Friday, May 1, 2020 2:12 PM

The Endless Roll of Toilet Paper

Friday, May 1, 2020 2:12 PM
Friday, May 1, 2020 2:12 PM

The Coronavirus pandemic has led to toilet paper shortages and hoarding. Why? Is toilet paper made of silver and gold? Toilet paper is important, but it’s only temporal. It eventually gets flushed down the toilet. This phenomenon reminded me of a sermon I heard several years ago.

Visualize a roll of toilet paper that is unrolled. However, instead of ending, it goes on forever. This is like the timeline of your existence that lasts for eternity.  

Notice that toilet paper is divided into squares. Think of that first square as your time on earth. Assorted brands of toilet paper have different lengths of squares, just like people’s lives on earth have different lengths. The average human life expectancy is 78.6 years. Yet we do not know how long our life will be because it can end at any second. Our bodies will fail. They are temporal like the first square. The world and all its temptations is not anyone’s home forever.

Eternity is much longer than the first square. However, the first square is the most important. Why? Because you get only one chance with the first square. There are no do-overs. Some people don’t realize that what you do in the first square determines what happens to you in eternity. Many people live life partying and sinning and think: I will clean my act up when I get old. This strategy will not work because we are not promised tomorrow. I told my son many times that once you graduate from high school your life speeds up. It’s like stepping on the accelerator of a car. According to Psalm 39:5, You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand.  My entire lifetime is just a moment to you; at best, each of us is but a breath. Time flies by and is a blip in eternity. The temptations and pleasures of this world are not worth gambling your eternal security.

Ask yourself, Am I storing up treasure in this world or in heaven?  After the Apostle Paul met Jesus, he lived for eternal rewards that last and not for those that will be consumed by fire. He said, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” - 2 Corinthians 4:18. Set your sites on salvation and being a citizen of heaven.

Hebrews 9:27-28 Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

BIO: Mark Cragle is a blogger and retired Field Sale Engineer. He earned his Mechanical Engineering degree at RIT and worked in that capacity for many years living in upstate New York. Mark is married to his wife Teri and they feel blessed to travel together. They have 2 sons, and daughters-in-law, and 2 adorable grandsons. Mark likes volunteering with special needs kids at his church and advocates for people suffering from brain diseases and injuries. 

 

Wednesday, April 1, 2020 2:46 PM

Shut-In and Strengthened

Wednesday, April 1, 2020 2:46 PM
Wednesday, April 1, 2020 2:46 PM

No matter where you are today, chances are hand sanitizer, Clorox wipes and Lysol spray are nearby. Just days ago, we were minding our own business, making summer plans and looking forward to springtime carelessly. And suddenly, those plans took a disturbing turn where you find yourself held hostage by the cable network news. These networks constantly feed us updates on our dire situation and warn us that we may never leave our homes again. Let’s all scream, STOP!!! Stop feeding our fears and just report the facts, please.

Our homes created to be our safe haven are starting to take on their own personality. The walls are alive and moving closer. The dust is hissing and staring from the ceiling fan. It used to be so well behaved. Sharing space with family members (whom we love dearly) is becoming crowded – gentle reminders of the social distancing policy. If you choose to embrace this thinking, you are in for a very long haul. Is there really any other way to approach this madness?

Let’s face it, we are shut-in and shut-down from our typical hectic and sometimes stressful lives. How do we maneuver our present-day new reality? In times of uncertainty, as believers, our first frame of reference is the Bible. What were the outcomes from Bible figures who found themselves shut-in? If we look to the Bible, we will gain insight into how best to handle our situation. 

Daniel was faithful in serving the living God, refusing to alter his worship in any manner in order to honor King Darius. As a result, Daniel found himself shut-in the lions’ den for destruction. Surely, Daniel was not expected to survive his shut-in period. Daniel, the king, and other men witnessed a truly miraculous experience. God didn’t leave Daniel shut-in with the lions alone. God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths and dismissed any harm to Daniel. Did Daniel, the king, or the others anticipate God to reveal His power in such an unprecedented way? Absolutely not. Daniel did not resort to grumbling or complaining about his untimely circumstances. Instead, he humbly trusted God which yielded supernatural protection.

Rahab, a harlot, chose wisely in aligning herself with the spies from Israel. The word spread on how the Lord dried up the Red Sea and permitted the Israelites to cross. Rahab received these words as a powerful truth. Her alignment indicated that she wanted to experience that supernatural power personally. She believed that the Lord’s limitless power was available to her and her family. The spies gave her specific instructions to gather her loved ones, display the scarlet cord and shut-in. Careful adherence to these instructions was the difference between life and death. Rahab followed the instructions precisely. As a result of her obedience during shut-in, lives were spared and faith in the living God was proclaimed.

Daniel and Rahab are speaking to us today. Let our shut-in be an opportunity to experience God’s protection and strengthen our faith. Grumbling, complaining and entertaining discontentment enhance the enemy’s territory. Follow Daniel’s strategy: “The people who know their God will display strength and take action (Dan 11:32). Commit to using your shut-in to becoming a stronger and bolder witness upon your release. Blessings!

BIO: Gwen Burno is the founder of Wisdom & Wellness LLC, an organization that provides sound principles and strategies which equip others to pursue a well-ordered life. In this capacity, she serves as a Life Coach, Ramsey Preferred Financial Coach and Christian Speaker helping others to reach their God-given potential. She is a contributing writer in Stories of Roaring Faith, Volume 3. Her passion is encouraging and supporting others to live intentionally and purposefully according to tried and true principles. Contact Gwen at www.displaystrength.com or gwen@displaystrength.com

Monday, March 2, 2020 8:11 PM

Blunders to Blessings

Monday, March 2, 2020 8:11 PM
Monday, March 2, 2020 8:11 PM

Where is it? I felt along my right side for my little black purse. It wasn’t there! My heart leaped in terror. Where could it be?  I had attended the Christian Bookseller’s Association (CBA) Convention and was now returning home to Texas. Traveling alone in the Orlando International Airport gate area, I was hurrying to the Disney store to buy a gift for my granddaughter when I discovered the missing accessory. Yikes! I must have retrieved my attaché case at Security but not my purse. Will I ever see it again? My credit card, driver’s license, a few dollars?

With pounding pulse, a sickening emptiness, and silent prayers, I ran to catch the people-mover for a ride back to the main airport lobby.  I accidentally boarded the wrong one that took me to the opposite side of the huge reception area. So, I rode back to the gate and found the correct people-mover to my original Security checkpoint---all the time thinking… It will be a miracle if my purse is still there.

When I arrived at Security, I asked the female attendant standing by a desk if she had found a small, black purse. Without hesitating, she reached in a drawer, asked my name, pulled out and opened my purse, examined the drivers’ license, looked at me, and said, “This looks like you. Here’s your purse.”

“Thank you, thank you, thank you!”  

The plane now boarding, I stepped onto the correct people-mover and raced to the gate. When I finally took a middle seat with a sigh of relief, I thanked the Lord that I made the flight. A distinguished white-haired gentleman on my left introduced himself as the consultant for Word of Life Press, responsible for selecting materials for Christian publishing in Korea. We engaged in a lively conversation and he expressed interest in what I had brought to CBA. Imagine our thrill several months later when my “Hen Friends” and I were notified that our Courage for the Chicken-Hearted books were being translated and published in Korean.

Romans 8:28 came to mind as I reflected on all my boo-boos that day: “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (NASB). It reminded me that when we love God, we can make the best of everything because we want to fit into His plans, fulfill His gracious purposes, and follow Christ.

It is a privilege to serve a loving and compassionate God who is for us. Either directly or indirectly, He can use providential events for our spiritual growth and for His glory. Just as varied ingredients of medications work together for the intended result, the word of God, the Holy Spirit, our own experiences, and the testimonies of other believers prove that God does work all things together for good when we have a heart for Him and want to fulfill His goals. Sometimes the benefit is realized with temporal blessings (like finding my purse), and/or spiritual and eternal joys. Perhaps, through the Scriptures in our chicken books, someone in Korea will be drawn closer to God, introduced to Jesus, become a believer, or expand God’s Kingdom.

I had never lost my purse before and haven’t since, but when I think about that incident, it reminds me that our sovereign God is in charge. He allows divine appointments and causes all things to work together for good if we love Him. He can even turn our blunders into blessings.

 

BIO: Fran Caffey Sandin is a retired nurse, wife, mother, and grandmother in Greenville, Texas. She enjoys baking, flower arranging, hiking, and traveling with her husband, Jim. Fran is a church organist and a core group leader for Community Bible Study. She is the author of See You Later, Jeffrey and Touching the Clouds: True Stories to Strengthen Your Faith and co-author of others.  Jim and Fran are parents of two sons awaiting them in Heaven, a beautiful married daughter and son-in-law, and three fabulous grandchildren. Visit Fran at her website:  www.fransandin.com

 

Friday, January 31, 2020 8:04 PM

Defining Love

Friday, January 31, 2020 8:04 PM
Friday, January 31, 2020 8:04 PM

This is the month for romance. The stores are full of hearts, candy, balloons, and flowers all awaiting use in the middle of the month. I can’t complain. I love the influx of new movies on the Hallmark channel and clean romance novels to add to my to-read pile. I even write romantic fiction and this month is full of new inspiration.

But romance and love are not the same things. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve finished reading a book or watching a movie and declared, “I give it six months.” Many couples involved in fictional romances simply don’t have what it takes to engage in real love.

There’s an old song from the ’80s by Steve Camp. Maybe you remember it? “Love’s Not a Feeling,” declared that there was no emotion involved in the concept. I won’t go that far, but the word is definitely a verb, characterized by action that shows the depth of commitment, whether in friendship or affection. It isn’t as some websites suggest, focused on physical attraction or defined by moments or situations that cause deepened relational connections. And, contrary to those same websites, most romantic movies, and daytime shows, it doesn’t have to include drama.

We are encouraged to love one another in order to show God’s love. We are directed to love our neighbors, particularly those who aren’t so very loveable. We are even told that if we don’t have love for others, what we do have is of very little value no matter how amazing it seems.

My longtime minister and friend passed away last year. Dennis Slaughter always told me, “People don’t care how much you know until they see how much you care.” I’ve since learned this is an old saying from someone long ago, but the truth is profound. And I’ve experienced this kind of love before:

  • Years ago, I enjoyed watching my teenage son help a mom and her large family out of a daycare and into their car.
  • Even before that, my sweet hubby used to take baby-duty at night just to let me indulge in a full eight hours of sleep.
  • My longtime friend brought my sick family a bag full of soups and applesauce.
  • After my husband had lost his job, members of our church family helped support us for one more month until his new job began.
  • And just last year, I reached the check out at a drive-thru and found the person in front of me had paid for my meal.

Have you seen love in action like that? Maybe you’ve been the one showing the Lord’s love? I’d love to hear about your experiences. You can share them with me at MLaine@RoaringLambs.org. 

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another. - John 13:34 - 35

BIO: Marji Laine is the Director of Publishing Services at RoaringWriters.org. Give her a holler if you have a question about publishing, writing, homeschooling, raising twins, or directing a children’s choir. She might not be an expert in all those areas, but she can help you brainstorm some ideas and be your cheerleader as you go along.

 

Wednesday, January 1, 2020 8:22 PM

Be Intentional in 2020

Wednesday, January 1, 2020 8:22 PM
Wednesday, January 1, 2020 8:22 PM

Donna Skell and I had been studying the Original Pancake House's extensive menu as the server came to take our order. "There are too many good choices," I said.

Upon making our selections Donna told the server, "My friend and I are going to pray over our meals in a few minutes. How can we pray for you?"

The server paused for a moment, then began opening up, telling us about an issue in her life.

I thought, what a great way of starting a spiritual conversation and sharing Christ's love. Of course, I had heard of people doing this before, but it was the first time I had seen it demonstrated.

A couple of weeks later I wanted to try this on my own. I was nervous, but when the server approached, I asked her that same question about what we could pray for her about. She said, "Let me think about it." A few minutes later she came back to my table and shared some things she wanted prayer for. 

Some people may respond to this question by saying, "No, I'm good." But seldom do people get angry. It's a low risk, potentially high reward action.  The key is being intentional.

The evangelism pastor at my church shared a three-step process to be intentional about witnessing. We should do these steps EACH DAY.

1. Pray and Ask.

Ask God to prepare people's hearts and draw them to Him. Also, ask Him to prepare our hearts to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit's leading and to give us words to say.

2Go and Look.

As we go about our daily lives, look for opportunities to be kind and share God's love. It might be as simple as saying an encouraging word to the grocery store cashier. Other times, we might strike up a conversation and ask questions that lead to a spiritual discussion. 

3. Show and Tell.

Reportedly, St. Francis of Assisi was quoted as saying, “Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.” NOT TRUE. In fact, there’s been no published source located prior to the early 1990s that contains that quote. Certainly, we must show the world God’s love by reflecting Jesus through our lifestyle. However, too often we modern-day Christians use that as a cop-out for not verbally sharing our faith. Saint Francis, like the Apostle Paul, boldly proclaimed the gospel. In Romans 10, Paul says that people need to hear the gospel so that they can believe. We must show and tell.

Remember, we are not responsible for others' responses to the gospel, but we are commanded to share our testimony - what we have seen, heard, and experienced. On average, people need seven "touches" before they make a decision for Christ.

As we begin a new decade, let's be intentional about sharing the Good News with others. 

“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature." Mark 16:15 (NKJV)

BIO: Dr. Sherry Ryan is a blogger, writer, and speaker. She retired in 2013 from the University of North Texas as an Associate Professor of Information Technology and Decision Sciences. Prior to earning her doctorate, she worked for IBM, teaching courses and speaking at national conferences. Sherry is the Director of Communications at Roaring Lambs and is on the Board of His Appointed Times Ministries.

Check out Sherry's blog SeatedExpectations.com It provides "Inspiration and Information for Overcoming Life's Challenges." 

 

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