Thursday, December 30

Year End Finish Line

How is your year ending? With what was it filled? Which side of the scale tipped over with the most weight...the positive side or the negative side?

Each year usually brings its own blend of...

* tears and smiles
* faith and unbelief
* strength and weakness
* pride and humility
* peace and unrest
* joy and distress
* a positive attitude and a negative one
* love and hate
* forgiveness and bitterness

But each year ends a little differently.

Some years, we feel like we are riding high and we almost fly across that year-end finish line...

Jon 'ShakataGaNai' Davis
Wikimedia Commons

Sometimes, the year goes by so quickly that we feel like we zoom across the finish line as if we were in a race car...

Occasionally, the year has such a crushing effect on us that we crawl across it like Holland Reynolds...

Though each year may hold its share of trials and/or tragedies, we endure the hardships with the help of the Father. At times, we are broken and stumble in agony across the finish line as Derek Redmond (Olympics 1992), who was helped by his father...

Paul said, “What a wonderful God we have-He is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the source of every mercy, and the one who so wonderfully comforts and strengthens us in our hardships and trials.” (2 Cor. 1:3 TLB)

Not only do we have a heavenly Father that comforts and strengthens us, we also have a heavenly host as our cheering section, as the writer of Hebrews tells us, “Since we have such a huge crowd of men of faith watching us from the grandstands, let us strip off anything that slows us down or holds us back, and especially those sins that wrap themselves so tightly around our feet and trip us up; and let us run with patience the particular race that God has set before us.” (Heb. 12:1 TLB)

No matter how this year played out for you, the New Year offers you a new beginning. Whatever it brings your way, the Father will carry you through it all and bring a host of others to lift you up in prayer and encourage you in your walk.

My prayer for each of you is that your back be to the contrary circumstances of the year now closing, that your feet be firmly planted in the present, that your heart be guarded with the hope of a better new year, that your hands fulfill your calling, that your feet follow the Lord’s steps in all things, that your spirit be filled with faith, joy, and thanksgiving, that your life be filled with blessings, and that you will experience a new and special touch of the Lord’s presence upon all you do.


Monday, December 27

What's in Your Eye?

“Keep me as the apple of Your eye.”
Psalm 17:8a NKJV

David, in praying to the Lord, asked to be kept as the apple of His eye. What do those words mean?

According to the Hebrew definition, keep means to hedge about as with thorns, guard, to protect, attend to, observe, or give heed.

Apple means the little man of the eye, or the tiny reflection of one’s self in someone else’s eyes. As they watch you, focusing their attention on you.

Actually, apple is two words. The second word means a daughter, used in the same sense of relationship, as a personification, also descendants, towns, and villages.

David was asking God to guard and protect him as that tiny personification or reflection in His eyes by keeping His focus on David.

When I go to a wedding, I love to focus on the groom’s face. Just to see the expression on his face change from one of nervous disaster to one of pure delight as he watches his beautiful bride glide down the aisle. A glint appears in his eyes. He never takes them off his beloved. And if you were to look very closely into his eyes, you would see that the glint is her reflection.

If you could look closely into the eyes of your Beloved Lord, you would see that glint of yourself, your reflection.
Because He focuses on you. His object of great devotion. Guarding you. Protecting you, as with a crown of thorns.

David wrote, “Behold, the Lord’s eye is upon those who fear Him [who revere and worship Him with awe], who wait for Him and hope in His mercy and loving-kindness.” (Ps. 33:18 Amp)

And He desires that He be that glint, that reflection, in our eyes. The author of Hebrews tells us that “We must keep our eyes on Jesus.” (Contemporary English Version) The NIV says we need to be “fixing our eyes on Jesus.” While the Amplified says, “Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus.”

Vine’s says looking means “to look away from one thing so as to see another,” to consider attentively.

It means to fix your gaze on your Beloved.

When you were a kid, or even as an adult, did you stare at an object for one minute and then look away? What did you see?

Your eyes projected the focused image onto the second object as a reflection.

That’s what God the Father wants us to do with Jesus,
to look so intently at Him that everything else that comes into view has the reflection of Jesus on it. Therefore, as Paul told the Corinthians, “We don’t focus on the things that can be seen but on the things that can’t be seen. The things that can be seen don’t last, but the things that can’t be seen are eternal.” (2 Cor. 4:18 Common English Bible)

We focus on Jesus, the Unseen.
A single eye focus. As Jesus said, “The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.” (Matt. 6:22 KJV)

So, what interferes with your focus? What parades before your eyes, giving you double vision and darkening your view? What distracts you from having that divine Little Man reflection in your eyes? Keeping your eyes focused to maintain that holy reflection is essential.

How do we do that?

* Make time to pray
* Study God’s Word
* Put the Word into practice by obedience
* Live in love with others
* Practice peace and patience
* Have a positive outlook and attitude
* Don’t let your eyes view things that you know will throw a blanket of darkness over the light of the Lord.

So, what do others see reflected in your eyes?

~~This post is part of the One Word Blog Carnival on the topic Reflection. Hop on over to Peter Pollock's site to see the other submissions.~~


Thursday, December 23

And the Word Was Made Flesh

Advent King in straw-lined splendor,
swaddled gently at mother’s breast,
God incarnate in a pink suit,
not knowing yet His future test.

In the gentle hush of silence,
soothing sounds of cattle lowing,
angel hosts sing Him their praises,
all creation in glory knowing.

Destiny pressing upon His life,
as crossed shadow falls on His face.
The miracle of the manger
now filled with man’s future grace.

I'm over at my friend Susan Panzica's site, Eternity Cafe. Come visit us!


Monday, December 20

Draw Near

Draw nigh to God... holiness
Draw nigh in repentance, for the forgiveness of sins

Draw near... silent adoration
Draw near in unrestrained awe and praise

Draw close to the Lord... that Intimate Friend
Draw close to the Beloved of your soul

Draw alongside...

...kneeling as a petitioner
Draw alongside as a listener, in deepest affection

Draw closer still to the Babe in the manger...

...listen to the sweet sounds of the Newborn, as a foreshadowing of grievous sobs for a world of sinners
...smell the scent of the timbered cradle, as a harbinger of the distinctive fragrance of a destined, wooden cross
...see the Babe’s tiny hands reaching out, as impending vessels for prophetic iron spikes
...hear the gentle beat of His humble heart, as the antithesis of the future, rhythmic clanking of a metal hammer

Draw near to receive...

...a salvation so freely offered
...the power and strength you are lacking
...the guidance necessary to proceed through life’s events
...the tender touches of love to ease your pain and suffering
...overflowing streams of peace into your tired and hurting soul
...words of comfort and encouragement to soothe your broken heart and wipe away your tears

Draw near... moments of anger moments of praise
Draw near... moments of emergency moments of stillness
Draw near... moments of deep sorrow moments of great joy
Draw near... moments of despair moments of thankfulness

“Something better has been brought to us. It is God’s promise. And by that promise we come near to God.” (Heb. 7:19b Worldwide English) Therefore, “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” (Heb. 10:22 NKJV)

“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”
(James 4:8 NKJV)

Draw near to the King of heaven and earth! Draw near to sing Happy Birthday!


Thursday, December 16

In Search of Bethlehem's Babe

As darkness swallows up the day, the black-velvet expanse of night displays a bazillion, shimmering constellations.

Shepherds gather around a flickering fire to dispel the evening’s chill, the flames casting a warm glow across their faces, while others keep guard from the watchtower.

Peace and quiet surround them, except for the soothing crackle of the fire.

Their flocks lie still, serene.

The night’s shroud abruptly parts, revealing the radiance of an angel of the Lord. The shepherds fall on their faces, trembling.

The angel assures this cluster of caretakers, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:10-12 NIV)

Heaven then severs the night sky to display more of its glory, unfolding a host of angels, as their voices ring out, “Glory to God in the highest. On earth, peace, goodwill toward men!” (Luke 2:14 NKJV)

Rising to their feet, the shepherds agree, “Come on! Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this wonderful thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” (Luke 2:15 TLB)

One unusual star emblazons the eastern sky; one divinely-appointed beam of light illuminates the way to this heralded wonder.

Weaving their way through those rushing to find a place to stay, those having been summoned here to register for taxation, the shepherds follow the beam of light, seeking the site of this new Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths.

From a chorus of angelic voices to the clamor of the street, a multitude of sounds reaches their ears: the bleating of sheep, the braying of donkeys, the lowing of cattle. Suddenly, the cries of a newborn resonate above all the rest.

Finding their way inside a stable, the shepherds find the Babe of Bethlehem, wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a hayed trough.

The shepherds encounter the Savior of the world. What they sought, they found.

Oh, to know the wonder of that holy night. To follow the Light, to find the Babe of Bethlehem.

Lord, take me to those fields filled with Your glory. Draw back the black curtain of my night and spill out the glory of Your heaven.

Lead me to that humble manger that I may learn to make my heart a humble manger-place for You. Reveal my life’s emptiness and fill it with the same joy of heaven that filled that night’s air. Guide me always by the Light of Your Life.

Give me willing knees to crouch before You in lowly reverence and awe. Give me listening ears to hear the rush of angels’ wings, to hear their glorious hallelujahs and the holiness of their worship.

Oh, that my heart would always be filled with the glory and wonder of that precious night.

Have you encountered the Babe of Bethlehem? Have you sought and found the Savior of the world? I pray your heart will be filled with Bethlehem wonder and glorious worship this Christmas.

~~Today, I'm over at the site of my precious friend Susan Panzica, Eternity Cafe. Please visit us.~~


Monday, December 13

Let All the Earth Rejoice!

“Rejoice greatly, O my people!
Shout with joy!
For look-your King is coming!
He is the Righteous One, the Victor!”
(Zech. 9:9 TLB)

Shepherds oversee their flocks in the field.

A blazing star illuminates an ebony sky.

A choir of angels bursts forth to announce a Divine Appearance, proclaiming, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (Luke 2:14 NKJV)

The veil of time rips.

The King of heaven bows low, entering earth’s time capsule.
A Child’s cry pervades the cool, night air with new life.
The Babe Jesus...dressed in a suit of humanity...arrives, just as Isaiah prophesied...

“For unto us a Child is born
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end.”
(Is. 9:6-7a NKJV)

As Mary exuded to Elizabeth, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.” (Luke 1:46-47 NKJV) Even though my surroundings and circumstances are not what I’d like them to be, my soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices for His coming as a Heavenly Visitor.

Is your soul magnifying the Lord and your spirit rejoicing this season? No matter what the circumstances?

Paul exhorts us, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” (Phil. 4:4 NKJV)

“Jehovah is King! Let all the earth rejoice!”
(Ps. 97:1 TLB)

~~Hope you enjoy this beautiful O Holy Night from Josh Groban~~

~~This post is part of...

* One Word at a Time Blog Carnival hosted on Peter Pollock's site. Check out the other entries on his site.

* blog tour. Check out the other entries in the sidebar.~~


Thursday, December 9

When Wise, Men Come to Bethlehem Part 2

~~Link to Part 1~~
When the wise men came to Bethlehem, they came bearing gifts, first out of their hearts’ fullness, for they fell down to worship the Christ-child, and then, out of their treasure bags’ fullness of precious things, for they offered gifts of sacrifice.

When the wise men came to Bethlehem, they brought gold, one of the purest and most valuable of all metals. It serves to remind us of that which is of genuine worth and value, as it was lavishly used to cover the articles of the temple and the temple itself. It reminds us, too, of the pure worth and value of Christ, and that He fashions our hearts into the pure gold for His temple, the home of His holiness and pureness.

When the wise men came to Bethlehem,
they brought frankincense, a sweet, aromatic perfume, burned as incense, and, among other things, was an ingredient in the anointing oil.

It serves to show us the precious Holy Spirit, anointing us to be in the presence of the Father, as the incense mingles with the sweet-smelling sacrifice of prayer, rises to the throne room and lingers at the Father’s feet.

When the wise men came to Bethlehem,
they brought myrrh, a fragrant, costly perfume, used in purification rites and for cleansing, also as an ingredient in the anointing oil, and used for preservation in death.

It represents the costly perfume of Christ as His blood purifies and cleanses us, preserving us in death.

The wise men found their way into Bethlehem and Bethlehem found its way into their hearts.

Have you found Bethlehem?

* Do you bring the sacrificial gifts out of your heart’s treasury to the Christ-child? The purity of holiness? The costly fragrance of continual prayer? A cleansed soul, preserved from eternal death?
* Do you offer Him your heart as His manger, as the vessel of His resting place? Or is it full of jealousy, envy, hatred, unforgiveness, self-pity, lust, anger, or prejudice? Is there any room left for Him to come and “lay down His sweet head”? Have you said, “Sorry, there is no room for You in this inn”?
* Does He plead, “But where will I be born; where will I find My resting place? Your manger is full, full of unforgiveness, full of your own self. I see no room for Me. I’ve been turned away from inn after inn; where do you wish Me to go?”

The only way you will find Bethlehem is when you remember to kneel in worship to the Christ Who loved you so much that He came in a tiny, human form.

And where will Bethlehem find you?

* In the car sitting in snarling traffic, snarling back at it?
* On the way to Grandma’s house, Aunt Sophie’s, or Mom and Dad’s?
* On a plane, or a bus?
* Or perhaps at the mall, rushing to find that last minute gift? Will it really find you there?

How does it come?

* Does it come rolling in as with chariot wheels rumbling?
* Or does it come silently, as with a gentle whisper?
* Does it come in a season, or in a moment, as in the twinkling of an eye?
* Does it come decorated in beautiful wrappings, resting under the tree?
* Or does it come in the sacrifice of your heart’s gift?

Wise men give Christ room to dwell.
Will you be a wise man (or woman) this year? Will you visit Bethlehem this Christmas? Will its Visitor visit you? Will Bethlehem come and leave again, finding you not because your heart’s inn is full?

Make room for the Christ-child; make room for the Christ-Man. Give Him the lodging place He deserves. Be as the wise men when they came to Bethlehem: worshiping on bended knee, grateful, and bringing gifts.

“O come all ye faithful…O come ye to Bethlehem…Come and behold Him, born the King of angels! O come, let us adore Him…Christ the Lord!”

When wise, men (and women) come to Bethlehem!

I pray abundant blessings for you and your family, for a Christmas filled with the presence of the Christ-child and the Christ-Man. May you find Bethlehem and may it find you.


Monday, December 6

When Wise, Men Come to Bethlehem Part 1

All the prophecies converged in one moment, for “the fullness of the time had come.” (Gal. 4:4 NKJV) So, a young, pregnant girl named Mary and her espoused, young man named Joseph left their home in Nazareth to travel to the homeland of their forefathers in Bethlehem that they might be enrolled according to their families for taxation.

Once in Bethlehem, they searched diligently for a place to rest as the baby was about to be born. In their search, they could only find an animal shelter, because there was no room for them in the inn.

As a hush descended over the earth
in the wee hours of darkness, the cries of a newborn pierced the gentle silence. Meanwhile, wondrous songs of praise, offered by a host of angels, saturated the skies over the fields tended by shepherds, filling the night air with the glory of God.

During those dark hours, Christ came to earth.

In that humble stable, to the gentle lowing of the cattle and the bleating of the sheep, Mary gave birth to the Savior of the world. Swaddling Him lovingly, she placed Him in a wooden trough, and there, the miracle of the manger took place.

The empty manger,
the vessel cradling the tiny body of mankind’s salvation, became full - full of love, full of expectation, full of holiness, and full of humanity. It was an earthly visitation of the heavenly realm.

A divinely-appointed star blazed triumphantly in the eastern sky, proclaiming, “This is the way to the Christ-child.” Its brilliance appeared even in the distant land of the Orient. Men, wise in astrology and the prophecies, set out from this land to seek the One upon Whom the star shone, the newborn King.

In time, the star led the wise men right to the King’s front door.
They came in expectation and great joy. “And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” (Matt. 2:11 NKJV)

When the wise men came to Bethlehem,
they came bearing gifts, first out of their hearts’ fullness, for they fell down to worship the Christ-child, and then, out of their treasure bags’ fullness of precious things, they offered gifts of sacrifice.

~~Please join me next time for the continuation of this post on Friday.~~


Friday, December 3

How Do You Measure a Woman?

Measure defined means a unit or standard of measurement; the extent, dimensions, quantity, of something; any standard of comparison, estimation, or judgment; and so on. Some of the synonyms are model, example, scope, portion, scale, test, pattern, and gauge.

So, how do you measure a woman?

*by how tall she is?
*by the size of her brain?
*by the size of her gloves?
*by the size of her shoes?

Well, yes and no. We, as Christians, usually use Proverbs 31 as the standard against which a woman (or wife) is measured; her worth being far above rubies, so it says.

But how do you measure that?

*By the love for her in the eyes of her family and friends, you can measure how tall she is.
*By the scope of her thoughts, words, and prayers, you can measure the size of her brain.
*By the extent of her giving and doing for others, you can measure the size of her gloves.
*By where and how she walks, you can measure the size of her shoes.

I guess if we went by that, a valuable woman would then be very tall, have a very large head, and have large hands and feet. Well, I know that sounds silly. But not if you apply it spiritually.

I love this quote, “The measure of a woman’s character is not what she gets from her ancestors, but what she leaves her descendents.” ~ unknown

So, how large am I, spiritually that is? How do I measure up to all this? How do I leave my daughter and my sons those values and character that I desire them to have? How do I make my husband and family proud of me and not bring shame to them? How am I an example to others?

To be and do all that is necessary, my life must mirror one pattern, one example, one standard…Jesus

Other than the character traits of Proverbs 31, Paul listed several other traits in his letter to Titus, “The older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things - that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.” (Titus 2:3-5 NKJV)

All this, plus grace, strength, and faith, was passed on to me by my mother and my grandmother…so what am I leaving to my children? How do they see me? How do others see me? How am I being measured?

What are you passing on to your children? How do others measure you?


Thursday, December 2

Inspired Design blog tour

Sorry, guys! This is strictly a girly book tour. Today, I bring you a blog tour of Inspired Design, written by designer Roxanne Hughes Packham and her 16 year-old daughter Hannah. They will inspire you to create a home that touches the souls of those within.

If you enjoy beautifully photographed interior design books and stories of treasured family traditions, then you will love this one. Be sure to leave a comment at the end of this post as I’m giving one away.

Why did you write Inspired Design with your daughter?

My grandfather (silversmith Allan Adler) passed this love of design to me, so it just seemed a natural to write a book about the design and subsequent use of our homes, infused with family heritage, and that my daughter take a large part of the powerful subject of “the home.”

I also wanted to create a place where we could initiate, create, and complete a project where my daughter, Hannah, could learn alongside me both the practical and ethical implications of a project this size, where all the profits go to a charity that is dear to our hearts, Heart of Hope Ministries, International.

I wanted show her an example of using our talents and gifts for the enjoyment of others, while benefiting others, not ourselves. It wasn't to be pious, but just a fun way to give back and truly make a difference while doing something together that we loved!

What is Inspired Design?

It is a book about three aspects of the home and how its power to touch the souls of those within. Those three aspects are designing for warmth and beauty to nurture others, meaningful touches and gestures to celebrate and honor your loved ones on special occasions and ordinary days, and, lastly, that it is not what we have or do not have that blesses others and changes lives but how we use what we have. It is about incorporating YOUR family heritage, and your unique gifts, into making a beautiful, family home.

Inspired Design has had such a wonderful response, without a traditional publisher, distributor, or agent, why do you think that is?

It resonates in the spirits of women who want to make a positive impact on their families and loved ones. The blessing of word of mouth publicity has really caused this book to sell and touch the hearts of every woman that has read it.

They tell one friend, and so on and so on. For example, Jill Foster, author of Creative Cakes Anyone Can Make, raves, “Your Inspired Design is amazing. I have devoured it, sipping coffee as I have enjoyed reading each page. Your family legacy is depicted in beautiful illustration. Having Hannah's words throughout the book is wonderful.”

We heard that one customer in Coronado, California, has reordered about ten books, each one as a gift for a friend’s birthday, what is it that she finds so touching?

She is someone I have never met, but she said she found it so real, beautiful, and uplifting. She said it has a realistic perspective of touching others with the bonus of spectacular homes and photography. The combination makes her want to give it to all her friends for their birthdays. She loves the blog, InspiredDesign, as well which has weekly tips and suggestions to make others feel special.

I know that a mother-daughter ministry, Inspired 31, has begun along side of Inspired Design, why do you think it has resonated so powerfully?

Especially in this economic climate, so many women are more resolute than ever that their families are the most important thing in their lives and their daughters, or close friends, should be celebrated and cherished. Without exception, our gatherings (3 so far, in it's first 3 months) have attracted hundreds of mother/daughter/sister/friend combinations wanting to come for 2 hours and celebrate what is good, pure, and worthy of praise, especially in each other.

Inspired 31's mission is to teach girls (and now even woman of all ages) to find and follow God's unique path for their lives. We have inspiring speakers and a wonderful positive and uplifting program. We have people inquiring about beginning a chapter in their area in many cities.

Where can we purchase a copy of Inspired Design? Also, we heard this book is helping orphans and teenage girls as well.

Inspired Design makes a perfect gift with so many ideas for making Christmas, or any holiday, more special with all kinds of thoughtful little details.

One hundred percent of the profits of this book go to charities: Heart of Hope, Local Food Pantry, Inspired 31 and more, produced and made 100% in America.

Please visit my web site at InspiredDesignPublications.

If you’d like more opportunities for a free copy, go here to enter.


Monday, November 29

What is Fellowship?

Fellowship. What is fellowship?

Is it just Wednesday night supper at church? Is it just gathering to enjoy the company of other believers?

What is the meaning of fellowship in the New Testament?
The Greek word used most often is koinonia, which means partnership, joint participation, to share in common, community, communion, communication, distribution, contribution, intimacy, and so on.

Here are a few scriptures using koinonia...

* joint participation
“They urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints.”
(2 Cor. 8:4 NIV)
* sharing in common
“All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.” (Acts 2:44-45 NIV)
* communication
“As you share your faith with others, I pray that they may come to know all the blessings Christ has given us.” (Philemon 6 CEV)
* contribution
“For it pleased those from Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor among the saints who are in Jerusalem.” (Rom. 15:26 NKJV)

These scriptures describe fellowship in terms of outward expressions of action.
Another one describes the gathering of believers in the early church, “They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity—all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:46-47 NLT)

But there is another side to fellowship. It is not only an act but also an experience. It is having an intimate relationship with the Lord, as Paul said, “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” (1 Cor. 1:9 NKJV)

Paul wrote of his desire, “That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death.” (Phil. 3:10 KJV) We share in the intimacy of Christ’s fellowship, participating in the benefits of what He accomplished at the whipping post, in the judgment hall, on the cross, and through His resurrection.

But what happens when life’s events, trials, and sorrows invade our hearts, straining that scarlet cord of fellowship?

* Do we loosen our hold on that cord, putting a distance between God and us and hindering our flow of intimacy with Him?
* Or do we shorten that cord, drawing closer to Him?
* Do we draw near to Him with our lips while our hearts yearn for other things?
* Does God then say to us as He did to the Israelites, “These people come near to Me with their mouth and honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me.” (Is. 29:13a NIV) If we do this, we miss out on the most precious of all relationships and all it offers us.

What keeps the passion and intimacy going? Sound like a marriage? Guess what? It is! A holy marriage. We are the Bride and Jesus is the Beloved Bridegroom. Just as it is necessary to keep the communication door open in our earthly marriage, it is necessary, and even more so, to keep the communication door open in our heavenly marriage.

Is intimacy with the Lord missing in your life? Do you long for those tender whisperings of the Holy Spirit?

Spend time sitting at your Beloved’s feet, fellowshipping with Him, for only then will love deepen, resulting in that intimate relationship with Him.

I pray you will draw in that scarlet cord of intimacy that you may experience the Lord’s presence in a new and special way this glorious Christmas season.

~~This post is part of the One Word Blog Carnival at Hop on over to read the other blog posts on Fellowship.~~


Saturday, November 27

Jesus Has Something to Say to You

“I have something to say to you.” (Luke 7:40 NLT)

If Jesus said that to you, would you immediately put down your duster, turn off your computer, the radio, or TV, hang up the cell phone, or stop whatever you were doing and say as Samuel did, “Speak, for Your servant is listening,” (1 Sam. 3:10 NIV)?

Though I have learned to be still before the Lord, I sometimes fail to put that knowledge into practice. Allowing outside circumstances to overtake me, I listen to the multitude of voices or duties instead of the Lord.

I know I am not alone in this.

First, how many of us truly take time to be alone with the Lord, Whom we say we love? Second, even if we take five minutes to pray, we usually talk at God, treating prayer as a monologue and not as a conversation.

Conversing with the Lord implies that we listen to Him. He says, “Oh, that My people would listen to Me.” (Ps. 81:13a NKJV) Do we really make a conscious effort to sit down and listen for those precious whispers of the Lord?

Always in a rush, we put in our requests and rush out the door, not waiting to hear what God has to say. God does not have carry-out service like a drive-thru Taco Bell, and we don’t get to return what we receive if it isn’t prepared the way we want or to complain if it isn’t served as fast as we would like it.

If we unscramble the word ‘listen,’ what do we get? Enlist and silent! When we enlist in prayer, our priority should be more than just handing God our grocery lists of wants and needs; we should be to silent and listen.

God says, “Be still, and know that I am God.”
(Ps. 46:10 NKJV) We must be still, for God is a Gentleman and does not force His way through all world’s racket buzzing around in our heads.

David said of being in the Lord’s presence, “That’s the only quiet, secure place in a noisy world, the perfect getaway far from the buzz of traffic.” (Ps. 27:4 Msg)

Other psalms give us comfort in that secret place, “You called in trouble, and I delivered you; I answered you in the secret place of thunder.” (Ps. 81:7 NKJV) and “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” (Ps. 91:1 NKJV)

Even Jesus Himself spoke of that secret place, “But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” (Matt. 6:6 NKJV)

In the Lord’s presence is that secret place where no outcries of earth intrude, where no ghosts of years past interrupt, where no outside opinions interfere, where no urgency of decisions impede.

If we were still enough, we would hear all those messages
of love, comfort, peace, guidance, and, yes, even discipline, that we long to hear. God is a Gentleman and will only speak to us when we shut out the racket of the world and stop talking. If we do not still our senses and hush our hearts, how can we hear heaven’s music?

Oh, to hush each intruder attempting to thwart the calm necessary for our weary and restless souls that we might experience that sacred silence in His presence, that secret fellowship with Him. Do we desire this more than the wooings of the world?

The Still Small Voice has no destination if there is no listening ear.

* Is intimacy with the Lord missing in your life?
* Do you take time to be still in His presence?
* Do you follow after Jesus seeking something from Him as the multitudes did,
* Or do you lean upon His breast as John the beloved did, just to be near Him, or sit at His feet as Mary did, just to serve Him in worship by pouring out your thanks and your tears as fragrant oil upon His body?

It only costs us our time to listen but it costs us our quality of life not to listen!

Jesus has something to say to you…will you listen?


Friday, November 26

Blog tour for Susan May Warren's Nightingale

Today, I bring you the blog tour for book 2 in Susan May Warren’s Brothers in Arms Collection. Nightingale is a bitter sweet novel of duty and heart. To celebrate the book’s release, Susan is giving away a Flip HD Camcorder. Be sure to check out the entry details below.

About the author: Susan May Warren is the RITA award-winning author of twenty-four novels with Tyndale, Barbour, and Steeple Hill. A four-time Christy award finalist, a two-time RITA Finalist, she’s also a multi-winner of the Inspirational Readers Choice award, and the ACFW Book of the Year.

Susan’s larger than life characters and layered plots have won her acclaim with readers and reviewers alike. A seasoned women’s events and retreats speaker, she’s a popular writing teacher at conferences around the nation and the author of the beginning writer’s workbook: From the Inside-Out: discover, create and publish the novel in you! She is also the founder of, a story-crafting service that helps authors discover their voice.

Susan makes her home in northern Minnesota, where she is busy cheering on her two sons in football and her daughter in local theater productions (and desperately missing her college-age son!). A full listing of her titles, reviews, and awards can be found on her site:

About the book: Listed with rave reviews, this story is filled with historical details, making it a vivid read. Twists and turns and believable characters make it so captivating that putting it down will be difficult. Set in WWII, this story tells of redemption and finding one’s way home and is underscored with God’s promises. Here’s a synopsis of the story...

Esther Lange doesn’t love her fiancé—she’s trapped in an engagement after a mistaken night of passion. Still, she grieves Linus when he’s lost in battle. The letters sent to her by the medic Peter Hess, who stayed by Linus’s side as he lay dying, give her a strange comfort, so much so that she strikes up a correspondence with Peter, a wholesome Iowa farm boy. Or is he?

Peter Hess is not who he seems. Indeed, he’s hiding a secret, something that could cost them both their lives, especially when the past comes back to life. In this bittersweet love song of the home-front war between duty and the heart, only one will survive.

To purchase the book:

For the others blogs on the tour: LitFuse Group

CONTEST! CONTEST! The Letters From Home Giveaway!

To enter the Contest: Nightingale is about letters, the power of written correspondence to convey thoughts and emotions to those far away. And sometimes near. Letters are forever, they are something we savor and pull out to read again and again. They are often cherished and kept in a special place.

To celebrate the release of Nightingale, Susan would like you to write a letter. One grand prize winner will receive a Flip HD Camcorder. Five runner-up winners will win a signed copy of Nightingale. There are two ways to enter the contest by writing letters...

1. Write a letter to a soldier. At the end of the contest, we’ll print out and mail your letter for you.
2. Write a letter to a friend, loved one, family member, or enemy. Tell them something you wished you’d told them before. Tell them you love them, or maybe how they touched your life. Perhaps an apology is in order or a thank you. Or perhaps you’d like to relate a funny tale or just share life. Whatever it is, submit it here along with your email address and we’ll send it for you.

Enter at the SHARE page on the Brothers in Arms website.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of Nightingale from LitFuse Publicity Group for the purposes of this blog tour.


Monday, November 22

Destination Thanksgiving

When you know your destination, is the journey any easier? More enjoyable? Depends, doesn’t it?

Depends on how long it takes to get there, what happens on the way, and if the kids say, “Are we there yet?” a bazillion times.

What if your destination is Grandma’s for that Thanksgiving turkey or ham, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie, or whatever your traditional fare is?

If you travel any distance to get to this feast, doesn’t the end result give you pleasure along the way? Are you not thankful for this tasty repast even as you travel? And when everyone is seated around the table, isn’t the long journey a mere memory?

Shouldn’t this be our attitude in our journey through life? When we experience the bumps and potholes of trials and hurts, our desirable destination is to get to the other side of these things, knowing our thanksgiving will emerge there. But shouldn’t the journey be filled with thanksgiving as well, knowing that God will see us through it all?

What happens to our thanksgiving when we meet those different obstacles along the way? What happens to our thanksgiving when peace disintegrates into chaos, when a husband loses his job and finances are cut off, when a child is in a car wreck, when the repo man stands knocking at the door, when friends desert, when buying Christmas presents is a vague recollection, when pain strikes the chest and there is no insurance, when the roof overhead is in jeopardy of being taken away, when the cupboard holds no more than the cup?

I have known all of the above, and through them all, I experienced the Lord walking by my side and His hand at work in my circumstances to make “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Rom. 8:28 NKJV)

I desire to have the same attitude of gratitude as Habakkuk. In his prayer, the prophet asserted his faith in God and promised to praise Him, even if all else failed, “Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vine; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the LORD! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation.” (Hab. 3:17-18 NLT)

Through it all, I have learned to praise God no matter what. When my day is darkened with a multitude of problems that need to “take a ticket, take a seat,” and the songs of my heart begin to stick in my throat, do I still sing to Him anyway? You bet! When my eyes spill over with the tears of heartache, do I still look to Him and praise Him? Absolutely! When chaos invades my world, do I still claim His peace and praise Him? Yes, indeedy! For “I will praise the Lord no matter what happens. I will constantly speak of His glories and grace.” (Ps. 34:1 TLB)

I have also learned Paul’s secret, “I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of contentment in every situation, whether it be a full stomach or hunger, plenty or want,” (Phil. 4:12 TLB) for the secret is as he told the Thessalonians, “No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” (1 Thess. 5:18 TLB)

Thanksgiving is not a once-a-year, special holiday for being as overstuffed as the turkey. Thanksgiving is an eternal season of the heart, an overflow of the heart’s gratitude for all that God has done, is doing, and will do, and for everything one possesses, no matter how much or how little that may be.

Therefore, every day of our journey is Thanksgiving Day.

“Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving.” (Col. 4:2 NKJV)


Thursday, November 18

The Old Oak Tree

“The tree you saw was growing very tall and strong,
reaching high into the heavens for all the world to see.
It had fresh green leaves…Wild animals lived in its shade,
and birds nested in its branches.” (Dan. 4:20-21 NLT)

That was our tree. Now gone. Only emptiness remains. A void in the beauty of the yard where the once grand, old oak tree stood. Disease invaded the rings of his time-worn torso. Even so, cutting him down seemed cruel. He existed only for the service for others.

In the hot, summer sun, his leaves unfurled like a canopy of shade for everyone’s comfort. The full breadth of his limbs became a playground for the silly squirrels, as they hopped from branch to branch, playing Run, Chief, Run.

On humid evenings, while the tree frogs croaked their lullabies and the crickets joined in the chorus, the fireflies blinked their dance of the nightlights, lulling him to sleep.

In the midst of fall, as the sunlight emblazoned his boughs, he put on a multicolored coat of beauty, just for our enjoyment. Seedlings of hope fell from his limbs to the ground, spreading out his tiny descendants of the future.

When the brisk winds of fall whipped around him, he dropped his radiant coat, standing naked to greet winter’s chill. Then, the delicate snows dressed him in a gown of white.

In spring, he blossomed with new growth and fanned out like a peacock, exploding with pride as he became the stage for the birds’ annual songfest. Transformed into the local bed and breakfast for all the nestmakers, he opened his arms and welcomed them into his home.

He loved the fragrance of the floral bouquet that grew at his feet. The neighborhood cats sought their refuge in the security of his heights. And the dogs, well, let’s just say they kept his sod turned over.

Years of growth created roots that spread out deep and wide, keeping him firmly planted. He laughed at the winds and shook his branches at them, as if to scare them away. When storms came, he bowed only slightly to their strength, standing immovable in his place. His strength was born out of testing.

As time passed, he grew knotty and hard, dried out and rough. His sickness, once internal and secret, became external and open. Disease took its toll.

The arborist came and, after cutting him down, left behind some remnants, which we laid to rest in the fireplace. The arborist’s saw revealed his inner progress as ring after ring attested to his stamina throughout the years. Once again, he gave himself for the use of others, as we warmed ourselves in front of the blaze.

As the flames began to engulf him, there came a sound, a whistle. No, it was a melody. The song of the tree. From within the tree’s heart, the fire released all the sweet songs of the birds singing amongst his branches, the sounds of kids giggling as they raced around him, the twitters of the squirrels running to and fro, and the hubbub of the cicadas and the tree frogs.

Remembering all these sounds, he began to sing in the fire, his song of praise drawn out by the flames. But if not for the fire, the song would not have been released. A song of praise to glorify his Creator.

As I listened to his song, I asked myself: Do I exist to serve others? Do I welcome others into my life? Do I open my arms to comfort and care for others? Do I display a beautiful exterior while my interior is knotty, hard, and diseased? Do I plant seeds of hope for the future? Do beautiful things grow around me?

As the years pass, do my roots grow deeper and wider, giving me stability? When the winds of adversity come, do I laugh at them? When the storms of heartache beat upon me, do I stand immovable? Do I gain strength out of my testing? Have I allowed my hidden sin to become visible, or have I repented of it? When I am tossed into the fires of affliction and the flames lap up around me, do I sing sweet songs of praise and thanksgiving to my Creator?

~~Oh, Lord, let me grow to be a true testament of Your love and compassion. Let my branches reach out to those around me and bring them comfort in their trying times. Make me into that beautiful creation You intended me to be. Let my strength be born out of my testing. And Lord, if the only way my heart will sing its melodies to You is when I am in the fires of affliction, then fan the flames ever hotter.~~

“The branch of My planting,
the work of My hands,
that I may be glorified.”
(Is. 60:21 NKJV)


Monday, November 15

The Shoes

The dark, gray skies overhead threatened an early snow. Rushing shoppers, all bundled up to ward off the cold, crowded the sidewalks, lost in their to-do list for Thanksgiving.

Oblivious to their surroundings, no one noticed a small, shivering boy standing in front of the shoe store, his nose pressed against the window, barely dressed and only flip-flops on his dirty feet.

However, one man did see him and stopped, dead still in his tracks, causing others to bump into him. He didn’t notice the bumps and grumblings, but he did notice the small boy because he had a son about the same age.

Thinking how he would feel if this were his son standing there, barely clothed, the man quietly slid next to the boy, the man stood there for a moment, and then said, “They have some nice shoes here, don’t they?”

“Yeah,” came the soft reply.

“Which ones do you like?”

“That pair over there…the cool running ones.”

“Oh, I’ll bet you could run fast in those.”

“Yes sir. I sure could. Like the wind!”

“You know, I have a little boy just about your age.”

“Oh, yeah? I’ll bet he has shoes like that.”

“Yes, as a matter of fact, he does. But I have an idea.”

“Yeah? What’s that?”

“How ‘bout I take you into the store and buy you that pair of shoes?”

The boy stood there motionless. After a few moments, with tears in his eyes, he looked up at the man. “You want to buy me shoes?”

“I sure do. Your feet must be freezing and I’d love to buy them for you.”

The boy couldn’t even answer.

The man took the boy by the hand and walked into the store. Finding the manager, the man described the pair of shoes and asked the manager to please get a pair in the boy’s size, along with some socks. Then, he said he and the boy would be in the restroom and would he please bring the shoes and socks in there.

The manager gathered the shoes and socks and, upon entering the men’s restroom, found the man on his knees washing the young boy’s feet.

“Can’t stick dirty feet into clean, new socks and shoes, now can we?”

The young boy just stared at the man as he lovingly washed away all the accumulated street-dirt and gently dried his feet.

Feeling he was intruding on a very special moment, the manager quietly placed the shoes and socks on the floor without saying a word.

After placing the socks and shoes on the boy’s feet, the man stood up, and with hands on his hips, said, “Okay. Let’s see how they look. Walk around.”

The little boy couldn’t move. He stared down at his feet that felt glued to the floor. He looked up, tears now streaming down his little face, and said, “Mister, are you Jesus?”

The boy’s words took the man’s breath away. So overcome with emotion, the man could barely speak. Finally, he muttered, “No, son, I’m not. But I know Him very well. And this is a gift from Him.”

“This is the greatest Thanksgiving ever. Would you tell Jesus thank you for me?”

“Well, let’s go for a walk and I’ll tell you how you can do that yourself.”

This post is part of three blog chains. Please check out the other posts at:

Bridget Chumbley’s One Word Blog Carnival blog chain (see blog chain list in the sidebar)
A Holiday Haven