If You Give a Monkey a Light Bulb

by Sandi Banks

You are the LORD, my only source of well-being. Psalm 16:2 NET

If there were an organization called Mischievous Monkeys Anonymous, surely Mimi would be its poster child.

 Mimi, a pet ring-tail capuchin, ruled my friend’s home throughout the 1950’s. This energetic monkey was the strong-willed, creative, hyperactive problem-child in this family of eight—the one whose inherent naughtiness could not be blamed on either side of the family.

Her antics included stuffing the bathroom sink with towels and flooding the living room carpet with the cascading water … swinging from chandeliers while cradling raw eggs … tossing bright-colored packages into the grocery cart … and shaming the next-door bully-dog with her screeching and stick flailing. Her repertoire could fill volumes. But Mimi, being half-smart, taught me one lesson I’ll never forget.

She knew the light bulb in her outdoor cage was the source of warmth on chilly nights. Smart. So, every night she unscrewed the warm bulb, wrapped it in her blanket, and held it close. The warmth lasted about as long as you could say, “Not smart.”

Mimi cut herself off from the source of her comfort. A cage finally had to be put around the bulb so it could stay plugged in and keep her warm.

If we’re honest, you and I may find we’re a bit like Mimi at times—those times when we acknowledge that the Lord is our Source yet remove ourselves from Him and try to go it alone … when we walk past our Bible on our way to look for self-help books … when we forego prayer time to pour our problems out to a friend with a willing ear.

Certainly, books and friends are important. But when trials hit, we don’t want to be half-smart, embracing something that’s been removed from the source. We want to be plugged into the ultimate source of wisdom, truth, and strength:

The Lord is the source of all my righteousness and strength (Isaiah 45:24 NLT).

I will go to…God, the source of all my joy (Psalm 43:4 LT).

He will be the source of peace (Micah 5:5 NLT). 

He is the source of all comfort: (2 Corinthians 1:3 NLT).

Your Word is my source of hope (Psalm 119:114 NLT).                                           

Whenever I find my life in a power-shortage, I think of Mimi, and turn to the Source: “God, the Father, Who is the Source of all things and in Whom we have life. 1 Corinthians 8:6 AMPC

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

About the author:  Sandi Banks is an author and devotional writer for numerous publishing houses. As a storyteller, she draws upon her years of ministry and travel in 40 countries, living abroad, leading Bible studies, and hosting Summit Ministries’ worldview conferences. Her passion is bringing the hope of Christ to hurting women through writing, speaking, and mentoring. Find her at sandibanks.com

Join the conversation: How do you plug in to the Source?


The Importance of Forgiving

by Julie Zine Coleman

When we were dating, my husband had the habit including four or five pink demerit slips he had earned at Bible college in each of his letters to me. At one point I asked him just how many he possessed, since he appeared to be drawing from a never-ending supply. He showed me the stack in the top drawer of his desk. It was impressive.

Now don’t get the wrong idea—they were all for relatively small misdemeanors, like leaving the lights on or the bed unmade. Over time, however, they accumulated into enough of a statement that he was called into the dean’s office to give an account for his actions. Apparently even small infractions, over a long period of time, can add up.

This principle is true in relationships as well. It is why Paul, in describing a godly kind of love, reminded the Corinthians: “[Love is] not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” (1 Corinthians 13:5, NIV) In this simple description, Paul gives powerful preventive medicine for all of our relationships: choosing forgiveness over bitterness.

The Old Man of the Mountain, a massive granite formation which once overlooked Franconia Notch, New Hampshire, stood for thousands of years. It was the state symbol, and beloved enough to earn a place on the New Hampshire state quarter. Thousands of tourists stopped each year on their way up I-93 to take photographs of this famous landmark. But one night in May 2003, during a heavy rain storm, the Old Man formation collapsed into the valley below. What felled such a huge granite structure, after it had stood for thousands of years? Tiny individual molecules of water.

The collapse of the Old Man was a result of small amounts of water seeping into cracks year after year, freezing and expanding, making the fissures just a bit wider each time. Finally, the cracks became wide enough to weaken the entire structure, and the monument crumbled.

Elisabeth Elliot wrote of this principle within the context of marriage: “Marriages break up when ‘small’ things accumulate and resentments build. Love is the intention of unity. Resentment is the destroyer of unity.” Making frequent decisions to forgive is crucial to the health of any relationship.

Easier said than done, you are probably thinking. You are not alone—Peter struggled with this idea as well. “How many times must I forgive?” he asked the Lord. He then offered, “Up to seven times?” Rabbinic standards required forgiving up to three repeated offenses. Peter had more than doubled the standard. Surely seven times, the number denoting completeness, was generous enough.

Jesus surprised Peter with His answer. “Seventy times seven,” he replied. (Matthew 18:21-22)

How can anyone do that? By remembering what God has done for us. An ability to forgive reflects an understanding of how much we have been forgiven ourselves. We choose to love because we know we are loved. We give grace because He has given it to us. And in the process of imitating our Savior, we understand a bit more of what it took for him to bear our sin. Choosing to put ourselves aside in the interest of restoring others is a perfect way to identify with Jesus Christ.

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:31-32 NASB

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


About the authorJulie Zine Coleman helps others to understand and know an unexpected God. A popular conference and retreat speaker, she holds an M.A. in biblical studies. Julie is the managing editor for Arise Daily. When she is not glaring at her computer, she spends time with her grandchildren, gardening, or crafting. More on Julie can be found at her new website JulieZineColeman.com and Facebook.

Many Christian women are torn between the church’s traditional teachings on gender roles and the liberty they experience in secular society. But what if the church’s conventional interpretations aren’t really biblical at all? Julie’s new book, On Purpose, is a careful study of the passages in the Bible often interpreted to limit women in the church, at home, or in the workplace. Each chapter reveals timeless biblical principles that actually teach freedom, not limitation. On Purpose was recently named the Golden Scrolls 2022 Book of the Year.

Join the conversation: What has helped you to be able to forgive past hurts?

Am I Making Music or Noise?

by Edie Melson

I love listening to praise music—recorded or live. It can send my soul soaring as I reconnect with the healing truth that comes only from God. It also anchors that truth in my brain in a way that few other mediums can do. When I hear truth sung, I recall it quicker when a situation arises, even when I don’t feel like singing.

However, a few months ago I had a different musical experience. Sitting in the audience at a familiar venue, I was excited to see a new group make their way on stage. They began strong—great blend, super instrumentals, and an engaging stage presence. Then things began slide downhill. It became obvious they were having trouble hearing each other. The resulting discordant notes sent zigzags of pain along my auditory nerves. On top of that, the drummer and the lead singer were out of sync just enough to make the song jarring instead of inspiring. The crowd around me begin to shuffle uncomfortably, and I watched the audience disconnect.

As I stood there, waiting for the band to recover, God whispered a truth in my soul. This is how My message misses connection when you’re not staying in sync with me.

The thought shook me to the core.

With clarity, I could see that this was a perfect picture of how the world perceives our Christian message when we’re not following God’s path. When we refuse to let the love of Jesus shine through every part of our lives, no matter the circumstances, our message becomes nothing more than jarring discordance.

Reacting in hurt and anger, lashing out at others pulls me out of sync with God. When I don’t listen to God’s prompting, I’m disobedient, and that leads to further disharmony. God’s message no longer rings pure and beautiful, instead it causes those around me to cover their ears and move away from the noise. Instead of reaching out to a hurting world, I end up driving them farther from the truth of God.

That was a lot to chew on.

By the end of the set, the band had fixed the issues and the songs were amazing. As they got back in sync, the audience once again focused in on the music. The earlier issues were forgotten as we engaged with the soaring harmonies and uplifting notes.

Just like me. There are times when God’s message is marred by my lack of sync with Him. But when I return to His beat, the past is forgotten and the truth shines through.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 1 Corinthians 13:1 ESV

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


 About the author: Find your voice, live your story…is the foundation of Edie Melson’s message, whether she’s addressing parents, military families, readers of fiction or writers. As an author, blogger, and speaker, she’s encouraged and challenged audiences across the country and around the world.

Grief is difficult. We all experience it-and we experience it differently. But what if you could break down some of the barriers created by grief? What if you could latch onto ways to engage again with the world around you?

It’s far too easy to be tied to common misconceptions about grief. By reframing those misconceptions, we can learn to give ourselves more grace as we process loss. Each chapter of Soul Care When You’re Grieving is will help you reframe your grief through devotions, prayers, and creative exercises. God designed you uniquely–including how you process loss. Learn to embrace your own personal blueprint for dealing with grief. Find more on Edie on Facebook and Twitter.

Join the conversation: How do you keep yourself in sync with God?

Reading Between the Lines

by Rhonda Rhea

Someone once told me that all crazy women have super-thin eyebrows. I don’t see how I could even begin to argue with that logic. So I pencil. And I pencil strong. I feel I have a lot to prove.

That’s one reason doing makeup in the car is such risky business. One hard stop and a gal could end up with a seriously high eyebrow. No one could ever be as astonished as that kind of brow implies. And please excuse me if the humor here is a bit…ah…highbrow.

The other day, even full-well knowing the risk, I was doing my makeup in the car. My daughter was driving and hit a bad bump at a very crucial eyebrow moment. I immediately shot her a half-angry look. Not because I was really angry. Hey, bumps happen. I gave her the look because suddenly I had one fiercely anger-shaped brow. That’s hard to get rid of. To find some sort of symmetry I had to line and over-line both eyebrows. We’re talking, eyebrows full on. Like, high-beam on. I just combed my bangs extra low and hoped people would read between the lines, as it were. Goofy road-bump.

If anyone knew about bumps in the road, it was Paul. Talk about some hardships. It was enough to furrow any brow. But in Romans 8:18 he tells us that those difficulties were not such a big deal. “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us,” (HCSB).

Difficulties? Temporary. But the glory? It’s forever! Our future is so much brighter than anything dark we could ever encounter here. What hope! A few verses later we read, “Now in this hope we were saved, yet hope that is seen is not hope, because who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with patience,” (vv. 24-25, HCSB).

It reminds us that we live between the times. We can’t see the big picture full-beam. We’re living in that space between the bumps in the road and the glory that awaits. But this we know: we can walk in faith and confidence in the here and now because our Father has a great plan for our future. He is a trustworthy God who keeps His promises. That means we can wait with assurance—eager, yet patient.

That assurance changes our perspective on life and its challenges. We’re able to focus less on the things that won’t matter in eternity and more on the things of God. Jonathan Edwards, great revival preacher of the 1700’s, prayed, “O Lord, stamp eternity on my eyeballs.”

Stamping eternity on our eyeballs is not about pencils or brows. It’s about keeping our eyes God-ward and staying ever-mindful of our future with Him, keeping His holy agenda at the heart of all we do. It keeps us mindful of those around us who need Jesus. It helps us sort out our thinking regarding bumps in the road and everything seen and unseen. We’re in this world, yes, but it’s good to know where to draw the line.

Knowing where to draw the line—yeah, that’s also good for eyebrows.

“…be firm in your faith [against his attack—rooted, established, immovable], knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being experienced by your brothers and sisters throughout the world. [You do not suffer alone.] After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace [who imparts His blessing and favor], who called you to His own eternal glory in Christ, will Himself complete, confirm, strengthen, and establish you [making you what you ought to be]. To Him be dominion (power, authority, sovereignty) forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 5:9-11 AMP

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

About the author: Rhonda Rhea is a TV personality for Christian Television Network and an award-winning humor columnist for great magazines such as HomeLifeLeading HeartsThe Pathway and many more. She is the author of 17 books, including the Fix-Her-Upper books, co-authored with Beth Duewel, and the hilarious novels, Turtles in the Road and Off-Script & Over-Caffeinated, both co-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea. Rhonda lives near St. Louis with her pastor/hubs and has five grown children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

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Got baggage? Ever find yourself lugging around messy spiritual baggage like so much purse clutter? Rhonda’s latest release, Messy to Meaningful: My Purse Runneth Over, will help you stop holding on to what you don’t need and start fighting for what you do. Learn to walk out your faith life less weighed down, lighter, and freer that ever!

Join the conversation: How does knowing God’s promises for our future affect your life today?

Keeping in Step with God’s Purposes

by Patti Richter

Our instructor could leap and spin. And the rest of us would try to keep up with her.

I was somewhat petrified as I signed up for an new exercise class. Not scared stiff—just stiff. A young woman named Raina taught cardio-dance-exercise at a local gym, and her routines incorporated styles from Jazz to Jackson (Michael, that is).

My faithful attendance in Raina’s class for more than a decade made me stronger and more flexible. But then I moved out-of-town, and she was no longer in front of me. I hoped to find someone else who would encourage me to keep moving since I was at risk of gradually becoming stiff again.

But there’s another kind of stiffness to be on guard against. We can see a troubling pattern recorded in the history of several kings of Judah who were pleasing to God only while they had a certain temple priest to instruct them. However, when the priest died, each of these kings started to make unwise and sometimes evil choices. It appears they ruled without accountability, as if they believed themselves either too strong or too wise to fail.

Joash was one of those kings. He “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord all the years of Jehoiada the priest” (2 Chronicles 24:2 NIV). But after Joash began listening to those who were not God-fearing, he abandoned both the temple and the worship of God. The Lord sent someone to warn him of the consequences, but the king was too stiff-necked to repent. After a long, 40-year reign, Joash was murdered by his own officials, and he was not even buried in the tombs of the kings (24:17-25).

Spiritual stiffness may not set in overnight, but it can set in.

Regarding the waywardness of God’s people, the apostle Paul explained, “These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us…. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” (1 Corinthians 10:11-12 NIV).

Speaking of the body of Christ, Paul said, “each one of you is a part of it” (1 Corinthians 12:27 NIV), and God supplies members with a variety of gifts and abilities (v. 28).  Concerning those who lead, Paul wrote, “An overseer is entrusted with God’s work…. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it” (Titus 1:7, 9 NIV).

While we may view church involvement as a dutiful habit, like going to the gym, maybe this isn’t a bad thing. A healthy “body” requires active members who show up. And we benefit from the example of those leaders who, like Paul, show us how to fight the good fight, finish the race, and keep the faith (2 Timothy 4:7).

Few of us can stay spiritually fit on our own. The apostle John wrote, “if we walk in the light, as [God] is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin” (1 John 1:7 NIV).

Christian fellowship necessitates commitment to both serving and submitting ourselves to others. And our participation simultaneously strengthens our soul.

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:24-25 NIV

This article 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.

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: How have you been strengthened by your involvement with other Christians?

New Wineskins

by Marcia Clarke

And no one puts new wine into old wineskins, or else, the new wine bursts the wineskins, the wine is spilled, and the wineskin is ruined. But new wine is put into new wineskins. Mark 2:22 NKJV

I often reflect on this verse and try to better capture its meaning. It’s a lot like when we buy a new pair of shoes but still continue to prefer the old. It’s hard to give up the old to break in the new. Why do we hesitate to accept change. Change is uncomfortable. Change challenges us to adapt to a new lifestyle. A new job, a divorce, welcoming a new baby, or moving to a new neighborhood: it all boils down to hanging on to the old instead of embracing the new.

In the verse above, God is pointing out that when we hang on to the old, we are missing the opportunity to experience the new that he has in mind for us. God has said he knows the plans he has for us (Jeremiah 29:11). There is no use in attaching ourselves to things that no longer serve us. If we hang on to the old, it may cause us needless pain, hold us back, or forfeit our destinies, while he is doing a new thing (Isaiah 43:19).

The fishermen were at sea toiling all night with no catch. Jesus came along and told them to throw their net on the other side (Matthew 4:18-22). The fishermen were using an old method to make their catch, so they doubted that change would be for the better. They were putting new wine into old wineskins. It was far more comfortable to stay in the familiar. But when they tried the new, their net became so loaded with fish, it almost capsized the boat! God’s ways are always best.

Are you giving up something new to stay in the familiar? Let’s look at the way in which Abraham responded to God’s request to move to Canaan. He immediately left his homeland for something new (Genesis 12:1). When God makes a request, we should trust him, seize the moment, and honor his requests. His way is always best.

I recall when God called me to teach, I was working in the medical field and had a very comfortable lifestyle. I couldn’t give up the idea of making less money, but I had no choice but to conform to his will. I never looked back.

Moving forward can be difficult. But the reality is, God has great plans for each one of us. There is no need to hang on to the old. When we hold on to the familiar, we are failing to make room for new things. Proverbs 16:8 tells us it’s better to have a little with righteousness than great gain with iniquity. In other words, the old that we are holding onto does not compare to the little that we have when we let go of the unnecessary things that hold us back. Trust God in your letting go and make room for His new.

Heavenly Father, thank you that you know what is best for me and that you have great plans for me. Help me to let go of old patterns and embrace the new that will lead to growth in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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

About the author: Marcia Clarke writes daily encouragement for meditation and spiritual enrichment. Writing to help people through difficult seasons is her greatest passion. She loves sharing encouragement and practical devotion through her daily blog and enjoys the practice of meditation, yoga, and daily affirmation to create balance in her life. Marcia is the author of Journey to Abundance with content-rich affirmation for your meditation experience. Marcia’s most recent book, Thirty Days of Grace contains prayer for every season. Visit her at her website for more information.

Join the conversation: Are you keeping yourself from God’s best by hanging on to the familiar?

Don’t Lose Your Wonder

by Dana Peters-Colley

Don’t lose your wonder. Oh, did this hit me like a brick! Stay with me as I drop you off my cliff and take you back up to the heights of something wonderful.

You see, jaw dropping anguish has swarmed some people in my close and distant rotation of life. Their sufferings and terrible choices have brought catastrophic trouble. One had a heart attack, another a devastating car crash. Then, I recently discovered an old friend from high school passed away ten years ago. But the biggest hit: Someone close to me has mental issues and wound up in jail. It’s been horrific. I’ve been praying through it all, and many days Jesus has carried me. Oh, I’m so grateful to know him in all this.

After waking up this morning, I put on some worship music and headed out to my porch. There’s a spot where I sit surrounded by lush green trees and blooming flowers. Then, a song kissed the air and the words sent fragrances from heaven. Plop! My ears perked up, and I stopped. Fantastic instructions in the music: Don’t lose your wonder!

I had been in the trenches. I had been at war. But those words resonated. No matter the bad things going down, don’t lose it. Just don’t. Don’t lose your wonder.

My eyes blinked. I took a deep sigh. I breathed in slowly. The wonder. There is life, and it’s here. The sky. The clouds. The children across the way on swings. Yes, even birds chirped, and a neighborhood cat visited.

Note to self: Do not lose your wonder!

Jesus died so we would live. His words, like sticks of dynamite, blow up what the enemy tries to sling. We don’t have to stay in dark places. We live in the light.

In John 10:10, Jesus says, “I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly” (emphasis mine; NASB). He didn’t say must have. He didn’t say should. We are offered the opportunity to find Him and make Him our residence.

To get the full impact of this, let’s look at one word of that verse of Scripture, the Greek word, perissos. The peri part means all. The word literally describes abundant, but it also means all-around excess.

Hit the road, Jack! I’m in. Spectacular news, don’t you think? All-around excess is the abundant life I might tap into no matter what’s swirling around me.

That’s what I want, what about you?

No matter what tornados hit my doorstep, if I abide in Christ and live from the wisdom of the Word, it will all work out. I can do this assignment and seek God for my part.

Now let’s zero in on wonder so we don’t lose it. I think wonder lives in Christ. Wonder is the awe of it all. The extreme luxurious world God created and poured out for us to experience. It’s that abundance we were created to encounter. Discovery. Mystery. Adventure. All of that resides in wonder—the spark of life. Our senses come alive with God in our midst.

We can rest, open our Bibles, and discover Jesus right inside the Word. We can encounter the supernatural wonder that pours out: the revelation; the understanding; the wisdom. It’s all in Jesus. And it’s wonderful.

Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away.  Matthew 24:35 NASB  

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

About the author: Dana Peters-Colley is a creative who loves Jesus. She has been tucked away developing a brand of Christian parable books, faith-based fiction, and inspirational books as well as screenplays. Dana holds a B.A. in journalism, studied screenwriting at U.C.L.A., and is a former long-time Disney creative leader and producer. When the Lord got ahold of Dana everything marvelously changed. She is developing a heavenly-inspired brand line that brings stories to build family, inspire discovery, and teach kingdom ways. See danapeterscolley.com to connect to her spiritual blog and gaze at her adventures.

Do you have a friend you want to receive Jesus into their lives? Do you want to receive how much God loves and values you? Do you want to be empowered to do the impossible? Then, you have to know who you are! Treasure will take you into the realization of God’s love for you as you discover you are His treasure.

Join the Conversation: How do you keep a sense of wonder in your heart?

The Unexpected Frustration of Aging

by Debbie Wilson

Those watching me heave a carry-on suitcase into a plane’s overhead bin wouldn’t believe I was the arm-wrestling champion of our 5th grade class. The legs that earned me a blue ribbon for speed, in my 6th grade, city-wide relay competition, and scaled any tree with ease, almost failed me when I took the second step of a stepladder with no hands.

I am painfully aware I’m no longer fast, strong, or young. What happened?

Aging not only brings limitations, it taps fears when our limbs—and mind—lose the speed and strength we’ve learned to depend on. The recent experience of some friends reminded me that the challenges that unnerve us don’t surprise God. He never leaves us.

My friend’s husband slipped during a vacation and injured his back. Instead of getting better, the pain grew worse. After numerous doctors’ visits and tests, he heard the news no one wants to hear. Cancer. Of the bones. And he needed back surgery.

The surgery left this formerly active husband and father with a back brace and a cane. His wife struggled with responsibilities he’d previously carried with ease. Sometimes the loss of the life they’d taken for granted and the frustration over lack of youthful strength boiled over.

One such day, she fumed to herself and her husband as she hurled boxes that contained a lifetime of accumulated junk and memories into the dumpster at the local junk yard. “Why didn’t we prepare for old age before it was so hard?”

In her rant, her keys sailed with her belongings into the huge dumpster. Suddenly my friend’s frustration turned to desperation—and then to God. “Lord, forgive me for complaining. Please have mercy and rescue my keys!”

Halfway down, the keys dangled from protruding trash. She asked two burly men, “Please, would you crawl in and rescue my keys?”

One man fished out a long pole with an attached magnet and snagged the keys. “No problem.”

Has weakness, frustration, or lack of planning dropped you into the middle of a mess? Have your limits or those of someone you love raised fears for the future? We can’t predict or prepare for everything. But we can take refuge in the One who cares enough to rescue even lost keys, for He has promised:

Even to your old age and gray hairs; I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you” (Is. 46:4 NIV).

Lord Jesus, thank You for Your many promises. I choose to trust you to rescue me in my stumbles and carry me when I can’t walk. Amen.

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

About the author: Debbie W. Wilson is an ordinary woman with an extraordinary God. Drawing from her personal walk with Christ, twenty-four years as a Christian counselor, and decades as a Bible teacher, Debbie writes and speaks to connect sojourners to the heart of Christ. She and her husband Larry founded Lighthouse Ministries, a nonprofit ministry offering life and relationship counseling and Bible studies. Despite time in Boston, the Midwest, and Southern California, she still says y’all. Her family, which includes two mischievous standard poodles, calls North Carolina home. Find free resources to refresh your faith and connect with Debbie at debbieWwilson.com.

Join the conversation: What fears do you have about aging?

One Thing I Want

by Cindi McMenamin

I recently went to God with my shopping list.

I asked for His provision over a financial matter. I asked for His healing over my daughter’s medical condition. I asked for His peace over a situation that was causing me to become restless. I asked for His wisdom in an issue that my husband and I weren’t in agreement upon.

My list was long, and I was exhausted after recounting it all to God.

Then my devotional reading that morning took me to Psalm 27 in which the Psalmist said:

“I have asked one thing from the Lord; it is what I desire: to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
gazing on the beauty of the Lord and seeking Him in His temple” (Psalm 27:4 CSB).

There were lots of things I was asking of God that morning. But the Psalmist asked for only one thing: to dwell in God’s presence and gaze upon His beauty.

I realized, then, that if seeking God had been my one request – my only request – I would not have needed anything else I’d been praying for:

  • If His presence was what I sought first, I would’ve had the confidence that He is my Provider, both financially and otherwise.
  • If His character was all that I sought, I would’ve had the peace of mind that He is the Great Physician for whatever my daughter’s medical condition.
  • And if His glory was my chief desire, I would’ve had the perspective that He is the Healer of hurts and the Redeemer of all things, when it came to my disappointed, restless heart and the matter that was robbing me of peace.

Jesus said, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33 NIV).

The rest of my prayer that morning became: Simplify my heart, Lord, to have just one request: to know You and dwell with You intimately.

Can you simplify your long list of requests to include just one — to know Him and dwell with Him intimately? When He becomes all that you and I want, we will have all that we’ve ever needed.

Lord, trim my list. Bring me into focus with the one thing that truly matters – my relationship with You. Help me to be satisfied with You alone and to realize that when I have you, I have everything I could possibly need.   

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

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About the author: Cindi McMenamin is an award-winning writer and national speaker who helps women strengthen their relationship with God and others. She is the author of 16 books including When Women Walk Alone (more than 120,000 copies sold), God’s Whispers to a Woman’s Heart, and Drama Free: Finding Peace When Emotions Overwhelm You. For more on her books and ministry, and free resources to strengthen your soul, marriage, and parenting, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.

Join the conversation: What would you name as your number one prayer request?

Cornbread and Faith

by Crystal Bowman

For more than a decade I was a mentor for MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers). I loved meeting with moms who were facing the challenging role of motherhood. I tried to encourage them with words of advice, affirmation, and some much-needed hugs.

Those young moms arrived sleep deprived and hungry for both food and fellowship. Our gourmet breakfast spread with egg souffles, French toast casseroles, yogurt parfaits, and cranberry muffins was the best way to kick off each meeting. The moms took turns bringing the food; and as a mentor, I would often get a last-minute phone call to please bring a dish since one of the moms (or her child) was sick. I kept a stash of mixes in my pantry just for that reason.

One morning, I received the 911 call that more food was needed for the breakfast table, so I opened my box of cornbread mix and added the milk, oil, and eggs. In a few minutes the cornbread was in the oven and soon the sweet aroma engulfed my kitchen. The moms will love this, I thought as I pulled the Pyrex dish from the oven and headed out the door.

I placed the 9×13 glass dish on the buffet table and set a table knife beside it. If my cornbread could talk, it would have said, “Help yourself.” But here’s the thing—almost nobody did. I went home later with nearly a full dish.

A few months later I received the call once again. My pantry stash was running low, and the only thing I could whip up in a hurry was another dish of cornbread. This time, however, I tried something different. Rather than placing the Pyrex dish on the table with uncut cornbread, I cut the cornbread into squares and neatly arranged them on a silver platter lined with a paper doily. I placed a small card next to the platter that read, “Mama’s Southern Cornbread.”

I went home with an empty platter!

The cornbread was exactly the same, but the presentation made all the difference. And that got me thinking about my life and how I live out my faith.

The Apostle Paul instructed the early Christians to imitate Jesus. Crowds had followed Jesus because they were drawn to Him and the way He treated everyone, even sinners, with love and compassion. He reminded those in Ephesus, You are the children that God dearly loves. So follow his example. Lead a life of love, just as Christ did. He loved us. He gave himself up for us. He was a sweet-smelling offering and sacrifice to God (Ephesians 5:1-2 NIRV).

If non-believers see our lives as dull, unfriendly, or uninviting, why would they want to know more about our faith? But if we follow Jesus’ example of loving others with kindness, gentleness, and authenticity, others may be drawn to us and interested in learning more about our faith in Him.     

Living and loving as Jesus did is not something we can learn to do overnight. To live like Him, we need to know Him more. As we spend time in the Word and pray for the Holy Spirit to fill us with power and wisdom, our faith will grow—and it will show in the way we live.

So, the question I ask myself is this: Am I serving my faith in a Pyrex dish that says, “Help yourself,” or is my life of faith an irresistible, sweet aroma served on a silver platter?

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen. 2 Peter 3:18 NIV

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.

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: How has your faith grown in the past year? How has your life reflected that growth?