PEACE, BE STILL

Our world has changed significantly in the past few weeks. However, some things are true in any storm. Fear can overtake our common sense, but faith and prayer will see us through.

Our book club chose to read Ruth Graham’s wonderful book, Fear Not Tomorrow, God is Already There. I’m a fan! I am so thankful for her well-written, encouraging words of truth.  Funny how God brought this book into our lives “for such a time as this.”

While reading Ruth’s book, I listed all the storms Jesus calmed during His time on Earth and how they significantly changed the lives of those involved.

Consider the woman caught in adultery. In her day, adultery brought a storm of stones, but remember what happened to her? Jesus asked a simple question: who among you is without sin? Poof – the storm walked away with her accusers, and the woman was changed . . . her life completely altered by her Creator.

Jarius, a synagogue ruler, asked Jesus to calm a storm in his life. He needed Jesus to come heal his twelve-year-old daughter who was near death. Instead, on the way to Jarius’s house, another storm blew in.

A woman whose life was plagued by severe bleeding for twelve years believed if she touched Jesus, she’d be healed. Jesus stopped the procession to Jarius’s place and sought the person who had touched Him.

Didn’t He know who she was? Of course, He did! Maybe he drew her out from the crowd to acknowledge her existence and her faith. Since women were shunned and considered unclean during menstruation, we can speculate this woman couldn’t attend social gatherings for a dozen years. No doubt her friends were probably sick and tired of listening to her prolonged problem. When Jesus shone His spotlight on her, all that changed. Her faith and healing catapulted her into the public eye. Storm over.

In the meantime, Jarius’s storm escalated to a Category 5. His daughter died, but that didn’t deter his belief in Jesus. When Jesus entered the home, He dismissed the wailers and unbelievers, and raised the girl to life.

We’re experiencing a storm today – a nasty one – but stay tuned. Next week, during part two of Peace, Be Still, a short man will climb a tree and a squall will hit the Sea of Galilee. And Jesus will bring peace and hope into those storms, and ours too. Trust Him!

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matt:19:26 NIV)

By Amre Cortadino

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FIXING A SANDWICH

My friend says that I am part of the sandwich generation. I have elderly parents that need help from time to time, and my children are young adults that still need a bit of guidance. I get “squeezed” from both sides of the bread. Add into my sandwich–keeping my faith nourished, a busy work schedule, family, bills, house cleaning, yard duties, and other assorted responsibilities–and the filling in my sandwich begins to get messy.

I was in the middle of a sandwich ooze when I went to a Lenten Coffee at church. Our speaker was a busy lady who hit the wall of busy-ness hard. She realized God didn’t make us to be superhuman. He made us to worship Him and go out into the world in His strength…not ours.

When our speaker read Psalm 103:13-14, I had an “Ah-Ha” moment.
“As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. “(NIV)

I had been trying to live life in my own strength, and when I was weary and life didn’t go as planned, I felt like a failure. What did I need to do when life went sideways, or sandwich toppings were laid on thick? I needed to seek God straightaway in prayer. Ask for God’s strength to get me through a busy schedule. Ask for His wisdom to know what took priority in my life. Ask for calmness of heart, so I wouldn’t sweat the small stuff that was beyond my control. I needed to “meet” God and put life into perspective.

I needed a reminder that I came from dust. I’m not Superwoman or Wonder Girl—except in the eyes of God who gave me life.

During this busy Lenten season, may we focus on Jesus and all that God has done for us. Jesus conquered death and gives us eternal life through His shed blood on the cross. We may have come from dust, but in Christ we are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139: 14).

Guest blog by Barbara Britton

https://www.barbarambritton.com
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STRENGTHENING OUR CORE

We live at a time when tensions and fear run high. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) classifies the coronavirus as pandemic. In other words, the CDC believes this virus has spread across continents and possibly throughout the world. The U.S. has closed its borders to visitors from some foreign countries. Grocery stores can’t stock their shelves fast enough. The stock market recently has taken significant hits.

So what do we do?

Several years ago, before yoga, pilates, and the barre, the craze sweeping the health and fitness world had to do with core strength training—exercises to strengthen your midsection—your abdominal and back muscles. Why strengthen your core? A number of advocates say a stronger core promotes better balance and stability.

I suggest we go back to strengthening our core. That is, our core beliefs.

The Bible mentions the word fear approximately 500 times. On occasion its use describes the benefits of fearing (respecting, loving, trusting) God. Other times it encourages us not to fear but to place our trust in God.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. (Prov.3:5 NLT)

We have no previous point of reference or historical data for the situation we’re currently facing. We can use good common-sense regarding hygiene (handwashing, covering a sneeze/cough, disinfecting surfaces), drinking water, and travel restrictions. However, there’s only one place our fears belong. Only one power alone can alleviate them.

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.  (Psalm 56:3 NIV)

David faced many fear-inducing situations, i.e., a bear, a lion, and a giant. So often he says he prayed and meditated on the Word of God. Consider this:

My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. (Psalm 121:2 NIV)

The following words were penned long ago by someone God gave abundant opportunities to put aside his fear and strengthen his trust in Him. Moses wrote:

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. (Deut. 31:6 NIV)

It’s time to exercise our core beliefs. Do a search in the Bible for words of encouragement like trust, hope, or strength. I found one hundred references with the word strength without breaking a sweat (pardon the pun!). Another idea—listen to Christian songs with the word strength in them. Hint:  look up top ten Christian songs about strength on www.godtube.com.  May I suggest:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k47xB8eoT5g

Warning:  retaining our core beliefs may involve exercising facial muscles too. Smile. Not because we know what tomorrow holds, but we know who holds every one of our days, and we know He is faithful and just.

Blog post Amre Cortadino

www.merryheartink.com

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Heaven’s Standard Time

A friend and I chatted today about the time change this weekend. Just as different seasons affect some folks, resetting the clock does the same to others. Her husband is one of them. To spring ahead and fall behind presents a challenge for him.

Someday we’ll be on Heaven’s Standard Time! No clocks to change, just eternity to live! Isn’t that thrilling?

 

This whole time change debacle began years ago when Benjamin Franklin believed we were wasting light. In 1907, his notion of saving daylight caught on in England. The United States Congress saw its merits and instituted the Daylight Saving Time Act in 1918. The reason? To better utilize our resources – as Franklin had said.

Over the next several years, individual states adopted or repealed, honored or disavowed the act.

Then in 1966 Congress again passed legislation to permanently set standard time, giving individual states no choice in the matter. However, most of Arizona and Hawaii and some U.S. territories thumbed their noses at the law.

Would you believe? Even that law wasn’t the final be-all and end-all on this timely topic. In August 2005, the Energy Policy Act changed the particular Sunday and the month to observe saving our resources.

Thank God, His promises are based on His unchanging character, not convenience or any other factor.

The author of Hebrews packs the final chapter of the book with verses of encouragement. Here’s one of them:

Jesus is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Heb.13:8, NIV)

When everything around us is changing, even the time, we can stand firm on the fact that God never changes. He’s the same every time, every day, and every year. His love for us will remain always and forever.

Blog post by Amre Cortadino

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AMAZE JESUS

I read a post recently on proverbs31.org from January 7, 2020, “How to Amaze Jesus,” which put a new spark in my mind.

A centurion asked Jesus to heal his servant and said he knew Jesus could do it by just speaking the word. He knew Jesus didn’t need to come to his house, and the centurion didn’t feel he deserved for Jesus to come there.

And “Jesus was amazed.” (Matthew 8: 5-10 NIV)

God was amazed!

The writer of this post divided the amazement into three parts: the man’s humility, his selflessness, and his limitless faith in what Jesus could do.

That’s what I want to happen in my life. I want to amaze Jesus.

What can that look like in my writing?

Be humble. Any time I look at my writing and see something I really like, remember that it is a gift from God. It is by His hands writing the words along with mine. Talk about an amazing thought!

Be selfless. My goal is not to make money or to win the approval of others. My goal is to shine God’s love and hope into the lives of readers.

And have limitless faith?

This is tough, but it’s what I want to do. I want to open myself up to listen to the marvelous ideas and stories which God is able to give me.

I’ve been a Christian for a long time. None of these are new ideas for me.

But they’ve just lit a bright spark in me, and I have a God Who can keep them in the front of my mind.

Ephesians 3: 20-21 says, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.”

Guest post by Kathy McKinsey

http://www.kathymckinsey.com/

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MEDITATING WITH GOD

Most mornings I sit in the living room with my cup of tea and spend time with God. I turn my phone on silent and make sure I won’t be interrupted. I keep a post-it note and pen close by to jot down inspirations after the meditation session. I close my eyes and focus on the Lord. While I draw in a deep breath, my mind drifts. During this time I feel God’s presence.

Then I begin to receive Divine revelation. Situations I didn’t realize were significant to me become apparent. Emotions I suppressed resurface. The Lord purges and percolates my whole being to reveal what’s truly important—from his point of view. I remember to send a card or an uplifting email to someone who needs it. As a writer, I receive downloads for sections of the book I am writing. I am honored and amazed that God provides me with insight. I just need to set aside time to be with him.

Spending a few minutes every morning with the Lord brings peace to my mind and soul. Christian meditation is beneficial to our overall well-being. So today, take a few minutes to meditate on the Lord.

I will meditate about your glory, splendor, majesty, and miracles. Psalm 145:5 (TLB)

Guest post by author Susan U. Neal

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THE LANGUAGE OF LOVE

As the sun made its appearance this morning, a song I hadn’t heard in years came to mind. I tried to remember the words . . . The sun shines bright on the old Kentucky home.

I left my Kentucky home in 2004 and moved farther south. The culture and people were not that different. The dialect was basically the same other than a few words here and there. Y’all quickly became part of my vocabulary instead of you all.

After living in East Tennessee for eleven years and embedding myself in the community, our family picked up and moved far north to Alaska. Being four thousand miles from the south meant everything was different. The weather, the food, and the dialect.

We have been here almost five years now, I have adapted to the culture. I eat differently, think differently, and live differently. Survival is at the forefront of my mind more than ever before. You don’t live in -60 temperatures without survival instincts kicking in.

According to my Alaskan friends, the one thing that hasn’t changed would be my southern accent.

It’s often they try to imitate me. Sometimes it comes out pretty good, other times not so much, but I laugh – thrilled at their attempt.

When my native friends occasionally sing or speak in their native tongue, I don’t always know what they’re saying but I think it’s beautiful.

Something I have found to be the same, wherever my journey has taken me, is the language of love. Love is universal and has the same characteristics wherever you are in the world. If I’m in a fly-in village far away from everything or in a bustling city, God’s love is present in a  warm embrace, spending time together, helping out a friend in need. Love is only a feeling until it is put into action. When we come together in unity and love we all speak the same language.

Guest post by Shelly Sulfridge

https://www.facebook.com/shelly.sulfridge

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The Rising Sun

Living in Interior Alaska gives those of us crazy enough to call the subarctic terrain home many lessons on the character of God. I was recently reminded of such while chatting with a friend. I told her how excited I was to see the sunbeams peeking over the treetops. While we don’t have as much dark in Tok as the folks up in Utqiaġvik (formerly known as Barrow), if you aren’t at the crossroads between a certain time of day during November and December, you won’t be seeing the sun. Daylight, yes, but the actual sun barely rises above the horizon during these two months.

My friend chuckled. “The sun always rises, even if it takes a few months.”

That little statement said in jest got me to thinking about how our lives can sometimes look like an Alaskan winter … dark. Sometimes our struggles and circumstances can seem never-ending, like we may be stuck in them forever. It’s important to remember, the Son always rises.

Yet, it’s deeper than that. The longer I pondered, the more I realized just how much I could learn from the dark days of winter. The thing is, the sun doesn’t shine on us living up here at the top of the world until the Earth tilts back towards it. The sun doesn’t move. It stays constant, unwavering in its providing for the earth. It’s the earth that tilts away.

God is always constant, never-wavering, “the same yesterday and today and forever.” All we have to do is tip our focus to Him. He’s there, waiting to shine upon us.

I pray you tilt your face to the Lord in trust. He promises He will not fail to rise.

Guest blog post by Sara Blackard

www.sarablackard.com

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WASHED AWAY

A few weeks ago, I added some potting soil to one of my houseplants. As I used my hands to spread the dirt evenly among the plant stems, dirt granules stuck to my skin. My fingernails, hands, and both arms (from wrists to elbow) were dirt spattered. And the feeling was uncomfortable. I felt the dirt ‘crawling’ up my skin. I could no longer concentrate on doing my best with the plant. I sprinted to the bathroom sink, and washed away every granule of dirt.

As I did, I thought about how that dirt compares to sin in our lives, when The Holy Spirit convicts our hearts. We are burdened until we confess our sins to our Father who forgives us. HE cleanses us from all our unrighteousness.

Because we’ve been washed in The blood of the Lamb, we are saved, sealed, and delivered!

What a powerful statement of unconditional, sacrificial love . JESUS who had no dirt (literal or sin wise), came down to earth to save us.   From the cradle to the cross, Jesus mission was to wash away the dirt of our sins with His cleansing blood.

He took our sins on Himself as He was crucified on an old rugged cross. Why?

Love and obedience to ABBA FATHER.

Love for you and me.  (1 John 1: 7-9, John 3:16, Romans 5:6-10)

Thank you Father!

Guest post by Sharon Simms

(Please see Sharon Simms’s encouraging posts on Facebook)

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LOST PHONE FOUND

The night of my seventy-eighth birthday, I lost my phone.

Half a mile from Walmart, I searched my pockets, the seat, and the floor. Twenty years ago, when people picked up a cell phone to say, “We’ll be there in ten minutes,” I scoffed. “Why don’t they plan ahead?” Yet I felt naked without mine.

Back at Walmart, I patted down the carts where I had parked. I went in and I asked clerks. I looked on, under, behind, and beside the check-out counter.

I went back out and asked people by my car. “Can you call my phone? Maybe it’s hiding here in my car.” Three persons were too busy, but a kid called my phone three times. No ring from inside the car.

He said, “Pray.”

“What?”

“Pray. Ask the Lord to find your phone, and He will.”

So, while he gripped his steering wheel, I said, “Lord, please find my phone for me.” He drove on, and I went home.

I emailed Kari, our daughter in Virginia, to please tell my wife, at a funeral in Michigan, not to expect a text from me. I listened inside the car again while Kari called my number. Then she called my Walmart in Alabama and asked them if my phone had showed up. Ten minutes later, they called back. A cart pusher had turned in my phone. She emailed me.

I went into Customer Service. “Our daughter says you found my phone.” Faces lit up, and a clerk dove for a filing cabinet. She came up smiling and handed me the phone. Three of us tried an over-the-counter hug.

The next morning my phone showed forty-three calls from Kari and three from an unknown number. I texted, “The Lord found my phone like you said.”

In Customer Service, the clerks’ faces were new to me. “Do you know which cart pusher found my phone?”

Blank looks. “We don’t know that kind of thing. Sorry.”

I stopped the cart pusher in the parking lot. “Did you find my phone?”

“Not that I recall.”

No answer has come from my text, but I started my seventy-eighth year with a phone in my hand, so I, too, can schedule things at the last minute. Life is good.

Guest post by Dave Parks

http://elijahblog.com

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