Friday, August 30, 2019

Devotionals for the Heart: How to Prepare for the Battles of Life

Stand Strong in the Armor of God
A devotional by Kristy Horine

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” 
– Ephesians 6:10-13 (NKJV)

The white clad figures sat in a circle on mats in the strip-mall-type row of Louisville warehouses. Huge fans at the bay doors sucked air into the sweltering room. Sensei Lane paced at the center of the circle, arms folded, black belt cinched tight at his waist. Training in defensive technique is the heart of Jiu Jitsu. It is serious business. It is warrior business.

Sensei Lane points to a volunteer.

“When this guy pushes us from behind, what is his main objective?”

As one, the people in the circle point to the mats. Sensei Lane nods.

“That’s right. He wants us on the ground. He’s pushing. He wants to pursue. It’s very, very important that you redirect that.”

The volunteer pushes the sensei from behind. The sensei steps forward, pivots, raises his hands in a defensive position. He combines a number of maneuvers and in seconds, the volunteer attacker is on the ground.

Sensei Lane straightens his gi, adjusts his belt. The teaching continues.

“Realize something is happening. Be prepared to take a punch, and a hard punch at that. Be ready to do something instead of just close your eyes and hope it goes away,” he says.

I sat on the chairs at the side of the room and watched. Part of me wanted to be in that circle, learning, moving and being cool like they were. But the bigger part of me was thankful I didn’t have to take the hits and the throws. After watching the Black Belt test that morning, which was the reason why I was there, I realized there are parts of Jiu Jitsu that make you move much slower the next morning.

Sensei Lane chooses a different volunteer and demonstrates another maneuver. There are endless ways to prove the value of defense.

“He’s hoping he’s going to get me to the ground, but as soon as I start to defend, his reaction changes.”

The sensei twists his attacker’s arm under his own, bending the attacker’s wrist into a tight V. A light series of taps from the volunteer indicates a certain pain threshold has been reached. Sensei Lane immediately releases the volunteer. The taps are a safety mechanism. This is, after all, just training.

“Everything has to work,” Sensei Lane stresses. “I want him to want to get away. If you don’t have strikes that work, if you don’t have pinpoint accuracy, if you don’t have proper throws, it’s not going to work.”

I went home that night thinking about what the sensei said. While I have taken a self-defense class and I could probably fend off an attacker if that time comes, I am not quite ready to join the work at the dojo, don a white gi and move through the skill levels.

But what about in my spiritual life? How are my defensive maneuvers? Will I be ready to stand when the day comes?

In Ephesians 6:10-11 (NKJV), the Apostle Paul gives the Christians of Ephesus practical advice in spiritual defense. He said, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”

Paul goes on to tell us in Ephesians 6:12 (NKJV) exactly who we fight against. He said, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

In the final verse of this section of Scripture, Paul restates the practical advice, and then looks forward to what will happen when we use our spiritual defensive maneuvers.

“Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” – Ephesians 6:13 (NKJV) 

In the end, we stand.

But we don’t get there until we are willing to get off our sideline chairs, join the warrior’s circle, and prepare.

This is how we dress ourselves with the Armor of God:

· The belt of Truth (Ephesians 6:14)

· The breastplate of Righteousness (Ephesians 6:14)

· The shoes of the gospel of Peace (Ephesians 6:15)

· The shield of Faith (Ephesians 6:16)

· The helmet of Salvation (Ephesians 6:17)

· The sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17)

All this armor seems heavy, doesn’t it? If we had to carry it by ourselves, surely we would fail. The good news is that we aren’t alone.

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.”
–Ephesians 6:10 (KJV)

His strength. His might. His truth. His righteousness. His gospel. His faith. His salvation. His sword.

Get dressed in the Armor of God. Know the basic defensive maneuvers found in His Word (The Holy Bible) then Stand strong!

Let’s Pray: Oh Heavenly Father, I am so thankful that when the enemy comes – and he will come – I don’t have to fight alone, dressed in my own flimsy armor. Give me the desire and the perseverance to get dressed in Your Armor and to train for Your glory. In the Name of Jesus I pray, Amen.

Author Bio:
Kristy Horine is a Kentucky writer, freelance journalist by trade and creative by God’s grace.

She writes a little bit of everything including poetry, fiction and creative non-fiction. Her professional and creative work has been published in newspapers, magazines and anthologies in Kentucky and beyond.

Kristy founded 3rd Letter Christian Writers in Lexington, Kentucky in 2015. Read more of her work at

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Devotionals for the Heart: Commands

God’s Commands
A devotional by Carrie Del Pizzo

“And on the next day he arose and went away with them.” 
– Acts 10:23 (NASB)

The Bible is filled with examples of God asking His people to do things that sounded crazy: Noah was told to build a boat when he had never seen rain. Joshua was told to march around Jericho as a way to defeat the city. Gideon was told to face 135,000 Midianite warriors with an army of only 300.

And then we come to this passage in Acts 10. Ancient Jews did not associate with Gentiles, who were considered sinful and unclean. A Jew wouldn’t risk contamination from a Gentile because the purification process could be a lot of work.

So, the earliest Christians were Jews who shared the good news with their fellow Jews. But in this chapter, a Roman centurion named Cornelius reaches out to Peter—unheard of! And Peter willingly goes to him—insane!

Why would these men risk their reputations by defying the accepted standards of their culture? Because they both received clear instructions from God, just as Noah, Joshua, and Gideon had.

My husband and I have received a pretty clear command from God. But while the command is clear, the exact instructions are a little fuzzy.

Last fall (season), God told us to begin volunteering at the local crisis pregnancy center and to prepare the spare bedroom in our home for a young lady and her baby who would need a family. We were given the option to get our foster care license, just in case there was a girl in foster care who needed help. We decided to be prepared even though the maternity home rarely gets wards of the state.

Until today.

There is a young mom who is over 18, but she is struggling desperately. She has no family, no friends, and no place to live. The house parents at the maternity home are the only people who have been kind to her in the last year, so that’s where she went.

Because her situation is so dire, the house parents are faced with finding her a home or calling Child Protective Services. Their call to me is not unexpected. This is what we signed up for. What we didn’t sign up for is the fact she may not want to keep her three-month-old baby and could ask us to adopt.

Whoa! God, we did not talk about adoption.

I paused to think about what we did talk about … a young lady and her baby who needed a family. And that’s us.

Nothing is decided or set in stone or signed into law at this point. But we are earnestly praying about how God wants us to proceed. (Feel free to join in. We covet your prayers!)

Meanwhile, we are remembering these Bible-based truths:

· God used Noah’s boat to save eight people and the animals from a worldwide flood.

· God used the tired feet of Joshua and friends to crumble the walls of Jericho.

· God used the noise of 300 trumpets and broken pitchers to defeat the Midianite army.

· God used two unlikely friends, Peter and Cornelius, to bring the good news of His great love to a desperate and sinful world.

· And God will use my house and my family to share His Love with a girl and her baby.

What “crazy” thing is God asking you to do? Volunteer in the kids or youth ministry? Take in a stranger? Reach out to people you’ve never met?

Prayer Point: Instead of telling God, “No way! I can’t do it,” ask Him if He can do it. (Hint: the answer is always “Yes!”)

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 keep her in stitches and provides piles of material for great stories.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Devotionals for the Heart: Loneliness

Loneliness and The Art of Conversation

A devotional by Glynis Becker

“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.” 
–John 14:16-17 (NASB)

I am an introvert. Like many other introverts, I enjoy time with friends, but often find myself in need of time alone afterward to wind down and recharge. I think of myself as kind of a loner and maybe you do too. Not everyone is great at small talk and sometimes conversations, even with friends, can be hard to start.

Last weekend was busy for me. I connected in different settings with several different groups of people who I’d known for a long time who I know deeply and who know me well. People who are long-time acquaintances and people I’ve just met. As I reflect on these relationships, it occurred to me and surprised me how much I need to interact with people on all these different levels.

Each of my conversations shared something of myself and in turn, shared something of the other person. Some of those conversations were heavy and heartbreaking. Others were light and filled with laughter. I felt renewed and recharged from that exhausting weekend in a way that I haven’t for a long time. I saw how that broad scope of sharing space with others was good for me and is a lot like how Jesus Christ did ministry.

Jesus spoke with small and large crowds. He spoke one-on-one. He spoke to people who were interested in what He had to say and to those who were not. He spoke with those who agreed with Him and those who didn’t.

Some of His conversations with people were hard, like with the rich young man in the Bible story found in Mark 10:17-22. Jesus told the man that he needed to sell his possessions and follow Jesus. Some conversations lifted people’s burdens like the Samaritan woman at the well, which is another Bible story found in John 4:1-30. The woman went away from that time with Him feeling seen, understood, and loved.

Each time when Jesus spoke to someone, they were a little different afterward because of the words He shared.

Research is still being done on how changes in technology and culture have impacted not just the way we speak to each other, but also the opportunity and willingness to engage with others. Loneliness is an epidemic in our society and many people are starved for connection.

Don’t we who are Christians know the antidote to loneliness is the love of Jesus Christ? Shouldn’t we be spreading that message as far and wide as we can?

Actions do speak loudly. We absolutely must act like followers of Christ. But don’t forget that we also need to speak the words He gives us. We can only do that when we’re willing to step out of our comfort zones and have a conversation. You never know what eternal ripples those words might cause.

Let’s Pray: Father God, give us Your words to speak to those we meet today: Our friends, our family and strangers. You have shown us Your great love. Let us share that love with the whole world so that others may believe and follow You. In Your Son Jesus Christ’s Name we 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, August 23, 2019

Devotionals for the Heart: Ministry

Food and Fellowship: Powerful Tools of Ministry
A devotional by Heather Martin

“And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” –Hebrews 13:16 (NIV)

We were newlyweds and had just moved to a city where we had no family.

My husband and I were both raised in the church, and so the one thing we knew that would be a great balance for us would be to find a good church.

I can still remember going to this church for the first time together as husband and wife. From the moment we walked through the door we were met with so many hugs, smiles, and genuine welcomes. I had never met more friendly people in my life! They were so kind and warm. After the service was over, several people had invited us home for dinner. We were blown away by the kindness of strangers.

After we returned home and talked about it, we thought surely they were only this nice to us because we were new, but it never stopped. We lived there for seven years, and this kindness never stopped. We spent time at someone’s house for potluck or some kind of dinner every week! Rarely did we go home alone. We formed friendships and alliances with people that only drew us closer to God and helped to strengthen our new marriage.

It’s been several years since we moved away from Cincinnati, but the memories of how that church family loved on us has left an indelible impression on our lives. It must be what Christ meant when He said to love one another, and not to forsake fellowship with your brothers and sisters.

Over the years, because of my husband’s job, we have moved to quite a few cities and we have yet to find a church family like that one. It has been hard not to compare each church to our Cincinnati one. We often found ourselves complaining and disappointed with the lack of love and fellowship at the churches we’ve attended since then. Until recently, God sent someone to help remind us that if things are not the way you’d like them to be, then sometimes you have to create the change you want to see.

I got a call from an old college friend of mine telling me that her son would be in town for the summer doing a dental program at a local university here. She asked if we could please look out for him and if possible, pick him up for church each week. Without hesitation we agreed! It would be our honor to get to know him, pick him for church and provide him with a good meal after church while he was here.

This meant I would need to cook dinner each week, something that I had not been doing regularly. It also made sense to invite other people over for dinner too, since there would be plenty of food to share. For one month straight, I cooked dinner after church and hosted several people at our home. It was nothing fancy, but each time I prayed and asked God to help the people to enjoy themselves, and especially the food, and they did!

I am thankful that my friend asked us to look out for her son. This sparked something inside of me! When Jesus was on earth He was constantly changing people’s lives, healing, and ministering to people, and so many times food was involved. He went to a wedding feast and turned water into wine (John 2:1-11). He served the disciples their first communion using bread and wine (Luke 22:19-20). And who can forget how He used one little boy’s lunch of fish and bread to feed 5,000 people (Matthew 14:13-21)?

Food and fellowship can be powerful tools of ministry!

I may not have dinner at my house every single week, but I will make an effort to invite people over at least once a month.

When I host and feed people in my home, it makes me remember the love and warmth I felt back in Cincinnati when those church folks were so kind to us. It also made me realize that if we want to experience love, we’ve got to be the ones to give love.

Maybe you’ve moved to a new place, or you’ve been feeling alone because no one has invited you home or befriended you. Whether it is at church, or anywhere, I want to encourage you to use the power of food and fellowship to change your situation.

Plan a meal! It doesn’t have to be an extravagant affair. Your house doesn’t have to be perfect and you don’t have to be an award-winning chef. Pray while you prepare your meal, and invite the most important guest first, Jesus Christ. 

Then take the leap to invite someone over for dinner!

You will make a difference in your life and somebody else’s by showing God’s love through food and fellowship.

God bless you, your home and your heart!

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, August 21, 2019

Devotionals for the Heart: Christa's thoughts about our human heart

Matters of the Heart
A devotional by Christa MacDonald

He went on: “What comes out of a person is what defiles them. For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.” –Mark 7:20-23 (NIV)

One of the biggest fallacies in modern thinking is the idea that human beings are basically good and that when someone does wrong, it’s because they were taught to do so or influenced somehow. “He was a good kid until he started hanging around the wrong people.” 

While it’s true that friends can influence each other to do terrible things, that’s not the whole truth. Evil exists. I often say that anyone who doubts original sin needs to spend time with toddlers. They’re terrible people: selfish, mean, and hot-tempered. They have to be taught to be nice. How many times do you hear a mom correcting her children to be kind, don’t tease your sister, and don’t harass the cat.

In the verse above Jesus has just been explaining that it’s not the food we eat that makes us unclean, it’s our hearts. Most of us go through life without committing any of the big sins in deed, but boy, if someone could read our thoughts … It’s tempting to think that it’s the world that influences us to do wrong. But this is a complete misunderstanding of sin and the fall. It’s in us to do wrong. But for the Grace of God, we are all capable of great evil. It’s why we so desperately need Jesus.

The world is full of temptations and bad influences. While these may facilitate our sin, maybe even amplify our sins into ones of deed and not of thought, they are not the source. Our hearts are. What can we do? Face the fact that the sin is in you, repent, put your faith in the saving Grace of Jesus Christ and lean on Him for the strength to turn from the path you are on and walk in the light.

As parents, we often see our children struggle with sin and we focus on the temptations we see leading them astray. It’s hard not to call out their video games, friends, or social media for encouraging their sinful behavior, but we need to get to the source, their heart. 

Jesus met people where they were, led them to feel the conviction of their sin, and then forgave them. Our kids, our families, our friends, and our communities need to know the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We all need to resist the distractions our culture offers. These are targets that are tangential. We need to reach hearts.

The Bible clearly tells us our primary work is spreading the Gospel. Christ-followers need to be actively sharing the Gospel in our communities, in our circle of friends. That doesn’t mean you have to find a street corner and start preaching or handing out tracts. Ask God in your prayer time, how you can actively share the Gospel in your day to day life then b
e open to the Holy Spirit leading you to act or to speak. 

We don’t have to save the world. 

We need to tell the world of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.

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, August 19, 2019

Devotionals for the Heart: On Loving One Another like Jesus loves us!

Let Us Love One Another
A devotional by Nanci Rubin

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” 
– John 15:13 (KJV)

As I was driving to church for Bible Study the other night, my thoughts and prayers focused upon our nation and of the recent tragic events that have occurred. There is so much discussion given to the whys of aberrant behavior, but the fact remains we are losing many of our youth.

The enemy of our souls has always targeted our children. Years ago my dear grandmother used to say to me, “Child, the world is dying from the lack of love.” It has always been true…

And we know who is love. God is love. According to 1 John 4:7-8 (KJV) we are to love one another! That verse says, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God and everyone who loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.”

According to these scriptures, it seems that those who love and are able to share their love with others know God. The world doesn’t recognize this kind of love and are totally unable to understand it. Agape love is a Greco-Christian term referring to love, "the highest form of love, charity" and "the love of God for man and of man for God". The mark of a true believer is their willingness to love, to forgive others and to look beyond one’s self.

Not so many years ago, all of our institutions of higher learning in the United States of America were governed by the church. Today they have become battlegrounds fighting for the minds of our young. We may not be able to physically go to the battleground but we can pray and disrupt the enemy’s evil plans. The Holy Bible advises us to, “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” (James 5:16 KJV)

Young people won’t be interested in coming to the “First Chosen Frozen Church” where there hasn’t been a smile seen in twenty years. Our youth are hurting, frightened and have few absolutes in their lives. Fatherless homes are fractured and the children receive no validation. The only true hope is Jesus Christ.

The church family is one of God’s greatest gifts, after Jesus who is our first and finest gift. We need to help our children to realize the love of God for them. The Bible says in Psalm 127:3 (NIV), “Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him.”

It’s time for the local church to step up and reach out to the youth. We have a couple of churches in the area where I live who making an effort to reach our teens. One church in particular has made a real impact. What they’re doing perhaps others will follow suit. The music is loud, they have strobe lighting and I get a headache when I go, but kids are coming by the drones. They are being told that God is not mad at them, but mad for them. The results are amazing!

We have to work while it is yet day (John 9:4), for the time may come when we will not be permitted to minister to the lost. The Bible says in, 2 Timothy 4:3 (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.”

In James 5:20 (ESV) the Bible also says, “Let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.” We are God’s hands and feet upon the earth. We’ve been commissioned to go and if not now, when?

We live in a fast-paced world. The challenges our kids face is unique from our generation. They face a different kind of enemy and it’s growing like a malignancy: social media.

And as with all things, there is good and bad. Let’s offer them a hand up not a push down. 

Let’s get serious in our prayers, in our youth groups and in all activities that include our youth. They are our future.

Let’s Pray: Father God, create in us a clean heart and a right spirit so that we may see others through your eyes. Help us to love the unlovely and lend a hand to those who are lost from you. In Jesus Christ’s Name we pray, Amen.

Author Bio:
Nanci is a poet and short story writer published in Cypress News, Family Times E-ZineFree 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, August 16, 2019

Devotionals for the Heart: Grounded in God's Love, a lesson about lightning

A devotional by Victoria Bylin

One morning, I woke up to a lightning flash—a literal one. The bedroom lit up for a single blink. Two seconds later, lightning flashed again in a staccato pattern. Like I did as a child, I counted until the thunder rumbled and shook. The counting tells us how far away the lightning is. Five seconds equals roughly one mile, and this storm was about a mile away.

I couldn’t help but wonder: Where does all that electricity go? The power of it is daunting, even deadly—until it hits the ground.

Grounded. Thanks to that lightning storm, I found myself pondering what it means for a Christian to be grounded. Is it a word that should describe the Christian life? How do we become grounded so that all the passion and commitment of loving and serving God is put to good use and well directed?

One meaning of “to ground” is to give something a firm foundation. As a Christian, I want and need to be firmly grounded in the Word. My husband and I consider it a privilege to have belonged to a strong teaching church very early in our Christian walk. To this day (and it’s been 39 years) we refer back to what the pastor called “spiritual bootcamp.”

The teaching focused on the basics: We are sinners saved by grace. Jesus paid the price for our sin. As fleshly human beings, we can’t live up to the standards of perfection set by the law, but Christ did it for us. He loves and died for our sins. In moments of struggle and spiritual seeking, I look at a trio of verses that keep me grounded in that knowledge.

At the top of the list is Hebrews 11:1 (NIV): “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

Are you in the middle of a hard time? A muddle? Perhaps it is something far-reaching and even disastrous, like a serious illness or bankruptcy? This verse reminds us to keep our eyes on God and not on the circumstances. Our prayers may not be answered the way we want, but the Lord sees us through the storms.

I’m back to that lightning but from a different angle. Storms pass through our lives. Suffering sends bolts of fear and worry through our bodies and minds. But when those emotions hit the spiritual ground of faith in Christ, fear and worry lose their power over us. Being human, we might feel the emotions, but our knowledge of God and His ways prevails.

Genesis 13:14-15 (NIV) is another one of my “grounding” verses. It reads, “The Lord said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, “Look around from where you are, to the north and south, to the east and west. All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever.”

This is a promise to Abram (later to become Abraham, the father of our faith) and it’s specific to his circumstances. But it’s also a reminder to Christians that God knows exactly where we are in life and what fears we are facing. He knows what we need and promises to provide—maybe not in a way we would choose, but in the way that’s best. When we keep our eyes on Him, we’re grounded in his love.

Being a Christian is both a joy and a challenge. There are times when we have to stand our ground—both against Satan’s wiles and for our principles. Ephesians 6:13 (NIV) tells us how to do it: “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”

That lightning strike was full of power and beauty. So is our God. Here’s to living each day in His strength and for his glory!

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.

Connect with Victoria:

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Devotionals for the Heart: Marriage and Taking the Lord's Name

The Lord’s Name

A devotional by Sharon Musgrove

“But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.” 
–Isaiah 43:1 (ESV)

When I married, I took my husband’s last name for my own. It was a time when it was becoming common for women to either keep their maiden names or to hyphenate the two names. Personally, I was happy to take on the new name feeling like it was a new beginning to my life. I had no idea.

My life as a “Musgrove” has not been anything like what I expected while at the same time has contained most of the things I had hoped for. I’d planned to take on duties like cooking, the finances, housekeeping and eventually parenting. I looked forward to all the things I’d do. The unanticipated challenge was changing from being an individual to a partner. The growth curve was in putting someone else first.

There were other significant changes to becoming Musgrove. My husband’s family was firmly rooted in business in our community and had an established reputation. To behave rashly could tarnish not only my reputation, but would affect both family and business. No one sat me down to explain what I was getting into. No one told me that marriage required improvement to my character. My love for my husband and his family, it turned out, was motivation enough to rise to higher standards. And it’s been a blessing.

We have a God who desires to call us by His name. He loves us with a deep love that is incomprehensible. His love is such that He is willing to redeem…pay a ransom…to become unified with His bride. He offers a relationship of blessing.

Reading of the restoration of God’s beloved Israel in Zephaniah 3 is beautiful. The Hebrew word for “renowned” is “Shem,” meaning “a name” or “fame.” All of these terms infer that we receive a designation as being His and that designation is recognizable by others. The taking of His name elevates us to a status far above human ability.

God explains to us exactly what we’re getting into when we partner with Him. Deuteronomy chapter 28 goes to great lengths to spell out the benefits to taking the Lord’s name. It tells of His blessings in the city and the field, in finances and family, in coming and going, and (my favorite) in basket and kneading bowl! He even defeats our enemies. Now that’s some list of pros!

In return, God asks for a pure heart. He creates a list in Exodus 20 that includes His requirement to be first. He stipulates that we desist in creating other objects of devotion. He demands that we not take His name irreverently. He requests that we rest in His provision. It’s marital vows we don’t fully understand the meaning of as long as we’re in a singleness mindset.

When I took the Musgrove name, I no longer sought out other men to fulfill my wants. I only looked to my husband. I did not keep photos of my old boyfriends around. I committed to one man and one man only. To continue to behave as single while bearing the name Musgrove would be to dishonor my marriage and my spouse. Gratefully, marriage has taught me a greater understanding of what God is both insisting of me and what He is offering.

To take the Lord’s name, to be His, frees us from the search for identity. We no longer need to strive for purpose and meaning because we take on God’s family business. He provides, we accept. He elevates our character. We give up being sole-proprietor for partnership. Lone becomes family. It’s a really sweet offer.

Won’t you accept His proposal? And take His marriage vows? It’s a decision that will change your life for the better, forever!

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.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Devotionals for the Heart: A Proposal, An Engagement Ring and Eternity

Holy Engagement

A devotional by Amanda Wen

“The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him.” 
–Ephesians 1:14 (NLT)

Tomorrow, my husband and I will celebrate our 14th wedding anniversary. It’s hard to believe we’ve been married that long; it seems like only yesterday I was floating down the aisle toward his smiling face, secure in his love and confident that God had prepared both of us for exactly this moment.

That moment, though, wouldn’t have happened without another, equally precious moment: the night he proposed to me. New Year’s Eve, 2004, he dropped to one knee and asked me to be his wife, a question that garnered an immediate and enthusiastic “Yes!” from me. As a symbol of his promise to marry me, and my commitment to marry him, he gave me a gorgeous diamond ring (my engagement ring)!

That ring’s presence on my finger didn’t mean we were married. We still lived separately. Still reserved certain activities for after the wedding. I still had my maiden name. But that sparkle on my left hand meant I was spoken for. I was committed. It meant that I had promised my husband-to-be that I would be his forever. We were already committed, but not yet married. It was sweet to be engaged…but the sweetness wasn’t complete until we made our vows and became one flesh in the eyes of the law and of God.

It is this already-but-not-yet tension in which we believers find ourselves. From the moment we trust Jesus’ sacrifice for our salvation, we receive the Holy Spirit. Jesus’ presence dwelling within us, working to guide us, to teach us, to be the voice that whispers, “This is the way. Walk in it.” His presence actively molds our character to be more like His. 

Having God’s presence inside me is sweet indeed… but it isn’t complete because I am not yet perfected into the image of Christ. I do not yet stand face to face with Him. The Groom has not yet returned to Earth for his Bride, the Church. We are not yet enjoying the wedding feast with Him in a new eternity free from sin and death.

However, The Holy Spirit’s presence within us is a deposit. It is a guarantee from God Himself that one day we will be with Him in perfect union. One day, He will come back for us, gather us to Himself, and take us to the perfect home He has created for us. One day, the Bride of Christ will walk down that aisle toward Jesus’ smiling face.

In a sense, the Holy Spirit is our engagement ring.

So when we doubt, when we wonder if God’s promises are true, when we wonder if God even cares about us at all, we merely need to look within, to the sparkle of the Spirit’s presence, to know that the answer is “Yes!” He does care about us. He loves us. He sees us. He knows us. 

And He chose us to be His Bride! Saying "Yes" to God commences a marriage that starts on Earth and carries on throughout the ceaseless ages of eternity after Jesus Christ returns to take you home to Heaven. It's the perfect union filled with promise, hope and endless love.

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:

Friday, August 9, 2019

Devotionals for the Heart: Still Waters

Psalm 23: Still Waters Run Deep
A devotional by Chaplain Paul Anderson

"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters." –Psalm 23:1-2 (KJV)

Recently, I drove past the Triadelphia Dam in suburban Maryland. I could see that the dam was not completely full of water, but it was full enough that water was running through the  floodgates and cascading into the river below. I could see from striated markings how deep the water could get and I was amazed that yet, it was still flowing.

Internally, I was driven back to a powerful quote that I had read about spiritual influence and leadership. In the quote, Bernard of Clairvaux, a Benedictine monk from the 12th century, contrasted wise and unwise spiritual leadership. He portrayed one as a reservoir and the other as a canal. For your edification, I inserted the quote below:

“The one who is wise, therefore will see [their] life as more like a reservoir than a canal. The canal simultaneously pours out what it receives; the reservoir retains the water till it is filled, then [offers] the overflow without loss to itself. … Today there are many in the church who act like canals; the reservoirs are far too rare. … They want to pour [this stream] forth before they have been filled; they are more ready to speak than to listen, impatient to teach what they have not grasped, full of presumption, to govern others while they know not how to govern themselves.”

At the Triadelphia Dam, I was reminded that leadership flows from abundance and pours into others. It is the byproduct of sufficiency and the antithesis of insufficiency. I was forced to consider the pace of my life. I realized that I was running hither and yon, with purpose and good effect. I was rightfully serving as a conduit of service and support (ministry) but simultaneously becoming depleted.

One day soon after that observation, while reposing in a rare moment of devotional solitude in my comfortable chair on the back porch of our home, I felt the familiar, filling presence of God. I heard His voice as He restored my soul with inspiration and instructions. It was memorable, remarkable and rare, only because I had not carved the time to cultivate those moments. I will get out there more often because meeting Him there is much more poignant than when I hear Him, more usually, in the car.

My time with the Lord that day flew by! As I reflected before retiring for the night, I was able to count tangible blessings. I could enumerate the experiences with others into whom I was able to direct the overflow of God’s filling of my being and their purpose. It was a good and productive day. As I reflected, the attributions for success could only go to God and the time we spent together on the porch. That is where we made a fresh connection.

Where are your green pastures, still waters and zones for refreshing and restoration? Do you know when you need to visit them? Do you know when your rhythm of life is out of balance?

When you are manifesting patience, peacefulness, kindness, generosity and gentility, these traits are likely the fruit of God’s indwelling presence in your life. You have been filled and are radiating the spirit of sufficiency. If, on the other hand you are leaking from the cracks of your wounded-ness and you are vexed, churlish, stingy, mean and spiteful, your culverts of grace are dry because you have spent too little time in the presence of God.

Triadelphia drove me to reflect, which led me to the porch, where God renewed the right spirit within me. Before I close this devotional, I’d like for you to join me in reading and reflecting on this Bible verse (Psalm 51:10-12). The King James Version (KJV) of that verse says: “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.”

Please accept my story as an appeal to you to find your refreshing stream, your still waters and green pastures. Life is too short to live in the corrals of insufficiency. Our souls were meant to soar in the stratosphere of God’s all sufficient goodness, grace and mercy. It can only happen when we allow Him to transform us from the ruts and culverts of our lives into reservoirs of His presence, the overflow of which become life giving streams to others.

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.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Devotionals for the Heart: Faithfulness

Faithfulness As A Fruit of the Spirit
A devotional by Allison M. Wilson

Key Scripture: Galatians 5:22 (NASB) and Revelation 1:20 (NASB)

We talk about faithfulness in many ways. Marriage vows speak of being faithful all the days we live. Someone can be known as a faithful friend, while another is a faithful worker. What ties all of them together, though?

The fruit of the Spirit known as faithfulness isn’t something we can produce in ourselves, at least not for any long period of time. Have you noticed a pattern in all of the fruits? None of them are naturally occurring in us! If it doesn’t come from Christ, first, it can have no good lasting effect, because it is all through our flesh.

Faithfulness is the seventh of the fruits Christ gives us by the Spirit. I don’t believe the number for this word is a mistake. Seven is used in many ways throughout the Bible to mean perfection. In seven days, the Lord created the earth. Seven lampstands are in the throne room of Heaven representing the seven churches, as we’re told in Revelation. While those churches were not faithful to Him, He remained faithful to them. Reminds me of Hosea and Gomer! What an amazing example of how God loves His bride!

But, what does faithfulness entail? When it comes to our relationship to God, it’s easy to make it all about works. We pat ourselves on the back when we’ve read our Bible every day, done the homework for a study, and said a prayer. Check those boxes, and now we can move on with the rest of our life. Doing for God does not necessarily mean that we’re being faithful. We can do a lot of things for Him, but if He has asked something of us we are not willing to do, then we’re unfaithful. Is spending time in the Word every day a bad thing? Absolutely not! However, it is empty if we only do it out of duty, rather than relationship.

Who of us would want a friend or spouse to stay with us only because it’s expected? We want the people in our lives to want to be with us. We need to know they love us for who we are, and not just out of necessity. God is the same way. He wants us to want to spend time with Him. He wants us to want to do as He asks in our lives. That can mean going to some uncomfortable places: Forgiveness for wrongs done to us, accepting treatment we don’t feel we deserve (never abuse!), letting someone else be honored above ourselves, or saying no to something we have dreamt of our whole lives. If the Lord calls us to any of these things, we have a choice. Will we say yes to Him, being faithful to the One Who laid down His life for us? Or will we turn our back on that sacrifice, and tell Him it wasn’t enough?

I once had the realization that I am committing spiritual adultery every time I disobey what Christ has asked me to do. That was a dagger to my heart as a marriage ministry team member! How could I do that to my Groom? Yet, every sin I allow in my life is just that. It is spiritual adultery against my perfect Groom. Every time I go against what I know to be right in the eyes of God, I am being unfaithful to Him.

He, however, takes me back. Over and over and over and over again, He accepts me in my weakness. Not only that, but He then gives me the Fruit of the Spirit to move closer to being made like Him. He reminds me that I am His blemish-free bride, chosen for the Son of God before the foundation of the earth to be His. My sins are gone. They were paid in full on the cross, long before I even knew I needed them. Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!

Let’s Pray: Heavenly Daddy, You have made me worthy to be called Your bride, even when I don’t feel like it. Remind my heart of Your truth, Your love, Your faithfulness. Let that guide my days. In Jesus Christ’s Name I pray, Amen.

Author Bio:

A very early reader and lover of the written word, Allison M. Wilson has been writing since the age of eight with the heart to impart stories and God's truth. 

She has judged countless contests for the last 25 years, reviewed for several online publications, professionally edited, and written articles and devotionals.

Wife, mother, writer, editor, teacher, mentor, and mompreneur, God keeps her busy while living in east central Florida with her family.

Connect with Allison:

Monday, August 5, 2019

Devotionals for the Heart: Jessica's thoughts on the value of being patient

Cultivating A Patient Heart
A devotional by Jessica Brodie

I used to be so impatient. Everything had to be right now, just this second, or I was tapping my foot or huffing out a sigh so scathing that my dissatisfaction would not go unnoticed.

Every moment had to be occupied. I couldn’t stand in line at the grocery store without reading the magazines, couldn’t eat my morning cereal without inhaling a book, couldn’t drive my car a block without cranking up the radio.

Silence was the epitome of boredom. Now! Rush! Hurry! Busy! Go!

Until one day, the chaos erupted and I’d had enough. Life felt like a series of overwhelming emotional volcanoes that spewed lava in the form of distraction and empty noise. Decades spent filling the quiet had left me raw, like a fresh wound without a bandage.


It had to stop.

Instead of picking up my phone in the waiting room at the doctor’s office, I began to close my eyes and listen to the others patients quietly talking.

Instead of blasting music when I drove, I’d flip the switch to “off,” crack the windows, and bask in the hum of the wind.

Instead of running on the treadmill with my audiobook, I began to jog through my neighborhood listening to the birds and the squirrels.

Instead of filling my days with noise, I began to seek the silence, to crave the silence and ultimately, to love the silence.

And in doing so, my impatient heart began to transform, grow and blossom. A feeling of contentment and joy started to seep in where restlessness had lurked. Silence, and my growing rest within that silence, became the water that allowed patience to grow.

Soon, I noticed other changes. Before, I’d snap at my three-year-old for her tantrums. But thanks to patience, I’d stop, breathe, hug her, and take her hands. “Let’s try again,” I’d say and be surprised at how relaxed I felt.

Instead of firing back at a nasty letter to my newspaper, I’d shake my head, close my eyes, and ask God to give me the words to reply.

In the apostle Paul’s letter to the early Christians in Corinth, he tells us we have nothing if we don’t have love. But what is love?

Paul tells us, “Love is patient, love is kind, it isn’t jealous, it doesn’t brag, it isn’t arrogant, it isn’t rude, it doesn’t seek its own advantage, it isn’t irritable, it doesn’t keep a record of complaints, it isn’t happy with injustice, but it is happy with the truth. Love puts up with all things, trusts in all things, hopes for all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a CEB)

God is love. And if we are following Christ, we know we are to try our best to be as much like Him as possible. That means letting go of selfish, prideful, evil ways and letting love prevail.

If love is kindness, that means being kind. If love is trusting and hopeful, we are to do the same.

And if love is patient, we have no business tapping our feet, huffing our breath, and filling our time with diversions.

We are to bask in the love and beauty that is God and let His love—His patience, His kindness—flow through us. Always.

Author Bio:

Jessica Brodie is an award-winning Christian novelist, journalist, editor, blogger, and writing coach and the recipient of the 2018 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Award for her novel, The Memory Garden

She is also the editor of the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate, the oldest newspaper in Methodism, and a member of the Wholly Loved Ministries team.

Learn more about her fiction and read her faith blog at

Friday, August 2, 2019

Devotionals for the Heart: The Depths

Going to the Depths with God
A devotional by Mirachelle Canada

“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God." 
– Ephesians 3:14-19 (ESV)

How deep are we willing to go for God?

Recently, a treasure hunter found a 2.2-carat emerald from a 1622 shipwreck off the coast of Florida. Depending on the quality, the emerald could be worth a few dollars or a few hundred thousand dollars. The ship once carried 40 tons of gold and silver worth in excess of $450 million. The wreck was first discovered in 1985, and it continues to yield treasures to this day. Read the story here.

Treasure seekers will go to great lengths and depths to find priceless treasures. Some even pay millions to be on excavations that may or may not yield a find. Why do they go with no guarantees? It’s the thrill and possible notoriety of a discovery – of being the one to find the most priceless jewel or coin on earth.

In fact, if someone offered an all-expense paid excavation to find such riches, most people would sign up. The world tells us we’d be crazy not to. It’s free! You have only to commit to the dive. Few wouldn’t go because it’s a journey that can change your life!

Yet, God daily offers us the same chance. He asks us to dive deep with Him into the depths of our hearts, into the great unknown. Most don’t want to go on God’s excavation because of what is buried deep within them. Why then can we believe for the buried treasures of the world, but lack the faith and courage to let the God take us on such a journey into our hearts?

Reasons for our reluctance are based on fear, feelings of unworthiness, doubt, lack of faith, or heart-diving methods we can’t understand. The Bible is a manual for the dive to explore with Him. Scripture tells us we will find Him “when we seek Him with all our heart” (Jeremiah 29:13 ESV). That means to find Him we have to be willing to dive within our heart!

The power to dive deep is provided by the Holy Spirit “in your inner being” that makes you “rooted and grounded in love” (Ephesians 3:17 ESV). It’s an all-expense paid journey that was purchased by Jesus Christ’s death on the Cross and redeemed through the belief in His resurrection. The promised yield is unconditional love and an eternal life with an immeasurable treasure stored up in Heaven.

Just like any dive into the depths, it may start out a little dark and scary, but fear not! His strength will enable you to comprehend the “breadth and length and height and depth” of all there is because your oxygen tanks will be filled with “the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:18-19 ESV).

Allow yourself today to be weighted down by God’s grace, forgiveness, and love that can take you to unfathomable depths. He’s there, waiting to heal your heart and unearth His treasure from under your buried hurts and pain in order to show you riches beyond your wildest dreams. He’s guaranteed everything you find will be priceless.

Author Bio:

Mirachelle Canada is a writer, playwright, screenwriter and theatre director/producer from Northern Virginia. She teaches television production at C.D. Hylton Senior High School. 

She earned her Master of Fine Arts in Script & Screenwriting from Regent University and is a member of Act One: Hollywood Film & Television Writing Program, American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), ACFW Virginia Chapter, The Jerry Jenkins Writers Guild, and Your Novel Blueprint.

Mirachelle is passionate about awakening creativity and the gifts of God in everyone. She is currently working on her first historical fiction novel set during WWII, inspired by her time studying theatre education in London, England.

In her spare time, she also writes and directs Christmas and Easter passion plays at Christ Chapel Assembly of God in Woodbridge, Va.

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