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Friday, December 28, 2012

I Need a Miracle

Check out this great video about the inspiration to one of Third Day’s newest releases:

This is why I write!!!

No, I don’t imagine someone driving in the woods and pulling out my fiction novel for one last read before they end it all, only to be saved by my words. But I have already been blessed to have heard how something I had on my blog—that I didn’t even write—was used by Him to better someone’s life. Nothing more empowering than knowing you’ve been used as an empty vessel … even though the power was all His, through the writing of someone else.

I don’t know if my work will ever touch even a fraction of the lives Third Day’s has, but none of that matters, because even one life can have far-rippling impact. See the story of the one man who reached one man, whose ministry today spans continents and whose church serves families with special needs like no other.

You, too, can have this impact! So don’t delay. Don’t worry about largeness of ministry or numbers of people, but healing of hearts and filling of souls. Who knows, you may be the subject of a story like this one: “I was really down one day, feeling there was no meaning in the world until this person approached me and …”

You fill in the rest—with your life!!!

The following is a list of posts from the Gomer Testimonies, a series about Third Day fans (aka. Gomers) whose faith was impacted by the music of Third Day. It really happens!

Cathy Payton’s Gomer Testimony

Greg Holt—A Gomer Testimony

Robyn C’s Journey to God

Rachel Rutledge—A Gomer Testimony

Friday, December 21, 2012

Please Don’t Ask About My Child—By Carol Barnier

Last week, Carol Barnier shared her view of the holidays with ADHD in the family. Today, she talks about what it’s like to have a Prodigal …

You run into an old friend at your homeschool support group you haven’t seen in quite some time. You do a bit of catch-up, the chit chat goes on for a while, and then, here it comes—the question you’ve been dreading—“So, how’s that daughter [or son] of yours doing?”

Paste on that smile. Take in a quick breath, but inside, die . . . just a bit.

Of course, you know precisely which child she’s talking about—the one who surprised you all by turning her back on God, then the family, then doing a 180 from all that you value, finally stepping solidly into the world and away from faith. Yeah. That kid.
You are now at a crossroads in this conversation. How will you respond?

Well, you could choose Path A—tell the truth.

My kid is in deep spiritual trouble. Her father and I are heartbroken. It’s been incredibly painful to watch her make so many poor choices. It’s even possible that we will not see the face of our child in heaven. And what’s more, we’re worried it might be our fault. Thanks for asking.

Or, you could try Path B and do that little church-speak dance.

Well. . .she’s finding herself, trying to determine what it is God wants of her at this point in her life. We’re still hoping she’ll become a surgeon on the mission field, but that may be more our wishes than God’s. [Insert quick laugh.] We’ll just have to wait and see. [Now insert a quick redirect.] So how’s your little Bobby doing? Is he still sending all his money to that orphanage in the Sudan? [Raise eyebrows, indicating eager anticipation. Wait for listener to launch into the Bobby-Praise report.]

I completely understand if the truth model makes your palms sweat. Frankly, hesitation is justified. There’s a good chance that if you open your heart and share your pain transparently with this sister in Christ, you may get whacked for it. By that I mean, she may be very quick to let you know that you must have screwed up somehow, or your child would have been faithful to the God of her youth.

You wouldn’t be the first parent bludgeoned with the famous but misused “Train up a child . . .” passage from Proverbs. I know that many people still buy into the oft-believed but yet unscriptural interpretation that your child can’t go wrong if you’ve parented right. And they’re often filled with angst at their sad duty of being the one to share it with you. But think about it. . .this interpretation would require that God has now become your vending machine. Plug in just the right mix of coins, and God is obligated to produce the snack treat of your choice. I actually contacted several theologians to find out why the promise of this verse doesn’t seem to always play out as. . .well, as promised. Every single one of them corrected me in the exact same way. Proverbs was never meant to be read as promises. They are directives for God’s best for our lives. They are good instructions. They provide insight into the goodness and righteousness that is God. But they are not promises.

It makes sense. Do you know any wealthy person who is lazy? And conversely, do you know of any hard working person who is poor? If Proverbs were promises, you wouldn’t know any of these. In chapter 10, verse 4 we read:

Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth.

For all its glory, for all its treasures, Proverbs is not a book of promises. And the painful truth is that sometimes, even with the best of parenting, children can go on to make choices that break our hearts and take them far from God.

People who come to you with this verse in hand, suggesting that you’ve blown it, I think typically mean well. But I’m also just as convinced that they are very wrong. So how are you now to respond to this person standing before you, asking about your child?

Let me suggest to you that there is an alternative response you can give—not Plan A: The Naked Truth Plan, Not Plan B: The Church-Speak Dance, but rather a Plan C. Like Plan A, it involves speaking the truth. But for starters, it accepts the likely outcome that your listener will unfairly judge you. Expect it. Own it. Don’t even hold it against her, because your listener doesn’t know any better.

Share the truth without the expectation of compassion.

In the end, your sharing wasn’t really for her. Believe it or not, it also wasn’t really for you. It actually is a lifeline to a needy soul. You share on the possibility that this person might . . . just maybe . . . could perhaps . . . be one of the many people who have someone in their own life they are losing. And if they are, they know exactly what you’re going through because they are going through it as well. Put the truth out there, let it get around, because there is someone in exactly the same situation, who believes they are alone.

This person needs to hear truth from you.  pews

There are so many people in the pews every Sunday who have struggles going on at home who will never breathe a word of it at church—especially if that struggle involves a child questioning the faith. They not only know that many people will judge them as bad parents, they fear that judgment might just be correct. It’s all too much. So they will remain silent.

But by you sharing the truth, and also proclaiming the fact that children have the ability to choose poorly often in spite of clearly loving parents, you put a small light at the end of a very big tunnel. You let them know that they’re not alone. You let them know that they can survive.

You even let them know that they can have joy in spite of such pain. Support groups for parents of prodigals are popping up all over.

Maybe it’s time for one in your area?

******* Book Cover--prodigal

Check out Carol’s new book, Engaging Today’s Prodigal.

Other posts you might like:

A Change in Perspective, By Dineen Miller

Greg Holt—A Gomer Testimony

God Loves Broken People—A Review

CAROL BARNIC.Barnier headshotER is a humorist and speaker, frequent radio guest and author, Pastor's kid, Christian. . .and former atheist. These days she admits she takes her God, her faith and her theology very seriously, but herself, not so much. To every task she brings along her slightly irreverent humor, whether tackling the issues of being very ADHD, the discomfort at being asked to be the older woman in a Titus program (after all, Titus rhymes with phlebitis--proceed with caution), or how to love today's "woman at the well." But in her latest project--bringing tools and hope to the parents of prodigals, Carol rolls up her sleeves and shares ideas and stories from the heart and from her own journey. In every talk, every article, every interview and every book, it is her objective to not only inspire people, but to give them something they can take home and use immediately. She lives in Connecticut with her husband of 25 years and her three kids.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Put Norman Rockwell Away for the Holidays!

christmas wreathThe following is an article by Carol Barnier about how those of us with children who have learning … uh … differences can enjoy the holidays. And remember, these “differences” are what make each child a unique part of the Body of Christ. Specially designed for His purposes. God will use it all! But for now, find out how your Christmas can be beautiful even if it doesn’t look like a Normal Rockwell …

It’s time for the holidays—whoo hoo!
Are you excited?
Full of anticipation?
Or quietly terrified.

For the typical family, holidays are simply a great change of routine.
These folks actually look forward to the many things that will be different during this season
– a vacation from the standard
– a step away from the predictable
– a break with the daily routine

But that very change of routine, along with odd hours, different foods, different sounds, different activities and a WHOLE different set of behavior expectations– these are the things that can unravel our kids, and consequently put a damper on everyone’s holiday.

Holidays Take Things Up a Notch
Let’s face it. The standards at home are simply more relaxed, as they frankly should be. There are things and behaviors in the privacy of our home that we often just let pass. . .behaviors that while perhaps not appropriate elsewhere, are simply no big deal at home. The emphasis is on enjoying time as a family, having a place where you belong. So Junior’s continued fascination with how many state capitols he canmap of US burp through just isn’t a crisis. Susy-Q’s fear of foods that have touched each other on her plate is easily managed. But now, with the arrival of the holiday, suddenly the game has changed. Our kids feel the tension. They can tell that there is now a different, higher, more difficult standard to be met, and it’s creating a fear in them of being the cause of someone’s disappointment.
So what can we do? Do we just have to accept that the holidays will be a massive disappointment? Filled with tension? Zapping our energy rather than renewing us? Do we just have to endure them with as little damage as possible till they have passed?

Nope. Here’s your assignment for today.

Right now, this very moment, put your Norman Rockwell notions of the perfect holiday in a box.
Choose a pretty little box, one worthy of such noble and lovely expectations. Put a snappy mental bow around it. (Personally, I’m fond of teal.)
christmas presentNow put the box under the bed. . .far far to the back, behind the growing collection of dust bunnies. (I don’t know about you, but our dust bunnies have formed a colony, elected a Governor and are passing laws. They murmur as I pass by.)

While you’re putting that box away, if you take the time to look, you should see another box hidden in the shadows under the bed.
Reach in deep and pull it out.
You’ll know it. It’s a ratty looking little thing.
The corners are dented in.
There’s some kind of food stain along the top and splashed down one side.
There’s a bow too. . .sort of. But it looks rather hurriedly thrown together, a tad askew, and showing more than a few unraveling threads.

Yes, pull it all the way out into the light.
Here it comes.
THIS is your box. It is how holidays often go.
It is reality.

Now, hold it on your lap, tug on that bow, take the lid off and look inside.
While the holiday boxes of other families have a standard complement of items,
yours is full of things that one wouldn’t expect, things that are surprising and completely unpredictable.
Your box contains some odd things, some funny things, some hysterical things, maybe even some shocking things.
But each one brings a memory that is uniquely your family’s.

And weaving in and out of all the memories in this box is the heavy cord of love you feel for your family.
This family.
This unpredictable family.
This often oh-so-very UN-Rockwell family.

Don’t let someone else decide what your family’s holiday season should contain.
Don’t let a rigid list that has developed over time become the only blueprint for your enjoyment.Family Sledding --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis
Don’t pull out and cart around a set of demanding expectations that may then serve to destroy your ability to enjoy the love in this box that you have.

Keep your mind and your heart on THIS box this season.
Your holiday memories are YOURS to create.
Do what works for you and your family.
Do what brings love, laughter and life.
Nothing more is needed.


Book Cover--prodigal

Carol will be joining us again next Friday to talk about the subject of her new book, Engaging Today’s Prodigal. We’ll see you then!





C.Barnier headshotCarol Barnier is a fresh, fun and popular conference speaker unlike any you’ve heard before. Her objective is to have the wit of Erma Bombeck crossed with the depth of C.S. Lewis, but admits that most days, she only achieves a solid Lucy Ricardo with a bit of Bob the Tomato. She is a frequent guest commentator on Focus on the Family’s Weekend Magazine broadcast, has been a guest on many radio programs and is a speaker to conferences nationwide. She’s the author of three books about dealing with (or possessing) a non-linear mind in a linear world: How to Get Your Child Off the Refrigerator and On To Learning,learning styles book If I’m Diapering a Watermelon, Then Where’d I Leave the Baby?, and The Big WHAT NOW Book of Learning Styles. Her main websites are CarolBarnier.com and SizzleBop.com. You can also find Carol at her blog for moms with distractible kids at SizzleBop. And for fun, see her church humor blog at CarolBarnier.

Other posts you might like:

D is for Dyslexia, By Molly Noble Bull

I’m Dyslexic, By Jane Perrine

Jake The Encourager, By H.L. Wegley

Friday, December 7, 2012

Is God Teaching Me Patience Or Praise?


I’m an impatient person!

traffic lightI know some of you are saying “amen,” “oh, yeah,” or even “me, too.” So when I drive up to a newly reddening traffic light, and I really, really, need to get somewhere fast, I raise my eyes to my Creator and say, “You’re teaching me patience again, aren’t you?” At those moments, I can almost see His silver-haired beard pull at the sides with a gentle smile, as it bobs with a nod to the affirmative. I then think, I must have a hard time with this lesson because God seems to teach it to me over and over (and over and over) again.

Then one day a colleague of mine mentioned having lost sleep the night before and how she believed God had awoken her to spend the time in Praise to Him. This idea alluded me at first because I found it weird to just tell someone (even God) how good He was all night long. I mean, it’s okay in a praise and worship song at church, because songs repeat like that anyway. But, in regular speech, it just felt foreign.

However, when you are THAT good and THAT holy, and THAT powerful … and you use all that goodness, holiness and power for your children (a.k.a me) maybe you deserve someone acknowledging the fact.

So, one day, when my laptop was straining to boot up against all thescream at laptop security software that needed to scan and update gazillions of files, I decided to not consider it just another lesson in patience, but an opportunity to praise.

And wow!

Now, what used to be moments of complaint or snide remarks to the Big Guy about His persistence to train me up in the way that I should go, I meditate on all that is good. All that is worthy. All that is God!

When do you praise Him?

Posts you might like:

Do You Ever Feel Your Offering is Too Small?

I’m Not Able On My Own

For God So Loved the World

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Christ: The Perfect Romance

For the song that inspired this devotion, click  this link. Jars of Clay--Love Song for a Savior
I’ve always loved those movies where the hero and heroine didn’t understand each other in the beginning, but as their knowledge grew, so did their love. Even better, are the ones where the hero loved the girl, who didn’t return his love, yet he steadfastly cared for her (sometimes unbeknownst to her) through all her misfortunes and inadequacies, until she finally realized the depth of her own love.

That’toyss the story of Christ’s love for us. He loved us when we didn’t even know who He was. He loved us when we treated Him as “just a friend.” He loved us when we were angry because He let us fall or told us a truth we didn’t want to hear.

And though we too often treat Him like the neighbor with the good toys, hoping He lets us play at our own leisure—in other words, using Him—He still loves us.


Full, complete, whole love.

My prayer is that our lives end as one of those great romancesJesus on cross, where we see and understand the depth of the love from our Savior, the ultimate the sacrifice, and know not only His passion for us, but we become keenly aware of our own for Him.

Song of Songs 2: 10 “My lover spoke and said to me, ‘Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, and come with me.’”
Related Posts:
Can You Hate the Sin and Love the Sinner?
Relax, Let Go—And Let Him Carry You
Amazing Grace, Do We Take It for Granted?

Friday, November 16, 2012

Best-Selling Author, Brandilyn Collins Tells How She Was Healed from Lyme’s Disease


If you are a reader of fiction, you probably know Brandilyn Collins as a bible and crossbestselling author. If you’ve ever been to an ACFW Conference, you know her as a wonderful Master of Ceremonies. But I’ve discovered, this year, her greatest gift—that as Prayer Warrior. Though many have seen—and felt—this gift in action around the “prayer room” at the conference, this story is not about her own wielding of His Sword, but largely of how she was the recipient of God’s Mercy through the prayers of others. Take time to absorb this one. God is very, very Big!!!

Here it is …


I have battled Lyme disease twice. The second time came with a reinfection in 2009. At that time I caught the disease fairly early and wasn’t nearly as sick as I was the first time. With the help of a Lyme-literate doctor, and after about six months of aggressive antibiotic treatment, I became well. To this day I remain completely healthy. I am a testament to the fact that long-term antibiotics can be effective in the treatment of Lyme.

My first battle began in 2002 and ended with a very different kind of healing—a miraculous one. I report that story here. You may read it and say, "Praise God." You may not believe the story at all, or even find yourself hostile to it. I cannot control your response. I can only say—this is what happened. In the New Testament, in the book of John, chapter 9, is a recounting of a blind man healed by Jesus. The religious leaders of the day grilled the man—why did this happen to you, how did it happen? The man couldn't answer all their questions. Finally he said (verse 25), "One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!" In the same way I can't answer all the questions that arise from this story. I can only say, "I was crippled but now I walk."

By May of 2003 I'd battled Lyme disease and two of its coinfections for nearly a year. I was very sick. I'd gone from being a fit, five-miles-a-day runner to crippling around with a cane, unable to stand for more than a few minutes at a time. I'd lost my ability to write, and then, even to read. My entire body hurt. I had the horrific brain fog so common in Lyme. My eyes were sensitive to light. The bottoms of my feet felt like they were on fire, and I was constantly exhausted. Most of this time I was home-bound. I'd been diagnosed in late January of 2003 and had begun antibiotic treatment in February. By May, after three months of aggressive treatment administered by an experienced Lyme-literate doctor, I was worse. I learned this was not uncommon with Lyme patients as they begin their treatment, because the Lyme bacteria give off toxins as they're killed by the antibiotics, causing "Herx" periods of worsened symptoms. With Lyme, things truly can get worse before they get better.

The last week of the illness was a relatively good one for me, which was expected. I'd cycled off part of the medication for a week, allowing my body to rest. On Monday May 12th I was scheduled to start another round of medication, the harshest yet, and one expected to cause the worst "Herx" periods of all. Taking advantage of my better week, my husband, Mark, and I decided to go to our second home for the weekend. Then on Tuesday 6th God impressed upon me that we should visit the Healing Rooms in Spokane, Washington. I'd never gone there before. This is a Christian ministry with a plethora of miracles in its history.(Please see the Web site at www.healingrooms.com. There are various Healing Rooms across the country.)

Meanwhile, a friend from the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) e-mail loop felt a strong impression to set up a 24-hour prayer time for me on Saturday May 10. She began signing up people to pray for 15-minute slots, starting at midnight FridayHis Hands night, Central time. No one on the loop knew I was planning to go to the Healing Rooms that very day. But God knew. And He'd now made it clear—Saturday was His day for me.

At that time I couldn't read much and couldn't sit at the computer to view emails. But through phone calls I began hearing from others in ACFW how the list for praying was filling up. I cannot adequately express how that made me feel. It's very humbling to see others choose to serve you, when you've done nothing to deserve such service. Yet there it was. And to see that people were even willing to get up in the middle of the night! I thanked God, knowing my unworthiness, yet also knowing that He was planning something big—for the good of us all.

Saturday morning I was really hurting, paying for trying to do too much on Friday. I hobbled into the Healing Rooms using my cane as much as I could, but with a weak upper body, you can't lean much on a cane. My son, daughter and husband went with me. The four of us met with two different prayer counselors in two subsequent sessions and prayed for my healing. I was expecting a miracle—but nothing happened. I was deeply disappointed. Why had God led me up to this, and then—nothing? But one thing I had learned during my illness was to praise God whether I felt like it or not. (Many times I didn't.) So in those deeply disappointing moments as we returned to our car, I willed myself to praise God simply for who he is—regardless of the fact that he'd "let me down."

On the way back home we stopped at a restaurant for lunch. When I got out of our SUV, I jumped right out of it. Getting out of that high-sitting vehicle had been a major issue for me. As I walked into the restaurant I suddenly didn't need my cane. At all. I walked slowly, but NORMALLY. I hadn't walked like that for months! Leaving the restaurant after lunch, I walked even better. By the time we got back to our house, I felt like a new person. The pain was gone. My knees were stronger. My elbows and neck didn't hurt. I felt ENERGY again. I went upstairs—taking those steps completely normally. Then I came down them (really hard for weak legs), again like the strong, fit person I used to be. For months I'd had to turn sideways and come down one step at a time, lowering only by using my left leg, because my right knee had been the worst. Now I just sailed down those stairs. I let out a whoop and called the family to come see. So of course I had to run back up the stairs—and sail down them again.

We all were beyond amazed.

Next I just had to strap on my jogging shoes. Hadn't had them on for a long time. I went outside to walk around our driveway. The driveways altogether around the house and garages and up to the road and back form about a 1/3 mile loop. And there are some grades to them. I hadn't been able to go up and down the merest grade, even with a cane, for a long time. Suddenly I was just walking up those hills. Then walking down. I ended up doing 3 laps, about 1 mile. The last lap I actually did a light jog.

I was healed! Completely, unbelievably healed.

I wanted to keep walking after the five laps, but I knew I should take it easy on my muscles, which weren't used to the exercise. So I went inside and turned on my computer to read emails. (Yes, I could now read!) What an outpouring from folks at ACFW who were praying! praying handsThey still didn't know I'd gone to the Healing Rooms. Yet post after post came through about the powerful prayer times people were having. They were being blessed, and God was giving many an expectation of a miracle. I realized then that this day of prayer, indeed, was not about me. It was about God releasing His power—in my body, and in the minds of all of those who were praying. Some of them even mentioned telling others—spouses or friends—about the prayers, and how those people had been affected. One of the women stopped the work in a beauty parlor, as she was getting her hair colored when her time came to pray. Her hair dresser and the receptionist prayed too, and the receptionist said, "I've never felt closer to God than right now." Others mentioned their spouses' amazement at the day of prayer--and how it was a witness for them.

By this time it was about 4:00 Pacific time. People would still be praying for me until 10 p.m. my time (midnight Central time). I knew without a doubt that I could not write the ACFW loop and tell them what had happened yet. God was continuing to pour out his blessings on those who were praying, and I needed to allow that to continue. The following day, after the 24-hour vigil had ended, I would tell them my incredible news.

Here are a few more of the many statements from those praying as they wrote the loop on Saturday:

"I could see Christ's light of healing and love going right through Brandilyn's life."

"No words would come except for Brandilyn's name. The more I tried to concentrate, the more her name kept being repeated. So I spent the whole time just saying her name, figuring the Holy Spirit knew what He wanted to say."

"This prayer list was called forth by God Himself. He will be lifted up and praises from the results of this day will be spoken throughout the world for some time to come."

"I really felt the presence of God."

"By the time I finished praying and crawled back into bed at 3:05 a.m., I knew that God had already begun to answer."

"I felt the strong desire to pray that God would heal Brandilyn right then."

"I was amazed at how blessed I was MYSELF during my half hour of prayer."

"God impressed me with the need to pray for healing right now. That prayer stream went throughout the day."

"When I closed my eyes to pray, I felt like I was already at the throne room of grace."

"It was a time of indescribable peaceful communion."

And the last one to pray, from 11:45 p.m. to midnight:

"The song 'Praise Him, praise Him, all ye little children' kept running through my head and interrupting my prayers, so I finally decided to just sing the song and changed my prayer of supplication to a prayer of praise for what I knew God had accomplished that day through the faithfulness of His children."

God had done an amazing thing. He'd used a need in my life as a springboard for pouring out His blessings on many.

When I finally went to bed that night, for the first time in months I didn't need to put a long pillow lengthwise under my legs. I'd had to do this because I couldn't straighten my knees, and because I needed my heels to hang off the pillow so they wouldn't rest on the bed, which hurt. But no longer did I need that pillow.

Mark and I got up the next day—Mother's Day—and went for a three-mile walk. Three miles! I'd counted it wondrous when I could shuffle a lap around the downstairs of our home. Then I came home from the walk and cleaned the kitchen. Did some vacuuming. Vacuuming!

From that day on (until a reinfection in 2009) I remained completely well. I immediately started writing again, and running. Before long I'd worked back up to my regular five miles. To this day I praise God for what he chose to do for me.


Click the link and scroll to the bottom to see Brandilyn’s television interview about her healinghttp://www.brandilyncollins.com/healing.html

And for more information on Lyme’s, check out her resource page:  http://www.brandilyncollins.com/lyme.html



bc-chairBrandilyn Collins is a best-selling novelist known for her trademark Seatbelt Suspense®. These harrowing crime thrillers have earned her the tagline "Don't forget to b r e a t h e . . ."® Brandilyn's first book, A Question of Innocence, was a true crime published by Avon in 1995. Its promotion landed her on local and national TV and radio, including the Phil Donahue and Leeza talk shows. Brandilyn's awards for her novels include the ACFW Carol Award (three times), Inspirational Readers' Choice, and Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice.

Brandilyn is also known for her distinctive book on fiction-writing getting into charactertechniques, Getting Into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn From Actors (John Wiley & Sons). The Writer magazine named Getting into Character one of the best books on writing published in 2002.

When she's not writing, Brandilyn can be found teaching the craft of fiction at writers' conferences. She and her family divide their time between homes in the California Bay Area and northern Idaho.

Check out her website to see more about her books, including the one inspired by her experience with Lyme’s Disease,ote-large Over the Edge.



Other posts you might like:

God’s Promise of a New Heart

Can God Heal Autism?

He’ll Come, By Rachel Poole

Friday, November 9, 2012

Do You Have A Get-in-the-Chair Kind of Faith?

Luke 6:46-49

So, you have faith, but do you really TRUST God?  A minister acquaintance of mine once told me about a man who wasniagra falls known for walking a tightrope across Niagra Falls. He was so skilled, when he asked his audience if they thought he could carry across a man in a chair, they answered with an enthusiastic yes. So, he pointed to a chair and said, “Get in.”
Can you just see the audience’s collective step backwards? Can you hear the clodding of multiple pairs of shoes as they distanced themselves from their previous statement? That’s just what happened. Yes, they thought—possibly—he could do it, but they weren’t willing to stake their lives on that belief.

Is that what our faith in God looks like? Ask yourself, do you have a get-in-the-chair kind of faith? Do you step out, taking risks to follow what God calls you to do with complete trust it will be for your own good and His glory? Do you trust God enough to obey His commands?

I don’t know about you, but I have some problems with what’s written in the Bible. In fact, when I first met intelligent people who actually believed it was the Word of God, I was dumb-struck. I mean, yeah, I believed in God and all … and I kind of knew Jesus died for me, but there’s a lot of stuff in that thick, onion-page-filled book I didn’t like. I was a feminist after all. Sheesh!

Not only was I well educated (I know, LA-TEE-DA), but I could site lots of behavioral and sociological research that “proved” the Bible didn’t make sense. Ha! So why did these intelligent people read, study and act on the words in that book?

Because, when done in His name, it works. Not because some human predicted it from statistical analysis, but because God, the Creator of the universe, said it would.

So I conducted my own little experiment. I stepped out in faith. In little ways, mind you, I’m not the bravest of souls. And guess what?

God is faithful.

He’s true.

And He means what He says.

Those little steps prompted me to take larger ones, and I’ve found when I act Biblically—for God—He backs me up and even blesses me.  woman in chair

So, I’ve dedicated my life to following Him. Have I gotten “in the chair” and trusted He’ll carry me over perilous drops and treacherous surges of water? Hmmm, I don’t trust myself enough to claim that level of belief. But I do hope I am continually growing everyday so that I can one day boast a Get-in-the-chair kind of faith.

How about you?

Have you ever stepped out in faith and found His blessing? Tell us about it below.

 Related Posts:  

Knowledge and Wisdom  

Let Him Who Boasts, Boast in the Lord  

An Empty Vessel

Friday, November 2, 2012

On the Seventh Day He Rested


Genesis 2: 1b

It’s been a hard few weeks in the Almony household. I’ve had to travel more than I’m used to, one child has had a serious illness requiring medication that makes her very ill … and let’s not forget Hurricane Sandy (which, though the eye practically passed right over us, we were virtually spared of much of its horrific effects).

With all of these things pulling at me, I am comforted to know, as I attempt to model myself in the image of my Creator, there is a time for rest. Because this is a topic on which I can expound in great length, having worked as a counselor with over-achieving, perfectionistic women suffering from anxiety disorders, I think I will do ssleeping in hayo in my next post on Writer’s Rest on November 8th. But for now, I will heed the call to be like my God in this one thing.

I will rest. 

And since there is not more of a post to read, take this time to pray for those who were impacted by the hurricane.

Related posts:

Jesus Wept

His Power is Made Perfect in My Weakness

Knowledge and Wisdom

Friday, October 26, 2012

God’s Promise of a New Heart

Hold on to your hats for this story. It is amazing! And another one gleaned from a Third Day Fan friend, Robin Martin.

Robin is currently spending lots of time in the hospital with her dad, who she expects will soon be with the Lord due to congestive heart failure. Though she will sorely miss her father when God decides to take him home, she is grateful for the additional seven years she was given with him. The following is the story of how God gave her those years, and though it has elements which are bitter-sweet, they are a reminder that God, in His infinite wisdom, has His palm over our lives, and He will not allow us to slip from His Awesome Love.

Here is what she posted, along with the picture that tells it all:

To my friends of Third Day Fan Club:
7 years ago, on Thanksgiving Day, my father was in desperate need of a heart. As always in saying our blessing before our meal, we asked that God send us a message that dad would get a heart. After dinner, my now-deceased sister, was slicing the remainder of the ham and to everyone's surprise this is what she sliced into. Seeclip_image002 the picture. No other slice before it ... This slice and the next slice directly behind it had the same heart in the grain of the ham. ONLY TWO SLICES. We rejoiced and thanked God for the sign. Yes dad got his heart transplant, 5 weeks later. My sister was killed in a motorcycle accident. Our pastor said yes it was definitely a sign from God that Robert was going to GET a heart but also that Monique was going to GIVE her heart! How awesome!
My prayer for my father now... 7 years and God is paving his path to return home. Hard? Yes! Our family was blessed to have 7 extra years with our dad! Please keep him in prayer today as he will keep up his fight until his end. God bless you all as I CRY OUT TO JESUS!

Robin’s dad will be 73 in a few days—October 29th. He had his first major heart attack at 38, three more after that, three open heart surgeries, two strokes, survived colon cancer, skin cancer and a heart transplant. I’d call him a survivor!!! Evidently, God had a plan for those now, almost 73, years. We shouldn’t take any of this for granted!

God has our story written as well. It starts with His loving design of who we are, moves through the sacrifice of His only Son and ends in His Loving Embrace. I rest in this knowledge.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Can You Really Hate the Sin and Love the Sinner?


Romans 6

Recently, I came across an article that disputed whether a Christian could really hate the sin and love the sinner. The author (and many commenters below the article) stated it was just a twist ofbroken heart words, believing it to be impossible to have such diverse feelings between a person and that which resides within them.

My answer to whether it is possible to do both is—well Yeah!

Have you ever known someone who had cancer? My guess is you have. Have you ever loved someone with cancer? Me too. Did I love their cancer? Hmmmm … let me think. Uh, no!!! I hated it with every fiber of my being. Why? Because it threatened to destroy the person in whom it took hold. In fact, the more I loved that person, the more I hated the disease.

So, too, is how I feel about sin. Not just for “the sinner” outside of me, but “the sinner” inside me. Like allowing cancer to fester results in death, allowing sin to fester does the same (Romans 6:21). That’s just the truth.

doctor bagHowever, before you go around, spiritual doctor-bag in hand, there is one caution to this analogy. Though cancer treatment has saved many lives, there have been those who have died from its effects. Chemo is never pretty. As Christians, we should be careful before administering our idea of healing to an unwilling patient who is not able-bodied enough to endure it. Sometimes a soul needs to be nourished before we ravage the death-inducing cells.

So yes, you can hate the sin and love the sinner. Or better yet, love the sinner first—building her up. You do that enough and it may lead to a natural defense against evil. Who knows?

When do you most feel loved?

Other posts you might like:

What Will Judgment Day Look Like?

Amazing Grace—Do We Take It For Granted?

For God So Loved the World …

Friday, October 12, 2012

Do You Ever Feel Your Offering to God is too Small?

John 6:5-13

Right now, my church is involved in Rick Warren’s Bible study entitled, “40 Days in the Word.” In this study Mr. Warren recommends we try to picture ourselves as the people in a Bible passage, and ask what it would be like to be them at that moment.

This past week we were prompted to envision ourselves as the boy with the five small barley loaves and two small fish. Hmmm. Whatfish caught could possibly be going on in this young man’s mind as he handed over his basket to the men charged with feeding five thousand?

First, I’m wondering, did he do it willingly? Well, it was either that or the apostle, Andrew, muscled it out of his hands. Somehow, I’m not seeing a tussle between the men and the boy ending with a torn basket and the food splayed in the dirt, so I’m thinking he did. Though the Bible describes these items as five loavessmall, I would guess that, for a family, five loaves and two fish could be an entire meal. Yet he handed them over with no fanfare, knowing its meager proportions could not possibly satisfy the multitude surrounding him.

So what would I feel if I were this boy? Can I relate in any way?

You betcha!

Have you ever been faced with a monumental task and felt your ability to meet the needs were a useless effort? I know I have. And yet, if we give our offering to Jesus, He can not only turn it into a sustaining feast for many, but when all is said and done there will be more to spare.

Remember, your work, your ministry, is not yours alone. If you consider it such, at most it will be one meal that will leave all hungry by the next day. But entrusted to Christ, your cup will overflow … by at least twelve baskets full.

Tell us about a time God enlarged your efforts.

Other posts you might like:

What Did Moses Do Anyway?

Should You Strive To Be Only Natural?

The Man Who Inspired a Congregation ... Sorta

Friday, October 5, 2012

Can God Heal Autism?

This Devotion was inspired by Hillsong’s Healer. Click the link to see it on Youtube. 
My son has autism. What does that mean? It means he has a cluster of developmental delays that make him less functional in society without someone’s help.

 It started out as a language delay. We didn’t panic at first becauscommunicatione this type of delay ran on both sides of our family. Those members who’d suffered it were currently either financially well off or verbally advanced, so we waited for my son to do the same. His physical delays were less apparent. They ebbed and flowed with each test. Sometimes on target, sometimes behind. His social-skills remained above age level.

 We’d hoped the language would fill in one day as it had for others we’d known. But it didn’t. So, I looked into therapies and treatments and supplements to make him well. And I prayed. No, this is not one of stormsthose stories where I came to God as a last resort. We were together on this one from the beginning. He kept me calm through the storms, though some of the storms were of my own making.

 But what does one pray for as the mother of an autistic boy? The right assistance? The right therapy to fix him? Or out-and-out healing? Which prayer demonstrates the appropriate level of faith (you know, moving mountains and all that) and which prayer embodies humility, understanding the sovereignty of God’s will (His grace being sufficient)?

I still don’t have the answer to that question so I pray them all. God is BIG! Did you know that? He’s huge. And powerful! So I didn’t think it a bad thing to pray my son be healed. But it seems others did. When I asked them to pray for healing, they’d look at me with pity in their eyes as though they believed my faith hinged on the discontinuation of his diagnosis. It made me sad. Sad they thought so little of me and worse they thought so little of God.

I had an acquaintance whose non-verbal eleven-year-old began to speak after 6 weeks of treatment with a research doctor. I prayermet her the week I’d been fasting and praying for answers. But what made her story amazing is that she also had a team of people covering her son in prayer every day of that treatment. We now go to this same doctor and have gotten great benefit from the treatment, just not like hers. I could never find a group of people willing to pray big things. They worried more about me than they did my son. Sigh!

Don’t get me wrong. I am not of the name-it and claim-it church. God doesn’t always give us exactly what we want, when we want it. Though Paul healed many, he writes of those who remained sick. He, himself, carried a thorn that was a reminder of God’s beautiful Grace. All, but one, apostle was martyred for Christ. Sometimes bad things happen and God shows His greatness in spite of, or even because of, those things. God has blessed me in so many ways through the gentle gift of my beautiful boy. This young man shows love and concern like no other without uttering a word. Truly living his gift rather than just speaking it. He’s grown my daughter in enormous ways that she’d never have known had she had a “normal” brother. He brings me peace with just a gentle touch of his fingers. I am blessed.

One of the words my son can say is “pray.” And he knows when to say it. He is the one to remind me to seek my Creator in time of need. He’s recently begun to say it often throughout the day. So I do. I pray for his healing. Not because I think God WILL heal my son, but because I KNOW He CAN. It is my testament of faith in His power. And still, I know He is not only omnipotent, but omniscient. He knows what is best for me and my son’s ministry for His Glory. He has a better plan than I can even imagine, and it just may include autism.

I submit to that plan.

 He is Good! 

Mark 9:14-29

Oh, and if you are so inclined, feel free to pray for my son. I won’t mind :o)!!! Let me know and I will return the favor—Comment below.

Other posts you might like:

Jake The Encourager—by H.L. Wegley
Signs of God
Eleven Days Past Autism Awareness Month

Friday, September 28, 2012

To Parallel My Life with My Savior

If you can’t see the video imbed below, click the link to hear Needtobreathe’s Garden.

I was flying so-many thousand feet above land, on my way home from the Dallas ACFW Writer’s Conference, heart in my throat, praying something bad wouldn’t happen to the plane and I wouldn’t end up like a bug on a windshield in a cornfield somewhere. Up until last year’s conference I hadn’t flown in nearly twenty years and those little bumps of turbulence always seem like the pilot doesn’t have control of the plane, and being a control freak, that is not a good thing to me.
Am I afraid to fly? Um, well, kinda. It’s crazy, because when I was a little girl, my father would take me up in his Cessna, giving control of the yoke and rudder pedals to me, so I could soar toward the horizon and marvel at the patchwork of terra-firma below. I loved it and planned to get my license as soon as I came of age.
But somewhere along the way, I let fear take over. Fear I didn’t have when the yoke was in my own hands—I had control. I know it’s stupid to prefer myself in control (at no more than twelve years old) than to give it over to a pilot who is well trained, but that’s how my sometimes anxious mind works. So as I flew from Dallas to Baltimore, an even more anxious man beside me, the lyrics to this song came to mind.
Thank You, Jesus!
The song begins with Jesus’ words “Won’t you take this cup from me?” It reminds us of the agony Jesus felt with the knowledge he’d soon give over His body to the torture of those who despised Him. Talk about lack of control … and for someone who has the ultimate jesus at gethsemanepower to possess it. This terrified Him to the point He sweat actual blood. And still, he continued on, submitting to the will of His Father in heaven. Why? So that we would be washed of sin and saved for eternity.
The song goes on. Not as Jesus, but as a singer and songwriter who wants to live as Jesus did, in the way the Father has marked out for him. It reminds us that we all have a cross to bear and a life to give. Each path will be different, but if we follow the will of the Father, lives will be saved.
When I look at what Jesus suffered, my own fears seem inconsequential. He gave so much. My small fear of flying can be overcome, in order that I walk the path He set before me. It’s the least I can do for the One who gave me life. So I carry on. I guess I’ll fly again.
What fears do you need to overcome for Him?
Other posts you might like:
How the ACFW Conference Sparked a Fertile Imagination—Just Not Mine
Sacrifice—No Greater Love, by Rachel Poole
But God, What if … ?

Friday, September 14, 2012

I’m Not Able On My Own

If you can’t see the video imbed of Needtobreathe’s Able below, try this link.

Years ago Time Magazine had a cover with a woman, dressed in a business suit, juggling several things while carrying a baby in her arms and holding a briefcase. The title article of that issue was about how women of our generation could do it all. The ultimate woman. It was meant to empower those of us who aspired to raise a family but didn’t want to lose our identities in the seemingly meaningless drivel (and drool) of caring for children. I remember the jolt of energy that ran through me as I viewed that image. I could do it! I could have it all!

Oh, how times have changed me.

Now, I just want to know, what is “all” anyway? A great career (in which I’d have to excel), a big house (I’d have to maintain), a wonderful husband (I’d never see) and perfect children (whom I’d raise in my spare time—ha!)? And the other question: Would “all” really make me happy? I mean, isn’t that the whole reason we want “all” in the first place?

Now, when I think about that image from the Time magazine cover, I immediately experience a weight pouring into my cells like molten lead running through my veins. It’s wearying to me to even contemplate.


Because … I’m not able.

Not only can I not do all of these things by myself, but the running after them is much like what Solomon called “a chasing after the wind” (Ecclesiastes 1:14). I no longer want to follow empty promises, but God’s hope and future (Isaiah 29:11). I want to be filled with His dreams and dive into His plans.

But before I develop a new picture of me, holding a large, gilded-edged Bible in one hand, and a cross strapped on my back, I need to realize … I’m still not able. I need His help to guide me, to strengthen me and to release my cross from its bindings. In short, I need Him.

But before we sigh despondently at the idea of being so needy, let’s look at its joys. Needing Him allows me to be in His presence, to gain His help, to know His love. Had I done it all on my own, I’d have none of these. A far cry from the lady balancing the baby and the briefcase. More like a woman resting in the Son.

What does “all” look like to you?

Related posts:

Rise Up

Christian Music Ministry

Why I Want to Be Broken

Relax, Let Go—And Let Him Carry

If you can’t see the video below of the Needtobreathe song Something Beautiful, try this link.

I love the water analogy in this song. I see a man dipping his toe into the waves and wondering, “Should I dive in? Will it be too cold? Too deep? Will I drown?”


“Will it refresh me, cleanse me, and lift me up?”

Remember when you were a kid and someone taught you how to float on your back in a pool? I not only remember learning this, but teaching it to my children.

If they relaxed, they’d float, but when they tensed, they dropped. The trick was getting them to trust the water (or at least me) enough to allow it to carry them so they wouldn’t sink.

Peter, the apostle of Jesus Christ, knew this all too well (Matthew 14: 22-33). When watching his teacher walk on the lake, he begged to join Him. But once out there and focusing on the “realities” of this world he no longer trusted that which held him up … and so his ankles dipped below the tide, the water threatening to overtake him.

Faith in God is like that water. Sometimes you just need to let Him carry you. And just like the peace of drifting above the water, waves lulling you into a joyous rest, you might just experience …

Something Beautiful.

Other posts you might like:

What Have You Got to Lose?


His Power is Made Perfect in My Weakness

Friday, September 7, 2012

What Will Judgment Day Look Like?

If you can’t see the video imbed, use this link.

What do you think it will look like to go before the Lord on judgment day? What do you think you will feel knowing you have fallen short of the glory of God facing absolute purity in the person of your Creator?

Well let me give you a couple pictures of what it could look like.

In Joshua 5:14 Joshua spies a man standing over him with a drawn sword. Joshua, being courageous, does not flinch, but asks the man if he is for or against them. But watch this! The man says he is the commander of the army of the Lord and Joshua falls on his face in reverence. When faced with a potential physical threat, he is confident. But when faced with an angel of the Lord he is humbled to such depths he could find no lower position. I imagine when we come into the presence of our God and see His face for the first time we will feel the need to do the same.

Another picture.

I am reminded of the end of the film Schindler’s List. In this movie, Schindler uses his wealth to purchase Jewish “workers” for his arms factory in order to save the workers from annihilation in a Nazi gas chamber. We see him adding more and more names to his list, depleting his wealth to the point he begins to sell off his possessions to save lives.

In the final scene, when presented with a ring willingly made by his “workers” from an extracted gold filling as a token of their appreciation, he falls to the ground, pulls at the remainder of his possessions and laments he did not give the last of these in order to save more people. What seemed important to him before now was meaningless against the life it might have preserved.

So, too, when faced with the Awe of our Loving Father in heaven and His Goodness, will be our sin. The little white lies told to further our convenience will be a sneer to our Creator that we did not trust Him enough to secure even the simplest of things. The hoarding of our possessions will be the taking from those who needed them more.

We will be given new perspective.

Oh can you imagine the list of things rolling out on the floor and continuing to roll as our imperfections, great and small, unfolds before our Creator? Can you imagine the stain seeping through you as you behold the Perfect One who died so you could live?

And yet, Jesus tells us to trust in Him and we will be washed clean. That simple.

Trust Him—Washed clean!

Washed clean because He took our place. He bore our punishment, so we could live in splendor for eternity. It doesn’t seem right, and yet it just IS.

Other posts you might like:

Broken By War, Saved By Grace

For God So Loved the World …

Judging Someone Else’s Servant

Friday, August 31, 2012

But God, What if … ?

Exodus 4:1

Moses answered (God), “What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you’?”

I must confess, I love it when these important men of the Bible question God. Not because I want to encourage others to do the same. I mean, there’s no point, right? But when I see someone of great faith have weak moments, I know there’s hope for me. So no, I don’t use this as an excuse to be sloppy. I see it as a call to be more, as was Moses.

So Moses had a what if moment. I can relate. That’s why I’m forty six and only now starting on a path of ministry that others started many a year ago. I know the what ifs.

“What if no one cares what I write?”
 woman in mirror
“What if everyone hates my style?” As though each and every person had the same opinion about anything.

“What if this is a big waste of time?”

“What if people think I’m ugly?” Okay, I’m a little vain.

These are the chains that bind us—Satan’s tools. When God calls us out to do something, there are no what ifs. Only what will be. He knows the outcome already, otherwise He’d never have given us the task.

Does it mean the aspiring writer will be a million-dollar royalty-making published author? (Hmmmm. How ‘bout it Big Guy? All right, all right.) No, it doesn’t. In fact, I know my calling has already touched lives through information disseminated on my blog and the tightening of relationships with people around me. I’m still feeling the call, so I guess there’s more.

dollar signYes, I hope for the contract with a dollar sign in front of six-figures—okay, I’ll take five—somewhere on the page (preferably going to me and not just the publisher). But even if that never happens, I’ll know I’m being used by Him. And like His Grace, it’s sufficient.

Tell us about a WHAT IF moment God used in your life.

Other posts you might like:

What Did Moses Do Anyway?

Why I Want to be Broken

What Have You Got to Lose?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Changing Schedule

Hi, loyal readers.

As we move into the new school year and my schedule in life changes, so will my posting schedule for LBOC. Starting this week, I will be posting on Friday. This will work best as it coincides with the new schedule I have on my group blog, InfiniteCharacters.com. This way, when I link articles of authors posting on both sites, as I like to do, it will be on the same day.

So this week I will post the next installment of LBOC on Friday. It’s about when Moses had a “what if” moment. Come by and see it.

If you’d like, I’d love for you to leave a comment telling me your favorite Bible verse and why. It might inspire future posts.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

He’ll Come, By Rachel Poole

LBOC Welcomes Rachel Poole back for a devotional today. It’s inspired by the Hillsong title, You’ll Come. 

Just as the earth thirsts for the rain as does our spirit. Sunday, April 22, 2012 the rain finally came. After a long wait, saturation has come to drench the state of Maryland and the surrounding areas.

Upon waiting on the rain I’m reminded of the times I’ve spent in my own drought. Feelings of affliction in my heart, the days of damagecracked earth seemingly behind me, yet there were times when I’d still be feeling the effects of it. Craving a message, a lesson, a way to go, a way out or just some way, I recall the yearning from my spirit.

There would be days I thought “it’s just one thing after another, Lord” or “how am I supposed to overcome this one” or even “this has to be a joke, I can’t do this.” Usually these thoughts would come after a long stretch of either contentious moments or obvious frustration. When in a drought, our spirit becomes weak and our hearts need filling. That is when we look up to realize it’s our decision what or Whom we will surrender to. Is it our thoughts, our situation, or our problems that are worth our surrendering? From where does our fulfilling wisdom and deliverance come?

We must spend time with God not just seeking His hand but His face. In 2 Chronicles 7:14 God says, “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” God desires for us to seek His face and turn away from that which holds us back from Him so He can give us what we need.

 girl at hoseOur land is thirsty, our hearts are thirsty and our souls need to be satisfied. What God offers us is an everlasting flow of grace, freedom, and love beyond our comprehension. Just as the rain has fallen on this day may we be reminded of the promise that He will return to us and fulfill our hearts.

When in drought, don’t doubt! Thank God we don’t have to remain in drought. He gives us His freeing raindrenched forest when our hearts and souls are in need. We don’t have to wait on the weather man to predict the next downpour. In Christ we know it’s available anytime. Pray, Seek His face and He will come!

Other posts you might like:


Sacrifice—No Greater Love

Good Jesus Cardio  

Rachel_Cropped_1Rachel Poole is a hair stylist at Cut Loose in Edgewater, MD. She lives in Harwood with her wonderful husband Deryck and their adorable German Shepherd Gemma. She is passionate about writing and reaching people for Jesus. Her inspiration comes from life struggles and God inspired moments. God put it on her heart as a young girl to write and as she matures in her writing her hope is to one day reach her goal of becoming a published author. www.cutlooseinc.com