Welcome to Mountain Breeze Devotions

Mountain Breeze Devotions began in May of 2003. This ministry is an email ministry sending devotionals and meditations seven days a week by request.
It is the sister site of www.ChristianDevotions.US

This is the ministry of authors Cindy Sproles and Eddie Jones. Two friends brought together to serve the Father -- to spread the word to those who may not know and to promote the art and writers of Christian writing.

Welcome to Mountain Breeze Devotions --Cindy Sproles, author

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Worry about Nothing

Why , you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that. –James 4:14, 15.

We find it easy to say, “Don’t worry.” That is, until we have something to worry about ourselves. We find it equally as easy to tell others not to boast and brag, still when we have opportunity, we do likewise.

Often times we find ourselves giving a lot of jaw action and little arm action. The point is simple, our lives need to be Christ-centered. That’s a given. But, truly learning to wait on His will, to put our own wants, desires and boastings to the side and wait. Is hard. We’re selfish by nature. And with today’s attitude of “it’s all about me,” there seems to be less focus on the path that can lead us to spiritual freedom.

We are quick to say, “If it’s God’s will then this will happen or that will happen.” How good of us to assume God’s will. The acceptance of the Father’s will doesn’t come through saying the words, it comes through faithful and time consuming wait. Trust. Prayer. The faith comes in knowing His will shall be manifested when the time is right. Until that time, we need not worry, or boast, or assume–only wait patiently. Worry about nothing. Trust in fully in the presence of God. His will shall come to pass.

Prayer: Father, we fall to our knees praying, worshiping and loving You.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. -Romans 8:24,25

We’ve all heard the expression, “Let’s hope for the best.” It’s commonly used for any type of situation we that may befall us. I began to think, exactly what do we hope for? We never hope for the joys we already have, only the things we do not have.

The book of Romans is filled with thought provoking instances. Paul was probably in Corinth when he wrote to the Romans in this letter. His “hope” was to revisit them somewhere along the way, however until that visit he made great effort to train them in his “hope of a personal” ministry for their church members. The wisdom packed in the pages of the letter to the Romans is amazing.

Throughout his ministry, Paul spoke of a continuing hope, a burning desire to minister to each other as well as to those outside the confines of the church. He wanted to “fine tune” us, so to speak. When he wrote the scripture, “Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait patiently” he made a major impact on the thought process of the church.

We hope and wonder what will happen in our lives from day to day. Usually, it’s the things we have high expectations for that we wish for the most. However, Paul makes a good point. If we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait patiently. That puts a new spin on what we wish for. This remark takes the limelight from our personal desires to the desires of necessity. Hoping for things we do not yet have. The tables now focus on the needs and not the wants. When we learn to hope with a pure faith that God will provide the needs of the church, then we are falling into a humility that is precious–trusting fully in His saving grace.

What do you hope for? Is it to see the next NFL football game or to go to the next big dinner function. Or do you hope for the things your inner most life does not have? I urge you to intentionally ponder that question? What does your life lack spiritually? Pray for it, hope for it, and wait patiently to receive.

Prayer: Holy Father, God of all Creation. May we find our hope in You, and You alone.

Monday, October 29, 2007

I Do! I Do! I Do!

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. –Romans 7:15,16

Sometimes I read a scripture and I wonder if people sitting around me see the giant question mark that’s floating over my head. I re-read. Still blank. Re-read again, and scratch my head, then usually skip past to the next verse.

I imagine the apostle Paul was a passionate minister of the word, but I sometimes wonder if I’m just slow or if he really makes sense? Well, he does make sense, but occasionally I have to backtrack and ponder his thoughts.

I was searching for a scripture yesterday when I ran upon the “I do” verses. Reading the verse once; there was the question mark –looming over my head. Following a second pass-by I began to chuckle. My next option was reading out loud. Disaster. All the I do’s began to sound like a frightened bride. Laughter hit and then silliness and I thought to myself, Will God think I’m being disrespectful? That led to reading the verses a third time and the thoughts becoming innately funnier.

You see, I believe God speaks to us frequently, we just don’t pay attention. Today was my day for Him to speak. The best part is, He knew from the moment I opened my Bible that I needed clarification, not just on scripture but on a few life issues. Therefore, he gave me the “I do” verses. In the midst of my confusion reading them, I was forced to break the verses down phrase by phrase. I found out, funny as it may have been, that we all suffer confusion at times. We think we got the instructions right, but when we begin apply them–they go to jumble.

My plate has been too full in the last few months and frankly, it’s catching up with me. I know God has been nudging me to turn loose of some of the “stuff” but it’s hard. It’s just easier to do things myself and know they’re done. However, I realized when I had difficulty sending a simple file via email, that I needed to understand the I Do’s. So, I read the scripture for a third time. “I do NOT understand what I do.” I got that part. “For what I WANT to do, I DON’T.” Alright, I paraphrased just a bit, but I get it now. “but what I hate – I do.” Oh, now I get it. Suddenly it became crystal clear as God spoke to my heart. He said, “Why do you do too much? You don’t want to, but you do it anyway. And when you get to much going, you hate the things you once loved. When are you going to listen to me?”

Well, shucks. When the God makes sense, He really makes sense. The things I love to do are becoming a chore because I can’t spend the time applying myself to what is important. And to think, it took several I do’s to figure it out.

This morning I read my meditation and said, “Okay God, I get it. I’m a little on the slow side, but I get it. Really “I do.” Sometimes God simply has to break it down into a series of I do’s for us to figure out. He uses the things that draw the cartoon question mark over our heads. Unfortunately, most of the time we read them once and mark it down as confusion, never to return there again for clarification. However, if we stop and ponder the I do’s, God opens our hearts to a greater understanding. I understand now, really, I do!

Prayer: Lord, we are sometimes blinded by the obvious, unwilling to hear You speak and even less willing to listen. Forgive us when we fall away from direction and gently nudge us back.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Asking for Prayer

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. – Philippians 4:6

By nature, I am somewhat shy. For those who know me, they may disagree because I can be rather chatty. But, for those few friends who know my heart intimately enough, you’ll find they agree. I’m lousy in a crowd, somewhat backward and bumbling. I can’t think of a thing to say, however in small groups I thrive. When I speak at ladies conferences, a completely different side of me immerges – one that brings the lighter side of me to the surface. The fact is, I like anyone else, is multi-faceted. There is one thing for sure, through it all, I often feel very unworthy.

It’s very easy for me to pray for others but it’s very hard to ask for prayer. I take my prayer life very serious. This is not to say I spend hours on my knees – far from it. There are lots of times I could use some real improvement. I do, however, take prayer requests very seriously. My guess is, if someone is aching enough to ask for prayer, then I should ache equally to oblige their request. Praying for others is easy, but praying for myself is a long, slow, agonizing place.

Perhaps it’s fear. When we pray we are completely exposed–naked, before Christ. Maybe the vulnerability is more than I can take. Or maybe it’s pride. I can’t put my finger on it. I can only say, many times I feel unworthy to ask. My issues seem so trivial compared to those who are dealt a devastating blow. How wrong could I be? Learning to ask for prayer for our self takes practice for most. Meaning, if we ask, someone might see we are struggling. Struggling is a sign of weakness, and we all know – that can’t happen.

We are all human. We all face trials and frustrations. And–we all need prayer. Learning to ask brings us into a submissive heart, and a submissive heart reveals our longing souls. Therefore, ask. Ask. Ask. The more we ask, the more we open ourselves to the Father. The more open we are to the Lord, the easier He can work in us. It’s not selfish to ask others to lift us before God, its scriptural. It’s what Jesus taught and what Paul taught. Seeking His guidance in everything we do brings us into a humble and suitable relationship with God. Asking others to pray for us, allows us to be lifted above the rest and placed into loving hands of the Healer – so ask.

Prayer: Lord, our pride sometimes stands in the way of our needs that need to be placed before You. Teach us we are worthy.

Friday, October 19, 2007

When We Feel As Though We Can't Go On

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. --Isaiah 40:28

There are days when I peer over the rim of my glasses and think to myself. “Shish, will this day not end?” Haven’t you felt like that before? The demands of work and family simply seem to send us into overload. A good friend used an excellent analogy that I think is fair to borrow. He said, “Fog. It’s like I’m in a fog.”

We all tend to overload our plates. After all, the world is much faster paced than it used to be. There’s more to do and less free time to do it. We’re being pulled apart from every angle. Someone wants something every time we turn around. Suddenly, we snap like a twig.

I believe there is something to be said for learning to listen to that still small voice which God offers us. There are times when, if we listen, the Father is saying, “Wait a minute, take a break. I can’t work through you when you’re worn and tattered.” Do we listen? Of course not, we continue on our merry way piling and heaping until neither our bodies nor our minds can function.

I’m in a phase in a phase in my life right now, where the Father is teaching me to slow down. The bad part is, I’m kicking and screaming the entire time. I love the words of Isaiah when he asks two questions – and he asks them somewhat dumbfounded that we don’t get it. He says, “Don’t you know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the end of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.” Isn’t that great? Isaiah is dumbfounded those listening haven’t figured out God doesn’t tire. We do. So it’s our job to rest. God has things under control.

Whether it’s work, or home, or even our work within the church, there are times we all tire. The feelings of “I feel as though I can’t go on” hits us between the eyes. Sometimes, it’s okay to stop things and step back, re-evaluate what we’re doing. Test the waters to see if we are pacing ourselves so that God can work through us appropriately. We are not required to do God’s job of overseeing the world, and we’re pretty presumptuous to think He needs our assistance. Instead, we need to focus on the life that renewed within us. Take our obligations seriously, such as rearing our children to know Christ, setting the example for those who we meet daily, worshiping the Father, and making time to know Him fully. He’s got the rest under control. Sit back, rest for God does not tire or grow weary. He will carry us through.

Prayer: We are tired, Lord. Our minds stressed and our lives are whizzing past. Help us to slow the pace so that we are worthy and able to be the servants You wish us to be. Give us rest.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


A greedy man stirs up dissension, but he who trusts in the Lord will prosper. – Proverbs 28:25

Olivia slammed the kitchen door and threw her purse on the counter. Her mother peered over her glasses from the table. “Issues?”

“I’d say. Get this. I made the final cut for the squad. But I wanted squad captain. Merissa got it. I worked, I mingled, I talked, I smoozed. But I didn’t get captain. That just tees me off.”

Olivia’s mother sighed and shook her head. “Honey, you’re sounding a little selfish here. You should be thrilled you made the team. I’m very proud of you.”

“Mom, you don’t get it. I had no doubt I’d make the team. I’m good. But, I wanted captain. I wanted to be the captain.”

“Well, aren’t you Miss Greedy? I didn’t think your dad and I raised such a shallow daughter. Greed never gets you where you want to go. It’s a temporary thing. But when you grow into a position, earn it with honesty and integrity, you find a real satisfaction.”

Olivia hung her head, shamed into submission. “I know, you’re right. I just wanted it so badly.”

Isn’t this true of most of us? We see things lying in our future that we want so badly we can taste them. Sometimes they consume us completely. Our lives can’t function normally because all we can manage to think about is how to get that dream.

God is a God of abundance. He loves for His children to prosper. However, prosperity in God’s eyes may not be that of the prosperity in our own eyes. Sometimes we have to learn to appreciate the deeper vision of God’s plan and once that happens, then we blossom into the physical rewards of abundance. Learning to find kindness, real kindness, joy and understanding, and a depth of relationship with the Father puts us in line to experience the pouring out of His abundance. It may be that our deepest desires are provided, or it may be simply the grasp of something our heart needs to pull us through another day. Either way, trusting that God knows the way leads us into His overflowing abundance. In His time, in His way, we are blessed with the prosperities that suit us best. Sometimes it’s fame or wealth but at other times it may be contentment.

Prosperity comes at the time in our lives when God knows we are equipped to utilize it appropriately. Trust in Him. Believe that good things come through the God who has created us. Abundance will follow.

Prayer: Father we want so often that it’s hard to weed out the true needs. Help us to trust that You will bring us into the appropriate abundance of Your love.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Love Means Saying You're Sorry

“If you repent, I will restore you, that you may serve me;” – Jeremiah 15:19

When I was in high school the movie, “Love Story” hit the theatres. It was story of a love-hate relationship between two people that ended prematurely when the girl dies from cancer. One pivoting moment in this movie came when the guy told her he was sorry for something he’d done. She looks him in the eye and says, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”

I’ve recently had the opportunity to share a writing venture with a dear friend. As we develop the characters this same love-hate relationship seems to be emerging. For one reason or another this early 1970’s movie keeps bubbling to surface and I continually hear this phrase, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” However profound the comment seemed in the 70’s, it falls nothing short of false.

Explain to me how individuals can develop any sort of lasting relationship without having said they were sorry. It can’t be done (at least if they want something lasting). Many of our churches today focus on the positive aspects of Christianity. God is love. God forgives. God understands. However, somewhere along the way they don’t want to step on toes or bring the Christian to a snap attention. “We need to teach the love of Christ.” Well of course we need to teach the love of Christ, but we have an obligation scripturally to teach repentance as well.

None of us wants to think that we err in our ways. The fact is, we are all sinners. Over and over through the scripture, we are taught to repent – recognize our fallacies, make the efforts to change them, and fall before the Father and ask forgiveness. You see, love IS saying you’re sorry. A love without forgiveness is love built on false security and it’s a bridge waiting to collapse.

The loving side of God is amazing, awesome, and mind boggling, but without our willingness to admit our sin then making the effort to change, there is no solid relationship. God is love, and peace. He is joy and hope, but He hates sin. Why would we think less? He sent His son to pay the price.

Regardless of the relationship, whether husband/wife, sister/brother, friend/friend, there must be a time to admit when we are wrong and seek forgiveness. There must be a time to heal when we hurt. As profound as the movie put it, it’s still misleading. Real love means saying you’re sorry. The healing that comes is the prize. Aren’t we fortunate that God offers us this promise of forgiveness? We only have to ask.

Prayer: Oh Father, we often misunderstand the ways of forgiveness. Teach us, Lord. Teach us.


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Getting Even

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. – Romans 12:21

Our first inclination, when someone has done something mean to us, is finding a way to get even. Whether we find it in the heated words of a disagreement by using phrases we know will sting, or whether it be an intentional plot to seek out revenge – it’s human nature to want to hurt those who hurt us.

No one likes to be hurt, taken advantage of, or used yet we do it on a daily basis. With each slap we receive, we automatically slap back. I’m put in the mind of two toddler children learning to share. One yanks a toy away from the other and a slap occurs. Immediately the second child slaps back and thus the battle rages. Who can hurt the other worse?

Divorce is a prime example of adults who try to slap back. When a marriage fails, someone is hurt. There’s no simple way around it. However, for those who strive to take the high road, the climbing is hard but the view is so much better from the top. Nothing good comes from getting even and though the satisfaction may be temporary, the action in the long run is painful.

For those I know personally, including myself, who have experienced the pain of divorce, not one will tell you they felt good about retaliation when it was over. Our hearts are so damaged and torn, that we feel like the best way to prove to the other person we are hurting is to let them know “what it feels like.”

Imagine how things would be for us, had Christ taken the blows of torture for our sins then turned and pointed the finger at us saying, “Here, try this. See how it feels?” Could we withstand the beating and abuse He bore in our behalf? I seriously doubt it. The hardest thing to do is become Christ-like in our attitude. Walking in the footprints of the one who suffered the greatest blow, who hung bleeding and suffering from a cross, yet still looked toward heaven and said, “Father forgive them.” He didn’t wish the pain on us. He didn’t want us to be hurt. He wanted us to be free. Christ loved us that much.

Getting even is just another phase of sin. Rising above is a satisfying and fulfilling thing. Once above, there is nothing to regret. Be Christ-like in your pain, regardless of its beginning. Seek the forgiveness Christ sought for us for His was very real.

Prayer: God of all Creation, we are weak and fall into the ways of sin easily. Forgive us Lord. Teach us to be the example You want us to be.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Checking In

“Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart and fasting and weeping and mourning. Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity. – Joel 2:12,13

Lisa pushed open the hotel door. “I need a non-smoking room, double-bed.” The clerk smiled and obliged her, slipping her a keycard and mumbling the room number. She walked to elevator and pushed two. I hope this room is at least clean. The elevator doors slid open and Lisa glanced at the number signs on the wall. 203 to the left. She pulled her luggage over the metal plate on the elevator and headed down the hall.

203 – hello bed. She unlocked the door, propping it open with her hip until she managed her bags inside. Her hand rubbed the side of the wall searching for the light switch and flipped it on. Looks clean. She pulled the extra lock over the door then headed for the bed. It would only be hours before she was back in the car and traveling again. Then, it would be another hotel and another check-in.

So often, we have the best of intentions when we enter into a relationship with Christ. Our thoughts are centered on getting to know Him better –making him an active part of our lives. Somewhere along the line, we lose our incentive to buff and polish our relationship. Like Lisa, we travel awhile, find a hotel and check-in, then check-out.

Managing a serious spiritual relationship is more than developing a check-in time. There has to be a desire to know the Father, to learn to trust Him, and to be accountable to Him. Simply checking in from time to time won’t cut it.

When we accept the gifts that God offers us, we accept the responsibility that comes along with Him. Those things of the old life that tempt and try us have to be pushed to the side – not for a time, but forever. God is readily available for us at anytime, but He requires more than an occasional “hello.” He wants us to know Him, seek Him, and live for Him.

Life is full of trials and frustrations. That is because Satan roams the earth making life rough for the believer. He encourages us to open the door to God temporarily, then shut it again, telling us our lives are safe, we’ve checked in. A relationship with God offers us the freedom to walk away at anytime and it holds the peace of knowing we have forgiveness and we can return. However this is not the relationship Christ encourages for us. He wants a meaningful and lasting relationship. He wants us to sincerely stay with Him, not check in for a few hours and leave. There are commitments to be made and temptations to over come because Satan will try his best to devalue our relationship.

Once we’ve accepted the keycard to a relationship with Christ, we have to grasp it tightly. Open the door and stay. Don’t walk away. Don’t check in and check out. Make it a comfortable and long stay. Eternal perhaps.

Prayer: Lord, we lean toward the convenience of doing things the easy way. Yours is a relationship that requires work. Hold us close while we check in.

Friday, October 12, 2007

The 23rd Psalm -- Revisited

I love Psalm 23. As a child, the twenty-third was the largest passage of scripture I had to memorize. Our Sunday teacher took it a verse a week for twenty-three weeks. Before long, we had memorized it. I’m ashamed to say that as I grew into an adult, bits and pieces fell from my memory. Still I love this scripture. I encourage you to pull out your Bible and visit this portion of hope. Grab a pencil and paper and write it down in your own words.

Here is my own paraphrase of the twenty-third psalm.

Father, you are my caretaker and that is a pretty big job – You are patient beyond all measure. When I am with you in heart and soul, I never need anything. Earthly desires fade away because you fill me completely. When I worry and fret, You remind me there is no need to do so. You quiet the rumblings within me and give me rest and peace. You provide me respite.

You always show me the direction I need to go, and sometimes nudge me when I ignore you. The ways You point me, fill me with truth and righteousness. When I fail to understand why things happen I am given sustaining comfort and reassurance that You are with me ant that things will be okay.

I am amazed that when hardships befall me and I am so fearful because you protect me from the evils of earth when I am weak. I find comfort in your word and peace in my prayers.

You ready me to face those who cause me pain and I am joyful because I have all I need within Your love, for it abounds.

There is no option but for love and goodness to be with me when I am following Your will and best yet, I have the hope and promise of eternity with You.

Take time to pull out that dusty Bible and look up Psalm 23. Read it, then rewrite it in your own words. You will be amazed how you seek comfort from the Lord and how comfort is found.

Prayer: Lord, Remind us all the world does not revolve around us. May we seek Your face and find You, trusting that within Your arms there is rest. Cradle us in Your love and rock us when we fret – for You are Almighty. You are the Shepherd of the flock.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

He Will Strengthen Us

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. – 2 Chronicles 7:14

There’s nothing worse than constant pain. The continual grinding, aching, and throbbing never really goes away, and the hurt becomes something we resolve to live with. One can’t sleep soundly at night for sharpness of the irritation. I have been nursing a torn tendon in my shoulder for the past four months. It began as an occasional sharp pain, but as time passed worsened into agony.

Regardless of how I move the pain only redirects from stinging to searing. The doctor sent me to physical therapy where I had a picture of some sort of instant healing. I thought these people would have me up and running in a couple of weeks. Boy was I wrong. I have to work hard at the simple exercises the therapist gives me. Little things I thought would be easy are massive. I realized as I began this process of strengthening and healing just how weak I am and exactly how much I take for granted.

As I stood repetitively stretching a band to strengthen my shoulder I began to realize how very ill-equipped I am spiritually. I love the Lord with all my heart, soul and mind, but still I am weak in so many ways. With each pull of the band, I counted the times I have failed my Heavenly Father. I don’t fail Him in the big responsibilities of being a Christian, but I fail Him frequently in the small things. How much of His word do I know by heart? How many individuals do I touch by my example? Do I carry His gentleness, and forgiveness?

Often we pray for God to provide for us, to heal us, and to help us but rarely do we pray for Him to truly give us strength to turn from our wickedness. Wicked sounds so mean and evil, but in fact, wickedness is simply sin. We all sin – after all we’re human and though that’s not a valid excuse, it is indigenous of our species. We sin because we are weak. And to think, it took my physical therapist to show me just how weak I am. It just goes to show, God has a plan and He uses whom ever necessary to make His plan complete - even when those individuals don't realize it.

In every situation we can learn – even through our physical weakness and pain, we can search for the lessons God may ask us to learn. When we learn humility, admit our weaknesses, and pray, God will heal us. It may not be the torn tendon, but there will be healing from within. Okay, so I’ll do two more sets of twenty. One, two, three…..

Prayer: Father, we lift our hands before You, reaching for Your redeeming love and strength. Forgive us when we fail.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

We Are the Example

Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.

Proverbs 22:6

Ray slipped the nylon cord over his head allowing the whistle at the end to dangle. He

buttoned the black and white striped shirt and grabbed his cleats, then kissed his wife as he rushed out of the door. “Let’s go son. We’re running behind this afternoon.”

The two climbed into the truck and headed toward the football field. Silence filled the cab.

Ray glanced across the seat as his son stared blankly out the window. “Something on your mind you need to talk about?”

Jeff shrugged. “Maybe. I dread this game.”

“Why, son. You guys are one win away from the championship. And I can’t referee your games.”

“It’s not that. I just hate being on the field when Mr. Jones and Nat Miller start to complain. They act like such little kids. Worse yet, their sons act the same way – shoving and threatening everyone –even guys on our team. It’s just not fun anymore, dad.”

Ray pulled the truck to edge of the road and shoved the gearshift into park. “You’re right. They do make life hard for everyone with their behavior. And when your children watch you behave badly, they think it’s okay to do the same. Unfortunately, you can’t run from people like this. They’re everywhere you go, but you can set the example. Let me make a suggestion.” He leaned across the seat and began to devise a plan.

As anticipated, midway through the game the two men began to rant. Trouble began on the sideline and before long their sons had started a brawl. Once the fight was broken up and the game resumed, Jeff took his place in the line-up. He waited until everyone was in stance then he removed his helmet, setting it on the hash mark. Bravely, he turned and walked off the field. Within seconds, other team members followed suit. The coach was dumbfounded as his team walked off the field one by one. He clasped his hand around Jeff’s arm. “What are you doing?” Jeff smiled. “Quitting. I play football on a team. A team plays fair. A team plays without fights. I play on a team, and this is not a team.”

It took a lot of courage for Jeff to walk away from something he loved, but he set an example for parents and children alike. When Solomon asked for wisdom, God granted it. Proverbs is full of insights that just make plain sense “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it” speaks volumes. As parents, we are the mirror our children look into daily. They learn from us – mimic us. We teach them the ways they will grow into as adults. Setting a godly example may mean walking away from something we enjoy occasionally. However, walking away teaches our children that our behavior is far more important than a game.

God has entrusted our children to us. We have a short time to make a life-long impression. We must raise our children with the wisdom of Solomon and the strength of Christ. How do you teach those tiny souls entrusted to you?

Prayer: Lord, give us the courage to say no to our children. Help us to train them in Your ways.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

What Is Our Value

The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life. – Job 33:4

Jeb slipped a hand full of nails from his tool belt, placing a couple in his mouth and balancing the rest on the roof. Who said the average guy couldn’t put on a new roof. The timing might be a little longer, but he’d studied his home improvement books and felt confident he could manage the task.

Taking one of the nails from his mouth and then pulling his hammer from the leather belt strap, he meticulously placed the nail. Jeb drew back to hit the nail. The hammer came bounding downward slamming the side of his hand. From this moment on, Jeb’s stand on the roof became a comic relief. Instinctively throwing his hammer to side, he spit the remaining nail from his mouth onto the roof. His hand throbbed as he brought it close to his chest, massaging at the pain.

One missed step led to his tripping and sliding in a downward spiral toward the edge of the roof. He clawed at the slick roof as he tried to sink his shoes into the tarpaper for some sort of grip. Jeb slipped down the roof and over the edge, guttering and all, landing in the azalea bushes below. As he crawled from the bushes, the realization of his accident hit home. I could have been killed.

We frequently take unnecessary risks with this precious thing called life. Sometimes we seek a thrill while at other times we, like Jeb, seek to do things on our own. The value of our lives only seems to come into focus when we reach middle age. Our children think they are invincible and immortal, never considering the consequence of their play. However, once we cross over the 40 mark, suddenly life resonates and we realize how tediously we balance in the scheme of life. Perhaps we lose a parent or grandparent – maybe even a childhood friend. Worse yet, the lose of a child; one way or the other, reality sinks in and the price on our life rises and falls like the stock market on a volatile day.

God created us individually and each with a plan and a purpose. Learning where our place is in the life can sometimes be a difficult feat. For the few who seriously evaluate their lives and seek their place, more times than not, they end up at the feet of the Savior. We cannot truly search our souls without coming to some realization of the higher power who created us. To many, this lifesaving revelation changes them from the inside out. The Spirit of God has made us and His breath gives us our precious gift of life. Don’t take it for granted. Start now to inwardly access this life we have been freely given. The Father waits patiently.

Prayer: Precious God, Creator and Giver of life, walk beside us as we seek our purpose.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Pray Seriously

They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers. – Acts 1:14

(Photo by Karma Shuford -copyrighted, 2007)

A favorite catch phrase for Christians is, “I’ll pray for you.” It’s become something we say, when we don’t know what else to do. There’s nothing wrong with telling someone we’ll keep them in our prayers however, telling and doing are two different things.

When someone asks us to pray it’s because they are seeking and more than likely, seeking desperately. Agreeing to pray is something we should take seriously. I chuckled the other day when a sweet friend sent me an email and asked me to pray for him. I re-read his email and then immediately typed him a prayer. Within moments he was emailing back saying it was the first email prayer he’d received. He jokingly remarked it was a little weird but as he moved through the prayer, he found himself truly praying with me. Sometimes a prayer request needs to be immediate. If his concerns were serious enough for him to send me a special email, then his heart was crying for resolution.

Jesus never hesitated to pray. It was one of the first things on his agenda. Time, and time again He sought refuge in the solitude of His prayer life. There He found patience, love, and persistence to continue. Even until His last agonizing breath, Christ was in prayer.

Learning to take prayer seriously is the beginning of a long and in-depth relationship with God. When we develop our time from rigid and uncomfortable, into a relaxed and dependant time with the Father, our lives change. Talking to God should be as easy as talking to your best friend.

When we’re asked to pray, it doesn’t mean we fall to our knees in an animated and long prayer. It simply means that as we pray we lift that person before the Lord, trusting in His will. From arrow prayers to long conversations, the point is that we pray, and we with a heart of sincerity. It’s an honor and a privilege when someone trusts us enough to ask for our prayers. Lift them before the Father with sincerity and compassion. Pray seriously.

Prayer: Lord, may we remain faithful in our prayer life. May we pray without ceasing.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Making the Effort

Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. – 1 Thessalonians 5:15

Wouldn’t it be nice if we never became angry, frustrated, or hurt? Life would be so much easier. It seems these emotions overtake us all at some point regardless of the efforts we make to suppress them. We are, after all, human.

I once had a dear friend, who has since gone to be with the Lord, whose life was snuffed out intentionally. Her kindness and abounding love was an attribute I wanted to emulate. She was joyful even in times of frustration and sadness. For the one or two times I ever saw her angry, she cried afterwards. She wasn’t angry with me but she was upset that I had seen her so.
One weekend when the campus was empty of students, she and I sat down on the front porch of the chapel at school and chatted about keeping our lives in balance. She told me she did a quarterly “I check.” Lisa, in all her wisdom, quarterly made a list of her attributes and her short- comings. She would evaluate herself according to scripture and then work on the areas she felt like needed a little polishing. It made perfect sense. If you want to be a better servant of Christ, you have to make adjustments.

Unfortunately, we aren’t perfect and sin does slip under the radar causing us to become angry or frustrated. All our refining – is shot down in one swift blast. Those we want to guide with the example of our own lives, see us crash and burn. Then we only have to wonder, how have we failed the Father?

I can only say, when those times happen for me, I find myself closed in my room, physically on my knees because I take my example to others very seriously. When I fail, and trust me, I fail big time – then the only refuge I can seek is the loving and forgiving arms of the Savior.

I feel so fortunate to have the willingness to want to know the Savior, to have the desire to trust Him, and to accept the pathway He lays before me. Though I fail at times, I want His loving forgiveness, in fact, I long for it. When I fail Him, my tears are not from the anger of the situation but from the sadness of having failed the Father.

When I fall to my knees and ask for His forgiveness, I pull out another sheet of paper, clean on both sides, because this is what forgiveness looks like. Two columns are drawn with the stroke of my hand, and Quarterly I Check is printed neatly at the top. I cannot change the past, but through forgiveness, I can start anew. I wish everyone knew what true forgiveness felt like. Don’t you? If others only had a brief taste of the Father’s love they would know what “sweet” really tastes like.

We are all sinners, even when we try exceptionally hard not to be. But, because we have the Savior close at heart (not hand – heart!) then we can feast on His eternal love. Does that mean we stop the quarterly I checks. No, not at all. It means, we start again with the forgiveness of God and the guidance necessary to try again. We are making the effort. Aren’t you glad you know Jesus?

Prayer: We fail Father. We fail miserably at times. Forgive us, renew us and cover us with the cleansing blood of Christ

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

He Knows What it Was Like

Who, being in the very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. –

Philippians 2:6-7

Did you ever get in pinching matches as a child or am I the only odd man out? When we were kids we’d begin playing a game of some sort and when someone would cheat or make another kid mad, they would get pinched. That person would in turn “pinch back” and then the battle to hurt each other began. The challenge was who could last the longest. My sibling neighbors used to end up in slapping matches. Okay, I know this sounds odd, but it beat fist fighting!

The point is, if someone hurt you, you had to retaliate. Thank goodness, I was a child in a calmer period of time when handguns and car bombs were virtually non-existent – us kids, just pinched each other. Even toddlers play the retaliation game.

I can remember my being told, “How do you think Jesus would feel?” As a kid, my response was, “He doesn’t know how it feels to be pinched really hard.”

The fact of the matter is, He does know how it feels. Jesus may not have gone through a pinching match with his best friend but He certainly knows the agony of brutal pain. I am often amazed to think that God sent His Son in human form and allowed Him to undertake one of the most horrible things a human could go through. Oh, Jesus – of all people – knew what it was like.

What amazes me more about Jesus is, He could have used His holy power and did not. In fact, it wasn’t an option for Him. He never came close to considering holy intervention. Even as He suffered the pain of torture and the hopelessness of the cross, Jesus never looked for an easy way out. Better than any of us, Jesus understands what it feels like to be human, to be hurt, frustrated, and yes, even betrayed.

So many times, we feel as though we suffer our battles alone and that no one could possibly understand our pain. We’re wrong. Christ understands the pain and He longs to offer us comfort. Our problem seems to be one of retaliation rather than exoneration. We prefer to think of ways to get even instead of finding ways to forgive. God never once told us forgiveness was an easy thing. He only told us it was the right thing to do. The process is a true learning experience.

Jesus certainly understood what it felt like to be hurt and sad. Because of His human experience He stands even more willing to offer us peace. We only have to ask. Next time the urge to pinch hits, pray instead. Ask God to help with issues that you face. Miracles happen.

Prayer: Father, we try to manage everything on our own. Forgive us when we fail to come to You for healing.

Monday, October 1, 2007

When Faith Becomes Sight

You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. – James 5:8

Often it has been said, “One can hear something a thousand times, but it’s not until the 1001st time that it finally absorbs.” How true is that? I know that as far as my children went, I called this selective hearing. However, this clarity rings true for most of us.

I love the song, It Is Well with My Soul and I can’t tell you the times I’ve sung this song or heard it sung and simply enjoyed it for the beauty of its music. However, I personally had one of this “Ahh” moments when the 1001st time finally hit me and I took hold of the lyrics.

Horatio G. Spafford kissed his wife and four daughters as he helped them board a ship bound for Europe where they were to visit relatives. During the trip the ship collided with a second steamship. As the ship sank Mrs. Spafford prayed with her daughters and committed them to God. She was saved but her four daughters perished. When Mrs. Spafford arrived in Europe she sent a wire to husband that said, “Saved alone.”

Mr. Spafford rushed to be by his wife’s side and comfort her. In his grief he remarked, “It is well with my soul, God’s will be done.” Three years later, he wrote this beautiful hymn.

The final verse states,“ And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight.” Wow, the day when my faith becomes sight – the day the hope in things not seen becomes vivid. In other words, the day I understand everything. It only took two decades for that information to absorb.

Won’t that be a wonderful day? The day we understand why everything happens the way it does – the day we fully grasp God’s plan and everything comes into focus. There is much the human mind cannot take hold of and process. However, there will be a day when everything comes into focus. We will have a clarity we’ve never experienced before.

When the line of this song finally took hold of me I had a brief sample of what it would be like to understand. We have all had harsh events in our lives. There are times we can come to grips with these events and times we just can’t understand why. Sometimes in our sorrow, we question God, even become angry with Him, as we try to make sense of things. When we choose to hold firmly to Christ through these times our faith strengthens and comfort comes. Perhaps it is not in the way we expect, but in our love for Christ there will be a time when our faith becomes sight and we see clearly.

Surviving painful times is never easy. Our hearts ache and we feel as though the darkness surrounding us will never fade, but keeping our eyes focused on the one who knows all things will bring us to that understanding down the road. Isn’t it comforting to know the Savior waits for us – through it all He is there, waiting, and hoping we will seek Him.

“And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul” (
Spafford, 1876)

Prayer: Father, we long for the time when our faith becomes a clear sight. Give us peace and comfort until that day.

It is Well with My Soul, Horatio Gates Spafford, 1876