The Other Disciple

by Sheri Schofield

Have you ever noticed how much we rely on artists to interpret Scripture for us? For example, we’ve all seen pictures of Mary riding into Bethlehem on the back of a donkey with Joseph leading it.

Reality check: Mary was very pregnant. Pregnant women should never ride horses or donkeys because it can induce labor.

As I illustrated my children’s book on salvation, I had to think through the Bible stories a little more deeply. Mary and Joseph were not taking a quick trip to Bethlehem and planning to return to Nazareth. No. They were moving. The trip was 90 miles. They would have taken wood for fires, cooking pots, water jars, food, bedding, hay for the animals, clothing, and Joseph’s tools for carpentry, for starters. They would have needed a cart, probably an ox cart. They would not have traveled alone. In those days, they would have joined others for protection from bandits.

So, you see, our cherished Bible pictures are not always accurate. I was determined to provide illustrations which showed truth, because that makes a difference in how we understand the Bible.

One day I needed to illustrate the road to Emmaus. Two disciples, Cleopas and “another disciple”, were traveling from Jerusalem to their home in Emmaus. They were in turmoil over what had happened that weekend. Jesus was crucified. Yes, they agreed on that. But did Jesus rise from the dead? One disciple was adamant Jesus was still dead. The other insisted he was alive.

Jesus joined them, probably wearing the typical headgear of the day. They didn’t recognize him, for reasons we do not know. He told them of the resurrection prophecies. They invited him into their home for a meal. As he blessed the food for them, they suddenly recognized the Lord, who promptly disappeared.

Famous paintings always showed Jesus with two men. But was that true? Who really was that other disciple?

I went back to the stories of the crucifixion. John 19:25 it tells us Mary, the wife of Cleophas stood at the cross with Jesus’ mother and Mary Magdalene. Some Mark 16:1 commentaries suggest one of the women at the empty tomb of Jesus may have been Mary the wife of Cleophas. Three women are named: Mary, Jesus’ mother, plus Mary (probably the wife of Cleophas) and Salome (probably Mary’s sister) went to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body and wrap it in spices. The angel told them, “Jesus is not here. He is risen!”

Would Cleophas have left his wife in Jerusalem? No! She would have traveled that road home with him. Mary had already heard about the resurrection. But Cleophas doubted her report. Thomas was not the only doubting disciple!

Some Bible scholars have noted that Jesus made sure the women who stood at his cross were the first to know of his resurrection. Announcements to the men came later.

Once I was sure of the facts, I illustrated the story of the Road to Emmaus with Mary the wife of Cleophas as the other disciple.

Jesus valued women. He treasured those who stood at his cross as he suffered and died for the sins of the world. Of his twelve disciples, only one man, John, stood with the women.

Jesus took note.

Are you serving Jesus without notice or appreciation by others? Jesus values our gifts, our sacrifices for his sake. He is still taking note, and that is enough for me. I serve the King of kings. He sees me.

Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do,
you will have no reward from your Father in heaven … But when you give to the needy, do not
let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then
your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
Matthew 6:1, 3, 4 (NIV).

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

About the author: Sheri Schofield, award-winning author and Bible teacher, has added a new way to share faith in Jesus: Her latest book, Before You Find Me, is a contemporary romantic suspense featuring a strong Christian who faces a crisis that tests her courage. Tara, a freshman at West Texas A&M whose parents are dead, learns that her younger sister witnessed a murder. To protect her siblings, she must spirit them out of Texas before the murderer learns there was a witness to his act. Tara has one day in which to act. Can she do it? She remembers a family ranch in Montana…and Ben, the boy next-door, who captured her heart once. Will he still be there? Will he help her protect her family now? This book entertains while it presents godly responses to danger and struggles. Sometimes fiction can draw people closer to God when they will not be drawn by nonfiction. Before You Find Me is available at

Join the conversation: Have you ever felt undervalued in your service to the Lord?


Come to the Garden

by Cheri Cowell

For the past month, I’ve been working in the garden. A neighbor down the street offered mulch if we’d come to get it from her driveway. After the project, the bed looked so pretty with the new mulch, but my azaleas, hydrangeas, orchids, and gardenias weren’t blooming yet.

I wanted flowers blooming that day, but I needed to wait. Just like my garden, I’ve come through a dark, cold, and bleak winter. With the first hint of spring, I need to weed and prepare my beds, but I want flowers now. The Lord says, “Wait.” Flowers will come, but not yet. The truth is my flowering plants don’t bloom on new growth, only on the old. That means the plants needed to go through the cold and harsh winter to be ready to produce flowers in the spring.

One of my favorite hymns, In the Garden, was written in 1913 by Austin Miles and is based upon John 20:16-18. Mary had come for the unpleasant task of anointing the body. She’d come to the garden alone, while the dew was still on the roses.

Three days prior, a horrific storm had pelted the landscape, and nothing looked the same. The cold, harsh winter appeared to be there still, but hints of Spring abounded. Yet, Mary couldn’t see it. Over the last three days, weeds had no doubt grown thick in her mind. The weeds of fear, confusion, despair, and hopelessness had taken root.

So, Mary came alone to the one place she knew she could think clearly, by her Master’s side. Yet, even by His side Mary was so tangled in her weeds that when the angels spoke to her, she asked about the weeds. “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” 

Have you felt those same weeds choking your vision? Have you gone through a dark winter and cannot see any signs of Spring? Have you come to the side of Jesus and still can’t see clearly?

When the Risen Christ stood beside her, Mary couldn’t see Him. I used to think I would’ve seen Him, until I realized I miss Him every day. I miss Him sending me His love and comfort. I miss Him whispering in my ear which step I’m to take, and I, like Mary, focus on the weeds instead of the flowers. The questions I ask are wrong because I cannot see the Lord right in front of me.

Then Jesus spoke her name, “Mary.” At that glorious moment, the weeds vanished. Her name never sounded so sweet. And the voice she heard falling on her ear, The Son of God discloses.

Why did Jesus appear to Mary and not the others? Could it be that Mary tarried there? Mary stayed in the garden; she didn’t run. She didn’t hide. She didn’t go off to make things happen or figure it out. I’d stay in the garden with Him. ‘Tho the night around me be falling…

As the hymn and God’s Word mingled together in my mind, I realized I needed to get my life’s garden ready for spring. Maybe you are with me in this. We must do some weeding and remove doubt, confusion, despair, and hopelessness. How? We come to the garden alone, not because we are alone there—but we come to prepare the beds by asking questions even while realizing that most of our questions are weed-focused. God understands, but He tells us to keep asking, to stay in the garden. Again, why?

Because you and I know that eventually, our eyes will be opened, and Jesus will call our name. There in that sacred place, the flowers will bloom. We must tarry there, not because God needs us to, but because it is the only way to hear His voice and learn His ways. There in the garden He walks with me. And He talks with me. And He tells me I am His own. And the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known…

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

About the author: Cheri Cowell is the author of Direction: Discernment for the Decisions of Your Life and Parables and Word Pictures Bible study in the Following God series.

Join the conversation: When was the last time you “stayed in the garden”?

Thank a Veteran

by Fran Sandin

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13 ESV

My husband, Jim, and I had been married for one year when he completed his medical internship and involuntarily joined the military service. He chose the Air Force. We bought furniture, and I had stitched the last curtain for our modest house on the AF base, when he received orders to leave for Southeast Asia. He was ultimately assigned as the medical officer for an engineering squadron in Cam Ranh Bay, South Viet Nam.

Before the days of convenient videos and cell phones, we communicated by letters and cassette tapes that took forever to send and receive. I sent homemade cookies that arrived as crumbs but were eaten anyway. It was a long year, but we were so thankful God brought Jim home.

My brief two-year experience as a military wife caused me to consider the significance of Memorial Day, a federal holiday that has been observed annually for 154 years in honor of the U.S. Armed Forces personnel who have died in service to our country. Many wives, mothers, and other family members were not as fortunate as I.

An even greater appreciation of the impact of war occurred when in 2004, Jim and I were invited to join the World War II Veteran’s Committee on a European trip to commemorate D-Day. While there we heard an elderly glider pilot tell his story. On June 5th, the night before the American Forces landed at Normandy, six British Halifax bombers, each towing a Horsa glider, left from England. They flew over the English Channel through thick cloud cover in the dark at 7,000 feet toward France. The goal was to capture and secure the Pegasus Bridge and the Ranville Bridge to prevent German counterattacks during Operation Overlord.

The glider pilot said they didn’t know exactly where they were, but at 6,000 feet and the estimated time, the gliders were cut loose. Dark clouds suddenly parted and a full moon shined on the silver Caen Canal, and the Pegasus Bridge. The first three gliders landed near the bridge; the British 6th Airborne Division quickly emerged to strategically take control the area as the Americans were landing on the beaches. Amazing. Only God could have opened those clouds at just the right time. The Ranville Bridge was also seized and protected.

Our tour continued to the beautiful Normandy Memorial site. The wife of a WWII survivor, with an American flag draped over her shoulder, sang acapella “Amazing Grace” and then “God Bless America.” Tears flowed as we viewed 9,000 white crosses, each representing a young man in his late teens or early twenties who fought gallantly for America’s freedom. I was reminded of the verse: “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends (John 15: 13 ESV).

Commentator Paul Harvey once said, “The free are never out of debt to the brave.”Without their sacrifice, we would not have the freedom to vote and other freedoms we enjoy today. Let us thank God and then thank a veteran on this day of remembrance.

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

About the author: Fran Sandin is a retired nurse, organist, mother, and grandmother living in Greenville, Texas. She and her husband, Jim, have traveled to many countries and states. Her latest book, Hope on the Way, Devotions to Go– contains 52 devotionals for those who love to combine faith and adventure. Visit her website to order with a click on the home page fransandin.comHope on the Way has been nominated by Joy and Company in Arlington, Texas, for the Henri Award (for outstanding Christian Literature) both in the Devotional and Christian Living sections.

Join the conversation: Who would you like to thank on this Memorial Day?


by Dr. Sharon Norris Elliott

Unfortunately, from time to time, we hear of churches splitting. One group is ticked off by what another group has done, the older folks like hymns while the younger folks like praise choruses, or the pastor makes a decision that sends a faction into a tizzy. This shameful phenomenon is nothing new; we’ve been separating almost as long as we’ve been the church. According to an internet article entitled “Christian Denominations: The History and Evolution of Christian Denominations and Faith Groups,” author Mary Fairchild says:

“There are numerous ways to dissect the many Christian faith groups. They can be separated into fundamentalist or conservative, mainline, and liberal groups. They can be characterized by theological belief systems such as Calvinism and Arminianism. And lastly… Christians can be categorized into a vast number of denominations.”

Yes, the Eastern Orthodox folks broke away from the Roman Catholic Church. Then the Protestant Reformation came along and the Lutherans started. The Methodists separated from them and the Baptists separated from them and on and on it goes. I’m sure the people who orchestrated each split felt they had sound reasons to do so, but any way you cut it (no pun intended), the final outcome was division.

Just before Jesus went to the Cross, He prayed for us. One of the key points He made to the Father was about unity. He prayed:

“Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are… I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me” John 17:11, 20-23 (NKJ, emphasis added).

Look at that: five times Jesus emphasized His desire for our unity with one another and with Him and His Father. This is important stuff.

I’ve seen the beginnings of what unity looks like here on earth. Instead of splitting, my church merged with another church. Folks from the two congregations are getting to know one another, and we’re looking forward to growing together as believers and to working together as a family in the Lord’s vineyard. I consider this to be one small example of what Heaven’s going to be like. John saw it in the Revelation:

“…the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb… And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation…” Revelation 5:8-9 (NKJ).

Do you see that? Jesus has redeemed folks “out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation.” There will be no denominational flag-waving marches in Glory. Jesus’ blood unites all believers. We might as well get used to it down here because we’ll all be in Heaven together – forever.

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

About the author: “Live significantly!” That’s the inspiring message of Sharon Norris Elliott, award-winning author, editor, agent, engaging speaker, and licensed minister. Author of 15 books, and associated with several prestigious organizations such as AWSA, ACE, and, Sharon is also co-director of the WCCW conference. She is founder/CEO of AuthorizeMe® Consulting, Coaching, & Editing Firm and Literary Agency.

Sharon’s latest release, Didn’t See That Coming: When How They’re Living is Not How You Raised Them does its best to encourage parents of adult children when those grown folks make announcements about lifestyle choices that throw those parents for a real loop. Through introducing “care-frontation,” Dr. Elliott eases parents into the conversations they’d like to have with their adult kids. This book is heartfelt, timely, and scripturally sound.

Join the conversation: Has division in the church impacted you personally?

Looking Back to Our Future Deliverance

by Kathy Howard

Some years ago, some Jewish friends invited us to join them for Seder, the ceremonial meal that begins the Passover festival. Passover commemorates God’s deliverance of His people from slavery in Egypt. This is the meal Jesus ate with His disciples in the upper room on the night He was betrayed. Christians call this event “the last supper.”

Before the meal, we dipped parsley in salt water and bitter herbs. The bitter herbs remind Seder participants of the harshness of the Jews’ life in Egypt. The salt water reflects the tears they shed and the waters of the Red Sea. The parsley represents the hyssop used to brush the blood of the sacrificial lamb on the door posts of the homes of God’s people. Then, when God brought His final plague on Egypt – the death of every firstborn male – He would pass over every home marked by blood.

My husband and I clearly saw Christ evident in every aspect of the Seder, not just in the lamb itself. Every symbol, every word, every element pointed to Him and His sacrifice. One thing in particular caught my interest. Three pieces of matzah – unleavened bread – are included to symbolize the haste of the Jews departure from Egypt. At the beginning of the meal, the middle of the three matzahs is broken in half. The larger half, called the afikomen, is wrapped in a cloth and hidden away. At the end of the meal, the afikomen is brought out or found by the children, broken into smaller pieces and distributed to the Seder participants who then eat it together.

The whole evening was both beautiful and sobering. We were awed by God’s clear portrait of Christ and His salvation in a ceremony instituted by God more than a millennium before His sacrificial death. But we were saddened that our friends missed it. They didn’t see the “Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29) on their table. They missed the burial and resurrection of Jesus in the afikomen.

However, Jesus clearly connected the elements of the Passover Seder to His imminent suffering and death. Jesus broke the matzah, the bread that symbolized His broken body. He shared the cup of wine – His blood spilled out for many. Jesus had fulfilled the Old Covenant. Now, His death established the New Covenant between God and His people.

The Passover Seder not only looked back to God’s physical deliverance of His people, it also pointed forward to His ultimate spiritual deliverance. On the night of His arrest, Jesus graciously instituted the Lord’s Supper to help us look back on His sacrificial death, as well as forward to His return.

…and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”  In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.        1 Corinthians 11:24-26, ESV

The slain lamb of the first Passover in Egypt was a substitute sacrifice. The life of the lamb instead of the life of the firstborn. A life for a life; a sacrifice for sin. But the animal sacrifice was merely a temporary place holder. The blood of animals is not sufficient to forever provide forgiveness of sins (Hebrews 10:4). But Jesus – the sinless Son of God – is our perfect, eternal Passover lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7). We were ransomed from slavery to sin with “the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect” (1 Peter 1:19, NIV). One sacrifice for all time. And Jesus is coming again to claim His own!

This post is adapted from Kathy Howard’s devotional “Deep-Rooted: Growing through the Gospel of Mark.”

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

About the author: Kathy Howard is a treasure hunter. She hunts for the creamiest chocolate, richest coffee, and cherished stories of faith. She also digs deep into Scripture, mining God’s eternal truths. Kathy has a Masters in Christian Education and has taught the Bible for more than 30 years in a wide variety of venues. She is the author of 12 books, including “Heirloom: Living and Leaving a Legacy of Faith” and the “meaty” devotional series “Deep Rooted.”

Kathy and her husband live in north Texas. They have three married children, six grandchildren, and one accidental dog. Find free discipleship resources at

Have you lost the wonder of your salvation? Maybe you’ve forgotten the abundant riches of God’s grace. The Gospel isn’t just a statement of faith. It is more than hope for eternity. The Gospel of Jesus is the power of God for your life today. Recapture the awe of your life in Christ with this 40-day pilgrimage: Deep Rooted: Growing through the Book of Romans.

Join the conversation: What does the Lord’s Supper mean to you?

How Does Your Conversation Taste?

by Lyneta Smith

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:6 NIV

I don’t know anyone who enjoys being crammed into a big metal tube in the sky.

Traveling from North Carolina to Pullman, Washington, is an all-day endeavor. Last time I took that trip, I stopped for two layovers. Since I traveled by myself, I decided to splurge on first-class tickets. I had no idea what to expect besides a bit more comfort.

At the tail end of the pandemic, airlines struggled. Delays and cancellations were the norm rather than the exception, and my first flight took off over an hour late. I worried about missing my connection. When we landed, I had fifteen minutes to sprint across a huge airport, only to find another delay.

Once onboard that second flight, I sat in my front-row seat next to a well-dressed man, who grumbled with other boarding passengers about the delay and the airline. I silently prayed I’d make my next connection, and for the poor flight attendant, whose job I did not envy. As the men around me continued to gripe, I considered asking if I could move to a more comfortable place, perhaps between two crying babies in coach.

Halfway through the flight, my seatmate stopped carping about the airline and began to tell me all about his Important Job as an evangelist, one who’d shared the gospel all around the world—even in Africa. (Everyone knows all the extra spiritual people do mission work in Africa.)

I gave polite answers and didn’t work to engage him in any more conversation than I had to. After a week-long conference, I had a hard time thinking of polite things to say.

When we landed, I followed my disgruntled seatmate up the ramp and scooted around him for another sprint across the airport. Though I soon found there was no need to worry since my third flight was also delayed.

After we finally boarded, the flight crew prepared to leave and, to my relief, shut the doors. I’d heard many times that once the doors are closed no late passengers can board. But this is not always true. A huge group arrived late on another flight and the airline asked our captain to wait for them. So, the doors opened again, and we waited some more. I braced myself for another flight full of disgruntled first-class passengers.

But the grumbling never happened. I listened to pleasant conversation around me while the flight attendants served beverages. After forty-five minutes, the first of about 20 passengers from another flight boarded. They all sported tans and wore straw hats and shorts or sundresses. A burst of applause erupted in first class.

Weary tropical-island travelers smiled as they passed through the aisle, saying, “Thank you for your patience.”

“Glad you made it,” replied someone across the aisle from me.

It would have been easy to gripe about flight schedules and how it must be nice to take a luxurious vacation. But instead, we greeted our late coming fellow passengers with a warm welcome. We were all in this big tube in the sky together, after all.

Two flights, two distinct flavors.

Jesus explained that a good tree is recognized by its fruit, and likewise, “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him (Matthew 12:33, 35 NIV). We have it in our power to affect the taste we leave in others’ mouths by seasoning our words. Gratitude rather than grumbling. Grace rather than grouchiness.

Paul spoke to all of us who follow Christ, saying, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen (Ephesians 4:29 NIV).

When we choose grace, we make a palatable impression on an often-bitter world.

About the author: Lyneta Smith is the author of Curtain Call: A Memoir and several other stories and articles in publications such as Chicken Soup for the Soul, Heart Renovation, Clubhouse, Jr., Refresh Bible Study Magazine, and Living Light News. She and her husband are happy empty-nesters who live in Middle Tennessee. When she’s not writing or editing for clients, you can find her playing with her sweet grandsons or down at the local coffee shop chatting with friends. 

Join the conversation: Have you ever had the chance to season a conversation with grace? What was the response?

It All Belongs to Him

by Crystal Bowman

The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.  Psalm 24:1 NIV

King David’s words in Psalm 24:1 have always given me goosebumps. It’s one of my favorite Bible verses. Can any statement be simpler and yet more profound? King David sums it up in a nutshell. No room for debate—just the plain and simple, powerful truth! It all belongs to Him—and so do we.   

I have always been a lover of nature—and the Creator of it all. Even as a child, I saw God’s presence in the vast, endless sky, colorful flowers, and the mighty roar of Lake Michigan’s waves. In the fall I used to watch busy squirrels gathering acorns and hiding them away for the long, cold months ahead. (I never wondered how the squirrels knew when it was time to prepare for winter. It was obvious to me—God told them!) And the first snowflake of the season was almost as fun as Christmas morning. My childlike faith was once again affirmed—I knew only God could make a snowflake.

 As an adult, I love going for walks—all by myself. Whether I walk the neighborhood streets, a wooded trail, or sandy shores, I see God all around me. The sky, the clouds, the birds, the trees, and even a wiggly worm on the sidewalk, remind me that God made them and owns them all.

I love talking to God as I take my stroll. I call it my “walk” with God. It’s so natural and easy to talk to Him when He feels close. One day when I was walking in my neighborhood, the sky was thick with white and gray swirling clouds. A tiny break in the clouds allowed a narrow sunbeam to touch the ground where I stood. It was one of those divine moments when I felt God revealing His glory just to me. I was humbled and thought, Who am I, Lord, that you would show yourself to me? God replied, You, are mine. I love you.

David felt close to God when he was in nature, too. In Psalm 8:3-8 (NIV) he writes, “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor. You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet: all flocks and herds, and the animals of the wild, the birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.”

David was in awe and humbled that God, who has the power to create the world, also cared about him. 

God created the world and everything in it, not only for His glory, but also for our enjoyment, and He trusts us to oversee His creation. As I soak in the pleasure of being surrounded by nature, my heart fills with praise to the God who made it all and who owns it all.

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 he stars!

Join the conversation. How do you see God in His creation?

There’s Just Something in the Air

by Amber Weigand-Buckley

Be astounded. For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if I told. Habakkuk 1:5 ESV.

I love nostalgia. I’m easily caught up in photo albums and listening to family members talk about days gone by.

There is such comfort thinking about a time that didn’t require locking the front door for safety. That level of “trusting your neighbor” seems pretty attractive. And yet I do realize it wasn’t a completely idyllic time period. It is difficult for me to think about living during government-mandated segregation or without the right to vote.

There was a day many decades ago when my Christian father was told the mental health meds he needed weren’t necessary, and he should just pray through his illness. Our entire family suffered because he, like many, struggled silently. Life is tough enough without feeling like you have to “keep up appearances.”

I certainly don’t diminish anything happening now, either. Even today, I can look back at a younger and thinner Amber, who had a whole life ahead of her. However, even in those times, I still walked through some pretty dark and scary things that I NEVER want to go back through.

Those look-back moments remind me of Lot’s wife, taking one last glimpse of the city and what she was leaving behind. That fleeting and final glance ended her life. She couldn’t trust that what was ahead of her was better.

And we do the same thing.

Our lack of trust in God can really get us into trouble. It becomes problematic when we look back and wish we could return to it. When we reminisce about the past, both good and bad, it’s important to remember God’s faithfulness through every moment that is yet to come.

God has reminded me of Habakkuk 1:5 over and over again through the past few years. As I breathe it in, He uses it to strengthen, challenge and stretch me: God wants us to be astounded. To live astounded. He is doing something new. HE IS the new-every-morning-I’ll-do-it-again-and-even-better-than-you-expected-just-trust-me God!

Friends, we don’t have to lament the final service of a revival, because God says, What I’ve done, I’ll do again—and even more significantly.

Moreover, we must remain in a posture that says, “God, I’m looking forward to today and every step beyond because you’re going to lavishly pour out Your Spirit in bigger, beyond-revival ways.”

I don’t want to put limits on how He can astound me. Let’s get excited about moving forward to embrace His bigger and better. He’s just that good.

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

About the author: Amber Weigand-Buckley is the editor and art director for Leading Hearts magazine (

Her latest release with co-author Lisa Burris Burns, Leading Ladies: Discover Your God-Grown Strategy for Success (Bold Vision Books), is available May 30th wherever books are sold. Get a free download of project single “Lead Me On” from Michaelah Weaver of The Keepers Co. Find out more at and @leadingladieslife on social.

Join the conversation: How has God amazed you lately?

Why We Need to Listen More and Answer Less

by Debb Hackett

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. John 10:27 NIV

I know you know the feeling. You’re sitting or standing, working, or playing peacefully, and an idea drops into your mind. You dismiss it. And then it appears at the forefront of your thoughts, a little more developed this time. Once more you push it away. You’d be laughed at or proven wrong if you did this thing. People might even think you’d lost your mind. But by the time you’ve decided you’re losing your mind, the idea has morphed into a firmly formed plan, and you know with certainty (along with a vaguely nauseous feeling), that you’re doing it.

This happens to me every time I encounter the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Unless it’s to bake or cook for someone. Then I cheer and pull out my measuring cups. Typically, though, I’m called to act out of my comfort zone.

Most recently, this involved organizing a financial blessing. Not funding it, just arranging it and helping to deliver. But I hemmed and hawed over it for several weeks. I gave the Lord my answer, explaining the recipient was fairly independent and extremely generous themselves. I told him my worries about the gift being rejected and about my own popularity, should that happen. Somewhere, I suspect my spiritual ancestors were shaking their heads. Especially the Apostle John.

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. John 10:27 NIV

The truth is, I did know whose voice it was. But instead of worshipping with my obedience to that voice, I let my earthly hands cover my ears while yelling “la la la.” Finally, worn down after learning more information to fuel this blessing, I spoke up. I expected failure at every turn (several things needed to line up). Instead, everything fell into place. The blessing was delivered.

Several days passed. Tick tock, tick tock. No word from the destination of the funds. Then finally, a message. The situation I’d been hoping to ease was far worse than I’d realized and just that day, the beneficiary hadn’t known how a certain need would be met. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit peeled my hands off my ears long enough to hear His a swift, verbal kick in the pants.

As I mentioned, I wasn’t the source of these funds, merely the person who got to deliver them. The Lord has people in our lives he wants us to bless on his behalf, sometimes solo and sometimes as a team. We don’t need to be fabulous chefs or wealthy philanthropists. The only requirements are ears ready to listen and hands ready to act.

Can I encourage you to take a moment and ask the Lord what he has for you to do today? Then listen, and let your actions be your answer.

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

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:

Join the conversation: Is the Lord urging you to do something? How will you answer His call?

Am I a Doubting Thomas?

by Debbie Wilson

“Please don’t play rough in the living room. You’re going to break something.” A loud crash told me my words to my husband and son had fallen on deaf ears. I spun ’round to see my favorite planter laying in pieces on the floor.

Have you ever predicted an unpleasant consequence, sounded the alarm, and then suffered the consequences when your warning was ignored? Why can’t we stop what we can see coming? Why won’t others listen?

I imagine Jesus’s disciple Thomas felt that way when the Jews and Romans banded together to crucify Jesus. Thomas could see the trouble awaiting them in Jerusalem, but no one listened. When Jesus took off to help his friends, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, Thomas resigned himself to go with Jesus.

“Let’s also go, so that we may die with Him!” (John 11:16 NASB).

Perhaps Thomas’s confusion and disappointment made it difficult for him to believe in Jesus’s resurrection. What he’d predicted happened. How could the damage be undone?

I bet you remember times when those who had the power to act wouldn’t listen to your concerns. They took the job, married the person, or made the investment anyway. And you had to stand by helplessly as your fears were realized. How can such trials be included in James’s admonition to “count it all joy” when they could have been easily avoided (James 1:2)?

Considering Thomas has helped me. He couldn’t believe anything good could come out of something that could have been avoided. Thomas looked at his circumstances from an earthly viewpoint. He would not believe unless he could see and touch the risen Lord’s scars (John 20:25).

Jesus had told His disciples about His pending death and resurrection many times, but they couldn’t grasp it. Like Martha, they believed in the resurrection of the dead at judgment day, but not on earth in their lifetime.

The resurrected Jesus understood Thomas’s doubts. He appeared to the group of disciples and singled Thomas out.

“Place your finger here, and see My hands; and take your hand and put it into My side; and do not continue in disbelief, but be a believer” (John 20:27 NASB).

In other words, “Open your eyes, Thomas. Don’t let disappointment cloud reality!” Thomas’s doubts make me reconsider my own doubts. Can God redeem foolish choices once consequences have been set in motion?

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28 NIV).

What promises have I doubted because I can’t see how they can happen? Do I believe His promise to work all things together for good applies only to situations that don’t involve foolish decisions or stubborn people? Do I dare believe God can turn a senseless tragedy into something wonderful for me and those I love?

“Thomas answered and said to Him, ‘My Lord and my God!’Jesus said to him, ‘Because you have seen Me, have you now believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed’” (John 20:28-29 NASB).

Will we be counted among those who believe, not just that He rose from the dead, but also that He is at work in our disappointments. He never said all things are good, but He promised to work all things together to benefit His dear children.

Disappointments test our faith. What must you release to receive the good God longs to give? Jesus understands the fear you will be disappointed again. Take His words to heart.

Stop doubting and believe. John 20:27 NIV

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

Join the conversation: Do you fear disappointment when it comes to God? Why?