that as soon as his superiors find out the prisoners have escaped, they're going to kill him. Mercy was not shown to those who failed to do their jobs. From the jailer's point of view, there was no reason to live. What he didn't see, however, was God's point of view. God wasn't done with this man. He still had a plan, a job that only this man could accomplish. From God's point of view, this man had so much to live for. When it seems as if you've lost everything and there's nothing worth living for, remember that you're only seeing from one point of view. God still has a plan for you. He's not done with you yet. He has a job that only you can do, and He'll give you everything you need to accomplish that job. Don't quit on God. He didn't quit on you.