Breathtaking Climb to the Top

by Melissa Henderson

The appointment with my new spine doctor had been scheduled the previous day. Arriving at the building, I noticed an elevator and stairs to reach the office on the third floor. Choosing to take a healthier option, I walked to the stairs and began the climb. I was proud of myself for making a good decision for my body and heart.

As I was already running behind for the appointment, I picked up the pace and climbed the stairs a bit quicker than usual. First flight of steps, then, the second, and finally the third. By the time I reached the door to the medical office, I was out of breath. A thin layer of sweat formed on my forehead.

Trying to gain my composure and hopefully, not breathing too heavily, I approached the check-in counter. A lady behind the plexiglass asked for my name and insurance information. My mind was racing. Heart pounding, breathing in and out quickly, I tried to calm myself and provide the items requested.

All was good. Check in complete. Finding a seat in the waiting room, I began taking deep breaths in and out in hopes of relaxing. I prayed and asked God to calm my mind and body.

Only a few moments until a door opened and my name was called.

“Let’s take your blood pressure first.” The friendly nurse pointed to a chair where I could sit.

The blood pressure cuff was placed on my arm. In a short time, the nurse asked, “Are you okay? Your numbers are high today. Are you on any blood pressure medications?”

My response began with a laugh. “No. My pressure is always great. But, I must share that I just walked up those three flights of stairs.” We both laughed and agreed the pressure numbers were most likely due to my climb. The nurse suggested we try again after the visit with the doctor.

Sitting in the room, I began reflecting on my breathtaking exertion. I had put my heart into each step in anticipation of reaching the top.

How often do I put that kind of energy and dedication into sharing the love of Christ? Have there been opportunities to share the good news with joy, stopped by my decision to wait until another time? Have I ever been so enthusiastic that my breathing became rapid with excitement and my heart raced with anticipation of sharing His love? Have there been moments when I couldn’t get His message out fast enough?

Today and every day, I want to be ready to share the love of Christ. In Acts, just as Jesus was about to ascend up to heaven, He gave the apostles their assignment: “…You shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth” (Acts 1:8b NASB). A witness is someone that has personally experienced something. All we need to do is tell what Jesus has personally done for us. Accepted us just as we were. Paid for our sin with His life. All an expression of His great love. All done in grace.

What might feel awkward to us may just change the course of someone’s life.

The next time I visit that doctor’s office, I plan to climb the stairs again, only maybe a little slower. I will be ready to share the love of Christ no matter where I go.

“The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life.” Job 33:4 NIV

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

Melissa Henderson
Licky the Lizard by [Melissa Henderson, Mark Brayer]

About the author: Award-winning author Melissa Henderson writes inspirational messages laced with a bit of humor. With stories in books, magazines, devotionals and more, Melissa hopes to encourage readers. Melissa is the author of Licky the Lizard and Grumpy the Gator. Her passions are helping in community and church. Melissa is an Elder, Deacon and Stephen Minister. Follow Melissa on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and at http://www.melissaghenderson.com

Join the conversation: What motivates you to share the good news about Jesus?

God Save America

by Sheri Schofield

Yesterday I had to have one of my paintings scanned at a local print shop. It was a picture of Jesus on the cross. When the young man doing the work accidentally sent the jpeg to a wrong email address. I said, “I wonder what that person will do when they get this picture?”

The man smiled and said, “Maybe they will find Jesus.”

I asked if he was a Christian. He was not, but he believed Jesus was a great teacher, and he approved of Jesus’ teachings. I said, “Did you know that Jesus claimed to be God?”

He blinked. Clearly, he had never heard that. I told him this was the rationale the Jews gave for crucifying Jesus, though they were clearly doing it out of jealousy. He agreed with the jealousy. I could see he was perplexed. I had given him something to think about. I will see him again, after he has thought about this for a while. There will be a follow-up conversation, for I feel he will give this some thought. Maybe those few words will open the door to his heart next time we speak. In the meantime, I will be praying for him.

Our world is lost. At the founding of America, George Washington was chosen to be the first President of the United States. In his inaugural address, he pointed out a truth: “…the propitious smiles of Heaven, can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right, which Heaven itself has ordained…”* 

As I listen to the news and the immoral agenda being pressed upon our nation, I am grieved. This is not the nation our founders had in mind when they dedicated their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to fighting for independence. Confusion and sin is rampant. Witchcraft and New Age religions are increasingly predominant in our culture. A large portion of our people have turned their backs on God, and many Christians are hesitant to speak out about the salvation found only in Jesus, for fear of ridicule and rejection.

Can God’s smiles be expected? Can God bless America as we have become? No. But the great fact remains: God can still save America, if we, his people, called by his name, will come together again and pray, seek his face, call on his name, and reach out to the lost people around us with God’s truth. Mankind is born into sin, slaves to Satan, and can only be rescued by crying out to Jesus for help. The lost people around us will not turn to Jesus unless we pray for them then speak up about the salvation he offers.

The fate of America and the world in which we live depends upon our prayers, our sharing Jesus with others, and the Holy Spirit’s power. We are drawing closer every day to Christ’s return. The only question I have is this: Will there be one final harvest of souls in America and around this world before God calls an end to time? My lifework is dedicated toward that end.

A question has been passed down in recent times: If it were illegal to be a Christian, and you were arrested for being one, would there be enough evidence to convict you?

If that ever happens, I want the evidence of my faith to be overwhelming to those around me! Let there be witnesses wherever I have walked. I do not care about the personal cost. I have taken up my cross. I’m going all out for this.

God save America!

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9 NIV

*From National Archives and Records Administration, Washington’s Inaugural Address of 1789.

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

sheri schofield

About the author: Award-winning author, illustrator, and Bible teacher Sheri Schofield ministers to children and their families through her ministry, Faithwind 4 Kids. After serving Jesus through children’s ministries and personal evangelism for many years, she understands how to communicate God’s plan of salvation clearly to those who are seeking God.

Her first book on salvation, “The Prince and the Plan”, was designed specifically for children. But during COVID, Sheri sensed the need to also provide help for adults. Her new book for adults, “God? Where Are You?,” tells tells who God is, how we became separated from him, and what he is doing to bring us back to himself through Jesus. At the end of each chapter is a section called “Food For Thought”, which answers questions many unbelievers have, such as—If God is good, why do terrible things happen?—Is anyone too “bad” for God to want to rescue them from sin? This biblically based book is short and easy to read. 

Join the conversation: Has God given you an opportunity to share Jesus with someone lately?

Silent Witness

by Louise Tucker Jones

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39 (NIV)

Several years ago, I happened upon a beautiful, mahogany wood-framed picture on a 90% off sale. I immediately claimed it as my own. Not only was it the only way I could afford a $200 piece of art, but it also displayed the above Bible verse, one of my favorites, in calligraphy. It was also written in Spanish, which made me love it even more. 

Majoring in Spanish in college, I spent summers working in San Marcos, Texas. Most of my co-workers were Hispanic and I also attended a Hispanic church, “La Iglesia Bautista,” where I taught a Sunday School class to twelve-year-old boys. Though I’m sure it was awkward for them to have the only Anglo in church for their teacher, they eventually grew to love me as much as I loved them, and brought me little gifts when I left at the end of the summer.

The picture brought back sweet memories as I hung it on the wall of our family room. Soon after that, we had new carpet installed in our home and the entire carpet crew was Hispanic. My husband was present during the installation and told me how each worker stopped and gazed on the picture. He said one older gentleman, who spoke no English, stood and pondered it for a long time. I had to wonder if he knew the Savior of that Bible verse.

Sometimes we forget that we present a witness to people in more than spoken words. People look at the way we live. The things we cherish. How we speak to each other. They notice how we treat strangers, especially during this Covid crisis. We need to take inventory of ourselves. Are we kind to checkers at the grocery store? Do we thank those who bring curbside service of food or other products to our cars? Are we gracious on social media? A single negative post can speak volumes to people we don’t even know. The Bible tells us to “be very careful how we live—not as unwise, but as wise, making the most of every opportunity….” (Ephesians 5:15-16) NIV

I will never know whether the older gentleman who pondered the artwork in my home knew our Savior, but I am thankful that God used a picture and a Bible verse as a silent witness of Christ’s love.

Lord Jesus, thank you that You do not look at or judge us according to outward appearances—our race, color, language, age, size or any other trait. You look at our hearts. Please let mine be pure. Amen.

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Silent Witness – encouragement from Louise Tucker Jones on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Louise Tucker Jones Profile

About the author: Louise Tucker Jones loves to touch hearts. Her poignant life stories have been published in hundreds of magazines and anthologies, including over a dozen Chicken Soup for the Soul titles. Having a son with Down syndrome, Louise writes extensively concerning people with special needs, co-authoring the Gold Medallion award-winning book, Extraordinary Kids. Married to Carl for 45 years before he relocated to heaven, Louise is a mother, grandmother, professed chocoholic, and founder of the support group, Wives With Heavenly Husbands.

Join the conversation: What are ways you have found to be an effective silent witness?

The Best Kind of Role Model

by Julie Zine Coleman @JulieZColeman

Blogger Kathi Mascias told a story years ago about Rosey Grier, the former NFL defensive tackle. She wrote: “A mountain of a man with a heart of gold, he was always aware of being in the public eye.” Rosey once spoke to a group of NFL recruits about this very topic. A recruit protested. “I don’t want to be a role model,” he told Rosey.

Rosey replied, “Son, when you accepted the NFL draft, you stepped into that position. The only thing you have to decide now is what kind of role model you’re going to be.”

That reality has a particular ring of truth for believers in Christ. God has decided to reveal himself in this present age through his Church. We are called to live lives that reflect who we are in Christ to the world around us. Paul urged the Philippians to live as “… children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life…” (Philippians 2:15-16).

Paul also wrote the Ephesians: “… the manifold wisdom of God [is] now made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 3:10 NASB). It’s not just our fellow man  getting an education. Even the angels and demons are learning about God through the lives of those who believe in him.

Kind of a heavy responsibility, don’t you think? What’s especially sobering is the fact that it is not the words we preach, but our actual lives that are doing the talking.

We often equate our witness to words we speak. There are all kinds of books and programs out there, telling us exactly what to say when sharing the gospel. There’s nothing wrong with studying these things, for Peter encourages us to be ready “to give an account for the hope that is in you.” But if we think our primary witness is in our impressive speech, we’d better think again.

Note Peter urges us to be ready with a response. When others see Christ in us, through the way we are living our lives, they will be intrigued. The genuineness of our walk will naturally raise questions. So we must be ready for when they inquire as to what makes us different.

Actions pre-authenticating words. It really is a genius plan.

In the absence of validating action, words can be mistakenly perceived. I remember a fellow camp staff member who had a requirement to fill during his summer job. He had signed a promise to his Christian college that he would share the gospel at least three times a week. Desperate to keep his obligation, he embarrassed us several times in public places, preaching at anyone who made eye contact. I never did see him lead anyone to the Lord. But I did see him repulse some people. Words come across as preachy judgment when they are not authenticated by actions.

We show God’s love for others by loving them ourselves. Our kind acts demonstrate God’s kind intentions toward them. Humility and brokenness allow them to see our common reality: without Christ, we stand guilty, condemned, unworthy. Extending grace and mercy reflects the cure we’ve been granted: God’s unmerited forgiveness and acceptance.

How we live determines how effectively we fulfill our role as God-revealers. Whether we like it or not, when we believed, we stepped into that position. It’s up to us what kind of role model we are going to be.

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lamp stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16 NASB

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The Best Kind of Role Model – encouragement from @JulieZColeman on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Julie-Coleman-headshot-295x300

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

Does the Bible depict women as second-class citizens of the Kingdom? Jesus didn’t think so. Unexpected Love takes a look at the encounters that Jesus had with women in the gospels. You will fall in love with the dynamic, beautiful, and unexpectedly personal Jesus.

Join the conversation: What do you think is most important in a role model?

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?

If Only I Can Touch Him

by Karen DeArmond Gardner @kgardnerwrites

Jesus said, “Daughter, you took a risk trusting me, and now you’re healed and whole. Live well, live blessed!” Luke 8:48 MSG

She wove her way through the crowd, her only thought was reaching Jesus. If the crowd knew the truth they would turn on her, yet she was determined to encounter the One who could heal her.

The crowd stopped moving when a man approached Him, obviously full of sorrow as he told Jesus of his dying daughter. He begged the Teacher to come and heal her. Jesus agreed and began to accompany him to his home.

The woman slipped in behind the Teacher, and in desperation, reached out, managing to touch a tassel hanging from His prayer shawl. The moment she made contact, she felt power course through her body. Stunned, her only thought was, “I am healed!”

Fear gripped her when He suddenly stopped. Scanning the crowd, he demanded to know, “Who touched Me?”

The men with Him answered, “With so many in this crowd, Rabbi, it is hard to tell who touched you.”

Terror set in as His eyes fell on her, “Who touched me?” He knew! His eyes locked on hers and she fell at His feet to tell her story.

With a trembling voice, she blurted out, “It was me, I touched you. For twelve years I’ve been bleeding.” She knew she as spoke the words that the crowd could turn on her; the Torah was clear: everyone she touched became unclean, and to touch a man in public was forbidden. “I am alone, with no one, as I am untouchable. I have seen every doctor and spent all my money. My hope was gone until I heard about the people you healed. My only thought was if I could touch you, just maybe I, too, could be healed.”

The crowd looked on, waiting to see what the Teacher would do. In amazement, they watched Him reach down to lift her chin. He looked into her eyes with such love and said, “Daughter, you took a risk trusting me, and now you’re healed and whole. Live well! Live blessed!” Tears streamed down her face as she was enveloped in His love and acceptance.

As she made her way back through the crowd, she held her head high, the word “daughter” ringing in her ears.

The question that runs through my mind is this: why did Jesus bother asking who touched Him? He had to know. And although He knew how the crowd could react to her story, He asked anyway.

She was unclean, physically and spiritually. A woman who could not participate in worship and had not been touched by anyone in 12 years. She was broken in so many ways; she had nothing to lose so in spite of the fear, she blurted out her story for all to hear.

This is what Jesus wanted—for all to hear her story. It’s what He wants from all of us.

“Has the Lord redeemed you? Then speak out! Tell others He has redeemed you…” Psalms 107:2.

For too many years I hesitated to tell my story. Like the woman with the ‘issue of blood’, I expected rejection and judgment. Telling our story is not about what happened to us but what God did with what happened to us, “… to show the faithful love of the Lord.” Psalms 107:43.

It is about Him, about what He has done with our messiness of our life. Our focus is not on how bad we were or the horror that was done to us. The goal in the telling is to bring Him glory.

Be-Loved, tell your story. Show the faithful love of the Lord and how He redeemed you. He deserves that glory.

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If Only I Can Touch Him – insight from @kgardnerwrites on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

karen dearmond gardnerAbout the author: Karen DeArmond Gardner is a 30-year survivor of domestic violence. She has spent 15 years on her own healing journey and nearly that long helping others find freedom, restoration, and redemption.

Karen is a facilitator in Freedom Ministry/Sozo and directs the Women’s Ministry at Catch the Fire DFW Church. She also facilitates Mending the Soul, a group that leads women through the trauma of their past into healing and wholeness. She serves on the Board of Directors for Arukah House, a transitional home for women coming out of sex trafficking and abuse.

Karen blogs at Crack the Silence and can be found at her Crack the Silence Facebook page. She continues to be a helpful contact and resource for abused women in her church and community.

Join the conversation: Tell your story: what has God done for you?

The Testimony of Faithfulness

by Julie Zine Coleman @JulieZColeman

When my husband and I were dating, we often took advantage of the many free things to do in nearby Washington, D.C. One night he brought me to the Lincoln Memorial, which is impressive during the daylight hours, but truly awesome by night. After viewing the statue and writings of Lincoln, we stood at the top of the steps and admired the images of the Washington Monument and Capitol Building reflected in the long rectangular pool below.

Steve then took me around the back of the monument and pointed out the dark hillside which was Arlington National Cemetery, located just past the Memorial Bridge. We could see a light flickering on the hill in the distance very clearly. I asked Steve what it was, and he told me it was the eternal flame at President Kennedy’s grave. The next day we walked through that cemetery and came to the site of the eternal flame. To my surprise, the light we had seen from a mile or so away was just a small gas flame about eight inches high.

That small light could be seen from a great distance when surrounded by darkness.

We live around people who are living in darkness. God has called us to be light. “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven,” Jesus told His disciples (Matthew 5:16 NASB). We are tempted to believe that the opportunity to shine comes only in infrequent great moments, like when getting a chance to share the gospel with someone or speaking before a large crowd.

Yet a light that flares only briefly in the darkness before flickering out is much less useful than the kind of light that burns with a steady glow.

We are to be light in every moment of our lives. Paul wrote the Colossians: “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men…it is the Lord Christ whom you serve” (Colossians 3:23-24 NASB). Our testimony’s effectiveness to the world around us is determined by ordinary moments: the small decisions we make, the words we choose, or the attitudes we hold.

We can have a huge impact on neighbors and friends by simply being faithful in what God has given us to do, choosing contentment in where God has us. People will quickly spot peace in our attitudes and joy in our hearts. For those living with nagging thirst, our lives will look like a cool refreshing glass of water. They will begin to think: I want what they have. Our very lifestyle will make them thirsty for the Living Water we can offer.

J. Gregory Mantle, a British preacher who lived in the late 1800’s, wrote: “It is far harder to live for Christ moment by moment than it is to die once for Him; and if we wait for great occasions in which to display our fidelity, we shall find that our life has slipped away, and with it the opportunities that each hour has brought of proving our love to the Lord, by being faithful in that which is least.”

When my kids each began their first job, I shared what I had learned in my own career: Just do your job and do it well. You will stand out from the crowd if you do.

We don’t have to be Billy Graham to inspire others to seek God. Just by being faithful to what God has called us to do, whether it is customer service, teaching school, or mothering small children, God can use our simple desire to serve to glorify him as a beacon of light.

And you can be sure our faithful obedience will be seen and noticed by those still living in darkness.

Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give and account for the hope that is in you…with gentleness and reverence. 1 Peter 3:16 NASB

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The Testimony of Faithfulness – wisdom from @JulieZColeman on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Julie-Coleman-headshot-295x300About the authorJulie Coleman helps others to understand and know an unexpected God. A popular conference and retreat speaker, she holds an M.A. in biblical studies. Julie is the managing editor for Arise Daily. When she is not glaring at her computer, she spends time with her grandchildren, gardening, or walking her neurotic dog. More on Julie can be found at unexpectedgod.com and Facebook.

Does the Bible depict women as second-class citizens of the Kingdom? Jesus didn’t think so. Unexpected Love takes a look at the conversations Jesus had with women in the gospels. You will fall in love with the dynamic, beautiful, and unexpectedly personal Jesus.

Join the conversation: Have you ever been approached by someone who wants to know why you are so different than the world around you?