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

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Lessons from the Lawn -- Part 2

Lessons from the Lawn -- Part 2

Click on this button to hear this devotion Listen to Lessons from the Lawn -- Part 2, by - Cindy Sproles

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. – Romans 12:9

I got mad today. The riding mower wouldn’t shift into gear, the weed eater stalled, and I had grass up to my ankles. The flower beds were a mass (Yes mass, not mess). They were a mass of vines and weeds. Honeysuckle had swallowed the Mountain Laurel and morning glories, in all their glory, were overtaking the fence. My only option was the push mower.

My intentions were good. I’d shove the mower beneath the shrubs and cut the vines at the roots. Not a problem. Was I ever wrong.

The first pass under the bushes was fine and the second one, too, but then I hit a snag. The vines wrapped around the blade and stalled the lawnmower. I spent the next ten minutes untangling a clump of honeysuckle. If I started the mower once, I started it five more times. Start, push, stall. Start, push, stall. So, I got mad and gave up. I’d let my husband deal with the mess/mass. I did what any logical lawn care expert would do, I moved to the front yard to wreak havoc on the morning glory vines. To my surprise—the same scenario. Start, push, stall.

My patience was shot after the first five stalls and the unbelievable amount of honeysuckle. So I decided to pull the vines by hand. As a kid we used to pull honeysuckle blooms and sip the nectar. The flowers smelled wonderful and the nectar was sweet—but they’re deceptive little rascals. The fact remains, as pretty as they are, they’re still weeds. That’s how Satan is. He appears beautiful and sweet on the outside, encouraging us to drink from his cup, but beneath the surface he is nothing more than slithering evil. His aim is to stall us—stop us dead. When we let him fool us, let him in, then within hours his vines are covering us, choking us.

Don’t be fooled by the beauty of the vine—like I said, they’re deceptive little things. Hate what is evil and hold to what is good. Pull the vines before they cover you. Their roots are shallow and they pull from the soil with ease. Allow Christ His rightful place of honor and cling to Him.

Christian Devotions

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Lessons from the Lawn -- Part 1

Click on this button to hear this devotion Listen to Lessons from the Lawn -- Part 1, by - Cindy Sproles

You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with joy given by the Holy Spirit. And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedoina and Achaia. – 1 Thessalonians 1: 6 & 7

I like to mow. Hop on the riding mower, kick it into third and mow. We have just over an acre of rolling sloped yard and for me, it’s a pleasure to mow up the hill, around the shady area, and back down. There’s quality thinking time on the seat of a mower.

But! My husband doesn’t like me to mow. Don’t misunderstand, he appreciates my efforts, but he’s not crazy about how I cut grass. Making a square around the yard is boring. There’s no adventure in traveling the straight path. When I mow, there’s a menagerie lines throughout the yard. It starts as a square. Before long, I hang a left and go at an angle (I’m thinking baseball field mowing). Later I may circle the trees. There’s no rhyme to what I do other that it’s fun. When I mow, my husband stands with a distraught look on his face, arms crossed, and cringing as I pass. I wave—he nods, then digs the toe of his tennis shoe into the grass.

When I see those beautifully cut baseball outfields on television, I want those same lines in my yard. I want the result, but most of the time I’m in too much of a hurry. All my efforts seem to yield is the smell of freshly cut grass and a hodge-podge of green crayon marks swirling across the yard.

Christ became the ultimate example for us and He wants us to strive to be like Him. Tender of heart, strong of spirit and determined of soul. He wants us to be an imitator. He lays the way clear for me to follow and as long as I stick to the map, the lines in my yard are pretty. It’s when I get that wild hair to hang a left that messes up the process. The bad part is—then I have to wait for the grass to grow so I can re-cut it the right way.

Every time I stray from His direction, I leave an impression on my soul that has to be grown out – worked on, groomed, and forgiven. That takes time, and sometimes it’s a painful time.

Be an imitator. Follow the way Christ has charted. Become a model for others to follow. Mow the right way, and others will want a yard like yours.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Fix What's Broken

Click on this button to hear this devotion Listen to Fix What's Broken, by - Cindy Sproles

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.

1 Timothy 1:15 & 16

There’s a swing in our front yard by the pond. Its frame resembles a child’s swing set, only this one is wood. When we purchased it, there was a canvas canopy that covered the seat. I’ve enjoyed that swing, the creaking sound it makes as it sways, lulls me into a peaceful rest.

Then we had a storm. The wind behaved like an angry child, slipping its arms beneath the canvas, lifting the swing and tossing it across the yard. The frame that held the canvas broke.

We retrieved the swing, placed it in its place of honor by the pond, and enjoyed it again. It was a little banged up, but still great for relaxing. Over time the weather took its toll on my swing. The canvas seat made it a prime target to be flipped and knocked by heavy winds. Still we kept picking it up and placing it by the pond.

Until the other day. A nasty storm brushed through, once more making the swing a target. We watched as the frame tipped and rolled breaking the supports that had withstood five years worth of weather. When the rain passed we made our trek to retrieve the chair. This time the legs dangled and the supports were split. There wasn’t much we could do. The swing was ruined.

I thought how much I resembled that swing, and at the times I’ve been tossed and broken, wounded—still Christ picks me up and places me back in a spot of honor. I am such a sinner, why would He bother? Christ loves me. He has immeasurable patience, and he continues to lift me from failure.

I walked outside yesterday and my husband had repaired my swing. He stood, hands on his hips, shaking his head. “I think it’s time to trash this one and get a new one – maybe something metal this time.” I smiled, walked over to my swing and ran my hand across the canvas seat. Then I sat. “Careful, it’s not sturdy.” Tim said.

Once again the swing swayed gently, and I lay across its seat, the world coming and going with each squeak of the ropes. Thank goodness for the redeeming love of the Master who picks me up, dusts me clean, and lets me swing. He never gives up on this sinner. How fortunate am I?

Monday, May 26, 2008

Guest Devotionalist -- Pat Patterson

"If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? -- Matthew 5:46


By: Pat Patterson

Yeah I'm a Christian, but I had me a good drunk the other night.....

No, really. Found him lying in the middle of the street, bump on his head and a bottle by his side. He was about fifty something, dressed in simple clothes and stinking like a sack of dirty laundry. With slurred speech and the sweet, slushy scent of cheap alcohol lingering on his breath, he was about as common as can get.....

.....a real good drunk.

I chuckled. I'm a paramedic. I've seen it all before. It should have been a simple call-pick him up, throw him on the stretcher, and give him a ride to the ER for observation, oh, and by the way, pray for him-but it wasn't that easy. He became belligerent. Then he wanted to fight me. Then he went and opened his mouth. I won't tell you what he said. Christians don't use words like that. Or do we?

Well before you go pointing your finger at me, that man's words hurt. He hurt my pride! He made me angry!! What was I supposed to do, just stand there and take it? No way! I flung the words right back at him as fast as I could. After all, he deserved it. I was only trying to help him. Right?

Well, we all know the answer to that question. I was wrong. Dead wrong.

You know I've been a Christian for over thirty years, and you'd think by now I'd know better, but for me it's not that simple. I seem to make one mistake after another, failing the Lord in so many areas of my life that recently a thought has been heavy on my mind:

What does it really mean to be a Christian?

Does it mean never missing church? Attending the right Bible studies? Smiling at other Christians, and never uttering a foul word? Well, I believe Jesus answered my question when He said, "Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you."

"But, Lord?" I say. "Are you serious? Even him?"

If I close my eyes, I can picture Jesus hanging on the cross. If I use my imagination, I can see myself kneeling at His bloody feet. But if I put aside my pride, my arrogance, and my selfish ambitions, I can imagine that man kneeling by my side-dirty clothes, stinking breath and all-and suddenly, suddenly, everything becomes crystal clear. We're both sinners. Christ died for both of us.

I failed that test last Saturday night, it's true, but Jesus used my failure to teach me a valuable lesson. He showed me what it really means to be a Christian, and He used a good drunk to do it.....

Pat Patterson - sunglassesChristian Devotions

Pat Patterson is a novelist and an Instructor of Emergency Medical Services at Wake Technical Community College in Raleigh, NC. He's also an EMT-Paramedic with over 16 years of experience.

"If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?"
Matthew 5:46

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Do.... Do Not..... There is No Try

"But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness." James 3:17

I walked the mountain with my friend today. I asked if I could trail along, he said, "You can't keep up." I said, "Oh ye, of little faith."

The path was steep. Very steep and my legs held out, but my lungs…that was a different matter. He sprinted up an incline, I crawled and all along, though I couldn't see him, he kept shouting, "You dead yet?"

I had to stop and rest, having bad lungs isn't an excuse-it's a physical fact. But all the while, I kept saying, "You go ahead. I'll get there." And I did. Eventually.

The last part of the walk was a detour. You see, my friend, I think felt sorry for me, so he altered the trail we took. But it was a pretty neat detour, because the reward was sitting beneath a huge overhanging boulder looking at the creation of the Father, talking about the wonders that God managed to make in seven short days.

That climb was a hard one and half way up I was crying to the Father to give me air. I was choking. "Just get me to the top. I'll do it however you want -- even if it's on my hands and knees." And you know, there was point, it was on my hands and knees. I was frustrated and a little mad the walk was so hard, but wow -the reward worth the crawl.

Sometimes we have to go to our hands and knees before the righteousness comes. Growing in the Father isn't easy. He tends to sprint the steep sections of the walk and leave us behind. That's a little scary, looking up and not seeing the guide. Still in the distance, we hear Him calling-we simply have to listen. Learning the meaning of His love may occasionally mean crawling alone, becoming submissive to His will. Something we struggle and wiggle our way clear. But when bend at the knees, press our palms to the ground there is traction and there is success.

So, I lost a bet today--sorta. I made the efforts. To quote Yoda from Star Wars, "Do....Do Not....There is no try." We either get to the business of knowing God or we don't. There is no try. Is your walk always standing or do you crawl? Trust me, crawling helps. It's a slow process, nothing good is easy, but when you do, the reward is worth the effort.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Guest Devotionalist -- Sue Payne

"But the Lord said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." - 1 Samuel 16:7

Changed Before My Eyes
Motorcycle Guy
By: Sue Payne

I remember attending a certain church service about ten years ago. It happened to be the weekend the Christian Motorcycle Association held their annual conference and conducted their meetings and activities at the church. Rick, the head of this particular chapter, was slotted to give the message at each of the Sunday morning services.

As he was introduced and stepped to the platform, my mind immediately began to judge. He wore black leather pants, boots, and vest. His hair was long and curly. His face weathered and scarred. He was not attractive by my standards and I wondered what the pastor of the church was thinking! Sadly, I sat there feeling almost threatened by his presence.....then he began to speak.

As he shared about his life of abuse, neglect, violence, drugs, and alcohol, pity began to push out my feelings of judgment. No wonder this man has such a tough exterior, I thought. His testimony continued as he recalled how God had pursued him through "the valley of the shadow of death" and how his grandmother had never missed a day covering him with prayer. At this point, this tough character of a man began to cry.

The threatening presence I had felt just minutes before suddenly was replaced by the presence of a "Holiness" I had never experienced anything like this. Literally, this man changed in front of my eyes. Here was a man who truly knew Jesus. It was then that I first realized what it was like to really see the "Jesus" in someone. I was in the presence of the Lord because Jesus had chosen to testify His love for me through Rick.

You may be thinking; How can a person's appearance change before my eyes? This is possible, but only when you look at an individual's heart through the eyes of Christ. God opened my eyes that day.

I've heard it said that the heart of a matter is a matter of the heart. The next time you find yourself judging another person's character or appearance, remember that we are all made in the image of God. Ask the Lord to show you how to look beyond the outer appearance and see the "Jesus" within.

Sue Payne
Sue Payne is a freelance writer whose articles have appeared in home schooling newsletters and church news bulletins. Most recently one of her articles took second place at the Delaware Christian Writer's Conference. She is experienced in curriculum planning and design and uses her writing skills to encourage and teach others. Sue lives in Delaware, is married, and has two boys whom she home schooled for a total of fourteen years.

Friday, May 16, 2008

HE SAID - SHE SAID - May 16, 2008

DreamsWork - He Said

“We were like men who dreamed, our mouths filled with laughter. Our tongues with songs of joy when the Lord brought back the captives.” Psalms 126:1-2
This morning the clouds moved in, turning my world gray. The enemy spoke from the fog, lobbing doubts. Causing me to question the light that I knew to be just beyond my reach. The attack was predictable but still deadly. “You are not,” “You never will,” “Why do you try?”I cried out to God, listing my fears.
Then I heard another voice. It, too, carried the haunting tone of despair. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Later that morning a good friend of mine called to fuss at me because I dared to complain about the grayness of my world. Imagine that. Here I was looking down at the mud between my toes, wondering how I was gonna get unstuck from my melancholy mood and she said, “cheer up.”

What kind of silliness is that? I hung up on her.There was another dreamer who suffered doubt, who saw his dreams tossed into the pits. We find the beginning of that story in Genesis 37.“Joseph’s brothers noticed him from a distance, and before he came up to them, they plotted to kill him, for they said to one another: ‘Here comes that master dreamer!’”
The enemy hates our dreams, detests the visions God places within our hearts. For he knows if he can steal our heart and silence our prayers, then he will move us further from God's purpose for our lives.But God is faithful. That is why my friend fussed at me. She was reminding me to give in to God, give up to Him, and get down with my bad self — to fall on my knees and pray. To cry out, as Jesus cried out in the garden. To beg for mercy as Joseph begged in the well.
But it is not enough to dream. We must move. We must step forward in faith. Our dreams are not the destination, but they do point to the Promise Land. The vision God has placed in you is evidence of His hand massaging your heart, keeping your hopes alive until at last, you reach that good and pleasing land he has prepared for you.
What is your dream? What vision has God placed in your heart? Say it out loud. Commit it to paper. And then find a team of faithful prayer partners who will petition God on your behalf.When you do, you may find that His joy has replaced the clouds of doubt, filling your mouth with laughter and your heart with a new song.
I pray it will be so.

She Said -- Holy Cow
We were like men who dreamed, our mouths filled with laughter. Our tongues with songs of joy when the Lord brought back the captives." - Psalms 126:1-2

Work was over-it had been a long day. Call-in's, car issues, you name it, employees found any reason to bow out of work. The day was full of stress. My shoulder ached and my neck so tight it sent streams of burning down my arm and into my fingers. I was happy to shut the computer down and walk out the door.
I hopped in my SUV and headed to the church. There was work to be done there. When I started the car, the radio came on to the local Christian station and I reached up and punched the sunroof button. The back of my neck warmed, easing some of the tension. I flipped my right signal light and headed up the on ramp of Highway 93. I glanced in my side mirror for on-coming traffic and began to merge.
That's when I saw it. Eight-foot tall legs as big around as porch columns and utters-yes, utters dangling in the wind. Had I have been industrious I could have rolled the window down and milked that rascal. I smiled. Then I chuckled as the truck passed and I was able to merge behind the giant plastic cow. My speedometer said 45 mph. but I tapped the brakes because there was something inside me that said, "You don't want to be too close to the rear of that cow incase of a sudden stop. Who knows where you'd end up?" The cow tail flapped from side to side, spinning in circles, twisting around and I lost it. I completely lost it.I started to laugh out loud-in fact, I laughed so hard I snorted which only served to make things worse.
Forced to pull to the side of the road and laugh it off, I realized God had answered my prayers. Earlier in the day, when the stress was heavy, I pushed the door to my office closed and shot God an arrow prayer. "Ease this tension Lord, some humor would be nice."
He provided. There are times when life presses hard against our shoulders. Sometimes finding the laughter-the joy, is hard to do. But our Father loves us dearly and He wants us joyful. When His children are happy, when they are enjoying the idiosyncrasies of life, God smiles, too. Like any parent, He longs to bring the depth of His love into fruition. He wants to ease our frustrations and pain. The Father wants us to dream of the joys of life, and he wants us to hope. These are the things that help make us complete.
The next time I ask God to ease the tension, I'll be better prepared for His sense of humor. Until then, I'll still giggle at His Holy cow.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Listen to WCQR 88.3 RADIO PROMO for Christian Devotions

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Just Call Me Cin!

Just Call Me Cin

If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. – Revelation 20:15

Somewhere along the way I acquired a nickname. Cin. I’m not sure where it started, I think in email correspondence, but through the years I find myself signing letters or notes to my close friends as Cin. It would be nice to remember who dubbed me that illustrious name , I can’t remember—only that it’s been a very long time.

There are few with whom I feel comfortable enough to sign my name with homonym. After all Cin can be highly misunderstood. Over the years it’s become a bit of a joke, but those who dare to refer to me with this name, are friends who I love fully and completely. I chuckle at the names I’ve been assigned—things like Tennessee, Princess (there’s a joke there), Kayro (talk to my brother about that one), and today, my dear friend Eddie names me “Little” (again there’s joke there). The point is Cin is a pretty presumptuous title.

If you didn’t know me, you’d think folks were calling me sinful.

When you’re stuck with a name like Cindy it’s bound to cause you some grief. It’s not a bad name—it’s friendly sounding, happy, but it does nothing for you when someone wants to shorten an already short, two syllable word.

I’ve always been convinced that the minute I say something ugly, God thumps me. Maybe God and my mom were in cahoots. She said, “What can we name her? Something pleasant and happy.”

God says, “Cindy. That way people can shorten it to Cin and I have an easy in to rebuke her.”

Sadly enough I have to admit that I am sinful at times. We all are. We’re just not all fortunate enough to have a homonym as a name. You could say C-I-N s-i-n-s. One way or the other I have a constant reminder of what not to do and I am grateful for the gentle tap on the shoulder when I slip. God loving instructs me when I goof.

I have names for my friends, too. Baby, Chickie, Sweetie, and Goofball, and each one who gets those little names, knows how very much I love them. Names bring about a certain familiarity about us and every time one of my buddies sends me an email or an instant message and refers to me as Cin, a smile crosses my lips because I get just how much they care for me.

Regardless, the only name that really counts is the one written in the book of life. There are two things in this life I hope that I manage to accomplish. The first is how I look at things, how I see them. Then I hope the day I die people will say, “She had her Father’s eyes.” Secondly and most importantly, when the book of life is opened and Jesus begins to read, that this is one C-i-n that is not mistaken as an s-i-n. I want more than anything for my name to be in that book. Are you making the efforts to have your named penned in the book of life? This is one time it’s all in the name.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Drive-Thru Religion


Click on this button to hear this devotion Listen to Drive-Thru Religion, by - Cindy Sproles

For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. - Galatians 5: 17 & 18

Sometimes I have to ask, "God, why don't You just say what You want me to do? Why do I have to figure it out?" Why not cut through the hoopla and formalities and just get to the point? I feel like so much time is wasted going through the "process," when the direct method is faster and easier. I know-He has a plan for me.

There are times that the Father places a thought in my head and it won't leave me alone. The idea spins and twists itself around my brain cells like an ivy vine. But that's all it is-an idea. When I try to write it down it looks silly. When I mention it, it sounds dumb, and when I make a half-hearted attempt at figuring out the plan, I usually foul things up.

So, I ask again. Why not just give me the plan, tell me the steps, let me pull my team together and run with the idea? What's so hard about that? There are times, I don't have a clue how to pray, much less what to pray for. Friends offer advice. They tell me, "Pray for what you want," but that seems selfish. Others say, "God wants you to have abundance, so ask." That feels pushy. Sometimes it's hard to differentiate between what our desire is and belongs God. Therein lays my point. "God, why don't You just say what You want me to do?"

We return to the age old remark, "God never promised being a Christian would be easy." I know that. The ideal Christian lifestyle would be to pull my car into the drive-up, roll the window down and place my order. "I'll take an order of "tell me what to do," two sides of answers, and one order of forgiveness to go." There now, that wasn't hard was it?

Here's the thing. When God tosses me a hint, if I'm not on top of things, Satan snags the fly ball, I miss it all. I flounder. My order never comes to my car, and worse yet, I paid the price to a non-refundable world. Having God give us the answers in advance would be nice, but we'd never learn. We'd never grow in our relationship with Him. If He gave us everything, we'd never have a need for Him. We'd never learn to depend fully on Him. My guess is, even though God has a plan, He probably still ponders when He hears me pray. So, I wait for His hints, listen quietly for His whisper in the wind, then try my best to obey.

No drive-thru religion for me. It's just practice, practice, practice-prepare, and when God is ready, I will see everything clearly.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Christian Devotions - Guest Devotionalist, Susan Boyer

Christian Devotions --Guest Devotionalist, Susan Boyer

Raising Your Hand
By: Susan Boyer

Click on this button to hear this devotion Listen to Raising Your Hand by - Susan Boyer

“The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.” –John 1:5

God often shows up in unexpected places. I confess that I sometimes watch Desperate Housewives. Are you shocked? Some folks I know find the television series not suitable viewing for Christians, although I doubt they’ve ever watched it. Since there are quite a few cautionary tales in the Bible I read, I figure it’s okay to watch one on TV.

Anyway, a few weeks ago, one of the characters, Lynette, who had suffered through the soap-opera-equivalent of the trials of Job—cancer, a tornado, marital problems—approached a friend, Bree, who habitually attended church. Lynette asked if she and her family might come along. Of course Bree was delighted to have them join her in the pews—until Lynette raised her hand to ask a question after the sermon. Mortified, Bree told her, “We don’t do that here.”

This made for a comic scene, but it resonated with me. I’ve always had a lot of questions, and I suspect I’m not alone. I’ve known Christians who believed that asking the wrong question was the equivalent of questioning the Lord himself, and thus a sacrilege. To be fair to the fictional minister and his church, he later shared that he found Lynette’s openness refreshing. Bree apologized to Lynette before the end of the episode, and helped her search the Bible for answers to her questions. Warning for those who don’t typically watch this show: they don’t do a lot of Bible reading, and much of the subject matter is of a sinful nature.

But, this episode raised an important issue for me. There are a lot of Lynettes in the world—people who are hurting and searching. Even among the faithful, we wonder about such mysteries as why bad things happen to the innocent. But too often we don’t deal with the hard questions, preferring to retreat into what must sound like platitudes to those on the outside looking in. How can we look non-believers in the eye and ask them to join us, but only ask the questions to which we have memorized the answers?

I accept that there is much we will never understand this side of Heaven: Almighty God is a higher being, and we humans simply cannot wrap our brains around all of Him. But it’s important for me to know all that I am capable of knowing.

I need to shine The Light in the dark corners. To walk with Him, I must understand Him. I raise my hand when I have questions.

Susan M. Boyer lives in Greenville, SC with her husband, Jim. She spends her days writing and daydreaming too much. Her work has appeared in Relief Journal, Spinetingler Magazine, The Petigru Review, and Catfish Stew. She is the recipient of Relief Journal’s, editor’s choice award in fiction. Susan is currently polishing her first novel, a Southern women’s suspense tale. She serves on the board of directors for the South Carolina Writers Workshop, and is in her second year as chairperson for their annual conference. In her spare time, Susan travels with her husband, occasionally makes it to her Jazzercise class, and sometimes remembers to update her blog, People I’d Like to Be at skinnywriter@blogspot.com, where she mostly complains about the exercise and her sluggish metabolism.

Friday, May 9, 2008

HE SAID - SHE SAID May 9, 2008

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. - 2 Peter 3:9

He Said -- Stick a Fork in Me, I'm Done!

By: Eddie Jones

With me? He's patient with me? How about I'm patient with Him? Yeah, that's right Big Boy, I'm talking to you. Glaciers form and melt in the time it takes you to.....

Oops, sorry, Lord. For a moment there I had you confused with the name-it-and-claim-it god sold by the power of positive-possibility-preachers who leave their debt ridden believers broken and despondent after they've fleeced their flock. Did I just say that out loud?

Last night my wife tried to cook a turkey. She put the bird in the oven and set the temp on 350 degrees. Later, as I was cleaning up the kitchen, I saw that he oven was still on, so I cut it off. When I looked inside I noticed the turkey, so I turned the oven back on and did what every good husband does.

I kept my mouth shut.

When we got ready to go to bed, my wife checked on the turkey - I'm back to talking ab out the bird in the oven, now - but it wasn't done, so she set her clock to get up every half hour.

Now me, I'd have tossed that turkey. No bird is worth losing sleep over. But not my wife. She wasn't going to chunk a turkey just because her husband was an idiot.

A few months back I asked God this question. "Does the extravagance of your blessings ripen with time, and if so, is this waiting and wishing a season of blessing? Is my impatience a reflection of my small faith? Will I be embarrassed when, at last, you answer my prayers?"

That turkey stewed a long time in its sauce. I've been stewing this week, too. Looking in the mailbox for a missing manuscript, listening for the rumble of the FedUPS trucks to deliver some packages. Sitting by the phone, waiting for agent to call with a book contract.

But if I understand the writer of Peter correctly, it is good to stew and wait. To simmer and sit until the full richness of our character fills the kitchen. On ly then will the favor of God bring forth the full flavor of our lives.

Does God have you on slow roast? Don't turn off the heat. It could be, your life is the main course for an important feast.

She Said -- I Asked. When Will You Answer?

By: Cindy Sproles

My head rested on the pillow and my eyes grew heavy. Somewhere between the 11:00 news and a late night talk show, I drifted in and out of consciousness. You see, I have one speed, and it's hyperdrive, so even when I sleep, I never really rest. My head never seems to shut down.

I've been praying a lot lately, especially for a good friend. Every time I pray, I find myself reminding God that "He promises." In fact, I caught myself saying promises, promises, promises, promises. Promises, promises, promises, and promises. When are you going to keep one? Answer a prayer? Buck up and pay attention? Come in from the back yard and answer an email? Shortly after I said that, we had a thunderstorm and a very heavy rain. Perhaps I was out of line-a little.

Still I take the Father at His word and He promises to hear our prayers and answer. He's slow. I'm sure God is wondering by whose standards I'm comparing Him to, and that would be my hyperdrive speed. But I don't get it. I don't understand the logic when I pray faithfully, ask according to His will, and pray persistently, why the Father doesn't throw me a bone-give me a break.

The fact is, sometimes His answer is in the "not" answering. Sometimes the answer is the silence. We will never comprehend the timing of God and we most certainly will never understand his patience with us, but the one thing we can rest assured in, is the fact that He always keeps his promise. "He knows the plans that He has for us, plans to prosper us and not to harm us," and just because I'm tapping my foot impatiently waiting does not mean God is ready. All the pieces to His plan are not in place and all my toe tapping is going to do, is hurt.

So, I roll over and pull my pillow close. I close my eyes and rest in the assurance that God is God, almighty and amazing, and I am simply impatient. Thank goodness He is not. I feel His breath against my face as I drift into rest, and I heard Him whisper, "I always keep my promises, but I keep them in my time. Patience."

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Spitting Contest

So, because you are lukewarm-neither hot or cold-I am about to spit you out of my mouth. - Revelation 3:16

I've done more things with my kids that, under normal circumstances, I would have never considered. Let's start with roller coasters. I hate roller coasters-the feeling stems from riding an old wood coaster with only a bar that came across your lap. Making that fifty foot climb up the incline, hesitating at the top, then tilting and soaring down the other side scared me to death. I felt like I would fall out. I'm proud to say, I've ridden The Hulk at Universal. I had to be peeled off the seat when it was over, but I rode it with my adult children.

When you have boys, you do things you wouldn't normally do. For instance, a spitting contest. I know, it's gross and frankly, I can't believe I actually participated, but you do what you must. I went outside one day to find the boys lined along the sidewalk, cups of water in hand, and spitting at mason jars. Each time they'd hit the jar, they'd move it backward, aiming for a harder hit. It wasn't long before Tim and I were both involved. Of course when we ran out of water, we resorted to the ole' time way of playing the game, and as disgusting as it was, we had a ball.

Spitting is just nasty. People do it when they're sick, or something tastes bad. Ever get a mouth full of lukewarm water? You spit!

My relationship with Christ is something I strive to never take for granted. Developing it means studying, reading, immersing myself into the heart of the Father through His word. Likewise, this same relationship is taken very seriously by God. He desires for me to know Him, and He has a wonderful plan for me. He wants me active and working, seeking and praying because that's where I can find Him.

When I read about the church at Laodicea, my heart breaks because God resorts to spitting--and this time, it's not a kid's game. He said, "because you are lukewarm -- neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of my mouth."

I stumble at times and sin. My weaknesses show through. But my heart and my conviction never falter. I can't imagine being so wishy-washy, so inactive in my spiritual life God would want to spit me out.

The only spitting I do these days is watermelon seeds, and my prayer is that on the day Christ comes, He will not spit me into a mason jar. How is your relationship with the Father? Is it lukewarm or is it boiling? Aim for boiling.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Guest Devotionalist -- Aaron Gansky

Guest Devotionalist -- Aaron Gansky

NamesakeWhat's Your Name

(part 2)

By: Aaron Gansky

The LORD said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by."

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.

Then a voice said to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"

1 Kings 19: 11-13

What then, is most impressive about Elijah? Which miracles should we pick to recognize and marvel over? Clearly it's when he challenged four hundred prophets of Baal to a deity Smack down in the vein of the WWE. The odds were hardly in his favor, but his unwavering faith was rewarded. God, likely with a divine suplex, knocked Baal down for the count. And Elijah, His servant, commanded all four hundred prophets to be led to a river and slaughtered. Impressive.

But that's not why my second son is named Elijah.

Of course, then, it must be when he raised the poor widow's son from the dead. You'd like to think that, wouldn't you? What, then?

My son is named Elijah because Elijah ran away.


Really. See, the miracles, as impressive as they are, they don't reveal who Elijah really was. A prophet? Yes. An amazing prophet? Absolutely. Human. Exactly. Elijah made mistakes like so many others. But here's what Elijah did after his mistake. He made up for it.

Shortly after he had the prophets of Baal slaughtered, the wicked Queen of the land asked for his head on a platter. Elijah got scared and ran. This isn't what God wanted, per se. So God had a short conversation with him. Something to the effect of "Why you runnin', son?" To his credit, Elijah answers truthfully. "Uhm, Lord, I'm peein' my pants over here. This really bad woman wants me dead, and she can do it. I'm all alone."

God says, "Meet Me on the mountain." Elijah does. And he has to endure a harsh wind, an earthquake, and a fire. See, if it's me, I'm gone after the earthquake. That's when I start thinking, "Oops, guess God ain't too happy with me." But Elijah stays. There's his faith. God said, "Meet Me here," and by golly, I'm going to.

More impressive is God's gentle question-"Why are you here?" And his answer to Elijah's concern, "I'm all alone." God said, "Go back and anoint new leaders." See, this action provided for Elijah's concern, but also required faith on his part. Elijah never seems short of faith does he? Well, maybe just when he's running away.

So you see, my son is named Elijah because he's human. He'll make mistakes. He'll have doubts. But, eventually and unfailingly, he'll return to the service of God.

At least, he will if I serve God. His faith will be a measure of my own. And there's my challenge. More accurately--there's our challenge.

Where would God like to meet you? Are you late for that meeting? Are you waiting through the winds, earthquakes, and fires? Rejoice. God's gentle whisper is just around the corner.

Aaron and boysAaron is an author and creative writing teaching living in California.

Monday, May 5, 2008

HE SAID - SHE SAID May 5, 2008


“For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” - Philippians 2:13

I understand the appeal of prison. The security, the shelter, the daily sustenance provided by tax payers. Once you’ve tasted the fear of freedom, returning to prison can seem mighty appealing. I know. Two years ago I was tempted to return to prison, to my own, maximum security facility.

Before stepping into the stark landscape of freedom, I’d spent my whole career working for myself but I’d grown tired of it. I’d seen whole industries implode, my benefits cut, the meager investments in my retirement account, decimated. As a hard working American, I’d done everything my dad had told me to do. Get an education, earn a degree, work hard at every task and pick my nose in private. But in the end there was no security.

So when God called me again, as He’d called so many times before, and asked me to come to work for Him, I signed up. The paragraph on the job description was blank, the starting salary missing and the location vague. But that didn’t matter. I was ready for a new employer.

Then came that day when I looked over my shoulder and turned back toward my prison.
“I’m working at a job that isn’t paying the bills,” I wrote in my prayer journal. “But I’ve kept at it. That’s faith. I’m doing what you’ve called me to do even though I see few opportunities for advancement. That’s hope. I’ve shelved my dreams in order to spend all my energy training for this craft. That’s selling out to serve you.”

“And now it’s fall and the sky is gray. The air is damp and the wind cold. The season of hope has passed. Summer is gone, but it never really came for me. All that is left is fall and I feel as if I’ve failed in the job you’ve given me. Did I get it wrong? Should I go back?”

I understand the appeal of prison. It represents safety and significance, even if on a limited scale. The call to serve God, to follow Christ, is not a life of lottery winnings. It is a job. It requires work. And there are no employment manuals.

But Christ says that with perseverance, we will reap a harvest. Maybe not in material blessings and maybe not in this lifetime. But we will share in His joy. And what was the job God gave me?
To write. To become an author. To do what I’m doing today so that others may know of His goodness and glory.

When you hear His call, say “yes.” When you are tempted to turn back toward your prison, say “no.” And when someone tells you that your ministry made difference in their life, say “you’re welcome.”

Then thank God for the opportunity to work for Him.

SHE SAID - You Gotta Do What Ya Gotta Do

“For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” - Philippians 2:13

There are some things in life we have to do for ourselves. When asked why, there’s no good answer other than, “I just needed to do it.” I’d like to think I could hop on Interstate 81 and have a straight shot, four lanes and seventy miles per hour, to get from point A to point B. Unfortunately life has other plans for me, so I exit occasionally to grab a bite or take in a sight. Life is like that. Drive, exit, drive, exit, drive, potty break.

We all have roads to travel and our reasons, sometimes only known to the deepest part of our being, as to why we drive the routes we do. I remember picking my grandmother up from the bus station once and telling her that for someone who was supposed to enjoy a trip she looked pretty rough. She grinned and said, “I look this way for a reason. I’ve traveled a lot of roads and a lot weren’t paved, what do you expect?”

I’m not sure what I expected, but humorous as that was, her analogy made sense.
When we start down a road toward something we’ve longed for it looks like it’ll be a straight shot to our destination. However, many of us lose sight of point B long before they arrive, while others become lost and turn around. But for those who follow the map, stay the course—the reward is just ahead.

Heaven is that way—you know, due north, left turn upward. The problem is we take side trips. We never want to wait in traffic or be inconvenienced. That’s just not how you get there. We get there by following the Words the Father has given us. The directions are pretty clear. We’re the ones who muddle them, who insist on taking Highway Exciting only to find the excitement was all in dodging the potholes. Then we have to turn around, dodge again and hope we find the on ramp to the interstate.

Amazingly enough, the Father waits patiently for us to do what we feel we need to do before we finally drive to Him. He provides a map, complete with yellow highlighted directions and when we arrive, He will work for the good. Won’t you flip open your map and follow?

By the way. Don’t wait too long—you may miss the turn completely.

Friday, May 2, 2008

HE SAID -- SHE SAID May 2, 2008

Courting The Bereans - He Said

"Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true." - Acts 17:11

Twice this week I’ve pilfered through my wife’s library of chic flicks and plugged in the VHS player. I am a hopeless romantic. I keep Christmas, birthday, valentine and anniversary cards. Beside my bed there’s a drawer full of my boy’s pre-school artwork, in the attic a box of high school love letters, and on my dresser a basket of ticket stubs from Jimmy Buffett concerts.

Okay, the Buffett thing isn't so much romantic as it is just sad.

The point is that I long for love and memorialize the moments when I find it.

The converts in Berea knew a few things about romance, too. For them, the message from Paul was an invitation to love, a call to courtship. When the apostle told them of God’s love, of how God desired for them to be made whole, they eagerly examined the Scripture, parsing Paul’s words to see if what the apostle said was true.

It was, and still is.

God is love. We only need to hear the laugh of a toddler, smell the biscuits of grandma, see the limbs bending in the pines. Small trinkets left for us by a God who loves us so much, He exchanged the life of His son that we might rest in His arms. My desire to return to Eden, to find Eve and the perfection of paradise is not the aimless wanderings of a hopeless romantic. It is the heart of a man hungry for the one who made me in His image.

Looking for great romance novel? Consider the world’s longest running best-seller.


Be a Berean! -- She Said

Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see what Paul said was true. – Acts: 17:11

When you raise a household of boys certain things are inevitable -- bloody noses,

belching contests, and comic books. As a teen my husband loved comics. There are a number of plastic storage bins in the basement filled with original Spiderman and Fantastic 4 comics. He, like most kids in our youth, collected pop bottles and redeemed them for pennies to buy comics.

As our kids grew into adolescents, Tim involved them in his comic book interests. Each week he’d load the boys into the car and drive to the comic book store. They would burst through the door after Wayne, the owner, asking what books were in their tubs for the week. Wayne knew when the sideline books would hit, and he tossed a copy in their tubs, keeping them on top of all the characters. The kids couldn’t wait to get their new editions. They could bolt upright in their beds from a dead sleep and tell you the details of Spiderman because they were excited.

I offered some information on the scriptures to a group of folks who’d obviously missed their afternoon naps. They left the information in their seats as they trudged off to catch a few zzzz’s. Can we talk, and talk honestly –no lies (can’t do that according to the ninth commandment). I was saddened no one was eager to study the word. How can we be the Christians God asks us to be if we are not eager and excited to know His word? How easily can we be misled without knowledge?

The Bereans were “off the beaten path” from most folks and honestly –here it is again -- few expected them to latch on the Word with zest, but when they received it they were thrilled. More so, they studied it daily finding assurance in what Paul was teaching them was tried and true. We take for granted when a scripture is offered to us, that it is given in the right context. If we never study, we can never know if Satan has turned the word around to suit his agenda. You can justify most anything scripturally when you take it out of context –even sin. Loving God with an eagerness and a desire to know Him should come as easily as my boys’ excitement over comic books. That “want” is what will ground us in very basis of God.

Love Him with eagerness. Study His word with fervor. Know Him fully. Share Him with excitement to others. Be a Berean!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

The Heart of a Servant

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For the measure you use, it will be measured to you. – Luke 6:38

Kay peered over the stacks of files. Her heart sank as Les laid the last of the pile on the edge of the desk.

“I appreciate you taking on my half of the files. This way I can catch up to the guys after work.” He leaned across the mess and gave her a half-hearted hug. “Wait up guys.”

The office emptied and Kay sat alone wondering why she’d agreed to help Les. A weak smiled parted her lips as she began to sort the files. She wasn’t happy to be alone with the work, but she was pleased to help a friend.

Having the heart of a servant can be tough. Many times others take advantage of those with the willingness to give. Some servants are caregivers, some encouragers, and some give freely of their love and time regardless of their own commitments. Whatever the method, their hearts are tender and their minds obedient.

Many will say Jesus’ perfect example of being a servant was when he knelt to wash the feet of His disciples. But for me, His example lay in the fact that He paid full attention to all those He personally encountered. His ear was always tuned and His heart was always willing. In fact, He was such a servant that His only escape was in a boat on the lake. And when He walked that hill to His death, He walked it without regret and without doubt.

Those who are coined as servants do not ask for favors, they give freely of themselves, and they rarely accept credit for the work they’ve done. We never say thank you enough, instead we continually place more demands on them, and if they do happen to mention a sadness, we easily brush their needs to the side. All Christ asks of us is to love and obey Him, to spread the gospel so that every person can hear, yet all we manage to do is pile another stack of files on the desk.

Do you know someone with the heart of a servant? Have you genuinely praised them, done something special for them, or given just once? Christ gave His life. What have we given this servant in return?