Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Devotionals for the Heart: Confidence

What is Your Confidence Level in God?
A devotional by Temeka Borden

“Ah Lord God! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee.” 
– Jeremiah 32:17 (KJV)

What is your confidence level in God?

Specifically, how confident are you in His abilities and capabilities. How confident are you in His wisdom? As Christians, we should be 100% confident in the Lord, correct?

Well, I always state that if you are human, you will have moments of fear and worry. However, the Holy Spirit who abides within you has a way of comforting you and reminding you how powerful our Lord is.

Life is full of challenges and can have its scary moments. You will be placed in many uncomfortable situations. You will encounter people who are not the kindest, and you will be faced with many big decisions. Thankfully, we don’t have to face life alone, and as with David, we do not have to fight our battles by ourselves.

When I think of confidence—Godly confidence, I think of David. Most of us are familiar with the story of David and Goliath and how the Lord used David to slay that “giant.” David was confident in the Lord, and He spoke to Goliath without hesitation regarding what the Lord was going to do.

David’s confidence is an excellent example of how we should see and speak to our trials.

Keep in mind that Satan will do anything he can to get you off track and take your focus off of God. One way he does this is to present the problem you are facing as greater than it is and essentially unsolvable.

However, remember that no problem, regardless of how large it is, is greater than the Lord!

Don’t forget whom you serve. Don’t forget that God is all-powerful! Don’t forget that nothing is impossible with Him.

Don’t lose your Godly confidence. Be 100% confident in the Lord.

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:
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Monday, October 28, 2019

Devotionals for the Heart: Thoughts on being small but significant

Small and Significant

A devotional by Glynis Becker

"Then another message came to me from the Lord: “Zerubbabel is the one who laid the foundation of this Temple, and he will complete it. Then you will know that the Lord of Heaven’s Armies has sent me. Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand." (The seven lamps represent the eyes of the Lord that search all around the world.)" –Zechariah 4:8-10 (NLT)

Do you have days when you feel like what you do isn’t very important? That you don’t bring enough to the table to really make a difference? That in the larger scope of history it won’t matter at all if you were here because you won’t make a significant enough contribution?

I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure I won’t be addressing the United Nations anytime soon. Or writing a book that changes the lives of millions of people. Or curing cancer. Or bringing about world peace.

My calling is smaller. My stage is not as big. My impact may make only a small ripple in the pond. But that does not mean it isn’t important.

God has always and will continue to do His work through ordinary, seemingly-insignificant, weak people like you and me. He is already at work everywhere: in your home, in your neighborhood, your city, your country, and the world. You can be part of it, wherever you are.

I can’t feed all the hungry people in the world, but I can donate food to the homeless shelter or bake cookies for the missions fundraiser. I can’t cure cancer, but I can visit someone in the hospital or give someone a ride to a doctor’s appointment. I can’t bring about world peace, but I can extend a hand of friendship and bridge a gap to someone who might look like my “enemy.”

These are small acts we can do as Mother Teresa said “with great love.” With the right attitude and the leading of the Holy Spirit, these become the foundation of the kingdom of heaven here on earth.

Don’t misunderstand this, though. God doesn’t love you more when you do these things. We should want to do things that bring about change simply because we love Jesus and want to share Him with others. These acts of love will expand our understanding of who He is and extend the kingdom to the world. They are not to be seen as a way of gaining favor from God.

In the Scripture above, Zerubbabel has been tasked with beginning construction on the Lord’s temple. The verse sees into the future when it claims that he will see the construction finished. We may not see the fruits of our labor while we are alive. 

That promise isn’t necessarily for us. But what I love about the verse is that God is pleased to see him obey and start the work to which he has been tasked. It is a humble beginning, but there is nothing wrong with that. God has always known how to work miracles through humble beginnings.

So what can we do today to spread the word, share the love, or show some kindness? Don’t ever feel that you are insignificant. Your small step may be first in a miraculous journey.

Let’s Pray:
Lord Jesus, I know you love me. I know you will work through me and bring your kingdom if I let you. Please show me those small acts of kindness that you have for me to do today. In Jesus’ 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, October 25, 2019

Devotionals for the Heart: Thrifting

Spiritual Thrifting
A devotional by Heather Martin

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” – 2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV)

I’m not exactly sure if they loved thrift shopping because we were poor, or they just loved the thrill of finding good things at discounted prices. Either way, it doesn’t matter. Growing up, my mother and grandmother religiously made weekly visits to two thrift stores in our neighborhood with my sisters and I in tow.

Whether it was an old book, a pair of skates, a doll, jeans, a church dress (my all time favorite one that had ruffles and a bell on the bottom), or a shirt, I always found something I just couldn’t go home without! It felt like a weekly adventure that I learned to look forward to and love! This was the beginning of my love affair with thrifting. 

I have found some of my most treasured things at the thrift store. Recently, I was so excited to find a vintage Gucci purse at the thrift store for a whopping $3! I get joy when someone walks into my house and admires this beautiful picture that I found at a thrift store. It is exhilarating! I could go on and on, but you get the point, I love thrifting!

In case you’re beginning to wonder what this has to do with God, here it comes…I highly recommend thrifting, but not when it comes to your relationship with God.

It can be so easy to go to church and listen to a sermon without going home to study the Bible for yourself. That’s spiritual thrifting. Or to listen to someone else’s testimony without being introspective. That’s spiritual thrifting. Becoming a member of a church not because you are convicted of the message, but because it is a family tradition. That’s spiritual thrifting.

Am I saying that spiritual thrifting is entirely wrong? No. I am just suggesting that the basis of our relationship with Jesus should be personal, not passed down or “thrifted.”

Don’t get me wrong, we do need and use the testimonies and experiences of others to help make us stronger, and better Christians. However, God wants each of us to have a personal relationship with Him (2 Corinthians 5:18). He also wants us to work! 

According to 2 Timothy 2:15 (NLT), He wants us to “work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth.”

The God who “knows how many hairs are on our head” (Matthew 10:30) and “knew us when we were being formed in our mother’s wombs,” (Jeremiah 1:5) desires for us to know Him just as intimately and personally.

There is a gospel song that says “I had a praying grandmother,” and this is great. But will you pray? Will you study God’s Word (The Holy Bible) for yourself?

Would you want a doctor to operate on you if He could only tell you of the experiences his fellow doctors had doing the surgery? No, you’d want the doctor who actually had tons of experience doing the surgery himself to do your operation because he has an experience that equips and qualifies him for the job.

As a Christian, it is our duty not to solely rely on the testimonies and prayers of others, but to have our own personal encounters with God. It will make us more powerful and qualified to live this life, and be a witness to others.

Don’t allow your relationship with Him to be completely second-handed or thrifted. Get to know God on a first hand basis and oh, the treasure you will find!

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, October 23, 2019

Devotionals for the Heart: On loving others like Jesus Christ loves us

Love Like Jesus
A devotional by Carrie del Pizzo

“But I am giving you a new command. You must love each other, just as I have loved you.” 
–John 13:34 (CEV)

At first glance, this command can seem truly impossible. Jesus showed His love for us by dying on a cross. Does God expect us to die a gruesome painful death for others? Good news: He already took care of that part, so we can cross it off the list.

That means loving people the way Jesus did isn’t impossible … it’s only really hard.

In the first century, loving others meant being polite to those closest to you: family, friends, business associates. Good people attended synagogue, sacrificed at the temple, and stayed far away from sinners. Somewhere there was someone who did something to help widows and orphans, but only because they had to. Prostitutes and drunkards and foreigners were on their own.

The primary rule was to be clean. If you touched some undesirable person, you couldn’t go into the temple until you performed the ritual cleaning, which could take days. And if anyone saw you with an unclean person, they would assume you too were unclean. They might not do business with you. Their children might not play with yours. They might tell others about who they saw you with and what they thought you were probably doing.

Jesus turned society upside down. He demonstrated over-the-top knowledge of the Scriptures, performed miracles, and spoke messages that were both confusing and wonderful.

But the craziest thing He did was love people. His closest friends were smelly fishermen. He ate dinner with tax collectors. He actually touched people with leprosy, several prostitutes, and a couple of demon possessed guys.

In some cases, Jesus spoke a word to heal someone. But many times, He reached out and touched them. He hung out with them. He visited their homes. He ate their food. He took rides in their boats. He talked, laughed, and cried with them. He did life with these untouchable, undesirable people.

What about us? Sure, we’re nice to our families and church friends. Probably even school or soccer parents and some coworkers. But then there’s the next-door neighbor who doesn’t mow his lawn as often as we’d like. And the guy two cubicles down who voted for the other candidate in the last election. And the young lady who’s facing an unplanned pregnancy.

What if we loved them like Jesus does? What if we chose to do life with those people?

Let’s ask Jesus who needs His love and how He wants us to share it.

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, October 21, 2019

Devotionals for the Heart: Brokenness


A devotional by Nanci Rubin

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord."
–Luke 4:18-19 (KJV) 

Most of us at some juncture in our lives have gone through or will go through a crisis, a time of bitter disappointment and rejection. Those are the times when we cling to our friends, family and appreciate the support they give us via love, prayer and standing in the gap until we are over this season of disappointment.

But there are occasions when we face catastrophic events. Events that leave us broken. 

Those times are painful, so painful that it hurts to breathe, you don’t want to get out of bed or see anyone. When we are broken, we are irreparable and can no longer be used. That’s the way it feels and you don’t care. The world can go on without you, all you want is to be left alone because in your eyes, it’s over. And this can be a dangerous time spiritually if we isolate ourselves.

The enemy of our souls wants nothing more than to get us away from the Body of Christ (our church family), distract us from prayer and hope to have us blame God for the horrendous pain we are experiencing. Job’s friends and his wife tried to get him to turn against God. 

They even suggested that Job's plight was his fault, that he must have sinned. No, one doesn’t have to be in sin to have one’s world fall apart.

“In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.” –Job 1:22 (KJV)

We live in such a disposable world. When something breaks, we just toss it out and replace it. Unfortunately, many hurting people believe this is their fate when they have been broken. But Jesus said in Luke 4:18-19 that He came to heal the brokenhearted. God has anointed His Son Jesus Christ to heal those of us suffering in brokenness.

Romans 8:24-32 gives us the prescription for healing. The Holy Spirit is interceding to our Heavenly Father on our behalf and praying the Father’s will for our lives. We are encouraged that whom He called he will justify. And not only justify, but glorify. Knowing God and following His Son Jesus Christ gives hope to your heart. 

Read Romans 8:24-32 (NLT):

"We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hopefor it. But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.)"

"And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them."

"For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory."

"What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?"


When you find yourself in a state of brokenness, read Romans 
8:24-32 as medicine for your soul. It will heal your heart and give you a hope. 

God loves you and He wants only good things for His children. He is a good, good Father. No matter what you’re going through, you don’t go through it alone. He is right there with you, waiting for your SOS call. Let Him help and heal you.

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, October 18, 2019

Devotionals for the Heart: A Challenge to love people even when it's not easy

Loving When It’s Hard

A devotional by Victoria Bylin

“Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 
– 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NASB)

I work part-time as a receptionist in a large behavioral health practice. 

Every day, I come face-to-face with people in the throes of clinical anxiety, the pain of depression, and a myriad of other thought patterns that cause difficulty and mental suffering. This isn’t an easy place to work, but I wouldn’t trade a minute of the experience. 

I’ve learned a lot here, particularly what it means to be “Jesus with skin on.”

I’m so far from that goal that’s it’s embarrassing, but my word for this year (2019) is "Love."

We use the word "love" so freely and so often that it threatens to become meaningless. We love lasagna and we love our kids. We love our family and friends, but it’s not nearly as easy to love people who aren’t easy to be around. How about the older person fumbling with their phone while trying to add an appointment to the calendar that is somehow locked on the wrong year? That would be me!

Or what about the mother whose worry for her child comes out in misplaced anger? It can be hard to take, but what’s really happening? When her child is suffering, the mother bear in her comes out, and sometimes the claws are sharp.

When I leave work, my frustration is sometimes sky high, a reminder of just how human I am. I’m so grateful for God’s forgiveness for my own failings. We’ve all fallen short—all been that demanding person—and it’s that awareness that reminds of how great God’s love is for us.

I’m not advocating being a doormat. Loving difficult people doesn’t mean we let them run rough shod over the circumstances. Sometimes love demands firmness and even fierceness. The person who takes cuts in the line still needs to wait. But we can all be kind while we live, work and care for others.

Here’s the bottom line:
We don’t know what that difficult person is experiencing. That lesson was driven home to me when I worked in a dermatology office. A woman came in with her teenage daughter for a new patient appointment. It was prom season, and the daughter’s acne was flaring badly. It was a busy practice, and they had waited several weeks for that slot.

Mom charged through the waiting room with her phone pressed to her ear, tapped on the glass window, then opened it. In short, she broke every rule of doctor’s office etiquette, and I was judging her left and right. Forcing a smile, I did my job.

As she fumbled with her insurance card, this is what she said into her phone: “Yes, I heard you. Tell mom I’ll be there as soon as I can. The ICU on the second floor. Yes . . . Yes . . . Tell dad I love him.” Her voice cracked, and so did my heart.

We don’t know what others are dealing with. We can’t see below the surface. But God knows, and he loves us. It’s a privilege to extend that love as best as I can.

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, October 16, 2019

Devotionals for the Heart: Tough Love

Tough Love

A devotional by Christa MacDonald

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” 
– Luke 6:32-36 (NIV)

One of my most favorite passages in The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis is this description of the Christian going to his local church: “When he goes inside, he sees the local grocer with rather an oily expression on his face bustling up to offer him one shiny little book containing a liturgy which neither of them understands, and one shabby little book containing corrupt texts of a number of religious lyrics, mostly bad, and in very small print. When he gets to his pew and looks round him he sees just that selection of his neighbors whom he has hitherto avoided.”

As Christians, we need to rub shoulders with fellow believers in what is a safe place and let them challenge us to love like Jesus. It’s one of the strongest arguments for regular church attendance. The best churches have pews filled with the high and the low, the meek and the mighty, the community leader you want to befriend and the weird guy who hangs out at the gas station and that you try not to make eye contact with. Within our church family we’re supported, encouraged, and coached to love one another. What a better place to build your Christian muscles?

As the verse above makes clear, God loves the unlovable and He expects us to do the same. Jesus died for criminals, haters, adulterers, sinners. He died for us; we are the unlovable. Whatever we think of ourselves, we are no better than the worst of humanity. We’re all sinners. “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23). It’s tempting to think that you were always a ‘good person,’ living a ‘good’ life, that you’ve been able to avoid the curse of Original Sin. Nope! You’re not good now and you never were. However, there is hope when you become a follower of Jesus Christ.

If you’re a Christian (follower of Jesus Christ), then you’ve been redeemed and your sinful heart has been turned to Jesus and your wayward feet are on the path to glory. But don’t forget that you didn’t deserve it! You didn’t lift yourself out of the well of sin you were in. Maybe your sin didn’t feel that bad to you compared to others, but God doesn’t pick up a yardstick to measure out your sin and give you a break if it’s not ‘that bad.’ 

Because He is an infinitely Holy God, our smallest rebellion against Him deserves the most severe punishment. But it pleased Him to sacrifice His Son (Jesus Christ) so that He could display what True Love really is.

We need to love radically, like God does. Generic, worldly love isn’t enough.

And God doesn’t stop there. He wants us to love those who hate us, as well as those that we have ‘hitherto avoided.’ Loving our enemies isn’t just the absence of nastiness, it’s active love, and a big part of that is sharing the Gospel.

Don’t let your heart be turned from fellow sinners who need the same mercy and grace that has been shown to you. Remember your own story; the unbearable weight of your sins that you felt when you were confronted with them, and the panic of not knowing how to get rid of that weight. And remember what it was like when you were given the option of receiving that free gift that would take that weight away forever – repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.

Don’t leave someone in their sin; show them the path to God’s redeeming grace.

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, October 14, 2019

Devotionals for the Heart: Taking joy with you in the journey through life

Taking Joy in the Journey
A devotional by Amanda Wen

“…being confident that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” –Philippians 1:6 (NIV)

This past summer, my family and I vacationed in Branson, Missouri.

A popular vacation destination for my area, Branson features the gorgeous Lake Taneycomo, a coldwater lake perfect for trout fishing. My grandparents, who were both passionate trout fishers, loved Branson, and we spent many happy vacations there as a family. In recent years, I’ve taken my own crew, and although we’re not super-experienced anglers, we do enjoy taking a day, renting a boat, and floating along the cool shimmering waters of Taneycomo to see if we can catch any trout.

To effectively catch fish, there are some important steps. Before we set out, we asked at the marina which part of the lake people had been having the most luck. We also asked what kind of bait had been most effective. The answer on this particular outing was to use Power Bait, a brightly-colored Play-Doh-like substance that trout apparently go nuts for. And not just any variety but the garlic scent. I am not a fan of garlic, so this wasn’t exactly music to my ears.

The same is true for whatever we’re seeking in this life here on Earth. Although God does occasionally drop blessings into our laps, blessings we were not looking for or working toward, many times He does want us to do our part. If it’s a job we seek, we need to make certain we’re gaining the necessary experience and expertise and applying in the right places. If we’re looking for new friends, we must demonstrate love and care for others.

But one thing I’ve discovered in my journey of waiting is that frequently it’s not always about the destination. As a certified Type A overachiever, I tend to want to take the most direct route to my goals, but that is not how God operates. He’s far more concerned about the refinement of my character: the cutting away of what doesn’t please him and the nurturing of what does. He uses our waiting times to mold our character and continue the sometimes-slow process of sanctification, of making us more like Jesus.

I learned on our fishing trip the joy of focusing on the journey more than the destination. The weather was cool and cloudy, most welcome in Branson in August. Lake Taneycomo is known for being foggy, and on this day, the fog never truly lifted, creating an almost mystical effect. The silvery lake was surrounded by rich foliage in a variety of green shades.

Spending time in the boat, in nature, having pried my family away from their electronic devices, was so relaxing and rejuvenating that I didn’t care if I caught a single fish. That wasn’t the point. The point was the trip itself, not the number of fish.

We didn’t catch many fish that day. In fact, I think between the five of us we caught only three. But it didn’t matter. It wasn’t about the fish. It was about spending time together as a family, relaxing in nature, slowing down in a way that has to be planned, intentional, and non-negotiable in our fast-paced world. And the memories we made that day far outweigh any fish we caught.

I pray that I’m able to take this attitude with me in my everyday life, too. That I’ll focus less on what achieving my goals looks like and more on the journey. I want to focus more on God, and what He’s trying to teach me, and how He is achieving the sometimes slow, barely-perceptible process of making me look more like Him.

Because even when I can’t see the progress, His promise is still true: He’ll carry on the work until all is finally complete at Jesus’ return.

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, October 11, 2019

Devotionals for the Heart: Forgiveness and having the "Mind of Jesus Christ"

Let this mind be in you...
A devotional by Chaplain Paul Anderson

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” –Philippians 2:5-11 (KJV)

Last week, I was forced to evaluate my sense of right, rightness, righteousness, and self-righteousness. 

If you live in the United States of America and watched the news story about Amber Guyger (a former Dallas police officer) who, according to, "killed Botham Jean in his apartment last year" and you saw Brandt who is the brother of Botham Jean, ask the Judge if he could give Amber a hug (and he proceeded to tell her that he forgives her), then you probably were forced to evaluate your mindset too.

When I saw the brother of Jean Botham offer his heartfelt forgiveness and meek request to hug the person who had unjustly killed his brother, something leapt within me.

Reflexively, I thought and posted on Facebook that “he will live outside of the prison of hatred and retributive rage, because he forgave quickly.” That action, in my mind, seemed congruent with the mind of Christ.

It was congruent with what I saw my own brother say, in court, to the man who had irresponsibly caused the death of his and his wife’s only son who was the only brother to their daughters. Nothing he could do or demand would bring back their son, but they hoped, for that man, a preferred vision for his life, going forward. They articulated it.

I know that my brother’s family live, daily, with the pain of Nathan’s absence, but to move on in their uncharted, personal path through grief, they forgave.

Later I saw lots of my friends post angst, dismay, anger and outrage at this simple and very personal deed of grief management. I was driven to reconsider my thoughts about forgiveness. I took the time to read, in context, every Scriptural use of the word “forgiveness.” Sometimes it was requested by an offender. Sometimes it was spontaneously offered by the offended.

In every case, it offered a release for the offended and the offender. Sometimes, the freedom was embraced. The most poignant time when it was not embraced is mentioned in the story found in Matthew 18:21-35 (KJV). Please take the time to read it. Let it seep into your spirit.

Forgiveness is a spiritual conundrum that can only be comprehended by spiritual discernment. It will not make sense to an angry person or to one whose scales of justice are merely human. Forgiveness does not absolve a person of debt, or wrongdoing. There still is no such thing as a free lunch. Forgiveness transfers the weight, debt of the offense and the responsibility of the offender, into cosmic accountability.

I have always had a heightened sense of justice. However, i
n my early adulthood, I began to understand how my well-doing and right-doing advanced relationships. I also began to see how nurturing my own judgmental mindset injured the same. A more mature person told me, “The best way to advance the cause of rightness is righteousness. Harshness and a punitive spirit put you in the path of God’s judgment. It makes you bitter and painful to be around. It impedes His ultimate justice. Get out of God’s way and into His will."

Now, there is the legitimate expectation of civil jurisprudence. But, the courts of popular opinion, our common pleas and communities are not the same nor equal to the court of divine presence. Martin Luther King Jr. in the 20th century, immortalized the 19th century thought of Theodore Parker when he prophetically declared that, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but, it bends toward justice.”

The Bible says this in Psalm 19:7-8 KJV, “The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.” 

Brandt did not speak for his family. He spoke only for himself. He did not try to define my faith and praxis. Nor did he delineate yours. He acted in heartfelt dependence on what he thought that God directed him, through his understanding of Scripture, to do. He probably does not know as much about theology as I do, but he demonstrated more faith than I have ever been called to do.

No one can know what they would do if plunged into a similar circumstance. 

What we have then and now is an illustrative continuum that appeals to each of us to spiritually think on these things and to have the "mind of (Jesus) Christ."

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, Md.

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, October 9, 2019

Devotionals for the Heart: A Prayer from Habakkuk to help you release

Habakkuk Prayer of Release

A devotional by Sharon Musgrove

“Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places.” 
–Habakkuk 3:17-19 (ESV)

Many years ago, my spiritual mentor shared these verses with me in an assignment intended for healing.

At the time, I was questioning the goodness of God. Circumstances had occurred that were throwing off plans for my career, my recreational interests and even my family life. I felt rocked to the core and at a loss for what to do. I sat waiting for the resolution of the problems so that I could continue on with my path.

As I was waiting, new opportunities opened up. A new volunteer position was available at a local homeless shelter that fit my specific skill set. I recall thinking that the position would help me get my mind off of the losses I was experiencing. It would be a healthy diversion.

The Habakkuk 3:17 assignment was to rewrite the Scripture to make it specific to the issues and fears in my life. References to the fig tree, fruitfulness, and flocks were replaced with physical disabilities, lack of productivity and broken relationships. I laid out my concerns in worst-case scenarios.

Displaying my greatest fears was an exercise in vulnerability. It felt like I was unzipping myself and revealing a shriveled, scarred heart. That was only half the workload. After uncovering my hurts and highlighting my fear, the rewrite was to include the “yet clause.” A clause that says, “even when and even if these things happen I will remain.” To finish the assignment would require a statement of integrity in faithfulness.

This divine assignment represented God asking me to trust Him in a time when I was questioning Him. Things I thought I had a right to – my body, my time and my relationship – were not at all mine! God was asking, “Will you trust Me, even now?”

That day I wrote the Habakkuk, “Prayer of Release,” I made a vow to the Lord that even if my worst fears come to light, yet I will rejoice and take joy in Him. I let go my will for my life. Given the choice, I decided to exchange grief for joy. It was indeed a healing assignment!

It’s no coincidence that the volunteer opportunity led to a powerful partnership with God in recovery ministry. Holy Spirit-filled work ensued. Miracles occurred. The circumstances of my personal life had not changed, but to call it a healthy diversion was a gross understatement. I experienced God in a whole new way.

This Scripture came to mind as more recent events have me grieving again. Familiar feelings and questions trigger the need renew my vows. Those vows of “I will praise. I will be joyful,” settle the questions of, “What will I do when and if?”

I invite you, my friend, as I was invited, to a healing assignment of making these verses personal. Be vulnerable and illuminate your dark places. Then complete the vow with your “yet clause.”

I’d like to share my example that I wrote for my assignment:

Though my body be permanently broken and painful,

And I am completely incapacitated.

Though I see no light and money is scarce.

Though my closest relationships remain sources of pain

And I am rejected by those I love most,

Yet I will sing praise to my Lord.

Yet I will be joyful in the God who is saving me

He is my strength ... He is the one who makes things happen

He gives me the “feet” I need to walk the path.

Expect your vow to release you into a new area of blessing!

Rather than waiting for situations to change, give God your faith via praise and honor. It will result in a powerful partnership and miracles in your life too!

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, October 7, 2019

Devotionals for the Heart: True Love

Love isn’t supposed to hurt

A devotional by Jessica Brodie

It started off innocently enough, like a sweet dream, but then it became a horrible reality that she couldn’t escape.

He caught her eye, said all the right things, and soon they were dating. Then came the jealousy—she was paying “too much attention” to her friends or her studies, she shouldn’t wear that because it “sent the wrong message,” it was her “fault” that man smiled at her, she shouldn’t tell her parents what he said because it would “make him look bad.”

Eventually, he snuck his way into controlling every aspect of her life. Her life centered on him. Angry words soon escalated. He’d punch a wall, break a glass. The first time he hit her, he bought her roses, swore it’d never happen again.

The last time he hit her, she wound up in intensive care.

Despite what singers on the radio might want us to believe, real love—true love—isn’t supposed to hurt. But we know all too well that it can hurt. It can even kill.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Domestic violence is not just physical violence—black eyes and bruises. Sometimes the scars are invisible: threats, manipulation, yelling, humiliation. Sometimes it’s stalking someone online or following them wherever they go, or making them do things they don’t want to do.

And it happens all around us. According to the Center for Disease Control, one in four women and nearly one in 10 men have experienced physical, sexual, or stalking-related domestic violence during their lifetime, and more than 43 million women and 38 million men experienced psychological aggression by an intimate partner in their lifetime. These are not just headlines. This is happening every day to women—and men—all around us. People we know. People we see in our neighborhoods or in social settings.

With the vast amount of bad news we hear almost daily, it’s tempting to tune it out, rationalize it away, think it only happens to “someone else” or even turn off the news altogether. But as followers of Christ, as children of God, we cannot afford to harden or shield our hearts from tragedy. We must hear with open ears, see with eyes wide open, and do what we can to stand up and help whenever and wherever possible.

Data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Supplementary Homicide Report reveals that, nationwide, 92% of women killed by men were murdered by someone they knew and that the most common weapon used was a gun. Of the victims who knew their offenders, 62% were wives or other intimate acquaintances of their killers. Nearly 11 times as many females were murdered by a male they knew than were killed by male strangers.

This is not acceptable, and the Bible calls us to do something about this.

Proverbs 31:8-9 (NIV) says, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy." Jesus, in Matthew 25:40, says, “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”

If you suspect someone you know is a victim, talk to her. Ask how you can help. Call the authorities. See what your church can do to get involved or whether domestic violence shelters in your area could use donations or support.

Love isn’t supposed to hurt.

As the apostle Paul writes about love, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).

That is love. Jesus is love.

It’s time to do what we can to help spread awareness about what real love is and stop the violence.

*NOTE: Here is a short list of resources for victims of domestic violence ...

Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-7233 or visit them online at

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence ( offers resources for victims and survivors of domestic violence here (

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, October 4, 2019

Devotionals for the Heart: God Cares

God Cares
A devotional by Mirachelle Canada

“Cast your burden on the Lord, and He will sustain you; He will never permit the righteous to be moved.” –Psalm 55:22 (ESV)

Have you ever stood in front of the mirror and admired your best feature? 

In my online dating days, there was often a question about choosing your best feature. Most people base this off of what they get the most complimented on. Mine was my smile. In fact, I prided myself on it.

Statistically, the smile is the first thing people notice. It often indicates our current mood and gives off the signal to approach or get away. I never thought my smile asset would change, but I was wrong.

Stress comes in many forms, especially when we deal with it internally. In the Bible book of Psalm, David tells us to “cast our burdens (or cares) on the Lord” with the following promise that He will sustain us. Why? Because God will never let the righteous be moved (or shaken). To be righteous is to place our complete faith in God, entering into covenant with Him, and by such faith, seeking to live according to His word. I seek to be righteous, but sometimes I stumble in my efforts.

In the past year, I have been stressing about a combination of factors that involuntarily led to my clinching my jaw at random times and grinding my teeth at night. Because of this my teeth have shifted inside my mouth, forcing the lower front teeth to push together, and creating a gap in my upper teeth that I now notice in pictures, especially when I smiled. I was crushed and frustrated. My best asset was no longer working for me!

Recently, I attended a conference where my best asset usually gives me confidence. However, because of my growing problem I was losing it. During one afternoon, I took a nap and literally felt my teeth shifting in my mouth while I slept. After dinner, I had to rush back for a late-night meeting before attending the “worship and write session.” After the meeting, I got a quick look in the mirror and what did I notice? My gap was bigger! I pointed to it and shouted, “Look, Lord, my gap is growing! Make it stop!”

Yes, I felt silly. My moving teeth was a crisis, but only to me. I also know people going through real major health crises that needed more of God’s intervention. So, when I sat down to write during the worship time, I tried to focus on things other than my silly teeth.

In Psalm 5:12 (ESV), David says, “For you bless the righteous, O Lord; you cover him with favor as with a shield.” As we wrote, two ladies from the conference staff prayed for people. I chose not to go up for prayer, but to write and let God flow through my pen. After the prayer lines were complete, one of the prayer partners gave a word from the Lord and said, “There is someone here who is worried about their teeth...”

I literally burst out laughing and hung my head as I felt the Lord’s shoulder-poking prompt, ‘That means you.’ I walked over to the prayer partner and immediately explained why I felt so foolish, but she immediately reminded me that God cares, even in the small things. He cares about the things we care about. He cares about the righteous who live by faith, but in return we have to have faith in Him to take all our cares.

I had to give God my teeth, which He told me He would fix so it would no longer hinder me. Yes, they are just teeth, but He showed me cares about them as much as I do.

Do you have a need? A growing problem? Small or large, cast your cares upon the Lord. He cares, and He’s ready and waiting to show you just how much.

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.

Connect with Mirachelle:


Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Devotionals for the Heart: Self-control


A devotional by Allison M. Wilson

Key Scripture: Galatians 5:22-23 and Proverbs 25:3 (NASB)

I’ve really struggled with this last fruit of the Spirit. Not only in application in my life, but in writing this blog post. I have this deep sense that self-control means much more than we realize on the surface, yet, I must not be at a point where God’s ready to reveal it.

I’ve been praying about this fruit for some time. The other blogs have flowed pretty well, with lots of thoughts and ideas swirling around before I sit down to write. This one, however, has just sat in my mind…self-control.

The other fruit have shown us that we can not manifest them through fleshly initiative for long. They are all part of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. They are a result of a surrendered life. Self-control must be the same, right? So, if all of the fruit are a result, how does self come into this? How can my flesh, or self, gain any kind of real control?

Proverbs 25:3 tells us that it’s to God’s glory to conceal a matter and to the glory of kings to seek it out. God doesn’t play hide and seek to be malicious or sly. He wants to know we are desiring to hear more from Him, to go more deeply. That requires a seeking out on our parts.

A quick search of the Scriptures says that the word “self-control” isn’t used in the Old Testament, only in the New Testament. Interesting! Another piece of information is that the word is only used from Acts on. I think we’re getting somewhere!

With the knowledge that self-control was talked about in the Word only after the Holy Spirit was given to believers, there’s definitely a connection. My question about how self plays into this still remains, but a thought is starting to form.

We see Jesus in the wilderness being tempted. It’s a relatively short story in the Scriptures, with enormous ramifications. Until recently, I really didn’t think about what it was like for Him to have the enemy tempt Him with food, though I think that was likely the hardest to resist. He had been without food for 40 days. I know someone who has been called to a 40 day fast several times in his life. He’s told me that it is the most difficult thing he’s ever done, and when he is able to eat, his mind wants to eat everything in sight! That’s the point to which Jesus had gotten when He was told to make a stone into bread, which is something that is incredibly simple for the Creator to do.

Gethsemane is another place we see the Lord suffering under stress to the point of sweating out blood. So much was going on with His flesh, that it was pushing blood out of His pores. That’s something few people can say they have experienced.

During both of these overwhelming trials, Jesus did not sin. He did not give in to what His flesh, self, wanted, though it was a severe struggle. He exhibited the self-control that I believe the Scriptures may be talking about in Galatians. The wrestling with what I want, versus what I know the Spirit wants. The surrender of my will to One who has done the same to His Father. Giving up my right to be right, in order to be right with Him.

Perhaps I’m getting to the point of God illuminating this more for me. I’ll just have to seek it out. Are you willing to do the same?

Let's Pray:
Dear Daddy (Father God in Heaven), You have redefined so many words as You have conformed my thoughts to those of You. This word is no different. Show me what You want me to see about myself and my walk with You, as Your Spirit guides me into all truth. In Jesus’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: