I Lied in Third Grade

by Kathy Collard Miller

I was the teacher’s pet in my third-grade class.

Everyone knew, especially my fellow students, that Mrs. Leighton favored me. As a child, having the feeling of her favor was like water for my thirsty soul.

For some reason, that teacher had chosen me as important and worthy of her special approval. Back then, I assumed she favored me because I was a smart, obedient student. In fact, for every report card in all my elementary years, each teacher wrote, “Kathy is a very dependable and conscientious student.” I loved that affirmation.

On one particular day, I said something hurtful to someone in class (I don’t remember what), and several students heard me. One student called Mrs. Leighton over and told her what I’d said. The teacher looked at me with concern and shock and asked, “Kathy, did you say that?”

All eyes were on me. The students know the truth. I know the truth. The possibility of destroying what I thrived on—my teacher’s approval—made me feel like I was in a vise. 

I chose to protect my needy soul. I lied. “No, Mrs. Leighton, I didn’t say that.” The teacher smiled her approval—she even looked triumphant—and turned away. And, in that moment, I knew I was a liar, and I felt ashamed.

As a third-grader, I didn’t understand grace. I believed my good performance earned that teacher’s pet status, therefore it was too risky to admit my wrongdoing and ask for forgiveness. Looking back now, I believe Mrs. Leighton would have responded, “Kathy, thank you for being honest. Please ask your friend for forgiveness, and all will be forgiven and forgotten.” But because I thought that my being a good student was the only reason Mrs. Leighton cared about me, I believed I was unable to be forgiven.

What a burden. What a cross to carry. And yet Jesus had already carried the cross and died on it for me. I learned this truth at age eighteen when I heard the Gospel clearly for the first time and did what I should have done in third grade. I confessed, “I’ve sinned, will you forgive me?”

I can’t know for sure what Mrs. Leighton would have said that day in the classroom. But I know for sure what Jesus said when I first asked him for salvation years ago and each time I confess a sin. He reminds me of the truth of Romans 5:7–9:

For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. (ESV)

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

About the author: In third grade, Kathy Collard Miller never could have comprehended the incredible journey of becoming a Christian and then serving God. As the award-winning and best-selling author of over 60 books, an international speaker, and as a lay counselor, Kathy has seen God’s grace in amazing ways. Her most recent book is Heart of Courage: Daughters of the King Bible Study Series, which is a women’s Bible study with ten lessons on different aspects of having God’s courage. Connect with Kathy at www.KathyCollardMiller.com and her Amazon author page.

Join the conversation: What gives you confidence in God’s unconditional love?

Loveable? Me?

by Jessica Van Roekel

I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore, I have continued my faithfulness to you. Jeremiah 31:3 ESV

Have you ever felt like the unchosen? Maybe you were the one who wasn’t invited to a girl’s night out. The next morning, you open your social media apps and discover that your friends got together, and you weren’t invited. What goes through your mind?

My response flip flops between grace and a sassy, “Excuse me?” On one hand, I give my friends the benefit of the doubt and consider it an oversight. I think, “They just forgot me.” But that makes me feel terrible. Who wants to be forgotten? Then, I think they left me out on purpose and my heart quakes at seeing them again. I wonder if they merely tolerate my presence or if they enjoy my company. After all, they went out and didn’t invite me. I definitely feel less than loved. In fact, I feel a little rejected.

It’s this kind of experience with other people that make the idea of everlasting love and faithfulness hard to believe. How am I supposed to believe that I’m loved if the people I do life with don’t choose me? And herein lies the challenge before us. Will we let our feelings of rejection by our Christian friends stand in the way of receiving the truth found in God’s Word?

In the above passage from Jeremiah, God reminds the Israelites of what he did for their ancestors when he brought them out of Egypt. All seemed lost. They were friendless, despised by the Egyptians, enslaved to work before God redeemed them and brought them to freedom by way of the desert and the sea.

God parted the sea and took them to the edge of the Promised land where they allowed their fear to say no to God’s open door. As a result, they wandered in the wilderness for forty long years, unlearning their slave identity and their tendency to idolatry. He remained faithful to His people in Jeremiah’s day, even when they had turned their backs on Him.

When we feel dismissed and disregarded by other members in our church family, it can lead us into a wilderness of pain and confusion. We can feel deserted, friendless, and rejected. But by remembering what God has already done for us, bringing us through every devastating circumstance, remembering who he is and who we are to him, we can perceive the wilderness as a special place of God’s grace and mercy.

His presence is with us in every moment, and he uses the hard places in our lives to whisper his love to us. It’s these difficult times that allow us to tighten the tuning of our heart to his heart. Feeling unwanted by the people in our lives gives us an opportunity to lean into God’s everlasting love for us. His love for us is not contingent on whether we feel loved by the people in our lives. Experiences of feeling rejected give us an opportunity to shift our focus from other people proving a loving God exists to believing by faith that God is loving.

Will you reach for God’s love the next time you feel less than loveable? He is faithful in his love for you.

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

About the author: Jessica Van Roekel loves the upside-down life of following Jesus as she journeys to wholeness through brokenness. As an author, speaker, and worship leader, she uses her gifts and experiences to share God’s transformative power to rescue, restore, and renew. She longs for you to know that rejection doesn’t have to define or determine your future when placed in God’s healing hands. Find out more reframingrejectionbook.com.

Join the conversation: Has rejection ever tempted you to feel unloved?

What Are You Meditating on?

by Christy Largent

It was 10:29pm, and I needed to turn off the light and go to sleep. Instead, I was mindlessly scrolling through Instagram, silently berating myself for what I hadn’t done that day, and what I was falling short on…again, as I watched all my “friends” who were doing so much more and being so much more successful than I.

When I finally turned off the phone and laid my head down on the pillow, I was so convicted.

I had to confess my sin of comparison, my lack of gratitude and my disobedience in filling my mind with thoughts and images that drew me further away from my Creator.

I’m not saying Instagram is evil. Please don’t misunderstand…

But what I did was not right.

Meditating on, that is “to focus your thoughts on, to reflect and ponder over” according to Merriam-Webster, is what I was actually doing that night as I flipped through Instagram. And as I mentioned, I wasn’t cheering them on, but instead was comparing myself to them and coming up short.

We have to be soooo careful with what we allow into our mind.

In Proverbs 4 we see a wise Father sharing truths for living.

“My (daughter,) be attentive to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings. Let them not escape from your sight; Keep them within your heart. For they are life to those who find them, And healing to all their flesh.”    Proverbs 4:20-22 ESV

These verses convict me.

The Father is encouraging his child to pay attention to the truth.

To hear it be attentive and incline your ear.

To observe it let them not escape your sight.

To focus on it and meditate on it keep them within your heart.

And then to enjoy life and healing from that truth – they are life and healing

I’m convicted about what I’m focusing on. And what I’m filling my mind with especially before I go to sleep.

The latest science tells us how important sleep is to both our physical and mental health. When we sleep, our body repairs and does a kind of “reboot” as it sorts through everything from the day. This includes a brain adjustment as our thoughts and memories are sorted and catalogued and organized, so that it’s primed and ready to go the next day. (If you’ve ever had a bad night’s sleep, and you notice the next day you’re fuzzy and forgetful, then you’ve experienced what happens when our brain isn’t allowed to refresh correctly.)

This is why it’s even more important to fill our minds with truth before we go to sleep at night. We can set ourselves up for repair and renewal as we sleep by feeding God’s truth into our magnificent computer of a mind, so it can reformat as we sleep.

So tonight, I’ll be putting my phone aside and pulling out my Bible to do a “download” of the good stuff before I close my eyes. I do it to be attentive to His words…that the truth will be life and healing to me…so that I can be life and healing to others.

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

About the author: Christy Largent is a mindset and positivity expert who helps women find their own Opportunity Mindset, so that they can live their best for God’s glory. She is a professional speaker and author of the book 31 Positive Communication Skills for Women, and the host of the Podcasts Encouraging Words for Working Moms and Finding Your Opportunity Mindset w/ Christy Largent. Christy lives in Plano, TX with her husband and 2 teenagers. When she’s not playing chauffeur, she’s playing Pickleball. Visit www.christylargent.com to connect.

Join the conversation: How do you get your mind ready for bed?

Fixing Our Eyes

by Patti Richter

We must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. Hebrews 2:1 NASB

We drove along the flat and desolate landscape of South Texas for our family’s first vacation to the Gulf of Mexico.

Finally, we came upon a colorful seaside village where the shops stood too close together to allow more than a glimpse of the water. But as we circled around to the backside of our hotel, we gazed in wonder at the sudden view of the ocean stretching to the horizon.

Making our way down to the beach later, we came upon a sea of towels that also seemed to stretch to infinity. Once we had claimed an empty spot of sand to accommodate our belongings, we headed into the surf.

The powerful waves thrilled without threatening us, but we soon discovered the ocean waves pulled to shore at an angle. While we romped in the water, the currents pulled us away from our beach location.

Since the job of keeping our possessions in sight fell to me, I noticed my gradually diminished view of them with each new wave. Before long, I could barely distinguish the color patterns of our towels from the bright congregation of others. So, every few minutes we pushed our way back against the current to regain our original position.

After tiring of that repeated effort, I realized my need for some point of reference. Then I saw it: a flagpole, just inland from our towels, with its flag blowing in the sea breeze. Now I could enjoy the surf without fretting about losing sight of our spot on the beach. 

Like those mighty ocean currents, there’s a strong tide in this world that can pull us from our faith foundation. Shifting ideologies contradict the truth of God’s word. Forceful arguments and images confound our perspective of right and wrong and eventually divide friends, family members, congregations, and denominations. If our spiritual focus becomes blurry, these wrong influences will keep us from following God’s plans and purposes for our lives.

The apostle Paul warned believers not to be “tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ” (Ephesians 4:14-15 NAS).

When we stand firm, anchored in both God’s truth and his love, we become signposts for those taken captive by the currents of this world.

Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. Hebrews 12:1-2 NAS

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

About the author: Patti Richter lives in north Georgia with her husband, Jim. She is a freelance journalist and long-time faith columnist at BlueRibbonNews.com with more than four hundred published articles.

Patti is the co-author of the award-winning Signs of His Presence—Experiencing God’s Comfort in Times of Suffering. It is the story of Luann Mire, whose godly husband was blindsided by an indictment due to a former employer’s tax fraud. The resulting prison sentence and restitution took the once joyful couple into a long season of suffering as they fought judicial tyranny. Helpless to change her situation, Luann endured a painful examination of her life and found God faithful to His promises.

Join the conversation: What do you do to push back against the current of the world?

3 Truths to Keep Hope Alive

by Grace Fox

Life is flat-out hard sometimes. Stuff happens when we least expect it, and it can send us into a tailspin or drive us to our knees. Sometimes that stuff lingers much longer than we’d like. We tie a knot and hang on for dear life, but fear threatens to slip our grip.

I’m in a season like that right now. I’ve lost four friends in six weeks. The oldest was 53. The others left behind 10 children ages 8 thru 16 years. Two more have been diagnosed with cancer, and one has been fighting for his life, on ECMO, since early December. My heart wants to cry, “Enough already!” and yet the hurt and uncertainty continue to linger.

 Perhaps you can relate. I suspect that, if everyone reading this devotional pooled their stories, we could fill a book. Or two. Or more.

So what’s the key to hanging onto hope during these seasons when they come? Here are three things to remember:

  • God is with us.

Joseph was betrayed by his brothers, sold into slavery, falsely accused of sexual assault, and forgotten in prison. I wonder if he sometimes felt like God had turned His back on him. Nonetheless, Scripture says that God was with him (Genesis 39:2,3,21,23).

The enemy will try to convince us that God has abandoned us, but don’t be deceived. God has not changed. His faithfulness remains the same, therefore, rest assured that He is with us as we deal with difficulty. He will never leave us.

  • Our trials are temporary.

Joseph’s hardships lasted about 14 years. Some of you might think that’s a long time, but others might think, If only mine were so short-lived. No matter the length of time our difficulties stay, it’s easy to lose sight of the truth when we’re in the middle of the mess. The truth is – our trials will not last forever (2 Corinthians 4:17).

Joseph’s hardships lasted until “the time came for [the LORD] to fulfill his word (Psalm 105:19). Ours, too, will end at just the right time. So, again—be encouraged. This too shall pass. We might not know when they’ll end or what the process will look like enroute, but they will not last forever.

  • Our trials are part of a picture that’s bigger than the one we see at this time.

Joseph’s hardships were divinely designed. Psalm 105:17-18 say, “Then he [God] sent someone to Egypt ahead of them—Joseph, who was sold as a slave. There in prison, they bruised his feet with fetters and put his neck in an iron collar. Until the time came to fulfill his word, the LORD tested Joseph’s character.”

Why did God deem it necessary to test Joseph using these means? Because He planned to make Joseph second-in-command in Egypt. God wanted to prepare him for the task, and this was the best way to do it.

God has purposes yet unseen for our lives, too. Every one of the hardships we experience are part of the pruning and honing necessary to prepare us. They’re also designed to make us more like Jesus no matter what our destiny is (Romans 8:28, 29).

Father God, we don’t understand why hard seasons come our way. But we belong to You, and we want Your highest purpose fulfilled in and through us. So help us remember that You’re with us, hard seasons are temporary, and they’re part of a bigger picture than the one we see now. We trust You with our pain. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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About the author: Grace Fox co-directs an international missionary sending agency, speaks at women’s events overseas and across North America, and has authored 12 books. She’s a regular contributor to Mornings with Jesus (Guideposts), a member of the “First 5” writing team for Proverbs 31 Ministries, and co-host of the podcast “Your Daily Bible Verse.” Her new devotional Keeping Hope Alive: Devotions for Strength in the Storm releases today and is available wherever Christian books are sold. www.gracefox.com/blog www.fb.com.gracefox.author

Join the conversation. Are you in a hard season?

Why Our Thoughts About God Matter

by Grace Fox

Where I live in British Columbia, winter is marked by overcast skies and rain. It’s already upon us. The marina dock is slick, and carrying groceries or suitcases from the parking lot to our boat isn’t exactly a ton of fun. The memory of falling face-first while pulling a suitcase and wearing a 25-pound backpack still haunts me.

I could quickly fall into complaining about the damp cold and the dangers of walking on a wet dock, except that I know God placed me and my husband here. I also know that God is wise and good. He makes no mistakes. He has my best interest in mind. He uses circumstances to refine my character and make me more like Jesus. He has purposes beyond my understanding for placing us here, and He’s given me the privilege of playing a role in seeing those purposes fulfilled.

If I start second-guessing God’s goodness and wisdom (ie: “What was He thinking when He told us to move aboard a sailboat? This is ‘way too hard for a woman my age!”), then I will soon resent living here. I’ll envy my friends who live in houses—especially if they have attached garages—and discontentment will eat me alive.

In contrast, focusing my mind on truth about God brings peace. Because He’s wise and good and makes no mistakes, I know He is completely trustworthy. He’s got my back and will give me everything needed to thrive through another winter as liveaboards. I can trust and not be afraid.

John 8:12-25 tells the story of Jesus addressing a group of unbelievers:

“That is why I said that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am who I claim to be, you will die in your sins.”

“Who are you?” they demanded.

Jesus replied, “The one I have always claimed to be” (vv.24-25 NLT).

When Jesus walked this earth, He taught that people’s thoughts about Him mattered. Unless they believed the truth about who He said He was—the Savior sent to cleanse them from sin and restore them to a right relationship with God—they would die in their sins.

The same principle holds true in our thoughts about God the Father. They matter. They matter a great deal. If they’re not based on truth, we develop a skewed understanding of who He is and His role in our lives. We develop a distorted perspective and start living according to our own truth. Eventually we sacrifice peace and joy for envy, discontentment, and fear.

Our human tendency is to make God into something our finite minds can grasp. We make Him into something we want Him to be so we can excuse sinful behaviors. We misconstrue His character by over-emphasizing one attribute at the expense of another.

Let’s guard against doing this, okay? Let’s ask God to reveal any inaccurate thoughts about Him and to replace them with truth.

Our thoughts about God ultimately determine our destiny both in this life and in the hereafter. They’re the most important thing about us, so let’s strive to ensure they’re based on truth.

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

About the author: Grace Fox co-directs an international missionary sending agency, speaks at women’s events overseas and across North America, and has authored ten books. She’s a regular contributor to Mornings with Jesus (Guideposts) and a member of the “First 5” writing team for Proverbs 31 Ministries. Her new devotional Finding Hope in Crisis: Devotions for Calm in Chaos won the Golden Scroll “Devotional Book of the Year” award and is available wherever Christian books are sold.

Join the conversation: Have you been tempted to give God human limitations in your understanding of Him?

This Really Happened.

by Nan Corbitt Allen

Years ago, when we were serving in a small country church, a lady stood up in the Wednesday night prayer meeting and requested prayer. It was not for herself, she said, but for Laura. Seems Laura was going through a difficult time and needed God’s touch. Well, the church member went on to describe Laura’s woes. It seemed that Laura had a premonition that something bad was going to happen and it did. A friend of Laura’s was shot by a deranged acquaintance, Mickey, who has had amnesia since he returned from the Korean war…

Wait. What?

It didn’t take long for the rest of the congregation to realize that this prayer request was for characters on the soap opera Days of Our Lives. The pastor looked at the lady with sympathetic eyes, and, finally realizing what the rest of us understood, he prayed for Laura while most of us snickered under our breaths.

But for most of us, it was a time to realize that the truth can be skewed by a perception—even a sincere belief.

Many years ago, I heard this story that has stuck with me:

The three-alarm fire started in an upstairs bedroom. By the time the first responders arrived, the building was in full blaze. A young couple and their three-year-old son stood outside huddled together, all sharing a blanket.

“My baby, my baby is still in there!” the mother shouted. “She’s still in her crib.”

The brave fire fighter rushed into the burning building, battling the smoke and flames. Finally, he saw the infant’s crib. Quickly, the man grabbed the child, wrapped it in a blanket, and prayed that he’d make it out of the house alive with the baby. Outside, the mother rushed to the fire fighter, grabbed her baby, and began to thank the man for the rescue. But then, her relief turned to horror. As she peeled back the layers of the tiny blanket, she didn’t see the beautiful face of her child, but the artificial features of a life-like doll that had also been lying in the crib. The fire fighter truly believed that he had picked up the child, but he had been mistaken. A classic case of being sincere, but being sincerely wrong.

Sincerity and even honesty are revered in our culture. In fact, these are admirable traits in a biblical context as well. Paul writes in Philippians 4:8-9 “…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (NIV). How do we know what is true? It will align with what the Bible teaches. Period.

I later found out that the lady in prayer meeting had a history of dropping out of reality, and I was truly sad for her. Yet sometimes, we can make the same error by assessing a situation before having all the facts or by accepting a half-truth as the whole. That’s how gossip and spiritual tangents develop.

Paul addressed this in 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV), “…[take] every thought captive to the obedience of Christ…” To me this means that we should test everything that we hear or read before we start to believe or internalize it. Many core beliefs are not based on truths (those found in Scripture), but on what we want to hear, “…wanting to have [our] ears tickled …”  (2 Timothy 4:3 NIV).

It’s easy to mistake sincerity for Truth. So, test everything. Pray about everything. Don’t believe everything you hear.

P.S. As for Laura and Mickey, I’m sure they figured it out. We prayed for them anyway.

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

Nan Corbitt Allen

About the author: Nan Corbitt Allen has written over 100 published dramatic musicals, sketchbooks, and collections in collaboration with Dennis Allen, her husband of 45+ years. A three-time Dove Award winner, Nan’s lyrics and dramas have been performed around the world. Dennis and Nan have sold almost 3 million choral books. Nan and Dennis retired in 2020 from full time teaching at Truett McConnell University. They now live south of Nashville. They have two grown sons and two beautiful grandchildren.

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Nan’s book, Small Potatoes @ the Piggly Wiggly, is a collection of devotionals that reveal the great impact seemingly insignificant, routine experiences can have in our lives. 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.

Join the conversation: What truth has been skewed in the past for you by a misconception?

The Subtle Deception of Sin

by Candy Arrington

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? Matthew 7:3 NIV

In recent years, various celebrities have pled guilty to wrongdoing after vehemently denying charges, and sports figures have admitted cheating to win. When I read these accounts, my first response is indignation. How could these public figures set such a bad example and maintain a seeming lack of remorse?

And then, as is often His way, the Lord whispers, “You are the same.”

“Me? No, I’m not!”

“Remember high school Latin class?”

“Oh, that.”

It began innocently, although cheating is never innocent. There were only four of us in the class and our teacher was old and partially blind. One day we were surprised by a pop quiz, and one of the girls slid her open book into her desk and looked up the answers. Soon, the others were doing the same. I resisted until a day when I hadn’t studied the vocabulary. I was going to fail the quiz…unless. Everyone was doing it. Why shouldn’t I?

Soon, an open book in my desk was commonplace. Then, prior to the exam, which we all were to be exempted from because of our high, ill-gotten grades, the one who began the practice of cheating outed us all. I was embarrassed, ashamed, and mad. Why had she exposed us without warning, without giving us a chance to stop? I’d been caught, and my sin was out there for all to know.

Satan is a sly guy. He convinces us sin is fine, as long as we don’t get caught. He whispers, “Go ahead. You’re safe. No one will find out.”

So, we reason there is nothing wrong with tiny sins—jumping a turnstile, running a red light, fabricating excuses, enhancing the truth. We look at others, measure our sin against theirs, and think what I’m doing isn’t that bad. But don’t be deceived by the father of lies. Sin is sin and all sin is equal. There is no grading scale—no this-sin-is-less-bad-than-another. Every sin has the same effect—separation from God.

Perhaps the greatest deception of sin is the lies we tell ourselves to justify our actions and attitudes, and the only way to avoid deceiving ourselves is to actively work to stay off the slippery slope of lies. You see, sin has a snowball effect. Once you lie, to yourself or someone else, you usually have to tell another lie to cover the first one.

My grandfather was a wise man. One of his life precepts was: If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember what you said. In other words, if you lie, you must remember the lie so you can make sure you re-create it later. Most of us aren’t smart enough to juggle many lies for very long. So why try?

Start today. Make a conscious effort to change the things in your life that you consider “tiny” sins. Ask God to help you. One of the first steps in overcoming sin is admitting what you’re doing is sin and that it’s wrong. Then repent, which means to go in the opposite direction, making an intentional about-face.

While we may be indignant about the sin of others, we’re all just as tarnished. Admit it, and then move forward with honesty, believing you can change through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit within. God doesn’t expect us to be perfect, but He does expect us to make an effort to be more like Him.

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

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

Join the conversation: Are there “tiny” sins you tolerate in your heart?

Please Pass the Salt!

by Kelly Wilson Mize

I’m not proud of it, but I am an admitted salt-a-holic. For me, this simplest of seasonings makes almost any food taste better. A generous amount of salt on vegetables and even some fruits (I think it’s a Southern thing?) Yes, please!

Health-wise, too much salt in a person’s diet can definitely be problematic. But in moderation, salt brings a food’s natural flavor to life. Salt contains nutrients that are not only beneficial, but essential to the human body. Did you know that if you drink too much water, it can flush the sodium out of your system and cause a fatal condition called hyponatremia? 

In the book of Colossians, Paul uses salt to illustrate the importance of being gracious in conversation. Just as salt provides a desirable seasoning for the food we eat, grace should season the words we speak.

Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:5-6 NIV

In the New Living Translation of this passage, the phrase “seasoned with salt” is synonymously described as “gracious and attractive.”  In communicating with nonbelievers, our words should be attractive–welcoming and full of flavor, appealing to those who have not yet come to know God.

Salt is a preservative. Besides adding flavor, it can extend the life of certain foods. Do our words help or hinder the spread of Truth? Preserve it or destroy it?Without God’s grace, communication can be dull, tasteless, and ineffective. Matthew Henry wrote, “Grace is the salt that seasons our discourse and keeps it from corrupting.” 

In addition to its other uses, salt helps save lives! Did you know that in the United States, more salt is used to de-ice frozen streets and highways in the winter months, than is consumed in food year-round? Salt, in essence, clears the way. Shouldn’t that be true of the words we speak? They should make clear, and not obstruct the path to Jesus!

Words are forever. Positive or negative, once a word has been spoken, it can never be taken back. How gracious are we in the way that we behave and communicate?  In our interaction with others, let us consistently ask ourselves:

  • Are my intentions pure? 
  • Is my tone kind? 
  • Do my words preserve Truth?
  • Do my conversations make clear the path to Jesus?

As believers, may we take great care in the words that we speak, prayerful that our conversations are pleasing to God and helpful in expanding His kingdom. And where our words lack flavor, preservation, or clarity–may we always remember the simple recipe for improvement that we read about in Colossians: just add a pinch (or more!) of salt! 

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


About the author: Kelly Wilson Mize is a wife, mother of two young adults, and former educator with a master’s degree in education. In 20 years as a published writer, she has composed numerous articles, interviews, curriculum projects, and devotions, and has contributed to eight traditionally published books. Credits include LifeWay, Bethany House, Guideposts, (in)courage, and others. Kelly’s first full-length publication, a picture book, will be released later this year. You can find out more at kellywilsonmize.com

Join the conversation: With what do you try to salt your words?

The Root that Pushed Through

by Terri Gillespie

When the wicked thrive, wrongdoing increases, but the righteous will see their downfall. Proverbs 29:16 TLV

Have you ever seen a thin blade of grass find its way through concrete? It seems impossible, but as a homeowner, I can tell you it’s not only possible, it happens frequently. How about a mystery plant or those tiny seedlings from the maple tree breaking through the sidewalk? How is that possible?

Concrete contains microscopic cracks invisible to the naked eye. Plants have new cell growth at the tips of their roots. As the plant grows, so does the root system. God gave these roots sensitive tips that have the power to seek the path of least resistance for growth. Those microscopic cracks become the open door for plants growing beneath your sidewalk, patio, or driveway.

Once a plant’s roots discover a minuscule crack in the concrete, they force their way into the slab. Even small weeds and seedlings have the power to displace concrete using potential energy from root growth. Over time, the plant’s continued growth can crack, break, or buckle the surrounding concrete—at which point you may see the plant break through the surface.

God’s truth is like that little plant and the hard concrete is like those in the world who have turned their back on that truth. Nothing can keep His truth from springing forth. So, if the Creator of the Universe can create a tiny seed with enough power to push through concrete, then how much more, can we His children be a voice in this world?

These days we see a lot of “concrete” that scoffs at our little seedlings of truth. At times it may feel like they have buried us alive in hardness. The world may think themselves clever and firmly in control with what they think is a solid barrier against God’s truth, but a single little seedling of His truth can break up the hardness.

Therefore he told me, “This is the Lord’s message to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by strength and not by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. Zechariah 4:6 NET

What is your blade of truth? What is the seedling of truth that you are passionate about—that He has planted in your heart? God’s love? His redemption? His reconciliation? His forgiveness?

This isn’t about religion, or doctrine, or the finer points of our faith journey. This is about the core foundational truth that changed us. That which caused our hardness to break, so that life could spring forth. The root that pushed through and turned us to Jesus, who brought us to His Father.

Is that truth evident in our writing, our social media, and our conversations?

Sometimes, we might surrender and think there’s no way to break through. We mustn’t give up because the victory may already be growing and ready to push through. When that crack presents itself, our little root will find the doorway to get through. Are we ready to speak in love and wisdom?

So brace your minds for action. Keep your balance. And set your hope completely on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Yeshua the Messiah. 1 Peter 1:13 TLV

May we watch for the seedling that springs forth and be prepared to share the truth that set us free.

About the author: Award-winning author and speaker, Terri Gillespie writes stories of faith to nurture souls. Her novels, devotionals, and blogs have drawn readers to hunger for a deeper relationship with their Heavenly Father, and His Son Jesus. Her newest book, Sweet Rivalry, releases in late 2021. http://www.authorterrigillespie.com

Join the conversation: Have you seen truth break through the hardness? Please share!