Diana’s Lamp

by Debora M. Coty

I was six years old and in big trouble. I’d done something horrible.

It happened at the house of Diana, my nine-year-old neighbor, a tall, gentle girl who was kinder to me than all the other big kids. A bunch of us were playing in Diana’s room when gravel crunching in the driveway announced the arrival of Diana’s father, a grizzly bear of a man – towering and burly, with a deep military voice. He was very strict and often barked orders to Diana and her little brothers, who knew they had better obey immediately.

We all knew.

When he drove up that day, everyone suddenly remembered a reason to go home. I saw the sad look on Diana’s face as the other kids fled, so I stayed.

After tiring of board games, Diana picked up her baton and suggested we go outside to twirl; a hard-and-fast rule allowed no batons or balls inside the house. I grabbed my baton and couldn’t resist trying to impress Diana by whirling it around my neck.

The sound of shattering glass froze my heart as Diana’s bedside lamp crashed to the floor. Then the huge shadow of Diana’s father filled the doorway.

Diana intentionally stepped between her father and me as his face turned crimson and a large vein on his forehead began to pulsate. “Who’s responsible for this?” his voice boomed as he eyed the shards of ruined lamp on the floor.

Immobilized by fear, I stared mutely at the mess, unable to breathe. Diana held up her baton and answered, “It’s my fault, Daddy.” She gently pushed me into the hallway and closed the door behind me.

I listened outside the door, quivering, as Diana’s dad shouted about rules, learning responsibility, and paying for a new lamp with her own money. When I heard the stinging lashes of his leather belt, I couldn’t take any more. I blindly ran, not stopping until I was in my own room, sobbing on my bed. I knew Diana was at that moment receiving the worst kind of punishment in my place. I deserved that belt, but she willingly took the pain for me.

I had to do something. I shook my piggy bank and gathered the handful of coins that fell out. Still weeping as I ran, I stumbled back to Diana’s front door. Diana answered my knock with red, puffy eyes. Yet she smiled. I was forgiven. It made my heart hurt.

I held out my pitiful offering, knowing it wouldn’t be nearly enough to pay for the lamp. But Diana shook her head. “No,” she said softly. “Keep your money. It was an accident. It’s all over now, so let’s not talk about it anymore.”

And we didn’t. Not that day. Not ever.

But I’ve never forgotten. Even now, decades later, a warm tear escapes when I think about Diana’s lamp. My friend willingly sacrificed herself on my behalf through every lash of that belt.

I realize now that in her selfless actions, Diana exemplified what Jesus did for me – and for you. He sacrificed Himself in our place, accepting our rightful punishment and loving us through every lash of the whip and pounding of nails into His flesh.

Even unto death.

How, then, can we not be moved when we consider the Sacrificial Lamb suffering so that we might have life everlasting?

“He was beaten that we might have peace; he was lashed – and we were healed.” Isaiah 53:5 TLB

About the author: Debora Coty is an inspirational speaker, columnist and award-winning author of 200+ articles and over 40 books, including the bestselling Too Blessed to be Stressed series, with over 1.3 million copies sold in multiple languages worldwide. A retired orthopedic occupational therapist, Debora enjoys teaching piano, mountain hiking, choco-scarfing and smacking a little yellow ball around a tennis court. Debora lives, loves and laughs in central Florida with her longsuffering husband of 42 years and five feisty grandpals who live nearby. Deb would love to have you join her fun-loving community of BBFs (Blessed Friends Forever) at www.DeboraCoty.com

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Debora’s newest release, Too Blessed to be Stressed for Momsaddresses the heart needs of moms drowning in the churning stress-pool of busyness. In her beloved mom-to-mom, grin-provoking style, Coty offers empathy, laughs, real-life stories, practical parenting survival tips, and fresh biblical insights to help you hear Papa God’s still, small voice through life’s chaos.

Join the conversation: Has anyone ever sacrificed on your behalf?

Love One Another

by Christina Rose 

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  John 3:16 NIV

This passage has had me in awe since I was a little girl.  I would think, “How could a parent give up their son?”   I couldn’t imagine, nor did I want to image my parents ever giving me up, let alone having me suffer for hours, being beaten and hung on a cross.  Yet that priceless sacrifice changed and continues to change billions of lives around the world.

Yesterday was the funeral service for Kendrick Castillo, the hero of the Colorado STEM School shooting that occurred on May 7, 2019.  Kendrick, a high school senior due to graduate in 3 days, threw himself upon a fellow student armed with a handgun who threatened the school.  He and two others rushed the armed student, giving other students the opportunity to flee.  In the process, Kendrick was shot and did not survive.

The service was held at my church, Cherry Hills Community Church, and thousands attended. Kendrick’s parents, John and Maria, had looked forward to seeing their only son Kendrick graduate in a few days, but instead they had to plan his funeral. His parents were heartbroken, yet revealed that Kendrick had shared earlier that if he ever found himself in the midst of a school shooting, he would not hesitate to attack the shooter to spare his friends.

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay  down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13 NIV

Watching the thousands of cars arrive by procession, the throngs filling the church, Kendrick’s casket being wheeled in, his parents walking in with their small dog, and the pictures of Kendrick’s smiling, warm face touched the hearts of many and tears flowed freely. Each person who spoke shared memories of a compassionate, devoted, faith-filled young man who loved to help everyone he could.

John Castillo was the last to speak. I thought, “How could this man be so brave to address and comfort thousands when his only son was killed just one week ago?” It then became more clear to me how God allowed his only son Jesus to die on the cross for us. While the suffering seemed unbearable, in the end that example of unselfish love would inspire and elevate people to be their best.

John shared that we should all walk like Kendrick, who walked in faith and love just as Jesus taught us to do. He then encouraged, “When you see people struggling and moving into darkness, sit with them and help them figure it out.  Our world needs help; what you choose to do with your gifts is up to you.”

I wondered, “What if all of us reached out to everyone who is struggling to pull them out of darkness? What if we made everyone feel loved and valuable to prevent further acts of desperation and destruction?”

While our community continues to heal, we will never forget our selfless hero Kendrick, who was a gift, a blessing, and an inspiration of boldly walking in faith and loving the world.  Kendrick’s love and sacrifice has changed thousands of lives forever.

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Love One Another – thoughts on walking in #Faith and loving the world – Christian Rose on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

christina roseAbout the author: Christina Rose is an author, trainer and speaker certified by the John Maxwell Team of Leadership.  She is a DAR (Daughter of the American Revolution) whose ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War. A devoted mom of two daughters and great aunt to over 40 nieces and nephews, Christina loves spending time in nature and hosting gatherings for family and friends.

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

Join the conversation: In what practical ways can we “give up our lives” in our own communities?

 

Give Your Best

by Nan Corbitt Allen

A couple of generations ago, it wasn’t unusual that payment for goods and services was done in trade. In fact, I’ve heard that my grandfather, who was a pastor and a schoolteacher, occasionally got paid in chickens – live chickens. That tradition has pretty much since died out officially. (Now we have direct deposit and it would be hard to put live chickens into that scenario.)

However, several years ago, a pastor in Nova Scotia called us and asked for an accompaniment track to a song my husband and I had written. The man said that he led a small choir in a small church and that they didn’t have much money. My husband graciously offered to provide the track and told the pastor he’d send it at no charge.

The pastor was so grateful and humbled. He then explained that the church was in a small fishing village in Nova Scotia and that lobstering was their main source of income. That sounded interesting, and we could imagine that picturesque village with sounds of one of our songs being sung in the background. It was a humbling thought.

A couple of weeks later, a large package arrived at our door – a special delivery box from Canada that said “Live Lobsters” stamped on the outside. Yeah, we got paid in lobsters. We opened up the package that had been shipped in dry ice and found thirteen live, but a little weary, lobsters straight from the sea.

It was amazing! What a gift! We didn’t really know what to do: just how do you cook thirteen live lobsters anyway? We finally figured it out, extracted the meat, and froze it. Needless to say, we ate well for quite a while.

When I think back on that experience, I realize how important it is that we give the best that we have as offerings – the first fruits, if you will – to God, even if it means giving it to people in His name. I know He loves it when we do that, and this is how I know: King David had messed up – again. His subjects were being punished for something he did, and he asked God to ease up on the innocents and let him make atonement for his sin. God agreed.

David went to find a proper place to offer a sacrifice. There was a threshing floor nearby that would do just fine. As he was going to buy the threshing floor, the owner saw the king and his entourage on their way. The owner was humbled that the king would come to him, a mere servant. The man offered the king, not only the threshing floor at no cost, but his oxen and their yokes as wood for the fire – free of charge.

David could have accepted the offer and perhaps God would have accepted his sacrifice. Who knows? But David knew better. His absolute best was the only thing good enough. David’s answer to the guy always gets me. He said, “No, I insist on buying it from you for a price, for I will not offer to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing” (2 Samuel 2: 24 CSB).

We used to sing a hymn called “Give of Your Best to the Master.” The second verse goes like this:

Give of your best to the Master;
Give Him first place in your heart.
Give Him first place in your service;
Consecrate every part.

Anytime I think I can give an effort a “phone it in” – in my work or my service – I think of David, this old hymn, and how giving my best honors God. Then I start to crave seafood.

Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.  Colossians 3:17 NASB

TWEETABLE
Give Your Best – insight from Nan Corbitt Allen on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

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. Her literary works include two Christian novels and three nonfiction books. The Allens have two grown sons and two beautiful grandchildren.

Nan’s book, Small Potatoes @ the Piggly Wiggly, is a collection of devotionals that reveal the seemingly insignificant routine experiences 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 gets in the way of giving your best?

The Lent Buzz

by Sheryl Giesbrecht Turner @SGiesbrecht

Okay folks, it’s lent, not lint. Most of us have noticed the lent buzz’ has begun, currently all over social media. First, let’s define what lent is. Biblegateway.com offers this definition:

“Lent is the span of time in the church calendar that starts with Ash Wednesday and ends with Easter Sunday…[It] is generally observed as a time for Christians to reflect, repent, and pray as a way of preparing their hearts for Easter.” (from Andy Rau, Senior Manager of Content, Biblegateway.org.)

Lent is about love: our Savior’s sacrificial love for us. Jesus literally became sin for us, so that we might have fellowship with the Heavenly Father. (2 Corinthians 5:21) That gift of love covers a multitude of sin. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23 NASB).

There is only one solution for the problem of our sin separating us from God…some have tried to earn their way to heaven by working harder or being religious…but Hebrews 9:22 says “without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness” (NASB).  Jesus Christ is our only hope… he died to pay the penalty for our sin and provided a way for us to have a relationship with God.

I am preparing for Easter through an observance of lent. Some may be working their way through devotional readings. Others are considering how we can love God in a deeper way by denying themselves– some abstain from coffee, chocolate or fried foods in an effort to draw near to God.

Recently I heard of a woman, who instead of “giving up,” chose to “give away” something each day before Easter Sunday. It got me to thinking about how the love of God compels us to give away to those who will never be able to give back to us. That’s just how God gave his son Jesus to us. For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16 NIV).

I started in my clothes closet, vowing to purge and donate one item a day that I haven’t worn in a year. (If you haven’t worn it in a year, you probably won’t wear it again.)  Since beginning, on some days, I’ve unloaded up to ten items. It’s gratifying to think of the many who will be blessed by receiving my unused clothes.

The process has been so freeing. I’ve been a victim of my fear of letting go. During this season, instead of caving in to fear, I have chosen to show love during lent. I’ve learned something important through the process: you have to let go to take hold of something new.

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,  I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:12-14 NIV

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The Lent Buzz – thoughts on the Easter season from @SGiesbrecht on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

sheryl giesbrechtAbout the author: Exchanging hurt for hope is Sheryl Giesbrecht’s focus—a message she shares with audiences as a radio and television personality, author and speaker. She served as Focus on the Family’s columnist for Pastor’s Wives for four years. Hundreds of her columns, magazine, It'll Be Okay: Finding God When Doubt Hides the Truth by [Giesbrecht Turner, Sheryl]and devotional articles have appeared in Focus on The Family Magazine and many others.

Sheryl is the author of It’ll Be Okay: Finding God When Doubt Hides the Truth (Redemption Press, March 2018). When we don’t get answers or see God’s guiding hand, it’s hard to keep moving forward in faith. Does God see me? Does he hear me? Does he care? Many Christians confuse doubt with unbelief and are afraid to admit those fears, but God is not threatened by our questions, and doubt does not negate our faith. Find a deeper understanding of the role doubt plays in your spiritual growth–and how learning to doubt your doubts enables faith to prevail.

Join the conversation: How will you choose to show love to Jesus during lent? How can we fall more deeply in love with our Savior?

Having the Right Doesn’t Make it Right

by Kathy Howard @KathyHHoward

They refused to sit down. Over the course of the first half of the football game several of the older fans around them politely asked the young couple to sit so they could see. But they ignored the requests.

They didn’t just hop up when something exciting happened. They stood continuously. Which would have been fine on the student side of the field. But alumni, parents, and grandparents filled this side. Many who could not physically stand for long periods of time.

Just before half time a university employee approached the standing pair.  Ah, someone had complained.

Will you please sit so others around you can see?

 No. We have every right to stand if we want. We will not sit.

 The employee shrugged and turned away.

I’d like to say the situation resolved with civility. Unfortunately, after the couple refused the employee’s request a few of the nearby fans got nasty. People tossed out rude comments. Still others approached them with less than polite demands to sit.

By the time the two football teams headed to the locker room for half time, tears ran down the young woman’s face and her husband looked like he could spit fire.

Did they have the right to stand for the entire game? Yes. No law against it.

Was it right for them to stand for the entire game? Especially when they knew their actions inconvenienced or harmed others? No.

Graciously letting go of their right for the benefit of others would have been the right thing to do.

Believers regularly have a similar choice to make. Christ’s sacrifice has set us free from sin, death, and the Law. Our life in Christ grants us great liberty. God has freed us from legalism and guilt. Yet, many things we have the freedom to do may not be God’s best for us – or others around us – in a given situation.

Paul confronts this issue in his first letter to the Christians in Corinth.  The specific situation involved eating meat sacrificed to idols. Because an idol of wood has no power, meat sacrificed to it benefits the body the same as other meat. A believer was “free” to eat. However, some believers had trouble with this truth. Seeing a mature believer eating meat that had been sacrificed to idols would have confused and misguided them.

Paul clearly taught a believer’s “freedom” must take a backseat to the well-being of others.

Everything is permissible – but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible – but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others… So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:23-24, 31, NIV)

When we make decisions regarding our freedom, God’s glory and the needs of others should always be our guiding principles. We may have the right to eat, drink, or act, but is it right? May grace and God’s glory guide our choices.

TWEETABLE
Having the Right Doesn’t Make it Right – insight from @KathyHHoward on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Kathy HowardAbout the author: Find out more about how to treat others with grace in Kathy Howard’s Bible study Lavish Grace: Poured Out, Poured Through, and Overflowing.Lavish Grace is a 9-week journey with the apostle Paul that helps readers discover God’s abundant grace for their daily lives and relationships. You can find out more about Kathy, her speaking and writing, and find free resources at www.KathyHoward.org.

Join the conversation: Have you ever given up a right because it was the right thing to do?