Wednesday, March 31

Interview with Liz Curtis Higgs

It is my special pleasure and honor to bring you an interview with Liz Curtis Higgs.

Q: Your books are so wonderfully based on biblical characters. Your newest book, Here Burns My Candle, is an updated version of the story of Naomi and Ruth, set in 18th century Scotland. What did you learn from this biblical story in your research that perhaps you did not know before?

A: I always knew Ruth was from Moab. What I didn’t realize was how much the Israelites loathed the Moabites, since Moab, the son of Lot, was born of incest and because the Moabites were pagans, worshiping Chemosh. Oh, my. That rather changes our initial impression of Ruth, and her Scottish counterpart, Lady Elisabeth Kerr, doesn’t it?

I also discovered that Ruth’s husband’s name, Mahlon, meant “weakling” or “infertility,” which greatly impacted the characterization of Lord Donald Kerr. Every verse revealed some unexpected truth. And lest you fear the story will be too predictable, given its biblical underpinning, I promise Here Burns My Candle takes many twists and turns that even I didn’t see coming!

Q: How much research goes into one of your books? Is the research different for different genres?

A: For this novel, I began with the biblical research first, combing through nearly one hundred resource books and commentaries by various biblical scholars and teachers. Of even greater value was the time spent in God’s Word, carefully reading through the book of Ruth in a dozen translations, seeking to grasp every nuance of the original story.

Once the biblical story was imprinted on my heart, then I began researching my setting—Edinburgh—and my time period—1745—when the bonny Prince Charlie and his rebel troops rode into Edinburgh and turned the town upside down. I’m a real stickler for getting the historical facts straight, and so surrounded myself with information. I’m embarrassed to admit I own 850 books about Scotland and the eighteenth century. Crazy, I know, but there it is.

Q: You always have a new book coming out. You must be glued to your desk chair. Do you ever come up for air? What do you do as a diversion for fun?

A: Since I speak at women’s conferences almost every weekend in the fall and spring, I come “unglued” rather often! For sheer pleasure, I love reading—historical fiction and biographies in particular—as well as period films, digital photography, and traveling. In the past year I’ve had the joy of exploring New Zealand, South Africa, Nova Scotia, and Thailand. Closer to home, I enjoy singing alto in our church choir and connecting with readers on Facebook and Twitter.

Q: You are so talented at so many things, speaking and photography among them. If you could operate in only one gift, which one would it be and why?

A: Oh, Lynn, you’ve posed a very difficult question, because I truly enjoy all of the above! I love speaking and writing about the Bible, and using a generous dash of humor to do so. Watching women respond to the truth of Scripture and the grace of God is joy unspeakable. I also love being alone in my writing study, crafting a novel, sensing his divine leading as the narrative plays out.

But if I absolutely had to choose, it would be writing fiction. Even my non-fiction bestseller, Bad Girls of the Bible, is filled with storytelling. When all the research is done and a skeletal plot is in place, I open the curtain, invite the characters on stage, and start writing down everything they say and do. What could be more fun?

Q: What insider tips do you have for those newbie writers trying to get published?

A: Attend an annual writers conference—one big enough to include editors and agents among its faculty. Not only will you rub shoulders with other aspiring authors, but you’ll also learn more about the industry and where your work might be a good fit.

Attend the conference on your own so you’re forced to mingle. Resist the urge to offer opinions or brag about your talents. Simply observe, take notes, and listen. You’ll impress editors most by being attentive, not aggressive, your first time out. At the second gathering, ask intelligent questions. By your third appearance, they’ll be curious to hear what you have to offer. Then you’ll be ready to wow them.

Search the Internet on ”Writers Conference” and you’ll quickly find out what’s available and affordable. And check out the “Help for Writers” page on my website.

Above all, write for the sheer pleasure of it. Holding a finished book in our hands is wonderful, and receiving letters from readers can be very encouraging. But unless we enjoy the work itself, done in the solitude of our writing studies, we’ll be hard-pressed to finish one novel, let alone a series. As Katherine Mansfield said, “Once one has thought out a story nothing remains but the labour.” Learning to love the actual work of writing is the best insider tip I can offer.

Blessings and thanks, Lynn!

Here are some additional links where you can find Liz…

Video trailer for Here Burns My Candle

A virtual tour of my writing study

Scottish photo album: Land of the Kerrs


Sunday, March 28

The Friend of the Bridegroom

Photo by

In the ancient, betrothal tradition, Hebrew fathers thought it their duty to provide a bride for their sons in imitation of God, as Father, Who provided a wife for Adam. When a son came of age to marry, the father, or sometimes the father and mother, chose a bride for their son from their own clan.

A betrothal usually lasted about one year, as the bridegroom left to prepare a place for his bride, usually within his father’s compound. There was to be no contact between the espoused couple during this time.

Therefore, all communications were made through an intermediary, or as we might think of him, a “best man.” He was the one who interceded, relaying messages of love from the groom to the bride and from the bride back to the groom.

As the assistant who also helped plan the marriage, this man was called the “friend of the bridegroom.” This was how John the Baptist referred to himself in John 3:29, saying, “The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled.” (NKJV)

When Christ went ahead to prepare a place for His Bride within His Father’s compound, He sent the Holy Spirit as the Friend of the Bridegroom to be the communicator for Him.

Now, the Holy Spirit, as the intermediary, comes to woo the heart of Christ’s intended, to passionately whisper in Her ear and delicately relay the Bridegroom’s messages of love to Her heart.

If you do not take time to listen, you will not hear those precious whispers of love.

Are you listening?

“If ever you were willing to listen, listen now!” (Matt. 11:15 TLB)


Friday, March 26

Do You Struggle with God in Prayer? guest post

Today, I bring you my special guest poster, Deborah McCarragher…

I was listening to a Christian radio program while driving home the other day, and started thinking about how I often struggle with God over things in prayer. Sometimes that can be a good thing!

Many of us know the story of Jacob in Genesis chapter 32. Jacob was returning to his homeland in Canaan with his two wives, Rachel and Leah. On the way, he sent messengers to his brother Esau (who dwelt in Edom) to appease him.

However, Jacob’s servants told him that Esau was coming to meet him with 400 men. Jacob was distressed and divided his people, flocks, and herd into two companies. He begged God to intervene and protect him from harm. He reminded God of His promise to bless him and make his descendants innumerable.

During the night, he took his two wives, his servants, and his sons and crossed over the river Jabbok. When he was alone, a Man (Jesus) wrestled with him all night until daybreak. Jacob struggled with the Lord, and that day he saw God face to face.

Jacob wanted God’s blessing, but God was letting him struggle that he might truly see who he was in God’s sight. Jacob had been a deceiver and scoundrel much of his life. God asked him, “What is your name?” – not because He didn’t know it, but because Jacob needed to see himself as God saw him. The struggle produced a hip out of socket and a limp for the rest of his natural life.

Sometimes, God allows us to struggle with Him in prayer, and we are often crippled for our own good. Spiritually speaking, our view of ourselves and our problems need to be bent and dislocated in order for our struggling to cease. Our pride and bad judgment can cause us to live a life that distorts what God has planned for us. He desires for us to “walk a different way” after we have wrestled with Him and He has prevailed.

Submitting to God’s plans often involves wrestling, as is evidenced with some of the Bible’s great heroes. Abraham’s faith was tested when he dialoged with God about the wickedness in Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18).

Moses pleaded with God on behalf of Israel when they began worshipping a golden calf and foreign gods. He reminded God of His promises to His chosen people (Exodus 32).

We read in I Kings 19 about Elijah and his struggle with depression. After God’s miraculous display of His power on Mount Carmel, Elijah withdrew into the desert to die. He prayed, slept, and was nourished by the Lord Himself. Then while hiding in a cave, he had a pity party as God revealed Himself to him in a small, still voice.

David was alone and living on the run during his darkest days. He lamented to God in many of the Psalms including 35, 55, 56, 57, and 59. He despaired of his life and longed for the peace of death. Praying to his God seemed to be a lesson in futility.

The apostle Paul tells believers in Romans 15:30 to “strive together with me in your prayers to God for me.” In Colossians 4:2, Paul admonishes the church to “continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving,” and in 4:12, he tells them that Epaphras, one of their fellow servants, “always labors fervently for them in prayer.”

Prayer is often the anguish of the soul in the presence of God. Romans 8:26-27 says, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”

The bottom line is that prayer is often engaging and deliberate. It’s emotionally draining and often exhausting. It’s exhilarating and soul-satisfying as we wrestle with a Holy God who sees our frailties and embraces our humble efforts.

What a mighty God we serve

You can visit Deborah on her blog God Mission Possible.

Deborah's book Mission Possible is available at Alabaster Box Publishing.


Monday, March 22

Semper Fi - Always Faithful!

Photo by Sister72

Recognize the slogan? I’m sure you do. It belongs to the Marines. Semper Fidelis. Though usually heard in the shortened form, Semper Fi. As they say, they are The Few. The Proud.

All military branches are heroes to me. I love them all. The men and women that serve our country, risking their lives for ours, stand tall in my eyes.

But the Marines. There is something a little different about them.

Other military services offer a career but the Marine Corps offers a new life, as they say. And their lives are expected to be exemplary. The Marines’ site says, “Marines are held to the highest standards, ethically and morally. Respect for others is essential. Marines are expected to act responsibly in a manner befitting the title they’ve earned.”

They are on duty 24/7, every day of the year, on base or off base, in uniform or out if it and are to act with decorum, defined as dignified propriety in behavior, speech, and dress.

Their dress regulations say, “Marines may well be associated and identified with the Marine Corps even when not wearing a uniform. Therefore when civilian clothing is worn, Marines will ensure that their dress and personal appearance are conservative and commensurate with the high standards traditionally associated with the Marine Corps. No eccentricities of dress will be permitted.”

Even their uniform, the dress blues, projects a special image.

Their watchwords are loyalty, honor, courage, and commitment. Semper Fi, as one site says, voices “loyalty and commitment to their Marine comrades-in-arms.” Therefore, in combat, Marines never leave a wounded comrade behind. says, “Semper Fidelis means Marines are “Always Faithful” to the country, the Marine Corps, and each other. Our nation entrusts us with its young men and women and we respond with an unbreakable commitment, in combat and in life.”

So, what does ‘faithful’ mean? The dictionaries say that it means…

* loyal, constant
* reliable, trusted
* full of faith, believing
* consistent with truth or actuality
* steadfast in affection or allegiance
* true to the facts, to a standard, or to an original
* showing a strong sense of duty or responsibility
* a faithful worker, true to one’s word, promises, vows, etc.
* adhering firmly and devotedly, as to a person, faith, cause, duty, or idea

So, are we, as Christians, as faithful as the Marines? Do we thump out chests with our fists and say, “Semper Fi” to our Christian comrades-in-arms?

Are we...

* loyal
* reliable
* devoted
* constant
* steadfast
* consistent
* responsible
* true to our word?

Are we faithful in our…

* work
* wealth
* witness
* worship
* wedding vows?

Are we faithful to our heavenly country, being quality citizens? Are we faithful to each other? Are we faithful in our behavior, speech, and dress, 24/7? Do we keep the highest standards, ethically and morally?

Are we committed to our Christian comrades-in-arms? Do we have an attitude of unbreakable commitment, in combat and in life, so that we do not leave our wounded brothers and sisters behind when they are in a battle? Are we courageous and disciplined warriors in our efforts to fight off the enemy?

Do we long to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.” (Matt. 25:21 NKJV)

So, are you…the few? The proud? Always faithful? Semper fi!

I’m honored to be a part of the One Word Blog Carnival. Please visit Bridget Chumbley’s site to read the wonderful blog entries for “faithfulness.” Also at Chatting at the Sky, Tuesdays Unwrapped.

Saturday, March 20

Guest post: Lucy Ann Moll, biblical counselor

I am so happy to bring you a post on and by Lucy Ann Moll, biblical counselor, speaker, author and radio show host. He-e-e-re's, Lucy!

Do you have a Scripture that speaks your heart and defines God’s purpose for your life?

I do. It’s this:

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NIV).

One word is used four times in these verses. What is it?

Comfort? You got it!

The reason this verse speaks to me: I’ve known trouble.

Depression. Check.
Panic attacks. Check.
Sexual abuse. Check.
Mentally ill parent. Check.
Dysfunctional home. Check.
Infertility. Check.
Addiction. Check. (For me, people-pleasing.)
A history of family alcoholism. Check.
Lived in a broken home? Check. (My parents divorced, remarried each other and divorced again.)
Recurring negative thoughts. Check. Check. Check.

There’s more, of course.

But the best thing is that God comforted me in all my troubles, just as He promises in the verse. Now that I’ve received comfort, I give comfort.

He spoke His purpose into my life and called me to counsel hurting Christian women. I’d like to tell you more about it because when I meet women at churches where I speak or visit, I see pain and broken hearts. God gave me a commission to bind up the injured “sheep.”

Q: Lucy, what type of counseling do you provide?

A: I counsel according to the truths of the Bible. It’s sometimes called biblical counseling or pastoral counseling or soul care. As a counselor friend says, biblical counseling is not “here’s two verses and call me in the morning.” It’s comprehensive.
Q: What do you mean by comprehensive?

A: I really get to know the women I counsel – their struggles, their hopes, where they’ve been and where they hope to go. I listen and give clear direction. Homework, too. I also use a Personal Data Inventory. This helps me know many things, including a need for a doctor’s visit.

Q: What’s your stance on medication?

A: I’m open to the use of medication prescribed by a medical doctor.

Q: Do you meet with your counselees in person or over the phone?

A: Both. Some I meet face-to-face, but I counsel most of my clients over the phone. It’s amazing. With the explosion of technology, women who do not have a biblical counselor in their area can still receive hope and healing through Jesus. I’ve met many of my counselees through Twitter and by word of mouth from other folks on Twitter and Facebook.

Q: Lucy, what are the advantages to phone counseling?

A: It’s cheaper. This is a big deal in today’s tight economy. Counseling by phone also is convenient. The counselee doesn’t have to drive to an office. It also offers greater anonymity. Some women who’d feel awkward or fearful to make a face-to-face appointment are very willing to share over the phone. Several of my clients have told me this.

Q: What are the disadvantages to phone counseling?

A: The main one is I cannot read my clients’ nonverbal communication. This has yet to be a major problem to helping hurting Christian women find hope and healing. I offer to meet by webcam.

Q: Why can you offer hope and healing despite this disadvantage?

A: I truly believe it’s the power of the Holy Spirit. Before, during and after every phone meeting, I pray for the woman and for me. I pray that the Holy Spirit shows each of us what He desires. This is what He does, every time. It’s amazing.

Q: What training do you have?

A: I graduated from Western Seminary, Portand, Ore., with a diploma in pastoral care for women. In addition, I have taken courses from the National Association of Nouthetic Counselors. I am not a state-licensed counselor, however.

Q: Why haven’t you sought licensure?

A: Two reasons. First, I looked into programs at the university in a neighboring town; I’d have to learn atheistic Freudian concepts and counsel by them in my training. I won’t compromise my religious beliefs. Second, the United States holds the position of "separation of church and state." My state requires that a person performing a religious function come under a religious adjudicatory body that can attest to that person's qualifications. In this case my church fulfills this role.

Q: If a woman is interested in finding out more, what should she do?

A: Check out my website and go to the e-counseling page. My website is Or email me:

Q: Do you have any other words for hurting Christian women?

A: Get help. Jesus wants to heal you. You may feel alone or full of guilt and shame – maybe you’re scared what people would think if they knew the real you. God knows the real you, and He loves you just as you are.

In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus said the most amazing and wonderful thing. Reading the words of the prophet Isaiah, he said, “The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because he has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18-19 NIV)

Then, he rolled up the scroll, sat down, and stated: “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:20 NIV) Wow.

Are you poor, imprisoned, disabled, or oppressed by life’s troubles?

Hope has come: Jesus.


Tuesday, March 16

Just Like My Daddy

I was a Daddy’s girl. I loved my dad. I loved that I looked like him. He was a great man. A generous man. A godly man, honorable and well-respected. Qualities to be emulated.

I learned a lot from him…just by watching him.

Are you a parent? When you look at your child, do you see yourself, your spouse, or some other family member? Does your child “have” your eyes, your fingers, your build, your hair, your nose, your mouth?

Who does your child act like? Does he or she “have” your mannerisms, talents, same interests, and so on as you or your spouse? Then that child is like its parent, in the same manner, the same character. Just a smaller version.

Do you have a little boy who wants to imitate and pattern everything after his father – walk like him, talk like him, act like him? Does he follow Daddy around like a little shadow? The same is true of little girls wanting to mimic their mothers. Little kids love to imitate. That’s how they learn.

The Father says we are His family, His sons and daughters, “I will be a Father to you, and you will be sons and daughters to Me, says the Lord Almighty.” (2 Cor. 6:18 RGT)

When God looks at you, what does He see? He sees you as His child, made in His own image. If He made us all in His likeness, then we must put on His behavior and act like Him. We are His Name’s sake, His family.

Paul told the Romans, “For God, in His foreknowledge, chose them to bear the family likeness of His Son, that He might be the eldest of a family of many brothers. He chose them long ago; when the time came He called them, He made them righteous in His sight, and then lifted them to the splendour of life as His own sons.” (Rom. 8:28-30 Phillips)

He told the Ephesians, “Therefore be imitators of God [copy Him and follow His example], as well-beloved children [imitate their father].” (Eph. 5:1 Amp)

Just like our Brother Jesus copied His Father, we are to be like our Heavenly Father. Do what He does. Walk like He walks. Say what He says. Be what He is.

Only by close interaction and contact with the parent will a child pick up the same habits, tendencies, and character of the parent. And so it is with us. To learn to be like God and His Son, we must be constantly in His presence, following Him around like a little shadow. (Or is that in His shadow?)

The Father desires His children to learn of Him, to listen to Him, to obey Him, and just to be with Him. But until we sit at the feet of the Source of Peace, we will not resemble the Father of Peace or our Brother, the Prince of Peace. This is true with all the other qualities of God.

I want to be like my heavenly Daddy. In order to do that, I need to keep my eyes on Him, watching His every move.

Years ago, Amy Grant sang a song entitled Her Father’s Eyes. This last part is my prayer...

On that day when we will pay for all the deeds we’ve done
Good and bad they’ll all be had to see by everyone
And when you’re called to stand and tell just what you saw in me
More than anything I know, I want your words to be…

She had her father’s eyes, her father’s eyes
Eyes that found the good in things when good was not around
Eyes that found the source of help when help would not be found
Eyes full of compassion, seein’ every pain
Knowin’ what you’re goin’ through and feelin’ it the same.

~Yes, Lord, may I have Your eyes to see the needs of others, their pain, unrest, and confusion, and may I be Your hands of comfort and strength to lift them up, Your lips to give Your words of encouragement, Your ears to listen to them, Your shoulder on which they may lean, Your feet to walk with them, and Your heart of compassion to offer what they need. Amen!


Monday, March 15

Enter to Worship - Exit to Serve book tour

Enter to Worship - Exit to Serve
by Ronald K. Gray (Xulon Press)

Today, I bring you an interview with Ronald K. Gray, author of Enter to Worship – Exit to Serve. If you would like your name entered for the give-away of the book, please leave a comment at the end of this post.

About the Author

Ronald Gray serves the Kingdom of God through sharing the uncompromised Word of God. He has been faithful to his call since 1974. He is on the board of International Outreach Ministries and Charles Simpson Ministries. He is the Director of Mission Growth for IOM leading short-term teams to various countries in the world.

Ronald began his ministry with Gulf Coast Teen Challenge in Pensacola, FL. He has served as an Associate Pastor and Senior Pastor. Ronald and his wife Sharon have lived in the Mobile, AL area since 1995. He and Sharon have two daughters and four grandchildren.

Ronald has traveled extensively in the United States and in over 38 countries, spreading the message of the Kingdom of God. Many people have received salvation, healing, restoration, and deliverance in their lives.

What is the book about?

While the book’s title puts it in the praise and worship section in book stores, the book is more about the total life of the believer. Nehemiah10:39 is the core scripture for the book’s teachings.

Nehemiah had gone to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls and also rebuilt the temple, restoring worship to the people. Worship was centered around sacrifice. I use the different groups pictured in Nehemiah to talk about fundamental areas of the believers life.

The scripture says they would not forsake the temple of God. We have forsaken the house of God today. We are so busy with our agendas, we have left the true reason for worship. God is looking for something real from our lives, not just our words.

Why Enter to Worship - Exit to Serve?

The life of the believer comes from our life in God. We bring to Him a sacrifice of our monies, our gifts, our fruits and lay them at His feet. The premise for most Christians today is what can God do for them instead of how can I worship God with all that is within me. The scriptures teach us that everyone has something to offer.

When we worship in the fullness of our lives, God then fills us to be able to affect our world. We then exit to serve God through proclaiming His Word, serving those around us and exalting His name in all the earth. Everything we do in church is to help us fulfill God’s calling on our lives in the world.

What do you think is the most important chapter of the book?

In over 35 years of full time ministry, I have never heard anyone else teach about porters. In Nehemiah 10:39, it lists porters between priests and singers. I thought that was very interesting and researched porters. It is basically a janitor.

Servants that do the basics, people who do ordinary things to keep ministries going. God wants servants. That is a concept that is lost in the big time world of church ministries today. Jesus came to serve. I believe that we can make a difference in our community, our neighborhoods, and our world if we are willing to lay our lives down to serve God.

What do you hope to accomplish with your book?

I hope that ordinary believers will recognize they have something to offer. We can bring our monies and touch the nations. We can bring our gifts and see the power of God touch people and their needs. We can offer our fruits and not wait for the pastors or elders, but be instruments to bring life to those around us who are seeking a relevant relationship with Jesus.

The five fold ministries of Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor and Teacher were never supposed to do everything in the church. The church is supposed to be equipped for ministry. Everyone should be able to proclaim the message and everyone should have praise for the God we serve. That should not happen just on Sunday mornings between 10 a.m. and 12 noon. We should be able to give God praise in our homes and throughout the week. I truly believe this can be the church’s finest hour.

Are there other available resources connected with this book?

Yes. I taught my book at a conference and had it professionally recorded on video and audio. These sessions are great for small groups and Bible studies. There is a Study Guide to help the leader go through the sessions. The book and the video provide different insights that will help people to grow into maturity.

Where are these resources available to purchase?

You can obtain this book and many other resources on my web site at


Friday, March 12

Dash Days: Wasted or Worthwhile?

Have you ever walked through an old section of a cemetery? You can find such interesting headstones there. Some of the things written on them can be silly, sad, serious, or sentimental. Here are a few I found…

*“Earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal”
*“Gone from our sight but never our memories, gone from our touch but never our hearts”
*This is a classic one: “I told you I was sick!”
*And I love this one: On a gravestone from the 1880s in Nantucket, Massachusetts:

Under the sod and under the trees
Lies the body of Jonathan Pease.
He is not here, there’s only the pod:
Pease shelled out and went to God.

What will take you out of this world? Will it be like poor ol’ Fred in the photo? “Here lies good old Fred; a great big rock fell on his head.”

You never know when you will take your last breath. It could be in the next hour, tomorrow, or fifty years from now.

We are all allowed only so many days on earth. So, what do we do with them? Do we fill our days with choices that will affect ourselves and others in a way that is positive or negative?

Do we consider ourselves as worthy as the Lord does so that we don’t step out of His safe boundaries by making wrong choices?

You are worthy; God’s Word says so, for He thinks enough of you to give you a part of Himself when you accept His salvation. As the apostle Paul said, “Haven’t you yet learned that your body is the home of the Holy Spirit God gave you, and that He lives within you?” (1 Cor. 6:19a TLB)

What Paul wrote to the Colossian believers is for us as well. He prayed that they would “walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” (Col. 1:10 NKJV)

Paul’s exhortation to the Thessalonians is also for us. He pointed out that their “daily lives should not embarrass God but bring joy to Him Who invited you into His Kingdom to share His glory.” (1 Thess. 2:12 TLB)

How, then, do we make the right decisions to honor the Lord within us? What will keep us within His safe borders? The answer? Knowing the Lord, staying rooted in His Word, and trusting Him to help us make the right choices.

Scripture tells us how to make our days worthwhile through the words of Solomon, “I, Wisdom, will make the hours of your day more profitable and the years of your life more fruitful” (Prov. 9:11 TLB), and Isaiah, “I shall walk carefully all my years.” (Is. 38:15b NKJV)

If headstone engravings are a miniscule summation of a person’s life, what is the most important part? Some of you may know. Give up? It’s the dash. The dash between the dates.

Are you walking carefully through your years, your dash days? What did you do last year? Yesterday? What will you do today, tomorrow, or throughout the rest of your time on earth?

The effects of the decisions you make in your lifetime leave telltale signs of your character, and that is what people will remember about your dash days.

At the end of the day, when your head hits that pillow and you look back over your day, do you find that you wasted it or made it worthwhile? Will you have to live with any consequences to your choices? As the old saying goes, “As you make your bed, so must you lie in it.”

This reminds me of the old comedy series Happy Days in which Fonzi once said, as his own twist on that saying, “You make your bed bad, you get wrinkles!” He was right! If you make your life’s bed bad by making the wrong decisions, you get wrinkles in your life!

So, what makes up your day-bed life? Lush sheets of stinginess, a comfortable mattress of misbehavior, a puffy pillow of pride, and all covered over with a blanket of bitterness?

Or is it made up with kindness, good deeds, comforting and encouraging words, and saying “no” to things you know will bring negative results in your life or in another’s life?

When all of your days come to an end, what will others engrave on your headstone? Will the words tell of how you lived your dash? Will your dash be wasted or worthwhile?


Monday, March 8

Balcony People

Have you ever thought about what people would say about you at your funeral?

Today, I went to a funeral. A very precious friend’s husband died.

As I sat and listened to the trembling voices, soaked in tears, and the preacher’s words of tribute, I heard the same reiteration of accolades and honor. My friend’s husband was a special man who had suffered a massive stroke over ten years ago.

After many struggles to adjust to barely being able to take care of himself and to make himself understood, he finally made peace with his bodily condition and praised the Lord the rest of his days. From his wheelchair, he touched many people with his worship and with his deep love and care for his family and others. He was a true encouragement to all who knew him.

With his dying breath, he praised the Lord…with his hand raised to heaven. He will be sorely missed. He was a balcony person.

Balcony people are upstanding people, encouragers who…

*are kind, caring, and giving
*draw others up to greater heights
*compliment and complement others
*build others to attempt notable tasks
*instill others with belief in themselves
*cheer and clap for others when they are down.

They are tank refillers. They fill our hearts’ empty reservoirs with words that offer comfort, peace, love, and care.

We have a whole bevy of balcony people, those leaning over the brink of heaven to cheer us on. “Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on?” (Heb. 12:1a Msg)

*David and Jonathan were balcony people for each other.
*Barnabas was a balcony person. He introduced Paul to the other apostles.
*Paul was a balcony person for innumerable people. He wrote to the Thessalonian church that he had sent Timothy, “our brother and fellow worker, God’s minister, to visit you to strengthen your faith and encourage you and to keep you from becoming fainthearted in all the troubles you were going through.” (1 Thess. 3:2a TLB)

Everyone needs a balcony person at one time or another, one who will come alongside of us to lend an ear for listening, a shoulder for crying, a boost when down, or a clap when lacking courage.

Do you have a balcony person in your life? One who cheers you on, who lifts you up when you are down?

Will others at your funeral say you were a balcony person to them?


Thursday, March 4

Are You Poor in Spirit? Rejoice!

Photo by INSPIKS

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for
theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Matt. 5:3 NKJV

The poor in spirit…

What does ‘poor in spirit’ mean? The word ‘poor’ in Greek means to crouch, a beggar (as cringing), pauper, asking alms, needy, and lacking in anything.

‘Poor in spirit’ does not mean poor in spirituality. The one poor in spirit is lowly in heart, convinced of his or her spiritual poverty and pleads as a beggar to God to be replenished.
One who is ‘poor in spirit’ has emptied himself or herself of all pride, selfishness, and ambition through humility, gratitude, and submission to God.

…are blessed…

‘Blessed’ in Greek means happy, supremely blest, fortunate, well off, and of that which is the highest good.

…for theirs is the kingdom of heaven…

The Greek word for ‘kingdom’ means royal power, kingship, dominion, rule, the territory subject to the rule of a king.

Without recognizing one’s lack of spirit, one cannot realize God’s fullness. Grace cannot be poured out to one oblivious of his or her necessity for it. The poor in spirit have the fulfillment of heaven’s kingdom dominion.

The poor in spirit are blessed with the kingdom’s abundance of riches. “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matt. 6:33 NKJV)

Scripture tells us that we share in the God’s kingdom because we are His children, “For [God’s] Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are His children, we are His heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share His glory, we must also share His suffering.” (Rom. 8:16-17 NLT)

Are you poor in spirit? Then, shout because you are blessed. The riches of Christ are yours. The kingdom of heaven is yours. Hallelujah!


Monday, March 1

Lost Your Flavor?

“Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have
lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted?”
(Matt. 5:13a KJV)

The Greek definition of ‘savour’ actually means to become insipid, to make as a simpleton, or to act or become foolish. The word ‘lost’ is not in the Greek. ‘Salt,’ in Greek, also figuratively means prudent, which in English means wise, discreet, circumspect, and sensible.

If we reword it, it might say something like this, “You are the salt, the preservative, the wise quality of the earth, but if you become foolish, with what will you salt?” The Living Bible translates it this way, “You are the world’s seasoning, to make it tolerable. If you lose your flavor, what will happen to the world?”

In biblical times, salt reigned high on the importance and necessity ladder as it preserved food from spoiling, was used as an antiseptic, and was added to sacrifices.

During those days, covenants were made between individuals, between a king and his people, between two groups or nations, or between God and a man or His people. This agreement required each party to make promises which were never to be broken - ever!

If the two participants of a covenant ratified it with a meal, they used salt, which signified the custom of pledging friendship or confirming a binding compact, for when men ate together, they became friends, binding them in reconciliation and peace.

It also symbolized preservation and a perpetual obligation. Once a person joined in a salt covenant with God or another person, he risked the penalty of being cast out if he breached his loyalty to his oath.

Salt symbolized covenant’s preservation from decay and the surrender of self to the Lord, eradicating all impurities and hypocrisy. It also indicated loyalty and living a life of wholesome character and speech, giving flavor to life.

We see this in scripture, as Jesus told the disciples, “You must have the qualities of salt among yourselves and live in peace with each other,” (Mark 9:50b NLT) and as Paul wrote, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” (Col. 4:6 NIV)

In those ancient times, if salt lost its flavor, it became worthless as a preservative and was taken to the temple in Jerusalem. When it rained, the marble courtyard became slippery, so they spread the salt out to keep people from falling, hence the saying, “to be trampled under the feet of men.”

Salt’s properties preserve from corruption and putrefaction. As Matthew Henry said, “So Christians, by their lives and instructions, are to keep the world from entire moral corruption.”

If we have made our covenant with God, are we living up to our perpetual obligation to be the Lord’s salt to the world? Do we have those qualities of salt within us that bring healing, preservation, and flavoring? Is our conversation full of grace and seasoned with salt?

Or have we lost our saltiness? “If you lose your flavor, what will happen to the world?”