A Good Father

by Candy Arrington

The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. Psalm 16:6 ESV

Recently, a cousin and I had a conversation about the blessing of growing up with good fathers. As adults and having interacted with many types of people with very different father experiences, we are reminded afresh what a gift it is to have had godly fathers.

Father’s Day is bittersweet for me. My father died thirty years ago this year. I loved him, and I miss him, but in many ways, he is still with me. I can hear his soft southern drawl, see his lopsided grin, and envision his strong hands. Daddy is with me most in the lessons he taught me about life and faith.

My father was a builder, and I often walked job sites with him. One of the first life lessons I learned is things are not always as they seem. During the “stake off” portion of building, the footprint of a house often appears smaller than its true size. The wooden stakes and ditches dug before constructing the foundation are somewhat deceptive in conveying the actual size of the house. Likewise, our view is sometimes skewed regarding people or opportunities. Only with wisdom, experience, and God-perception can we learn to see beyond appearances.

A second lesson I learned from my father was the importance of a level, firm foundation. Builders who don’t take time to do the necessary site work, wait for the dirt to settle, and pause to measure to ensure a level, plumb, straight foundation run into problems later in the building process. My father likened this  to building a sturdy faith foundation through prayer, Bible study, and spiritual growth.

A third lesson my father taught me comes straight from Scripture, “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10 ESV). I witnessed my father “do good” to the men who worked for him. I especially remember one hot summer day when he came home and took clothes and shoes from his closet and drawers and asked my mother what cooking items she could part with. When I asked Daddy what he was doing, he said, “The house of one of my men burned last night and he needs help.” Doubtless, that help also included financial assistance.

Following my father’s death, I heard many stories of ways he had helped others in need. His giving was practical, without fanfare, and service-oriented, like voluntarily re-screening a widow’s porch, or maintaining rental properties in town for missionary families overseas. Daddy’s heart for service taught me to notice needs and give graciously according to the ways God has blessed me.

Perhaps you do not have pleasant memories of your father or know him at all. If that is your experience, look to your Heavenly Father as your example for love, grace, forgiveness, and relationship.

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

About the author: Candy Arrington has written hundreds of articles and devotionals on faith, personal growth, and moving through and beyond difficult life circumstances. Her books include: Life On Pause: Learning to Wait Well (Bold Vision Books),  When Your Aging Parent Needs Care: Practical Help for This Season of Life (Harvest House), and AFTERSHOCK: Help, Hope, and Healing in the Wake of Suicide (B & H Publishing Group). Candy is a native South Carolinian, who gains writing inspiration from historic architecture, vintage photographs, nature, and the application of Biblical principles to everyday life. Learn more about Candy at www.CandyArrington.com, where you can also read her blog, Forward Motion: Moving Beyond What Holds You Back. Candy’s new book, Life on Pause: Learning to Wait Well, provides insights on learning from and growing through a time of waiting.

Join the conversation: What lessons for life did your father teach you?

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On Earth and in Heaven—Hurray for Fatherhood

by Patti Richter

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. –Ephesians 6:4 ESV

My husband has been known to pull out a thick leather belt to warn misbehaving grandchildren. The kids, with wide eyes and open mouths, freeze in place for a few seconds before breaking into relieved smiles. They realize their Grandpa is all bark and no bite.

Jim is not the sentimental father and grandfather of greeting card commercials. Nor has he ever been the crude, clueless, or cowardly man portrayed in too many sit-coms and greeting cards. My husband and I were both raised with a firmer hand than our culture now approves. And our children—back in their young days—occasionally felt the sting of their father’s physical discipline. That firm approach instilled a healthy respect for authority.

Hooray for traditional fathers.

Today’s dad is typically more involved with his children, beginning with changing diapers—a task men rarely expected in the days of cloth diapers and pins. The current breed of fathers might prepare a meal with their kids or drive them to school and soccer practice. They navigate territories once mostly exclusive to moms. But when it comes to child discipline, modern fathers have a less hands-on approach. The average dad tends to show more mercy to his little ones: a time-out instead of a wooden paddle.

Hooray for contemporary fathers.

Even the best of fathers, like mothers, can flourish in one area of parenting but flounder in another. However, as men, they bring a unique quality to childrearing since, in general, they are stronger and more courageous than women. It’s more likely to be Dad rather than Mom who moves the washing machine to look for the snake that raced into the laundry room (personal experience here).   

Fathers offer their children a male perspective that balances a woman’s different way of seeing and reacting to circumstances. Yet masculinity has taken hits in the past decades. It’s not enough to satisfy the more progressive among us if Dad merely fills in for Mom when needed; the social order now expects that parenting roles should be equal and interchangeable.

Fathers bear the title and, by nature, the characteristics of our Father in Heaven—provider and protector. So many of the ills in our world are connected to the absence of fathers in the home. The importance of their role is sadly illustrated by the lament of prison chaplains: inmates annually request Mother’s Day cards to send but show little need for Father’s Day cards.

Though earthly fathers sometimes fail their children, our heavenly Father offers love, discipline, and mercy to those who by Christ “receive adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:5 ESV). Both the fatherless and the less fathered of this world will share alike in our Father’s glorious inheritance.

Hooray for the Perfect Father.

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God. 1 John 3:1 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 do you appreciate about your father?

An Opportunity for Joy

by Denise Wilson

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.  James 1:2 NLT

This verse in James is familiar, but when I read it in the New Living Translation, it struck me in a way that it never had before. The word opportunity jumped off the page. The troubles that come into our lives are an opportunity for joy. Not just any kind of joy, but “great joy”.

I knew a missionary who seemed to find joy in everything. On one occasion his car broke down, and his response was, “Thank you, Lord, for this good trouble.”

The chance of having trials in this life is 100 percent. James says not “if” but “when” trials come our way. The question is, what attitude will I have when I go through them?

Trials are uncomfortable and often painful, yet when I realize our sovereign God is in control, I have an opportunity for great joy. I am not just speaking theoretically. I have experienced the joy of the Lord during the deepest trials of my life.

While pregnant with our first child, I went into premature labor. We prayed that our child would survive. We also prayed, “Thy will be done.” In God’s sovereign plan our son Samuel was born and moments later died in my husband’s arms. What a trial, and what deep grief; yet mingled with that grief was joy.

It sounds impossible to experience joy in such circumstances, but it is possible. God cannot lie, and if he tells us that troubles are an opportunity for great joy, then it must be true.

Our faith was tested further when I became pregnant with our second child Hannah Faith, who was stillborn. Despite great pain and sorrow, I experienced peace and joy. God’s promises are true.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7 NIV).

I had read these verses so many times before, but during those trials I lived them.

While God ultimately blessed us with two more children, not all stories have happy endings. Regardless of the outcome, God is in control and God is good.

Sorrow is a natural and normal human response to a painful situation. Even Jesus wept at the death of Lazarus. The author of Hebrews tells us how Jesus responded to the greatest trial of his life. “…Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame” (Hebrews 12:2 NLT). Jesus is our example. We are to fix our eyes on him.

I wish I could say that I experience joy in all circumstances. I don’t. Strangely, I often find it easier to trust God in the big areas of my life. It’s the small things that trip me up.

We must remember that God uses trials to help us grow (James 1:3-4).

Be encouraged friends, God truly does work all things together for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28).

We may never understand why we have to go through the things we do, but we do know this: God is in control, and he loves us. When we trust him, he promises peace and joy. “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5 NIV).

My prayer for me, and for you, is that the next trial that comes along, we will be able to say, “Thank you, Lord, for this good trouble.”

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

About the author: Denise Wilson lives in small-town Ontario with her husband, two teenage sons, and a whole bunch of chickens. She is passionate about sharing the gospel and is the author of Seven Words You Never Want to Hear

                                                                                             

I Choose Peace

by Joan Benson

Have you noticed how life can run on parallel tracks? I recently saw a photo of a beautiful blooming redbud tree covered in the purest white of a heavy snowfall. What an analogy to life. Imagine bursting forth in your best show of blooms, to find yourself shivering under a pile of freezing fluff.

In our daily humanity, we may recognize layers of goodness while being struck with a serious loss or disabling event. Laying in a hospital bed, recovering from a painful surgery, I heard a sweet voice singing along with a praise song playing on my cell phone. I was miserable and half-asleep, but the sweet voice sounded like an angel. That nurse’s kindness and love deeply touched my heart. I chose to feel God’s presence and peace.

When my dog experienced multiple health crises during our short out-of-state vacation, a kind veterinarian spent thirty minutes reading the health reports and deciding on a course of treatment. We were to leave for home the next morning. When we checked out, he had not charged me for anything except the medication. I felt tears well up in my eyes. It was not the money saved, though that was a blessing. It was his compassion. I knew God was pouring His grace out on us.

People who are most successful in navigating pain, loss, and devastation don’t jump up and down to embrace their dark trial. They will say with honesty, “It was hard.” But somewhere along the way, they are able to pass from grief to gratefulness when they recognize God’s provision along the journey.

Yes, it may be a freezing jolt to our once-comfortable life, but in recognizing God’s mercy and grace, we find hope for the sorrows.

God’s peace is promised to us in Philippians 4:6-9. However, with that promise comes an expectation. We are told to not be anxious. How does that work, you may ask? “I just lost ____, and I’m not supposed to feel the sad?” Your spouse left you after years of marriage. A family member died suddenly without any advance warning. You or a loved one receives a diagnosis of a fatal illness without a remedy. Your child breaks off relationship. The list of possible tragedies goes on and on.

However, as believers, God asks us to pray through those challenges, to tell him what’s on our heart, praying/petitioning with thanksgiving. “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7 NIV). We can choose His peace.

What a relief it is to let go of the spirit of heaviness and release it to the One who loves us most. God is a Father of compassion who comforts us in all our troubles. We know in Heaven there will be no more sorrow, no more tears. Everlasting joy!

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

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

His Gift by [Joan C. Benson]

About the author: Joan Benson is a freelance writer, a former (K-8) classroom teacher and reading specialist, and a wife and mother of four adult children and eight cherished grandchildren. Joan has produced devotional materials for CBN.com and written numerous magazine articles. She developed Sunday School curriculum for over twelve years for LifeWay. Joan’s historical fiction novel, His Gift, was released in July 2020. Joan and her husband, Jan, live in Chesapeake, VA, with their two Bichon Frisé pets.

Join the conversation: Have you been able to choose peace in a challenging circumstance?

Everyone Knows

by Crystal Bowman

Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. Psalm 34:14 NIV

Several years ago I sat next to a young woman on an airplane who started up a conversation with me as soon as I took my seat. “Flying makes me nervous, so I like to talk to someone because it makes the time go faster.” 

I smiled at her and said, “Honey, you are sitting next to the right person—I love to talk!”

As we ascended into the clear blue sky, she began telling me her life’s story. When she was four years old, she and her family crawled through a tunnel from Mexico to the U.S., eventually finding their way to Chicago, where they settled. She shared that her father was an alcoholic and  she rarely saw him sober. He beat her every day, and her mother did nothing to protect her. She was never allowed to wear dresses to school because her mother didn’t want the teachers to see her bruises. Even in the hot, humid Chicago summers, she wore long sleeved shirts and pants.

She continued her story and told me that she left home as a teen and moved in with her boyfriend’s family. I asked her if it was a safer environment, and she told me that it was safer physically, but his mother was verbally abusive. She and her boyfriend married at the age of 19, and her husband worked as a landscaper, eventually building a successful business. With great pride, she told me they had three children, and she loved volunteering at school and being a teacher’s helper. It was obvious to me that she loved her children. She told me that she showered them with the affection she craved as a child.

I then asked her the questions that were begging to be answered. How do you know how to be a good mother when you didn’t have any role models? How can you raise your kids in a healthy environment when you were physically abused, and your husband was verbally abused

Her reply was confident and profound. “Everyone knows what’s right and wrong. You just choose to do one or the other.”

Wow! Such wisdom from a young woman.

The Apostle Paul preached the Gospel to both Jews and Gentiles. The Jews followed the 10 Commandments, also known as the Law. In Romans 2, he explains that the Gentiles, who do not have the Jewish law, know right from wrong because God created humans with a sense of right and wrong. In verse 15 (NIV) he writes,  “They [Gentiles]show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.”

Since we are born with a sinful human nature, we don’t always choose to do what is right. It is impossible for us to live perfect lives. But when we choose to do what we know is wrong, our conscience convicts us.

Jesus came to bear our penalty for all those wrong choices we make. Through his death and resurrection, we can be fully forgiven and cleansed of sin. Even after we accept Jesus as our Savior, we continue in sin because of our human nature. But God is a God of mercy and forgiveness and wipes the slate clean as we confess our sins.

I had another question that I wanted to ask my passenger friend. “Are you a Christian?”

“Oh, yes!” she replied. “Being a Christian has allowed me to forgive my parents for my abusive childhood. I still see them often, and every year I help my mom put up her Christmas tree.”

As we landed, I told her that I would never forget her or our conversation. I told her how blessed I was to sit next to her, and how someday I would be sharing her story in one of my articles or books. That day is today. I trust her story inspires you as much as it has inspired me. May we all ask God to help us make the right choices in our lives. We know right from wrong—it’s written on our hearts.  


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

About the author: Crystal Bowman is a bestselling, award-winning author of more than 100 books including, Our Daily Bread for Kids.She and her husband have three married children and seven huggable grandchildren.

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When a child’s grandparent or great-grandparent is afflicted with dementia, it’s difficult to explain the disease in a way that helps the child understand why the person they love is not the same. I Love You to the Stars–When Grandma Forgets, Love Remembersis a picture book inspired by a true story to help young children understand that even though Grandma is acting differently, she still loves them–to the stars!

Join the conversation: Is there a conversation you have had that you will never forget?

Take the First Step

by Paula Jauch

O Lord, by these things men live, and in all these is the life of my spirit; O restore me to health and let me live! Lo, for my own welfare I had great bitterness; it is You who has kept my soul from the pit of nothingness, for You have cast all my sins behind Your back. Isaiah 38:16-17 NASB

I truly believe in my heart that we all deserve to find freedom, healing and recovery in this life, but I’ve also learned that not everyone is willing to do the hard work. I don’t want you to think I have all the answers, but what I do know through my own experience of suffering and healing is that God was able to do for me what I was not capable of figuring out for myself.  

Let me explain what I mean by that… For many years I was struggling with so many issues from self-hate, an eating disorder, drinking alcohol, relationships, and financial problems all while going to church. I tried so many things to change or get free—even to the point of going to the altar every Sunday to get prayed over.

What was wrong with me? Why was God not healing me? It didn’t matter how many times I went to church or what I learned in Scripture; I still kept struggling. I was exhausted from wearing a mask and pretending I was okay.

What I eventually learned, as simple as it sounds, was that I had a lot of wounds from growing up with addiction and abuse that needed to be healed. It was going to take a lot more than getting prayed over.

I needed help. I found a trauma therapist, went to recovery programs, and spent time with God. God also brought safe people into my life to love me where I was at in my journey and support me through the healing process.

I needed to surrender all the hurt that I was hiding inside of me and give it to God who was patiently waiting for me to trust him…

I had to learn how to trust God, because with all the people who hurt me in my life, it was hard to believe that God even cared, or that He had a plan for my life.

I had to learn to feel my feelings, even the feelings of anger, and start trusting God with those feelings. It’s about knowing we are not alone anymore, and that we don’t have to walk this journey by ourselves.

I want to encourage you in your faith, to know that you will be able to trust God enough to surrender every area of your life to Him. Please remember it is a process and change won’t happen overnight.

“For I know the plans I have for you says the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV). When I learned this Scripture, it gave me so much hope. For the first time in my life, someone was telling me that God didn’t want to hurt me.

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

About the author: Paula Jauch is a speaker, Selah Award finalist, AWSA Golden Scroll award-winning author, and podcaster. She is the Founder of the non-profit organization, Paula Jauch International. Her organization supports those who have been affected by trauma and addiction. She speaks from a place of brokenness and healing. Her book, Cross Addicted: Breaking Free from Family Trauma and Addiction offers a hopeful path to recovery for those who are hurting and traumatized. Her other projects include Letting Go of Family Trauma and Addiction devotions on the YouVersion Bible App, and “Exposing Family Secrets,” a chapter in She Writes for Him: Stories of Living Hope. To learn more, follow her on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter @paulajauch and at www.paulajauch.com.

Join the conversation: What are you struggling with today?

As Numerous as the Stars

by Cherrilynn Bisbano

In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.  John 1:4 NASB

While living in Honduras to help a missionary doctor, the town lost power. We prepared for many nights of darkness.

I looked to the heavens, holding my flashlight. as I walked the dusty street to Bible study. The stars pierced the sky and I was reminded of God’s covenant with Abraham. “Your descendants will be as numerous as the stars.”

I prayed, “Lord, use me to add to those descendants while I’m here in Honduras.”

As we studied John chapter eight by candlelight, we took turns reading verses. I loved hearing Scripture read in Spanish. Some ladies learning English read their verse in English with some help from me. What joy to share in God’s Word in any language, especially by candlelight. A few ladies did not know the Lord, but came because it was something to do in the quiet little mountain village. They just listened.

My turn came and I read John 8:12 from my ESV Bible. “Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

As I declared the second “light,” all the lights suddenly came on. We looked at each other shocked, smiled, then jumped and cried “Gloria a Dios.”

We cried happy tears at God’s faithfulness and clear sign He was with us.

Rosa remained sitting, her mouth wider than her eyes. I had been told Rosa lived a life of gossiping, sexual immorality, and bitterness. She looked at me and said, “We never get power that quickly. I want your Jesus.”

That night, Rosa accepted Jesus’ free gift of eternal life and went home to tell her family. She had been rescued from the domain of darkness to the Kingdom of Light (Colossians 1: 13).

Rosa reconciled with her husband, and the family attends church and Bible study on a regular basis.

A few months later, I said my goodbyes with tear filled eyes, knowing, God continues to fulfill his promise to Abraham by shedding the light of the Gospel in the darkest hearts and tiniest places.

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

About the author: Cherrilynn Bisbano is an award-winning writer and speaker. As a certified Christian Life Coach Minister, and Ordained Minister, she aims to share the love of Christ wherever God leads. Cherrilynn is a speaker with Women Speakers. She contributes to the Blue Ridge Writers blog, is published in four compilations books, and her book Shine Don’t Whine released in 2020. Cherrilynn served in the military for twenty years, earning the John Levitow Military leadership award. She lives with her 19-year-old son Michael, Jr., and her husband of 22 years, Michael. She fondly calls them her M&M’s.

Join the conversation: Has God ever given you a sign that He is with you?

Where’s Our Focus?

by Sherri Wynn

It’s hard to top all the lessons four-year-olds can teach adults. My grandson, Corbin, is a perfect example. His world revolves around his Matchbox cars. Hours of play time always include providing for his cars: building them roads, parking garages, drive-up windows, and of course, car washes. Lincoln Logs are his favorite building material, but he happily uses anything available to create intersections, entrance/exit ramps, and yes, more parking lots. That’s his focus.

One day, when his mom sat on the floor to play cars with him, she tried to add on to one of his overhead bridges. He smiled and told her what she was doing wouldn’t work. She smiled back, assured him it would, and a few steps later realized he was right.

I’ve often thought God intentionally uses children to teach us lessons because as adults, we can be a little too full of ourselves. We’re in charge, right? So why does God send us messages in Scripture telling us we need to be more like children?

In the book of Matthew, Jesus’ disciples asked him which of them was most important in God’s kingdom. As always, Jesus had the perfect answer. He pulled a small child from the crowd surrounding them and said, “Unless you change and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3 NASB).

I can imagine the shock on those disciples’ faces. “Hey, Jesus” they might have said. “We’re the chosen twelve, remember? You picked us to live and work with you. That’s just a child there, who has no idea what you’re teaching or how holy you are.” Of course, Jesus remembered exactly who was who that day. Most importantly, Jesus was again the patient teacher showing his disciples that what they were doing wouldn’t work, that a child understood humility better than any of them.

A child may not have adult-level knowledge, but that little one knows love when he or she sees it and responds accordingly. Maybe that’s why Jesus went on to say, “So whoever will humble himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:4 NASB).

I don’t know about you, but I fall into this trap way too often, the trap of thinking I’m so good I ought to be in front of the line for things. In God’s eyes, of course, I really am that special, because Jesus came to earth for the sole purpose of reconciling each one of us with God by removing our sin. God is holy, and we can’t come close to him without Jesus first switching our sins over to him so he can blanket us with his own holiness and forgiveness.

Being special enough to give your life for is a different kind of special. It doesn’t make me superior—far from it. It makes me grateful and humble and crazy in love with a God who would do all that for me. Jesus himself modeled humility for us: “He humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:8 NIV); and “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart” (Matthew 11:29 NIV). If Jesus values humility, so should I. I need to keep my focus on Jesus rather than myself.

Jesus freely and humbly gives us the incomparable riches of his grace and mercy. And He often uses four-year-olds to smile and patiently explain that what we adults are doing won’t work.  

Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus. Hebrews 12:2 NASB

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

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About the author: Dr. Sherri Wynn is the founder and president of the International Christian Education Foundation, a nonprofit that provides custom curriculum to organizations and individuals. Her educational books can be found on Amazon. She also contributed two guest chapters to Not Just an Elder’s Wife through e2Ministries Inc. She is speaking at their summer conference in July.

Join the conversation: Have you ever learned from a child?

Is Your Light Flammable?

by Carol McCracken

… let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16 NIV

At last, the position of acolyte was mine. My twelve-year-old self held the candlelighter aloft while clothed in the white robe. I wore my brand-new shoes: the high styling authentic clogs that were all the rage that season.

It took weeks for me to convince my mother to drive over to Eskill’s clog shop, which was just over the state line in Pennsylvania. She bought me those clogs with a slight roll of her eyes, even after she watched me clump around in the wooden shoes with no back to them. She was a kind mamma who understood my deep-seated need to fit in.

I stepped down in the historic all wood church and slid right out of my clog. Ungracefully, I tried to recover as the church members held their breath while my flame whipped ever closer to wood in all directions. Mortified, I finally managed to light the actual candles and slinked over to my seat, the echoes of clogging steps finally quieted.

This was not how I intended to let my so-called light shine. I wanted to serve the Lord and glorify him in style. Not set everyone and everything on fire. The song from my Sunday School days about letting my light shine came to mind:

“All around the neighborhood, I’m going to let it shine
Let it shine, all the time, let it shine.”

 I was pretty certain a flaming church is not what God had intended, however much the surrounding neighborhood would have noticed.

Thank goodness God understands twelve-year-olds! Jesus was once one. I would have preferred to amaze as Jesus did at twelve. He impressed everyone with His knowledge when, after His family left for home, He remained at the temple. My spiritual capacity was not nearly the same.

Yet God knew my light would shine better as I matured. I just needed to work on my relationship with the source of that light. It was not light for my own honor. The light was not to shine on me, but shine through me. God taught me that while there was nothing wrong with accessorizing my robe with cute shoes, my purpose was not to spotlight myself. The purpose instead, was to worship Him in all His glory. For He alone is worthy.

God is light. Any good deed I performed, whether gracefully or ungracefully was merely a reflection of His light. As a Jesus follower, my life should be a testimony to those who do not yet have the light.

As we receive these moments of grace, may we be a reminder to each other of how to genuinely glorify God when we let our light shine.

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

About the author: Carol McCracken has been a Bible teacher for over twenty years. She currently serves on church staff as Adult Discipleship Minister. Her passion is to make the Bible come alive for women and connect it to a real relationship with Jesus Christ in today’s busy and demanding world. She is an AWSA and Destin Word Weavers member.

Carol is a contributor to ChristianDevotions.us, Arise Daily and Mustard Seed Ministries.

She published her book Wisdom: Where to Find It If You’ve Lost, Forgotten, Or Never Had It in November 2020. Connect with her at CarolMcCracken.com or on social media.

Join the conversation: How have you seen God’s light shine through others?

The Prayer of Faith

by Sheri Schofield

There was snow on the ground when some big, husky men showed up with chain saws to cut trees for firewood. A long, cold winter was coming, and most of them had wood stoves for heating their homes. For an hour they worked steadily away, sawing the trees, sweat rolling off their foreheads. Finally one of the men said, “This is really hard work. I don’t know if I’ll get enough wood today to last through the winter.”

The men straightened up and stood looking at the small pile of logs they had cut. Then one man hesitantly said, “It might be easier if we turned on our chain saws.”

Hm. You don’t believe that? Okay. But how about this—You go to church every week and kind of listen to the sermon. You wish the lost people in town would get saved. Or maybe you have just finished teaching a Sunday school class, but the kids were rowdy and you couldn’t seem to get anywhere with them. You’re frustrated and distracted. You lose interest in the sermon and start making your grocery list.

(Warning: DO NOT LET YOUR PASTOR SEE THAT GROCERY LIST! He may be equally frustrated. He works long hours and sees few people come to the Lord or overcome their problems. The evidence of your inattention might be the last straw for him!)

There is no difference between what the woodcutters were doing and the behavior of most Christians in America today. Like the woodcutters, many Christians are attempting to serve God in some way, but they have forgotten to turn on the power. They don’t even know where the power switch is. Something is very wrong.

Time and again when Jesus performed miracles, he spoke of people’s faith healing them. He told us to pray—in faith—until God answers our prayers. He told us to pray and never, ever give up.

The prayer of faith is the power switch for reaching people for Jesus, for in fervent prayer we connect with God, the Source of all power. What is the prayer of faith? It begins with a heart of absolute trust in God.

One year, my husband was very ill. He could not work, and he could not be left alone. With a husband, two children and no income, the responsibility for support fell on my shoulders. I chose to pray. Three nights a week after my family was in bed, I drove over to the church and prayed for two or three hours. Mostly, my prayer was simply a cry for help, for healing for my husband. I poured out my heart to God, and he poured his presence into me, with peace and instructions. I held onto God like a child holds onto its mother’s hand, desperately refusing to let go.

This went on for eight months. During that time, I sometimes received letters from distant friends saying, “God told me to send this to you.” It would be a check that covered our expenses. God gradually put my husband back on his feet so he could work. That in itself was a miracle. Better still, our children grew in faith and became strong Christians as a result of my dependence upon God. My relationship with God has grown from there, and I have learned the secret of his presence in my life. He is the Power Source of all I do.

Have you been working hard and seeing few results? Could it be time for you to turn on the power switch and watch God roar into action?

The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.  James 5:16 NIV

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

sheri schofield

About the author: Sheri Schofield is an award-winning children’s author-illustrator. She was named Arise Daily Writer of the Year in 2020, and Writer of the Year in 2018 at the Colorado Christian Writers’ Conference for her work in effectively sharing the gospel of Jesus. Sheri also writes devotions for children at her website: www.sherischofield.com in “Campfire”, and is in the process of developing a children’s program on her YouTube site. Questions welcomed!

Read Sheri and her husband’s amazing story in One Step Ahead of the Devil: A Powerful Love Story. Thrust into national politics because of her husband’s work, Lissa McCloud struggles to save the life of the man she loves from those who are bent on his destruction. Based on true events, the reader is taken deep into the heart of national politics –all the way to Congress and the President of the United States.

Join the conversation: Has God infused you with power? Please share!