Friday, February 28, 2020

Devotionals for the Heart: Discipline

God Disciplines Us

A devotional by Amy Odland

Moses saw that the people were running wild and that Aaron had let them get out of control and so become a laughingstock to their enemies. So he stood at the entrance to the camp and said, “Whoever is for the Lord, come to me.” And all the Levites rallied to him. Then he said to them, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Each man strap a sword to his side. Go back and forth through the camp from one end to the other, each killing his brother and friend and neighbor.’” The Levites did as Moses commanded, and that day about three thousand of the people died. Then Moses said, “You have been set apart to the Lord today, for you were against your own sons and brothers, and he has blessed you this day.” 
– Exodus 32:25-29 (NIV)

“Your name is going on the board.”

If you’re as old as I am, you probably remember the dread you felt when your teacher said this.

Back in the 1980’s, if you were acting up or, as was the case with some teachers, if you were just talking when you weren’t supposed to, the teacher would write your name on the board. Your next infraction resulted in getting a check behind your name, and if you got enough checks behind your name, you “won” a trip down to the principal’s office.

If you were like me, you tried to avoid getting your name on the board at all, if ever. I think I could count on Mickey Mouse’s hand how many times I got my name on the board in elementary school. I was a hardcore people pleaser and usually did my best to stay out of trouble.

Nowadays, teachers don’t use such “barbaric” methods of keeping their classrooms on task. Writing kids’ names on the board for ALL TO SEE is apparently too damaging to the self-esteem, too harsh, or too whatever other excuses we’ve come up with over the years. Which explains why my kids responded the way they did – with eyes wide and gasps of horror – when I was trying to explain this concept to them on the way to school one day.

I imagine the Israelites’ response to the Levites going through the camp randomly killing people would’ve been similar to my kids, but turned up a notch or two (or ten). I also imagine there was a bit of chaos until everyone in the camp found out what was going on.

I think we sometimes get so caught up in the love and grace and forgiveness of God that we forget about His wrath and punishment. But the times when God unleashed His discipline are right there in the Bible, written in black and white (and bloody red). There are many examples of God disciplining His followers in the Bible, but especially so with the Israelites and their journey into the promised land. One may ask, WHY did God discipline them? Does God discipline us today?

Most of us who are parents don’t want our kids to grow up to be entitled, spoiled, and/or selfish non-contributors to society. God is the same in that He wants us to grow into the wise, giving, loving, discerning people He sees us to be, the creation He designed us to be. He needed the Israelites to enter into the promised land by HIS might, not by their own. He needed them to do it a certain way so they didn’t take all the credit and have their egos blow up. They were acting like knuckleheads and God wasn’t going to have it. His discipline doesn’t always make sense when it’s happening to us, and it may seem super harsh at times. But, just as we want our children to trust us when we say the stove is hot, God wants us to trust His ways and thoughts.

Lets read Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV): “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

God needs us to learn to live by HIS might, by HIS ways, not by our own.

So yes, He still disciplines us today. God disciplines us because He loves us, because He wants us to experience a little of Heaven while we’re still here on Earth, just as we did in the garden.

God does it so we don’t “burn ourselves on the stove” or worse, make Him a laughingstock to our enemies. Now, HOW He disciplines us is also a whole ‘nother post for another day...stay tuned!

Author Bio:

Amy Odland has been serving in church ministry as a volunteer leader for over 16 years, in various worship, prayer and women’s ministry roles. 

Her passion for helping women stems from her own struggles and lessons learned in her journey as a Christian since first deciding to follow the Lord in 1994.

Amy’s priorities after her faith include her family — husband Rick, and their four kids — as well as extended family who all live close in proximity and the many friends she’s made over the years.

In addition to a love of teaching and helping her husband with the bookkeeping for their many businesses, Amy has recently expanded her stay-at-home work to include leading author’s book launch teams for publishing companies like Baker, Revell, Barbour, and Lifeway.

She also enjoys teaching new authors about platform building, self-launching, and online marketing.

Connect with Amy:

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Devotionals for the Heart: Fear Not

Letting Go Of Fear
A devotional by Julia Wilson

“There is no fear in love; perfect love drives out all fear.” 
–1 John 4:18a (GNB)

Fear immobilizes us and keeps us from living the life that God intended for us.

Many times within the Bible we hear the phrase “fear not.” God knows that we are prone to be afraid but He asks us to fear not and to trust Him.

An acronym for fear is False Expectations Appearing Real. We concoct scenarios in our head that hardly ever happen yet we are still paralyzed by fear.

For much of my life I have been paralyzed by my fear of water. This stems from childhood – on going to my first swimming lesson when I was eight years old, the first thing the swimming instructor did was to get us all to jump into the deep end to show that we would float. You do not float when you panic, and I had to be rescued. My fear of water began. It was a fear that I passed down to our eldest son.

Fast forward nearly fifty years – I was in my church life group and one of the ladies prophesised in September 2016 that this was the year that God was going to cure me of my fear of water and I would learn to swim. I laughed at her, like Sarah in the Bible, and thought, “No chance. Does she not realize how deep my fear is?”

But God had other plans. Whenever we hear the phrase “But God … ,” we know that God is going to move mightily. According to Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV), God says, “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you.” God’s plans are so much greater than ours. We need to ‘fear not’ and trust Him.

In January 2017, I signed up for a 10-week course for people older than 50 who want to learn how to swim. I was very frightened. I nearly did not go. But with the love and care of my swimming instructor Vanessa, I did learn to swim. I faced my fear and trusted Vanessa would not let me down. God asks us to face our fears and to trust Him to hold us up “Through All the Changing Scenes of Life,” as the old hymn says. 

When fear threatens to overwhelm, lift your eyes up to God. As the psalmist says in P
salm 121:1-2 (NIV), "I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth." If we keep our eyes focused on Jesus, we are not looking at our fears and we will receive peace that passes all understanding.

When the road of life is dark and fear comes knocking, do not open the door. Run to God! He sees our end from our beginning. He will sustain you and He will not let you go.

When fear rules our lives, we miss out on all that God intends for us.

As a footnote, I had intermediate swimming lessons for six months and now swim four times a week for about ninety minutes and I love it. My only regret is that I did not learn to swim as a child. I missed out for nearly fifty years. Do not miss out on the life that God intends for you through fear. Give fear the elbow. Look to God. He’s got you and will never let you down. As the saying goes “Do not tell God how big your fear is, tell your fear how big your God is!”

Let go of your fear and watch where God will take you. He loves you and He will never let you down!

Author Bio:

My name is Julia Wilson but I also go by Christian Bookaholic.

I live with my husband and five cats in a small town in Worcestershire on the banks of the River Severn (England). We have four grown up children and three granddaughters.

I have always loved reading and have always been surrounded by books. I used to work as a teaching assistant for special needs in the local high school. Ill health forced me to stop working in December 2015. I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (known as M.E.) and fibromyalgia. I now have plenty of time to read and review books!

Our eldest son set up my Christian Bookaholic blog. I review every book I read. I read over 300 books a year. I read Christian and mass market. I prefer stories set from 1850 onwards. My favourite type of books to read is stories set in WWI and WWII, and Russia under Czar Nicholas II.

I am a historian, having a Combined Humanities degree where I majored in History and minored in English. I also love swimming. I only learned how to swim in 2017 and go swimming four mornings a week for 90 minutes before breakfast, it keeps my joints going.

I am also a crazy cat lady. I absolutely love my cats. I have grown up with cats and cannot imagine life without them. My dream is to own an old fashioned seal point Siamese … but not while we have our young rescue cat as she hates other cats!

I love God and love going to a large lively church called Lifecentral. I cannot imagine life without God. He gives a peace even when life does not. He guides my life. He is my Rock.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Devotionals for the Heart: Survivors

Never Forget

A devotional by Glynis Becker

“For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” 
–Colossians 1:13-14 (NASB)

January 27, 2020 marked the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the worst of the six German extermination camps from World War II. One of the most brutal chapters of human history was, if not closed, then certainly dealt a stunning blow on the day the Allied forces took over and released the seven thousand Jews and others still alive there. 

Unfortunately, more than a million people had been killed in that place before it was shut down. Those lives can never be replaced. I cried watching news stories of survivors walking back through the gates of a place that will no doubt always haunt them.

I watched as a woman stood in a gas chamber, reciting the names of people she’d known, and singing a prayer over the dead. She pleaded at the camera that they not be forgotten. Then a man in his nineties told how he had only recently shared with his family that he was a Holocaust survivor. I can’t even imagine how it feels to keep such a secret for so long.

By the grace of God, none of us will ever have to decide how to deal with a tragedy like this in our own lives and I pray for a world in which these horrors never happen again. But as I was reading these verses in Colossians, I was struck by the fact that in the spiritual realm, we who are believers in Jesus are the rescued, released from the captivity of sin, no longer in darkness, given new life in a new kingdom.

So, as a forgiven people, how should we then live in the world? What should our response to liberation be? Do we have an obligation to tell others about our own rescue, so they can come out of the darkness as well? If we keep quiet, how will anyone know the amazing love and grace we’ve been given? We are witnesses to the greatest miracle of history, but if we don’t tell anyone, how does the good news spread?

We can not live in our sins or remain in our darkness. But we can never forget the rescue. God no longer holds our sins against us and promises in Hebrews 10:17 (NASB), “…their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” There is a delicate balance between not wallowing in the past and not forgetting where we came from. With God’s help and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we can find that perfect, narrow path.

Only Jesus can save our souls. We can’t, but we must always be ready with a hand to pull someone through those gates, helping them throw off the darkness and step into the light. Never forget each of us has been on the other side of that gate as well.

Let’s Pray: Lord, allow me to use the darkness I’ve been rescued from to bring light to others. I want to be there to share and encourage as we walk this path together. May you use me to help people who suffer, in both body and mind, everywhere I go. 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, February 21, 2020

Devotionals for the Heart: Lessons on learning how to let go of a "Lot"

When you have a “Lot”: Learn how to let go through the story of Abraham

A devotional by Alexis Newlin

“Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed. So Abram went, as the Lord had told him, and Lot went with him.” 
–Genesis 12:1-4a (ESV)

For a long time, I felt very stuck. There were promises that the Lord gave me, yet nothing changed. When I would come to the Lord to ask where He wanted me to go or wanted me to do, He led me to Deuteronomy 34. Moses was soon to die and the Israelites were about to cross over into the promised land. 

During my reading, this verse (Deuteronomy 34:4) stuck out to me: “And the Lord said to him, “This is the land of which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, ‘I will give it to your offspring.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not go over there.”

Then I felt God speak to me saying, “The former things can not come with you to the new place I am taking you.”

At the time, I thought I knew what God was talking about. I thought God was talking about my fear. As the year went on and things started to unravel, I soon learned what God meant. I had to let go of something, and it was very hard. However, as soon as I decided in my heart to let go of that thing, a stronghold was broken and God was able to move more freely in my life. Since letting that thing go, life has been much easier. I’ve received blessing after blessing and received clearer direction for where God wanted me to go and what He had for me.

Later on, while reading Abraham’s story, I realized that all that time, I was holding on to a “Lot.” It blocked me from my blessing! Read Genesis 12:1-4.

God made a huge promise to Abram: He would make him a great nation and bless him. This promise was a big deal; Abram had no offspring, he and his wife Sarai were old, and yet God still had big plans for him. All Abram had to do was to leave everything behind and go where God told him. Abram partially obeyed, bringing Lot with him.

This small detail brought big problems for Abram. There was discord between his workers, (Genesis 13:5-7) and Abram later had to rescue Lot (Genesis 14:8-16).

Keeping his ties to Lot caused more trouble than God intended for him. Abram’s partial obedience was actually disobedience which made it difficult for God to fully bless him.

However, each time Abram decided to separate from Lot, he was blessed. He was given good land and more promises, (Genesis 13:14-18), he was blessed by the high priest Melchizedek (Genesis 14:17-20), his name was changed and he received the blessings and promises of God (Genesis 17:1-8).

When God asks us to let go, the unknown can be scary. We must remember that God knows best and holds our future in His hands. When we let go of what we think is best, it opens the door for God to give us His best.

What are you holding onto?

Author Bio:

Alexis is a 36-year-old lover of Jesus, loose leaf tea, roller coasters, writing stories and going on adventures. Originally from Marietta, GA, Alexis now resides in Fresno, CA. 

You can always find Alexis outdoors enjoying a walk in her neighborhood, scoping out the newest food truck, hanging out with friends or planning her next trip.

Her church, The Revival Center, and family mean the world to her. They have supported her through the loss of her mother and her own cancer diagnosis.

Alexis enjoys encouraging others by reminding them not to look at what they see, but to always look to God, who is working in the unseen.

Alexis currently writes for several online ministries and hopes to launch her first podcast – The Brave Podcast – in January 2020.

Connect with Alexis:

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Devotionals for the Heart: True Love

Deciding to Love

A devotional by Christa MacDonald

“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 (NIV)

The very first novel I wrote I stuck in a drawer, never again to see the light of day. It was a mess, and after trying to fix it I decided it just wasn’t meant to be.

Occasionally, though, one of the scenes will pop into my head like a little echo while I’m writing something else. Often they’re the gems hidden in the dross. That was the case today when I sat down to write this devotional featuring the verse above. In a scene from that ‘lost novel’ a man named Owen is sitting in the office of the church pastor who is attempting a ‘come to Jesus.’ The pastor reads these verses to Owen, who realizes that real love requires sacrifice. Romantic love takes us over in a rush, but the kind of love God calls us to is different. Love is a decision. It’s choosing faith over fear.

In the same scene, the pastor also reads a quote from The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis:

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”

Owen is gutted by these words because he sees that that was what he had been doing to his own heart – walling it off, keeping all emotion at bay so he could function day to day – instead of facing his pain and receiving healing. A heart like that is incapable of love.

There has been a lot written about love, but nothing can match the example of love that Jesus Christ gave when He voluntarily laid down his life for us on the cross. On top of that, He actually bore our sins, which is something that we have no real ability to comprehend.

God’s Word (The Holy Bible) tells us that such a great sacrifice is the foundational truth for our love of other people, considering them more important than ourselves, praying for them, assisting them, and fulfilling God’s command in Scripture that calls us to love our neighbors as ourselves. True love is only truly understood through the revelation of God in the Bible, which calls us to love God first, thus fulfilling the requirements of what love actually is.

To love is to persevere. In marriage, in parenting, even in friendships love is tested. If we truly love, that love goes on. These verses give us the standard and boy is it high. Because love in its true sense comes only from God, it is only through a saving faith in Jesus Christ that it’s even possible to come close to attaining it.

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, February 17, 2020

Devotionals for the Heart: Hope

All-Day Hope

A devotional by Malinda Fugate

Key Scripture:
Psalm 25 and Psalm 26:2-3 (NIV)

“My hope is in you all day long” wrote David in Psalm 25:5. When we begin our day with this scripture, our optimism might overflow. We can step confidently into whatever could happen in the next 24 hours. Bring it on, world!

Then the world does indeed bring it. Coffee gets spilled, arrival to work is late, and financial obligations resume their continual nagging. Our kids have a crisis, our spouse has needs, and our friends call for assistance.

The demands of the day begin to outnumber available minutes and regret over that spilled coffee sets in as energy levels hit new lows. Some days, the big punches roll in: sickness, tragedy, conflict, chronic pain, deferred dreams, or devastating news headlines. By dinner, the hope of the morning has dissipated into survival mode, and at that moment when bedtime pillows and blankets offer comfort, the biggest miracle might be remembering the bright words of the morning psalm. David possibly couldn’t have imagined this day when he penned those verses.

Yet, David’s God-inspired poetry was composed in the midst of attack and escape, times of joy as well as tribulation. His very life was on the line when he found hope in the Lord. How is this possible? How could hope truly last through an entire day that feels like a raging battle?

God doesn’t hand us a dose of hope and then walk away. He doesn’t expect us to get by on a ration of good feelings. Instead, the Lord is with us every step of the way, renewing that hope with every challenge that attempts to knock us off our feet. His very presence within us provides a never-ending supply of hope all day long.

Those challenges that at first appear to oppress us are actually a classroom where God is strengthening us daily. A closer look at Psalm 25:5 reveals a thoughtful beginning: “Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior.” Then we reflect on how our hope is in Him all day long. He guides and instructs us, teaching us His right ways. Each day we grow a little stronger, a little smarter, and filled with a little more of His wisdom. 

Psalm 25:8 reminds us that “good and upright is the Lord,” while Psalm 25:20 reminds us that He guards our life, rescues us, and offers refuge. Because of His faithfulness, we can trust and rely on Him.

This process of His teaching and our reliance generates lasting hope in a cycle that sustains not just our day, but our weeks, months, and years as well.

In Psalm 26:2-3 (NIV), David continues this theme. He says, “Test me, Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness.”

Scripture is full of promises of hope for God’s children, but we would be missing out on great blessings if we overlook the Source of that hope. It’s more than just a positive outlook for the future; it is grace for every moment of our present.

The daily walk alongside the Lord, our Teacher, as He guides us in truth inspires a hope greater than any damage the world’s troubles can inflict. This hope surely will sustain us all day long, no matter what the day might bring.

Author Bio:

Malinda Fugate writes from the heart.

Though she serves full time as the Children’s Education Director at a church in Southern California, she is also a crafter of words published in books, including The Other Three Sixteens (May 2020 release with Ambassador International), Bible Time for Active Kids, which is an activities-based devotional that is available for purchase on Amazon, and The Pen and the Sword: Connecting With the Word of God, which is an interactive creative writing journal.

Malinda earned a communications degree with a theatre emphasis from Azusa Pacific University, then worked behind the scenes at the Los Angeles Salem radio stations, including The Fish and KKLA.

Her writing includes children's faith resources, commercial copywriting, and various faith-based stage and screenplays. Malinda lives by the beach with her pup, Yoshi.

When she's not writing or working at church, she might be creating art, reading, or exploring the many adventures to be found in the Los Angeles area.

Connect with Malinda:

Friday, February 14, 2020

A message, song and e-card for your heart on Valentine's Day 2020!

Dearest of Hearts,

Happy Valentine's Day!

Always remember that YOU are LOVED by the Creator of the Universe (GOD)!

Listen to this song and receive your e-card below. 

God bless you!


Alexis A. Goring
Founder of "God is Love" blog


A song for your heart:


And an e-card to celebrate this special day:

Devotionals for the Heart: Life and Leadership Counsel from a Chaplain

Counsel About Life and Leadership
A devotional by Chaplain Paul Anderson

“Now these be the last words of David. David the son of Jesse said, and the man who was raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel, said, The Spirit of the Lord spake by me, and his word was in my tongue. The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God.” – 2 Samuel 23:1-3 (KJV)

The story of David is instructive about life and leadership. From the story in 1 Samuel 16 about how David was selected and anointed to be King of Israel we can see what he was not. He was not the eldest, nor was he favored by his father among his brothers. In fact, because he was the youngest and was tending sheep in the field, he was not even called in to the assembly meeting with the prophet.

When Samuel saw the first born, Eliab, he thought to himself “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before him.” But God said no. Why? Because “…man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7, ESV). After looking at all of Jesse’s boys, Samuel said, “Is this all you have?” As if to forestall the prophet, Jesse said there is one more, but he is tending the sheep.

As important as sheep were in the agriculture economy of that era, being a shepherd was not a vaunted role. It was a lonely, solitary and wandering job. The shepherds smelled like the sheep.

Nevertheless, David was summoned. Perhaps he had time to hastily bathe and freshen up before coming into the presence of the prophet. Maybe not. If not, can you see the brothers, whom God had not embraced grimace a bit at his odiferous and dirty presence when he came into the tent.

It does not appear that Samuel was offended by the affect of the shepherd boy. Rather, it is recorded that David’s appearance was tanned, he had beautiful eyes and was handsome. According to 1 Samuel 16:12 (ESV), “And the LORD said, Arise, anoint him for this is he.” Samuel ratified David as God’s choice to succeed Saul.

Perhaps David could be characterized as a young man with some bravado. After all, he had killed a lion and a bear, in his youth. We know that the young shepherd, David who became the King, also became a man of rapacious passion. He killed many men and loved many women. Yet, through it all he was chosen by God to be a leader because he had some positive character traits.

In 2 Samuel 9 is the story of the reflective King. After conquering the enemies at the borders and establishing protective garrisons throughout the kingdom, David, now the King, demonstrates the depth and breadth of his character. He asked, “Is there still anyone left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Johnathan’s sake?”

He found Mephibosheth, Johnathan’s crippled son. In spite of his pre-existing condition and inability to work, David honored Mephibosheth’s humanity and promised him security, healthcare and reasonable subsistence for the rest of his life. Hmmm.

Though brutal in combat, his core values for life were kindness, loyalty, grace and generosity. These were the characteristics that made him “a man after God’s own heart” and endeared the nation to him, despite his flaws.

At the end of his life, the king who still enjoyed the company of young women summed up the essence of life and leadership. As happens with most people, knowledge is taught and wisdom is gained experientially through trial and error. David codifies his wisdom in 14 prescient and timeless words: “He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God” (2 Samuel 23:3, KJV).

The English Standard Version (ESV) says it in more cogent and contemporary language. “When one rules justly over men, ruling in the fear of God, he dawns on them like the morning light, like the sun shining forth on a cloudless morning, like rain that makes grass to sprout from the earth…”

As we watch and study leaders and those aspiring to leadership, apply this singular principle. Evaluate the politicians by their characters rather than their gravitas. Look behind the policies, charisma and debating skills. Look for character. Does it align with God’s character and revealed will?

People and nations who ally themselves with righteous leaders prosper.

Take my advice: Seize your responsibility as a citizen and chose leaders who are just and stand right before God.

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 Washington Adventist University in Takoma Park, Md.

He has subsequently earned four graduate degrees: a Master of Divinity from Andrews University in Michigan, a Master of Education in Counseling and Personnel Services from the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland and a Masters of Sacred Theology in Religion and Culture from Boston University. His Doctor of Ministry degree was conferred by Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C.

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

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Author Interview with Courtnaye Richard about her devotional book

Dear Sweet Blogging Friends,

Today, you're in for a special treat!

My blogging friend Courtnaye Richard is here to talk about her NEW book! It's a book filled with weekly devotionals! One devotional for each week of an entire year. The devotionals are not dated, so can read this book any year!

Courtnaye also wants to give away one signed paperback copy of her book! Read the details about that and find out how you can have a chance to win toward the end of this blog post.

God bless you!


Interview with Courtnaye Richard about her book, Inside Out with Courtnaye: 52 Week Devotional: Growing from the Inside Out One Week at a Time

Alexis: Congrats on your new book, Courtnaye! Let’s talk about it.

Courtnaye: Thanks so much Alexis and sure thing!

Alexis: Is this your first devotional book?

Courtnaye: Yep! This is my first devotional.

Alexis: Why did you choose to write a total of 52 devotionals? Explain the significance.

Courtnaye: Honestly, it just came out of nowhere! I was about to write on something else, but then the Lord impressed upon my heart to write a weekly devotional book vs. a daily one. I believe the significance that resonated with me was that we’re all busy, right? Well, at least most of us. So I felt led by the Holy Spirit to write short, weekly devotionals. The goal was instead of a daily devotional, a weekly one just gives us an alternative in the busy culture that we’re currently living in. And not that I’m knocking a “daily” devotional (I have many). However, this was just the direction the Lord was leading me.

Alexis: How did you determine your book’s format and layout (one devotional for each week of the year, then each of the selections such as the Study Guide and God’s Word for You, that are listed within each devotional)?

Courtnaye: It was actually my husband’s idea. Of course, I wanted to do something different than other devotionals that I’ve purchased and seen on bookshelves in stores. So, his suggestion was well-received. Moving forward, the determination was really guided by prayer after that. I prayed about the layout and its monthly topics, and began writing them out. I also wanted women to dive in deeper for personal reflection through the study guide, but also provide monthly topics and scriptures that they could not only do personally, but also use it for monthly small group meetings.

Alexis: What does it mean to “grow from the inside out” and how will your book help readers grow in that way?

Courtnaye: Growing from the inside out is all about loving God from the heart and living the life of Christianity in biblical and practical ways. It’s also about allowing Jesus to change you spiritually, personally, mentally, and emotionally. When we take time praying, reading and studying the Word, we grow. We mature. For the readers, I want them to understand that what we do when no one is watching and as we spend devoted time with God, in return, that inward change will eventually be noticed on the outside for others to glean and grow from as well. It’s the inner work that makes a huge difference in our lives, but also in the lives of those whom we influence for Christ.

Alexis: Tell about your life as a blogger. How and why did you start your blog? Why did you give your blog the name, Inside Out with Courtnaye? What do you want your audience to learn from your posts?

Courtnaye: I’ve been blogging since 2011. I absolutely love writing! With that being said, I was looking for a way to reach more women with the gospel and to help them grow spiritually, personally, and vocationally through the gift of writing. It wasn’t until one day, my husband said, “Why don’t you start blogging?” And I was like, “What? What is that, actually?” That started my research! When I learned all about it, that’s when it all began.

I had no idea that the Lord would use a weekly blog to reach thousands of women across the globe for His glory. He did it! I’m still amazed! I named the blog “Inside Out with Courtnaye” because we’re growing together. We’re in this Christian walk together, as sisters. I’m doing it with you. So, what I want my audience to learn from my posts is to let God change them from the inside out (from the heart and lifestyle). Allow Him to change them through the power of prayer, His Word, the Holy Spirit, godly mentorship, and wholesome fellowship. I love the Bible verse found in Philippians 2:13 (NLT) which says, “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.”

Alexis: Your book title borrows from the name of your blog. Is this like an extension of your blog posts? Why or why not?

Courtnaye: It is actually (chuckling). You know, the Lord inspired me to write each weekly devotional like a blog post. That was His divine instruction. I thought it was for my other book that I’m working on, but I had no idea that He was referring to a brand new project, which is the 52 Week Devotional. Our thoughts and ways are definitely not like His (see Isaiah 55:8). And I’m good with that! Hence, that’s where the title came from. It was derived from my blog in every way!

What is the mission of your blog and how does it carry over into the main message of your devotional book? 

Courtnaye: I would say that the mission is to grow. Let God change you from the inside out. No holding back. Surrender your life to His way and His will. God knows our hearts. Psalm 4:23 (NIV) says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” And it’s so true! Love and evil stems from it. So allowing the Lord to transform us from the inside out, stems from the heart, followed by Christ-like action. My blog and devotional both blend in perfect harmony right there.

Do you have a writing mentor? If so, how did he or she help you become such a good author?

Courtnaye: I’d have to say that my writing mentor is the Holy Spirit. I am truly inspired by the Lord. I actually pray and ask the Holy Spirit to take over my hands as I write. The Bible was God-inspired. Men simply penned it. So when I write my blog or books, I write as I am inspired by the Lord. I literally say, “Lord, you know where your daughters and aspiring daughters are, help me to write what they need to read.” And from there, I trust and lean on Him as I write each post or chapter.

If you could sell your devotional book with just one sentence, what would you say?

Courtnaye: Grab it today from or, because it will definitely begin changing your life one week at a time!

Alexis: Now for the fun and quick questions…Coffee or tea?

Courtnaye: Definitely coffee!

Alexis: Bagels or waffles?

Courtnaye: Waffles.

Alexis: Kindle of paperback?

Courtnaye: Paperback (I like my pen and highlighter). ;-)

Alexis: Who is your favorite author?

Courtnaye: Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

What is your favorite book?

My favorite book is the The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian.

Alexis: What is your favorite season?

Winter, definitely (boots and blankets)!

Alexis: Thanks for the interview Courtnaye! Would you like to share closing thoughts?

Absolutely and thank you Alexis! Let God change you from the inside out, sister! Jesus is coming back soon!

Author Bio:
Courtnaye is the founder of Inside Out with Courtnaye, a ministry that helps women grow in their walk with Christ from the heart and equips them to fulfill their God-given purpose. 

She is also the author of the book, IDENTIFIED: Knowing Who You Are in Christ and Moving Forward in Your Purpose.

Courtnaye is married with three beautiful children and is a contributing writer for, Women’s Ministry Tools, speaker of a host of women’s conferences. Her blog reaches thousands of women across the globe. 

She resides in the beautiful Texas Hill Country (outside of Austin, Texas).

Blurb for Courtnaye's devotional book:

Behold all things are made new! In this 52-week devotional, get ready to grow in your Christian walk one week at a time with influential blogger, author, mentor, and conference speaker, Courtnaye Richard.

Each week, you will be encouraged, challenged, instructed, and equipped through real life topics and practices such as...

  • Spending focused time with God
  • Working well with others in church and at work
  • Trusting God even when you can't see
  • Controlling your emotions from the inside out
  • Setting boundaries in life
  • Self-care principles for Christian women
  • Pressing through fear in life and endeavors
  • And so many more topics
Courtnaye has created this brief, life-changing weekly women's devotional complete with monthly themes, scripture, practical insight, transparency, and a BONUS study guide! 

Choose to do it alone or use it for a small group. It's time to grow from the Inside Out, this week and beyond!

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

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Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Devotionals for the Heart: Greetings

Joyful Greetings
A devotional by Sharon Musgrove

“This letter is from James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. I am writing to the “twelve tribes”—Jewish believers scattered abroad. Greetings!”
– James 1:1 (NLT)

I absolutely love vacationing on the Hawaiian Islands! Sunshine, warm ocean breezes and vibrant blue waters are a soothing balm to my to frazzled mainland soul. Conversely, the zesty pineapple and sweet mango revive my taste buds during winter’s lull in fresh produce at home. It is a sensory feast that contrasts the gray days of home.

While I delight in all the tangibles, it’s the Hawaiian “Spirit of Aloha” that I desire most. This spirit of aloha is a lifestyle of love and unity. The Hawaiian word “Aloha” is associated with “Hello” and “Goodbye,” but also means love, kindness, compassion and grace. So when greeted with, “Aloha,” it is more than an acknowledgment that we see each other. The heart behind the word says, “Friend, together we share the bounty of this earth. I am grateful it is this way. May there be friendship and love between us!”

I want in on that.

It turns out, the early church also had a single word of greeting that included in its meaning, not only love, but the good news of Jesus Christ! This word, “Greetings,” in the Greek, is “chairein,” actually meaning “rejoice!”

My favorite use of this word occurs in James 1:1 (NLT) (italics are mine): “This letter is from James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. I am writing to the “twelve tribes” —Jewish believers scattered abroad. Greetings!”


There are two amazing things about “Rejoice” as a greeting here. First, James describes himself as being a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ ... and he is happy about that! James is writing to Jewish refugees and suggesting joy!

The context of the Jewish people in those days was that they went from being slaves in Egypt to slaves of the Roman Empire (with some rescuing in between). They were accustomed to living in slavery and were desperate for freedom. Not only that, but their own Jewish laws kept them in a state of works-oriented, religious slavery. Ouch and double ouch ouch! 

I relate to living in slavery to the expectations of the culture I reside in. I relate to being tethered to the works mentality and the lies that I must produce to be of value. That’s why I desperately want Hawaii...or frankly, any other culture but the one I feel stuck in!

Secondly, James continues, post-greeting, to encourage believers by suggesting they should consider the trials they continue to encounter as “opportunity for joy.” Wait, what?

According to James 1:2-4 (NLT), he says, “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”

How on earth can I be rejoicing when I feel cut to the bone?

James reminds that while we reside physically in a world that hurts us, God is using that hurt to heal us. When we allow God to work in us, we’re making headway in His Kingdom, rather than squirreling in a cage. Not just for Heaven’s sake, but here on Earth too.

Jesus Christ came to set us free from the law and from living a single life to living an infinite one! To live in Jesus’s name is to live life His way ... happily tethered to good deeds and in love with all life. Unified with God and unified with man. That sounds like paradise! I think I feel the sun and taste pineapple on my lips! 

Apparently, I forgot the culture my faith brought me.

What if we change our greeting? What if we lead with a salutation that is encouraging, both to ourselves and our neighbors? A salutation that reminds the truth of the Spirit of God? Would you see rainbows on your dreary days?

Let me be the first. Friend, rejoice!

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, February 10, 2020

Devotionals for the Heart: For the Lonely on Valentine's Day

Rejected Love

A devotional by Wade Webster

And the LORD said to Samuel: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king.” 
–1 Samuel 8:7 (NIV)

The season of love is upon us. At least that's what Valentine's Day means to many folks. But for some of us it's just another day, or one we'd rather skip altogether.

I remember vividly the day of April 14, 2015. I had to have my wife sign our tax forms for what would be the last time we filed jointly. She had moved out over a year prior to this. I was doing my best to pursue her to no avail. Divorce was imminent even though there were no biblical grounds for it. I did the best I could to offer my love to her. I couldn't force her to accept it.

A month and a half earlier I gave a eulogy at my mom's funeral for my six siblings. It was excruciating. I had to hold off my remorse while I traveled from Texas back to Michigan. Then while I prepared my talk. I finally found a moment of semi-solitude in the church during the viewing before the funeral service. The tears and anguish flowed for the woman who gave me life and then devoted her life to her seven kids and her husband who passed on eleven years before her.

I went for a stroll in my neighborhood that evening after I talked to my wife. Grief was mounting again from this loss. This loss that seemed so unfair and unnecessary. Fortunately, I was next to a wooden fence when the grief wave struck. I leaned into the barrier and let the tears flow. They tasted just like the ones at my mom's funeral.

I knew God was with me, as he always is. When I walked a half a block away a thought struck me so I asked God a question. “Is this what you feel like when somebody rejects you?”

The prophet Samuel felt this same rejection when the Hebrews requested a king to replace him. The sting was personal until God assured him that it wasn't directed at Samuel but God himself. When we tell others about the amazing gift God offers through his Son, Jesus Christ, don't take it personally when they reject it. It's not you they're rejecting. They're rejecting God.

For those of you who have a special someone in your life, enjoy this time of love like there's no tomorrow, because there might not be one. Also keep in mind those of us traveling alone at this time in our lives. We long for love, too.

The sting of rejection and loss can be unbearable at times. Give us some encouragement by letting us know we're still important to you. Give us some of your time. Pray for us to draw closer to God during this test in our lives.

Author Bio: 

Wade Webster lives with is best friend (Jesus Christ) in Plano, Texas. 

His main source of income comes from driving trucks. 

He has a part-time job painting houses on the side...and the front and back and inside. 

He's the author of a book titled 100 Prayers of a Writer.

Connect with him via his official website,

Friday, February 7, 2020

Devotionals for the Heart: Perfection

So, Your Family Isn’t Perfect?
A devotional by Wendy Wilson Spooner

“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” –Colossians 3:13 (NIV)

Sometimes families are difficult. For some of us, it’s all the time. But Christ asks us to learn to forgive. And families are the perfect place to practice forgiveness.

It’s easy to watch happy families surrounding us and forget that we each have familial secrets and challenges.

When we think about Christ’s family—his mother, Mary, his divine Father and his earthly father, Joseph, it’s easy to see perfection. But our Savior’s earthly ancestry was anything but perfect.

Christ descends through King David, who slew Goliath and started out pretty flawless. David was descended from Boaz and Ruth—widowed Ruth who moved to Bethlehem with her beloved Mother-in-law and then married her second husband, Boaz.

Boaz was the son of Rahab, who was a Canaanite and harlot. But Rahab hid the Israelite spies and was spared when the city of Jericho fell. Rahab was saved because of her faith, and her family was spared because of her good deeds.

Rahab’s husband was Salmon, descended from Judah the son of Jacob. But Salmon was not descended from Judah’s wife but through the line of Tamar, who was the widow of both Judah’s eldest and second sons. Judah should have offered his third eldest son to take Tamar to wife. But he did not. So, Tamar dressed as a veiled prostitute, and not knowing, Judah hired her. After this encounter, Tamar gave birth to twins.

It’s through this line that Jesus Christ descends from King David and Bathsheba. Bathsheba, whose husband King David arranged to be killed in battle. David, who wrote Psalms to the Lord and was promised the Messiah would be born through his lines. David, who forfeited his exaltation because he coveted another man’s wife.

Bathsheba had no choice but to marry King David after her husband was killed. She then became the mother of wise King Solomon—an influencer of Kings.

Jesus’ earthly ancestry was full of people who committed great sins and made mistakes. But he also had ancestors who experienced terrific pain through no fault of their own, like Ruth and Bathsheba.

If you find yourself discouraged that your family is problematic and inadequate, well, so was our Savior’s family. But because of Him, we can learn to forgive and be reconciled to God—to be saved, because He’s already forgiven us of our sins and asks us to do the same.

And He’s here to help us, especially when it’s painfully hard.

If Christ could forgive those who spit on him, whipped him, betrayed him, and crucified him, surely, there is hope for us to forgive difficult family members. And we can learn to do this by leaning on Jesus.

Because of Him, even in imperfect families, we can experience moments of perfection.

And so, your family isn’t perfect? Well, no one’s is. And that’s ok. Because what we learn from and amid imperfection, will one day lead to our perfection in Jesus Christ.

Author Bio:

Wendy is a professional Genetic Genealogist by day, a writer by night, and an artist in between.

Her first book, Once Upon an Irish Summer, is a YA crossover historical fiction novel, the first in a trilogy, traditionally published by Ambassador International, set to release on 
April 3, 2020 in five countries.

Wendy’s love of history compels her to write the true stories she unearths during her research, and she’s found that truth is indeed, stranger, and way more exciting than fiction. 

Wendy writes about family, faith, grief, art, and overcoming the obstacles in life by coming to know who we really are—a child of God, and, the descendant of incredible people who paved the way for us to have the lives we have now—even if they really struggled. She believes in learning from ancestors, honoring them, and then standing on their shoulders to become someone even better.

Wendy is an award-winning author of professional articles and poems, who turned to novel writing to share what she knows with more people.

To learn more about Wendy, her interests, and writing, visit her website at

Connect with Wendy:

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Devotionals for the Heart: God's Grace

What Grace Is Not
A devotional by Allison M. Wilson

Key Scripture: Romans 6:23, Proverbs 6:16-19, Proverbs 27:17 (NASB)

There’s a movement in the world of believers, which is greatly troubling. It’s a passive acknowledgment that there is sin in our lives, but it’s not a “big” one, so it really doesn’t need to be addressed. As if there is some hierarchy to sin which makes one worse than another, we ignore the “little” sins. The “little white lie” to spare someone’s feelings, or the gossip which is couched as concern and prayer requests. Sometimes even the “big” ones are covered over in the name of grace.

God says sin, not based on the level in our human minds, is all bad. Take Romans 6:23, for example. Scripture says, “For the wages of sin is death…” which seems like pretty strong language. There isn’t anything here that says one sin is better or worse than another. Is there such a place in the Scriptures?

Well, we see in Proverbs 6:16-19, there are six things the Lord hates, and seven which are an abomination to Him. Perhaps these are the “biggies” we should avoid? But, what about the Ten Commandments? Those must be important since He gave them to Moses on tablets to keep with the Ark of the Covenant while they wandered around the wilderness for four decades.

What did Jesus say about those ten, though? He said things like, if you even hate your brother, it’s as if you have committed murder in your heart. Or, if you look lustfully at someone, it’s as if you have committed adultery. So, even those first ten He gave aren’t the full depths of what sin is. How are we supposed to know what is a “big” sin and what is a “little” sin? Where is the line?

The reality is that there is NO line. All sin is bad. Period. My little white lie put Jesus on the cross just as much as a serial killer’s murdering did. Jesus died for ALL sin. He didn’t die a smaller amount for what we humans want to trivialize. He died a horrible death, endured suffering of which we cannot even fathom, to take the sins of the world away. When we ignore sin in our own lives, we ignore what He did for us.

What is Jesus calling out in you today? Is there something in your life you know, in your Spirit, is not right, yet, you’ve allowed the enemy to deceive you into believing it’s not a huge deal? Is there something He’s asked you to speak up about in someone else’s life, yet you’ve avoided it, because it’s too uncomfortable a conversation? 

I’m not saying you are the Holy Spirit, and should be going around pointing out everyone’s wrongs. However, we, believers, have stayed silent about too many harmful behaviors within the body of Christ, and then we wonder why we’re the walking wounded. Too many are enslaved by behaviors that are killing their spirits, and we sit silent in fear. Has Christ called on you to be the iron to sharpen another’s iron? (Proverbs 27:17)

You’ve likely heard the following phrases. Hurting people hurt people. Damaged people do damage. Another phrase God’s been developing in me lately is that healed people heal people. If the enemy has you in bondage to a sin, you are less likely to be able to help someone else who needs freedom.

Grace doesn’t ignore sin. It says sin is there, but there’s a Savior Who has conquered the consequences of it for you…DEATH. Grace is Jesus taking on my sin, before I even knew what sin was, and putting it to death so I might live sin free. Oh, what amazing grace that is!

Let’s Pray: Lord Jesus, I do not want to make Your sacrifice less than it was. I want the sinless life You died to give me. Show me the places where sin still has a hold on me, and give me the strength, through the power of Your death and resurrection, to put it away from me. Thank You for loving me when I was so unlovable. In the holy name of Christ, 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 8 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: