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


Friday, November 12

Spiritual Endurance

What tests your spiritual endurance?

*lack of a job?
*no insurance?
*death of a child?
*home foreclosure?
*your spouse’s affair?
*death of someone else?
*a child with an addiction?
*a husband hooked on porn?
*persecution from a loved one?
*the twisted knife in your back from your best friend?

On occasion, many of these strike all at once causing chaos to overwhelm us. Our eyes spill over with the tears of heartache. Discouragement sets in.

David wrote, “Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise Him again - my Savior and my God!” (Ps. 42:5 NLT)

Who comes to mind as a biblical victor, a spiritual endurer?
James wrote, “For examples of patience in suffering, dear brothers and sisters, look at the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. We give great honor to those who endure under suffering. For instance, you know about Job, a man of great endurance. You can see how the Lord was kind to him at the end, for the Lord is full of tenderness and mercy.” James 5:10-11 NLT)

Paul wrote to the Romans, “For whatever was thus written in former days was written for our instruction, that by [our steadfast and patient] endurance and the encouragement [drawn] from the Scriptures we might hold fast to and cherish hope.” (Rom. 15:4 Amp)

I love reading the faith chapter, Hebrews 11.
Listed are the names of all those who persevered from Abel to Enoch, Noah, and Abraham…by faith, by faith, by faith. They are those who held to the backside of the cross, having the faith to see what was yet to be. They had no anchor of hope in Christ as we do.

The writer of Hebrews said of Abraham, “And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.” (Heb. 6:15 NKJV) From the beginning of God’s promise of his son Isaac to Abraham until the time of fulfillment was about twenty five years. Then, Abraham’s faith was tested to the max. When he obeyed to the point of nearly sacrificing his own son, a Ram in the thicket was provided.

He endured. The all endured!

Our faith walk should be like Abraham’s,
for he knew God kept His promises, “He drew strength from his faith, and, while giving the glory to God, remained absolutely convinced that God was able to implement His own promise.” (Rom. 4:21 Phillips)

Paul also said of Abraham, “No unbelief or distrust made him waver (doubtingly question) concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong and was empowered by faith as he gave praise and glory to God.” (Rom. 4:20 Amp) His words of praise strengthened his faith, connecting Him to God’s power.

And what of Paul? Didn’t he endure horrendous afflictions?

He said, “We are pressed on every side by troubles, but not crushed and broken. We are perplexed because we don’t know why things happen as they do, but we don’t give up and quit. We are hunted down, but God never abandons us. We get knocked down, but we get up again and keep going. These bodies of ours are constantly facing death just as Jesus did; so it is clear to all that it is only the living Christ within [who keeps us safe]. Yes, we live under constant danger to our lives because we serve the Lord, but this gives us constant opportunities to show forth the power of Jesus Christ within our dying bodies.” (2 Cor. 4:8-11TLB)

What is your attitude as you endure your trials?
Do you hide in the cellar of doubt and worry or hang out in the attic of praise and gratitude? Do you give up or rest in the power of God? Are you a spiritual victim or victor?

Does Jesus say to you, as He did to Peter when he began to be overwhelmed by the waves, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matt. 14:31b NKJV) Or does He say to you as He did to the woman that came to Him on behalf of her demon-possessed daughter, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire”? (Matt. 15:28 NKJV)

“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.” (Heb. 12:1-2a NKJV)

As you look to the Lord in your time of trouble, may He complete and perfect your faith that you may be a spiritual victor.


Tuesday, November 9

What Am I Saying?

“Is there wrong on my tongue? Cannot
my taste discern what is destructive?”
(Job 6:30 Amp)

Wouldn’t it be nice if all the bad and negative words we say instantly left a terrible taste on your tongues? Maybe then, the next time, we wouldn’t speak them.

Do we ever stop to think about what we say?

Apparently not, for what do we do? We praise God, then turn around and spew out negative phrases.

James said, “Words of thanksgiving and cursing pour out from the same mouth. My brothers, this should not happen!” (James 3:10 GNB) “Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water?…No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty pool.” (James 3:11,12b NLT)

Or we speak blistering words about someone or to someone.

David said, “You sit and speak against your brother; you slander your own mother’s son.” (Ps. 50:20 NKJV) Another version says, “You stab your own brother in the back.” (Ps. 50:20 Msg) Why do we do this?

Some say, “I don’t see that my words matter that much.” Well, our words do matter. James also said, “A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything - or destroy it!” (James 3:5 Msg) “What enormous damage it can do.” (James 3:5b TLB)

The words we speak can set our lives, or others, on fire for harm or for good. Our words can bring others to tears or lift their spirits.

Think of the millions of children and spouses who receive tongue-lashings by those who little realize the wounds they inflict with their razor-sharp words. Being verbally abused, they are told, “You’re stupid!” Or “Can’t you ever do anything right?” Or “Why can’t you be like your brother (or sister)?” Or “You’ll never amount to anything.” Or “I never wanted you in the first place.” Or “You’re no good.”

Words leave scars, scars that have never felt the wound of a weapon, to paraphrase Romeo. How many hearts have been injured by insensitive or ill-chosen words, wrecking havoc in their lives and shattering their self-confidence and self-worth?

If these negative words become etched upon the surface of another’s soul, they will play back throughout the rest of that one’s life unless he or she is taught how to deal with them.

Jesus warned, “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults - unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging.” (Matt. 7:102 Msg)

All those words we carelessly let loose are like homing pigeons, coming home to roost on us as they wound others on their flight and ultimately wound the Lord.

The Lord once said to me, “Do not wound My Heart by saying unkind things about those I love, things you could not say to their faces.” We grieve the Lord by what we say, and think, about the ones He loves. Our love for Christ must prevent us from hurting Him with our criticism and judgment of others, whether vocalized or silent.

God is very particular about how we treat His sons and daughters. Would you get upset if someone verbally mistreated your child?

Jesus told the Pharisees, “On the day of judgment men will have to give account for every idle (inoperative, nonworking) word they speak…Your words now reflect your fate then: either you will be justified by them or you will be condemned.” (Matt. 12:36 Amp, Matt. 12:37 TLB)

If we are required to answer for our speech, then we need to be cautious of what fills our hearts and overflows out of our mouths, for, as Jesus said, “Whatever is in the heart overflows into speech.” (Luke 6:45b TLB)

If our tongues speak from the abundance of our hearts, and if Jesus and scripture say our words are critical, then our words truly have extraordinary power and effect. They embody life and death, just as Solomon said, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” (Prov. 18:21a NKJV)

Especially in today’s climate, as home foreclosures abound, jobs dwindle and are lost, bank accounts become emptied, and sickness spreads, words of encouragement, comfort, and blessing are vital to each person’s mental well being.

Do you care how your words affect others? Do you “kill” others with your toxic tongue or do you speak hope and support into them with words of life? Do you speak harshly to your children or your spouse? How would you talk if Jesus were standing next to you or your pastor came to visit?

Solomon wrote, “Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit - you choose.” (Prov. 18:21 Msg)

Knowing the consequences of his thoughts and words, David was wise to pray, “Take control of what I say, O LORD, and guard my lips.” (Ps. 141:3 NLT)

Do you have a guard set to catch any nasty tasting words from slipping off the end of your tongue?


Monday, November 8

Feeling Loved book tour

Today, I bring you an interview with Marnie Swedberg, author of Feeling Loved... Connecting with God in the Minutes You Have. Be sure to check out the end for the give-aways...

Q. Does your book have a handle?

A. Feeling Loved provides “The Marnie Method” for connecting with God. I’m busy, you’re busy, we’re all super busy. The book explains how I meaningfully connect with the Creator of the Universe in the minutes I can, and how anyone can become best friends with God--even if you’ve never done it before for whatever reason.

Q. Who will enjoy this book?

A. Women, but specifically women who are too busy to think. It will connect best with women who juggle a lot of balls and sort of beat themselves up for not spending more time with God. It provides hope and a fast-track toward spiritual success.

Q. Aren’t busy women too preoccupied to read?

A. Not at all! Most busy women read a lot, they simply choose their reading material more carefully than those who have more leisure time. The book must apply to a felt need - and, honestly, I meet a lot of women who feel the need to grow closer to God.

Q. Is Feeling Loved just for super busy women?

A. It’s for everyone, of course, but the women who can best relate to me fall into two main categories: Those who are busy and loving it, and those who come seeking my help because they are too busy and hating it.

Q. How do you combine the writing life with home life?

A. I’ve almost always needed to write in the night: it’s the only time I can be uninterrupted. I try to be accessible to family and employees during the day and sometimes I succeed. It’s never easy to find time to write.

Q. What was the hardest part of writing this?

A. Finding time. That’s always the hardest part. As the owner and manager of a restaurant, retail store, espresso café and several mega websites, it is hard to fit the writing of books between catering orders, bills, vendors, traveling to buyers’ shows, speaking at live engagements, taking kids to college, managing our home, and still finding a few hours for some sleep.

Q. What do you want readers to take away from reading your book?

A. Inspiration. Most of the people who read my stuff or hear me speak say that they feel motivated and inspired after spending time in my brain. This makes me happy. I hope many women will grow closer to Jesus as a result of this book!

Q. Do you promote online through other means? Website? Blog?

A. I just do social networking. I have a blog, numerous SN sites and thousands of connections, but my main line of communication is the “Marnie Minute” which goes out to thousands of email friends every week.

Q. You are giving away free stuff. If so, what?

A. For sure! There are two free offers with no strings attached, plus other offers to those who purchase books during our launch party, November 8-11. The totally free offers are 1) an online personality test and 2) my online memorization tool, both available from The book-buyer's offers are also cool. If you buy one book from any source between November 8-11, you can request the downloadable audio book for free (a $19.99 value). If you buy more, there are other great offers! Check it all out at

Q. Is there anything that you would like to add?

A. I hope readers will find out when I’ll be speaking in a city near you - and come meet me! That would make my day!

Q. Where else can readers get in touch with you? Twitter, Blog, Facebook, etc?

A. I am MentorMarnie at Twitter and MarnieSwedberg at Facebook and LinkedIn. I’d love it for people to keep in touch!


Thursday, November 4

A Change of Seasons

“And He changes the times and the seasons.”

(Dan. 2:21 NKJV)

This time of year, the heat and humidity of the summer season is, hopefully, becoming a welcomed memory and cool breezes and the beauty of the reds, golds, and oranges of fall begin to emerge. Don’t we all love it when the seasons change?

But what about our lives? Do we accept the seasons of spiritual change prompted by the circumstances in our lives? Do we see any beauty emerge from the myriad trials and afflictions that assault us? If “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven” (Eccl. 3:1 NIV), how do we view the changes?

Where can the most beautiful vistas be viewed? From atop the summit of the tallest mountain, after the most strenuous climb.

Which valleys have the richest, green velvet pastures with the fullest spikes of wildflower colors? Those that have withstood the greatest drenching rains.

What forests produce the most prolific new growth? Those that have suffered the hot, searing flames of destruction.

Which diamonds sparkle the most brilliantly? Those that have felt the cleaving of the jeweler’s sharp chisel and the friction of the polishing wheel.

An old Chinese proverb says, “The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials.”

Just as all of nature suffers contrary conditions in order to be expanded, improved, or strengthened, so, too, do we. Difficulties and trials will always be a part of our lives. We cannot separate ourselves from them. And if we ponder it closely, we realize we will not grow as Christians if trials do not come to test and enlarge us that our greater beauty might emerge.

If we try to wiggle out of these times, we force premature deliverance, frustrating God’s plan. It is like prying open a cocoon before the caterpillar has finished its metamorphosis into a butterfly. Forcing open the cocoon too soon will render the caterpillar deformed for the rest of its short lifespan.

When we manipulate the hands of the clock to align with our own agenda, we destroy the beauty that God desires to emerge from His timing. Through our own efforts to “help” God out with our deliverance, do we come out of our cocoon of circumstance too early and spiritually deformed in some way? Or do we wait for the revealed transformation by God’s hand?

Is our cocoon of circumstance not intended, as for the butterfly, to deepen our richest colors and give us wings of flight, beautifying our character for a new season in life, all which we may not have had before the trial? While in that cocoon of circumstance, we “are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory.” (2 Cor. 3:18 NIV)

God knows the worth, the power, and the beauty hidden deep within our hearts and only that which is contrary to our comfort releases the precious qualities within us. As Paul said, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” (Rom 8:18 NKJV)

God will work out all our circumstances for our benefit, from one spiritual season to the next, when we fully commit them and ourselves to Him, His Word, and His timing.

After experiencing a cocoon of contrary circumstance, are you able to say as David, “My troubles turned out all for the best”? (Ps. 119:71 Msg)

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.” (Rom. 8:28 NLT)

From one season to the next…“being transformed into the same image from glory to glory.” (2 Cor. 3:18 NKJV)


Monday, November 1

The Horizontal Life

News spread quickly and the man heard it: Jesus is here! He’s back in Capernaum.

Reclining every day of his life, this man lay flat out on his mat, the mat of his past, present, and future.

Paralysis had not only left this man’s body atrophied but also left his soul feeble. Tired of his immobilized, horizontal mat-life, tired of the bedsores, tired of his burdens, tired of focusing on the ceiling and feet…he wanted to see the Healer. In the flesh.

Jesus had healed others on previous trips to Capernaum, so maybe this would be the time He would heal Mat Man.

“Get me to the house!” the man urged his four faithful friends. So, they picked him up with his mat and headed for the house where Jesus was staying.

When they got there, visitors overflowed out the door. The only route left to the four men was up. Once on the roof, they began taking apart the roof to make an opening and then lowered Mat Man down in the presence of Jesus, coming to rest at His feet.

Although I Lynnified the above a little, the rest of the account in Mark 2 says that Jesus forgave the man’s sins, then, turned to him and said, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!” (Mark 2:11 NLT)

So, “the man jumped up, grabbed his mat, and walked out through the stunned onlookers.” (Mark 2:12a NLT) Healed! Burdens gone. Illness gone. Past gone.

No more feeble, shaky legs. No more depending on others. No more lying down on his past. Standing upright, he walked out carrying his mat of horizontal existence, his mat of disease and depression. He was free!

The man went back to living a vertical life. I’m positive he exuded joy. Can’t you just picture it: the man dancing all the way through town, kicking up his heels, and yelling as loud as possible, “I’m healed! I’m healed! Praise the Lord! I’m healed!”

What about me? What about you? Do we live horizontal, immobilized lives…in our hearts? If so, it can sometimes affect our physical condition. But what about the spiritual side?

What causes us to live horizontal mat-lives?

*Unconfessed sin? Fear? Doubt? Worry? Addictions? Grief? Loss? Unforgiveness or bitterness? Negative attitude? Depression? Discouragement? Dwelling on our past?

Does any of that cause you to have a mat-life? If I’m not diligent to guard my heart, I know just where to lie down on that stinkin’ mat! If I wrap my fingers around any of these things, or others, and cling to them, I throw out the mat of paralysis and park myself on it.

Jeremiah lamented, “Just thinking of my troubles and my lonely wandering makes me miserable. That’s all I ever think about, and I am depressed. Then I remember something that fills me with hope. The LORD’s kindness never fails! If He had not been merciful, we would have been destroyed. The LORD can always be trusted to show mercy each morning.” (Lam. 3:19-23 CEV)

I have learned that I paralyze myself every time I take my focus off the Lord and place it on myself and/or my circumstances. I end up making myself miserable. Isaiah said to God, “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on You!” (Is. 26:3 NLT)

Ah, yes. That Perfect Peace. When I draw near to the Lord, sitting at the feet of the Healer of all ills, I find the sweetness of His Life poured out into mine…forgiveness and fullness of joy, strength and peace, comfort and rest, faith and hope.

What paralyzes you? Keeps you down, living a horizontal mat-life? Have you gotten comfy living there? If so, He says to you, “I am the Lord who heals you. Get up. Take up your mat of misery and go back to living an upright life.”

Or are you sitting at the feet of the Healer? “Yet there is one ray of hope: His compassion never ends. It is only the Lord’s mercies that have kept us from complete destruction. Great is His faithfulness; His loving-kindness begins afresh each day.” (Lam. 3:21-23 TLB)

Whose feet are you focused on?