Growing up, I lived in a home split by divorce. It wasn’t always the most pleasant arrangement. However, living with my mother and brother, minus dad, was peaceful and without turmoil.
I still loved my father and wanted desperately for him to love me and show me his love. He tried, but it was painful since bitterness took control of his life. There were periods of time that he and I hardly spoke to each other.
Years passed and my dad began experiencing health problems. Did I care? I cared more than I realized. This is when Jesus began speaking to me and I knew that I must open communication with Dad again.
Within my heart I began to feel an urge to share Jesus with my father. I seized every opportunity to say something about the hope I have through God’s son. Dad had an extremely hardened heart toward God. Time passed and he didn’t change.
My father’s health problems continued. He battled cancer and suffered a massive stroke. Finally, he had to be placed in a special facility to receive the care needed.
One evening after visiting with Dad I asked him if he wanted to pray. I couldn’t leave him again without offering another chance to know Jesus. So I asked, “Dad, do you want to pray?” He retorted back harshly, “No, and don’t preach to me!” As we were leaving, my husband placed his hand on my father’s shoulder and said, “Dad, God loves you.”
Then my husband and I left and drove six hours back to our home in Dallas. It seemed that my father was lost forever.
The phone rang after being home a short time. My husband answered and said to me, “That was your dad. He wants you to know he prayed to Jesus and felt that a heavy load was lifted off of him.”
Amen! He finally accepted Jesus and made a verbal testimony about it too. Why did I doubt that Jesus would ever let my lifetime prayers go unanswered?
My mother shared a story with me about what Dad did after he prayed that evening. She told me he asked to see her. Dad and Mother had been divorced for forty years and were not on speaking terms.
Mother drove to visit Dad. When she arrived, she entered his room. My father took her hand. I don’t know all that was said between the two of them but I do know that they said to each other, “I love you.” This was a forgiving love that only comes from knowing Jesus and His love for us. Think about it. Mother and Dad had hardly spoken for forty years and neither had remarried. Only Jesus could bring about that kind of change in my dad’s heart and mind.
“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen,” - Ephesians 3:20-21
Janice Stroman, Ed.D., is the Founder and Director of Ladies In Touch which connects women with God and others through a monthly luncheon (see www.ladiesintouch.com). Jan is a blogger (Jan’s Jewels For Jesus), Bible study leader/teacher, and member of the Irving Salvation Army Advisory Council.
Published on Saturday, June 30, 2018 @ 6:03 PM CDT
Tears clouded my view as I attempted to navigate the storm that encircled my heart. I wanted God to take the helm, to part the waters for me to walk through. Yet I faced swells that threatened to capsize my life.
I had no eloquent words to pray. In tears I faintly whispered, “Help…” Every time I tried to catch my breath, I was pulled under again, choking on another wave.
The enemy had been trying to defeat me with repeated storms for years. This storm was wearing me out but I wasn’t going to give up now.
Jesus warned us we would face trials, but He also gave us hope. I clung to that. He came to be my peace in the midst of the storm.
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. - John 16:33
Once when Jesus and the disciples went out on the lake after a busy day of ministry, a storm suddenly blew in and the disciples became distraught while Jesus slept. Jesus peacefully snoozed while the gusty winds and choppy waves broke over the boat because He knew who His father was and that He could be trusted to care of His children.
Storms shape us in different ways depending on how we react to them:
- Sometimes storms destroy us: when we forget who calms the storm and we give up.
- Sometimes storms define us: when we forget God works all things together for our good; instead adopting a victim mentality, wallowing in self-pity, rather than looking at our storm as an opportunity for God to show His faithfulness.
- Sometimes storms strengthen us: when we hold onto God as our anchor in a storm, believing that trials produce a testing of our faith which produces perseverance, we allow the storms to strengthen us.
If our eyes are on the storm we will wonder if He still loves us, but if our eyes are on Him as our anchor, we will know He always has and always will. He promised His peace—the very peace that allowed Him to sleep through the storm because He knew who He was and whose He was.
Our attitude during the storm directly impacts the outcome, even if it’s only the impact on our heart.
Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. - Philippians 4:6-7.
When we make the choice to not worry, but instead, pray about our needs and be thankful for all God has done, we will then experience His peace even in the midst of the storm.
Are you going through a storm? Will you trust Him, and thank Him for all He has done while you wait for the storm to end?
Dr. Michelle Bengtson is the author of “Hope Prevails: Insights From a Doctor’s Personal Journey through Depression” and the “Hope Prevails Bible Study.” A board certified clinical neuropsychologist with over 20 years experience in the diagnosis and treatment of medical and mental disorders, she also knows the pain of losing loved ones and the despair that can follow trauma or illness. After her strong faith in God carried her through her tough times, she began a mission to instill hope in the hearts of others—even in the midst of their storms.
She is a popular speaker to multiple audiences and known by TV and radio audiences as a guest on a variety of Christian programs. She is also a wife, mother and friend. She lives in the Dallas/Fort Worth area with her husband, their two sons, and two dogs.
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Published on Friday, June 1, 2018 @ 2:23 PM CDT
A precious gift we’ve been given as Christians seems to be under-appreciated.
It’s the gift of salvation.
We can easily fall into the trap of thinking of our salvation as a one-time event, and now that we’ve got that “nailed down,” we’re good, and we can think about other things. The truth is we need God operating in our lives to save us way more than we think. Here’s why:
The thief does not come, except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy, I have come that they may have life - John 10:10 (NKJV)
Just because we have experienced the awesome moment where we have received Jesus as our Lord and Savior by faith, and have started this great journey to eternity with God, doesn’t mean the enemy gives you a “bye” and stops seeking to steal, kill, and destroy in our lives.
If you have been walking with God for any time at all, surely you can think of a situation where God had to “save you” or you would have suffered loss in some way.
A good example is a car accident. I was involved in one last October and the only reason I’m still here is because God saved me. I didn’t even see it coming, but God did.
I was driving down a busy street in Waco, Texas, and traffic was heavy. I observed that the lane I was in had stopped, so I began slowing to a stop as well. As I halted, my vehicle was violently hit from behind, knocking me into the vehicle in front of me, and my whole world changed. I’m not sure if I lost consciousness, or how long it took for me to regain my senses, but once it “hit” me that I had been in an accident, I felt tremendous pain in my neck, and I noticed something else that alarmed me even more.
I smelled what I thought was smoke and thought my 2002 Tahoe had caught on fire. My next thought was If I can move I have to get out of this vehicle. I didn’t want to die in a car fire. I was able to move, and exited the vehicle, walking with great difficulty to the side of the road. EMS was notified, as well as the Police, and I knelt on the ground to wait for their arrival. I was transported to the ER where it was determined that I did not have anything broken, nor any other serious bodily injury. I was injured, but God protected me, and I was able to walk away from the accident.
My truck, however, was totaled, and now I had no transportation. Life was tough for a couple of weeks, but I still experienced the restoration of God both in healing, and with a replacement vehicle (much nicer than my Tahoe). Praise the Lord!
I found out that God still saves, even after my salvation experience, and I will never stop appreciating this incredible gift from my heavenly Father.
BIO: Darryl Horn is a writer, author, and speaker whose time has come. A writer of non-fictional resources for the Body of Christ, Darryl received a prophetic word from God in 2014 while living in Galveston, Texas. The work which began that year is expected to be published in 2018, along with two additional works. An enthusiastic communicator, Darryl loves to share relevant, impactful, life-changing truths from the Word of God, and especially those truths taught by Jesus.
Published on Wednesday, May 2, 2018 @ 7:58 PM CDT
It's 4:36 a.m. I’m lying in bed feeling confused and overwhelmed. How does talking about me lead others to know God? Shouldn’t I be talking about Him? Nobody cares about my uneventful life. He’s the one with the wonderful miraculous stories to tell. Not me.
I drag myself out of bed, shuffle to the kitchen, punch the button for a cup of hot coffee and plunk myself down in front of the computer. Should I start with an outline of my life? That’s what I’m good at, organizing information in a logical manner. I stare at the blank screen. Where to begin? Tick. Tick. Tick. Nothing. Tick. Tick. More nothing. Tick. Crickets. A list of main life events instead?
I’ve got a few decades to cover. The tally is long. My shoulders tense up. Should I group the stories to show trends of where God has been working? Or maybe present them in the order they happened over time? I twist my neck and stretch the muscles. This is so stressful. I want to talk about Jesus, not me.
I try putting my life events into a timeline. What a jumbled mess.
I stare at the data and begin shuffling and reshuffling my stories into buckets of similarities; poor, childhood, marriages, leadership, career, education, family, religion, notoriety, struggles, travel, and turning points. All these parts seem important. They make up who I am. I create a detailed outline.
It’s good. I make it work. I beckon my husband to my office and read it to him.
“How long do you have?” he asks.
“Twenty to thirty minutes,” I say.
He leans on the doorpost. “Too much info. Too long.”
I actually knew that but had already put in so many hours of work I just wanted to finish so I could get to other things. I’d even rehearsed the presentation.
This is taking up so much of my time. I felt like I was struggling to get to the point. What was the point?
I printed my detailed outline and took a red pen to it. Cut. Cut. And cut. It was liberating. It was right and it felt good. Ironically, when I cut so much of me out of my story, Jesus began to shine through. I prayed and honed some more. As I cleaned up my document, I could see how he’d cleaned up my life. He’d taken so much away, forgiven my mistakes and sacrificed himself for me.
The day arrived for my presentation. The threads of my years on this earth were now prominent. Jesus was prominent. My story is his story. I wept as I proclaimed him to the room of new friends.
My own testimony rocked my world. Jesus rocked my world. He can rock yours too.
“No one is holy like the LORD! There is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God” (1 Samuel 2:2).
Just believe. He is real. Let him rock your world too.
BIO: Johnna Howell is an author, blogger, and speaker who has delivered keynote speeches and been of many professional awards. Her current work challenges readers to find and follow a life of Purpose, Powered by an eternal God who is Calling each of us to himself.
Published on Sunday, April 29, 2018 @ 8:45 PM CDT
Are you a procrastinator? I am. I also tend to be a perfectionist. A personality test that I took one time said that, “I put off finishing projects until later because I want to perfect them." Doing things with excellence is important, but it can also be a trap so that tasks never get finished.
My late husband, Doug, was a strong finisher. He was an amazing athlete and ran not only marathons (26.2 miles), but also ultramarathons (usually 100 mile races). In these races, runners just keep going. They don't sleep and only take short breaks to eat or drink. In 2006, he ran his fastest one-hundred mile ultramarathon in 19 hours 20 minutes and 19 seconds. It was the seventh fastest time in North America that year. Often he ran races with "negative splits." That means that he ran the second half of the race faster than the first half. Usually, it’s the other way around. People get tired and slow down toward the end. But he actually managed to speed up at the finish.
I think that's what God wants us to do—negative splits. So many people start out with promise and then lose their way when life gets tough. We start something that God wants us to do, but then we get busy and other things take priority. We intend to get back to things, but never do. Things that appear to be "urgent" take away our attention from what is important. Or, sometimes we think what we do it's not good enough, so we dread working on it. That last twenty-percent of the project is often the hardest to complete.
Is there something that God has called you to do that you have not completed? Create an action plan on how you are going to complete that project. Take out your calendar and schedule time to do it. If you schedule it, it will happen. Otherwise, it tends to be a nice intention. Let's get into the habit of finishing what we start.
I want to obey God and finish the tasks He lays out before me. At the end of my life I want to say:
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7 NIV)..
I want to FINISH STRONG. What about you?
BIO: Dr. Sherry Ryan is a retired Associate Professor of Information Technology and Decision Sciences at the University of North Texas. She received her Ph.D. in Information Systems from the University of Texas at Arlington and an MBA from the University of Southern California. Prior to earning her doctorate, she worked for IBM, teaching courses and speaking at national conferences. She has published numerous academic journal articles, conference proceedings, and is currently working on a book. Sherry is passionate about missions and is on the Board of Directors for His Appointed Time Ministries.
Published on Thursday, February 15, 2018 @ 11:17 AM CDT
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