Saturday, August 31, 2013

On Distant Shores by Sarah Sundin

When Sarah Sundin comes out with a new novel I am over the top excited to receive my copy. Her newest, "On Distant Shores", will not disappoint. Sarah is the master when it comes to Historical Fiction. Why? She brings us not only a story, but an accurate depiction of the time. Here in her second installment of, "Wings Of The Nightingale Series", we again find ourselves going back in time to WWII. In this new addition to the series we get a close up look at Georgie and Hutch.

The Characters are charming and real. I adored Hutch and Georgie. Both have sweet lives back home, miles away from the war, and dream of the day when they can return to those they love. But that perfect picture of home continues to change. 

Georgie and Hutch form a friendship and they find that they have much in common. Which brings great comfort to them in a place that is so unsure. 

I have been swept away with these stories of flight nurses. I have learned such a great deal from Sarah's writing and has given me a new love for diving in and learning more about these brave women. Sarah writes of the bonds these women share. We see their deepest fears and just how their faith plays a part in them taking flight. Their sacrifices and courage shine through these pages as Sarah brings these characters to life. 

I have shared that Georgie is a flight nurse, but Hutch is a pharmacist. I can tell you I have never thought about pharmacists in the wars before. This opened my eyes in so many ways. There is so much to this novel and I don't want to share so much I give away gems that only you should discover on your own. 

Once you begin reading you see how the cover photo is very telling of the story. These pages hold such rich romance. I love how Sarah lets the story breath in it's own time. She weaves this story in perfect time and gives the reader time to fall in love with the characters. 

I would encourage you to read the first in the series, "With Every Letter", before grabbing up this one. Although it could be a stand alone, much would be missed without the first in the series. 

This wonderful novel was a gift from Revell for sharing my review with you. 

Sarah Sundin is the author of A Distant Melody,A Memory Between Us, and Blue Skies Tomorrow. In 2011, A Memory Between Us was a finalist in the Inspirational Reader's Choice Awards and Sarah received the Writer of the Year Award at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. A graduate of UC San Francisco School of Pharmacy, she works on-call as a hospital pharmacist. During WWII, her grandfather served as a pharmacist's mate (medic) in the Navy and her great-uncle flew with the US Eighth Air Force in England. Sarah lives in California with her husband and three children.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Wash Me In Your Peace, Lord

It's Monday and my heart is heavy. I'm not sure why, but I am building a fear deep within. It's not that things are bad. Maybe that's it. It's that things are wonderful. Wonderful in every way and I am waiting for it all to fall out from under me. Have you ever had those fears encapsulate you? At night I dream in fear. I'm just waiting for something to happen that shakes me to the core. 

Is this Satan's trap? Is he trying to steal away my joy? I wonder what it will be and when it will happen. "Lord, will I still believe? Will I still seek You with all my heart?" Yes, it's these very words that chill me to the bone. I don't want to have doubt. I don't want to live with fear. 

Turn on the news and in every corner of the world tragedy is happening. I want to hear more, but yet I want to turn the television off. The more I hear the more fear that knocks me in the gut. Is the end coming quickly? Am I prepared? The tears I see and the stories I hear break my heart. What are we to do? We can't just sit back and do nothing. We must act. Oh Jesus, we must pray. 

This is what my heart is calling me to do. Pray and pray without ceasing. Could these fears be real? Could the Lord be calling me to prayer? It is only in prayer that I find peace. 

"Anxiety in a man's heart weighs it down, but a good word cheers it up." Proverbs 12:25

In seeking the Word this is the verse I was called to. There is no faith found in fear. Faith isn't built on fear, but on trust. If I allow fear and anxiety to fill me where is the room for Jesus and His promises? So, I repeat His promises and as I do it cancels out each fear. 

"I believe, Lord. I believe and trust in You. No matter what is to come help me continue in faith and walk this journey believing in You." These words do not come easy. They take effort and determination. I must surrender all. My heart. My actions. My thoughts. With surrender comes trust. With trust faith grows. 

So, I pray. I pray for my husband. I pray for my children. I pray for my grandchildren. My family. My friends. I allow the Lord to saturate my prayer list with names I have yet to meet. These are people I am connected to through Christ. 

"The Lord is my light and my salvation-whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life-of whom should I be afraid?" Psalm 27:1

"Jesus is either in control or He isn't. God is bigger than my biggest fear or He isn't." Yes, these are words that my heart needs to hear. How can I praise God for the good if I too can not praise Him for all? I must be honest. I don't understand everything that is happening. But I know. Yes, I know. There is nothing that happens that first does not go through the hand of God. I know these fears are real. They have become chain mail heavy. I can't step without thinking of my fears. I wear them like a cloak. I want to shake them off and dance in a new joy, but they remain. Have you too felt these fears? 

I don't want them. I don't want to live with fear. I want to live in freedom. The kind of freedom only found in Jesus. Won't you join me? Let us replace our fears with great thanksgiving. Learning to trust Jesus is learning that I can't control what is to happen tomorrow. It's opening up my hand and giving Him EVERYTHING. This is the only way to finding freedom in Jesus. This is the only way to living joy. 

"But whoever listens to me will live securely and be free from danger." Proverbs 1:33

We place a false security in the things of this world. In the people of this world. It is in Jesus that we find security. "Oh, sweet Jesus, help us see. Help us to trust You beyond our vision and fear."

Sweet Jesus, yes, today I am putting my hope in You. I am laying it all at Your feet, Lord. Take all this anxiety and fear and replace it with a calm serenity in knowing You are the Lord of lord, King of kings and You, Almighty God are in total control. Wash me in Your peace. May Your light shine upon me and warm my heart. As I pick up a fear today remind me of Your strength and mighty power. Cleanse me of this world and fill me with Your heavenly purpose. Grace and mercy be upon us, Lord. Forgive us and guide us into what is to come with faith. Help us to trust You when we are faced with all kinds of fear. Lord, hear our prayers. Hear my prayer, sweet Jesus. Intercede for us and take our fears captive. Shine Your heavenly calm upon us today, Lord. 

"Rejoice! Let your graciousness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Don't worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:4-7

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Imperfect Me

You know what I'm learning? It's okay to be me. Yep, this imperfect girl, who struggles and gets herself into messes. This girl who feels lonely at times and struggles to meet the demands of others. This same girl who has great intentions, but often fails to meet each one. 

The me that finds is so hard to understand others. The me that tries to find acceptance in others. Yes, the wife who could be better. The mom who makes mistakes. The friend who doesn't have enough time. The daughter who gets selfish with her own time. 

I continually trip over my feet in my journey to walk with Jesus. I allow other stuff to get in the way. I get off focus and off balance. Jealousy enters my heart. Bitterness tries to control my emotions. I get lazy in my study, but find time for other things. 

The phone rings and I want to hide. Someone is always wanting a part of me. Just what if I don't have any more to give? How much more do I give? 

I am that girl who feels inadequate and undeserving. 

What about you? 

Oh yes, there are those moments where I look to Jesus and say, "Why do You want to use me?" I look to the Proverbs 31 woman and think to myself, "Really? I'm never going to make it." But then there is the Lord. I hear His sweet voice and He says, "You are enough. Let Me do the rest." 

Yes! In that moment I drown out all those anxieties that try to pull me down by repeating the Word of God. It's nothing about what I do, but all about who I am. I am a child of the King of kings, Lord of lords. Jesus is my King and Savior. He is my Everything. It is in Him that I can find a serenity that leads me to a day filled with joy instead of hurry. 

"Anxiety in a man's heart weighs it down, but a good word cheers it up." Proverbs 12:25

It is Satan's will to destroy me and the best way he can do that is to use me against myself. I spend so much time kicking myself. I can be my own worst enemy. But then I remember. Run to Jesus. Run to Him when I'm running on fumes. When I feel weak. When I feel out of my comfort zone. When everything seems a mess I run to Him. 

The more my thoughts spin out of control I remind myself that God is still in control. Nothing. Not nothing passes through His hands and touches me that He has not first prayed through. Yes, Jesus is our Forever Intercessor! He sees my yesterday. He knows my today. He has my tomorrow planned out in perfect harmony. I remind myself, "Trust Him. Trust Him with everything!" 

Soon those fears pass by. My doubts are no longer my focus. Those impossible moments become possible with Jesus. Everything becomes more clear when He is my focus and purpose. 

It's His sweet grace that changes everything. Jesus makes all the difference in a living life and loving life. We can live each and every day just going through the motions or we can live each and every day with purpose and praise. 

Choose Jesus today and just see what miraculous gifts He shows you. He created you with love and intention. Let go of the small things and trust Him with the big. There is nothing that goes unnoticed by the Lord. 

When I cling to my imperfections I see God creating in me. Just hang a sign over my heart that says, "This girl's heart is a work created by God that is still in progress." God isn't looking for perfect. He's looking for a willing vessel. When I learn to be all I am in Christ I will then understand who I am to be in this world. 

"But He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may reside in me. So because of Christ, I am pleased in weaknesses, in insults, in catastrophes, in persecutions, and in pressures. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Remember Who You Are

When my son leaves the house I always tell him to drive safe, but I also tell him, "Remember who you are." There are times he will be out with friends and I will just shoot him a text with the same words. It is my hope that as he reads and hears these words from his momma that he will be true to who he is and remember most of all that he is a child of God. 

It's easy to get lost in this world we live in. Temptation is at every side. A friend invites you out to an evening at a bar. What do you say? You have never been to a bar, but you don't want to hurt your friend's feelings. After all, we don't want to offend anyone, right? This is our problem. We are too afraid of offending another person. In reality this not only brings more hurt to the person we are afraid of offending, but it brings danger to ourselves. 

We know our weakness. We know the things of this world in which we struggle. Okay, I'm gonna toss open the coat here and be as transparent as I can. I have friends who drink. Sure, some have a beer while barbecuing and others share a glass of wine with friends over dinner. I have made the choice not to drink. For me, this would be a disaster. This would lead me down a road of sin. How do I know? I come from a family of alcoholics. I have witnessed what too much drink does close up. Let me add something many do not know. I actually enjoy drinking. When I was younger this was something very real in my life. Amazingly once I turned 21 I really didn't drink much. After I was married I have not drank at all. Well, except for the Champagne on our wedding night. It has been 23 years since I have had a drink. 

Some may applaud. Some may say, "What's the big deal?" I have a friend who has shared the same past as me. When something horrific happens in our lives and we are in need we call one another. Our code for help? "I need a drink." I have said this through tears and these words have lead us to deep prayer. We know our struggles and once we identify them and face them head on we are able to draw strength from the Lord to fight them. 

For me, drinking would be a sin because I know of it's drastic temptation and I am fully aware of where it would lead. That would be a road I don't want to travel. I want to be an example of a woman who is walking in faith and trust of her Savior. I want my children to see that although their momma may struggle, she knows to turn to the Lord for strength. 

We can battle selfishness. We can struggle with being judgmental and unforgiving. If we seek the Lord and ask Him to show us the areas in which we need encouragement He is good to show us. Not only show us, but give us the strength and grace to overcome.

We can compromise who we are in so many ways. It's easy to lose ourselves in a crowd of people who don't know us. But what about those who do? Someone is always watching. Always. We are never far away from our Savior's eyes. Many times it is a younger person in search of people they can trust and look up to who sees us. 

Not all sin, not all temptation is seen outwardly. Some are. I can go overboard with shopping. I once had over 50 purses in my closet. Why so many? Well obviously it wasn't because I needed one in every color in the crayola box. When my heart was hurting deep, my quick fix would be to go out and shop for a purse. Sadly, that joy over my new gem didn't last long. There was always a new purse on the horizon. After all, more hurts were to come. I can share with you that I haven't purchased a purse in quite a long time. Not because I don't love them, but because I have identified my temptation and I am finding victory in Jesus. 

Just maybe we take a few items home from work each night. After all, no one will notice. Again, it's easy to lose ourselves in this world. With each choice that goes against who God created us to be compromises who we are. We need to be leading prayer filled lives. 

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths." Proverbs 3:5-6

"Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my concerns. See if there is any offensive way in me; lead me in the everlasting way." Psalm 139:23-24

Friends, we each battle temptation. Some are seen by others, but some we hold deep inside. Gossip is one that many battle. This is one that not only tears apart the one we are gossiping about, but it leads to our destruction. Again, we just need to be aware. If the phone is a problem, keep it simple and short. Stay to the point of the call. If you get a call from a friend who loves to share the goings on, don't be afraid to offend. You can easily share that this is a struggle for you and you would rather not share in this conversation. This way your friend just may be inspired from your kind offense and she too may be able to identify that gossip is a pest for her as well. 

"Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God." Romans 12:1-2

"For the grace of God has appeared, with salvation for all people, instructing us to deny godlessness and worldly lusts and to live in a sensible, righteous, and godly way in the present age, while we wait for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. He gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for Himself special people, eager to do good works." Titus 2:11-14

Some struggle with food. Filling themselves from a deep discouragement from a place of pain. We all battle things of this world. Your battles may be different from mine, but friends, our battles are not a loss. We can learn and grow from them. We can understand our strength comes from the Lord. We can learn to depend on God. We can understand that this world cannot satisfy only what He can provide. 

Remember who you. I remind myself with the repeating of these words. I am never in a battle alone. I don't have to give in to temptation. This world holds no power over me. I can turn to the Lord for all my needs. He created me for greatness. He has instilled in me everything I need for this journey. This is why our walk with Him is a moment to moment journey. He knows what we will face up ahead. He knows the traps that Satan has set for us. He knows how this world entices us. It is Jesus that has the answer. It is in His Word that we find the wisdom we need for this life. It is through the Holy Spirit that we find the understanding of the wisdom God provides. 

"Wisdom is supreme-so get wisdom. And whatever else you get, get understanding. Cherish her, and she will exalt you; if you embrace her, she will honor you. She will place a garland of grace on your head; she will give you a crown of beauty." Proverbs 4:7-9

This world tries it's best to get us to compromise our everything. Friends, don't settle for nothing less than what the Lord has for you. Searching for love? Don't find yourself in another's bed trying to find love. There are so many ways we compromise ourselves. We give in when we know the choice is wrong. We don't fight because we are afraid of the battle. What will people think? Friends, more importantly, what will the Lord think? When He is our priority our choices are different. We aren't thinking of self, but of Him. 

Oh, how I stumble. I stumble with words to others. I stumble greatly when I'm on the highway. There are things that trip me up. Of course, I cannot stay away from the highway, but many things that cause me to stumble I can. Those that I must face daily, I face with prayer. 

Maybe gambling is a temptation that is a great struggle. Goodness, maybe something such as TV overtakes your time as you leave what is in need of your time. For some TV is not a temptation, nor a sin, but it can be when it overtakes our time and compromises who we are by what it is we are allowing our eyes to witness and our ears to hear. 

I'm only mentioning a few temptations. There are literally millions of temptations we face. Anger, resentment, selfishness and pride are more that we face daily. When I remind my son to remember who he is, it is a way that he can be on guard. He can be prepared through prayer and when caught in the middle of temptation, to call on the Lord in that moment of weakness.

We can learn so much from one another when we are honest with our struggles. It is through our struggles and the obstacles we face that we can share the victories of Jesus. It's okay to share who you really are. We don't have to hide behind a mask of perfection and have an, "All is great with me", attitude. It's in being real that we show others who Jesus is in our lives. 

Don't ever allow anyone to tell you that because you struggle you are less of a Christian. There isn't a Christian on this earth who doesn't struggle. Get in close with Jesus. Share with Him and lean on Him. He will never let you down. Fix your eyes on His Word and His promises. Most of all, remember who you are. 

"Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable-if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise-dwell on these things. Do what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you." Philippians 4:8-9

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Forever Friday by Timothy Lewis

Forever Friday is the latest novel released by Timothy Lewis. I enjoyed this novel immensely. Just to give you an idea of what it's about we see Adam Colby losing his marriage as he is discovering the the beauty of another couple's love journey of long ago. 

This is was a joyful and quick read. The words have an easy flow and writer Timothy Lewis has a gift for penning an inviting novel. The characters were sweet and memorable. 

I enjoyed the poems penned from a loving husband that devoted his life to his wife. Through their relationship we see that a marriage is more than giving of yourself. It's intentionally making time for one another. It's loving with grace. It's knocking yourself out for the one beside you and never taking a moment for granted. It's understanding past mistakes and finding strength for the days of struggle each marriage faces. 

I love walking away from a novel with a sweeter understanding not only about my walk with the Lord, but in this case, my husband. Don't you just love learning from the lives of others? 

See, Adam Colby has been gifted a job after an estate sale. He finds post cards and an old photo album where he discovers the love and life between Pearl and Gabe Alexander. I admire the character of Adam in the fact that he learns great life lessons from this couple he will never meet in person, but will carry with him for the rest of his life. It's as though he has walked tenderly with them. He feels that love will never find him again and he questions himself of failing once again. We see his character grow and for me, that makes for a great story. 

Pearl and Gabe were married in a time that seems far away from us now. In another time and place in 1926. We capture their story through Timothy's penned words. We get a front row seat into their early lives together when they first meet until they say goodbye. 

Friends, this is a wondrous story and one that leaves me to hope my legacy is just as sweet. 

This book was a gift from WaterBrook Press for sharing my review with you.

Forever Friday will be released September 3, 2013

TIMOTHY LEWIS is an author and playwright. He has authored more than twenty plays/musicals. In addition, he teaches a beginning novel writing class at West Texas A&M University and co-directs a summer writing academy. Timothy is also a professional speaker, cowboy poet, actor, and songwriter. He drew inspiration for Forever Friday from the postcards sent between his great-aunt and great-uncle over a period of sixty years. He lives with his wife near Amarillo, Texas.

Memory's Door by James L. Rubart

Wow! Wow! Wow!! This is James L. Rubart's second installment in his series, A Well Spring Novel. Book 2, Memory's Door, picks up with the Warrior's Riding in a more personal journey. Together they find strength to face the attack of the Wolf. Separately they are being attacked with a vengeance. 

We meet up with the same characters. All who are fighting against spiritual attacks that weigh each of us on a daily basis. For these four, the journey is real and deep. They are determined with the strength that only comes from God and they too are motivated by the strong bonds that knit them together.

The first book of James L. Rubart that I was honored to read was the first in this series, Soul's Gate (Check out my review). This was one of the most amazing stories I have ever picked up! It was one of those unputdownables that left me wanting more and now we have the second in the series, which doesn't disappoint.

The characters are easy to relate to. I found that in this novel we got to see them on a more personal level. Since the attacks are coming on each Warrior Riding we get a deep look into their pasts and into their deepest struggles. Once you begin reading you are hooked. At every turn there is something more to keep you turning pages. This book is fast paced and a journey that takes us into a world we feel is far from us, but once we get a closer look into the lives of these characters we understand it's a world we live in day to day.

I want to read every book penned by James L. Rubart! What a gift he has in bringing the reader into a deeper relationship with the Lord. Through this novel we see that we need to remain close to Him and that the more days we have ahead the more we need to depend on Him for the strength to bring us into what is to come. Memory's Door is one of those stand out novels that brings us to ponder our own battles. But we aren't left there just to ponder. Through the lives of this rich characters we see how to fight in the supernatural, with the warfare of the sword of the Spirit.

They have come together through prophesy to fight for the souls of others. They intercede and are warriors for Christ. This is a deep journey and one you are sure to not only enjoy, but walk away with a deeper yearning for a closer connection with the Savior.

I wouldn't begin the series with reading this novel first. Yes, it could be a stand alone, but you will have a better understanding and more personal experience with this novel if you first read, "Soul's Gate".

James L. Rubart is a professional marketer and speaker. He is the author of the best-selling novel Rooms as well as Book of Days, The Chair, and Soul's Gate. He lives with his wife and sons in the Pacific Northwest.

This novel was a gift from Thomas Nelson for sharing my review with you. 

Welcome To Last Chance by Cathleen Armstrong

"Welcome To Last Chance" is the debut novel for author Cathleen Armstrong. This is to be the first book in her new series, A Place To Call Home. Can I just go ahead and share with you that I cannot wait to see what book 2 holds! This was one of the sweetest and most gentle reads I have had the pleasure of reading this year. 

Who doesn't need a second chance? Yes, this is the premise for this novel, but it holds such sweet life lessons. The main character is running fast. She is leaving and on her way to a new life. But what she wasn't ready for was a town of accepting and loving people. She really didn't even know how to react to their kindness. Sound crazy? I believe this is reality for many and for character Lainie Davis, this is her life. 

One particular part that I enjoyed was the moment Lainie realized a red light appeared on her dash. Oh, it would flash and then she would hit the dash in hopes of it disappearing. It would, but then soon reappear. How many times does God give us these warnings and we try to ignore them in hopes that nothing is really wrong? We see these warnings and being ignored for so long, the time comes when we the car we are driving slows to a stop and we are left wondering what to do. But how many times is He urging us to pull over for rest? This is Lainie as she makes it to a small town called Lasts Chance. Praise Jesus, we have a God of second chances. When we least expect it He shows up with something that is about to change our lives for the better. 

The thing is, Lainie doesn't believe she's worth it. Fear is in her review mirror and ahead is a life she feels undeserving of. What she finds is a new hope. She has freedom before her like she has never known before. 

The characters of this novel were believable. They were rich with personality and sweet with grace. Friends, I'm excited to see what is to come next for Cathleen Armstrong. If this first novel is any indication of what's to come, I believe this series will be one that is a blessing for all who read it. Yes, this is one to check out!!

Cathleen Armstrong lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, Ed, and their corgi. Though she has been in California for many years now, her roots remain deep in New Mexico where she grew up and where much of her family still lives. After she and Ed raised three children, she returned to college and earned a BA in English. Welcome to Last Chance won the 2009 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Award for Women's Fiction.

This novel was a gift from Revell for sharing my review with you. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

You Can't Mask Stink

Hubs and I were traveling through the state of Illinois and came across this smell that overwhelmed me. If I wasn't already sitting I would have no doubt been knocked off my feet. I said, "Oh, my gosh, what in the world is that smell?" Hubs replies, "It's the pig farm we are passing." This was no small farm. This was HUGE in every way. I soon seen the pigs, but I smelled them long before ever seeing them. I say to hubs, "How could anyone wake up to that each morning?" He says, "Well, you get used to it." I'm not so sure I would get used to that smell, but he was right. 

A foul odor isn't easy to mask. This had me thinking about the sin in my life. Sin is smelly. It has an odor that at times others can smell first. Think about it. If it's a sin we continue to hold on to we soon get used to the smell. We try to mask it with other things. Bottom line? You can't cover up stink. This is not an area in life that we need to be content in. Comfort isn't to be found in sin. 

We have pet sins. Let's be real honest. We think of the bad sins, (as if there is any difference in sin), and as long as we aren't murdering someone or stealing our way through Walmart, we are okay. We think the "small" sin in our life is okay. I mean, after all, who are we hurting? Sin is sin. There is no small or large sin. It's all ugly. A little sin goes a long way and the more we try to hide it, it seems the more it shows itself. 

God calls us to have a sweet smelling aroma. That sounds so nice doesn't it? It's inviting. It's pleasant. It feels like home. It's a place we want to visit again and again. 

Lots of things come to mind when I think of stinky. Think of those gym shoes that are owned by your twelve year old boy. Yuck! No matter how many times you spray them, the smell returns. On a humid day here in Missouri it can make you soaking wet in a matter of minutes. I would never think of showering and putting on my stinky clothes. Ewe! Would you ever eat your lunch sitting next to a dumpster? This is what sin smells like! 

We are to live in Christ's example. Check out this verse:

"Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling aroma." Ephesians 5:1-2

We are to imitate God as dear children. Our children seem to imitate all we do. I know my grand babes imitate me, not only in my actions, but in my words. What happens when we imitate Christ? It's almost as if a sweet smelling rose appears. It's lovely fragrance is inviting. You simply cannot pass by without moving closer to breathe in the aroma that is taking your senses to a whole new level. 

So, just how do we get the stink off and become inviting? We get close to Jesus. As close as possible. We allow ourselves to be washed in His grace and forgiveness. As He pours His mercy upon us something happens. A change occurs and that stink that was once overwhelming begins to remind us of home. We are now more aware of the sin in our lives. We no longer want to get used to that stink, but remove it and place it as far away from us as possible. Jesus does that for us!

"As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us." Psalm 103:12

To give off a sweet smelling aroma we need to wear the fruit of the Spirit. 

"I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with long-suffering  bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all." Ephesians 4:1-3

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another." Galatians 5:23-26

It's not easy to wear the fruit of the Spirit if we are still living in a heap of stink. It just can't happen. We are to get rid of our old nature and accept the new that God has for us. It's amazing how He can open our eyes and ears to a new way of living. 

"But you have not so learned Christ, in indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the trust is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the Spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness." Ephesians 4:20-24

It's time to toss out the stink. Totally get rid of it. It's like that rotten potato in the kitchen. Soon enough the rest of the house is smelling. It doesn't take long to find the culprit of the stench.  It doesn't make for pleasant living quarters and it's not a place fit for our Savior. Our bodies are the temple for the Holy Spirit. We are to always be in check and be on a continued course with Jesus. 

"Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's." 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

We are to be holy and pure before God. Think of your home as your readying to have guests. You begin cleaning things that you have put off for a while. You change the sheets and place out new quilts. You fill the air with scented candles. You actually work very hard preparing for your house guests. When finished we stand back and realize just how stinky the place was becoming. You have renewed your home and have made it inviting.

Our bodies are the home for the Holy Spirit. We need to make sure we are up to date on our chore list and ask Him is there is anything we are leaving behind. Haven't we put it off long enough? It's time to freshen up the place.  Leave it to our Savior to guide us in this cleaning en devour. Pretty soon people are going to be saying, "It smells divine in here. What is it that you use that gives off such a lovely scent?" And this will be your invitation to share Jesus. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Making Time For Personal Prayer

A few days ago I read a post written about prayer. Specifically about praying for others before we pray for ourselves. After reading this post it stuck with me. It has rattled around in my brain until I had to turn to scripture for the answer. 

When I first became a Christian twenty one years ago I struggled with praying for myself. Of course I was just beginning to know Jesus in my journey with Him, but even years after that time I still felt guilty when I prayed for myself. Goodness, if we look around there are so many needs. Now, I look back and ponder where that guilt came from. Was it that I was feeling selfish if I prayed for myself? I think so. Oh, how wrong that thinking is. 

Prayer is a conversation with Jesus. It's personal and confidential. It's our one on One time with our Savior. Without conversation can we really have a relationship? Can we really know our Lord? I can say with confidence that prayer should take precedence over all other things in our life. Jesus reaches us through prayer. After all, He knows our deepest thoughts. There is nothing to hide from Christ. He wants to have communication with us. So much so that He gave us a model prayer.

"Therefore, you should pray like this:
Our Father in heaven,
Your name be honored as holy.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this today
our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not bring us into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. 
Amen" Matthew 6:9-13

We need to be committed to prayer. We are to pray without ceasing. 

"Don't worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God." Philippians 4:6

"Rejoice always! Pray constantly. Give thanks in everything, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. Don't stifle the Spirit." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-19

Even Jesus prayed for Himself in the Garden of Gethsemane. Yes, Jesus called to His Father in heaven. This is our example to follow. At this time we see Jesus praying for Himself. Matthew 26:36-44 He too called His disciples to pray for themselves that they not fall into temptation. Would He not want us to do the same? 

We need to spend time with Jesus in order to grow with Him. He gave us the Holy Spirit to lead us in all things. When we listen to the Spirit we are being obedient to the Father. It's during this time of sweet prayer that we seek out Christ's will for our lives. We search Him for our path. We seek Him for strength and patience. We ask Him to forgive us of our sins and to show us a better way. If we do not have a personal relationship with Christ we cannot reach the world for Him. It's in that personal relationship that we pray for ourselves. We pray for His will in our lives. We ask for His guidance and wisdom and understanding. 

We too go to Jesus in preparation for our day. Jesus too did this. "But the news about Him spread even more, and large crowds would come together to hear Him and to be healed of their sicknesses. Yet He often withdrew to deserted places and prayed." Luke 5:15-16

We are to see Jesus to examine our heart. "Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith. Examine yourselves. Or do you yourselves not recognize that Jesus Christ is in you? Unless you fail the test." 2 Corinthians 13:5

"But each person should examine his own work." Galatians 6:4a

"Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my concerns. See if there is any offensive way in me; lead me in the everlasting way." Psalm 139:23-24

As I searched the Word of God I found verse after verse about spending time with the Lord in prayer. This is one that I found to bless me abundantly and speak volumes about prayer for my walk in the Lord.

"Listen, Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. Protect my life, for I am faithful. You are my God; save Your servant who trusts in You. Be gracious to me, Lord, for I call to You all day long. Bring joy to Your servant's life, because I turn to You, Lord. For You, Lord, are kind and ready to forgive, rich in faithful love to all who call on You. Lord, hear my prayer; listen to my plea for mercy. I call on You in the day of my distress, for You will answer me." Psalm 86:1-7

These words are sweet to my ears and beauty to my soul. My Jesus wants to spend time with me. He wants to know all that is upon my heart. He wants me to speak to Him. Didn't Adam and Eve walk with God? They shared moments with Him and spent hours walking with Him. This is our calling. Oh, think of the missed blessings if we are not spending sweet time in prayer. 

"Depart from me, all evildoers, for the Lord has heard the sound of my weeping. The Lord has heard my plea for help; the Lord accepts my prayer." Psalm 69:8-9

Yes, we are to pray for others. Some keep a prayer journal. Some a prayer box. We are to intercede for others. But friends, never feel selfish for praying for yourself. When our relationship with Jesus is strong, the Spirit speaks and as we hear Him, we move. When we spend time in prayer we are transformed. We are renewed. This is when we find the sweet grace of the Lord and see that His mercy is endless. 

"For I know the plans I have for you-this is the Lord's declaration-plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. You will call to Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart." Jeremiah 29:11-13

Monday, August 12, 2013

How We Wake Makes All The Difference

Each and every time we wake we have a choice. We can be thankful or we can begin speaking our complaints. We can have a heart of joy or we can be the crab that is contagious. We can jump out of bed with determination or we can slowly rise with pessimism about all the day holds. When it comes down to it, everything is a choice. We may not be able to make a choice about every circumstance, but we can make a choice about our attitude and how we are going to relate to that circumstance. 

Look at the verses I have been pondering this morning: 

"Therefore, God's chosen ones, holy and loved, put on the heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness  and patience, accepting one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive. Above all, put on love-the perfect bond of unity. And let the peace of the Messiah, to which you were also called in one body, control your hearts. Be thankful. Let the message about the Messiah dwell richly among you, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, and singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him." Colossians 3:12-17

Whew, is that good stuff or what? In the previous chapter we are taught and asked to put off the old man and put on the new. We are to put away all the old stuff and bring out the new. When we come to know Jesus there is a change that happens. This change isn't 100% overnight. It happens over time in God's perfect timing. Giving us understanding to being a work in progress. 

In chapter 3 we are seeing that our attitude and choice make all the difference. Think about it. What happens when we wake with Jesus? Our whole temperament changes. No matter what happens in the day, our focus remains on Jesus. We see differently and hear differently. We are aware of our surroundings in a whole new way. But on those days I don't wake with Jesus, my day is pretty stinky. It involves more of myself than Jesus. When circumstances occur I am more likely to respond in the flesh than in Christ. Do you agree? So, our attitude plays a huge part in our Christian walk. 

We can read the Word of God all day long, but if our heart isn't in it, well, the Word is coming up void in the wellspring of our heart.

I mean, let's be honest. We can wake up crabs, can't we? We haven't had a good night's rest, the day may hold a challenge, our fears are at the forefront of our thoughts. This list goes on and on. But let's just say, we wake a crab, after spending a few minutes with the Lord, He begins to change our outlook for the day. Our attitude is brighter and we are looking forward to what He has for us throughout the day. As we begin our day it is important for us to give everything over to Jesus. Giving Him those fears and unrest can unlock unexpected blessings. 

I am to show compassion and to be kind to all. This isn't always easy, but God didn't call us to easy now did He? I am to be humble and gentle. Put me on the highway with crazy drivers and I'm not so gentle, but God calls us to drive this highway of life with Him at the wheel. Patience isn't always my strong suit. I am learning, but at times I am still that little girl who wants what I want right now. We don't like to wait much. In fact, we are not an easy waiting people. You think maybe this is why this is repeated many times throughout scripture? God knows every aspect of us. Nothing is hidden. He knows our struggles, just as He knows our gifts. Forgiving. This is one I am sure is hard for each of us. I can often say, "I forgive you", but in the back of my mind that hurt remains and there are times I take it out and let it bleed. Forgiveness is letting it go and letting God. It's allowing God to heal us. Forgiveness isn't so much for the other person. It's more for us. But forgiveness builds a bridge to grace, and oh, how sweet is grace. 

I love how we are told, "Above all, put on...." This is what the world will see from us. Just as we wake and get dressed to face the world daily, we make a choice of what to wear and how to present ourselves. We should remember to clothe ourselves in Christ. As we step out of bed might we have thankful hearts and an attitude that is going to shine Jesus to every person who crosses our path. Instead of a person telling me that I look good in my new dress, I would prefer if the first thing they noticed about me was my Savior. 

We are to be thankful. Our voice should be in tune with that of our Savior. Our actions should be in line with His teachings. We are called to live out Jesus to the world. How will we do that if we are first not clothed in Him? We are to look different to the world. We are to be inviting and hospitable. When we get down to it, our clothing tells a lot about what our heart holds. If Jesus is in our heart, our actions and words should reflect our relationship with Him. In fact, it does. The closer we are to Him the more our lives reflect Him. The more steps we take away from Him, the more we stumble. Oh, how I stumble at times. 

This is why it is so important to make the choice to wake up with Jesus. We always say we need a cup of coffee to get going. Well friends, we really need Jesus to get moving. To get motivated. To get in tune with His calling. A day without Jesus is a day that is missing the key to everything we do. 

When we clothe ourselves in Christ beauty shines before us. When we make everything about Jesus we change. We are no longer living in the flesh, but surrendering our mind and our thoughts over to Christ. Yes, my friends, having an attitude of Christ changes everything. It is my prayer that at the end of my life others will be able to say, "Jesus looked good on her." 

We must make a conscious effort to surrender our thoughts over to Jesus. When we wake instead of blurting out every aching complaint, praise Jesus for the breath you just took. Praise Him for the good in your life and ask Him to show you the blessings in those struggles we face. Starting each day in conversation with Christ makes for a day filled with promise. It helps us to envision each moment before us as an opportunity to shine for the One who makes all the difference in our life. 

Friday, August 9, 2013

The Prayer Box by Lisa Wingate

This is a novel that I surely enjoyed. Lisa has a whimsical writing style. Through her writing it's easy to envision the surroundings. She has a gift of bringing the reader right into the scene to not only see the surroundings but to understand them and feel emotion right along with the characters. Lisa's characters jump to life right off the pages. 

I love the idea of keeping prayer box. This is something I have heard of many times. I just never thought of it as keeping a journal of my walk with Christ for others to someday see and come to grow in faith. I LOVE this idea and this is just what Lisa brings to us in her newest novel, "The Prayer Box". Through reading Lisa's latest release I am eager to begin my own prayer box. What a great gift a prayer box would make for a friend. 

Iola Anne Poole has kept a prayer box her entire Christian life. This is a character I grew to love by reading her prayers through Tandi Jo Reese. Tandi Jo is a tenant, living with her children, in a rented cabin of Iola's. Tandi Jo receives much more than she ever expected. But isn't this just how the Lord works? She is trying to make it on her own and make a home for her children. Iola passes away and it's Tandi who finds her. As Tandi now believes she is about to be without a home, something miraculous happens. She is asked to take on cleaning out the home of Iola. Tandi finds treasure she never expected. She finds the prayer boxes Iola has left behind. 

What I love about this story is how one woman's life not only touches another, but brings change. Iola lived her life serving a God she loved. She served in secret and had a few secrets of her own. She was forgiving and as we see, a mighty prayer warrior. The town never quite knew all about Iola, but judged her as if they did. Iola's legacy lives on through her prayer box and through the lives of those who now know her from them.

This is one of those sweet reads that brings redemption and new life. It is a story that is sure to bless the reader. I love walking away from a book that changes me and encourages my walk with the Lord. This is one to grab up for a great lazy day summer read. 

This novel was a gift from Tyndale for sharing my review with you. 

Lisa Wingate is a magazine columnist, speaker, and the author of nineteen mainstream novels, including the national bestseller, Tending Roses, now in its eighteenth printing.  She is a seven-time ACFW Carol award nominee, a Christy Award nominee, and a two-time Carol Award winner. Her novel, Blue Moon Bay, was a Booklist Top Ten of 2012 pick.  Recently, the group Americans for More Civility, a kindness watchdog organization, selected Lisa along with Bill Ford, Camille Cosby, and six others, as recipients of the National Civies Award, which celebrates public figures who work to promote greater kindness and civility in American life.  When not dreaming up stories, Lisa spends time on the road as a motivational speaker. Via internet, she shares with readers as far away as India, where her book, Tending Roses, has been used to promote women's literacy, and as close to home as Tulsa, Oklahoma, where the county library system has used Tending Roses to help volunteers teach adults to read. - See more at: Read more about Lisa at:

"The Prayer Box" is to be released September 1. You can pre-order your copy today on Amazon.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Don't Lose Yourself In Looking Back Or Wishing For Tomorrow

Do you have those days where your stuck in the past? It's hard to break free from what if. If we don't allow God to break the chains that bind us from yesteryear our present will be hindered greatly. Sorrow creeps in and steals the joy of today. We will only find an abundance of tears for what could have been

It's a sweet moment to look back at blessings. It gives us great hope for today. In spending time in blessings we can see that God was with us then and what He has done for us in the past He too will do for us in today. But too many times we don't focus on the blessings, but on those moments we wish we could change. If we only hadn't said those words to cut. If we had not moved so quickly in our decision. It's those moments that override any joy God has for us today. Those moments quickly encapsulate us into months and then years of sadness. 

We too can wish today was more like yesterday. This can chain us into not seeing even the smallest blessings. Opportunities and moments of promise are passed by with a fear of the unknown. Some things I have learned over the years are that I am not in control over much in my life. Having my husband laid off for three years taught us valuable lessons about soaking in today. Leaving yesterday behind and embracing what tomorrow holds for us. Living with chronic pain has taught me that I don't have much control over the migraines that hit or the Fibro pain that knocks me back a few steps. But, what I do have control over are my choices. I can make the choice that my pain is not going to define who I am. I can make the choice to change my focus. I may not be able to make plans for tomorrow and stick with them as a migraine may hit me as I am readying to walk out the door, but I can make the choice to not allow it to consume me and steal away the sweet moments He gives me through these distressing times. 

Looking back keeps us from seeing what is truly in front of us. Oh, how we miss out on today by simply living in the past. We too can hold so much hope for the future that we again miss out on all the possibilities of today. 

Remember the story of Sodom and Gomorrah? Lot and his family were living in Sodom and they were told to leave as quickly as they could. Abraham was interceding for these cities and God was holding back until Lot was found safe in the mountains. They were told to leave and to not look back. But, that is exactly what Lot's wife chose to do. She was leaving with all of her family. Traveling to a new place that was planned by God to give her a greater today. What exactly did she look back for? Was it something she was missing? Did she fear tomorrow and wonder if Sodom would be a better place? For whatever reason she turned, a pillar of salt is what was left of her. 

"So when morning dawned, the angels urged Lot to hurry, saying, "Arise, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be consumed in the punishment of the city." And while he lingered, the men took hold of his hand, his wife's hand, and the hands of his two daughters, the Lord being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city. So it came to pass, when they had brought them outside, that he said, "Escape for your life! Do not look behind you nor stay anywhere in the plain. Escape to the mountains, lest you be destroyed." Genesis 19:15-17

"But his wife looked back behind him, and she became a pillar of salt." Genesis 19:26

Funny thing about the mountains of life. It's from those mountains that we find a greater clarity of yesterday. From the mountain top we are able to see the roads we have traveled in a new way. For me, I am able to see God in my life in the times those valleys seemed as if they wouldn't end. So that brings me to think that although I can see a greater distance from the mountain it was being in the valleys that brought me great lessons of life. God has a way of bringing everything together for us. Of course there are times of uncertainty in our lives. We question everything. We second guess ourselves. We don't understand the times. But through focusing on God and as we continue to move forward, He graces us with peace. I truly think we are to leave yesterday where it is. We cannot change yesterday. Those circumstances are gone forever. What we can do is change our attitude and focus today. We have greater trust in the Lord by giving Him all of yesterday. In doing so we can embrace today fully and wholly. 

"We cannot live our lives constantly looking back, listening back, lest we be turned into pillars of longing and regret." Frederick Buechner

Is that what Lot's wife was doing? Was she looking back with longing? Whatever her reasons for looking back, she disobeyed God's calling. It seems He wanted her to keep her eyes on Him and on the steps she was taking today. I am learning the more focused I am on the Lord the more my eyes are opened to what truly matters. 

Yesterday can haunt us into hiding from today. We spend so much time there we miss out on the people in our lives today. Love passes us by. Joy goes unseen. We close the blinds to the light of today and allow the darkness of yesterday to surround us. 

Sure there are moments of yesterday I wish I could change. Oh, if I could only go back and make a different decision. But I can't. There are times I am fearful of what tomorrow holds. Maybe yesterday doesn't bring you great sorrow, but you find comfort in those days and unrest in today. We can get so lost in wanting tomorrow to come that we miss out on today. We wait for better days. We long for easier times. If tomorrow would only come quicker. It's like my mom always told me. "Rob, don't wish your life away." Friends, this isn't living in hope. In reality it isn't living at all. It's those moments that Satan lives for. He wishes for us to focus on fear and distress. He wants us to remain in yesterday's wish list. 

Let us not be withered by yesterday. But might we open our eyes and hearts to this moment right now. God has perfect timing. He has a way of healing yesterday and giving hope for tomorrow when we place our focus on Him today. 

"Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life." Proverbs 4:23

Monday, August 5, 2013

Having A Heart Of Grace

Turn on the news and we will see a stumbling spotlight of stars falling from their heights. Not only falling, but getting kicked and stepped on along the way down. Names don't have to be mentioned. If you have watched any news you can easily pick out a fallen star. Easy for us. We can sit back with gasps and judge quickly without knowing all the details. News programs are known for not telling the entire story. They like to highlight some areas, exaggerate the lows, and even add untruths. But we still soak it all in and make judgement. We too sit back and make judgement at the news media for creating such garbage. But wait. Could that possibly be our reality too? 

We are sitting in church and look over in shock as we know where the young man sitting with his mother was over the weekend and now he shows himself in church? 

We are driving down the road and see a group of young people dressed in black and wearing purple hair. We automatically send out judgement. They must be up to no good. Nothing good could come from this group. 

We see a young girl in the store carrying a small child and there again we think thoughts that point judgement right at her. Oh, her parents must have not taught her much. 

We are waiting in the check out line at the market and in front of us stands a man with arms filled with tattoos. He looks a little questionable so what do we do? We back up and switch aisles. 

Any of this sound a little familiar? 

We see a woman with short spiked hair and immediately we call her a lesbian. 

Let's be honest. Real honest. We judge. We judge and think it's all okay until we are the ones being judged. It doesn't feel so good does it? It hurts.

The young woman with the child? She happened to be baby sitting for her sister. 

The young woman with short spiked hair? Over the weekend she cute her hair and donated it to Locks of Love. 

The man with the tattoos? Youth pastor who is touching lives and changing youth in ways I never could. 

Oh, the young man we saw over the weekend talking with people from the other side of the tracks? Yep, he was sharing his testimony with those friends who have never walked into a church before. 

Now, the group of young people wearing black and sporting purple hair? Just kids going to a friend's house to have pizza and watch a movie. The friend? Just happens that his parents invite kids from his school over to get to know them, so they in turn can get to see who Jesus is. 

Yes, we assume and we slam the hammer of guilty down before we ever know the facts. Now, the facts aren't always good. Sometimes we are in places we shouldn't be. There are times we do things we know are wrong. Our decisions aren't always wise. We are sinners. That's not an excuse, it's the truth. We stumble. I can remember how much I stumbled without Jesus and you know what? I still stumble with Him. 

There is nothing about me that gives me the right to judge another person. I am unworthy to judge another. But it still happens. Does it happen to you? We look at others and assume while we pass judgement. In reality, what do we really know? Do we know their past? Do we know what they have faced just this week? Do we know the burdens they are carrying? We don't know their heart. In fact, we don't know as much as we think we do. Most of the time we are wrong, but we excuse ourselves from admitting our failure to give grace and mercy. There is no love in judgement. We cannot look to another with our eyes and tell what that person's soul holds. 

I like what Max Lucado says: "Be careful! The Peter who denies Jesus at tonight's fire may proclaim Him with fire at tomorrow's Pentecost. The Samson who is blind and weak today may use his final strength to level the pillars of godlessness. A stammering shepherd in this generation may be the mighty Moses of the next. Don't call Noah a fool, you may be asking him for a lift." Max Lucado 

"Judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes." 1 Corinthians 4:4

We are all a work in progress. It's our journey today that helps create who we are for tomorrow. We are able to make an impact on others with our testimony. We can learn so much from others if we just open our eyes and see with grace. If we could just walk in mercy. If only faith could be seen from our lives. Just think of the impact we could make. (Micah 6:8)

There is enough judgement in this world. Do we really need to join in that cause? Of course, we know right from wrong. We know sin. But we tend to forget our own sin and see it in the lives of others. We seem to excuse ourselves of sin. We can have the attitude that because we are Christian we are better than another. Oh, how far from the truth could we be. We go to Christ in search of mercy and grace, but we aren't willing to give to others. This is not the heart of a Christian. 

We give up on people so easily. We give it a try, but when that person doesn't come to Christ or they stumble along the way, we simply give up. Why are we giving up on people? As Christians aren't we in the people business? Too many times we shut people out because they aren't living up to our standard. Maybe they are different. Just maybe their sins are different from ours and just what standard are we to measure? It's not our own. I am to measure myself against the Word of God. He is my Judge and my Redeemer. He is the God of second chances. I regret to think about what could have been in the lives of those given up on just because they are a little harder to reach. 

For me, part of my growth in Christ is learning to not assume anything. It's not casting a glance at another in judgement. It's loving beyond what I think my eyes see or what my ears are hearing. It's giving people a chance. A second chance and a third. It's realizing that I am a sinner in need of grace. It's seeing people with love. It's not seeing the sin first, but first the heart. I am to hate sin, but love the sinner. If I judge first, how then will I ever get the chance to love them? Just maybe God opened that door and allowed our paths to meet? Nothing happens by chance. Too many times I have pushed people out of my path because my judging eyes cast a stone before I allowed God's perfect timing to create a moment where grace passed and mercy was given. 

Let us never give up on people. Don't count a person as a loss cause. May we never say, "There is no hope for her." We are ambassadors for Christ. May we live love that our lives would speak volumes for who Jesus is to us. May each day we pray to be used of God for His glory. Let us walk in love and not in condemnation. Sharing with a world the grace of God  that reaches far beyond judgement and sin. Amen


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