Monday, April 29, 2024

Devotionals for the Heart: When and how grief can be good for us

Good Grief
A devotional by Kayla de Jong

“Jesus wept.”
— John 11:35 (NIV)

What is grief? Some people would describe it as a dark night. But there is hope!

Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky who was critically acclaimed as one of the greatest novelists in the literary world, once said, “The darker the night, the brighter the stars, the deeper the grief, the closer is God!”

After unexpectedly losing my mom when I was only 21, I found myself wrestling with God in my grief. Hopefully, the insights I have gained on my grief journey can benefit you as well, even if you are not grieving the loss of a loved one. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the definition of grief is “deep and poignant distress caused by or as if by bereavement.”

I’ve learned that grief is not just about death; it is about loss. Perhaps you are grieving losing a spouse through divorce or the lack of relationship with a child or the decision a friend made to stop following Jesus Christ. I believe grief is a good thing if done the way God intended. And knowing how to grieve in a godly way can not only help you grieve but also prepare you to walk with others in their grief journeys.

Let’s read Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 (NIV). It says, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot.”

Knowing that there is a season for everything—happiness and sadness—comforts my soul. I am comforted to know that God does not expect me to feel happy all the time. To me, these verses give Christians the permission to have what society deems “negative” emotions. While this is not a devotional about emotions, I will quickly say that I don’t think God views our emotions as good or bad. However, I think what matters to Him is how we handle them and how they affect our behaviors and relationship with Him and others (and ourselves). Ecclesiastes 3:4 supports this idea by declaring weeping and mourning appropriate for certain times. Notice how we are not instructed to always dance and laugh.

Another concept that has helped me understand grief from a biblical perspective is that God grieves too. And knowing that God expects me to manifest characteristics that are His, this means God expects me to grieve as well. Let’s talk this through: Jesus Christ wept on His way to raise His friend Lazarus from the dead, knowing fully well that Lazarus would soon be alive again. Yet He wept (John 11:35). Why? I believe He was not only showing His followers that it is okay to grieve, but I also love the footnote found in the Amplified version of The Holy Bible that suggests Jesus was angry at the sorrow induced by death.

Now let us look at biblical instruction on grief in 1 Thessalonians 4:13 (AMP), which reads, “Now we do not want you to be uninformed, believers, about those who are asleep [in death], so that you will not grieve [for them] as the others do who have no hope [beyond this present life].” In other words, Christians can grieve but not without hope. We know if we continue to follow Jesus Christ then we will be reunited in Heaven with our fellow Christians who have passed away and are no longer living on Earth. When we are in Heaven, we will be fully healed and holy in the Presence of God. Simply put, in the midst of our bereavement, we can choose to rejoice that God has provided a means to eternal life with Him that is far better than this life on Earth.

So, based on these few biblical examples, it seems that grief is an appropriate response to death. God, even though He is omniscient, and death is no surprise to Him, grieves too. However, it is clear that we are not to view death as “the end.” Instead, let it serve to remind you of eternity and salvation and hope from God.

Let’s Pray: God, thank You for giving me hope while I am grieving and let me share this with others who have lost someone or something important to them. Thank You for the time I had with my loved ones who have passed away. Help me to have a healthy perspective on grief. Thank You for comforting me, Lord, when I am sad. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection: “Light of that City” by Allison Durham Speer. Listen to it here.

Author Bio:

Hi! I’m Kayla de Jong! 

I’ve lived in Indiana my whole life and was blessed to have been raised in a Christian household. I have an associate degree in library science and have worked in various libraries for over six years. I love reading and writing!

I have mostly written poems, some of which were published in the compiled works of a local writers guild. I am in the middle of seeking a new career. I would love to be an author, artist, or journalist. But most of all, I would love to be a stay-at-home mom someday.

Connect with Kayla:

Friday, April 26, 2024

Devotionals for the Heart: Hope and healing for the brokenhearted

God Heals the Brokenhearted

A devotional by Essie Faye

“I have seen his ways, and will heal him: I will lead him also, and restore comforts unto him and to his mourners.”— Isaiah 57:18 (KJV)

I stared blankly into space in my dimly lit bedroom and prayed to God saying, “Here I am Lord, once again. I’m going through divorce. Again. How did I get here a second time?”

I was numb, speechless, and shocked. Thoughts of the life I once envisioned—a future full of hope—rushed through my mind. There are so many lingering unfulfilled dreams and expectations. There was the loving marriage and true partnership that was never realized. The spiritual covering and God-centered true partnership that I ached for never materialized. Joyful children of legacy that I desperately desired were unborn. Yet again these dreams escaped my grasp, no matter how I prayed and tried to capture them. And, believe me, I tried—even to my hurt and almost to my demise. The disappointment and embarrassment—the pain of loss is real. And so is God. He is here with me, in the face of grief. Especially in my brokenness, God is present to heal me again and again.

In Isaiah 57:18, the prophet shares the heart of God with His people. God is near the hurting. God is present to heal our brokenness again and again. He is the Lord who heals us. Healing the brokenhearted is one of His many specialties. In this text God promises four things to His children who are hurting. As I hold fast to these promises, I have hope to move forward and grow through the pain. I pray that you too will find solace in them.

God promises that He sees the ways of his people. God sees you. All things are naked before His eyes. He promises never to leave or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6). God is with us in good times and bad. He sees your pain, frustration, and loss just as He sees your joy, jubilation, and triumph. Not only does God see you, but He empathizes with you and He is moved to act on your behalf. He says, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3 NIV). This brings me hope that God will heal my broken heart.

God promises to heal. He will repair the broken places of your life. He will help us to put the broken pieces of our hearts together again. He will heal our hurt and turn our mourning into dancing. He is our God who heals. He heals the brokenhearted and sets captives free. My shattered heart is safe in the Master’s hand. He will repair it. This brings me hope that the pain will end and the sun will shine again in my life.

God promises that He will lead us. He will take us by our hands and lead us in the way that we should go. He leads us beside quiet waters. (Psalm 23:2). He will lead us in peace when chaos is all around us. He will still our emotions when the storm within us rages. He will lead us by His Spirit, with His voice, and His Word when we don’t know which way to turn. We can trust Him. He knows the way. What’s even better is that if there is no way, He will create a way of escape, so we are able to endure our situation, by His grace. This gives me hope that peace will once again rule my heart.

God promises to restore. He will restore the things that you lost in your struggle. The joy that turned to sadness and the peace that fled for anxiety–God will restore. He will reset order in our lives plagued with chaos. He calms life’s most ferocious seas because He is God. He will cause you to recover time you thought lost and dreams you’ve given up on. God is faithful. Even from a place of woundedness I have a hope unperishable as I hold on to my faith. I know my God. He always wins and so do I, even in the face of adversity.

Call to Action:

1. Acknowledge your brokenness. Stop pretending that everything is okay–be honest with yourself, before God, and with others.

2. Lean into your pain. Experience the loss and learn the lessons which are blessings in disguise.

3. Lean into your loving community.
Access your safe relationships often as you heal.

4. Partner with God and do the work to heal. Take an active role in your healing. See a counselor, reflect on your experience, change toxic habits and patterns, and reestablish boundaries in your relationships. Care for yourself and be kind to yourself–especially during this time.

5. Remember, God sees you. God loves you. God will heal you. God will lead you on a plain path. God will restore. Only trust Him.

Let’s Pray:

Heavenly Father, You are incredible. You know all things. You trusted us to experience the pain and loss that we now feel. We have the opportunity to know You as a Healer of broken hearts. We thank You because Your healing is sure. Father, we thank You that you see us and You are moved with compassion to heal our brokenness. By the stripes of Jesus Christ we are healed. Help us to acknowledge our brokenness and bring it to You. Even when our circumstances seem unbearable, give us grace to believe that we are being touched by Your healing hands. See us through this trying season and help us to hold onto our faith and Your exceeding precious promises. We thank You for hearing us, healing us, and answering. In the name of Jesus we pray, Amen.

Song of Reflection: “Fragile Heart” by Yolanda Adams. Listen to it here.

Author Bio:

Essie Faye Taylor is a woman of faith. She’s a bilingual author, educator, speaker, psalmist, and interpreter. 

Essie is the author of the “Finding the Love You Deserve” series for women and teens. She is deeply committed to motivating minorities, women, and youth to heal themselves, love and accept themselves, and pursue God while chasing their dreams and carving out their life’s path.

Essie is a Chicago native where she lives with her husband Donald Taylor II.

Connect with Essie:
Amazon Author Page:
Listen to Essie’s music at
Instagram: on Instagram
Read Essie’s YouVersion Devotion Plan here:

Thursday, April 25, 2024

My Review of the "Unsung Hero" movie and a giveaway for you

My Review of Unsung Hero (movie)

Today, I have another movie review for you and a giveaway contest at the end of this post! Momentum Influencers Network asked me to watch an early screening of a new movie they are promoting: Unsung Hero.

Here’s the synopsis of Unsung Hero with words from Momentum:

When David Smallbone's successful music company collapses, he moves his family from Australia to the United States in search of a brighter future. With nothing more than their six children, their suitcases, and their love of music, David (for KING + COUNTRY's Joel Smallbone) and his pregnant wife Helen (Daisy Betts) set out to rebuild their lives from the ground up. Based on a remarkable true story, a mum's faith stands against all odds; and inspires her husband and children to hold onto theirs.

Now for my review:

Unsung Hero
is a captivating story on screen that will reel you in from the start and keep you hooked all the way to the end.

It’s the story of the family behind famous music group “for KING + COUNTRY” and popular singer Rebecca St. James. This is a behind-the-scenes look into everything they went through to become who the world knows them to be today.

A special feature of this film is the faith element. It was wonderful to see how when times got tough, the Smallbone family got going! They didn’t give up. When they moved from Australia to America, they went from rich to poor but they got creative, starting a successful lawn and house cleaning service. Little did they know then that one of their rich and famous clients would open more than just the door to his home—he’d open the golden door to their future fame!

While this movie showed us how two famous Contemporary Christian Music artists made it to the world stage with their songs playing on the radio and in concert halls around the world, it also showed us the backbone of the family—Helen.

Daisy Betts played Helen Smallbone. She is the wife of David and mother to their seven children including Joel Smallbone from “for KING + COUNTRY” and Rebecca St. James. Helen’s dream was to be a wife and mother—roles that she took very seriously. No matter how hard life got when they first moved to America, she not only made the best of it, she made it fun—turning every day into and adventure and every need into a prayer. God didn’t disappoint! He delivered miracles to the Smallbone Family, starting with Kay Albright who they met in church.

Candace Cameron Bure—famous for her roles in Hallmark movies and on Great American Pure Flix—played Kay Albright. Kay was a woman of faith with a big heart. She felt led by God to help the Smallbone Family not just survive but thrive. Throughout the movie, Kay and her husband were like real-life angels for Helen and her family. They showed up for them in ways that were truly God-ordained though sometimes it irritated David Smallbone.

Joel Smallbone from “for KING + COUNTRY” played the role of his father, David Smallbone. No stranger to the screen, Joel put on a very convincing performance—successfully showing the how the mountain highs and valley lows of his family’s journey impacted them, especially him. There were scenes in this movie that showed David so low that he couldn’t get out of bed. But when he was able to climb out of depression, he was a fighter for his family. I love how his story went full-circle but I cannot share details without spoiling the plot.

Finally, Kirrilee Berger played Rebecca Smallbone (later known as the famous Rebecca St. James). I admired how they showed her to be so humble about her gift for singing and so devoted to ministering to the world through music and being a witness for Jesus Christ. I understood her pains and disappointments but that made her victories at the end all the more worth it. Yet another detail I cannot go into depth about without giving away the storyline.

Curious to know more? Go see Unsung Hero in theaters starting April 26, 2024!

More words from Momentum:

Watch the trailer for Unsung Hero:

Buy tickets to see Unsung Hero in theaters:
UNSUNG HERO | Official Website | April 26 2024
Watch Jean’s interview with Luke Smallbone from "for KING + COUNTRY":

Visit the official movie page for Unsung Hero:
Unsung Hero | Coming To Theaters April 26

A Giveaway Contest for you:

Momentum Influencers Network would like to give a $10 Amazon gift card to the winner of this giveaway contest! Please note: This giveaway is limited to U.S. winners only.

Here is the Giveaway Contest link:

Disclosure: Many thanks to Kingdom Faith Marketing Services, LLC for providing a sample of the product for this review. Opinions are 100% my own.

#UnsungHeroMIN #UnsungHeroMovie #MomentumInfluencerNetwork

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Devotionals for the Heart: God's faithfulness to all of humankind

The Steadfast and Unchanging Love of God
A devotional by Dr. Gladys Childs

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”—Lamentations 3:22-23 (ESV)

Looking back on my life, I see God’s faithfulness: His overtures of grace as I accepted Jesus Christ at age 14. Fulfilling His promise not to give us more than we can bear by removing the weight of despair and stilling my heart in a time of chaos. Redeeming countless situations in my life…and the list continues. Great is God’s faithfulness!

God's faithfulness is His unwavering commitment to His promises and unchanging character. It means God can always be relied upon to fulfill what He has promised, to be true to His Word, and never to forsake His people. His faithfulness is demonstrated throughout The Holy Bible in countless stories of His provision, protection, and guidance for those who trust Him. Even when circumstances seem uncertain or challenging, God remains steadfast in His love and care for His creation.

In challenging times, God's faithfulness shines through in His unwavering presence, strength, and guidance for those who trust Him. Take Joseph, for example, who remained faithful to God even amidst betrayal by his brothers and unjust imprisonment in Egypt. His story reminds us that God never forsakes His people. This faithfulness encourages us to endure, knowing He is with us and working for our good, even when circumstances seem bleak. It teaches us to lean on His promises and trust His unfailing support.

But God's faithfulness is not confined to mere presence and support; it extends to His sovereignty and His overarching plan for our lives. Just as Job remained steadfast in faith throughout his trials, we are assured that God is in control, orchestrating all things for our ultimate good, even when we struggle to perceive His hand at work. This understanding strengthens our resolve and deepens our trust in Him.

Moreover, God's faithfulness reveals His character of unchanging love, compassion, and commitment to His people. Just as King David experienced God's faithfulness throughout the highs and lows of his life, we too can deepen our understanding of who God is and strengthen our faith in Him. His faithfulness is a constant anchor in the storms of life, reminding us of His unwavering presence and care.

Furthermore, God's faithfulness in trials leads to growth and transformation in our lives. As we depend on Him and witness His faithfulness firsthand, our faith is fortified, our character is refined, and our relationship with God deepens. We learn to entrust our worries to His capable hands and to rely entirely on His provision. Through every trial, His faithfulness remains a beacon of hope, guiding us through the darkest times.

God's faithfulness also teaches us the value of perseverance and patience. Despite our challenges, we are called to remain steadfast, knowing that God is faithful to see us through. Like the Israelites' journey to the Promised Land, our endurance leads to spiritual maturity and growth. In every trial and tribulation, His faithfulness sustains us and gives us the strength to press on.

In conclusion, as we reflect on Lamentations 3:22-23, we are reminded of the enduring faithfulness of our Lord. His steadfast love and unfailing mercies are not confined to a single moment. Still, they are renewed every morning, a testament to His unchanging character and unwavering commitment to His people. In the face of uncertainty and trials, we can take refuge in the assurance of God's faithfulness, knowing He remains constant in His love and provision. Let us hold fast to this truth and find comfort in the knowledge that His faithfulness endures forever.

Let’s Pray:

Dear Lord, thank You for your unwavering faithfulness, which sustains us through every trial and triumph. Help us to respond to your faithfulness with grateful hearts, trusting in your promises, and obeying your commands. May our lives testify to your faithfulness as we share with others the ways you have shown yourself faithful in our lives. Empower us to live each day in service to you, bringing glory to your name in all we do. In Jesus’s name, I pray, Amen.

Song of Reflection: “He’s Always Been Faithful” by Sara Groves. Listen to it here.

Author Bio:

Dr. Gladys Childs is an author, speaker, religion professor, pastor's wife, and mom helping others be F.R.E.E. to Thrive© for the abundant life God has for them. She serves as Chaplain at Texas Wesleyan University and the Women’s Director at LifePoint Fellowship. She brings 25 years of experience and knowledge to her ministry. 

Gladys is frequently called authentic, witty, and candid as she shares her journey through life’s ups and downs. Her passion is meeting people at the intersection of faith and life’s difficulties. No stranger to heartache herself, she grew up in a non-church-going family with an alcoholic mother and is a trauma survivor.

Gladys holds a Ph.D. in Foundations of Education, a Master’s in Religious Education, a Master of Divinity, and a B.A. with a double major in Counseling and Psychology. Also, she is an ordained Elder in the United Methodist Church.

Connect with Gladys:

Monday, April 22, 2024

Devotionals for the Heart: Watching herons teaches me life lessons

What Watching Herons Taught Me
A devotional by Peg Arnold

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”—Ephesians 4:2-3 (NIV)

As I watched the shadow of a heron glide through the sky, I couldn't help but exclaim, "They're back!" The much-anticipated spring season was near, with the extended daylight hours and the grass turning into a vibrant green. In addition, flocks of birds were returning. The sky was flooded by robins, hummingbirds, meadowlarks, pelicans, and herons! Each one brings beauty, both in its appearance and melodious song.

Among these birds, the herons hold a special place in my heart. These graceful creatures bring a peaceful presence wherever they land. They stand still like statues after gracefully wading into the water. There is a blend of elegance and power as they spread their wings and skim across the water. Their flight is so close to the surface that their wingtips barely touch it, leaving behind a gentle trail of ripples.

The herons teach us the significance and value of quiet patience and unwavering devotion. Regardless of the weather, they exhibit persistence while diligently seeking food. It brings to mind Psalm 27:14 (TLB), which says, “Don't be impatient. Wait for the Lord, and he will come and save you! Be brave, stouthearted, and courageous. Yes, wait, and he will help you.” Do we demonstrate the same steadfastness when waiting on the Lord? Their patience and devotion model virtues for us to emulate.

Herons are unique in their nesting habits. They live in communities, building their homes with others in the same tree. Before the leaves emerge on the bare cottonwood trees, their large nests can be easily spotted with the silhouette of an adult heron standing watch over the eggs. Some trees may have as many as 50 pairs of herons in one tree, a fascinating and rare sight. It is also a unique demonstration of the power of unity.

By nesting together, herons can protect each other's young. Similarly, in our faith communities, we find strength and support, as Paul reminds us in his letter to the Ephesians 4:2-3 (NIV). He wrote, "Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace." Paul's message encourages us to draw strength from our shared faith, find comfort within our faith-based community, and support one another. Just like the herons, we can also find power in unity.

It never ceases to amaze me how God continually teaches us through His creation, and today, it was the Great Blue Heron. Like these majestic birds who wait patiently to find food and nest together to protect their young, we can learn to trust in God's timing and support each other on a daily basis.

As we close, ponder this question: What is one way we can demonstrate patience, unity, and love in our immediate circle of family and friends?

Let’s Pray:

Dear Lord,

Thank You for the lessons You reveal through Your creations, like the Great Blue Heron. Please help me develop the patience, unity, and humility I witness in these majestic birds. Help me trust Your timing and guide me in supporting others in the faith community. In Jesus’s Name, I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection: “The Maker” by Chris August. Listen to it here.

Author Bio:

Peg Arnold, Speaker/Author/Teacher is a Drama Queen for Jesus. 

Her vibrant, interactive, and soul-stirring messages encourage all to embrace their God-given value. As a mom, wife, nana, mentor, with a master’s in counseling, she connects on a personal basis by sharing her joys and challenges of many life experiences through her dramas, messages, and witness. Whether talking with a friend over coffee or addressing hundreds of people at a conference, her passion for equipping women is contagious.

She has published devotions on YouVersion and in the Upper Room. In addition, she has contributed to two Chicken Soup for the Soul books, three anthologies, numerous articles, and blogs. Her devotional, Devotions for the Distracted Heart, received a 2022 OASIS award.

Peg desires everyone to know that their story is important and has a purpose. She grew up in Michigan and raised her family in Maryland. Later in life, Peg and her husband relocated close to their family in Colorado.

Connect with Peg:

Website: Get some freebies when you visit!
Devotions for the Distracted Heart blog:
Holiday YouVersion:

Friday, April 19, 2024

Devotionals for the Heart: God cares about the desires of your heart

The Desires of our Hearts

A devotional by Hannah Benson

“You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing.”
—Psalm 145:16 (ESV)

What desire do you have on your heart?

As humans, we naturally want so many things: a satisfying or well-paying job, a family of our own one day. Honestly, you could fill-in-the-blank with anything.

We know God loves to give us good things and bless His children, so at first glance, this verse might seem to contradict reality. After all, we don’t always get what we want when we want. Sometimes, we don’t get what we want at all. What gives?

Notice what this verse says: “[God] will satisfy the desire” not “God will give us everything we want.” It’s so hard to want something specific and be told “No” from God. Maybe you’ve been there or are still there. I get it. I’ve also been there. I often wonder why God says “No.” Why can’t I have what I want? And while we’re at it, why can’t I have what I want now?

The truth is, God is sovereign, and there could be a variety of reasons why He says no or makes us wait. If He were to give us everything we wanted when we wanted, then we would be the gods over our own lives, and we’d have no reason to trust Him. In other words, God would be a genie to us. Second, He could be protecting us from unseen harm. Other times, God might say “No” because He was better plans in store for us. Or maybe, it’s simply not a “No”, but a “Wait.”

I believe that God will give us the desire of our hearts if they are aligned with His will for us. If our wants are not aligned with His plan for us, then He will change our hearts to want what He wants. Even though it’s so hard to surrender our plans, God truly does know best. After all, His plans are for our good, to give us a future filled with hope, and not to harm us (Jeremiah 29:11).

As a young child, I had specific desires God laid on my heart, dreams that looked impossible to achieve. I prayed so hard every day, faith filling my heart, yet not seeing any answers to my prayers. Eventually, I gave up those desires to God, fully surrendering them to Him. It wasn’t until years later that God brought those dreams to life again, resurrecting what I’d laid to rest, and showing me that He does fulfill the desires of our hearts. It may not be in our timing (most of the time it probably isn’t), but the desires of our hearts are there for a reason.

And even if I don’t get what I want, I have found that whatever I want pales in comparison to the desire of knowing and loving Jesus. That, more than anything, is the deepest desire of my heart. Often, God will ask me to surrender a desire or a dream. Sometimes, it means truly letting go because it’s not His best for me, but other times, it’s because it’s not time yet. When my heart is “empty” and longs for something else, it’s then that God steps in and fills the void in my heart, reminding me He’s the only One who can truly satisfy me anyway.

Matthew 7:7-8 (ESV) says, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.”

The desire of truly knowing and loving Jesus Christ and walking with Him will always be met.

Let’s Pray:
Dear Father God, it’s so hard for me to believe that You will fulfill the desires of my heart when there are so many unanswered prayers and unmet wants in my life. But I know, more than anything, that You are the ultimate desire of my heart. I know that desire will be met even if in life I don’t get what I want. Thank You for the truth of Your love! In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection: “The Secret Place” by Phil Wickham. 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 follow God’s calling to pursue writing seriously. Hannah is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). In addition to fiction, she also writes devotionals and has been published on other websites. Her prayer is that her readers leave deeply encouraged and more in love with Jesus.

When not writing, Hannah also enjoys being involved with local theater companies, with a primary focus on Biblical theater. She wants to show the love of Jesus through the creative arts.

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, April 17, 2024

Devotionals for the Heart: God's Grace

God's Grace Holds Us Together
A devotional by Sarah Cole

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.—2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (NIV) 

As a dog sitter, part of my job is finding compatible breeds for my dachshund Frank.

Last summer, I took a chance on Rufus, a 45-pound bulldog. Well behaved and sweet, Rufus seemed like a good fit. But Frank insisted on being the center of attention, and his jealous rage ignited an all-out war for my affection.

When Frank simmered down, I thought I had a handle on the chaos. But when Rufus rolled in the mud at the dog park, jumped in the kiddy pool, and then shook himself—an act that splashed water and dirt all over my new outfit, I had a had a temper tantrum. As pet parents watched me storm away, I felt powerless and ashamed of my weakness.

When Paul wrote his letter to the Corinthians, he had reason to boast (2 Corinthians 12). After he witnessed a vision of Heaven, God kept Paul’s pride in check by allowing Satan to afflict him with a “thorn in the flesh.” In his suffering, Paul surrendered himself to God, and his weakness became his greatest strength.

We can learn a lesson from this Bible story because when we experience victory, our pride often keeps us from admitting we need God’s help. Yet Jesus understands our weaknesses, and instead of holding them against us, His grace holds us together.

Merriam-Webster defines grace as “unmerited divine assistance given to humans for their regeneration or sanctification.” As an extravagant act of mercy, Jesus Christ went to the cross to pay the penalty our sins deserve (1 Corinthians 6:20). His resurrection made it possible for us to have a relationship with Him and His spirit within us changes us into His likeness (Philippians 2:13). When we’re tempted to beat ourselves up for falling short, we must remember that God’s wrath was satisfied by the beating Jesus took for us.

If you’ve reached a boiling point and feel like giving up on yourself, Jesus won’t give up on you. He died to give you victory, not defeat (1 Corinthians 15:57). So, instead of living in shame and regret over your weaknesses, let Him empower you to overcome them. He lived a perfect life, so you don’t have to! If you’re a perfectionist like me, there's no better news than that.

Let’s Pray:
Dear Heavenly Father, the battle between my flesh and spirit has left me discouraged and defeated. When I’m tempted to try and fix myself, You gently remind me that your grace is enough to enable me to finish strong. You walk alongside me, making me more like Your Son, Jesus Christ. Thank You for your extravagant love and grace when I need it the most. You are my strength when I’m at my weakest, and I rejoice in You. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection: “Everything Falls” by Fee. 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. 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 her cocker spaniel Gigi was published in Mysterious Ways by Guideposts. She believes her adversity was worth the lessons God taught her.

Sarah's devotionals have been published in David C. Cook’s The Quiet Hour and Devotions, The Secret Place by Judson Press, and Pray a Word a Day by Guideposts. Her short story will be featured in an upcoming book, Too Amazing For Coincidence, also to be published by Guideposts. To this day, Sarah smiles, pinches herself and gives God all the glory.

When she's not writing, she's enjoying her hobbies that include dog sitting, watching cooking shows and taking day trips.

Connect with Sarah:

Monday, April 15, 2024

Devotionals for the Heart: When springtime brings hope to your heart

The Unfolding Hope of Spring
A devotional by Joy Beless

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.”
—1 Peter 1:3-4a (NIV)

I love the Spring season! I love this season so much that I have my desk situated in front of the windows just so I can watch spring unfold. There is a predictability to it—knowing which trees will leaf and bloom first. Sunny yellow daffodils pop up to greet the bleak winter days. Like unfolding a letter from a dear friend whom I haven’t heard from in a while, so does my view come to life and color. What is happening in nature mirrors my soul—an awakening to a living hope, through Jesus Christ.

For Christians, resurrected life, like spring, is a gift from our risen Savior, Jesus Christ, who rose from the dead as witnessed by over 500 people (1 Corinthians 15:6) over a period of 40 days before ascending to Heaven (Acts 1:3). As followers of Jesus, we too will live with Him in resurrected bodies in Heaven one day. This gave Peter’s readers of his letter great hope during the persecution they endured as Christians. And it gives us great hope today to know that our lifetime on this earth is not all there is.

But it is possible to experience the “living hope” today that mirrors springtime and new life surrounding me. To step into the freedom we have as God’s children, forgiven and deeply loved. To receive Christ’s invitation to come and rest in Him, as a child would with a loving father. Keeping in view Christ’s teaching and scriptures that remind us of Heaven, with no tears and no pain, as we navigate life (Revelation 21:4).

I have lived through “winter” seasons of life that were difficult with grief, conflict, and no hope. Discouraging and exhausting, with seemingly unanswered prayers, the days loomed dark and gray. One such season for me was an intersection of intense caregiving and grief with other family needs. My father and aunt for different reasons both ended up in side by side rooms in a skilled nursing facility. For my aunt, she passed away after a few difficult months but for my father, it began a crisis-oriented three year journey of care. Caring for those you deeply love on a slow journey of decline while juggling your everyday responsibilities takes a toll on your own emotional, physical and spiritual health.

However, the winter seasons of life cause me to depend on Jesus in ways I never would have. Experiencing His mercy in small moments, His presence filling my soul through a song or scripture gives sustaining strength to walk through the long days of despair. Taking time to be alone with God, resting and leaning into the comfort of the Holy Spirit brought healing and hope back into my life. It was like a daffodil braving the chilly early spring days. Receiving counsel through grief healing groups and meeting with a spiritual director breathed new life and new seasons of purpose and strength. Like a barren tree in the cold, my roots of faith grew deep. I experienced God in an intimate, but quiet way to endure the season. I no longer had answers but knew I was not alone in the journey. And neither are you.

Lean into the Advocate, the Holy Spirit whom Jesus promised and dwells within you. Talk with God about the situations that seem hopeless. Look for that small “bud of color”, despite the circumstances.

Let’s Pray:

Heavenly Father,

You are the source of our “living hope” when we are discouraged and disillusioned. We praise you for the miracle of resurrected life, both within our souls and one day, reunited with you in heaven. Encourage us in difficult seasons. Remind us of our “inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade” (1 Peter 1:4). We thank you that this existence on Earth is not all there is. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection: “Seasons Change” by Crystal Lewis. Listen to it here.

Author Bio:

Joy Beless is a worshipper of God and lover of people.

A practicing Spiritual Director, she is a speaker for retreats and conferences and facilitates guided solitude retreats at the family ranch in North Texas.

A seasoned worship leader and songwriter, she frequently weaves worship, God’s Word and spiritual practices together. She is a chapel provider for a shelter for the houseless and a certified Grief and Trauma Healing Facilitator. Serving at global retreats for Kingdom-minded women delights her soul.

She has written for Global Trellis and Missio Nexus. She connects God’s Word with the reality of our daily in all the ups and downs.

Joy is married to Roger. They live in Coppell (Texas). Joy is called "JoJo" by her nine adorable grandchildren. She enjoys the outdoors and encourages flowers to grow in the Texas heat.

Connect with Joy:

Friday, April 12, 2024

Movie Review: The Hopeful

My Review of The Hopeful (movie)

Today, I have another movie review for you and a giveaway contest at the end of this post! Momentum Influencers Network asked me to watch an early screening of a new movie they are promoting: The Hopeful.

Here’s the synopsis of The Hopeful with words from Momentum:

William Miller’s faith is in ruins. After miraculously surviving a fierce battle in the War of 1812, Miller questions why God spared him. His search for wisdom leads to an astonishing prophesy: The world is going to end!

The Hopeful unfolds as a story of a man burdened with the knowledge of Christ’s return. Miller’s message resonates with some—even as it is scorned by others. When a young woman named Ellen Harmon listens to one of his sermons she is transformed. And through her witness the message begins to take flight. The preaching grows beyond prophecy and develops into a more holistic vision for how Christians should live and worship.

We see blossoming the seeds of a new global movement of faith—the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The Hopeful is the true story of a community whose lives were transformed as they learn what it means to truly wait for Jesus. This sweeping drama, set in 19th century New England, invites audiences of all ages to imagine how hope can change the world.

Now for my review:

The Hopeful is a movie that was inspired by real-life events.

Bill Lake plays the role of William Miller who survives an attack on the battlefield that should have resulted in his death. He’s astonished and curious to know why he’s still alive. So he turned to studying God’s Word (The Holy Bible) and this begins his journey of faith as the Holy Spirit leads him to all truth according to Scripture. However, he misunderstood some of his readings that convinced him Jesus Christ was going to return in 1844 to take His faithful followers home to Heaven. Passionate about his discovery but conflicted, Miller was reluctant to share this idea as well as other teachings that were more accurate. It took his wife to convince him to share it. But once he starts sharing it, the news spreads like wildfire as he travels to preach about it.

A young lady named Ellen Harmon (later married to James White and known as Ellen G. White) listened to one of Miller’s sermons and her life changes forever when she realizes that God is not only a Judge, He is Love. And it is His Love that inspires Ellen to tell the world about Him through her own writing and speaking inspired by God who gives her visions that the Seventh-day Adventist Church is known by such as the health message (practicing a plant-based diet, daily exercise and lifestyle choices that promote optimal health for the human body) and the keeping of Saturday as Sabbath (based on Exodus 20:8-11).

Tommie-Amber Pirie played the role of Ellen G. White who was an American author and co-founder of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Pirie’s acting skills are superb! She stayed in character throughout the entire film and portrayed Ellen with grit, grace and elegance.

Stephen MacDonald played the role of James White who was Ellen’s husband. I like how the producers told their love story. I also appreciated seeing how applying the health message saved his life after he suffered a stroke and enabled him to live many more years in good vitality.

Even though Miller was wrong about the date of Christ’s return (Note: The Bible says in Matthew 24:36 that only God knows when He’s sending Jesus Christ back to Earth to take His faithful followers home to Heaven), I thought it was inspiring to see how that great disappointment led to a movement that birthed the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Overall, I think this film deserves five stars! Everything about it was well-done, engaging, inspirational and educational. I hope you will see it in theaters on April 17 or April 18.

More words from Momentum:

Buy tickets to see The Hopeful in theaters only on April 17-18, 2024.

Watch the trailer for The Hopeful:

Buy tickets to see The Hopeful in theaters:

Follow The Hopeful on social media:

Watch Jean’s interview with Kyle Portbury (director of The Hopeful):

Visit the official movie page for The Hopeful:

Final Notes:

Momentum Influencers Network would like to give a $10 Amazon gift card to the winner of this giveaway contest! Please note: This giveaway is limited to U.S. residents only.

Here is the Giveaway Contest link:

Disclosure: Many thanks to Hope Studios for providing a sample of the product for this review.
Opinions are 100% my own. 

#TheHopefulMIN #thehopefulmovie #MomentumInfluencerNetwork

Devotionals for the Heart: What car trouble taught me about trusting God

Car Trouble Taught Me about the Goodness of God 
A devotional by Kerry Sue Teravskis

“Answer me, Lord, out of the goodness of your love; in your great mercy turn to me.” 
—Psalm 69:16 (NIV)

When we’re in a season of affliction or trouble, crying out to God for help is a natural response for most people. Enduring relentless pain or scorn can be unbearable at times. Excruciating at others.

King David wrote Psalm 69, and he knew trouble. He knew hardships, running, enemies, pain, affliction, and he knew the mercy of God. It is what makes this Psalm so relatable.

There are three attributes of God’s character he calls on in this one verse: goodness, love and mercy. It reminds me of another Psalm written by King David. Psalm 23:6 (NIV) says, “Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

God’s goodness is beyond measure and something inexplainable with mere words. His goodness passed before Moses when he was in the cleft of the rock (see Exodus 34:6). The Lord’s goodness is so great, He had to hide Moses. Only then could Moses glimpse God’s goodness.

Have you felt the goodness of God before? Have you felt His Presence so powerful and real that you felt enveloped in His love? How did it make you feel? Overwhelmed? In awe? As if you were standing on holy ground?

There are times in my life when I have felt His goodness and I was left in awe because of it. These moments are powerful in that they left me without a doubt of His being in my life, in the here and now and in my moments of deep desperation.

On a recent trip out of state, we had five hundred miles to travel on a lonely two-lane highway for much of the time. Not more than three hours into our trip we experienced significant truck engine issues—so much so, we had to backtrack 45 miles to get help as it was the nearest town with nothing being ahead of us for many, many miles.

We were desperate, we needed saving, we needed help and we needed it fast. We needed God to show us His mercy in this situation, His guidance and His goodness. And He did. Multiple times over. Before we knew we needed a solution, it was there. Before we could worry, He had an answer.

As the day wore into evening, and we were again experiencing more engine troubles, we cried out to God for His mercy. As we drove along the desolate stretch of highway, with my husband driving, I was praying out loud for God’s mercy because we had nowhere else to turn. No town was ahead of us, no town behind us. It was pitch dark outside, late and getting later, colder and darker. We cried out for His goodness to follow us, to lead us and for His mercy to sustain us. He did just that. When we were tempted to worry, God reminded us of His goodness. When we were tempted to take our eyes off of Him and onto the desolate road in front of us, He reminded us our help was found in Him, and Him alone. When we were tempted to turn around and go back, He reminded us we needed to God forward in Him, not backwards. With the Lord’s complete guidance, we did in fact make it to our destination, intact.

As we put our trust, hope and hearts upon the Lord, we experienced His peace, His grace and His love. We were so thankful for this demonstration of God’s presence in our lives in real time and in our very real moment of desperation.

The Bible says in Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV), “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” This is truth. God’s peace does guard our hearts and minds. He keeps us in peace and places protection found in His Presence around us so we cannot falter. And it is good. So good.

Are you needing His goodness, love and mercy in your situation? Why not cry out to God and allow Him to pour them over you and leave you in His perfect peace?

Let’s Pray: Father God, You are amazing and Your goodness, love and mercy are what I need, now and every day. Forgive me for when I have allowed myself to fret when I should have gone to You immediately. I am here, asking for Your goodness to follow me. Your love to chase me. And Your mercy to envelope me. I praise You for all You do. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection: “Goodness of God” by CeCe Winans. 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:

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Devotionals for the Heart: Surrender

The Way of Surrender
A devotional by Jamie De Silvia

“Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”—Mark 14:36 (NIV)

I had very little church background when I gave my life to Jesus Christ on Valentine’s Day in 1988. With a great deal of curiosity and determination, I set out to learn all that I could about the One who had saved me. Oh, how I yearn to share with my 16-year-old self the insights and wisdom I've gained since then about walking with Jesus.

I would tell her not to worry so much about her sin, that Jesus went to the cross knowing she would make a million mistakes, both deliberately and unintentionally. I would assure her that our Heavenly Father is carrying her in His hands, not holding her at arm's length in disapproval. I would warn her against wasting years of her life trying to please God by performing in her own strength. I’d tell her that transformation isn’t her job—it’s the Holy Spirit inside her who will accomplish it. I would take her hand, look her in the eyes, and tell her that the answer to every problem and challenge is simply surrender.

Today, I understand what I could not comprehend on that special day 36 years ago: The most important thing for me to practice is letting go of control and putting my full trust in the Lord. It took me a long time to come to this realization because many things are easier than surrender. Worrying, performing, controlling, planning, and analyzing are all easier than surrendering. Jesus Himself showed us when He was pleading with God in the Garden of Gethsemane, how agonizing it can be to lay down your own will and accept God’s will instead.

Surrendering to the Father’s call to the cross was likely the very hardest thing that Jesus was required to do. Laying down His life and saying yes to God caused Him to feel “deeply distressed and troubled” and his soul was “overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death” (Mark 14:33-34). This agony was not just about dying. Jesus knew that saying yes to God meant surrendering control over the present moment and the outcome—as well as His body, His voice, His ministry, His disciples, and His life.

According to Mark 14:36 (NIV), Jesus called to “Abba, Father” because God was the only One who could help Him. He professed his faith and trust when He said, “Everything is possible for You.” He still asked for an alternate path when He whispered, “Take this cup from me.” And finally He surrendered with these words: “Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

Knowing how difficult this was for Jesus gives us two helpful insights. The first insight is that He understands how hard surrender is to do. Jesus knows that surrender can feel like suffering, and even He wanted to suffer less. He knows it will take a lot of practice for us to learn to let God choose the cup that we drink from, surrendering all other alternatives as He did.

The second insight is that if true surrender pushed Jesus to His limit, how much more will it push us beyond our limits? I am here to testify that we absolutely cannot do it in our own power. We need Jesus to hold our hand and provide the willingness, determination, and power to lay down control of our lives and our will.

Beloved, Jesus sees how hard it is for you to let go. He knows the fear and grief that accompany surrender. He understands your questions and concerns. Share them! Invite Him into your wrestling and then ask Him to help you say, “Not my will, but Yours be done.”

Let’s Pray:
Lord, I confess to wanting my own way so much of the time. Open my eyes to see the daily situations that allow me to practice yielding control. Jesus, show me the way of surrender. Teach me to trust in the Father as You did when You were here on Earth. Have Your way in me. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection: “I Surrender All” by CeCe Winans. Listen to it here.

Author Bio:

Jamie De Silvia is an author and speaker from Southern California with a passion for helping women connect with the heart of God. She hosts the “Pressing In” podcast.

She has authored two devotional books: Come Hear the Song of the Shepherd (a 30-day devotional journey through Psalm 23), and You Shall Be Praised (a 40-day devotional offering a fresh perspective on Proverbs 31).

You can find her on Instagram and Facebook daily, offering encouragement to help you draw closer to Jesus Christ.

Jamie is married with two adult daughters and a teenage son. She is also a homeschooling mom who enjoys oil painting, playing games with her family, and savoring a good chai latte.

Monday, April 8, 2024

Devotionals for the Heart: What the Solar Eclipse Taught Me about Life

Reflections about the Solar Eclipse
A devotional by Aubrey Taylor

“The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.”—Revelation 21:23 (NIV)

Many Americans have been looking forward to this day, April 8, for over a year because of the solar eclipse. This is especially true in my hometown, which happens to lie directly in the arc that cuts from Mexico to Canada, where residents can view a total solar eclipse without having to travel.

With such an exciting moment upon us, I asked God to give me a few things to reflect on today. If you live in another part of the country, or another country altogether, I pray these meditations might still bless you.

During a solar eclipse, the moon’s shadow seems to blot out the brightness of the sun. It is amazing that something so much smaller than the sun can block out such great light. This made me think: How often do I allow small things to block out the light of God? Whether they are bad things or good things, do I allow them to linger in the forefront of my mind, dimming His light and casting a shadow in my life?

Of course, there are dark seasons in our lives that seem to fall over us though we have done nothing to bring them on. During an eclipse, the sun’s light is temporarily blocked by the moon, but it does not stay that way. The moon moves on, continuing in the path laid out for it from before time. Likewise, God moves seasons of darkness in and out of our lives at their appointed times.

The most exciting part of a solar eclipse is called “totality”, which is when the moon’s shadow completely covers the sun. This darkest moment is the only time at which the sun’s corona can be seen from Earth. It seems to me that in my own darkest moments, I get to know God in special ways that I never would have if I had lived continually in light and warmth.

My husband purchased special glasses for us to use to view the eclipse. Looking directly at the sun can damage the eyes. Likewise, God is so holy, no one can look upon Him and live. Yet one day we will see Him face to face. We will see Him as He truly is! According to 1 Corinthians 13:12 (KJV), “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” The concept of seeing through a glass darkly is the English rendering of a single Greek word; ainigma (from which we get our English word “enigma”). It means something that is obscured.

The part of the country I live in happens to be known for long, dark winters in which the sun is regularly obscured by clouds. We may go for weeks without seeing the sun. It is difficult and depressing. It can sometimes be hard to remember that the sun is even there! When I first began struggling with depression decades ago, I did not know that Jesus Christ would eventually bring me out. I had to live through a few of those seasons before I learned to trust that the darkness would end, and the Son (Jesus who is the Light of the world) would shine again.

One day, there will be no more dark clouds, no more eclipses, and no more night—there will be no sun, either! Revelation 21:23 (NIV) tells us that the New Jerusalem (God’s city), “does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.”

So much anticipation and preparation has gone into this day. It has been estimated that 500,000 people will flood our area to view the eclipse today. Local hotels have been booked for months, road signs are calling for gridlock, and my family has been invited to three separate “eclipse watching parties.” Yet the spectacle will only last a few minutes. When we see Jesus Christ in Heaven, we will be in His presence forever. In light of that, let us ask God that we might view His return with still greater anticipation!

Let’s Pray: Dear Jesus, thank You for the beauty of creation, the sun and moon which give us our seasons, and the way their predictable rotation reminds us of your faithfulness. I pray that Your light will never be eclipsed in my life, and that I will learn to look forward to Your second coming with greater anticipation. In Your Name I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection #1: “No More Night” by David Phelps. Listen to it here.

Song of Reflection #2:
“Light of That City” by Allison Durham Speer. 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!

Along with writing devotionals, Aubrey is the author of the German-perspective 20th Century Fiction series, Gott Mit Uns. She lives in Upstate New York with her husband and three children. When she’s not writing or taking care of her home and family, she enjoys singing and dancing with friends from a German choir and a Bavarian folk dancing group. She is also a lover of Jesus Christ, The Holy Bible, history, German culture, tea, and cats!

Connect with Aubrey:
Amazon Author Page:

Friday, April 5, 2024

Devotionals for the Heart: What reading a prophet's journal taught me

Life Lessons Learned from Reading a Prophet’s Journal
A devotional by Chaplain Paul Anderson

“The Lord God is my strength, my source of courage, my invincible army. He has made my feet steady and sure like hinds feet. And makes me walk forward with spiritual confidence on my high places of challenge and responsibility.”—Habakkuk 3:19 (AMP)

The first time that I went to Greece, I was a young sailor.

The ship that I was assigned to pulled into a remote port that was surrounded on three sides by mountains. As the other sailors and I awaited a bus to take us to town, we noticed animals moving down the steep and rocky mountainside.

They looked small, but realizing how far away from them that we were, we realized that they had to be pretty large animals. As we watched them confidently traverse the treacherous slope, we realized that they were mountain goats. They fearlessly trod down the mountain slope because they were sure footed by nature.

I remembered reading Habakkuk and later that evening, I reread this small prophetic book of the Old Testament. Habakkuk 3:19 is really the culmination of a dialogue that the prophet had with God. The little book is like a journal that the prophet wrote to remind himself and us that God still communes, converses and confides in us.

Habakkuk was a minor prophet, not because his message was petty, but because his prophetic testimony was short. He starts his journal by complaining to God about the state of affairs in which he currently lived. Apparently his social and spiritual environment was unsafe, violent, and unstable. Law enforcement was unreliable because even the people most inclined to righteous living were marginalized by the wicked.

He did not see the hand of God and wondered where God was and if His promises of deliverance were still valid. God responds with an assurance that the trajectory of His plans exceeded Habakkuk’s perceptivity, but they were sure to happen.

The prophet responds in Habakkuk 2:1 (ESV) with a second complaint that seems a bit flippant. He wrote, “I will take my stand at my watchpost and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what he will say to me, and what I will answer concerning my complaint.”

Is challenging God okay? Perhaps we’re saying, “God, I’m looking for you! What will you do?” Is that okay? I think so! In our journals, where we write our struggles, temptations, failures, successes and reflections, we can converse with God. He is eternal, yet contemporary. He was Emmanuel and His Name means, “God is with us”. The New Testament writer, Paul, in 1 Corinthians 6:19 says that our bodies are the temple of God’s Holy Spirit. This means that He is with us through the whispers of our consciences and the spurring in our souls.

When Habakkuk recognized that God had not left nor forsaken him, his prose was converted from complaint to a trusting testimony. Habakkuk gave glory to God for being the source of his courage and strength. Knowing this, he became brave enough to face his challenges in life. We could learn Habakkuk’s story and share his prayer and praise report too!

Let’s Pray: Thank You, God, for blessing us with the favor of your plan and purpose in our lives. As we go through today, grant us the focus of Habakkuk, to lean forward with courage rather than looking around in fear. May our faith be reflected in our being and our deeds. Let us be your hands, eyes, ears, feet and heart to the world around us. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection: “Everlasting God” by William Murphy. Listen to it here.

Author Bio:

Chaplain Anderson is the Director Emeritus of Adventist Chaplaincy Ministries for the North American Division. In this role, he was the friend, advocate and gatekeeper for the profession of chaplaincy among Adventist pastors.

His new mission is to specialize in personal and personnel development coaching.
He journeys with and guides clients, personal and corporate, as they define their goals and grow into their full potential.

His pastoral career began in the Allegheny East Conference where he was ordained.

Subsequently, he served in the Potomac Conference at the Sligo and Seabrook churches. His professional dream was to be a chaplain in the United States Navy. He got to live that dream and achieved the rank of Commander before retiring from Naval service in 2015 with 26 years of service.

Chaplain Anderson has earned four graduate degrees: He earned his Master of Divinity Degree was earned at the seminary at Andrews University. He earned a Master’s of Education from the University of Maryland and a Master’s in Sacred Theology from Boston University. His Doctor of Ministry was conferred by Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington D.C.

Chaplain Anderson and his wife Debra have been married for 41 years. They have two healthy, saved and well-adjusted adult children who picked good spouses and delivered four grandchildren.

Adventures through traveling, reading, praying, preaching, teaching and writing are the avenues of ministry and self-care that define his now and his destiny.

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

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Devotionals for the Heart: Why change requires us to be devoted

Change Requires Devotion
A devotional by Sharon Musgrove

“The believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the community, to their shared meals, and to their prayers.”—Acts 2:42 (CEB)

“What are you reading these days?” A good friend asked me during a recent phone call.

I looked at the pile of books on my coffee table, feeling ashamed that I had started so many personal development texts and was struggling to complete even one.

“I’m reading five books right now,” I replied honestly, choosing to be real to both me and my sister-in-Christ, “but I am having difficulty finishing them.”

I explained how impressed I was with the content of the books, but when it came to applying the suggested behavioral changes, I fell short. Trying to make big modifications on my own, and keeping consistent, seemed impossible.

As we talked, I remembered reading a Bible passage where thousands of people turned their lives around, changing their customary behaviors. The Apostle Luke recorded this event, known as the birth of the Church, in the New Testament book of Acts.

Acts 2 tells the story of the Apostle Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, preaching the truth of Jesus Christ to the people in Jerusalem. A few weeks prior, the same crowd had the Messiah crucified on the cross. Now, hearing the accurate account, they were feeling deep conviction of having done God wrong, and sought change.

“When the crowd heard this, they were deeply troubled. They said to Peter and the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what should we do?’” –Acts 2:37 (CEB)

Peter immediately gave them instruction. According to Acts 2:38 (CEB), he replied, “Change your hearts and lives. Each of you must be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Acts 2:41 tells us that about three thousand people accepted Peter’s message that day and were baptized! And they didn’t stop their transformation there. Our feature scripture reveals the action steps these early Christians took to radically change their lives. According to Acts 2:42 (CEB), “The believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the community, to their shared meals, and to their prayers.”

They devoted themselves. The turn about from bad behavior to good habits requires a level of commitment that is all in.We see that the believers were all in with submission to the Apostles’ teachings, meeting daily in the Temple (Acts 2:46). They were all in being accountable to the community, sharing everything they owned, food and belongings, with one another (Acts 2:42 and Acts 2:44). And they were all in praying to God (Acts 2:42).

What did not happen was an attempt to go it alone. The early Church did not practice once a week and then retreat home to the same-same routine. Changing their lives required daily work and accountability to others. The result of this devotion to change was a community that came together for good rather than for bad. And God blessed them with growth—personal growth and church growth.

Are there changes in your life that you know need to happen, yet you struggle to implement them? Has a daily discipline of reading your Bible or praising God been difficult to maintain?

Let’s let the early believers teach us how to proceed from deep conviction to blessed by God by following their example of devotion: Devotion to God. Devotion to others. And devotion to practicing daily disciplines of Bible learning, generosity with one another, and prayer.

Let’s Pray: Heavenly Father, we love You and want to please You. But we struggle to change from old habits. Fill us Your Holy Spirit to help us with Your desire for our lives. Thank You for the example we find in the Acts 2 church. Help us to be all in for Your Kingdom and Your people. We pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Song of Reflection: “Change Me Now” by Babbie Mason. Listen here.

Author Bio:

Sharon Musgrove 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 programs primarily served women in the homeless community. 

Sharon has traveled multiple times to Kenya, serving on medical teams and teaching in the rural Maasai communities. She was 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.

Identifying personally with the brokenness of the women she’s served, Sharon sees the great need for encouragement and connection. Within ministries served, Sharon has witnessed the transformative power of loving words spoken to the broken-hearted. Sharing God’s love and building cross-cultural communities has become her passion.

In her leisure time, Sharon enjoys nature, deep conversations, and a good story. She and her husband, Jeff, divide their time between Oregon and Hawaii. They have two grown children.

Currently, Sharon is encouraging others via her inspirational blog, writing devotionals for other websites, and is working on a nonfiction book titled The Whole-Of-Us: Putting Church Back Together.

Connect with Sharon:

Monday, April 1, 2024

My review of "Someone Like You" movie and a book giveaway for you

My Review of Someone Like You (movie)

Today, I have another movie review for you and a giveaway contest at the end of this post! In case you didn’t know, Great American 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!

Great American 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, Great American Pure Flix streaming service has the largest variety of high-quality, curated, positive, encouraging, wholesome movies, series and kids' content in one service.

Great American Pure Flix VIP Ambassador program asked me via Momentum Influencers Network to review the movie they are promoting, Someone Like You.

Here’s the synopsis of Someone Like You with words from Momentum: Based on the popular novel by #1 NY Times Bestselling author Karen Kingsbury, Someone Like You is an achingly beautiful redemptive love story. Shocking news hits after young architect Dawson Gage loses his best friend, London Quinn. Now in his heartbreak, Dawson is compelled to launch an impossible search for London’s secret twin sister, twins separated as embryos. But along the way, Dawson never planned to fall in love.

Now for my review:

This beautiful movie, Someone Like You, is based on a fiction story of the same title. New York Times bestselling author Karen Kingsbury wrote the novel and made it into a movie presented by her own company (Karen Kingsbury Productions).

Someone Like You is more than a sweet second chance romance story. It is a poignant tale of love, loss, heartbreak, family matters, redemption and how God is always in the details.

Sarah Fisher plays two separate but intertwined roles: London Quinn and Andi Allen. She did a brilliant and very convincing job of playing these twin sisters, such a brilliant work that I didn’t realize that it was Fisher playing both women until I did research to write this review! Fisher knows how to be in character in the truest since because London and Andi who never met in this movie, though twins, are very different. London likes to live on the wild side. She’s a go-getter with a daring mind and a vivacious personality. Andi is sweet, smart and shy. But both characters are very beautiful and carry a light. London’s light is her love for life and she’s vowed to never go to an actual church though the stage (theater) is like her church, while Andi’s is the light she carries as a Christian for Jesus Christ.

Jake Allyn plays Dawson Gage. He’s a very good looking architect with a heart of gold and love for Jesus Christ. He’s also a gentlemen and London’s best friend. He always treated her with respect and care. London doesn’t fully realize that Jake is in love with her. I could tell that it broke his heart to hear London’s stories about her boyfriends over the years because he realized she only sees him (Jake) as a platonic friend. It pulled at my heartstrings to see the pain in Jake’s eyes as he realized the love of his life (London) will never see him more than her buddy not her future husband. But it made me smile later on in the film when I saw how Andi was falling for Jake and seeing him much more than a “friend” and he was falling for her too—not because she looked like London but because she’s Andi and he grew to adore everything about her as a woman, friend and individual.

London and Andi never meet each other in this movie. Andi doesn’t even know she was adopted when she was an embryo. Andi spent her entire life up until a pivotal scene in the movie, believing her parents were her biological mom and dad. Before meeting Dawson and hearing the truth from her parents, Andi is living a full life with her family, friends and her boyfriend who plans to propose. But her world comes crashing down around her when she finds out everything she believed about her family was a lie. So she packs up, jumps into her vehicle and with Dawson’s help, Andi searches for the truth. This journey leads her to so much more than the answers she’s seeking; it leads her to a deeper understanding of people, life and true love.

There is tragedy in this movie but I won’t go into details so I won’t ruin the plot for you. However, I can promise you that this film has a wonderfully satisfying ending and everything comes together—tragedy and triumph—in a way that will make your heart smile.

Finally, I’d like to acknowledge what wonderful job Kingsbury and her movie production team did on this film! You cannot tell that they didn’t have help from any popular Hollywood studios. Everything about this movie—the acting, the set design, the hair/makeup/wardrobe, the writing, the plot, the entire cinematography—was remarkable! I believe this movie should win awards.

I think you’ll love this movie. But don’t take my word for it. Go see it for yourself!

More words from Momentum:

Buy tickets today to see Someone Like You in theaters starting April 2, 2024!

Families everywhere are making plans to see this beautiful love story, based on Karen’s bestselling book by the same name. Someone Like You has a message of God’s healing and hope, love and redemption. And it’s Rated PG! So, you and your kids truly can enjoy a special movie outing together!

Watch the trailer for Someone Like You:

Buy tickets to see Someone Like You in theaters:

Follow Someone Like You on social media:

Visit the official movie page for Someone Like You:

Official website for Karen Kingsbury (Author of Someone Like You):

1on1 with Sarah Fisher & Karen Kingsbury (Someone Like You) hosted by ScreenFish:

Final Notes:

Enter the giveaway contest via the Rafflecopter link below for a chance to win one signed copy of the book, Someone Like You by Karen Kingsbury. This is limited to U.S. winners only.

Here is the Giveaway Contest link:

Many thanks to Karen Kingsbury Productions for providing a sample of the product for this review. Opinions are 100% my own and are not influenced by monetary compensation.

#SomeoneLikeYouMIN #someonelikeyoumovie, @karenkingsbury, @someonelikeyoumovie