Monday, July 31, 2023

Devotionals for the Heart: Rest

We Need Rest
A devotional by Heidy De La Cruz

The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” 
–Exodus 33:14 (NIV)

As I was preparing to write this devotional, I kept thinking of different topics to address, and then I remembered that lately, I’ve been seeing “rest” or hearing about people taking time to rest.

There is a writer I follow who is taking a sabbatical for July. There is a Christian author and podcaster who is removing the Instagram app from her phone for the month of July to rest from social media. And a friend recently sent me a video on Instagram about the importance of rest. So, I started thinking, is God trying to tell me something?

Scripture talks about rest in different areas of the Bible. We know Jesus rested plenty of times during his time on Earth, and He even told his disciples to rest too. Let’s read Mark 6:31 (NIV): “Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

As I mentioned, the concept of rest has been arising these past few days, so I’ve decided to organize my side-projects/business schedule and intentionally included two days out of the week to rest. My schedule will now look like this (outside my daily work schedule, by the way): On Mondays, I’ve declared my writing days. Whatever project, article, newsletter post, devotional, or client work I need to write will be done on Mondays. Tuesdays are dedicated to promoting my podcast. Wednesday is for the internship I’m currently doing, Thursday is a rest day, Friday is for editing my podcast, Saturday is a rest day, and Sunday is content creation day for the week.

Building or running a business, building a brand, podcasting, and writing takes a lot of energy, and our bodies get tired. We must remind ourselves to take a break, rest, and recharge. Our bodies need it! And if we don’t, our bodies will force us to take a break. We must follow the examples God gave us.

My encouragement today for you is to reevaluate your schedule. Check if you have rest intentionally scheduled in your calendar and if not, schedule it. We cannot always be on “go mode” because we’ll burn ourselves out. So, make sure you spend time resting!

Let’s Pray: Heavenly Father, I thank you for all the eyes reading this today. I pray that if there is anyone who may need rest, they are encouraged to rest today. Lord, thank you for our bodies, our gifts, and the talents that you have provided. Thank you that you’ve made rest for our bodies to recharge so we can continue the good work. I thank you so much for everyone reading this, and I pray that they find the rest they need. In Jesus’s Name, we pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection: “Be Still My Soul (In You I Rest)” by Kari Jobe. Listen to it here.

Author Bio:

Heidy De La Cruz is daughter of Christ, a wife, and a mother. 

She writes poetry and encouraging spiritual blog posts.

Heidy shares her faith and life in hopes of encouraging women. She hosts the podcast, "The American Dream in The Eye of Immigrants" where immigrants share their stories about moving to the United States of America.

Heidy holds a master's degree in Healthcare Administration and bachelor's degree in Psychology. She works as a Medical Coding Specialist.

In her free time she enjoys reading, listening to podcasts, watching movies, and spending time with her husband and two kids.

Connect with Heidy:

Friday, July 28, 2023

Devotionals for the Heart: God's Grace

God Promises to Give You Grace
A devotional by Essie Faye Taylor

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness.”–2 Corinthians 12:9 (CSB)

I sat quietly in disbelief after receiving the news that three people in my life were now deceased. Two men of faith who mentored me for decades, suddenly fell asleep (they died). A younger cousin, who I'd seen just months prior, was suddenly taken from our midst.

My heart ached, but the tears would not come. Death can be unexpected and sudden. I felt as if I’d been punched in my gut and the wind was knocked out of me because this pain caught me off guard. There was nothing I could do about this loss. I was emotionally and physically exhausted from fighting in this game called life. I was working two jobs in order to provide for my family and still I was barely making ends meet. I was overwhelmed to say the least and I cried out to God, “Lord, help! This is too much to bear.”

If we are honest, as Christians, we find ourselves at a place of overwhelm a lot. Life throws us curveballs, monkey wrenches, and game-changers unexpectedly. We are oftentimes faced with seemingly insurmountable obstacles. This is a part of our faith walk. Our faith does not make us exempt from the adversity of life. However, our faith sustains us as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death. The Bible says we should not fear evil because God is with us! This truth is tested when we are in the valley because it is then when we experience feelings of despair, loneliness, depression, anxiety, doubt, pain, anguish. We feel defeated as we struggle to walk through the valley. However, we can find solace in the fact that God is with us. He is present to console us, guide us, and provide for us in that place of hardship.

In 2 Corinthians 12:6-9, Paul finds himself in an unfortunate situation. He sought the Lord diligently multiple times, asking God to remove a thorn from Him. He uses a thorn to express a point of extreme difficulty, pain, complexity, and/or controversy. According to three Old Testament scriptural references (Numbers 33:55, Joshua 23:13 and Judges 2:3), Paul’s “thorn” was a demonic angel or messenger sent by Satan to continually stir up persecution against him.

It is documented throughout the book of Acts that virtually everywhere Paul visited, he was persecuted. 2 Corinthians 11:23-26 details his experience. According to this scripture, Paul testifies that he was imprisoned for the sake of the Gospel several times, beaten, and had near death experiences as he spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Five times he received thirty-nine lashes and a beating from the Jews. He was beaten with rods three times and pelted with stones. He was shipwrecked three times and spent time in the open sea. He was constantly on the run from people who wanted to harm him. His life was full of persecution, but this was God’s plan for Paul. Remember: Jesus prophesied that Paul would suffer many things for the sake of Christ at his conversion on the road to Damascus.

After seeking God to take this burden away, God responds by promising His grace. God doesn’t remove Paul’s “thorn”. Instead, He gave him the strength to endure it. Grace is the God-given ability to do what God requires. Grace is giving us what we don’t deserve: ability to conquer and overcome. God enables us to do what we cannot, within our own power. The grace of God is sufficient–it is enough for us to endure hardness as a good soldier.

God promises grace over our lives every day so we can navigate life’s hard situations. The Bible says His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23) and that He is always with us (Matthew 28:20). Not only is God with us, He enables us to stand in the face of adversity even when it feels like our knees will buckle. And if our knees buckle, we can find grace, mercy, and help at His throne. When we are weak, He is strong. In essence, we find our strength through our relationship with God. We lean on the strength of an all-powerful God and our character is perfected. In our weakness, we discover His power and greatness as we walk through life’s valleys. We grow to know and love Him more deeply in trying times and we are better for it.

We can do difficult things and overcome obstacles through the power of Christ.

Call to Action:

1. Acknowledge your true feelings. It’s okay not to be okay. Take that overwhelm, anger, frustration, etc. to God. He is able to accept anything you bring to Him. He can handle your anger, frustration, and pain. Give it all to Him and exchange them for His grace.

2. Face the situation head on. Know that you have sufficient grace to stand firm by faith in the midst of any difficulty. God is with you. 

3. Lean into God’s presence. Find solace in His presence through prayer, mediation, praise, and worship. Even silence, when you don’t have the words, allows you to tap into God’s presence. 

4. Believe that God enables you to accomplish what He requires. If you need to grieve properly, forgive, confess, repent and change your lifestyle, it may not be easy. But God will empower you through His grace to do it. It may be difficult, but it is possible.

5. Remember: All things are possible to him who believes. God’s grace is enough and by faith through grace He equips us to address whatever life brings our way.

Let’s Pray:
Heavenly Father, I thank You for Your grace that is enough for me. It is enough to sustain and comfort me when I’m in a state of overwhelm, sadness, hopelessness, and despair. You enable me to stand by grace and in faith when life hits hard. When misfortune catches me unaware, I am not alone. You are with me and You are not caught off guard. You know the ending from the beginning and You know the way that I take. Help me to believe in the power and presence of Your grace in every circumstance I find myself experiencing. Thank you, Father, for hearing and answering my prayers. In the name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection:
“Were It Not For Grace” by Larnelle Harris. Listen to it here.

Author Bio:

Essie Taylor is an author, educator, minister, youth advocate, recording artist, podcaster, and improviser. She earned a Bachelor of Arts from Northwestern University and a Master of Arts in Teaching from Rockford College. 

She is a veteran educator of Bilingual Education, English as a Second Language, and Spanish Language Acquisition with National Board Teacher Certification. She is an advocate of lifelong learning, language learning, and multiculturalism.

Essie is the CEO of KenMar Press, an author agency, and The Essie Faye Collection. Essie is the author of Finding the Love You Deserve: 30 Lessons in Self-Love & Acceptance, and Finding The Love Your Deserve: A 60-Day Healing Journal For Women of Faith.

She is deeply committed to motivating minorities, women, and youth to pursue God while chasing their dreams and carving out their life’s path. She loves God, people, and helping others.

Essie has been a Christian for nearly all of her 39 years. She was born again at 15 years old. She has been a bilingual worship leader and interpreter for 10+ years. By the grace of God, Essie helped to establish bilingual ministries at five churches in her young life. She is a survivor of domestic violence (verbal and emotional abuse) and marital abandonment in a prior marriage.

Essie is a Chicago native. She lives in Chicago with her husband Donald Taylor II.

Connect with Essie:

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Devotionals for the Heart: The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure

Hidden Treasure
A devotional by Tessa Huckstep

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.”
–Matthew 13:44 (NIV)

Sometimes, Christianity can seem radical.

I have witnessed Christians who radically turn their life upside down once they accept Jesus Christ into their heart and life. The shift is often drastic and may even appear to be crazy to those who have not yet met our Lord and Savior, Jesus, personally. But no matter how many times I witness this radical shift, I can feel the excitement and freedom that these new Christians are experiencing for the first time in their life. They have found a hidden treasure, reserved only for those who put their trust in Jesus Christ.

But this treasure is not really hidden. This treasure also has no limits. Every person who has ever lived could take this treasure and no one would have to go without. The moment someone finds this treasure, they understand what the man in the verse shared above for this devotional understood: This treasure is worth selling everything for. If you have experienced this treasure, you know that the treasure refers to Jesus Christ and His gift of eternal life.

I smile even now as I remember the day I found this treasure. However, we are not limited to finding this treasure only once. We always smile and enjoy hearing the stories of new Christians, but we often forget that we too have treasure to find. Yes, we have accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior and we are on our way to Heaven, but our treasure does not end there.

Just like the treasure in the verse above, our treasure is often hidden. It is something that we cannot see or touch, but we know it is there. Our treasure is not money, fame, or influence. Our treasure is our relationship with Jesus Christ. A relationship with Jesus Christ is worth selling all our worldly possessions for. He is worth getting rid of our pride, selfishness, and personal desires. Having an intimate and personal relationship with our Creator is the most beautiful treasure we could possess in this life.

Have you forgotten about the treasure in the field? Are you holding onto the things of the world instead of selling everything for a relationship with Jesus Christ? Jesus Christ is the great Treasure of the Christian life, dear reader. He is worth every sacrifice that you give of yourself. Trust Him wholly and find your treasure in Him.

Let’s Pray:
Dear Lord, thank You for offering Yourself as the greatest gift. Please help us to see that a relationship with You is all the treasure we need. Grant us the radical faith to leave the world behind and trust only in You. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection:
“Treasure” by Meredith Andrews. Listen to it here.

Author Bio:

Tessa Huckstep grew up in rural Illinois. She was born to Christian parents and has known Jesus Christ personally since the age of five.

Currently, Tessa is attending community college and majoring in elementary education. In the future, she plans to teach in the public school system, hoping to bring the love of God with her.

Tessa enjoys being active in her local church. She serves as a co-teacher for the two-to-five year old class where there is never a dull moment.

It is Tessa’s passion to be a girl after God’s own heart and through her studying of God’s Word, Tessa longs to draw closer to her Savior. Through her writing, she longs to take others with her on this journey of faith.

Tessa loves all things Regency, needlework, and dainty teacups of every size.

When she isn’t writing or studying for exams, she can be found in the kitchen with more flour in her hair and on the floor than in the bowl, though the mess is always half the fun!

Connect with Tessa:

Monday, July 24, 2023

Devotionals for the Heart: Reasons why God's Word is sweeter than honey

Sweeter than Honey

A devotional by Kerry Sue Teravskis

“They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb.”—Psalm 19:10 (NIV)

The weather was perfect. Not too hot, slightly breezy, and wispy clouds floating across the sky.

A patch of volunteer purple and white larkspur, delightful as these self-propagate; bring joy and provide seeds for next year, wave in the breeze, near our patio and walkway to the barn. It was just the right spot to enjoy them for the month they are in bloom.

While sitting in a chair on the lawn one particular morning, I began to take in my surroundings. Glancing over to the larkspur patch and I noticed three large bumblebees. These seemingly too-heavy-to-fly black and yellow balls of fluff and wings were weaving in and out of the blossoms. Because of their enormous size, each time they dipped into a blossom to gather nectar, the entire stem would bend over.

They would linger just a moment to gather the sweetness of provision and move on to the flower next door. On and on they went. Methodical, peaceful, intentional. One after another, and even crisscrossing each other. They drank in and kept going.

David wrote that God’s Word is sweeter than honey. This verse was flittering through my mind as I watched those bumblebees. Do I devour Scripture like they devour nectar?

Do I bury my face and even my whole body, into the Word of God, savor it and move onto another passage and do the same? Do I stay in the same patch of flowers, so to speak, so I gain all the goodness of God which awaits me? Do I recognize everything I need can be found in Jesus?

Let’s read John 6:68 (NLT), “Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life.”

The disciples were onto something. Crowds were everywhere, temptations abounded, doubt was real. But they went to Jesus Christ, the Author of their newfound faith. Peter stated they believed (John 6:69) in God’s Son (Jesus), so why would they go anywhere else?

Why would they go to another patch of flowers, so to speak, if what they needed was right in front of them? So true.

Those bumblebees stayed and are still there as I write this devotional. They continue to drink in the sweet nectar of God’s provision for them. It’s as if they can’t get enough, so they linger. The disciples chose to do the same. The leaders of Judaism questioned them and Jesus, but these men knew in Whom to believe, so they fiercely held on to Him.

What about you and your circumstances? Are you drinking in from the Word of God every day, or do you fly by, hoping to grab a snack? Does your walk with Jesus feel without flavor or sweetness? Are you finding it to be true that when you do not pray, thank, and give your worries over to God, peace is elusive?

Let’s read Philippians 4:6 (NLT): “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.”

Worry robs us. It’s as if we left the door of our heart open so worry does not even have to struggle with the lock or dead bolt. We give it easy access, and then don’t fight back. We get paralyzed, even more fearful, and instead of taking every thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:5), we begin wringing our hands in earnest. We buzz around–flitting from one thing to another.

May I make a suggestion?


Be at rest.

Do what you are made to do, which is to worship God and Him only. The bumblebee is meant to drink deeply of flowers, gather pollen from that flower to spread it to the next, thereby pollenating other flowers for future crops. It does not do anything else. No worry, no pretending to be a bird, a cat nor mankind. It does not fret about tomorrow, nor the next minute.

It peacefully and slowly zooms into one blossom, drinks deeply, then casually moves on. And on. And on. Endlessly.

Can we take a lesson in this? Can we learn God’s Word is indeed sweeter than honey? It is our daily bread. It sustains us and gives us hope, and more importantly, points us to God our Father.

Let’s Pray: Father God, I need You and only You. I want to find my rest, my hope and my daily bread in You. Please forgive me for getting distracted, giving up or not even trying to begin with. Help me Lord, to go to You first, be in Your Word, to be thankful, give You my cares, and trust You. May Your peace wash over me, as You promised. I will hold onto You and believe. In the Name of Your Son, Jesus, I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection: “To Worship You I Live” by Israel & New Breed. Listen to it here.

Author Bio:

As a wife and Marmee to three adult children and one brand new daughter-in-love, Kerry Sue’s life is very full. She met her husband in college and served in the mission field with him for a few years before settling down back in the United States of America to raise their family.

Kerry Sue’s family was a homeschooling family for 20 years and they enjoyed it immensely. For the last 23 years they have lived on a small farm in Northern California where they have raised many farm animals, along with growing and preserving their food. Kerry Sue’s family farm has been a great source of enjoyment and a place to host many family gatherings. She maintains an open-door policy for dear friends—old and new.

Following and serving Jesus Christ is an integral part of Kerry Sue’s life as well as her family’s.

Whether it’s singing in our church choir, teaching children or leading and lecturing at a women’s Bible study, Kerry Sue loves to demonstrate her love for Jesus by giving to Him in service. She’s been a blogger for more than eight years, a Bible study writer for two years, and a devotional writer for about one year.

Kerry Sue writes about finding God’s Sovereignty in our pain and suffering.

Connect with Kerry:

Friday, July 21, 2023

Devotionals for the Heart: Why we need to forgive everyone who hurt us

Why We Need to Forgive
A devotional by Hannah Benson

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”—Ephesians 4:32 (ESV)

Have you ever been hurt?

If you’ve lived on this Earth for any amount of time, then you’ve probably been wounded in some way. Maybe you’ve been hurt by the words of a friend or their inconsiderate actions. Maybe you were hurt physically. Maybe they meant to hurt you.

Maybe they didn’t.

Either way, you know what I’m talking about. Pain is not fun, especially when it’s caused by another person. Maybe we feel like we were in the right, and they’re the ones who need to apologize. Maybe that’s true. Maybe we did nothing wrong. Maybe, in cases such as abuse, we are the victim. Or maybe we’re seeing the speck in their eye while completely avoiding the log in our own (Matthew 7:3-5). God calls us to forgive one another as Jesus Christ forgave us.


When we really think about it, we have no right to withhold forgiveness from someone. No matter how wronged we’ve been, no one could ever hurt us as deeply as our sins have hurt Jesus. He suffered in every way we do (I would say even more so) and never sinned.

Jesus was unjustly accused. He was beaten. His flesh was torn, and they crucified Him for a crime that He didn’t commit. Even when He was unjustly treated, He did not defend Himself, but He stayed silent. And He forgave them.

Even if we weren’t there physically spitting in Jesus’s face or mocking Him, we have still sinned, and our sins hurt Him. The Bible says in Romans 3:23 (ESV), “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

But Jesus still chose to die for us. Romans 5:8 (ESV) says, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Even when we were at our worst, Jesus loved us. Jesus, the perfect Son of God, chose to die for us even though we didn’t deserve it.

Why then would we withhold that same forgiveness from others?

Forgiveness is hard. And what do we do if the other person doesn’t even ask for it? It is a truly humbling experience to forgive when the other person doesn’t ask. Maybe they were right to begin with and we must humbly realize our error. Or maybe they are truly wrong, but they still think they’re right. It’s not about right or wrong anymore, is it?

I heard once that we don’t forgive for their sake. We forgive for our own. It’s true because holding on to bitterness and anger will only serve to make us bitter and angry. We should not want that to happen to us! As difficult as it is to forgive, we must. Not simply for the sake of the other person, but so that we may find freedom. Sometimes, we also must forgive ourselves. Is there something that you are angry at yourself for? Do you blame yourself for something that happened this morning? A long time ago?

Dear friend, choose to forgive yourself. Jesus forgave you. He proved it when He shed His blood for you on the Cross as stated in John 3:16 and Ephesians 1:7. Therefore, you must also choose to forgive yourself. Jesus didn’t die so you would live enslaved by unforgiveness, bitterness and anger. He wants you to live in freedom!

Do you think that choosing to forgive the other person and yourself will bring about the freedom your heart longs for? I believe it will because the Bible says so, and forgivness has set me free too!

Let’s Pray:
Dear Father God, I know that You forgive me for all my sins. You proved it when You sent Your Son to die on that cross for me. Please forgive me for withholding forgiveness from others. They are sinners, as am I. You have died for them, as You have me. You love us all. Please help me to forgive others and even myself as You have forgiven me. Thank You for giving me freedom. Please help me learn to walk in it. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection: “Forgiveness” by Matthew West. Listen to it here.

Author Bio:

Hannah Benson is a Jesus-follower who’s passionate about sharing the love of Christ with others. 

From the time she could hold a pen, she was writing. But it wasn’t until she was sixteen that she began to seriously follow God’s calling to write a novel. Hannah is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and has at least four novels in the works. For the past five years, she has been involved with her local Biblical theater company. She wants to show others the love of Jesus through the creative arts.

When she’s not acting or working on her upcoming novel, you can find Hannah laughing with her siblings, cuddling her little fluffy dog, or reading books (usually historical fiction or fantasy stories). You can read more of Hannah’s writings on her blog or on her Instagram where she strives to write content that leaves others feeling encouraged.

Connect with Hannah:

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

My Review of "Eleanor's Bench" (NEW series available on Pure Flix)

My Review of "Eleanor’s Bench" (NEW series on Pure Flix):

Today, I have another review for you and a giveaway contest at the end of this post! In case you didn’t know, Pure Flix is like the faith-based version of Netflix. It works the same way the difference is in the content that points you back to Jesus Christ and shows you how much The Creator of the Universe loves you!

Pure Flix is a one-stop shop for faith and family-friendly movies and shows where you can confidently stream in your home with the entire family. With new premium and exclusive original entertainment choices every week, Pure Flix streaming service has the largest variety of high-quality, curated, positive, encouraging, wholesome movies, series and kids' content in one service. Pure Flix is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sony Pictures Entertainment, alongside AFFIRM Films.

Pure Flix VIP Ambassador program asked me to review Episode 5 of the “Eleanor’s Bench” series. Here’s the main idea for this series, according to PureFlix:
“Eleanor Thomas’s success as a Washington DC juvenile court judge is challenged when her inner-city past comes to court and demands more than judgment, prompting her to return to her impoverished neighborhood of youth. Will her renewed sense of purpose reinvigorate her faith?”

“We Can’t Change the Past” was the title of Episode 5. According to PureFlix, this is the summary of that episode: “Eleanor is crushed by the weight of what’s currently happening with Jewels and how she feels personally responsible. She begins to have nightmares and episodes of panic and anxiety that cripple her. Racked with guilt, Eleanor doesn’t know if she can forgive herself for the missed time she didn’t spend taking care of Jewels. In moving forward and healing from past wounds, we must accept that we cannot change the actions and decisions we made in the past. It’s easy to let our minds endlessly replay what happened and all the ways we would change it. But, we can’t do that. Replaying the past over again in our minds isn’t healthy—spiritually or mentally. God doesn’t want us to be stuck on one thing we cannot change. He wants to help us learn how to accept it, ask for forgiveness and be renewed by His mercy and grace.”

Now for my review: 

I watched this riveting episode before it was made available for viewing on Pure Flix. It compelled me to care so much about the characters and be invested in the storyline. The acting captivated my attention to the point where I wasn’t ready for the cliffhanger at the end. I thought it would go on for another hour. All of this made me eager to know how the story ends.

Promotional copy from PureFlix says: “Eleanor’s Bench” is full of important lessons about following God’s calling, practicing self-control, learning from your past and discovering that we are enough and deserving of God’s love.

I completely agree. There are so many powerful life lessons packed into this episode and I’d say every episode in this series. It’s like PureFlix put you in a classroom to learn about life, faith, hope, forgiveness and God. This series doesn’t shy away from tackling tough topics that many people have faced or will face in life. I like how they used faith in God as the Guiding Light that points people to True North and leads them home. This world may not be safe but we are always safe in the arms of God who created this world. Ultimately, I’d say this series is about growing closer to God and helping Him help you navigate the twists and turns of life on Earth.

Karen Abercrombie played the starring role as Judge Eleanor. Abercrombie’s light as a believer in Jesus Christ, and her skills as an actress who fully immerses herself in a character, shone bright as the sun through this entire series! I was delighted to see that the casting director chose Cameron Arnett to be Abercrombie’s co-star! I remember his role in another series on PureFlix called “Saved by Grace” where he played the angel Jeremiah. However, in “Eleanor’s Bench” he played Reginald (her old friend from the old neighborhood). Arnett’s acting skills are superb!

Themes of this episode included:
· We are forgiven and need to forgive others
· It’s never too late to make a change or follow through on a commitment

"Eleanor’s Bench" is a series that will introduce you to Pure Flix, prompt you to join and watch it again and again! And once you’re a member of Pure Flix, you’ll find more content to view that will encourage your heart. So don’t delay, join today!

Watch the official trailer for Eleanor’s Bench on Pure Flix:

Jean Thomason of Momentum Influencers sat down with the stars of “Eleanor's Bench”, Karen Abercrombie and Cameron Arnett to talk! Watch the interview here.

Visit Eleanor’s Bench series page on Pure Flix for more wonderful features:

Recommended Reading from Pure Flix that’s inspired by the series:

“10 Bible Verses About Family”

“5 Healing Prayers for Forgiveness”

“Six Powerful Prayers for God’s Protection and Safekeeping”

Before you go, enter this contest for your chance to WIN a FREE 3-month Pure Flix subscription! Note: This giveaway is limited to U.S. residents only. The giveaway starts today and ends on July 20, 2023. If you're participating in the giveaway for "Eleanor’s Bench", please note that we cannot accept winners that have won a Pure Flix subscription in the last six months.

Here is the Giveaway Contest link:

Many thanks to Pure Flix for providing a sample of the product for this review. Opinions are 100% my own.

#EleanorsBenchMIN #PureFlix #PureFlixVIPAmbassador #MomentumInfluencerNetwork

Devotionals for the Heart: How to trust God in turbulent times

Learning How to Trust God in Turbulent Times
A devotional by Sarah Cole

“Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress. He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven.” 
–Psalm 107:28-30 (NIV)

My love-hate relationship with airplanes started when I experienced turbulence for the first time.

My father traveled for work, and he occasionally took me to exotic destinations. One year we boarded the company jet and headed to Hawaii. As the plane reached cruising altitude, the change in pressure gave me the worst earache imaginable. I shrieked, and my mother told me to yawn or chew gum, but nothing helped. Over the loudspeaker, the pilot said we were flying through a thunderstorm and were in for a bumpy ride for the next ten minutes. Though my father reassured me it would soon be over, I sobbed and clutched the armrests until we landed.

As we left the airport, the warm sunshine and tropical breeze caressed my skin. Towering palm trees swayed, and a Hawaiian woman welcomed me with a floral necklace. Once I arrived in paradise, I suddenly forgot about my pain.

When a turbulent situation threatens our security, and everything we do to alleviate our pain fails, our priority is usually surviving the next ten minutes. But as powerless as storms make us feel, they don’t surprise God (1 Peter 4:12). He's taken weary travelers through the worst of weather, so we can trust Him to help us too.

I can only guess what makes you hold on for dear life today. Maybe your boss handed you a pink slip after thirty years. Maybe your troubled teen's latest outburst troubles your sleep. Maybe a diagnosis has shattered your hopes and dreams, leaving you devastated.

The truth is that unless we trust Someone greater than ourselves to help us survive the world's chaos, we will clutch the armrests of the world in the vain hope of finding relief.

Friend, Jesus Christ is greater than the storm you're facing. He knows it’s more than you can handle. And while He never promised a smooth ride through this life (John 16:33), He will accompany you for the duration of it (Joshua 1:9). Relax. You'll be through the worst of it before you know it (Romans 8:28).

If you’re struggling to cope, these four traveling companions will give you the hope you need until the skies clear:

1. Ponder God’s promises. He hasn't failed to keep one yet. Find verses that resonate with you and meditate on them day and night. (Numbers 23:19 and Philippians 4:8).

2. Consider God’s character. His goodness and faithfulness don't fluctuate with life's circumstances. You can trust Him to do what is best for you. (Hebrews 13:8 and Psalms 103:8).

3. Prioritize prayer. When you give your burdens to Jesus, you'll travel light (Galatians 6:2). It's not your job to carry the world's luggage on your shoulders.

4. Practice His presence. You can't escape trials, but when you spend time with God and ask Him to fill you, He equips you to face them (Psalm 23:4).

Let's Pray:
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for providing everything I need to weather this storm. When turbulence tests my faith, Your presence gives me the confidence that I will reach my destination. In Jesus's name, I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection #1: “Into the Sea” by Tasha Layton. Listen to it here.

Song of Reflection #2: “Your Presence Is A Promise” by Mack Brock. Listen to it here.

Author Bio:

Sarah Cole’s interest in writing began in grade school when her poem was published in the local paper. As she got older, her mother’s chronic illness inspired her to design a line of greeting cards. Since then, she has written for her college newspaper and two community newspapers where she wrote restaurant reviews and articles for their “Best of” spread.  

Her experience as an administrator in the marketing field gave her the opportunity to write ads for a local business journal.

After a 20-year detour and a three-year season of adversity, God reignited her passion to write. Two divine appointments later, the short story she wrote about her father appeared in the St. Paul Almanac, and a short story about Gigi (her Cocker Spaniel) was published in Guideposts (magazine) Mysterious Ways. She believes her adversity was worth the lessons God taught her.

Since 2022, Sarah’s devotionals have been published in The Secret Place by Judson Press, as well as David C. Cook’s Devotions and The Quiet Hour. To this day, she smiles, pinches herself and gives God all the glory.

When she’s not writing, Sarah enjoys watching cooking shows, designing cards and mugs, and taking day trips.

Connect with Sarah:

Monday, July 17, 2023

Devotionals for the Heart: Lessons on making room for God in your life

Why We Need to Let God Be First
A devotional by Angela Anderson

“But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”–Luke 10:41-42 (NLT)

If you are anything like me, you are a busy person.

You might feel like there are not enough hours in a day to complete all of the tasks that are on your plate. If it’s not managing your own schedule, it’s keeping up with the activities and events for the kids, or maybe even working around the schedule of your spouse. Regardless, there always seems to be details that must be coordinated and then executed. Getting things done is very important, especially if there are people who are counting on you.

I would imagine that Martha felt overwhelmed when she found out that Jesus Christ would be passing through the neighborhood and stopping by her home. She was frantically trying to prepare a meal because she also knew that Jesus was not traveling alone. He usually had his disciples with Him, and let’s face it: feeding a group of hungry men was not the easiest task.

Martha’s sister Mary, on the other hand, was not at all concerned with preparing the meal. Those details did not seem to faze her at all. In fact, when Jesus arrived, she made herself comfortable at His feet, absorbing all of His teachings.

It’s no wonder Martha became visibly irritated with her sister. Martha was doing all of the work, getting things done, while her sister was sitting down comfortably, not even lifting a finger. Martha tried to plead her case to Jesus, hoping that He would instruct Mary to help out Martha with all of the work. Instead, Jesus did the opposite. He politely chastised Martha for being so anxious about the tasks at hand, and He applauded Mary for choosing the one thing that really mattered: sitting at His feet and spending time with her Savior.

When I think about this story in Luke 10, I tend to judge Martha for not sitting down to take a break. I mean, who wouldn’t want to sit at the feet of Jesus and learn from Him? But then I put myself in her shoes for a moment, and I think about all of the work she had to do, especially with all of the people who were coming to her house. Then I start to judge Mary. How could anyone be so inconsiderate and just sit there while your sister is doing all of the work?

Martha is not at fault for wanting to care for the people coming to her home. Someone had to step up and do the preparation to feed everyone. Her hospitality is noteworthy. However, there is nothing more important, fulfilling, and life-changing than being in the presence of Jesus.

We need to be a Martha to accomplish our tasks, but in order to properly care for ourselves, we must be a Mary. If we want to grow closer to Him, we must willingly and intentionally draw closer to Him. We should make every effort to engross ourselves in His teachings and spend adequate time with Him. It is there that we experience His great love for us.

Let’s Pray: Dear God, Help us to realize that there is no better place to be than in Your presence. May we take ample time each day to spend it with You. Fill us with Your Spirit, Lord, and equip us with what we need to live a life that is pleasing to You. In Jesus’s Name we pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection: “Make Room” (song) by Jonathan McReynolds. Listen to it here.

Author Bio:

Angela Anderson was born in Brooklyn (New York) and raised in New Jersey. 

She started writing at an early age and realized in elementary school that it was both a strength and a passion. She continued writing through high school, college, and into adulthood.

Angela is the author of a devotional book titled Just When I Thought I Knew God, and she is currently working on another devotional book that will be introduced in 2023.

This is Angela's third year as a devotional writer for Alexis A. Goring’s “God is Love” blog. In 2021, Angela was a winner of a devotional writing contest where the entry is featured in a book published by Proverbs 31 Ministries. The book is titled, Hope When Your Heart is Heavy. The following year, another one of Angela’s devotionals was published in another publication from Proverbs 31 Ministries, called Living Unbroken.

Angela has a passion for inspiring and impacting others through her writing and speaking.

Angela is a Mom Life Coach. She empowers mothers who want to identify their God-given purpose and live it fully while taking care of their family. Angela develops mothers into mompreneurs by providing them with the necessary tools to be successful and fulfilled in life. These tools equip them to see their value, understand their importance, and reclaim their identity.

Angela has been married to the love of her life, Duane Anderson for 18 years. Together they have two sons: Thomas (age 10) and Ryan (age 5). Angela’s favorite pastime is journaling.

She treasures spending quality time with her family.

Connect with Angela:
Facebook (personal):
Facebook (Author page):
Angela offers free consultations for mothers who want to pursue their dream while taking care of their family. Schedule here:

Friday, July 14, 2023

Devotionals for the Heart: A Mission from God for all Christ-followers

How to Tell the World about Jesus Christ
A devotional by Karen Marstaller

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”—Colossians 3:23-24 (ESV)

Throughout the Bible, God gives His people jobs He wants them to do.

He begins in Genesis, the first book of the Bible, when He assigns Adam the job of tending the garden God made (Genesis 2:15). From there, Noah is commissioned to build an ark (Genesis 6:9-22). Later, God sends Moses to Egypt to lead His captive people to freedom in the Promised Land (Exodus 3:10). God’s message to work continues throughout the rest of His Word (The Holy Bible).

In the New Testament, God records the many miracles of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is important to note that when Jesus is resurrected after His death on the Cross, God’s work continues in the lives of the followers of Jesus.

One of those followers of Jesus was a man named Paul, a well-educated Pharisee who initially persecuted the young church. After Paul met the risen Lord Jesus, he became a missionary who brought the message of salvation to the nations outside of Israel—the Gentile people.

Mission work is all about preaching the good news of Jesus, discipling believers in Jesus, and then equipping the new believers to also become missionaries. It was hard work. Even today, with airplanes, buses, and cars replacing Paul’s foot travel, missionary work is costly and time-consuming.

Paul was a tradesman who made tents to supplement his missionary journeys (Acts 18:3). All through the letters of Paul, he refers to his labor (1 Corinthians 4:12 and 1 Thessalonians 2:9). Paul knew and understood the value of hard work.

In today’s world, many pastors and missionaries are bi-vocational, just like Paul. They work in a career to tell people about Jesus, and they supplement their living expenses with a job doing something different. The work of Christians may look a little different from the tent-making of Paul, but the commitment to be useful sharing the gospel of Jesus is the same.

So, what is the work that the Lord asks us to do? Telling others about Jesus is our highest calling. And to work with our own hands is part of that calling. It is vital to our opportunities of meeting new people and sharing the hope we have in Jesus.

Here in my city, one of the restaurants is run by people who love the Lord. Their food is fresh, handmade, and always tasty. One of the most impactful things about their establishment is the walls. As you walk in the door, Bible verses are the first things you see. In beautiful hand-lettered script, the words of the Lord testify to His goodness. What started out as a restaurant known for its excellent bread also serves the Bread of Life—God’s Word.

The modern world jobs are myriad, and new job descriptions are being written every day to meet the needs of a growing global economy. But the job of Christians everywhere is to share about Jesus. Whether we are a corporate executive, a computer technician, a teacher, a bread baker, or a tent maker, the job we’ve been given enables us to draw people to our Lord and Savior. It doesn’t matter if it’s stencils on a wall of the workplace, or starting a lunchtime Bible study at work, it’s what the Lord puts in front of us to do.

We can work heartily because our work is for the delight of our Heavenly Father. We work for the King of Glory!

Let’s Pray:
Lord Jesus, help us to take joy in the work You’ve allowed us to do. Please bless the people who will hear about Jesus as we go to work. Please help us to share Your love and Your salvation everywhere we go. Thank You, Lord. It is in Your Name we pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection: “The Mission” (song) by Steve Green. Listen to it here.

Author Bio:

Karen Marstaller is a retired high school teacher who spent most of her career challenging creative students to write. Her heart is for her readers.

She writes to encourage them, to make them laugh, to show them that life is a beautiful journey, and regardless of their past, to show them that there is joy ahead if they will just keep looking.

Karen and her husband live in central Texas in a sweet little home that they completely remodeled. They enjoy spending time with their family, which includes seven precious grandchildren.

Most of all, Karen writes in obedience to the command to love your neighbor, to offer a cup of water to those who are dying of thirst, and to comfort others with the comfort she has received.

You can reach Karen by emailing her at this address:

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Devotionals for the Heart: Humility

The Road to Humility
A devotional by Cherie Mendez

“Better to be a nobody and yet have a servant than to pretend to be somebody and have no food.”—Proverbs 12:9 (NIV)

I love how King Solomon glorified the virtue of humility as stated in the verse above. His contrast here is both humorous and profound. He is saying it’s better to be humble if your humility is part of your success as opposed to trying to “appear successful.”

Every week I sit down to create content for Instagram. However, when life gets tough I want to hide. If I have nothing “impressive” to post then I’d rather not post at all. In today’s image-obsessed society, cultivating a humble heart can be very challenging. The world puts great emphasis on “the pride of life” which is thinking you are special because of what you have, what you know, and what you look like. It glorifies the rich and famous while the poor are often forgotten.

The pride of life also tempts us to focus on ourselves as opposed to focusing on God and serving others. It can create stress and anxiety because when we seek to be the best and don’t succeed, our desire to excel can turn against us. If we fail, it is very normal to become disappointed. But the pride of life can turn our disappointment into a sense of hopeless depression.

The road to humility doesn’t have to be a hard one. If we humble ourselves before God and admit that we need His guidance, He is faithful. Psalm 25:9 (RSV), says “He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble His way.”

When we stand before God, we will not be judged by our worldly accomplishments. All that will matter is what we did with the gifts and talents He gave us. It’s great to be successful, but if our success becomes our identity, then it’s an idol.

The temptation to be proud is very subtle. We see it in the Garden of Eden. Eve’s mistake was to setting her sights on what God had commanded not to do rather than on what God had blessed her with such as all the other trees filled with life-giving fruit that He had allowed her to eat.

Here are three questions we can ask ourselves to help keep our hearts in check:

Question #1: Am I truly thankful for all God has given me?

Question #2: Have I acknowledged Him as the Source of all the blessings in my life?

Question #3: Am I careful to seek God daily on how to live a life that is pleasing to Him?

It’s amazing how being humble frees you from the need to impress people. There’s no need to be perfect or compare yourself to anyone. This brings me back to my constant challenge with Instagram. With every post I’m learning to ask myself, “What can I share today that will minister to someone?”

Most of the time it’s the trials and the things I don’t like to talk about that resonate most with people. It’s about taking my captions from a “me” post to a “we” post, showing gratitude to the Lord and the people in my life. It’s about my choosing to encourage others when it’s tempting to brag.

I believe that Micah 6:8 (RSV) says it best: “…and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God?” 

What will you choose today?

Song of Reflection: “King of Humility” by Justin Tweito. Listen to it here.

Author Bio:

Cherie Mendez is a New York-based actress and model. Network appearances include Blue Bloods and Bull (CBS), Power (STARZ), and Hunters (Amazon). 

She got her start in modeling at the age of 18 when she was offered a contract to work with an agency in Paris. Over time, she worked for clients such as Mary Kay Cosmetics, Clarins Skincare, Garnier, LancĂ´me, and Wella.

In recent years, Cherie has been sharing about her faith in God on Instagram where she has an audience of over 30k followers. She is compelled by love to encourage women to understand their identity in Jesus Christ.

It is her goal to bring to light what God’s Word says about our self-worth. She does this by sharing encouraging stories on how she overcame the many struggles that models and actresses typically face.

Some of the topics Cherie loves to write about are:

· Coping with rejection

· Finding your purpose and using your talent for God’s glory

· How God always looks at the heart and the meaning of inner beauty

· Understanding that we are all a work in progress and God is not done with us yet

Cherie and her husband Jimmy live in Upstate New York. They are thankful to have been married for 30 years.

Connect with Cherie:

Monday, July 10, 2023

Devotionals for the Heart: This is how you can fully experience God's Word

It Takes Three
A devotional by Aubrey Taylor

“And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death.” 
–Romans 7:10 (NKJV)

If you are like me, even a good thing like inductive Bible study can trigger your weaknesses.

You begin questioning everything you do, every motive you have, and every mistake you make. You agonize over every decision, wondering if it’s the right one. You fear the consequences of bad decisions and accidental sins.

“I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death.” That is how the New International Version (NIV) of The Holy Bible translates Romans 7:10. In the same translation, 2 Corinthians 3:6 adds this: “the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”

Every time I begin to fear consequences or punishment, that’s the letter speaking. The Galatian Christians struggled with this, so it should be no surprise that we do. Paul had to remind them that this was the very thing Jesus Christ died to set them free from.

It is necessary to learn God’s principles and live by them, but we cannot nullify or set aside His grace (Galatians 2:20). Sometimes, we have to actively grab hold of it with both hands and not let go. For me, that means tuning out the other voices for a while and drawing closer to Him.

It is important that we sit under the teaching of God’s Word (The Holy Bible) by someone who He has gifted to perform the ministry of a pastor/teacher. Yet when those voices start to drown out God’s Voice, I personally begin to feel condemnation. Suddenly, it seems that every word they speak is directed specifically at me, even if it actually has nothing to do with me. It’s usually not their helpful, encouraging words either. It’s the tough ones.

I felt this way for years, and Satan was happy to add to the weight, because he knew it would drive an immovable wedge between me and my Savior. Matthew 23:4 (KJV) says it this way: “For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders.”

Most of our teachers are well-meaning, but too much reliance on the words of other people without coming before God on our own can have the same effect. Their words and interpretation become a filter through which we read scripture, rather than filtering their words through the Word of God. Even with the best of Biblical teachers, we should continue to seek God in His Word as the Bereans did.

When this Biblical event took place, most people did not have a copy of the scriptures in their home. They had to go to the synagogue to access the Word of God. They were seeking the Lord together, but what did each individual meditate on as he made his way to and from the place the Word of God was kept? What did he pray about as he lay quietly in bed at night?

As I envision the Berean community gathered in the synagogue, actively communicating with each other, asking questions and challenging one another, I am reminded of accountability.

Galatians 6:6 (KJV) says, “Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things.” Communicate is an accurate translation of the Greek word "koinoneo". Thayer’s Greek Lexicon provides this definition of koinoneo: “to come into communion or fellowship with, to become a sharer, or be made a partner”. Individual study does come back to the community as we share what we have learned. Then, we wrestle through to the truth together, and become stronger for doing so.

If God’s children want to experience the full benefit of His Word, it takes three things: sitting under the teaching of the Word, time alone with Him, and fellowshipping over the Word with our brothers and sisters in Christ. May we take advantage of each of these opportunities regularly!

Let’s Pray: Dear Lord Jesus, thank You for the godly leaders You have put in place to instruct me in Your Word. Thank you for giving me Your Holy Spirit to guide and teach me. Finally, thank You for the community of believers around me. I pray that You will allow us greater fellowship together as we pore over Your Word. In Your Name, Jesus, I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection: “Were It Not for Grace” by Larnelle Harris. Listen to it here.

Author Bio:

The only child of a single parent, Aubrey Taylor filled her younger years by creating characters and writing stories. This ended around age sixteen when music, friends and part-time jobs began to fill her time. After that came college, work, marriage, and children. 

It wasn’t until the world was beginning to come out of the COVID pandemic that God led her back to her love for writing, coupled with a passion she’d always had for history. It was time to start a new adventure! Her current long-term project is Gott Mit Uns, a German-perspective 20th century historical fiction series.

Aubrey lives in Upstate New York with her husband and three children. She’s busy keeping the home, caring for her family, doing research for and writing her books.

Aubrey enjoys music and is involved with the worship ministry at her church as well as a German choral group. She also plays gigs occasionally with friends as a singer and acoustic guitarist. After all that, she finds time to sketch, craft, and hike.

She is a lover of Jesus Christ, The Holy Bible, history, German culture, tea, and cats.

Aubrey has a special heart for those who struggle with severe anxiety, depression and PTSD.

Connect with Aubrey:

Friday, July 7, 2023

Devotionals for the Heart: Learning how to live for God every day

Learning How to Live for God 
A devotional by Chaplain Paul Anderson

O Israel, return to the Lord your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity; Take words with you, and return to the Lord. Say to Him, “Take away all iniquity; receive us graciously, for we will offer the sacrifices of our lips.” 
–Hosea 14:1-2 (NKJV)

When I was young, my parents would gather the family for evening worship.

We would sing songs of our choosing. My father would read a portion of scripture or an inspirational story from Guidepost. We would recite the memory verses from our children’s devotional books. After prayer, my mother would lead us in singing “An Evening Prayer”. The lyrics imply an internal review of a person’s day and asks God’s forgiveness if during the day they had wounded, misled someone or willfully sinned.

As I matured and read the Bible with a bit more maturity, I understood Hosea 14:1-2 with new vision. I also understood my mother’s favorite song a bit better. The prophet Hosea was exhorting the people of his era to recognize their spiritual waywardness, to confess their sins to God and to offer sincere sacrifices.

Hosea gave a formula for reconciliation that is still effective today. In our spiritual relationship with God and in our interpersonal relationships, this three-part formula still works.

Step one
is to reorient ourselves from a position of opposition to a posture of humble recognition where our decisions and actions have created a misalignment. Consequently, we have missed the bullseye of our relational target, otherwise known as righteousness. We have drifted from the secure moorings of rectitude and want to return to a spiritually safe harbor.

When the prodigal son, referenced in Luke 15:11-31, comes to his senses, he composed what he would say when he saw his father. As he made his way home, he rehearsed the phrase “…Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.”

Step two
is a rehearsed and sincere confession. That is what Hosea meant when he said, “take words with you”, in the verse I shared above. Confessions should be sincere, heartfelt, well-reasoned and well stated. But words are not enough. True confession must be followed by some token of lasting reconciliation.

Step three
is to follow through. When Hosea uses the phrase “we will offer the sacrifices of our lips”, he is forcefully implying that confessions require sacrifices. In his culture and era, animal sacrifices were still common as object lessons of the price of sinfulness. Sin offerings inscribed upon the heart and mind of the offender how enormous were the effect and consequences of their actions. Saying “I am sorry and I will never do it again” was followed by an offering to God commensurate to the wealth of the offender. Sometimes, an offering to the person most affected was also required.

Now that Jesus Christ has died for our sins, been resurrected, and has ascended to the right hand of the Father in Heaven, animal sacrifices are no longer required. What is required is that we offer ourselves as living sacrifices to God by using the gifts, talents, opportunities, and influence that we have in His service.

As God has forgiven us, may we pay the vows of our lips with sincere service to God by being the generous and miraculous answers to the prayers that someone else is praying.

Let’s Pray:
Dear God, at the end of our day when evening comes, help us to see our highpoints as well as the mistakes, missteps and misalignments with others and forgive us. When we rest, restore our spiritual balance and prepare us to be useful representatives of Your grace in the new day that will dawn. In the name of Jesus, I ask this prayer. Amen.

Song of Reflection: “The Lord’s Prayer” (song) by Tamela Mann. Listen to it here.

Author Bio:

Chaplain Paul 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.

You may connect with Chaplain Anderson via email at this address,

Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Devotionals for the Heart: How to have freedom in Jesus Christ

Freedom in the Lord
A devotional by Casey Wayne

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”
—2 Corinthians 3:17 (ESV)

As I have become a wife, mother and a more mature adult, God has revealed areas in which I need to grow. God, in His loving kindness, revealed to me that if I would release my weaknesses to Him, He would give me freedom from the stress and fear they were giving me.

Chasing perfection has, and continues, to be an area I have to lift up to the Lord. Maybe you can relate. I love to make plans and have control. The peace and satisfaction I receive when a plan goes as I envisioned can easily become an idol in my life. I start becoming anxious and afraid of what will happen if things do not go the way I expect them to. My peace of mind becomes completely entwined with the results of everything I plan.

I am so thankful for the peace and freedom we have in Jesus Christ. Isaiah 26:3 (ESV) tells us, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” Trusting our Heavenly Father and making room for His Holy Spirit to work through our weaknesses allows God to give us that peace. I won’t say this is always easy. It requires that we bring it to the feet of Jesus and trust in God’s faithfulness. Sometimes that means you bring it to Him over and over and over. But as we faithfully pursue Him and spiritual growth, He is faithful to sanctify us. 

Romans 6:22 (ESV) says, “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.” As we learn to do this, God can turn our lives into a testimony for His glory. 

The beauty of the salvation we have in Christ, is that it does not stop there.

Salvation then draws us to obediently seek sanctification. God loves us, saves us and then gives us an opportunity to partner with Him, helping others by sharing our stories of redemption with those who still need to experience the freedom found in Jesus Christ.

Maybe, like me, you need peace and freedom from chasing perfection.

Perhaps you need freedom from shame, fear, or an identity centered on something other than Christ. Whatever sin is weighing heavy on your soul, bring it to God in prayer. Release it into the hands of a faithful Father who wants to replace it with peace and purpose for His glory.

Let’s Pray:

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for your redeeming grace through Christ. You faithfully give us hope and peace as we seek You. I bring my heavy heart to you and everything that is weighing me down. Reveal to me anything in my life that does not bring you glory so that I may build a life centered on you. Give me the strength to partner with you as I share my story of freedom in the name of Jesus Christ.

In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection: “Freedom Reigns” by Jason Upton. Listen to it here.

Author Bio:

Casey Wayne is a wife and mother of two children.

She enjoys time with her family doing simple things like movie nights and cooking together.

As a devotional writer, Casey strives to share her story with relatable honesty, showing how God is faithful throughout the big and small moments of life.

She has a heart for encouraging the faith walk of other moms, praying they gain a deeper connection with our Heavenly Father.

Her family lives in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia.

Connect with Casey: