Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Devotionals for the Heart: Temeka's thoughts on NOT giving up!

Be Not Weary
A devotional by Temeka Borden

“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap,  
if we faint not.” – Galatians 6:9 (KJV)

I cannot say that each day for a Christian is easy, but being a follower of Christ is rewarding. As Christians, we have a wonderful opportunity to serve God and to serve others. Essentially, we are granted the chance to make an impact for the Lord and to lead souls to Jesus. However, any time the adversary (the devil) sees you helping to build the Kingdom of God, he will attempt to do anything possible to distract you.

I’m reminded of the prophets in the Bible and how they told the truth, whether some wanted to hear it or not. They suffered persecution because they prophesied what many chose to reject. I’m reminded of the apostles, and how they preached the gospel and endured hardship because they chose to spread the message of Jesus Christ. 

I’m reminded of Jesus! He came. He loved. He served. He ministered. He died and was resurrected so that we all could have the opportunity of gaining eternal life. Jesus endured constant criticism, mockery, torture, all of which led to his death. According to John 3:16, He paid a substantial price for our sins so that we might be saved. The Bible says in Romans 6:23 (KJV), “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Since we are followers of Jesus, we are not exempt from suffering persecution. The forms of persecution we suffer these days may be different than in the Bible days, but we must face many troubles for spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

So what price have you paid? What form of persecution have you endured for choosing to follow Jesus? Is it mockery from your peers? Would it be missed opportunities on your job? Ridicule from people on social media? Criticism from family? Thinking back to some of the comments I have received from individuals who follow my pages on social media, I can tell you that occurrences such as what I described above are not uncommon. Know that you are not alone in your suffering!

Remain on the path God has placed you on. I know doing so can be difficult at times because the devil will often work through people and circumstances to try to discourage you. I know each day will not be easy. I know you may cry some nights, but remember that a reward awaits you for your faithfulness, and as stated in Galatians 6:9 (KJV), “…let us not be not weary in well doing, for in due season, we shall reap, if we faint not.”

In other words, continue doing what is good and pleasing in God’s eyesight, and you will be rewarded for not giving up, for staying true to the Lord, and for remaining in His will!

Author Bio:

Temeka Borden, better known by her pen name, Positivity Inspires, is an author, speaker, minister, and servant of the Lord. She was introduced to Christ at a very early age and was raised in the church. Her ministry focuses on encouraging Christians to love God first, to love all people, to continually strengthen their bond with Christ, and to study His Word, and live His Word daily. 

After recently experiencing what she describes as the "lowest point in her life," Positivity Inspires wrote the following about herself to serve as an encouragement and reminder of who she is in Christ:

"I am a child of God. He loves me unconditionally. Although I have my shortcomings, He has blessed me with a desire to do what is right. I have been blessed with many natural and spiritual gifts. I am an author. I am a speaker. I am a teacher. I am a runner. I am a drummer. I am a singer (when I’m in the mood), and I have a strong 'fashion sense.' I am loved. My family and friends are my heart, and I know they will support me no matter what. I am educated. I currently have two degrees (one of them a doctorate), and with God’s help, I will complete a third degree soon. I am a multi-state licensed medical professional who completed a specialty residency, which prepared me for the workforce (and made me a FORCE to be reckoned with). I am a leader. I have served in administrative roles and was successful in those positions because I made a difference (with God’s help). I am ambitious, and I know that with God, all things are possible. I know He is going to do great things through me."

Positivity Inspires loves God and she loves people. She strongly encourages others to show kindness, respect, and love to everyone. Positivity Inspires loves and welcomes diversity and flourishes in culturally diverse environments. She also is passionate about giving back to the community, and her favorite mantras are: "Speak Up!" and "Watch God Work!"

Connect with Temeka:
Instagram -
Facebook -
Twitter -

Monday, July 29, 2019

Devotionals for the Heart: The Deep

That’s Deep, Man
A devotional by Voni Harris

“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” –Colossians 4:5-6 (NIV)

Back in the 70s, you’d hear, “That’s deep, man.”

What does that even mean?

Deep means: real, authentic, truth.

For Christians, the word “deep” means opening your heart to Jesus, because He is “the Way, the Truth, the Life” (John 14:6). Think about the fact that He is REAL. It truly is deep!

But what does it mean to be “deep” in today’s superficial social media world?

I’ve known people who talk sincerely about never being superficial. They shy away from having acquaintances because they don’t want to be fake friends, or to have them. They don’t want to be counterfeit like some people who we all see on social media and even on the news. They want to be real with everyone.

Excellent goal.

But here’s what I think about being “deep” and “real.”

There is a time to splash with companions on the beach, to collect sea glass or play beach volleyball. There is a time to swim or snorkel with friends or family. There is a time to scuba dive, explore underwater caves, go deep-sea fishing.

The way I see it, our social world works the same way.

Some people you have simply have fun with. You talk about surface subjects. Some people you share parts of your life with, and they share theirs with you: Parenting, hobbies, babysitting, offer of help packing for a move.

Some people are your deep-dive friends, only a few. When you have a crisis, you know you can turn to them. They can turn to you. You drop things for each other at a moment’s notice. You share your deepest emotions and thoughts because they are your deep-dive friend. Or you don’t need to share them because they know you. My husband is my companion on most of my deep-diving adventures! Spouses rightfully fit into this category.

If I am being polite to the waitress, or to the stranger on the Metro, am I being superficial? No. I’m operating at surface level. I don’t know people like that well enough to go beyond nice manners. That kindness, though, comes from graciousness, which is borne in truth.

There are other folks I don’t click with personally, but we’re casual friends. We stop and talk when we run into each other at the store. Is that superficial? No. I may share a true and funny story that just happened. I am sharing my reality … without diving into my deep emotions and thoughts.

I believe when Colossians talks about gracious speech, seasoned with salt, Paul is talking about authenticity, no matter who God brings across my path or deep into my life. May we all have Christ’s wisdom in that.

Being deep and real is a matter of the heart, not a matter of the outward actions the world sees. Do you choose your clothes to show off or look cool, or because what you’re putting on shows your real personality and is appropriate where you are headed? Do you look people in the eyes and shake hands firmly because you want to impress, or because you’re showing respect to the human being you are being introduced to? Are you using perfect etiquette as social nicety or as a mask? 

In this world we live in that tends to focus on the superficial and encourage surface level interactions, what matters to those of us who want to be true, authentic, full of grace and seasoned with salt, is the heart of our outward actions.

For Christians, that means checking our hearts with God. He is God! I freely express my anger or my silliness or my praise or my love to Him. I choose to be deep and real with my Creator, the God of the Universe, the One who loved enough to save me on the Cross.

He is not counterfeit. He is the Way, the TRUTH, and the Life.

I trust Him with all of my deepest truth!

Author Bio:

Voni Harris writes from her family’s home on the rain forest island of Kodiak, Alaska.

A legal-eagle husband, a breathtaking daughter, an adventurous grandson, and two enthusiastic dogs all conspire to keep her from spending too much time at the computer.

She holds a Radio-TV degree from Drake University, and her short story “The Wedding” was published in Heart-Stirring Stories of Romance.

Voni's novel Nothing Hidden won the 2013 ACFW’s First Impressions contest and the 2015 Daphne DuMaurier unpublished inspy suspense category. 
It was also a 2018 ACFW Genesis finalist.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Devotionals for the Heart: Obedience

A Lesson in Obedience: The Reason Why I Sing

A devotional by Heather Martin

“In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.”–1 John 5:3 (NIV)

I grew up in a family of singers. 

My mom, brother, sisters, uncles ... everybody could sing!

I was in the second grade when I realized I could sing too. I went to a Christian school and every morning we had worship and sang songs. It was during one of those times that I could hear my own voice clearly and I liked the sound of it. My mother had a beautiful voice and a real love for music and encouraged us to sing and use our gifts daily. We had worship at home every evening and singing was a huge part of it. Neighbors would gather close to our screen door to hear the music coming out of our living room each day.

I sang at school, at home, and at church. I sang alone and in many groups and choirs. I loved singing, but we had grown up poor, and I had seen how hard it was to make a good living being an artist. So I had determined that when I went to college I would never study anything that had to do with music.

When I was a junior high school, two of my sisters were in school at Oakwood University and sang in a gospel girl group with two of their friends. Unbeknownst to them, a representative from a major record label was sitting in on their rehearsals and was very impressed with their music. She offered them a record deal and they became the first gospel girl group on the label. I was so excited and happy for them!

I enjoyed watching them work with, and record with artists I had listened to my whole life. I can still remember screaming when I heard them on the radio for the first time and loosing my mind seeing them perform on television. I am sure I was their biggest fan! Still I had no desire to be a singer, I was going to be a teacher first, and then maybe a speech pathologist or dentist. Being a singer was far from my mind.

Fast forward to a few months after my college graduation. One of the singers in my sister’s group decided to quit and they asked me to take her place and join. Without hesitation, I immediately declined and reminded them of all the reasons why I had no interest in being a singer. I was especially concerned about taking the place of such a phenomenal singer. That would be impossible! People would constantly compare me to her, and maybe I would not be good enough. I wanted to make a paycheck that I could rely on. My list of “why not’s” was so long! I was not taking this invitation seriously because my mind was already made up.

I discussed my decision with a friend who is a member of a Grammy awarding winning male acapella group. He had joined this group by replacing a member who had decided to quit as well. He encouraged me to take the invitation seriously by going to God in prayer. He told me to stop talking about it and not to let anyone know I was praying about it. So one weekend, I decided to do just that.

That same weekend, after church, I was in my room praying when my mother knocked on the door and handed me a book to read. I took the book, flipped through the pages and landed on a section that seemed as if it were written specifically for me and my situation. I was stunned!

I had told God that I didn’t want to sing, and gave Him all of my reasons and I was praying in hopes that He would confirm that I was right. But instead He told me not to be afraid, that He actually loves using people who have insecurities because they will be more likely to trust Him. He also said don’t worry about money, seek my kingdom first and all these things will be added unto you.

Wow! In that moment I felt like Jonah, a prophet in the Bible who God had called to deliver a specific message to a group of people. He was disobedient and ran in the opposite direction of where God told him to go. Consequently, he boarded a ship, got thrown overboard, swallowed by a whale and was in the belly of this big fish for three days and three nights before he finally obeyed. Anyway, just like Jonah, I couldn’t ignore the calling he’d placed on my life to sing and so clearly showed me that day in my room.

I accepted the invitation to be a member of the group Virtue, and now 20 years later, I still don’t regret saying yes to God’s calling on my life.

It has not been an easy, glamorous ride all the time, but every time I get up to sing, I have the assurance that it is where I am supposed to be because He told me so. Being obedient takes courage, faith, and a relationship with God that is renewed and strengthened daily.

What are you running from today? Has God called you to do something and you’ve been too scared to do it? Do you have a list of all the reasons you will fail?

I want to encourage you to seek His will and jump in. And for goodness sake, don’t make Him send a whale to swallow you before you obey!

Be obedient, and if you must, do it scared.

Author Bio:

Heather Martin was born the last of six siblings in New Orleans, Louisiana. She was raised by an amazing single mother (Rebecca Trotter) and was taught at an early age to love God and how to sing! 

She graduated from Oakwood University with a Bachelor's Degree in Language Arts Education and later received a Master’s Degree in Education from Kaplan University.

Shortly after graduating she followed God’s call to minister. She joined the Stellar, Dove, and Grammy-nominated gospel group Virtue, which was founded by her two older sisters Ebony Holland and Karima Kibble several years prior. Virtue has used their talents to spread the love of God across the world! They have recorded 7 studio albums and have been the recipients of numerous awards.

God has not only blessed Heather professionally, but personally. She met her husband, Dr. Colin Martin, and they have been married for 14 years. They have four children: Colin Jr. 11, Harper 10, Clark, 7, and Charleston 5. 

In 2016, Heather started an online blog and vegan and allergen-friendly cooking channel called “Chef Mommy.” Heather (Chef Mommy) has cooked with numerous celebrities and top chefs to spread the news of healthy cooking and lifestyle. 

In addition to this busy schedule, Heather enjoys, running, reading, writing and spending time with her family.

Connect with Heather:
Instagram for Heather:
Instagram for Virtue (Heather’s singing group):

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Devotionals for the Heart: Questions

Trusting God with the Hard Questions
A devotional by Carrie Del Pizzo

Jesus answered, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” –John 9:3 (NASB)

When life gets hard, we ask questions. 

Who is to blame? Where did I go wrong? Why is this happening?

Sometimes that’s pretty easy to figure out. You text and drive; you get in an accident. You argue with the boss; you get fired. You cheat on your spouse; you get divorce papers.

Other times, things aren’t so clear-cut. Why does a good employee get laid off? Why do hurricanes and earthquakes kill people? Why does a child suffer through cancer?

When our teenage daughter spent two years dating a non-Christian, my husband and I had a heap of questions. What does she see in this guy? How long will she drag this out? Why doesn’t she see that he’s so wrong for her? Where did we go wrong?

In John 9, the disciples asked Jesus this kind of question about a blind man. They supposed either God had given the man’s parents a blind child because they had sinned, or God knew the man would sin and so made him blind at birth.

Jesus’s answer shocked them. The blindness wasn’t caused by anyone’s sin. This man had been born blind so that Jesus could miraculously restore his sight and point to the Father.

Joseph knew something about this idea. His brothers threw him in a pit and sold him into slavery. Some four decades later, the brothers wisely asked forgiveness of the second most powerful man in Egypt. His answer was astounding. According to 
Genesis 50:20 (NIV), he said, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good.” 

Of course, Jesus faced the granddaddy of all bad days. He was falsely accused, beaten, mocked, and crucified. And he did it while carrying the weight of our sin. He could have snapped his fingers and ended it, but he chose to suffer and die.

He knew the Father had a great plan, one that wasn’t obvious to the weeping, hiding, shaking-in-their-sandals disciples who only saw the bad situation before them.

We’ve also discovered that God has brought some good from our daughter’s poor choice of boyfriend. She’s learned what a bad relationship looks like, what she doesn’t want in a boyfriend, and what kind of good relationship she does want. 

We’re very pleased that her new boyfriend loves the Lord and they want to attend church together. They’ve even made a commitment to purity and have set up boundaries for themselves.

Best of all, she is now very open about her faith. Praise God!

What tough situation are you facing today? What hard fact of life are you trying to explain, reason out, or blame on someone? 

Ask God to walk with you through this trial and then reveal His glory at the end.

His plan may not be clear to you now, but that doesn’t mean He doesn’t have one. Look for ways to glorify Him.

Author Bio:
In this world of texts, memes, and emojis, slowing down to truly communicate can feel like straining a muscle you haven’t exercised in far too long.

Seventeen years of business experience across a variety of industries has taught Carrie Del Pizzo the fine art of professional communications. 

Partnering with corporate executives and entry-level employees alike, she has written and edited major project proposals, direct marketing pieces, sensitive client communications, employee handbooks, and user manuals.

Carrie’s love of literature and story has led her to develop and exercise her fiction writing skills as well. Aside from her personal creative efforts, she also edits for self- and traditionally-published authors and enjoys writing short dramas for church presentation.

Carrie is a wife, mom of three Americans and host-mom to numerous exchange students. Italian-by-marriage means she loves to cook and eat. She lives in Spokane, Wash., with her hilarious family, who keeps her in stitches and provides piles of material for great stories.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Devotionals for the Heart: A Question for all who want to follow Jesus Christ

Is He Enough?
A devotional by Glynis Becker

So Jesus said to the twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you?” Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.”
–John 6:67-69 (NASB)

Is Jesus enough?

Simple question, but one that is taking me my whole life to answer. Maybe that’s the way it’s supposed to be. Maybe each day I must ask myself the same question: “If everything else were taken away from me today, would Jesus be enough?”

We sing this sentiment in hymns like “Give Me Jesus” and worship songs like “His Grace is Enough,” but singing it and living it are two different things, aren’t they? I don’t want to just sing the words, I want to live this way.

I recently read through John chapter 6, with that question on my mind. This chapter begins with the well-loved story of Jesus feeding the five thousand with five loaves of bread and two fish. He provided a miracle for that crowd. The story is recorded to give us an understanding of how Jesus knows what we need, wants to give it to us, and is able to take a small portion of what we offer and increase its reach.

But what if when I’m hungry, He doesn’t provide a miracle? Is Jesus still enough?

The next portion of the chapter is a story of the frightened disciples in a churning boat, the sea stirring around them because of strong winds. Jesus walks out on the water and tells them not to be afraid. When He gets in the boat, it is immediately, miraculously, on land, in the place they were heading for.

What if when I’m frightened, there is no immediate relief for me? Is Jesus still enough?

The chapter continues as the crowds follow Jesus and He tells them that He knows many of them are following simply because He gave them bread that filled their stomachs, but to really follow Him will require belief regardless of the miracles. They need to believe that the Father sent Him and He will be the Bread of Life to them through every circumstance. We need to believe the same thing.

So today, let’s ask ourselves the same question. Is Jesus enough? In our lives, our homes, our churches, our circumstances, our world? Is He enough?

I pray that as we answer that question for ourselves, we will say with the same passion as the Apostle Peter: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.”

Let’s Pray: Lord Jesus, give me the faith to know deep in my soul that You are all I need. Then give me the ability to live life so the world sees that You are the only Holy One. You are God. You are life. And You are hope. In Your Name I pray, Amen.

Author Bio:

Glynis Becker writes devotions and inspirational fiction, hoping someday to have a published novel on her resume.

She has co-written several screenplays, including the film Sinking Sand, available on DVD and digital streaming.

Glynis, whose childhood was spent all over the country as an Air Force brat, has called South Dakota home for many years, along with her husband and two teenage children.

When she’s not writing or reading, she is watching more television than she should and crocheting. You can find her at

Friday, July 19, 2019

Devotionals for the Heart: Thoughts on why death is not the final chapter

Death is Not the Final Chapter
A devotional by Victoria Bylin

“O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?”
– 1 Corinthians 15:55 (KJV)

This devotional is dedicated to my Mom
Darlene Bylin McLeary
12/2/1933 – 7/21/2009

My husband and I recently spent a week with our grandchildren – twin girls about to turn five, and their two-year-old brother. As you might imagine, you never know what’s going to come out of someone’s mouth.

During an Amelia Bedelia bedtime story, one of the girls looked me very seriously in the eye. “Grandma, you’re just a little crunchy now. But you’re going to get a lot crunchy and then you’ll die.”

Great. Like Arnold Schwarzenegger says in Kindergarten Cop, “Thanks for the tip.”

I’ve told that story about dozen times now, and every time I have the same reaction. I laugh and then I choke up with bittersweet tears.

Death . . . no one wants to talk about it, or think even think about it—unless they’re getting “crunchy” and it’s staring them in the face. Yet this is where the rubber meets the road in Christianity. We don’t worship a prophet like Mohammed or an enlightened Buddha. We worship the all-powerful God who raised His Son, Jesus Christ, from the dead. As a result, those who believe in him will receive the gift of Heaven and eternal life.

May I be completely honest here? I believe in Heaven with everything in me, but I’m a little scared of death, the process of dying, and getting too crunchy to take care of myself.

I thank God for the words of Jesus in John 14:2 (KJV): “In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.”

We also have the promise of Hebrews 11:1 (KJV): “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” The resurrection of Christ is all the evidence we need of God’s love and power. Jesus Christ is Lord over all. He will never leave us or forsake us.

Those words comfort me. So does the experience of my mother’s passing. She was 75 years old when she lost her fight with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. COPD is a combination of emphysema, chronic bronchitis and pneumonia. It’s a long battle with a slow decline, and she fought it bravely for many years. When the end came, she was in the hospital, surrounded by family, comfortable, and at peace.

I’ll never forget her last breath. God’s grace rained down on us all through our tears, and love flooded through the hospital room. There have been a handful of times in my life where I’ve felt the tangible presence of God. This was one of them—the biggest one by far. I can only describe the moment as sacred.

My granddaughter is right. Someday I will die, but hopefully not too soon! While I am in the land of the living, I intend to live well and love people as best as I can. The hope of eternity gives us that desire and the strength to do it. 

Knowing that I’ll see my Mom, Dad, and other loved ones again makes that sacred passage all the more powerful. There will be no more suffering—only perfect peace. No one will be crunchy in Heaven, and that’s good news indeed.

Author Bio:
Victoria Bylin is the author of 18 traditionally published romances. Known for tackling difficult subjects with great compassion, she delights in stories that shine the spotlight of God’s love on ordinary men and women facing realistic challenges.

Writing has always been a part of Victoria’s life. As a child, she wrote hundreds of letters and scribbled in journals. As an adult, she worked as a freelance journalist and editor before taking on the challenge of fiction.

She had one goal when she started her first novel: to finish a book-length manuscript, good or bad. That first effort will never see the light of day, but it led to a second manuscript and a sale to Harlequin Historical. Since then, she has written westerns and contemporary romances for both mainstream and Christian publishers, with Together With You winning the 2016 Inspirational Readers Choice Award for Best Contemporary.

Writing is a joy and a challenge for Victoria, but faith, friends and family matter to her far more. She’s a wife, mom, proud grandmother, and a dog-mom to a wacky Jack Russell Terrier. Originally from California, she and her husband currently make their home in Lexington, Kentucky. 
When she’s not writing, Victoria enjoys long walks, travel, and dark chocolate. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Devotionals for the Heart: Why we must love all of our neighbors

Love Your Neighbor
A devotional by Christa MacDonald

“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” 
– Romans 13:8-10 (NIV)

I went back to Romans today as it’s one of my favorite books in the Bible and I wanted to read something uplifting. It can truly be a struggle to remain informed about what’s going on in the world around me but also stay in the right frame of mind. I’m not in charge of the world – God is – but there are times that I want to take charge and put things in order. As I am not president, or queen, or empress of anything, there’s not a lot I can do so I struggle to not become dismayed.

The Bible gives us the winning strategy. In Romans 12:21 (NIV) we’re told, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

How can we do that? The world is pretty evil, and we’re only human. The verse above gives us the answer, “…love your neighbor as yourself.” Every person we interact with in our lives is our neighbor. Your coworkers, your bank teller, your mechanic, the post office clerk who isn’t that nice, your children’s teachers…

You may be thinking, That’s impossible. Those people aren’t really my neighbor, I doubt that’s what this means. But remember how Jesus answered when asked “Who is my neighbor?” in Luke 10:29? He told the story of the Good Samaritan and then he told the man to “Go, and do likewise.” God has commanded us to love, and so we need to be careful about putting limits on whom we are willing to love.

What does loving someone as yourself look like? The verse above has an answer for us too – love does no harm. That might seem pretty simplistic. If you're taking the time out of your busy life to read this then I highly doubt that you're the type of person who would be looking for ways to intentionally hurt people, but remember the parable of the Good Samaritan. The standard is higher. When we see a need we must respond. Our love needs to be an active one.

God has called us to live counter to our culture’s selfishness. Prayerfully consider in what ways you could love the neighbors in your life.

Consider this: How is God calling you to serve and love the people that He has placed in your life? Figure it out and then get out there and love somebody!

Author Bio:

Christa MacDonald is a 2017 ACFW Carol Award finalist for contemporary Christian fiction.

A native New Englander, she was inspired by her travels through the north woods of Maine to write The Broken Trail, which would become the first in the Sweet River Redemption series published by Mountain Brook Ink.

Christa's writing focuses on the real-life challenges of the modern world, love’s sometimes crooked path, and the redemptive power of Grace.

When not working or writing Christa can be found ferrying her kids around, reading, or attempting something crafty.

She and her husband live with their three kids, two cats, and one dog along the coast of New 
England. Connect with Christa at

Monday, July 15, 2019

Devotionals for the Heart: The Fear of the Lord and Intimacy with God

The Fear of the Lord
A devotional by Nanci Rubin

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and the knowledge of the Holy is understanding.” –Proverbs 9:10 (KJV)

When I was baptized as a child, at the age of eight, church was a very different experience from today’s services.

We were assembled in a one-room country church with no air conditioning and we used the cardboard funeral parlor hand fans. Yes, when you see this depicted in a movie, we actually did use them. All the windows were opened, birds chirped and there was always anticipation for the Word of God from the pastor. Dinner on the grounds was the end to a perfect Sunday. We’d go home, take a nap and get ready to come back for the evening service.

Children remained with their parents for the sermon in church and we didn’t move about or talk. We were taught the fear of the Lord. And, it had nothing to do with physical or emotional fright as one would feel when threatened by an adversary. It was respect. God was revered.

We had respect for God, His house and everyone in the ministry. As a matter of fact, our generation was taught respect for all authority and we as children were taught to pray for our teachers, our family and our country. I am saddened that this concept has been abandoned along with the fear of the Lord. This is my perception and I am expressing what I see through my eyes. We need a little more conviction and a little less condemnation.

I’m not judging anyone’s heart when it comes to their faith in God, but according to the Bible, God made some very distinct rules governing His house and those He destined – pastors, teachers, prophets, evangelists and apostles – to perfect the saints and to do the work of the ministry. There were and still are qualifications regarding those in authority ministering God’s Word. It appears that in this 21st century, many things have become obsolete. Rules are ignored or bent to fit the need or the direction that man has destined for the church.

According to 2 Timothy 4:3-4 (KJV), “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”

The church is not a building. We, the believers, are the church. But what are we bringing each time we gather? Would an unbeliever even feel they were in church?

Several years ago, John Bevere wrote a book, The Fear of the Lord: Discover the Key to Intimately Knowing God. In his book, he wrote, “Do you think the King of Kings and Lord of Lords is going to come into a place where He is not given due honor and reverence?”

I think that this is a question we probably should consider today. We have become so familiar with God perhaps even taking Him for granted. Do we truly welcome Him into our churches? Or, have our services become rote? The Bible says in Leviticus 10:3 (NASB), “Then Moses said to Aaron, "It is what the LORD spoke, saying, ‘By those who come near Me I will be treated as holy, And before all the people I will be honored.’” So Aaron, therefore, kept silent.”

I have pastor friends who long for a mighty move of the Spirit of God and can’t understand why miracles aren’t happening in their churches. They do not see the casual behavior of their parishioners, the eating and drinking in church, cell phones in use and all manner of distractions. This is not the atmosphere for the miraculous. We have become de-sensitized to the things of God. We live in a highly technology-driven world and we are inundated with all manner of distraction.

We need to return to a true fear of the Lord. When we enter into God’s house (our church buildings), let’s do so with thanksgiving and let us dwell upon Him. Worship Him and give Him all the Praise.

I have been blessed to had experienced powerful moves of God and it had little to do with the size of the meeting. It had everything to do with those gathered being in one accord. We were not asking Father God for anything, but with hearts of worship we fell at His feet. In that atmosphere miracles occur. This, I believe, is what occurred in the Upper Room with the disciples.

If we as believers would humble ourselves and seek God’s heart, not only would our churches be more like the New Testament church, but our world would be a better place in which to live.

Let’s Pray: Father God, let us not forget how great You are. Let us enter into Your gates with thanksgiving and Your courts with praise. Return us to the former things and set aside anything that distracts us from You. In Jesus’s Holy Name we pray, Amen.

Author Bio:

Nanci is a poet and short story writer published in Cypress News, Family Times E-Zine, Free Verse and the Commonwealth of Poetry

She belongs to RWA, ACFW, and Jerry Jenkins Writers Guild where she’s enrolled in his novel writing program.

Nanci lives in Northern Virginia with her husband and cats, Romeo and Juliette, along with their newest member of the family, Roni who is a seven-month-old Goldendoodle.

Recently, Nanci completed her debut novel, A Betrayal in Cross Keys. It is an Amish romance that she has placed in her agent's capable hands. The rest is up to God.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Devotionals for the Heart: Stories from real-life that show how prayer works!

Prayer Works!

A devotional by Chaplain Paul Anderson

“Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.”
– James 5:14-15 (NIV)

My parents taught me to pray when I was a child. The family rituals included prayer. It was a part of our daily rhythm: Grace before meals. Family prayer before we parted in the morning. We prayed in family worship. We prayed before eating dinner and before the television came on. As children, we said our individual prayers before climbing into bed.

Prayer, Bible stories and later, Bible studies, were woven into the fabric of my life.

I witnessed the transforming power of prayer in two pivotal moments of my life. I credit my son with teaching the power of Psalm 50:15 and a Pakistani woman for revealing the faith described in James 5:14-15.

I used to drive a red Toyota Celica. I loved that car. I tended to it well. Regular oil changes, precise detailing several times a year. One day, I was changing the brakes on all four wheels. The car was on jack stands. All four wheels were off of the vehicle, strategically placed for safety.

My son and his friend had come around to see what I was doing. I noticed a few minutes later that they were joyously throwing rocks at the tree in the front yard. When I had finished installing the brake pads and was ready to put the wheels on, it occurred to me that the boys had not been throwing rocks. They had thrown my lug nuts all over the yard, 20 of them.

Infuriated, I called him over. I heard myself yelling at him. I remember saying, “You better pray that you find every one of those lug nuts for my wheels or…”

A few minutes later, I was aghast when I saw my son and his friend kneeling on the porch praying that they could find each one of those “thingys that Daddy needs for his car.”

Chagrined, but now concerned for their concept of God, I knelt by the car and asked God to help them find each one as well. If they didn’t find them, they might lose faith in God and be afraid of me.

They found them all in a short span of time. When they brought me the last one, I said let’s thank Jesus for helping you to find them. We prayed. Then my son said words that I shall never forget. He said, “Daddy you seemed surprised that we found them. You always told me to pray when I was scared or when I needed something. I was scared that you would spank me and God answered my prayer. I knew that He would.”

The second transformational moment happened while I was the Pastor at my fourth church. My office phone rang. I picked it up and said, “This is Pastor Anderson. How may I help you today?” A woman with a thick accent said “Pastor, my son, five years old, is sick. He has a high fever and we need you to come and pray for him.” In retrospect, my answer was faithless. I said, “If he has a high fever you should bathe him in tepid water. If that does not work, please take him to the hospital.”

Her response was full of faith and a little impertinence. She said “Pastor, we are simply following the word of God, first, like we do in my home country. Will you come, or shall I call another pastor?” Chastised, I asked for the address.

Upon arrival, the child’s Aunt greeted me at the door. I asked where the child was. I wanted to pray quickly so that they could get him to the hospital. The aunt told me that it was their culture that when a new guest comes to the house, we must have tea and cookies. Frankly, I was incredulous, but, providentially, I understood and did not resist. Conversation, tea and a few cookies later, I again inquired about the child. By now the mother had emerged and said that he was sleeping but still hot. With urgency, I suggested that we pray for him now.

I was ushered into the room where the boy lay sweating and appeared unconscious rather than asleep. I was concerned. I touched him and knew that his fever was too high. I pulled out my vial of oil. I anointed him and prayed that God would break the fever and restore vitality to the child. I prayed that he would be mentally sound and able to move and breathe without difficulty. After I said “Amen,” his mother dabbed at his head with a moist towel.

I suggested that they take him to the nearest hospital. They demurred. Perhaps there were issues, financial or legal that precluded them going to the hospital. The mother said to me, “Pastor you must have some more tea and cookies before you go.” I understood that as a cultural imperative. So I obeyed her demand. A few minutes after I sat down for another cup of tea, the little boy came walking out of the bedroom. He looked normal and focused. His mother ran over to him and hugged him. She felt his head and chest and fell to her knees thanking God for healing her son.

After the ecstatic prayer, the little boy said that he was hungry. His mother brought him to the table and gave him some cookies. It was then that the little boy looked up at me. He said, “Are you the man who prayed for me?” I said, “Yes, I am.” He knelt beside me and said, “Thank you, Jesus, for sending your prophet to pray for me like Elijah did for that little boy in the Bible. Amen.”

Tears were in my eyes. This little boy and his family had faith superior to my own, at the time.

Prayer works! Try it! Practice it! See how it works!

Make prayer your first line of defense when life happens.

Author Bio:

Chaplain Anderson served for 20 years as a U.S. Navy Chaplain. Over 26 years of active duty, he was promoted through the ranks from Seaman Apprentice (E2) to his final rank as Commander (O5) in the Chaplain’s Corps.

Prior to his Naval career, Chaplain Anderson pastored in the Allegheny East and Potomac Conferences of Seventh-day Adventists. His undergraduate preparation for ministry was completed at Columbia Union College (WAU) in Takoma Park, Maryland. He has subsequently earned four graduate degrees–a Master of Divinity from Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan, a Master of Education in Counseling and Personnel Services from the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland and a Masters of Sacred Theology in Religion and Culture from Boston University. His Doctor of Ministry degree was conferred by Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C.

Chaplain Anderson also completed four units of Clinical Pastoral Education at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He also holds certifications in Suicide Awareness and Prevention, Civil Mediation, Alternative Workplace Dispute Resolution, Temperament Analysis, Marriage Enrichment, Workforce Diversity, and is a certified Life Coach.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Thankful Thursdays: Answered prayers after years of waiting on God

It’s Thursday and I’m thankful for answered prayers!

I don’t know where to begin with this blog post to tell my whole story and keep it under 1,000 words. Perhaps I will write a longer blog post sometime in the future but for today, I will keep this short and sweet.

Ya’ll, I have a testimony to share about how God answered my prayers!

My undergraduate degree is in Print Journalism. It’s always been my passion and skill set but after graduating from college and a magazine internship thereafter, it was increasingly difficult for me to land a full-time job with salary in my field of study…until this week!

Now here’s where my testimony gets long but I will try to keep it short, as promised…

After that magazine internship was over (they were not hiring full-time), God led me on a series of detours. First, I felt a strong pull from Him to get trained to become a teacher and help children. It was the same strong pull that I felt to pursue Journalism. So I obeyed and went into training in an alternative certification program that’s similar to Teach for America. However, that journey was an uphill battle and after two years of teaching, the door to having a career in Education closed.

So now that my Plan B (teaching) failed, what was I going to do?

But God had more in store! Only two months after He shut the door to teaching, He opened the door to working for a countywide newspaper! I still remember my first day on assignment. It was like the sun rising! I felt at peace, happy, productive and convinced that I was operating in my calling.

However, after half a decade of working for that newspaper, the company went through budget cuts, which meant that they had to lay off several reporters including me. So then began my search for a new job. At first, I was only looking in Journalism but then I figured that any job that paid the bills would do. So I expanded my career search but to no avail because I only landed short, temporary jobs like seasonal retail for the holidays.

Just when all hope seemed lost, God intervened. He led me to making a new friend, Kristina, who calls herself a “Writerpreneur” and set off a series of events that led me to where I am today!

Keeping it short: Kristina told me to download her FREE book and read it because of its job search related resources. So I did and in that book, there was a list of staffing agencies that represent people who are searching for jobs. The company works as an agent for the job seeker, sending job leads and working as a bridge between the client and the employer.

The agency that I reached out to, found a job placement for me immediately (literally five minutes after they interviewed me and decided to represent me). I accepted the remote job and worked on it for several months until that company decided that they want to promote within so though they replaced me with one of their in-house employees. Needless to say, I was disappointed but I chose to hold on to the fact that God has a plan. And it’s a good plan just like He promises in Jeremiah 29:11.

Let me tell you, when God moves miracles in motion, only He can take the credit because He opens doors that no man can shut.

Such was the case for me just last week (Monday, July 1 to be exact). The staffing agency called me and asked me if I’m interested in short assignment (only four days) working for a media organization that’s located in the city. I said, “Yes.” They said they would alert the employer. Then they called me less than an hour later saying that I got the job for those four days! My Mom keeps pointing out that they didn’t interview me for the job, they just hired me, so that’s a sign that God is orchestrating this behind the scenes.

Today was supposed to be my last day working for this media organization, because that’s what my agency signed me up to do.

But God had other plans! Longer story short, my supervisor called me into an empty office and told me that they want to hire me as a full-time employee! Of course, I accepted!

This whole experience reminds me of what my Grandma used to say, “God may not come when you want Him to, but He’s always on time!”

Trust me, this new job opportunity happened exactly on time! I cannot go into details and still keep this post under 1,000 words.

This is a testimony that was years in the making! I spent three full years without a new day job that provided sufficient and steady pay. My career journey has been filled with highs and lows, hopes and fears. But God knew what He was doing. He gave me the experiences I needed on those detours He sent me on to help me grow and arrive exactly where I need to be today!

I am so grateful that God is faithful!

So that is the abbreviated version of my work related testimony. Maybe one day, I’ll write a book about my journey. But for now, I’m enjoying this moment, appreciating this blessing and encouraging you to wait on the Lord.

Trust, the wait is worth it. So, whatever you’re waiting on God to do in your life, don’t give up or give in. Just trust Him! God’s timing is perfect. I can testify to that fact!

God bless you.


Alexis A. Goring
Founder of “God is Love” blog

P.S._ Listen to this song that’s encouraged me in my journey. It’s about taking everything – your worries, sorrows, joys and requests – to God in prayer! 

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Devotionals for the Heart: The Abundant Life from Jesus Christ

Living Abundantly
A devotional by Sharon Musgrove

“Then the Lord God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him."” – Genesis 2:18 (ESV)

A couple of years ago, my husband and I made the decision to downsize our family home. Our eldest child was graduating high school with plans to head off to University while our youngest was only two years behind. The changes in our lives initiated conversations of future retirement and plans beyond raising babies. Our large home felt like a drain on our time and resources; a hindrance to our future. So, we moved.

The new house was full of character and charm with sufficient with room for our kids to come home. The yard, however, was the thing that sold me. It had been smartly divided into what we believed to be manageable sized zones. Of personal interest to me was the garden.

I’d always dreamed of gardening, but the previous home had been located on a heavily wooded hillside alive with hungry wildlife. My extreme reaction to poison oak made it a place of frustration rather than gardening success. This new home came fully fenced, sun kissed and pre-planted.

The seasons changed and eventually the growing season hit full force. I was in the garden almost daily, admiring the flowers and the buds that were sprouting everywhere. Everywhere. Everywhere! Each bed, it turned out, was absolutely loaded with bulbs that were healthily multiplying and spreading. And while the flowering bulbs were of slight concern, the raspberry bushes were revealing a workload.

As I begun the berry harvest, a panic grew inside me. I could see the magnitude of what was coming and I knew I hadn't the time or ability to pick all that would come. I became sick with feelings of inadequacy and failure. Familiar feelings. Did we not just leave a property that took too much?

Living in abundant blessing did not look or feel like what I had assumed it would. I’d thought it could be divided into zones and it would manage itself. I’d assumed that fruitful gardening was like bank accounts with their tidy rows of credits and debits. This extravagant harvest was not controllable, not manageable…at least not by me.

In the midst of this dark thinking, light poured onto a patch that had been shaded. Suddenly, these words flooded my mind: That which God was providing was far more than I had hoped or dreamed…Wait, what? That was scriptural! Next, another verse entered my mind…His plans are to prosper and not harm me (Jeremiah 29:11)! The Word covered my fear in love. Here I was with far more than I could handle and that was God’s intent. It was good, not harming, to have abundance!

God created Eden fruitful, supplying sustenance to all. He gave Adam a management position in gardening. God shows us in Genesis 2:18 that solidarity is not good, help is. Living abundantly is a team sport.

What makes a profusion of juicy sweets a blessing? Sharing. Sharing both the blessing and the workload. The thought of letting others come and pick was a relief to the burden of the chore. I could have my fill and not be overwhelmed. Others could have their fill and be equally blessed!

A paradigm shift occurred that day. What else was weighing me down because I thought I needed to do it all myself? Where else were overwhelming feelings paralyzing me? What made me feel like a failure? What else could follow this pattern of abundance?

As the pile of berries grew in my bucket, so too did a list of tasks I knew I needed help with. Calling on others for help was a blessing to them and not my failure. Giving work to others brought them purpose and value and a share in the abundant life.

Looking back on the move, I am grateful. I'm thoroughly enjoying all that gardening has been teaching me. If I had known before that excess is a gift, I suppose I would have been contented to stay on the larger property. This lesson, however, came with the garden.

Thank you, Lord, for the abundance You have shared!

Author Bio:

Sharon Musgrove is a self-proclaimed sociologist. The opportunities opened to her, over the years, have led her on a fascinating journey observing human behavior.

She has a diverse background in business, fitness and health industries. This background led her to a unique position writing curriculum and teaching for two private, Christ-based, residential recovery programs. Both recovery programs served women primarily from the homeless community.

Sharon has traveled multiple times to Kenya, serving on medical teams and teaching in the rural Maasai communities. She's been privileged to participate in Leadership camps for maturing young women. These annual camps have a mission of encouraging and empowering the impoverished, underprivileged, and often abused young Maasai girls.

Easily identifying personally with the brokenness of the women she's served, Sharon now sees all people as needing more encouragement regardless of cultural or socioeconomic status. Within these ministries, Sharon has witnessed the transformative power of loving words spoken to the broken-hearted. Sharing God’s love and witnessing its transformative power has become her passion.

In her leisure time, Sharon enjoys her garden, health food, travel, and a good story. She and her husband, Jeff, make their home in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. They have two grown children. Currently, Sharon is writing her first Christian historical fiction novel utilizing her study, experience, and understanding of self-destructive behaviors.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Interview with Joy K. Massenburge about "A Heart Surrendered" (book)

Join me in welcoming Joy K. Massenburge to the blog today!

She's a pastor's kid, pastor's wife, mother of children, and a talented author.

Today, she's here to talk about her new novel, A Heart Surrendered, that released yesterday!

She's also agreed to give away one copy of her book! Enter the book giveaway contest via the Rafflecopter widget toward the end of this blog post for your chance to win Joy's book.

This is the cover for Joy's book:

Isn't it lovely?

Learn more about Joy and her book in the author interview feature below...


Interview with Joy K. Massenburge about her book, 
A Heart Surrendered:

Why did you write this book?

Have you ever been in a church service and saw that one person and asked, what’s their story? I’m a PK, a preacher’s kid, who’s spent her life people watching. I can’t help it. Being the romantic I am, I put people together in my head, answering the “What if’s.”

Alexis: What is the significance of your book title, A Heart Surrendered?

Joy: This romantic tale asks the same question Jesus asked of the rich young ruler. Would you forsake your treasures here on earth for all that I have promised you in heaven? Okay, that’s not verbatim, but you get the point. For Sharonda, it was the one memory she held dear and refused to see it as wrong. To release that one treasure would mean, we trust… we love… the one who asked for it more than anything. That’s the picture of a heart truly surrendered.

Alexis: Tell us about the heroine of your story, Sharonda Peterson. What is she like?

Joy: Sharonda is smart. A bit in rebellion so her snide remarks spoken under her breath can be funny. She is loyal to her parents, family, and church work even when she resents it.

Tell us about the hero of your story, Carl Ray Everhart. What is he like?

Joy: Carl Ray is a heartthrob who’s tired of the fast life he’s been living. Imagine confidence, swagger, and talent walking in the room. Total alpha male.

Alexis: Why does Sharonda think that finding comfort in Carl’s arms was a mistake?

Because he left her behind to chase his real love, acting and singing. She’d given him her best, mistaking their one night to be more than it was.

Alexis: Why does Carl want to be an actor and singer?

Joy: Carl Ray, hadn’t always been the heartthrob. He started out the pimpled, skinny kid who had one thing he was good at. Singing in the school choir opened the door to acting. Sharonda was a friend when no one noticed him. Sharonda introduced him to her talented older brother and he helped launch Carl Ray’s career.

Alexis: Why does Sharonda want to focus only on church service and solitude rather than facing her pain?

Joy: Sharonda has accepted that the life she dreamed of will never be. She feels she owes God for the thing she did, so she’ll make up for it with church deeds. Then there are the health issues that threaten the peace in her home, so she takes on work to ease her parents’ burdens. Solitude is her safe place. Working hard has its reward and she’s too busy to feel her pain, or face her pitiful life.

What makes Carl want to leave the spotlight and his adoring female fans to pursue Sharonda’s heart?

Joy: Nearly losing his life, Carl Ray soon realizes none of those things fulfill the gaping hole in his life. He was alone at the hospital. He was alone during his recovery, except for a few nurses. All of his best memories were in Longview, Texas, with his church family…with Sharonda.

Alexis: What is it about Carl that Sharonda cannot forget, making him hard to resist?

Carl had a way of making her feel she could do anything. He looked at her in a way that made her believe she was the only one in the room, transfixed by her beauty. He listened as if she said the most profound things. With him, even if only at that moment, she was special.

Alexis: Why is Carl drawn to Sharonda and willing to fight for her affection?

In the beginning he is set on making his wrongs right. Championing her, he is reminded of the friendship he’s missed. Her pending engagement also helps him to realize he doesn’t want to see her with anyone else. Then there are his own abandonment issues that make Carl Ray want to fight for her as he wished his loved ones would have done for him.

If you were a professional counselor with Carl and Sharonda as your clients, what would you tell them to help them heal their wounds and trust each other again?

Joy: Healing begins within first. I would direct them to journal their questions to God.

1. God, why did you create me?

2. What is my purpose?

I’d assign scripture reading. Then I’d have them to list everything they feel God did not do in a, “I don’t trust you because…” format. I’d try anything to get the communication lines open again. Only God can heal. Once we’re healed, we can begin to trust and open up enough to share our true hearts with others.

Alexis: What do you want readers to remember most about A Heart Surrendered?

God is worth us surrendering all to Him. His plans for us are far greater than anything we hold dear. With that relationship in the proper place, we are able to love others and receive love.

Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Joy! 

Author Bio:
Joy K. Massenburge crafts contemporary love stories of pastors and their kids. She was born the sixth child of a pastor. She married a football player turned pastor…they raised pastor’s kids: a son and two daughters.

During the week, she works as an assistant to a CPA. She serves as American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW East Texas) chapter’s President. 

She is the audio voice of Beatrice “Mama B” Jackson in Michelle Stimpson’s Mama B Books series. 

When she is not writing or recording, she is speaking at retreats and conferences throughout the East Texas area.

Buy Joy’s book online via Amazon or Barnes and Noble

Connect with Joy:

Enter this book giveaway contest for your chance to WIN a copy of this book by filling out the entry form on the Rafflecopter widget below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, July 8, 2019

Devotionals for the Heart: On Loving Everyone, including the outcasts

Rescuing the Outcasts
A devotional by Amanda Wen

“The Lord builds up Jerusalem; He gathers the outcasts of Israel.” 
–Psalm 147:2 (ESV)

I had never heard such a squawking ruckus in all my life.

I was about twelve years old, biking with my family at a nearby park that summer evening. The shrieks and honks alerted us to the presence of a young Canadian goose, still covered with downy gray fluff, being chased away by a pack of hissing, flapping adult geese. The rejected gosling was running for his life, but it was clear he had no shot against the furious flock at his heels.

Fortunately for the little outcast, my dad stepped in. He chased off the adults, wrangled the gosling, quickly biked home to get our car, and brought him home with us for the night. The young goose—who we nicknamed Waddles—snuggled down for the night in a plastic bin, greeted the next dawn with enthusiastic peeping, and stole all our hearts.

We couldn’t keep him as a pet, though, much as we might have wanted to. So that day we called an acquaintance who ran a local wildlife rehabilitation facility. He retrieved the gosling, cared for him, and eventually gave the little guy a safe home with a new, welcoming family of Canadian geese.

That incident reminds me so much of Jesus. Throughout His time on earth, He rescued those the world had tossed aside. The blind and the deaf. The lame and the leprous. Women. Children. Members of ethnic groups He, as a Jew, was supposed to despise. Jesus welcomed them all with open arms and met them with the message that God loved them. He hadn’t forgotten them, and He offered them forgiveness from sin and a chance at a brand-new life. The woman who bled for twelve years. The man possessed by a legion of demons. The Samaritan woman at the well. The children the disciples wanted to chase away. All these outcasts—and countless more—came away from their encounters with Jesus forever changed.

But I also find that incident convicting. Do I, as someone whose life has been changed by Jesus, have the same heart for the outcast that He does? Do I look around in the midst of my busy life to reach out to those who, for whatever reason, don’t meet our society’s mold of “acceptable?” Do I share the same message of love, redemption, and the opportunity for forgiveness during my interactions with them?

Jesus rescued me when I was an outcast. A sinner, rebelling against Him. He met me when I had no hope and gave me a new life, a new purpose, and a new eternal destiny. 

As a child of God, I need to be intentional about seeing the outcast. The downtrodden. The ignored. Those our society—and even our churches—may deem “less than.”

And once I’ve found them, it is my joy—and my sacred responsibility—to share the same message of unconditional love and complete forgiveness that I have received, in hopes that these former outcasts will be brought into a similar life-changing encounter with Him.

Author Bio:
Amanda Wen is an award-winning writer of contemporary inspirational romance and split-time women’s fiction. 

A first place winner in the 2017 Indiana Golden Opportunity Contest, she also placed first in the 2017 Phoenix Rattler Contest, the 2017 Great Expectations Contest, and the 2016 ACFW First Impressions Contest, among others. In addition, she was a finalist in the 2018 ACFW Genesis Contest.

Amanda is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and regularly contributes author interviews for their Fiction Finder feature. She’s also been spotted onstage with the worship team at recent ACFW conferences. Amanda is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency.

In addition to her writing, Amanda maintains an active and rewarding career as a freelance cellist, frequently performing with symphony orchestras, string quartets, and her church’s worship team. She lives in the Midwest with her amazing husband and their three adorable and hilarious Wenlets.

Connect with Amanda: