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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Another One of Those Days

Have you ever noticed that the times you need things to run smoothly are the exact times that things seem to just fall apart?  You know, like you're already running late for work, then you spill your coffee all down your shirt.  After changing tops, you run to the car, only to be stopped in a traffic jam the size of the Great Wall of China.  Frustrating, isn't it?  Well, today has certainly been one of those days.

After taking my morning walk (which I cut short due to the many demands on my plate today), I sat down and made a list of all the things I needed to accomplish before we left for our trip on Wednesday.  To be honest, the size of the list made me a little queasy.  Still, I soldiered on.  God was on my side.  I was in a positive mood.  I had gotten a good night's sleep.  I knew it could be done. . . until. . .

The first sign of trouble was when I booted up my computer and noticed that it had a virus. . .AGAIN!!!  I have cleaned up this exact same virus three times now, but evidently, I'm missing some little piece of it that keeps mutating into its full ugly form every time I shut down my computer.  Grrr!  After cleaning up the problem once again, I rebooted my computer and went to switch out the laundry.  Imagine my frustration when I noticed the wet floor seeping from underneath the dryer.  Wonderful!  The washer was leaking somewhere, and I still had two loads of laundry to do.

I have to be honest with you, at this point I was tempted to drown my sorrows in chocolate and go back to bed.  There was too much work to be done to have to deal with all these problems.  I didn't have the time, the energy or the state of mind to fight these battles.  And so, through my tears of frustration, I did the only thing I knew to do.  I turned my eyes heavenward and cried, "Lord, a little help please!"

And do you know what?  I got it.  No, the virus didn't fix itself and neither did the washing machine.  But as I sought the Lord, He whispered sweet peace to my soul and reminded me that while my problems seemed overwhelming to me, they were nothing that He couldn't handle.  In those quiet moments, He helped me to remember that He has never failed me and that He had everything under control.  And most importantly, He made me aware of His presence.  Right there, in the midst of my feisty computer and leaky washer, God was holding my hand and whispering in my ear, "It's okay, child.  I'm here.  I'll give you the strength and energy and state of mind you need to get through this.  Just hold on to me because I'm already holding on to you."

I can't tell you that the computer and washing machine are now fixed, but I can attest to the fact that my attitude is, and that makes a big difference.  I am no longer facing the day with dread and a sense of being overwhelmed.  Instead, I'm looking at my list with the certainty that there's nothing on it that my God can't handle.

How's your list looking today?  Are you feeling overwhelmed by demands and frustrations beyond your control?  If so, I urge you to do what I did.  Seek God.  Ask for His help.  Then be willing to accept the help in whatever form it may come.  God has it under control, and I guarantee you, there's nothing on your list that He can't handle.

Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh: Is there any thing too hard for me? - Jeremiah 32:27

Monday, October 27, 2014

Disaster on the River by Cheryl Rogers

Chet has to know. If he’s going to take his third trip into the Florida backwoods with a group of preteens and teens, he has to hear from God. On the first trip, 13-year-old Zack went missing in the middle of the night. Then a hurricane headed their way! On the second trip, two boys left the trail to explore – even though they knew very well what happened to Zack. Then a forest fire struck!

Chet’s a city boy. While he is no longer a newbie at camping, he wants to be absolutely sure it is God’s will for him to return to the backwoods for his most ambitious adventure: A two-night canoe trip.  One of the members of his youth group, Jeff, loves canoeing and has been begging for the group to go. Chet’s lined up a canoeing lesson from a wilderness expert. Now he needs to know if you want to join them (virtually, of course).

We talked with the fictitious youth leader Chet about his wilderness Bible Camps -- and what he has lined up for the next trip.

Q. Are the boys from church eager to return to the backwoods for another retreat, Chet?
A. I have a core group that’s very interested in these wilderness retreats. Zack. Jeff. They always rope in Chang, although I suspect he’d rather have a video party. Then there are the younger boys, Alfonso and Sammy. They are ready. The parents, however, have been somewhat of a challenge. No one wants his boy to go missing like Zack did on the first trip. They need to be convinced. I need to take as many precautions as is humanly possible. And I need to be sure to seek God, to be sure I am in his will. That’s why I’m reaching out, to ascertain the interest in what I’m doing.

Q. What’s the idea behind the Bible Camps?
A. Camping is an integral part of growing up for some kids. They love it. And it gives me an opportunity to teach them about God, amidst his creation, and encourage them to surrender their lives to him.

Q. Spiritually speaking, it seems your Bible Camps have had an astounding amount of success. Can you tell us what God has done?
A. I am always glad to give glory to God. I owe him everything. He picked me up out of a New York gang and turned me into a youth fellowship leader. There was a time when I never thought people would trust me with their kids, at all. Now, I’m wondering if they’ll trust me with their kid in the backwoods. God is so good.

Well, the first year, Zack had a beautiful encounter with God’s love and mercy when he ignored instructions, and wandered off in the middle of the night from camp. It was a traumatic experience, I am sure, and Zack sought God like he was taught to do. In his desperation, he surrendered his life to God, and was born again in the Spirit. This was a major breakthrough, not only for Zack, but for the group. Zack began praying for others and sharing God’s love with them.

Then, the second year, God demonstrated his ability to heal through a woman named Sandy.  The boys found her camping far off the beaten trail to avoid electricity.  She was born again, and healed. The boys got to pray for her and witness her miraculous recovery from an incurable disease, Environmental Illness. I expect to see great things happen this year – if God does indeed want us to return to the backwoods.

Q. Tell us how you prepare for these trips.
A. Well, a lot goes into them, actually. It’s easier, in some ways, to plan because we’ve been there before. But we still need to recruit and sign up the boys, get the permission slips signed, collect the money, buy/rent supplies, train them in outdoor skills, and pray. I learned with the first trip you can never pray too much.

Q. What about canoeing? Why canoeing this trip? Is the group ready to boat with alligators on the Crooked River?
A. I don’t think I could ever personally be ready for that. Children are bait for alligators. Our core group of boys, however, are not little anymore. If they were, I wouldn’t go.  I would never do anything to jeopardize their welfare. The experts from Florida tell me alligators are no problem. We just need to stay clear of them and they will stay clear of us.

Because I don’t believe an overnight canoe trip is advisable for inexperienced canoers -- including myself, by the way -- I have planned for a canoe lesson prior to the trip. That way everyone who wants to accompany us can have some real canoe experience beforehand. We also will have our canoeing instructor, a wilderness expert, accompany us on the trip.

Q. It sounds like you are well prepared. What should our readers who want to accompany you on the trip know?
A.  Get ready for an adventure! We want everyone to have a great time. Every one of the male characters in the book will have a canoeing buddy, and they’ll be plenty of time to chat and visit, swim in the river, cook over a wood fire, sing and praise God. As readers, and virtual participants, they’re along for the ride – without actually facing the mosquitoes and bugs, or whatever else we encounter.

Q. Why should they sign up for this retreat?
A. Every one who signs up will be among the very first to read the third Bible Camp Mystery, and they’ll get a free e-copy.  The 50th person to sign up will receive an autographed copy of the upcoming trilogy: The first three Bible Camp mysteries, slated for released in print sometime next year.

Q. Where can people learn more about the Bible Camp Mystery series?
A. Hop over to, which features some exclusive interviews from some of the series’ characters. The magazine is published by Bible Camp Mystery author, Cheryl Rogers.

Q. How do readers sign up?
A. If they’re ready to sign up for my third expedition into the backwoods, they should visit  Registrants receive a free copy of Disaster on the River, scheduled for release this November. Remember, you’re not obligating yourself to actually face snakes, alligators, or summer rainstorms in the Central Florida backwoods ... but, you’ll enter their world through the book. Hope you can join us!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Keeping Bad Company

And the Lord was with Jehoshaphat, because he walked in the first ways of his father David, and sought not unto Baalim;  But sought to the Lord God of his father, and walked in his commandments, and not after the doings of Israel. Therefore the Lord stablished the kingdom in his hand; and all Judah brought to Jehoshaphat presents; and he had riches and honour in abundance. (II Chronicles 17:3-5)

 Now Jehoshaphat had riches and honour in abundance, and joined affinity with Ahab. (II Chronicles 18:1)

To the casual reader, these passages don't appear to be talking about the same man, but they are.  Jehoshaphat was the king of Judah, and unlike so many that ruled before him, he decided to follow the will of God.  From what the Bible tells us, he was a good man, so why in the world was he hooking up with the most wicked king that Israel had ever known?  It makes no sense.  Ahab was the exact opposite of Jehoshaphat.  He spit upon the very principles that the king of Judah stood for.  They had nothing in common except for their kingship.  So, why join forces?  Was it a lack of faith on Jehoshaphat's part?  Did he feel that there was strength in numbers?  Did he fear attack from Ahab?  I don't know, but I know that God wasn't happy about it.

And Jehoshaphat the king of Judah returned to his house in peace to Jerusalem. And Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him, and said to king Jehoshaphat, Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the Lord? therefore is wrath upon thee from before the Lord. (II Chronicles 19:1-2)

God has the same question for the king of Judah that I have--"What were you thinking?"  God knew Ahab's heart and the hatred he had for the Lord.  Obviously, He was not pleased about Jehoshaphat playing nice with Ahab.  They weren't supposed to be on the same side, and God made sure that Jehoshaphat knew that.

Before we get too hard on Jehoshaphat, though, we would do well to take a look at the company we've been keeping.  Those thoughts, habits and activities that keep us company throughout the day.  Are they pleasing to God, or are they the exact opposite of the things we should be doing or thinking?  Do they bring honor to God or pleasure to self?  Do they fuel our faith or our fear?  What kind of things are we playing nice to throughout the day?  I'm afraid that if we'll look deep enough, we'll discover that Jehoshaphat wasn't the only one keeping bad company.  

Let's be careful about who and what we invite into our lives.  Jehoshaphat encountered the wrath of God for his misjudgment.  We don't want to encounter the same, do we?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Talk About Stinkin' Thinkin'

Today, I'd like to do something that I rarely do--I'm posting a blog just for me.  First off, let me say that this is a re-post, so if it sounds familiar, you'll understand why.  Second, the reason I'm doing a re-post (particularly this post) is frankly because I needed to hear/read it.  I hope you, too, will receive a blessing from it.

I spend a lot of time at the computer.  Some days more than others.  Then, of course, there are some days when my mind is ready to get up but my body is determined to stay and finish the work.  These days do not bode well.  The conflict between mind and body produces some. . . well, let's just say, interesting results.

Such was the case a couple of days ago when I was typing out my blog entry.  I had already written an article for a company I do freelance work for, prepared my lessons for my college class that evening, answered e-mails and done some editing on my book.  I needed a break.  I should have taken one.  But, no.  Adamant to finish my blogs before I rose from my desk, I soldiered on.

Perhaps that's why one of the sentences I was typing didn't quite say what I meant for it to say.  I was referring to an instance where something popped into my mind, only that's not what I typed.  In my bleary state, I typed "a thought pooped into my mind."  Once I realized my mistake, I had a good laugh. You know, that giggly kind where you're still laughing four hours later.  (I told you I was tired!)  Anyway, I corrected the mistake and carried on with my posting, which, by the way, if you noticed anything strange in one of my recent posts, please let me know.  I'll fix it right away.  I'll be the first to admit that I'm not perfect and errors slip by me, as I'm sure you've noticed.

As I thought (and giggled) about the mistake, I realized that thoughts "poop" into my mind all the time.  It's what I call stinkin' thinkin'.  You know what I mean.  I'm talking about those thoughts that are ugly, misleading and downright dangerous.  Those thoughts that make you bitter.  Those thoughts that stir up anger.  Those thoughts that slip in unannounced and then take over.  One minute you're singing, "Praise God from whom all blessings flow," and the next you're saying, "I can't believe I'm having to do all this work while he's sitting there doing nothing."  "I can't believe she had the nerve to say something about me being disorganized when she's the most disorganized person I've ever met.  "I guess if the sheets are going to get printed off, I'll have to do it.  After all, I do everything else."  "Why is it I never hear from this person until they want something from me?"

Wow, do you smell it?  Like a fresh pile of manure, isn't it?  Bitter.  Resentful.  Proud.  Angry.  Frustrated.  And sneaky.  They're there before we even realize it, and often, before we can catch them, they've already dictated our mood.  Gone is the attitude of praise.  Gone is the thought of worship.  And in their place--nasty, smelly, poopy thoughts.

Am I the only one who struggles with this?  Does anyone else have trouble putting Philippians 4:8 into practice?  Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Think on these things.  Things that are positive.  Things that make you feel good.  Things that put you in the proper frame of mind.  Things that set your heart upon worship and praise.  If a thought doesn't fit into one of those categories, it needs to be dealt with, and fast!  Stinkin' thinkin' doesn't lead to anything good.  On the contrary, stinkin' thinkin' leads to stinkin' attitudes which lead to stinkin' actions and stinkin' reactions.  Then the process continues and repeats.

It's time to stop the stink!  The next time a thought pops into your mind, make sure that's all it's doing.  No pooping allowed!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Who's Your Daddy?

As I thought about what to write this morning, I simply couldn't escape thoughts of the series I've been teaching in Sunday School.  Well, actually, it's a series within a series.  The main series is Miracles of the Old Testament, but we are currently studying about Elijah's contest with the prophets of Baal.  Being one of my favorite stories in the Bible, I thought I knew it inside and out, but the Lord has revealed some interesting points to me throughout the past few weeks.  One of those is the thought I would like to share with you today.

Allow me to set the scene.  Elijah has challenged the 450 prophets of Baal to a little contest.  Each would build an altar with a sacrifice, then cry out to their God/god.  The God/god to answer by fire would be declared the one true God.  Simple.  Direct.  I like it!  Elijah even allows the prophets of Baal to go first.  So they build the altar, place the sacrifice on top and cry out to Baal.  And they cry and cry and cry.  After a few hours, the prophets begin leaping on the altar, still crying out to Baal to send down fire to consume the offering (and the altar on which they're standing).  Duh!  In fact, Elijah has the same attitude I do.

And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked. - I Kings 18:27

I'm glad to know that I'm not the only one who gets a little sarcastic from time to time.  I wonder if Elijah was a red-head too.  Anyway, he mocks, but it's what he says during his mocking that made me stop and think.  Not about Baal, but about my God, the one true God.  Look at what Elijah says:

Maybe he is talking -- Isn't it good to know that God can talk to you and listen to me at the same time, or vice versa?  God can be talking to hearts all around the world and listening to different hearts at the same time.  The line of communication with God has no "hold" button.  While He is a personal Savior, He can deal with many on a personal level all at the same time.  Baal couldn't do that.  Neither can any other god.  But my God can!

Maybe he is pursuing -- The Bible teaches us that our Lord is a Shepherd, searching for His lost sheep.  He is pursuing those who have gone astray.  But unlike the parable of the shepherd who left his fold of ninety-nine to go out and find the one, our God never needs to leave.  He can search for that one lost lamb while remaining with the other ninety-nine.  None of His sheep are ever alone.

Maybe he is on a journey -- Well, that goes right along with what I just said.  God doesn't leave His children alone.  He never takes a vacation from them, even though I wouldn't blame Him if He did.  Despite our faults and failures, He sticks with us through thick and thin.  When we call, He's there. . . always!

Maybe he's asleep -- Can you imagine what God would miss if He were to go to sleep?  How would He know about my problems?  How would He hear my praise?  How could He protect me?  He couldn't, and that's why He never sleeps.  Never!  He doesn't grow tired.  He doesn't "faze out" for a minute or two.  He doesn't miss a thing because He's always paying attention.  He is alert.  He is on watch.  And I'm so thrilled to know that I don't have to wake Him up every time I want to talk with Him.

My dear friends, we serve a wonderful God!  He is so loving and true.  He takes such good care of us and watches over us despite our stubbornness and pride.  He is our Father, Shepherd, Friend and so much more.  What a privilege to be His child!  

If you don't know this relationship with God, I urge you to accept His free gift of salvation today.  I'd be happy to show you the way.  You don't want to miss out like the prophets of Baal did.  Notice this verse:

And it came to pass, when midday was past, and they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded. - I Kings 18:29

Did you catch that?  Not only did they not receive fire, but they didn't even get an answer of any kind.  On top of that, notice the phrase, "nor any to answer."  It doesn't say simply that there wasn't an answer but that there wasn't anyone or anything to answer.  The god they were praying to didn't exist.  And all the while, they ignored the one true God who could give them everything they needed.  Don't miss out on knowing a love unlike any other.  Ask Jesus to save you today!  No matter what you have done, you'll be welcomed into the fold of God.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Distracted by Clutter

I am writing today's posts much later than usual, but I assure you I have a good reason.  The truth is that I couldn't work another minute in my office before cleaning up the clutter. Over the past few weeks, my office has begun to resemble a junk yard.  Stuff has accumulated to the point that I could barely make my way to my desk, and I was having to rearrange stuff before I could reach my bookshelves.  With the changing of seasons, an assortment of clothes littered my hope chest.  Boxes of books from recent book signings and vendor events were stacked under the window.  But the worst of it was the collection of things that needed to go up into the attic. 

The drop-down door to the attic is in my office, which is no big deal.  It doesn't get in my way or distract me from my work.  However, I find it a pain to pull the door down and climb up into the attic for one thing.  So, what I normally do is wait until I have a few things and then make the trip up the ladder.  Unfortunately, the piles of things for the attic has grown, and I've been too busy with other projects to mess with them.  But this morning, as I stepped into my office, I made a decision.  "No more!  I am tired of this clutter.  I can't move.  I can't think.  I am distracted by the mess.  I will not put up with it a moment longer."  Then I pushed up my sleeves and spent the next couple of hours trying to unbury my office.

It was a lot of work, but I must admit it was definitely worth it.  As I sit at my desk now, I am at peace.  There is no clutter in sight.  I can move.  I can concentrate.  I can enjoy the tasks ahead of me because my mind isn't focused on the mess around me.  No more mess.  No more distraction.  Can you hear my sigh of relief?

Sometimes our lives can become as cluttered as my office.  With so much going on, the lists of demands and obligations can pile up just like the boxes and clothing in my work place.  Instead of putting things in their proper places, we allow people, things and situations to clutter our minds.  And because of that, when we strive to do the work God has called us to do, we find that we cannot move.  We cannot think.  We're distracted by the mess around us.

Sometimes, the problem is the same as that with my office--we simply have too much stuff.  In reference to our lives, I'm not necessarily talking about possessions, although they can cause quite a lot of clutter as well, but I'm referring to tasks and responsibilities.  We stretch ourselves too thin.  We think we need to be the perfect spouse, the perfect parent, the perfect employee, the perfect church member and the perfect friend.  We join clubs, attend meetings and work overtime.  We're always on the go and have no time for the things in life that should bring us joy.  Unfortunately, those are the things that have been buried under the mess.  They're still there, but we can no longer see them through the clutter.

One of the main reasons I waited so long to de-clutter my office was because I was too busy doing a lot of other things. They were good things, but were they things that I really should have been doing?  Were they more important than straightening up my office so that I could be more productive in the work that the Lord has called me to do?  It's difficult to say "no" to a friend's plea for help or your church's need of your assistance, but sometimes it is God's will for us to say, "no."  He has something for each of us to do, and we won't be able to do that work if we're too distracted by all the clutter around us.

Once we do clean up the mess, though, the results are amazing.  The peace of knowing that we're doing the exact thing we're supposed to do is overwhelming.  The ability to do that work without being hindered or distracted is exhilarating.  We can enjoy the tasks ahead of us because we aren't focused on the mess around us.

Come on, gang.  Let's roll up those sleeves and get busy.  We've got some de-cluttering to do!

And this I speak for your own profit; not that I may cast a snare upon you, but for that which is comely, and that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction. - I Corinthians 7:35

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Right Ingredient Is Essential

Have you ever had one of those days where it seemed as if your brain stayed in bed? Sad to say, I've had more than I can count. In fact, I had one recently. It was one of those days where there was much more to be accomplished than there was time to accomplish it; nevertheless, I charged onward in hopes of getting it all done. One chore that awaited me was the daily task of loading and unloading the dishwasher.

As I typically do, I had run the dishwasher at night while we were sleeping. So the next morning, when I opened the dishwasher to empty it, the first thing I noticed was that the dishes were not clean. Baffled and frustrated, I threw another dishwasher tab in there and started the cycle over again. A little while later when I went to unload the dishes, I noticed that they still were not clean. Knowing that the only recent change I had made was the new dishwasher tabs I had bought, I immediately pulled the pack out of the cabinet. My first clue that I had made a big mistake was the fact that there was a picture of a washing machine on the back of the package. I turned the package around and, sure enough, they were not dishwasher tabs but washing machine tabs. No wonder the dishes didn't come clean!

I knew that I would later laugh at the silly mistake, but at the time, I was frustrated by my stupidity and the massive amount of water I had wasted because of such a silly mistake. Not only that, but I knew I would have to make an extra trip to the store to pick up dishwashing liquid because I had failed to read the package. The moral of the story is this: you cannot wash dishes in the dishwasher with laundry detergent!

As comical as the story may seem, it is no joke when people try to find other means of cleansing their sin outside of the blood of Christ. They cling to their works, their religion, their financial standing and so many other things in hopes of appearing holy before a righteous God. Sadly, their erroneous ways are confirmed by false teachings that claim we're all okay as long as we do our best. These same teachings claim that a loving God could not possibly send anyone to Hell. They hold fast to the parts of the Bible that they like and dismiss the parts that they don't. And so, in vain, millions of people around the world are trying to wash away their sins with nothing more effective than laundry detergent.

If only they would realize that, just as my laundry detergent would not clean my dishes, their works or religion or whatever else will not cleanse their sins. There is only one thing powerful enough to cleanse us from all unrighteousness, and that is the blood of Christ. Only by accepting his sacrifice on the cross can we appear holy before a righteous God. Everything else is in vain. It may look good. It may sound good. It may feel good. But it is of no effect.

My mistake cost me time, energy, and money, but the mistake of those who look for other ways to cleanse their sins will cost them so much more! It's up to us to tell them, to show them the error of their ways. It's time we spoke up and let the truth be known. Time is growing short, and many are headed down the wrong path. They need to see the truth. Let's get busy, shall we?

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. - I John 1:7-9

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Hidden Doors

One thing that Jason and I enjoy doing during our time together is planning out our dream home.  When I say "dream home," I don't mean the home that we envision having one day, but "dream" as in fantasy.  We've planned and designed everything from 2,000-square-foot log cabins to 10,000-square-foot castles.  To aid in our planning sessions, we find unique floor plans online or in inexpensive magazines.  Then we redesign the houses to meet our own personal specifications and expectations.  It's a lot of fun and an enjoyable way to spend a few hours.

In our myriad of ideas and home designs, a few things remain constant.  First, we both enjoy an open floor plan, so that's a must.  Second, we find a way to work in a recreation room, complete with pool table, air hockey, foosball and the like, for our church youth (and adults--who am I kidding?).  Third, we plan for a music studio where we can both practice and record our musical talents (remember, this is fantasy, okay?).  Lastly, we envision some form of office/library set up for me.

My favorite designs are those where my office and the grand library are connected by a secret door.  Perhaps I've seen too many mysteries, but I love the thought of having a door that resembles a bookcase on the library side but resembles a simple wall on the office side.  From the library, one can open the hidden door by pulling out a particular book.  From the office, one simply turns the candelabra on the wall.  I think it's awesome, especially in keeping my office private.

I am equally impressed with the hidden doors that I've discovered through life.  Perhaps you're familiar with them as well--the money that came in unexpectedly, the job offer from out of the blue, the position you didn't even realize existed.  All of them doors that we couldn't even see.  Instead we were focused on the doors that we could see or trying to make doors out of windows.  And while we were so desperately trying to knock down the walls in front of us, God was waiting for the perfect time to open one or more of those hidden doors.

I've experienced a couple of those doors in the past few days.  First off, I was contacted by a Christian website that I had never even heard of.  The e-mail stated that they had seen my site and were impressed by the way I wrote.  They offered me a position (a paid position, I might add) on their writing staff.  I wrote my first article for them last Wednesday and received my first payment this morning.  As if that weren't exciting enough, I found out a little later that the administrator had looked through over two hundred Christian authors before finding my site, but once there, he decided right away that I was the one to fill the position.  Is that God or what?  I didn't know anything about this site or these wonderful people.  I didn't know they were looking for writers.  I didn't apply for a position.  I didn't even know how to apply for a position.  It was a hidden door that God opened at the perfect time.

Additionally, last week I received a payment for some royalties that I'd received for an article I had written a few years ago.  To be honest, I had forgotten all about the article.  I forgot that it was set up to receive royalties.  So, when I received this payment through my Paypal account, I was confused.  "Huh?  What's this?"  I looked into it and discovered it was just another hidden door, opened in God's perfect timing.

You'd think that would be enough, but God wasn't through yet.  I received another Paypal notification this morning telling me that some wonderful angel had donated $25 to my ministry.  Yes, I have a donate button on both of my blogs and my newsletter, but I can count on one hand the number of donations I've received through those buttons during the past six years of my writing ministry (not that people haven't contributed in other ways, mind you).  The buttons are there, but I give them very little thought.  Like I did with the article, I forgot that they were there.  But, once again, in that perfect timing, God said, "Here you go, child.  Here's another hidden door."

As I thought on this this morning, a particular passage came to my mind:  Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,
 (Ephesians 3:20-21)  Exceeding abundantly above.  He has doors for us that we know nothing about.  He has surprises and blessings waiting around every corner.  So why, oh why, do we keep trying to break down the barriers in front of us?  If there's not an open door, there's a reason for that.  God doesn't show us a closed door so that we'll try harder to break it down.  Those closed doors are stop signs.  If He wants to open them, He will do so in His time, but if not, it could very well be that He has something better waiting for us behind one of those hidden doors.

Be patient, my friend.  Stop struggling against those closed doors.  Trust in God and His timing, then wait for those hidden doors to be revealed.  God will take care of it.  You won't even have to pull a book or turn a candelabra.  Just walk through and enjoy the blessings on the other side.

Monday, October 13, 2014

A Treasury of Wisdom

I stumbled across another interesting verse in my Bible reading this morning.  I don't know why it is that certain verses jump out at me, but I guess God is giving me the words I need when I need them.  Anyway, take a look: 

Now, my son, the Lord be with thee; and prosper thou, and build the house of the Lord thy God, as he hath said of thee. Only the Lord give thee wisdom and understanding, and give thee charge concerning Israel, that thou mayest keep the law of the Lord thy God. - I Chronicles 22:11-12

David desperately wanted to build a house for the Lord, but because he was a man of war, the Lord would not allow it.  Instead, God bestowed that honor on David's son, Solomon, who was destined to have a reign of peace.  David could have been angry or insulted, but instead, he was glad that the task was going to stay in his family.  So like all good fathers do, David set about making preparations and advising Solomon on the humongous task that lay ahead of him.  

What I found interesting was the part where David said, Only the Lord give thee wisdom and understanding.  The reason I find this so intriguing is because of what we know from later in Solomon's story.  During his reign, the Lord came to him and asked him to name his desire.  Whatever he wanted the Lord was willing to grant him.  Solomon could have listed any number of things--wealth, fame, long life, peace and so on, but if you remember, he asked for wisdom and understanding.  I had always assumed that he made such a request because he was already wise, but now I'm wondering if it could have been because his father had advised him to.  David said, "The Lord give thee wisdom and understanding," so when the Lord asked Solomon what he wanted, Solomon answered in accordance with his father's wishes, thus proving himself worthy of so much more.

Sadly, we live in an age where few children, no matter their age, respect their parents as they should.  Parental advice is ignored or discarded, and as a result, people are finding themselves in situations that cause stress and, in some cases, total ruin.  If only they had listened to the advice of those who had come before them.  If only they had heeded the wisdom of those who had "been there, done that."  But no, pride said, "I'll do it my own way."  And the result was catastrophic.

I understand that not everyone has Godly parents who can advise them in the ways of life, but the churches are full of precious saints of God who are more than happy to share their wisdom with the next generation.  They've learned life's lessons the hard way and, while they are not going to force their advice on us, they are thrilled to share what they've learned along the way.  And it could be that, in heeding their direction, we avoid pitfalls that would have otherwise ensnared us.

A treasury of wisdom is available to each of us.  We need only ask and listen.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Doing the Right Thing in the Wrong Way

Today's post is similar to yesterday's.  In fact, it has a lot of similarities with many posts that I have written in the past.  Yet the Lord has impressed this message so thoroughly on my heart this morning that I have no doubt it is what He would have me share with you.  So, instead of arguing with the Lord or trying to do things my own way, I will obey without complaint. . . which is actually quite ironic once you read the post.  Don't tell me God doesn't have a sense of humor!

And when they came unto the threshingfloor of Chidon, Uzza put forth his hand to hold the ark; for the oxen stumbled. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzza, and he smote him, because he put his hand to the ark: and there he died before God. And David was displeased, because the Lord had made a breach upon Uzza: wherefore that place is called Perezuzza to this day. And David was afraid of God that day, saying, How shall I bring the ark of God home to me? - I Chronicles 13:9-12

David had a good plan, and the people were all for it.  They wanted to bring the ark of God back to its rightful place, and excitement filled them at this prospect.  But when they went forth to carry out their plan, they ignored God's specific instructions for how the ark should be dealt with and transported.  There was a protocol.  There were rules of respect.  But in his haste and excitement, David decided to do things his way--the easier way.  After all, God's way involved carrying the ark with staves, which meant it had to be transported on foot.  David's plan involved a cart, a much faster means of transportation.

But God didn't approve of David's plan, and when Uzza innocently reached out to steady the ark on the shaky cart, God killed him.  I realize it seems harsh, but from God's viewpoint, it was just.  David didn't agree.  Notice his anger towards God and then his little temper tantrum.  "Well, now how I am supposed to get the ark back?  I want it!  Why won't God let me have it?"

The truly sad part is that David knew the answer to his question all along.  How was he supposed to bring the ark back?  The way God had instructed from the beginning.  David should have known that, and I believe he did.  But David acted in the same way we often do.  He was so excited to do the right thing that he went about it in the wrong way, and in his case, it cost a man his life.

David acted in his own strength and his own understanding.  Instead of doing what he knew to be right, he did what was easy.  He probably figured, "What difference does it make?"  What difference, David?  Why don't you ask Uzza?  Oh wait, you can't.  He's dead!

God doesn't like being ignored.  He doesn't give us commandments so that we can simply turn around and do whatever we want.  He has given us specific instructions on how to live our lives, and He expects us to obey.  No, it won't always make sense.  In fact, most times, it won't.  And no, it won't be easy.  But doing a right thing in a wrong way is no better than not doing the right thing at all.  Why must we complicate things?  We have our orders.  Why is it so hard to do what the old hymn states and "trust and obey"?

Doing the right thing is good.  Doing the right thing in the right way is better.  Let's make an effort to please God today by following His directions without fail.  When David finally did, there was rejoicing.  The same is awaiting us.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Following After Fear

And as Obadiah was in the way, behold, Elijah met him: and he knew him, and fell on his face, and said, Art thou that my lord Elijah? And he answered him, I am: go, tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah is here. And he said, What have I sinned, that thou wouldest deliver thy servant into the hand of Ahab, to slay me? As the Lord thy God liveth, there is no nation or kingdom, whither my lord hath not sent to seek thee: and when they said, He is not there; he took an oath of the kingdom and nation, that they found thee not. And now thou sayest, Go, tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah is here. And it shall come to pass, as soon as I am gone from thee, that the Spirit of the Lord shall carry thee whither I know not; and so when I come and tell Ahab, and he cannot find thee, he shall slay me: but I thy servant fear the Lord from my youth. Was it not told my lord what I did when Jezebel slew the prophets of the Lord, how I hid an hundred men of the Lord's prophets by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread and water? And now thou sayest, Go, tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah is here: and he shall slay me. - I Kings 18:7-14

The Bible tells us earlier in the chapter that Obadiah feared the Lord greatly, and Obadiah even attests to that fact by his words to Elijah and, even more so, by his actions in hiding the prophets of God from Jezebel. But notice his complaints or excuses to Elijah when the prophet told Obadiah to tell Ahab he had arrived.  "Are you kidding me?  Do you know what the king will do to me?  He'll kill the messenger.  Besides, if I do tell him, most likely the Lord will just sweep you away, and then the king will think I've lied to him.  Do you have any idea what will happen then?  No way, sir.  I know who you are, but absolutely not." 

His arguments lead me to wonder whom he feared most--God or King Ahab.  I believe that he honestly feared them both, but it seems to me that his fear of Ahab was ruling his actions and decisions instead of his fear and trust in God.  In a sense, he was trying to serve two masters because he was afraid of displeasing either one.  But the tricky thing about serving two masters is that it cannot be done.  Ahab was the most wicked king Israel had ever known.  How could Obadiah possibly please him and God at the same time?  It just doesn't work.

And yet, I found myself in the very same position the other day.  I have been praying about a need that must be met by the end of the month if the plan is to come to fruition.  It seemed like God was meeting the need, but one by one, unexpected events and expenses caused that provision to flitter away.  Sensing that God was not meeting the need fast enough and doubting that He could make it work (because I can't see how), I sought some ways to meet the need on my own.  And I thought I had found the perfect way, yet something deep inside me was unsettled.

I tried to justify my actions by saying, "Well, it was probably God who allowed me to think of this brilliant idea, so this is how He's meeting my need."  But the sense of uneasiness would not go away.  When I told Jason my grandiose plan, he shook his head and said, "No, Dana, that's not the way."  I pouted, but I still wasn't convinced that my plan was not part of God's will. . . until I remembered the lesson I had just taught on Obadiah.

Do you see how I was acting just as he did?  I fear the Lord, and I long to trust Him, but when circumstances arose, and I didn't see a way out, my trust faltered.  Instead of fearing the Lord and trusting Him to meet the need that I had placed in His hand, I allowed my fear of the circumstances to dictate my actions.  Once again, I tried to "help God out."  But God doesn't need my help, and frankly, He doesn't want my help when it stems from doubt and fear.  Thankfully, He helped me to see the light before I went through with my plan, but still, I wonder how many times I'm going to have to go through these same situations before I'll learn.  I honestly wonder if I have a spiritual learning disability!

This morning, during my prayer walk, I thanked the Lord for making His will clear, and I placed the situation of my need back in His hands.  Hopefully, I'll leave it there this time.

My friend, fear and doubt are powerful motivators.  Unfortunately, they often motivate us to do the wrong things. Let's be careful to not be like Obadiah.  He was a good man.  He feared the Lord.  But He allowed his fear of circumstances to dictate his decisions.  We must not do the same.  Fear the Lord, and trust Him to bring all things to pass in His perfect time.  We don't have to see how He'll meet the need.  We only need to believe that He will.

Ye shall walk after the Lord your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him. - Deuteronomy 13:4

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Ken Davis - Feelings and Dunkin Donuts

I'm using two short videos today because they go together so well.  These are two pieces of a live show Ken Davis did, but the second video is much funnier if you watch the first with it.  Don't worry -- they're both short.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

How Long, O Lord?

 Psalm 6
 O LORD, rebuke me not in thine anger, neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure. Have mercy upon me, O LORD; for I am weak: O LORD, heal me; for my bones are vexed. My soul is also sore vexed: but thou, O LORD, how long? Return, O LORD, deliver my soul: oh save me for thy mercies' sake. For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks? I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears. Mine eye is consumed because of grief; it waxeth old because of all mine enemies. Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity; for the LORD hath heard the voice of my weeping. The LORD hath heard my supplication; the LORD will receive my prayer. Let all mine enemies be ashamed and sore vexed: let them return and be ashamed suddenly.

Psalm 6 is known as the first of the penitent psalms.  Like so many other psalms, the passage gives us an insight to the turmoil of David as he seeks God's mercy and deliverance from his enemies.  In the first few verses, we see the severity of David's condition.  He's broken.  He's sick.  He's weary.  He's overwhelmed.  And oddly enough, he's at a loss for words.  Notice the wording of the third verse:    My soul is also sore vexed: but thou, O LORD, how long?  How long?  How long for what?  How long until what?  It could be that David understood that the Lord knew what David meant.  Or, it could be that David found that he just didn't have the words to finish that question.

Have you ever posed a "how long" question to the Lord but found that you were too weary or overcome to put your feelings into words?  Perhaps you meant to say something like this:

How long, O Lord, until my health is restored?
How long, O Lord, do I have to put up with this job?
How long, O Lord, until my full-time work results in full-time pay?
How long, O Lord, until my loved one accepts you as Savior?
How long, O Lord, will this storm last?
How long, O Lord, before I see my dreams come to fruition?
How long, O Lord, until I see Your face?
How long, O Lord, will I have to cry?

I don't know about you, but I've had a lot of "how long" questions throughout the course of my Christian walk.  Some of them I could put into words, and others were only liquid prayers in the form of my tears.  But that's okay too.  Look at what the second half of verse eight says:  for the LORD hath heard the voice of my weeping.  Notice that.  Not the "sound" of my weeping, but the "voice."  Our tears have their own voice, and they speak loud and clear into the ears of our Lord.  He understands the pain that causes each one to fall, and He understands the messages they speak -- words that our mouths can't seem to utter.  Yes, the old gospel song says it so well--tears are a language God understands.  What a blessing when the words just won't come!

*****Excerpt from Daily Discussions of a Doubting Disciple*****

Monday, October 6, 2014

Why Wouldn't I?

As many of you know, I am, once again, on the lookout for healthy meals and stress-relieving exercises to add to my daily schedule.  So, as part of that process, yesterday I started a new breakfast smoothie. It is a greens smoothie that contains fourteen nutrient-packed ingredients, including fruits, vegetables, seeds and spices.  My first concern was that the smoothie would taste like grass and that I would have to force myself to choke it down.  Thankfully, that is not the case.  I won't lie to you and tell you that it tastes like chocolate cake (if only!), but it really isn't bad at all, especially considering all the healthy stuff in it.

My second concern was that this smoothie, like so many other things I've tried, would fail to live up to my expectations.  I didn't expect it to taste good, but I did expect it to make me feel better, especially after reading the testimonials about it.  I knew it was good for me, so I wanted to try it.  But I know me.  If it didn't live up to my expectations, it wouldn't last.  Despite the goodness and health benefits, I would give up the smoothie if I didn't notice some improvement in the way I felt.  So, I admit, I was a bit skeptical about trying it, but as affordable as it was, I figured it wouldn't hurt to give it a try.

I am amazed!  On the very first day, I had more energy than I've had in years.  Now, I'm not talking about bouncing off the walls energy, but the steady, calm energy that sticks with you throughout the day without the highs and lows you get from sugar and caffeine.  I usually crash by 6:00 in the evening, but last night, I was cooking and making the bed at 9:00.  I just kept going (sort of like the Energizer bunny.)

Not only did I have energy, but I also had focus and the ability to concentrate throughout the day.  My mind didn't feel sluggish and cloudy.  My thoughts were clear, and my moods were stable (which is not typical for me).  And when I went to bed last night, despite Jason having to work the night shift, I slept like the dead.  I didn't wake up when he came home at 2:00 in the morning.  I didn't even get up once during the night to go to the bathroom (that is DEFINITELY not typical for me).  I slept a deep, restful sleep and woke up this morning feeling refreshed and well-rested (which is more than I can say for my poor hubby).

This morning, I decided to squeeze in a quick walk before the rain came in, and after that, guess what I did.  Yep, I drank my smoothie.  Why wouldn't I?  It doesn't taste bad, and after seeing the energy, focus and rest I had yesterday, why wouldn't I give it another try today?  So far, I'm seeing the exact same results, despite the dreary rain outside.  I am alert and focused.  I feel good, and I'm looking forward to the day.  I do believe I have found myself a healthy, new habit!

As I drank my smoothie this morning, though, I wondered why I so often neglect the things that make me feel better.   Spending time with God each morning does far more good than any smoothie, yet so many times I feel that I can't spare the time.  I know I need the fellowship with Him.  I know that the time spent with Him will strengthen me for the day.  I know that in His presence I'll find peace and joy that I can carry with me throughout the day.  Yet, I shrug it off as unimportant because I have too much to do. 

What's the matter with me?  Am I crazy?  I am now committed to drinking my smoothies every day because I've seen the benefits of doing so.  Haven't I seen the benefits that come from spending daily time with the Lord?  Sure, I have.  So why am I not just as committed to that as I am to my smoothies?  Isn't my spiritual health more important than my physical health?

As these thoughts flooded my mind this morning, I came up with a new morning routine.  As usual, I'll feed the dogs and pack Jason's lunch.  Then I'll do my morning prayer walk.  After that, I'll drink my smoothie while I spend time in God's Word.  The walking and smoothies will aid in my physical health while the prayer time and Bible reading will aid in my spiritual health.  And I can work on both at the same time.  Hallelujah!

I won't ask you about your eating habits.  That's between you and the Lord.  But I do want to ask you this:  are you committed to spending time with the Lord each and every day?  If not, why not?  I'm sure you're aware of the benefits.  So what's stopping you?

If you're interested in information about my new greens smoothie, you can find the recipe here.  Just a note, I spent an hour one day chopping up all the fruits and vegetables and tossed everything except for the water in freezer bags.  That way, I had a week's worth of smoothies without having to make a mess in the kitchen every morning.  I also omit the cinnamon because I'm allergic, but it has loads of health benefits, so feel free to add it.  Before I go for my prayer walk, I place the freezer bag of goodies in the sink, and by the time I get back (about an hour later), it's defrosted enough to throw in the blender.  Just don't forget to add the water!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Will I Ever Graduate From This Class?

With Jason working split shifts again, my mood has gradually shifted into a state of discontentment.  I've found myself whining, "Not this again.  Sure, the paychecks are nice, but is it worth it if both of us are tired and grouchy from lack of sleep?"  Of course, my rants don't stop with that one complaint.  Before long, I'm fussing about my aching shoulder, the firewood that needs to be split, Tippy's incessant scratching because of her skin problem, people's unfair expectations of me because I don't have a "real job" and on the list goes.  Let me tell you, you don't want to be anywhere around when this pity party is taking place.  It's ugly!

As I prayed this morning, the Lord brought a verse to my mind--a verse, in fact, that the preacher had spoken about Wednesday night at church.  Coincidence?  I think not.  Philippians 4:11 states, Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.  I've heard, read and quoted this verse so many times, but just recently I realized that I was missing a big piece of the puzzle.  All this time, I believed Paul was content because it was in his nature or maybe because of some supernatural power bestowed upon him by God.  The way that he could suffer all that he suffered and still walk away saying, "I'm content" had to be some sort of miracle, right?

Well, yes and no.  The fact of the matter is that Paul's contentment was the result of his education.  Notice he didn't say, "I am content."  No, he said, "I have learned to be content."  It wasn't an automatic thing for Paul any more that it is an automatic thing for me.  Paul didn't just sit down one day and decide that he was going to be content with whatever life threw his way.  His pursuit of contentment was a process.  It was an ongoing battle, day after day, situation after situation, until he finally got to the point where he could honestly say, "Okay, now I'm content."  It didn't happen overnight.

Another sobering fact is that this education took place, not in a classroom, but through the trials of life.  Each event in his ministry was a lesson that he took to heart.  "Circumstances are bad, but God still delivers.  Some people absolutely hate me, but God will always love me.  I have no idea what the future holds, but I know the One who holds the future.  God will supply everything I need; everything else will just be a hindrance to my calling."  See what I mean?  Every message he preached, every beating he received, the shipwrecks, the imprisonments--they all instructed Paul in what it takes to be content.  He learned through his trials, and because of that, he grew to the place where he could be content in the midst of his trials.

At this point in my life, I can honestly say, "I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, I should be content."  To go beyond that, well, I guess I'm still learning.  But I have been reminded that instead of complaining about my current trials, I should be thankful for the education I'm receiving.  Through these tough times, God is teaching me to be content.  Is He possibly doing the same for you?

Thursday, October 2, 2014


Last night, I finally had the opportunity to see a movie that I've been waiting to see for a couple of years now.  The name of the movie is Monumental, and if you haven't seen it yet, I urge you to do so. (By the way, for all you Netflix subscribers, it is now on Netflix streaming.)  The movie is a family-friendly, Christian film about the principles on which our country was founded.  It gives information about the pilgrims, including accounts that I had never heard before.  But above all, it highlights a little-known monument in Plymouth, Massachusetts that spells out the forefathers' recipe for a prosperous and successful nation.  At the top of that list is faith in God.

The film is set up a bit like a documentary, but I found it to be interesting and quite insightful.  I found out information about the pilgrims that I had never known and was completely dumbstruck by the detailed monument that was put in place by those who settled this country so long ago.  The movie was a reminder of the values our country was founded upon and of our duty, as Christians, to stand up and fight to see our country ruled by those values once again.

I don't typically do many movie reviews, but this one is a must-see for all Christians, so I wanted to take this post to recommend it.  If you've already seen it, I'd love to hear what you thought about it, so feel free to leave a comment below.  If you haven't seen it, you'll want to.  You won't regret it.  It's amazing!