The Truth about Speaking the Truth in Love

by Edie Melson

Then we will no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning with cleverness in the techniques of deceit. But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head—Christ. Ephesians 4:14-15 CSB 

“Speak the truth in love.” 

I’ve heard that admonition about as long as I’ve been in church. It’s advice that’s generally given when a situation is dicey. It’s uttered as encouragement, in an almost don’t-forget-to-buckle-your-seatbelt tone of voice. But just with a seatbelt, there’s no guarantee the outcome will turn out the way we expect.

I’ve also heard the phrase tossed about after a situation blows up, usually with a sorrowful shake of a head. “If only they’d spoken the truth in love.”

Beyond that, the advice to speak the truth in love carries with it an unwritten assurance—a false assumption. Do it correctly, and everything will turn out fine. While that does occasionally happen, usually it’s after some serious fallout. And there’s never a guarantee about the outcome.

At best, truth speaking is an untidy proposition. 

It involves laying bare the lies we’ve accepted as truth. No one likes being exposed, and that’s what truth does. God’s truth is a light that shines in the dark. It makes visible the things we’d often rather keep hidden.

But when a lie is holding the position that belongs to truth, it must be done. It’s rarely pleasant. Replacing a lie with truth means that some serious restructuring needs to occur. I don’t think I’m alone when I confess that I’m not a big fan of change—even change for the better. Let me assure you that exchanging a lie with truth is a MAJOR change. It’s about as perfect a one-hundred-and-eighty-degree change as you can get.

The bottom line is this, though. No matter how difficult, when we practice God’s love, we will be called on to speak the truth. It won’t be pretty, and it certainly won’t be nice—for anyone. But that’s okay because a friend recently reminded me of this truth—being nice isn’t one of the ten commandments.

When we follow Jesus, we find ourselves in messy situations. We’re accused of being mean, our reputations are maligned, and even our families are attacked. None of that should stop us from loving those God puts in our path enough to speak the truth.

So today I’m drawing a line in the sand. I’m refusing to bow to those who want me to be nice. Instead I’m going to love—with the truth—no matter how hard it is. It’s going to get messy, but I know I’m going to get to see God at work, redeeming unredeemable situations. 

How about you . . . care to join me?

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

About the author: Edie Melson is a woman of faith with ink-stained fingers observing life through the lens of her camera. She’s a writer who feels lost without her camera and a reluctant speaker who loves to encourage an audience. And she embraces the ultimate contradiction of being an organized creative. As a popular speaker, she’s encouraged and challenged audiences across the country and around the world.

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Her numerous books, including Unruffled, Thriving in Chaos and the award-winning Soul Care series reflect her passion to help others develop the strength of their God-given gifts and apply them to their lives. She lives in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains where she spends time off hiking with her husband and her camera. Connect with her on http://www.EdieMelson.com and through social media.

Join the conversation: Has anyone ever spoken the truth in love to you? How did God use it in your life?

Not Abandoned as Orphans

by Candy Arrington @CandyArrington

Then I will ask the Father to send you the Holy Spirit who will help you and always be with you. I won’t leave you like orphans, I will come back to you. John 14:16, 18 CEV

This year marked the tenth anniversary of my mother’s death. Although there have been times when the date slipped my mind until after it passed, this year I was keenly aware that I have been without her for a decade.

In recent months, I’ve been sifting through remaining boxes, reading letters, finding photographs, and examining rolls of plans drawn by my builder father. My son and his family lived in my childhood home following my mother’s death. Now, after ten years, the house is for sale, and I’m having to let this piece of my history go. Saying good-bye to the house I grew up in, a house my father built 70 years ago, is hard. In many ways, this transition stirs feelings I had right after Mama’s death and years before after Daddy died. Even with my husband, children, and grandchildren close by, I feel a little like an orphan.

Perhaps Jesus’ disciples and followers experienced similar feelings of abandonment as they huddled behind locked doors following His death. They feared what might happen next. Would they be arrested and executed, too? Although Jesus tried in the final days of his ministry to make them understand what would transpire, they were unprepared and stunned by his absence, left with feelings of grief and uncertainty.

All of us feel abandoned at times. When health issues, job losses, financial crises, and relationship problems overwhelm, it is human to wonder why God doesn’t immediately swoop in and fix everything. Why doesn’t he stop the pandemic and return our lives to normal? Why doesn’t he calm unrest? While we may never have answers to our questions, we have the assurance of the presence of the Holy Spirit, our Advocate and Comforter.

Over two thousand years ago, God sent Jesus to dwell among us and rescue those who were lost, orphaned, and without hope. Jesus was God with skin on: a man who experienced temptation, persecution, pain, and grief, but also joy. He promised never to abandon us as orphans. His presence, via the Holy Spirit, and his promise to return, are our hope.

As I approach a new season of life, I see how the Lord sustained generations of my family through financial hardship, physical ailments, wars, periods of grief, and loss. We are not the first to experience challenges, fear, and uncertainty. Just as the Holy Spirit guided our parents and their parents, He will lead and protect us. He is a comforter, helper, and friend. Having been adopted into the family of God, none of us are orphans.

But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. Galatians 4:4-5 NLT

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Not Abandoned as Orphans – encouragement from @CandyArrington on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Candy Arrington

About the author: Candy Arrington has written hundreds of articles and devotionals, often on tough topics. Her books include AFTERSHOCK: Help, Hope, and Healing in the Wake of Suicide (B & H) and When Your Aging Parent Needs Care: Practical Help for This Season of Life (Harvest House). 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 book, When Your Aging Parent Needs Care, is a help to those who face the special effort of caring for a parent. It provides support and direction to enable the caregiver to be spiritually, physically, and emotionally prepared for the day to day challenges they face.

Join the conversation: How does the Holy Spirit help you?

The Birds, the Beast, and an Empty Nest

by Kathy Howard @KathyHHoward

What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows. Matthew 10:29-30 NLT

Four baby barn swallows peered over the edge of the mud nest on a wall in a corner of our patio, eagerly waiting for their mother to return with breakfast. I had a really good view of the feathered family from my bedroom window. “This is going to be great,” I thought. “I can watch them grow, learn to fly, and leave the nest.” Like my own empty nest, the experience would be bittersweet, but exciting.

Then I remembered the beast. Our ninety-pound yellow lab dominates the back yard. Did the baby birds have a chance against a dog that pulls trees up by the roots? Maybe it would be better for the babies to never leave the nest. The mama bird could continue to feed them. Of course, the daddy bird would have to build an addition to the nest…

Two days later I stood at the bedroom window again. One baby clung to the edge of the nest and one was perched beside it on a brick that jutted out from the wall. It was time for flying lessons! Mother Swallow called to them from atop a blade of the patio ceiling fan about five feet away.

The beast lay on his side by the back door seemingly unaware of the unfolding drama. The baby on the brick hopped off into space, untested wings flapping. He dipped low, coming within eighteen inches of the ground. I held my breath. The beast slept on. Then the baby’s wings caught air, and he awkwardly joined his mother on the fan blade. Whew! One down, three to go.

Within a few days, all four baby birds had successfully learned to fly. At first they only flew to the ceiling fan, then back to the nest. As the days went by, they became a little more adventurous, visiting the roof and the large tree beyond the patio. Then one day they were gone. The nest stayed empty. Their mother had done her job, and they were on their own.

All three of our babies have tried their wings and left the nest. Even now, I worry about what could happen to them outside the nest. Will they watch out for those “big yellow labs?”

Now more than ever, this world is filled with things we could worry about. Most of which we have absolutely no control over. But the glorious thing is, I know someone who has full control, absolute sovereignty. The Creator is still and forever on His throne.

As Jesus reminded us in Matthew, nothing happens to a single sparrow without God’s knowledge. If He cares that much for a sparrow, how much more does He care for my children? For yours? They are worth more than many sparrows.

Summer is a time of transition. It’s filled with transitions like graduations and children planning to leave the nest. Give your worry to God and cling to His promises. Then watch from the fan blade with squawks of encouragement.

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The Birds, the Beast, and an Empty Nest – encouragement from @KathyHHoward on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Kathy Howard

About the Author: A former “cultural Christian,” Kathy Howard now has a passion for God’s Word that’s contagious. She encourages women to get into God’s Word for themselves in order to build an unshakable faith that will stand firm through all the trials of life. With more than 30 years of experience, Kathy has taught the Bible in dozens of states, internationally, and in a wide range of venues including multi-church conferences and large online events. She has a Masters in Religious Education and a certificate in Women’s Ministry from the Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary.

Kathy is the author of 8 books and Bible studies, including “Lavish Grace” and “30 Days of Hope When Caring for Aging Parents.” She also writes for multiple online magazines and devotional sites. Kathy and her “mostly retired” husband live in the Dallas/Ft Worth area near family. They have three married children, five grandchildren, and three dogs – one of them on purpose. She provides free discipleship resources and blogs regularly at www.KathyHoward.org. Kathy also connects with women at FacebookPinterest, and Instagram.

Join the conversation: Is there a transition going on in your life? How are you doing with it?

The Truth We Can No Longer Deny Since the Pandemic

by Lori Roeleveld @LoriSRoeleveld

“‘And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit.’”                                                                                                                  Joel 2:28-29 ESV

Here’s what’s clear to us in June that may have eluded us in January: each one of us impacts more lives than we ever imagined.

A microscopic virus has illustrated that a single touch can affect worldwide change. We are viral in scope – no matter how small we feel.

The idea that our individual lives are insignificant is a convenient illusion we Christians often embrace to comfort ourselves when the prospect of representing Jesus feels overwhelming, or our failures make us seem ineffective.

Jesus was God. He came into the world thousands of years before social media and took on human form – one man. His disciples could barely agree on how to secure lunch prior to the cross, but after the cross, as witnesses of the resurrection, they went viral.

Peter, James, John, Paul, Mary and the rest could not have imagined the scope of their testimonies, but I don’t get the impression from the New Testament that they wasted much time fretting over it.

They devoted their lives to telling others the truth they knew. They lived so that the Holy Spirit had free reign to work through them, and every person they touched made a choice to accept that truth or reject it. And here we are.

Each of us is so potent, our enemy has had to flood the air with the lie that we don’t matter. This pandemic reminds us that we do.

From the most powerful world leader to the homeless beggar who has forgotten her own name, we have the same potential to pass on what we carry within us – sickness, cynicism, fear, doubt, corruption, evil, and death, or health, hope, life, light, love, and truth – the gospel of Jesus Christ.

God, in His mercy, and us, if we’re paying attention, can transform this moment of global panic into the greatest resurgence of faith the world has ever seen. The only question is this – will we choose the comfort of the convenient delusion or will we choose the courage to go viral with the gospel?

Because we can no longer deny that we can.

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The Truth We Can No Longer Deny Since the Pandemic – Insight from @LoriSRoeleveld on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

lori Roeleveld Headshot 2015About the author: Lori Stanley Roeleveld is an author, speaker, and disturber of hobbits who enjoys making comfortable Christians late for dinner. She’s authored four encouraging, unsettling books. Her latest release is The Art of Hard Conversations: Biblical Tools for the Tough Talks that Matter. She speaks her mind at www.loriroeleveld.com.

Join the conversation: How will you carry life and light to those within your influence?

Learning to Face Change

by Kristine Brown @KristineBrown43

“So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”  Deuteronomy 31:6 NLT

I dislike change. Plain and simple.

Some people are better at handling change than others. My husband, for example, thrives during change. He approaches new situations with a positive attitude and looks at every opportunity as a welcome challenge. I curl into a ball and hide under the covers.

Change can also cause me to panic. I obsess over my options in trying to make the right decision. Do I move forward? Or do I resist the change and stay put? I agonize, praying over the potential challenges, but fail to really trust God to handle the situation.

Fortunately, God’s Word offers the guidance we need when we face change in our lives. So whether I’m a person who runs head-on into change or tucks my tail and runs the other way, I can learn from Scripture how to better handle the changes that come my way.

“So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” Deuteronomy 31:6 NLT

When entering a new situation, it’s so easy to look back at how good things were before. I’ve been guilty of this in the past when job transfers took our family to new places. Dwelling on the things we left behind clouded my view of what wonderful things waited for us in our new home. Learning to keep my eyes forward will shift my attitude about change and help me look with excitement toward what lies ahead. James 1:17 says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” Change gives us the opportunity to experience all God has planned for us.

One of the hardest things about change is following through and allowing God to bring me to a new place of blessing. Once I make the decision to forge ahead, I need to trust God with whatever happens. So often we second-guess our decision when things don’t work out as we thought they would. We wonder if this change was ever God’s will. But staying firm through the change will bring us to a new level of trust in the One who is over all things. Change gives us the chance to exercise our trust muscles!

Even though changes in life are inevitable, God never changes. He is the same “yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8 NIV) He remains a constant through this unpredictable life. So as we learn to embrace the changes that will come, let’s focus on our God who is unchanging.

We may not like change, and that’s okay. We can face it with steadfast courage today because of our constant companion, Jesus Christ. And who knows? I just might choose to crawl out from under those covers once and for all and embrace it. Let’s make a choice right now to trust our Heavenly Father when we face change. I can’t wait to see what wonderful things He has in store for us!

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Learning to Face Change – encouragement from @KristineBrown43 on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

kristine brown

About the author: Kristine Brown is the author of the book, Over It. Conquering Comparison to Live Out God’s Plan. Discover more encouragement from Kristine to help you “become more than yourself through God’s Word” at her website,  kristinebrown.net.

In her new book, Over It. Devotional for Teen Girls, Kristine uncovers the truth about comparison. Teens will discover that they are not alone in the struggle and will find contentment in their God-given identity. Through personal stories and easy-to -understand biblical thinking, Over It offers help and hope. Come along for the journey, beautiful girl. This book is for you.

Join the conversation: Have you recently struggled with a change? Please share your journey with us!

 

 

Winter Has Arrived!

by Terri Clark @TerriClarkTCM

Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.  Psalm 23:4 (NLT)

My back yard is blanketed in white and the cat’s water bowl is frozen over. I don’t need a weather report to tell me winter has arrived. Sometimes I find it hard to adjust to the changing seasons. I want it to stay warm a little bit longer. But after the first frost hit, I knew it was time to pull out the heavy coat, sweaters, boots and gloves, and put away the sleeveless shirts and shorts.

Seasons change and we have no choice but to go along with them. In life, we go through seasonal changes as well. In fact, I’m going through one right now, and there’s nothing I can do about it. My dear friend just moved away—nearly 1,000 miles from here. She and her husband moved to be near their three daughters and grandchildren. Having my own family around me is one of my greatest joys, so I completely understand and I’m happy for them. But it doesn’t make the season any less cold.

Nancy and I have known each other for decades and have traveled across the globe many times together. She knows my bad habits and I know hers—and we’re fine with them. We talk easily about just about anything; family, ministry, missions, cultural challenges, or family. Of course every conversation was always over a steaming cup of tea—some we brought from other nations. My husband jokingly calls us tea snobs, and we’re okay with that too. A friendship like ours is a gift.

Seasonal changes occur in everyone’s life from time to time; job changes, loss, divorce, remarriage, retirement, caring for aging parents, health challenges, and good friends moving away. But God is there for us in every season. I love the picture of comfort and protection Psalm 23:4 paints for us: “Even when I walk through the darkest [or coldest!] valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me” (NLT).

We can be encouraged by the fact that we are on God’s mind. Jeremiah 29:11 (AKJV) says, “I know the thoughts that I think toward you, said the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” I love that God is thinking good thoughts toward us, thoughts of peace. He’s not trying to pull the rug out from under our feet—even when it feels like it.

For me, this season feels as cold as the frosty air outside, but I am confident that it is just a season, and seasons change. Spring follows winter. I’ve had many winter seasons in life, some colder than others, but God always brings an unexpected positive end. The key is in bundling up in the warmth of His love, meditating on the promises of His Word, and in taking just one day at a time until you begin to thaw.

It’s like a good book: as one chapter ends, another begins. Each chapter builds upon the last until the whole story is told. If you’re feeling the chill of a winter season in your life, be encouraged, fix a cup of tea, and warm up in the love of God.

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Winter Has Arrived! – encouragement from @TerriClarkTCM on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Terri ClarkAbout the author: Terri Clark works with women to prepare and equip them to receive God and the blessings He wants to produce in their lives. She began to answer God’s call on her life in 1994 and has since impacted women all over the world with His news of salvation, edification, and healing.

Her book, Fanning the Flame: Reigniting Your Faith in God, identifies and addresses the issues which most affect a believer’s spiritual flame: the busyness of life, Christian service, pride, and worldly temptations. Join her in this pilgrimage and reignite your spiritual lamp with a fresh, empowering faith–a faith that will stand through a time of testing.

Join the conversation: What season are you in right now?

 

 

Whatever State I Am In

by Crystal Bowman

Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.  1 Timothy 6:6-8 NKJV

For the past fourteen years, our home in Florida provided an escape from bitter Michigan winters  where I spent most of my life. I have never been a fan of cold weather (like anything below 75!) so wearing flip-flops in February was a dream come true. I had the best of both worlds—warm, comfortable summers in Michigan and warm, comfortable winters in Florida.

It wasn’t just the weather that I enjoyed in each state. I also had a rich and meaningful life in both places. In Florida I had my MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) ministry with more than fifty young, energetic moms to mentor and enjoy. I also had the Atlantic Ocean four miles down the road and often went for long walks along the shore. In Michigan I had my mother, siblings, high school friends, and my son’s family. I was happy and enjoying life to the fullest—until everything changed.

In July, my healthy husband became ill. Since the best doctors for his medical care are near our home in Michigan, we listed our home in Florida and sold it in two weeks. We are now living in Michigan indefinitely. And here I am—four months later—with snow on the ground in November wearing Uggs instead of flip-flops.

The Apostle Paul moved around a lot, preaching the Gospel wherever he went. He relied on God and others to provide for his needs and made tents with his friends Aquila and Pricilla to earn his keep. He was adaptable to his circumstances and didn’t get too comfortable in one place. Not only did he adapt well to change, he learned to be content in any and all circumstances. In Philippians 4:11 (NKJV) he wrote, “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.” Paul didn’t need sunny skies or warm temperatures to be content. He didn’t even need a roof over his head. His greater purpose was to tell people that Jesus died for their sins, and if they believed in Him, they would have eternal life. Sharing the Gospel and living for Jesus was more important to him than anything else.

I wish I could say I am adaptable like Paul was. I’m not. I’m more of a status-quo-type person. I get set in my ways and enjoy comfortable things—like warm weather, a full fridge, and a nice house. But through this new experience, God is stretching me and teaching me to be more adaptable and content no matter where I have landed. My priorities need to be more meaningful than merely where I live. I need to focus more on my blessings and less on the outside temperature. I have friends and family nearby, good doctors, a good furnace, and my cozy Uggs.

As I face a cold, bitter winter in Michigan, I am inspired by the Apostle Paul’s words. I can be content in whatever state I am in—even if that state is Michigan.

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Whatever State I Am In – encourage from Crystal Bowman on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Crystal BowmanAbout 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.

Ten percent of women struggle with infertility. Mothers In Waiting—Healing and Hope for Those with Empty Arms contains 30 hope-filled stories from contributors like Valorie Burton, Katie Norris, and Shay Shull, whose journeys through infertility and miscarriage to adoption and miracle births will buoy your faith. You don’t have to suffer alone.

Join the conversation: What is challenging your sense of contentment?

 

TRANSFORMED!

by Fran Caffey Sandin

“Therefore, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Corinthians 5: 17 NASB).

 Humpback whales cavorting in a feeding frenzy, soaring bald eagles, and a brown bear with two cubs climbing on the shoreline rocks were among the many wildlife sightings on our Alaska Dream Cruise. A small ship with 40 passengers sailing from Ketchikan to Sitka stopped for a brief tour of Thorne Bay. The small town of 473 currently featured seasonal residents plus those employed in the Forest Service and public education. Our tour guide explained its colorful history.

In the 1960’s and 1970’s Thorne Bay was the largest logging camp in North America and boasted 1500 residents at its peak. During that time, the city outgrew the sanitation plant from the early days, so they built a new one. The city wanted to sell the old site. Some adventurous members of a local church decided the location was great for the right price, so they bid on the property and won.

Today, the lovely Church at Thorne Bay is a beacon of light overlaying an old sewage dump. Isn’t that a perfect picture of what Jesus does for us when His blood covers our sins? Thinking about the comparison just made me smile. Jesus covered the stench of our sin with the beautiful fragrance of his holiness. Hallelujah! What a Savior!

During our trip, my husband and I met Roxy, a lovely, vivacious brunette who had majored in media and communications in college. After graduation, she moved to Hollywood to become an actress.

She did. But God had more in store for her. Her eyes sparkled as she related a life-changing encounter. On a movie set, she met a couple who asked two simple questions, “Do you believe the Bible?  Do you believe Jesus is who He said He is?” Startled at first, she began meditating about the questions. In younger years she had attended church but had never seriously considered the claims of Jesus. She enjoyed the social gatherings but never really knew Jesus in her heart.

After meeting the couple, she began reading her Bible, confessing her sins, and received Jesus as her personal Savior. She asked Him to help her start a new life. Acknowledging her anger and controlling ways, she contemplated the words of Jesus. God began to change her. She developed a desire to serve others, rather than to be served. As a result, she sold or gave away most of her belongings and moved to Alaska to work at a Bed & Breakfast. Unfortunately, a short time later the B&B closed.

She prayed and asked the Lord. “What do I do now?” His promptings led her to a large, beautiful house where Roxy took a deep breath and rang the doorbell. Her heart pounding as she waited, a kind woman opened the door and listened when Roxy explained that she needed a place to work. Roxy did not know the lady was a founding member of the Alaska Dream Cruise line, but God did.

Roxy left with a sigh of relief and a spring in her step. The lady, a believer, offered her a job as an on-board steward—to serve meals, clean rooms, and do other chores. Roxy obeyed God’s nudges and He provided. She is excited and happy for me to write her story because she wants to share her joy.  In her own words, “I have been transformed!”

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your Holy Spirit’s power to conform us to becoming more like Jesus. Thank you that our old thoughts, ways, and habits turn completely around when we take His words seriously and apply them to our lives. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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TRANSFORMED! – insight from Fran Caffey Sandin on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

fran sandlinAbout the authorFran Caffey Sandin is a retired nurse, wife, mother, and grandmother in Greenville, Texas. She enjoys baking, flower arranging, hiking, and traveling with her husband, Jim. Fran is a church organist, a core group leader for Community Bible Study, and author of See You Later, Jeffreyand Touching the Clouds: True Stories to Strengthen Your Faithand has co-authored othersJim and Fran are parents of two sons awaiting them in Heaven; a married daughter and son-in-law, and three fabulous grandchildren. Visit Fran at her website:  www.fransandin.com.

Join the conversation: What are evidences in your life that God is transforming you?

Into the Wind

by Nan Corbitt Allen

They’re loud and demanding and messy. No, I AM NOT talking about my grandchildren.

I’m talking about seagulls.

Recently, my husband and I were on the Gulf Coast of Florida taking a few days of R & R. We spent a couple of days just sitting on the beach watching the waves and the dolphins roll in and out of our view. And though I’ve been to the beach many times, I always learn something each time I go. (Maybe it’s because I choose to look for something new.) Anyway, this time I chose to watch and learn from the seagulls.

They’re scavengers, no doubt, and they find no shame in begging for morsels from unsuspecting beachcombers. Reflection: don’t throw out anything edible if you don’t want to reenact a horror scene from a Hitchcock movie. This I already knew from experience.

Observation: seagulls are almost always found in flocks. You hardly ever see one alone (no matter what the book Jonathan Livingston Seagull implies). Sometimes it’s a small flock, sometimes a huge herd. But I knew that, too.

Here’s what I did learn:  Seagulls in a flock, while on the ground, face in the same direction. It was funny at first. A single gull might fly off for a few minutes, then return and resume the position as if compelled to fit in or because he was being careful not to ruffle the feathers of the alpha male or a higher-up in the pecking order. Was it east or west or what that lined them up facing one way?

Finally it dawned on me. They all seemed to face into the wind.

When I got home, I did a little research and found that this was exactly what they were doing. It was the wind that determined their on-ground direction, and for a bird of flight, that is important. Seagulls need to vacate the beach quickly when danger arrives or when a food source suddenly becomes available. If their tail feathers are facing the wind they would be less aerodynamic and more in danger of getting saltwater, sand, or debris under their perfectly designed down and feather covering.

It just makes sense. They protect themselves from harm, by always being ready for flight by leaning into the wind.

Eagles can soar to great heights, and like Isaiah tells us, “Those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles” (Is. 40:31 CSB). Ducks can fly long distances but not necessarily so high. (That’s maybe why they are sometimes easy shots.) However, you have to give them credit for endurance. Like James says, “Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance” (James 1:2 CSB).

Eagles fly high, and sometimes so do I. Ducks fly far, and often perseverance is required of me.

But seagulls stand on the shore, feel the wind on their beaks, and wait for the next thing. Right now, I’m not really soaring to great heights or flapping furiously for distance. Often I find myself …waiting…leaning into the wind a little, and trying to respond as the wind’s direction changes, ready for whatever is coming.

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.   Psalm 91:1-4 ESV

Nan Corbitt AllenAbout the author: Nan Corbitt Allen has written over 100 published dramatic musicals, sketchbooks, and collections, most of these works in collaboration with Dennis Allen, her husband of 40 years. A three-time Dove Award winner for her musicals written with Dennis, Nan’s lyrics and dramas have been performed across the U.S. and around the world. Throughout their writing careers together, Dennis and Nan have sold almost 3 million choral books. Nan lives with her husband Dennis in Cleveland, GA where she teaches English and Creative Writing at Truett McConnell University.

Nan’s book, Small Potatoes @ the Piggly Wiggly, is a collection of devotionals that reveal the seemingly insignificant experiences that can have great impact on a life. She describes what she learned of God’s providence and wisdom while growing up in the Deep South in the 1950’s and 60’s. Bible passages given throughout the book make this a book for all readers.

Join the conversation: What kind of bird do you find yourself most like at present? Soaring the heights? Flying long distances? Or facing into the wind, ready for whatever God has for you next?

You Have to Break A Few Eggs to Make An Omelette

by Deb DeArmond

“That’s really gross. You can’t serve that. Just dump it and redo it,” I said.

My sister-in-law stared at the blobby mess in the pot on the stove. “Really? You can’t fix it?” she asked.

“The only way to fix it, is to start all over again, and this time, follow the recipe,” I said, reaching for the cookbook.

As a newlywed, she was a beginner in the kitchen. She had tried to improvise when a recipe directed her to do something she preferred not to do. And now her husband and his boss were due for dinner before long, and she had nothing to serve them.  We hastily threw something together and hoped her sunny personality would make up for the ruined meal.  It did.

Sometimes, there’s just no way to resurrect something without tearing it down, throwing it out, or starting all over again. An omelette cannot appear without changing the original form of the egg.

That’s exactly what Jesus did. He didn’t try to patch us up and apply a little spackle to improve on our imperfections. He made us new:

“Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” 2 Corinthians 5:17 (KJV).

Who we have been must go that we may become new and whole in Him. The recipe is quite clear but may require great determination to achieve: “He must increase, but I must decrease,” John 3:30 (KJV).

The process may at times can be messy. There may be telltale signs that suggest the recipe needs adjusting. Just follow The Book. It’s time-tested and backed by a reliable author.

Go ahead. Break those eggs.

Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.   Ezekiel 36:26 NASB

DeArmond-29 copyAbout the author: Deb DeArmond is an expert in the fields of communication, relationship, and conflict resolution. A writer and professional speaker, Deb addresses topics related to the family and women. Her books include: Related by Chance, Family by ChoiceI Choose You Today: 31 Choices to Make Love Last and Don’t Go to Bed Angry. Stay Up and Fight! Deb’s books help readers, whether engaged, newlywed, or long-time married, create the life God meant marriage and family to be. You can read more from Deb at Family Matters/Deb.

Join the conversation: What needs to decrease in you?

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