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Friday, January 27, 2012

The Annual Life Journal—by Reverend Loyce E. Craft

I’d like to welcome my very good friend, Loyce Craft, to LBOC today. We’ve known each other … uh … let’s just say a long time ;o). We’ve shared many hopes and dreams throughout the years, only to finally realize our hope is in the Lord and our dreams are to do His Will. Loyce is here to give us her inspiration to help you discover your purpose in Him.
The Annual Life Journal

questionWhat is my purpose? Why am I here? How do I know what God’s plans are for my life?! These are questions many of us might have asked ourselves at some time or another. From birth to death, we are constantly becoming the person that God created us to be. It is a learned process—and is best understood through purposeful spiritual discipline as we are led by the Holy Spirit. But how do we organize our thoughts? How do we ask these questions and get the right answers?!
Our lives have meaning—and we all, though individuals, walk with (or should walk with) each other and with God. The key is to have the clarity of thought to be able to focus on our walk with God, knowing and recognizing His Voice, and live as He has destined us to live in spite of ourselves! But what happens when we get off course? When we lose our direction? Or when everything we have been trying seems to amount to nothing?!
It is so easy to fall into a place of feeling lost and hopeless—particularly if we have been trying and striving for years Life Journal Coverand we see no apparent fruit. The Annual Life Journal seeks to help every born-again believer to intentionally ask the question: “Where am I in my walk with God (i.e., how am I doing in my walk with the Lord)?” The individual’s answer to that question is the launching point for writing in this Journal.
Do you long for a way to clarify and codify your thoughts, dreams, visions, and goals and to discover God’s plan for your life? Do you want to assess how you are doing with your life? The Annual Life Journal provides a structured and comprehensive approach to the journaling process. It is holistic and helps Christians consider several key areas: Spiritual journey, Bible study and Prayer, Relationships, Financial Health, Physical Wellness, Mental and Emotional Wellness, and Celebration. It features a free journaling section; a guide, How to Use the Annual Life Journal; and calendar section with scenic pictures to inspire reflection. As you journal, you are compelled to allow yourself to become all that God has destined you to be! The Annual Life Journal will help you to discover your “calling.” As author Frederick Buechner, wrote: “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” For what are you hungry or passionate?!
The Annual Life Journal is prepared for people of all races, ages, and gender, because we are all on a Journey with God, and we all want to hear God say, “Well done.” My passion is to help His children focus on journeying well with God! The Journal is meant to inspire, encourage, compel, and give hope in Jesus. As people of the Kingdom of God, we are all brothers and sisters. This is my approach to ministry, and it is the way that I relate to God’s people. One of the things that blesses me the most is when I am in a corporate worship setting and I see a representation of people of all races worshiping God—together! As you journey through 2012, I pray you are inspired to follow God’s Voice wherever it may lead you as you choose to Journey Well with God TM.

clip_image002About the Author. Reverend Loyce E. Craft is President of Aziel Ministries, a new Christian ministry dedicated to providing services and products to enhance the Christian believer's walk with the Lord Jesus Christ. She is an ordained minister, a consultant, and a writer, songwriter, and singer.  Her desire is that every born-again believer is empowered to Journey Well with God TM. Rev. Craft has created the Annual Life Journal, which helps every Christian ask the question, "Where am I in my journey with God?" The comprehensive Journal also assists Christians in doing a spiritual self-inventory of their lives as Christian believers. As a songwriter, one of Rev. Craft's songs, "Hear My Prayer," was recorded and released on October 11, 2011, by Stellar Award Winner, Reverend Dr. Emory Andrews and the Oxon Hill High School Choir (Minister Phillip Carter, Producer/Stellar Award Winner). As Minister Carter said, the CD "is every choir director's dream"!

To order the Journal: Visit www.azielministries.com.
To order the CD: Visit www.emoryandrews.com
To email the author: azielministries@verizon.net

Comment below and share something you’ve discovered about your relationship with God in the past year.

Related Posts:

God of All Creation
How God Breathed Creative Inspiration
What Makes Your Work Most Valuable

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Gentle King—by Monika Holt


“Homeschooling is for weirdoes and I am not in the business of raising hermits and social outcasts”, were the first ignorant words I blurted out when my sweet husband asked me to consider teacherhomeschooling our son. The truth is I could not wait for all three of my kids to go off to school, so that I would finally get a chance to become a free adult again. I yearned to go back to school, and further my degree. I ached to go back to teaching dancing. I hungered to once more have a clean house. Than, everything changed. My husband asked if I would please just pray about it.

Since I was dead set against homeschooling, I did not see any harm in praying for it. Plus I saw a great opportunity to earn brownie points with my hubby; through openly honoring his request for a prayer. I went to bed that night and prayed. I asked the Lord to make His purposes known to me. I guess I was sincere in mypraying hands prayer, since what do you know, the next morning I woke up with an answer. Except, it was one I did not care for! The Lord wanted me to homeschool! The certainty of it resounded within me like a vibration of an enormous bell. Though strong and reassuring, it made me feel lost within my self, not quite knowing whether it was the trembling of His will I was feeling or the beating of my own heart. For a moment I thought I knew what Peter must have felt while walking on water. I was scared out of my mind, yet I did not dare to go against my Father’s so clearly stated wishes. This would require a lot of faith and courage!

A short month later I attended the homeschool fair; for if I was going to do this homeschooling thing, I was going to do it right. I researched and prayed. After purchasing my curriculum I lined the books up neatly on the shelf and prepared all the folders. I wrote out lesson plans for each week and allowed the excitement to build. I knew enough about my Maker to realize that when I accept a mission from Him, he will light the fire in me; and sure enough He did! I was ready! I was the teacher and I embraced my new role with passion!

I am glad that the Lord does not promise us the vision of the future, but that He always promises hindsight of 20/20. Indeed, for if I knew then what the next three years would hold for me and my son, I would have gone against my Father’s wishes, and bailed out, sending my son in to the public school system. However, in doing so I would also cheat myself greatly of the tremendous rewards, which awaited my whole family at the end of this rainbow.

Five months into Kindergarten my dear sweet, blue-eyed angel could not write or read. He had the hardest time with simplest letters and their sounds. His pencil became his greatest enemy, studentwhich drove him to tears, and me to serious anxiety attacks. He would slouch and slide beneath the table. He would stutter and yawn. In feeble efforts to document our work I purchased every hands on school activity there was. I blamed myself, than I blamed my son, I blamed my husband and finally I blamed God. I fervently asked God, if it was really what He wanted me to do. Maybe I misunderstood. How could I have been so certain and driven in to doing something that brings me so much stress? I cried and cried till there were no more tears left to drown the aches in my heart. I loved my son so dearly, yet homeschooling became a sore wedge between us.

I began waking up at 4:30 each morning to do my Bible study; I was afraid to face the day without the Holy Spirit filling me. YouBible know the fear of failure, or of something so dreadful yet terribly inevitable? That is what each morning would hold for me. My evenings would also be robbed of peace and rest, as I squirmed in dismay, anticipating the next day. I learned to walk with Christ, so closely that the thought of me not leaning on Him constantly became strange and unwelcomed.

At the end of Kindergarten Cyrus was finally able to read short sentences and thanks to the Leap Frog DVDs he knew his letters and sounds. First grade brought more of the same. More prayer, more headaches, more testing of my love for my dearest child. More tears and frustrations. At home I was a mess, yet to the outside world I needed to appear that homeschooling was wonderful, because they would not understand the truth, which Patsy Clairmont stated beautifully, “ true victories are characterized by knee-knocking fear amidst God’s empowering strength.” I had the fear, and I had my Lord, now I waited for my victory.

With the start of second grade Cyrus and I made a pact; there will be no more yelling, just loving. I was spent and there was no more fighting left in me. I secretly began researching dyslexia. What else would make Cyrus, who was otherwise a very bright child, struggle so much with reading and writing? After all, he was a wiz in math and science. But dyslexia did not fit. I felt so defeated, and that is when my great Father allowed His Victory to happen. Again, a simple prayer changed everything. That night I lay next to Cyrus in his bed, praying. We both lifted our hearts up to heaven, and finally laid this burden at the feet of our Maker. We were out of ideas and depleted of human resources. The next day I woke up early, as usual ready to plead for renewing of strength and the gift of patience. After my quiet time I checked my email, and went on my dear friend Connie’s website: “Livingthebodyofchrist.blogspot.com”

There I discovered Stacie Stalling’s journey with her son’s dyslexia, and since dyslexia was already on my radar, I devoured the story searching for clues to my own depressing situation. Towards the end of her touching account, Stacie mentioned vision therapy, a concept I have never heard of before. I quickly switched over to Google and learned as much as I could about it. Within minutes I discovered a comment left for Connie, by another homeschooling mom, sharing that vision therapy was instrumental in extinguishing her son’s dyslexia. Next thing I knew, I was on the phone with Dr. Kotlicky’s office making an appointment to get Cyrus’s eyes evaluated. I was able to book this appointment for a day after tomorrow; everyone else I know had to wait a month. Honestly, I believed that the exam would show nothing at all and that more patience would be required of me.

Miraculously, a good friend of mine was able to watch my younger children. The evaluation took an hour and provided us with more answers than we could have ever hoped for. This was THE moment in my life where I looked back and saw the pieces of the puzzle fall in place so perfectly together, revealing the glorious picture of God’s undying love and mercy. All that He allowed us to endure brought us to a point where, after being humbled by our own weakness, we could worship Him unencumbered. The picture was clear. From the day my son was born, he was never interested in puzzles, blocks, coloring pages, Legos, or picture books. Not because he was a boy, though boys are different, but because he had eyes that could not see well, and those childish things held no interest for him. Instead, I think he learned how to observe the world quietly and listen for God’s ever-small voice in the tiniest of moments. My son’s heart belonged to His maker and his life was filled with actions, reflecting uncompromising truths, which dwelt within him.

This was why he could not write his name after two years in pre-school, and why he could not focus on the page in front of him. This was why his body drooped beneath the table when he attempted to read; for this seemingly simple task was overwhelmingly difficult for him to accomplish. I believe this is why God led me to homeschool him. In His love and mercy He spared us secular school systems and honored us with the trials designed to build His family and our characters.

Today we celebrate. We laugh each day and love school together. Though we are not done with eye therapy yet, my wonderful son now reads! What used to take him forty minutes to read, now takes him four. I did not even know that he loves to paint, and he loves to write stories, and he loves Legos. His hands are busy each day and he no longer mumbles or stutters. The biggest desire, one I yearned for since the moment Cyrus was born, was that one day he would read the Bible by himself. Three weeks ago, he asked me to get him a patriot Bible, which includes speeches of famous folks across the Christian history of our Nation, because his favorite is George Washington. That day for the first time in his precious little life, my son read the Word Of God! As he pulled out the highlighter and went for it, I melted and this time the tears of hope nourished my weathered heart.

Each day I watch Cyrus, I am amazed. Humbly I thank my Master for His perfect love and the Victory, which He gave us.

“All things work together for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His Purpose.” Romans 8:28

Related posts you may also like …

Where have all the flowers gone? by Monika Holt

Empty Vessel

The Gifts We Have—Part 3, by Staci Stallings

Monika's PictureBorn and raised in Poland, Monika Holt is a homeschooling mom of three, with a passion for Christ. She has two special needs children, one with a peanut allergy and one with reading disability, on the mend. In her BC (before children) days she was a professional ballroom dancer with an unlikely degree in English Literature and Political Science from Rider University in Lawrenceville, NJ. She now chairs the Special Needs Committee in her local homeschool group.

Friday, January 13, 2012

How God Breathed Creative Inspiration in My Writing—by Jennifer Hudson Taylor


People often wonder what got me into writing Inspirational fiction. The truth is, I didn’t start out writing inspirationals, but secular romance as early as 1994. Two years later, I flew to my first RWA Conference in Dallas, TX. I didn’t know a single soul and I didn’t care. I was determined. As a young 24 year old, I naively thought that was all I needed to succeed. That trip opened my eyes and taught me how little I knew about the publishing industry and the craft of writing. Instead of being overwhelmed, I became even more determined.

For the next 7 years, I wrote 3 more secular romance novels. My writing improved so I couldn’t understand why I’d been rejected so many times. I grew angry at God—that He wasn’t blessing my42-15660713 plans, goals and dreams. It was my goal to be published by the time I turned 30, but that birthday came and went to my bitter disappointment. One day while I was ranting and raving at the Lord, He quietly whispered to my heart that I wasn’t getting published because I wasn’t writing for Him. At the time, I didn’t feel qualified to write Christian fiction. I didn’t know enough, had too many questions, and the Bible was confusing to me. How in the world could insignificant me write Christian fiction?

That year some personal things happened in my life and I stopped writing for the next 3 years. We went through many hardships from financial ruin and loss to our daughter being born with a life threatening seizure disorder. It was during this time that God taught me a great deal to get through my circumstances.

The Lord whipped me into spiritual shape. I attended church more, prayed with hope more often, I read my Bible and suddenly it came alive to me and began to make sense. I’d always had a relationship with God, but this was deeper, tangible. I didn’t know it at the time, but God used these 3 years to train me to write Christian fiction—it would be a writing ministry that was God’s plan for me—something even better than I’d envisioned for myself.

When the desire to write came back in 2006, this time I knew I’d write Christian fiction. In 2007, two of my manuscripts placed in ACFW’s Genesis contest and I signed a contract with my literary agent, Terry Burns. On my birthday, October 30th, 2008, I got the call that Highland Blessings had sold to Abingdon Press. It was the best birthday gift God had ever given me. It didn’t happen before 30, but it did happen before I hit 40.
My new novel, Highland Sanctuary, is dedicated to my 14 year old daughter, Celina. She was born with a seizure disorder and theHighlandSanctuary-Cover heroine in my book is Serena Boyd. Serena has similar seizures in a time in 1477 when people didn’t understand or tolerate such a disorder.

One of the take way messages that I hope Highland Sanctuary conveys to readers is that sometimes we look to other people and things to provide us security and sanctuary, such as jobs, spouses, parents, teachers, pastors, worship leaders, nice homes, pretty yards, vehicles with all the safety features, etc. Yet, we need to let go, stop worrying and just live—be free in Christ—He is in our hearts and everywhere we go and in everything we do. He IS our sanctuary.
In Highland Sanctuary, Serena and her mother believe her secret is safe as long as they’re able to hide Serena’s seizures from the rest of the world and they stay hidden in the sanctuary of the small Village of Outcasts where she’s accepted. Eventually, her secret is discovered and she’s no longer safe. Only the ultimate sacrifice will save her, much like the sacrifice Christ made for all of us.

LBOC wants to know, what message is God breathing into you? If you don’t know … ask.

Website/Blog: www.jenniferhudsontaylor.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/jenniferhudsontaylor

Twiter: www.twitter.com/jt4novels


JennTreeJennifer Hudson Taylor is an award winning author of historical Christian fiction and a speaker on topics of faith, writing and publishing. Her debut novel, Highland Blessings received a 4 1/2 star review from Romantic Times and won the Holt Medallion Award for Best First Book. Jennifer's work has appeared in national publications, such as Guideposts, Heritage Quest Magazine, Romantic Times Book Reviews, and The Military Trader. She serves as the Publicist at Hartline Literary Agency. Jennifer graduated from Elon University with a B.A. in Journalism. When she isn't writing, Jennifer enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, genealogy, and reading.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Jesus Wept

Many years ago, I attended the viewing of my distant cousin. And though I didn’t know him very well, I knew his wife. My sisters and I used to call the couple Barbie and Ken because they seemedwedding dolls perfect in every way, having a relationship that read like a romance novel. So it was hard to believe the news, given two years before, that my cousin was slowly dying of cancer.

After we’d heard of his death, it seemed impossible to imagine his wife without him. I wondered what I’d find when I entered the funeral parlor. As I stepped in the door, I saw a take-charge woman, giving direction to family members, so the gathering would run smoothly. She stood confident and erect, and definitely in control.
I couldn’t understand how a woman who’d just lost the love of her life could be so strong, when her world had just shifted dramatically. In fact, I was battling more tears than she appeared to be.

In minutes, members of the immediate family lined the hall into the viewing room to greet those who came to wish their condolences. What was I going to say to her? Having never experienced a loss this personal and all-consuming, I could find no words.

My Grandmother inched along behind me, offering prayers and hugs to various people in the line. I later learned Grandma had been a mother figure to my cousin’s wife. Someone who’d been there for her throughout her married life.

I continued to inch along the line, plotting out insignificant words to ease the afflicted. Then, as I was about to grasp the widow’s hand, she caught sight of Grandma behind me, silently mouthed her name, and appeared to melt before my eyes. Grandma, who looked like a cross between the Pillsbury Dough-Boy and Shirley Temple, thrust me aside and threaded her arms around my cousin’s wife as if she were her only means of physical support. Finally, knowing someone would hold her up, my cousin’s wife sobbed uncontrollably, like a wet sack on grandma’s shoulder.

Now I know my grandmother is not God, but sometimes God cherubshows pieces of Himself through His creation. And that day I spied a glimpse of Him through a plump, pink-cheeked, cherub of a woman with bottle-colored, golden curls, who held up a grieving woman as if she were a mighty oak in a tempest.

You see, we always think that because we have God in our lives, we should be strong ourselves and never cry. After all, He gives us the strength we need to endure all things. We know that in seeking the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, we’ll have everything we need. We also know he’s with us in the Valley of Shadow and Death. But does that mean no tear should escape our eyes? Does it mean we can’t ever be weak?

I’d answer a big, resounding NO to both of these questions. Remember the shortest verse in the Bible. Jesus Wept. He cried at the loss of a friend He KNEW he was about to raise from the dead. So why do jesus at gethsemanewe think we should somehow be better or stronger than our Savior? He also needed His father in the Garden of Gethsemane, as we need Him during the trials in our own lives. His power is made perfect in our weaknesses.

My cousin’s wife knew she needed to be strong for her family. Her children had just lost their father and she was forced to host a gathering where others could mourn her very personal loss. I’m sure she felt a great responsibility to “be there” for others. I saw that in the way she comforted them.

It wasn’t until she saw the one who could hold her up through trying times, that she allowed herself to be weak. So she fell into my grandmother’s arms and finally released the hurt buried deep inside.

That’s what God can do for you. He’s not just the one who gives you what you need to brave any storm. He’s also that soft touch with strong shoulders. He will hold you up when you just can’t do it yourself.

So when life has beaten you down and you don’t know where else to turn, fall into the brawny arms of your loving Father in heaven. Cry on his broad shoulders. Look into His face and let Him wipe away your tears. If you do this, I believe you’ll feel His gentle kiss on your forehead and you’ll know you are truly loved.

Leave a comment and tell us how He’s been there for you.

Friday, January 6, 2012

A Steam Gun Has Many Parts, by Chad Young


Today, I’m so excited to welcome Chad Young to LBOC.AuthenticityBookCover-194x300 He is the author of the new book, Authenticity: Real Faith in a Phony, Superficial World. This is a great book about what it means to truly BE a Christian and let God’s work flow from who you are. Stay tuned in the next couple weeks. I’m currently reading this book and have a strong feeling you’re going to see more about it here.

… But in the mean time … Here’s Chad …

A Steam Gun Has Many Parts, by Chad Young

My son Clark is fascinated with guns. My wife Elizabeth and I attempt to discourage this fascination, but so far our efforts have been futile. At two years old, before we realized he even knew about guns, he ran around the house with toy cars, held them as if they were guns and pretended to shoot them. Two of his very first words were: “Pow! Pow!” At first we hid the toy guns cousins bought him for Christmas, but he just found sticks in the back yard and used them as rifles.

kid with toy gunClark is also very bright, and he amazes us by coming up with brilliant inventions. Recently, Elizabeth asked Clark what he wanted for his birthday, and this is what Clark said (in an innocent little 4 year-old voice):

Clark: “I want a gun that shoots steam bullets but doesn’t hurt you.”

Elizabeth: “Have you seen one of those on TV or in the store?”

Clark: “No, but I think they should make one.”

Elizabeth (amazed): “How does it work?”

Clark: “It has water inside and a heater. The heater turns the water into steam, and then the steam comes out of a tube and forms tiny bubble bullets. When you pull the trigger, the bullets don’t hurt you because they are just made of water and air. But the gun won’t work unless you have a heater.”

Clark was right! He realized his imaginary steam gun must have water, a heater, and normal gun parts such as a trigger and barrel! Each part of the gun is significant to the gun’s function and effectiveness.

As I pondered Clark’s idea, it occurred to me that Clark’s gun worked a lot like the body of Christ. True, few people ever compare the church to a gun, but there is a comparison to be made! Like each gun part, we were designed to play specific roles within the body of Christ. Only by becoming involved in a local church can we fully understand our role and determine our purpose within the church. Just as each and every part of a steam gun is essential to the overall performance of the gun, each member of the body of Christ is essential to the effectiveness of the body. It’s the responsibility of each believer to get involved in the local body of Christ.

God designed His church to include diversity and people with different gifts and abilities, so that we might all work tRainbowogether to make up the body of Christ. Paul writes, “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”

Are you connected to a local body of believers? If so, are you using your gifts for God’s glory? What are some ways you can be more involved or help your local church to be healthier or more effective? Two areas which are often neglected in a church are prayer and outreach, and yet they are two of the most critical elements of a healthy church. Can you help your church be more effective in one of these areas or another area God may be placing on your heart?

Spend time praising God and thanking him for sending his Son Jesus. Before Jesus came to give us eternal life, God’s people tried to live for God on their own effort, but inevitably they failed. That’s why Christ came. God knew we could never have an authentic relationship with him without his help; he sent Christ to die for our sins. By accepting Jesus’ free gift of salvation and surrendering our hearts to him, we can experience an intimate relationship with God and help the body of Christ to be healthy as well. Confess any sin these verses bring to mind, and make a commitment to help your local body of believers to impact your community for Christ.

LBOC would love for you to leave a comment below and tell us how God is using you. Remember, this is not boasting in self but in the Lord, so share away! And inspire us!

… To find out more about Chad’s wonderful book, visit …


About the Author:

Chads-headshotChad Young is the author of Authenticity: Real Faith in a Phony, Superficial World, available at Amazon. As Campus Crusade for Christ’s director for the South Carolina Lowcountry with a scope of 25 college campuses and 70,000 students, Chad resides in Charleston, SC, with his wife Elizabeth and their four young children: Wyatt, Clark, Evelyn and Josilynn. He holds an undergraduate degree from Clemson University and a graduate degree from Georgia Tech; Chad worked in the paper industry for 6 years before going into full-time ministry. He has served on the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ for 9 years and has also written a discipleship training manual. He has a passion for helping students learn what it means to have an authentic relationship with Christ.