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." 

 

Saturday, November 30, 2019 8:52 PM

The Christmas Doll

Saturday, November 30, 2019 8:52 PM
Saturday, November 30, 2019 8:52 PM

I’m seven and a half years old and it’s Christmas time.  My two older brothers and I live with our mom.  I like living with Mom better than Dad.  Mom can’t afford as much stuff, but she’s nicer and I don’t have to sleep with my little step-sister who still wets the bed.  I’m a big girl now so I don’t wet the bed anymore.  Well… not often anyway.  

Mom has to work hard to pay for the things we need.  Our clothes are old.  Mostly we wear what other people give to us because their kids grew out of them.  It’s not so bad because old clothes are softer than new ones.  It’s a good thing we live in California and don’t need coats because we don’t have any.  Sweaters keep us warm enough on our way to school once we’ve walked a while. 

Our big brother. who’s eleven, cooks when Mom’s working.  We eat lots of oatmeal with butter and sugar when we can’t buy milk or eggs.  At least we don’t have to eat soggy milk toast anymore. Yuck!  Sometimes we eat hotdogs and sometimes beans.  Lately, we just have tortillas for lunch and dinner with butter and sugar.  I don’t mind.  I think anything made with butter and sugar is fine cooking.

Still, when Mom says we can’t afford presents for Christmas, I believe her. I guess kids don’t grow out of toys as fast as they do their clothes.  I try not to be disappointed but I’m sad. I don’t want Mom to know how I feel because I don’t want her to feel bad, but there isn’t much I can do about tears falling on my pillow just before falling asleep at night. 

We do have a nice Christmas tree, though.  It’s kind of scrawny and it doesn’t have a lot of decorations—mostly paper ones we kids made. Of course, there are no presents under it. But it’s tall and smells good.  

The night before Christmas finally comes and I remember something.  Mom forgot about Santa!  He always comes through with something!  I have to go to bed right away so Santa can come.  

In the middle of the night, I get up to go potty.  The kitchen light is on and Mom’s sitting in a chair resting her head on her crossed arms on the table. Her eyes are closed and she’s making a kind of purring sound so I know she’s asleep.   

I wonder if Santa came.  I’ll just peek around the corner.  The kitchen light is shining on the tree in the living room.  Hey!  What’s that thing in an open box under the tree?  It’s—no, it can’t be—but it is!  It’s a doll!  A brand new baby doll!  I tiptoe in for a closer look.  I know I’m not supposed to touch presents before morning, but she’s so pretty!  Her pink dress is as soft as flower petals like it was made that way instead of having been washed a bunch of times. She’s the same size as a real baby and her blue eyes open and close like one.  Oooh! She even feels like a real live baby.  I inhale the smell of her straight yellow hair.  It smells new.  I love that smell.  I love this baby.  I’m going to name her Sally.

Sally can’t sleep in a box on the floor; she’ll get cold.  I softly sneak her to my bed and fall asleep with her cradled in my arms.  I wake up again needing to go potty.  Oh yeah!  I forgot all about it the first time.  I must not have slept very long because Mom is still sleeping in the kitchen with the light on.  As quietly as I can, I gently place Sally in her box-bed under the tree.  Goodnight sweet baby.  I’ll see you in the morning.  And Boy-oh-Boy!  Will I ever be surprised!

That Christmas morning so many years ago, I had yet to be properly introduced to God.  I knew Jesus was God’s son and Christmas was Jesus’ birthday.  What I didn’t know was how to truly love and trust Him.  

Years later I came to understand how much God loves us. "He gave His one and only, unique Son as a gift. So now everyone who believes in Him will never perish but experience everlasting life." John 3:16 (TPT) That’s a Christmas present we can all celebrate. 

As a child, I would never just leave a gift for me under the Christmas tree.  Don’t leave God’s precious gift of salvation through Jesus unopened.

BIO: Vivien Chambers spent many of her early years in Tacoma, Washington.  She moved with her husband to Texas in 1981 and now resides in the Fort Worth area.  Vivien has served as a Stephen Minister and presently enjoys volunteering as an assistant in a Multiple Sclerosis swim class.  Vivien is currently working on her first book.  She has five grown children and six grandchildren.

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