Clinging to God

by Cynthia Simmons

I’ve always loved magnets. The fact that a piece of metal attracts and clings to certain objects fascinates me. I recently bought a magnetic nametag for my genealogy club. I played with the magnet, which seemed quite strong, and I admired my new purchase. What a clever way to protect your clothing from suffering holes or damage.

A couple weeks after my new gadget arrived, I dressed for an event but saved my new nametag for the final touch. While my jacket lay on the bed, I moved my nametag around, searching for the perfect location.  After I chose the perfect spot, I attached the magnet and slung on the blazer. That’s where I goofed. I heard a thump and looked down to see the magnet on the floor beside my foot. The nametag disappeared. Instead of leaving, I crawled around on the floor searching until I ran out of time.

While driving the car, I noted sharp pain in my arm when I flexed my elbow. Odd. I surmised I had sprained a muscle exercising and vowed to be more careful. However, once the meeting started, I felt a strange lump in my left sleeve and realized I had located my nametag. My narrow sleeve had trapped it, so the metal dug into my skin when I moved. Obviously, my magnet couldn’t hang on while I swung my blazer around my shoulders.

When storms rage through our lives, we need real stability. People will fail us just like that magnet that let go under pressure. Despite the romantic novels we love to read, even macho husbands can’t provide all we need. I love the description the Apostle Peter gave for Jesus, the cornerstone of the church. “…Behold I lay in Zion a choice stone, a precious corner stone, and he who believes in Him shall not be disappointed” (I Peter 2:6 NAS).

The cornerstone holds the weight of the building and determines the positions of the walls. Peter pointed out Jesus’s qualifications to be the cornerstone. First, God chose Him, and He wouldn’t choose someone unworthy. In Colossians 1:15 NIV, the apostle Paul said Jesus “is the image of the invisible God” and created everything both seen and unseen. Furthermore, His power holds the world together. That’s real strength! In Revelation 1:8 NIV Jesus said, “I am the Alpha and Omega…who is, and was, and is to come.” In other words, He’s eternal, so He won’t die and leave us orphans. He loved us enough to put aside heaven’s glory and sacrifice His life for us. Second, He’s more precious than your most prized possession. After all, Jesus made gold, gemstones, flowers, and all the beauty we enjoy. Third, you can trust Jesus because He won’t disappoint you.

I had to learn how much stress my magnetic nametag could handle, but Jesus invited us to cast all our cares on Him. I love to read the Psalms where David penned his deepest frustrations and thoughts. The Lord can handle yours as well.

Trust him. You’ll be glad you did.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

Cynthia-Simmons-5

About the author: Former home school mother of five, Cynthia Simmons has a special spot in her heart for young moms and loves to encourage all women to pursue God. She hosts Heart of the Matter Radio, and writes inspirational fiction and non-fiction.  Find her at www.clsimmons.com.

Valuing Gold: A Novella of the Civil War: Uneasiness permeated Chattanooga where Mary Beth Roper grew up. Every conversation she overheard is heated, yet her banker-father was hesitant to reveal the facts. Will Tennessee secede and force them into a war? She was an adult and demanded he tell her the truth, yet she feared the heated politics she’d seen. Then she learned a rogue customer threatened their bank. Somehow, she must find a way to work with Peter Chandler, her father’s partner, even though she can’t bear to be near him. As she unraveled an impossible puzzle, she learned to value her faith.

Join the conversation: Which of the above qualities that describe Jesus do you love the most?

Follow Andrew to Freedom

by Deb Hackett

Then Andrew brought Simon to meet Jesus. Looking intently at Simon, Jesus said, “Your name is Simon, son of John—but you will be called Cephas” (which means “Peter”). John 1:42 NIV

I remember when I was offered writing mentorship. I was at lunch with a friend, and we were working on an upcoming presentation she was giving. Once we finished, it happened. She looked across the table at me. and I got that feeling. You know the one. That feeling. Halfway between nauseous, rabbit in headlights, and so excited you can’t sit still. The spirit was up to something.

“Tell me again what you write?” she asked sweetly, and sipped on her coffee. I politely explained that I was working on a contemporary romance. She expressed disbelief at not knowing my genre. But I’d been deliberate about that. I didn’t want to be ‘that friend’ who always had writing questions. It seems the Lord had other plans.

And so, a day later she was yelling down the phone at me to send her the chapters while I resisted. What I actually wanted to do was completely rearrange the refrigerator, closets, garage, hide under my desk, and throw up.

Have you ever been in that position? Where you’ve been working at a dream, maybe for years, and at the first sign of forward movement you want to run in the other direction? Perhaps you’ve been asked to serve in a particular ministry or offered a new role at work. Then on the eve of fruition, you’re too scared to act.

Or how about this, you take the opportunity, only to be assaulted by crippling doubt. I was privileged to serve on my previous church’s worship team for six years. But even into year six, I battled the voice that whispered I wasn’t good enough, and routinely fought the urge to quit, despite loving the people and the role.

Andrew was the first disciple to be called by Jesus. (Some accounts have him recruited with Simon, but John’s Gospel says Andrew was first). What did Andrew do next? He went and got his brother and brought him to Christ (John 1:40-42). Then a little later in Scripture, some Gentiles come to see Jesus. They approach Philip, but instead of Philip taking them to Jesus, he talks to Andrew, and then they both introduce the visitors to the Lord (John 12:20-23).

In a third instance, Jesus has been preaching to thousands of people, it’s late, and folks are getting hungry. The disciples suggest he send the crowd away, but Jesus tasks them with finding food for them. They are nonplussed. Andrew comes across a small boy, who had five loaves of bread and two fish. Without hesitation, Andrew does what has by now, I think, become second nature. He brings the boy to Jesus. And the rest, is one of the most beloved Bible stories of all time (John 6:1-14).

What we don’t see in any of these events is Andrew second guessing. He doesn’t second guess what he’s got to offer, he doesn’t second guess what people will think, and at no point do we see him worrying about what will happen next.

Andrew knew. He knew two vitally important things. One, that Jesus loved him completely for who he was. And two, that all he was called to do, was what he was called to do. What happened after that wasn’t on him. We never see Andrew worry about the result of his actions.

Imagine if we practiced that discipline. If we took the talent we’ve been given, used it the way we were called to, and did so without being paralyzed by what the outcome might be. It’s our job to bring the offering, and the Lord’s to use it in His way.

Allow that truth to seep into your heart and live free, because Christ has set you free.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 1:5 NIV

About the author: Writer, broadcaster, and speaker Debb Hackett  has been a radio journalist for more than twenty years. Married to a test pilot, Debb writes for military wives and lives in England with her husband and children. She’s having lots of fun working on an inspirational contemporary romance series. When she’s not writing, Debb can be found leading worship, playing bass, or skiing. Also, if you can swing by her house while she’s making scones, that would be a win. She blogs at: http://debbhackett.com

Join the conversation: What paralyzes you?

No English Garden

by Janet Holm McHenry

Yesterday I mowed the back yard…then thatched it…then mowed again to pick up the thatch.

As I pushed those contraptions, I bemoaned the fact that I never got my English garden in my back yard. When we first started the landscaping process, I planted 42 rose bushes. I had hoped for a hedge that would bloom all summer long with abundant pinks and reds. I had dug the holes for all those bushes and planted and cared for them myself—arduous work.

My husband Craig wasn’t crazy about the idea. “You’re hemming in the kids’ whiffle ball field.”

The next spring all those rose bushes were dead—nothing but easily pulled-up dry sticks. However, a clear outline of the whiffle ball infield remained.   

No English garden. Just a whiffle ball field.

In another season I thought I’d try a variety of perennials. My youngest and I dug up a large kidney-shaped area and planted all kinds of plants that were guaranteed to come back season after season.

But the next year they looked worse than the previous one, and eventually I was just left with a couple in my kidney-shaped rock garden that was mostly rocks. Craig had been right when he had said, “It’s never going to work, Janet. Your garden is right in the middle of left field.”

No English garden. Just a whiffle ball field.

But as I looked over a massive area of thatch that I’d pulled from the sod, I realized that I did indeed have a back yard garden. Every time my grandkids came over and played whiffle ball with my husband—their “Pop”—they were blooming in not only their physical and mental abilities but also their relationship with their grandfather. And he was blooming too–with the joy of hanging out with six (or even ten when the others are visiting) young people who begged him to play ball. My prayers for a garden had been answered—just a bit differently than I had pictured.

Scripture teaches us that God hears our prayers. He knows our wants and desires, so it can be confusing when our prayers are not answered in the way we want. However, His view is longer and wider than our limited vision. We see the here and now, but He knows exactly what will truly meet our greatest needs and make us more loving, faith-filled, and generous of spirit. 

I can always visit flower gardens elsewhere. For now I’ll look over my back yard whiffle ball field and be thankful that God did indeed answer my desires for a garden of life.

Give ear, O Lord, and hear; open your eyes, O Lord, and see. 2 Kings 19:16 NIV

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Janet McHenry and her husband Craig raised four pretty good whiffle ball players at their home in the Sierra Valley of northeastern California. A national speaker, she is a former educator and the author of 24 books—six on prayer, including the bestselling PrayerWalk and her newest, The Complete Guide to the Prayers of Jesus. More about Janet, including her writing coach business, can be found at janetmchenry.com.

Join the conversation: Has God ever changed your plans? Please share!

When Love Calls

by Christina Rose

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  1 Corinthians 13:2-3 NIV

It was a glorious sunny spring day as hundreds arrived for church after a year of isolation from the Pandemic. People poured out of cars and rushed to hug loved ones, share stories, and greet new babies. The children shrieked with delight as they raced to play with one another. People moved toward the entrance, but no one wanted to go in. The congregants were having too much fun with their garden party reunion and wanted to linger.

Service started late that day and as hundreds rose to sing in unison and tissues were passed around. The tears were freely flowing as hearts were overwhelmed at being reunited with loved ones. The pressure of isolation and fear of the past year was released like a flood. Then hundreds lifted their voices in praise to worship our God who is love and calls us all to love one another.

Jesus replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself.”  (Matthew 22:37-39 NLT)

My Colorado community is so very different than where I lived in California. Back then, most people did not make time for church because they did not think they needed it. Subsequently, among my adult daughters and their friends, few hold traditional family values. Many are choosing alternate lifestyles, some to the point of self-destruction. Without the foundation of faith and family, our youth can get lost in the chaos. 

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.  People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.  2 Timothy 3:1-4 NIV

Where I currently live, faith and families come first. Everyone here has time for church and for one another. I live near my siblings and their grandkids have adopted me as “Grandma”.  When I recently held the newest one in my arms, I melted with the hope that someday my daughters will know the love that comes with being a mom. Being enveloped in a faith-based community with strong families has radically changed me from the inside out.

They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season.
Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.
(Psalm 1:3 NLT)

When God calls us to love he will completely transform us into his image, which is love itself.  In these last days He calls us to help save future generations for his kingdom by putting faith and family first. I believe He is calling for a great revival that will honor Him and how He intends families to be. There is no higher calling than to answer when God’s love calls us to serve.

Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20 NLT)

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Christina Rose is an author, trainer and speaker certified by the John Maxwell Team of Leadership.  She is a DAR (Daughter of the American Revolution) whose ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War. She is a world traveler, surfer, foodie, cappuccino loving chocoholic and a devoted mom to kids and dogs and auntie to many nieces and nephews who live around the world.

Christina’s book, My Appeal to Heaven, is her story. With her young family on the verge of falling apart, Christina finds herself in a desperate situation with no resources other than herself.  After appealing to heaven, the Lord takes her on a journey of awakening and miraculous empowerment. That power is available to us all, especially those who need hope and freedom.

Join the conversation: How do you honor the values of faith and family in your home?

Concealed Weapon

by Cherrilynn Bisbano

For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open. Luke 8:17 NIV

My son loved to play with toy guns.  One day, after much begging, I let him play with his toy pirate pistol at the bus stop. The bus arrived. I kissed his forehead, took the toy gun and walked the short distance home. High school lunch period had just begun. Students drove past me on their way to grab a bite to eat.

I’d better hide this toy under my sweater, so no one thinks it is a real pistol, I said to myself. Just as I hid it, a car drove by with teen girls.  The look on one girl’s face was utter horror. I shrugged it off.  I did not think she saw the toy. I concealed it.

I proceeded home where a wonderful lunch awaited, prepared by my husband. As I bit into my sandwich, we heard a knock at the door. There stood two of Hampton’s finest. “Have you seen someone carrying a gun?”

My knees buckled, and I almost burst into tears. “That would be me, it was a toy, I am so sorry!” I couldn’t get the words out fast enough. He seemed to relax a bit.

“Yes, a young girl reported that there was a woman carrying what she thought was a gun toward the school. May we see it?” I showed them the orange pirate gun and promised never to bring it to the bus stop again.

“We put the school on lock down because of that toy. Maybe you should not have tried to conceal it.” The officers left, and I cried.

Are you concealing anything?

 Hatred? Adultery?  Sexual sin?

Just as I hid that toy under my sweater, I concealed an unforgiving heart toward my abusive father for a long time, which manifested itself in bitterness and self-loathing. Others around me witnessed the effects through my complaining spirit and depression. They could not see the origin of my pain. I hid it so well, I didn’t know it had embedded itself into my soul like a bloodsucking tick burrows into a dog. I prayed and asked God to show me why I was filled with angst and depression.

 Our great God, in love, showed me I still had not forgiven my biological father for abusing me. I gripped my right to fight until I saw justice served. I wanted to witness his suffering and demise.

My healing took time. I gave my pain, anger, and depression to God daily as I put my heart on lock down from the lies the evil one. Concealed Sin is nothing to play with! Bring it to your Heavenly Father. He knew the sin before you committed it. He will never shoot you down. “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.” Proverbs 28:13 (ESV)

That afternoon, my son exited the bus with a big smile and a hug for me. “How was your afternoon, Mommy?”

Usually, if I had a difficult day, I hid it from him. But today was different. “Let’s go have a snack and I’ll tell you!”

This article has been brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Cherrilynn Bisbano is an award-winning writer in both fiction and non-fiction. She is a coach, ghostwriter, editor, and speaker. She is honored to be a member of AWSA.

Shine Don't Whine

You can find her published in several online magazines and blogs along with books.  Her latest book, Shine Don’t Whine, released in October 2020. Cherrilynn proudly served in the Navy and Air National Guard. She lives with her son, Michael, Jr., and husband of 22 years. Cherrilynn loves Christ, Chocolate, coffee, and Cats. You will often find her on the beach sea glass hunting.

Join the conversation: How has God helped you with concealed sin?

Not My Nature

by Terri Gillespie

Blessed is the one who trusts in Adonai [the LORD], whose confidence is in Adonai. Jeremiah 17:7 TLV

There are those folks who are so confident in the LORD that no matter what happens, they know they will be alright. I have met a few of these souls and I’m both awed and convicted by their testimonies.

Why? Because I am not one of those blessed souls. At least, not by nature. When I’m caught off-guard by a trial or tribulation or testing, my nature is to fear. That default reaction of fear is caused from experiences in my past—scary things that happened to me and others.

If a problem arises, my nature is to seek ways to solve it myself rather than go to the LORD first. That first inclination stems from being so long accustomed to fending for myself.

When God asks me to do something, my nature is to either say that I can’t, or sadly, that I won’t. Or I attempt the request on my own without His guidance. That is my nature.

But that is not the truth of who I am as a child of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And it is not where I am confined to remain.

“Now what do you think? “A man had two sons, and he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go work in the vineyard today.’

The son answered, ‘I won’t,’ but afterward he had a change of heart and went.

The man went to the second son and said the same thing. But he answered, ‘I will, sir,’ And didn’t go.

Which of the two did the will of the father?”

“The first,” they [the ruling priests and elders] said.

Matthew 21:28-31 TLV

In this parable, Jesus recognizes our nature. Especially those of us with a past—sinful and broken. The first son’s response when asked to work in the vineyard, was, “No way.” But then later, he rethinks that default response and does what his father asks of him.

So, I have a choice. I can follow my nature, or I can stop, turn around and follow the truth. The truth that The Creator of the Universe, who went out of His way to make me His child by sacrificing His Son, loves me.

And when He asks me to trust Him that no matter what comes my way, I am still loved. That means, I must still act like His kid—not some wild person who follows their fears and emotions.

It’s a no brainer, right? Yet still I struggle.

That’s why I read and meditate and post passages of faith and truth that remind me each day, to be confident in this mighty, loving God who knows me. So that I can discern the difference between my nature’s lie and His truth. I know that even a mustard seed of faith and trust can move that mountain of fear or anger or anything that seeks to separate me from His love through Messiah Yeshua.

If my journey helps others, then I am doubly blessed.

Heavenly Father, May nature may say, “no,” but my nature lies. I chose to follow Your truth. Even if it takes me a while to get there. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Award-winning author and beloved speaker Terri Gillespie writes stories of faith and redemption to nurture souls. Her novels, devotionals, and blogs have drawn readers to hunger for a deeper relationship with their Heavenly Father, and His Son Jesus. Her newest novel, Sweet Rivalry, releases later this year. 

Join the conversation: What’s your nature?

What Did Jesus Mean by Living as Salt and Light?

by Jennifer Slattery

You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. Matthew 5:13 NASB

How salty are you? When people encounter you, do they walk away intrigued? Enticed to experience the life you have? Or do they sputter and spit, thinking, “Man, I do not want more of that?”

My family will be the first to tell you: I stink at cooking. I’ll never entice anyone with a home-cooked meal. I do hope, however, that you’ll join us for relational reasons. That you’ll discover that we’re loving people of integrity and be drawn to that. To us, and hopefully, the God who empowers us.

Love. Grace. Integrity. That’s a powerful combination, able to dispel the false and often negative associations our culture attaches to Christianity. When we live what we claim to believe, consistently yielding to the Holy Spirit within, many times we find our words aren’t all that necessary.

Now, please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying we shouldn’t share truth. As a faith-based writer and speaker, I spend a good deal of time doing that, after all. What I am saying is that our day-to-day actions should speak loudest and clearest. And if they don’t? Then we’ve probably become one of two things: A bland Christian who has allowed their flavor to leach out by our culture or sin. Or we have become an angry and hostile religious person who puckers everyone’s mouths, even those who agree with our truth claims.

Living with radiance and flavor, however, means doing all we can to model Christ: how we speak, how we serve, how we love, how we give, and how we react. We mustn’t separate Christ’s call to live as the salt of the earth and light of the world from the context in which He spoke this.

He began by telling us all the seemingly contradictory ways we’d be blessed.

  • Blessed are those who are poor in spirit, those destitute on their own and recognizing their constant need for Christ. (Matthew 5:3)
  • Blessed are those who mourn, because it’s often during the hard times that we most experience our Savior. (Matthew 5:4)
  • Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness—who long to know and please God. (Matthew 5:5)
  • Blessed are the meek, who demonstrate strength under control. In other words, who are able to speak truth with love, gentleness, and grace and don’t lose their cool in Facebook arguments or endless political debates. (Matthew 5:6)
  • Blessed are those who seek justice, absolutely, but are most known for their mercy. (Matthew 5:7)    
  • Blessed are those whose hearts are pure—free from pride, selfish ambition, bitterness and sin. (Matthew 5:8)
  • Blessed are the peacemakers—those who actively join God’s mission to bring relational, emotional, and spiritual health to our broken world. (Matthew 5:9)
  • Blessed are those who are persecuted, insulted, mocked, and disdained, for the sake of Christ, because our love often shines brightest in the face of hatred. (Matthew 5:10-12)

After explaining what a Christ-honoring life looks like, Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world” (Matthew 5:13-15 NIV.) So shine brightly, that [others] may see…your arguments and hear all the verses you’ve memorized? No. “That they may see your good deeds and praise Your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16 NIV).

In short, they will know us by our love, one displayed with equal parts of truth and grace. A life characterized by both truly does have the power to change the world.

You and I have the power to change the world, one heart at a time. Jesus showed and told us precisely how. Will we follow His example? 

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

Jennifer Slattery
Faith Over Fear - Christian Podcast

About the author: Jennifer Slattery is a multi-published author, ministry, and the host of the Faith Over Fear Podcast. Find her online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com, find her ministry at WhollyLoved.com, and find her podcast at LifeAudio.com and other popular podcasting sites. In her new podcast, Faith Over Fear, Jennifer helps us see different areas of life where fear has a foothold, and how our identity as children of God can help us move from fear to faithful, bold living. You can listen by clicking on the link below or by visiting LifeAudio.com.

Join the conversation: What character quality do you thing will best show Jesus to the world?

Enlarge My Ears

by Deborah McCormick Maxey

Speak Lord. Your servant is listening.  1 Samuel 3:9 NIV

Please Lord, enlarge my ears, so I can hear you better!

Our house overlooks a lake. On any morning, in every season, we sit outside and listen to the bevy of bird songs around us. My goodness, they can be so loud! I especially love the jungle type sound of the pileated woodpeckers, and the melodious coo of the doves. There are tons of birds in our cove. Sometimes the “caw caw caw” of a murder of crows drowns out every other species when they begin to “scold” as something around them has been disturbed. At other times, a low ceiling in the atmosphere causes us to hear the sounds of large trucks on a distant highway or the lonesome sound of a train whistle that is even further away.  But I always go back to tuning into the sounds of the birds and watching which birds make which noise as they approach the feeders near our deck.

Tuning into birds is very much like tuning into God. We must turn down the other noises first to hear Him. Noises that tempt us to do something first, other than read His Word, pray, do acts of service, or go to church. Extraneous things sound loud at times. We reason or justify the noises that eventually drown out His voice. We didn’t sleep well, what if we fall asleep in church? Would it be better to just stay home? We feel a call to donate to a cause and start to rationalize: wasn’t that the same charity that got caught with their administration’s hands in the till just a few years ago?

Many noises can stop us from hearing. We set our priorities wrong, or we have a vain goal that we push towards and ignore the little urges and signs He sends our way to “hold up.” He wants us to do something different.  Ignoring our intuition (one way He speaks to us through His Holy Spirit) can often lead to calamity.

Maybe we would be more responsive to His warnings if we had Hollywood soundtrack music that rang in our ears. You know, the deep moaning tones they use in movies when trouble is afoot? Or upbeat music that signals everything is going great!

But the Lord does indeed use everything to speak to us. We don’t just use our senses to listen! And when we listen, we don’t always obey.

The Holy Spirit speaks, but we must train our brains and hearts to hear. And we must keep asking and listening because God likes diversity. He didn’t tell Moses to strike a rock the second time for water. Moses just took it upon himself to hit a similar rock in the same way, because, well…that worked the first time. But our precious Lord wants us to always be close and listen, to come to Him with everything, all the time. We can’t rely on a formula. What He instructed us to do one time may not be the route He wants us to take the next.

Take the manna from heaven, for example. What a fitting example! God told His people: I will provide for you one day at a time. Don’t try and outfox that.  So, when the Israelites tried to store manna, it became full of maggots and was not just inedible, it was disgusting!  That story highlights what a close walk God wants with us. He isn’t giving us a map, he’s asking us to use him like a GPS and hear Him while He guides us with constant direction, “Turn this way. Stop here. Watch out, slow moving traffic ahead.”

I marvel at this thought: I ask, and the author of my soul speaks. When I listen, I am connected to the Creator of the Universe, the Holy of Holies, Master of Everything! The Alpha and Omega is speaking to little ole me. What a miracle! I am more than a vapor on the wind to Him. I am important, and He wants to guide me!  I’m not insignificant or absentmindedly created, then put on a shelf until I yell for help. Our great omnipotent, sovereign God wants me to know He’s in every second of my life. Me!

And you!

This article was brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: A licensed therapist, Deborah McCormick Maxey retired from her counseling practice in 2020 to joyfully invest her energy in writing Christian fiction, devotions, and her website that focuses on miracles.  

The Endling: A Novel by [Deborah Maxey]

Deborah’s debut novel, The Endling, is available for preorder on Amazon, due to release (by Firefly Southern Fiction/Iron Stream Media) on May 11, 2021. Native American Emerson Coffee is the last surviving member of her tribe. When US Marshals inform her she’s being hunted by a mob hit man, Emerson declines their offer of witness protection. But when three innocent children become caught in the crosshairs, Emerson must decide if she will risk it all—her mountains, her heritage . . . even her life—to secure their safety. 

Join the conversation: Have you ever “heard” from God? Please share your story!

Recovering Lost Treasure

 by Patti Richter

For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. John 6:40 ESV

I opened the small box to find a ring with a small, round ruby—my birthstone. How did my grandparents know I’d wished for a ring with real gold instead of the cheap dime-store jewelry I wore? Maybe they had noticed the greenish stain on my ring finger.

As a ten-year-old, I cherished the gift chosen just for me. I wore it like an engagement ring and never wanted to take it off. Until one summer day.

I had walked a few blocks from my home to the community swimming lake. After laying out my beach towel in a grassy area, I headed to the water but then paused to consider my ring. What if it should slip off in the dark water? I turned back to remove my bit of treasure and tucked it inside the folded corner of my towel next to the coins I’d brought for a vending machine snack.

After swimming, I saw that someone must have run across my towel, which scattered the coins all around. My ring! With a pounding heart, I searched the area, dredging my fingers through the thick grass. Heartbroken, I had to give up the search and return home without it.

As the summer passed, I desperately wanted to recover my ruby ring. Every time I went to the lake, I checked that same grassy area in vain and wondered if someone else had found the ring or if it remained hidden in the ground. I never wanted to replace it.

Over the years I’ve lost more valuable treasures—irreplaceable family members and friends. Some of them departed suddenly, like my ring, and none of my tears could bring them back. With each loss I would think of my loved one now safe in God’s keeping though perhaps asleep in the earth.

God’s Word informs and comforts us in these times so that we hope to regain those we’ve lost. The One who knows the whereabouts of his possessions will gather us all, and we will enjoy him and one another forever.

Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet…. The dead will be raised imperishable. 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 ESV


This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Patti Richter lives in north Georgia with her husband, Jim. She is a freelance journalist and long-time faith columnist at BlueRibbonNews.com with more than four hundred published articles.

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Patti is the co-author of the award-winning Signs of His Presence—Experiencing God’s Comfort in Times of Suffering. It is the story of Luann Mire, whose godly husband was blindsided by an indictment due to a former employer’s tax fraud. The resulting prison sentence and restitution took the once joyful couple into a long season of suffering as they fought judicial tyranny. Helpless to change her situation, Luann endured a painful examination of her life and found God faithful to His promises.

Join the conversation: What has been your most difficult loss?

Unity Vs. Harmony

by Nan Corbitt Allen

I love music. Always have and always will. My mother told me that I could hum the tune to “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” before I could talk. Part of my affection for the art is hereditary (my dad sang in a gospel quartet) and the other part is just an inborn ability that I was encouraged to cultivate.

I remember singing hymns in “big church.” I still love and remember so many of those great, old songs.  But we sang in Sunday School, too. Now every Sunday I sing a little tune I learned there, and the words that go like this:

Sunday morning/clear and cool, I meet my friends at Sunday School. Friends of mine/are friends of Jesus. He’s a friend to me.

I have no idea who wrote it, but it has been a part of my Sunday routine for over 60 years.

As I got a little older, I became a part of a children’s choir at my church. (Oh, that we would revive this tradition!) I learned there that when everyone sings the same note at the same time, it’s called unison. Then, as I got even older, unison meant that, yeah, we sang the same note, but the boys sang it an octave lower…ideally.

Next, I learned about harmony. First, it was alto. Someone sang the melody, the “lead,” and someone else sang another note below it. My dad taught me how to hear that alto note and sing it. Then, in youth choir, (again, that we would revive this tradition!) I started hearing “boy notes”—tenor and bass. Imagine, everyone singing a different note and it sounding beautiful. (Well, most of the time anyway.) When I got to college and sang in the university chorale, we added many more parts and it became down right heavenly.

All of this to say that it dawned on me recently that when we strive for unity in the world or in the church, that’s a good thing, even though men and women actually have different takes on that, just like in unison singing. Oh, that we would see things exactly the same way—what a world that would be!

However, just as wonderful would be to live in harmony. Each singing a different note, but blending and making an incredible sound. Why can’t we do that? Why not blend ideas and passions? Can we not hold our own pitches and let others do the same and together make beautiful…well, you know?

I don’t believe that unity in the world is feasible. There’s too much hate and deceit and influence of evil forces. It’ll never happen. But in the church, yes, it’s possible that we can have unity, especially about things that are irrefutable. Like the Truth.

“Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind” (1 Peter 3:8 ESV).

Some ideas are non-negotiable, like the truth of the Bible. We must be united in those things.

Though harmony might not be a reality in this diverse world, it is feasible, when it includes listening to each other and treating the other person, and his or her ideas, as valuable. Here’s the idea, especially in the church. Paul writes,

“Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all” (Romans 12: 16-18 ESV).

A good word. And another from the same guy.

And above all…put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Colossians 3:14 -15 ESV

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

Nan Corbitt Allen

About the author: Nan Corbitt Allen has written over 100 published dramatic musicals, sketchbooks, and collections in collaboration with Dennis Allen, her husband of 45+ years. A three-time Dove Award winner, Nan’s lyrics and dramas have been performed around the world. Dennis and Nan have sold almost 3 million choral books.

Nan and Dennis retired in 2020 from full time teaching at Truett McConnell University. They now live south of Nashville. They have two grown sons and two beautiful grandchildren.

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Nan’s book, Small Potatoes @ the Piggly Wiggly, is a collection of devotionals that reveal the great impact seemingly insignificant, routine experiences can have in our lives. She describes what she learned of God’s providence and wisdom while growing up in the Deep South in the 1950’s and 60’s.

Join the conversation: Does your church struggle with unity? How are you dealing with that?