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

Monday, June 30, 2008

Guest Devotionalist - Sue Payne

Milkweed - By Sue Payne

"You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.' The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear the sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit." John 3:7-8


ently, I watched the miraculous transformation of a milkweed pod as it sat on the windowsill in our kitchen. The once-closed, green pod eventually dried and opened to reveal its new life within; tiny, tear-shaped seeds, each adorned with delicate silk thread "wings".

Lacking the aid of the breeze needed to fly to freedom, I had the privilege of watching this slow motion transformation as these tiny seeds burst forth in an amazing orderly and artistic manner. Normally, the wind would simply carry these tiny dancers upon its breath, eventually emptying the pod of new life, to a place of new birth. Designed a
nd created with perfect wisdom, our God gives the milkweed everything it needs to grow.

God has designed the human heart to grow as well and has made available everything it needs to fulfill His purposes. Like the milkweed pod, the heart holds new life within its grasp.

Unfortunately, many of us keep our heart under wraps, similar to the tightly closed, green pod of the milkweed. Past sins, burdens, and bitterness keep our hearts hardened, hiding the contents in fear of judgment and ridicule. Selfishness may keep a heart from sharing its life within. And there are those of us who believe that because of circumstances out of our control such as abuse, addiction, ignorance or neglect, our hearts are void of God's life-giving spirit. Self-respect becomes non-existent and the heart lays dormant and frozen.

In His great wisdom, God knows the hard, outer shell of our heart must be broken in order that the fresh winds of His Spirit will blow, enabling its new life to fly to freedom. He breaks us in order to make us better. A broken heart, spilled out and rid of its fears, makes more room for Him. God breaks our will so that we might see His. His
power is made perfect in our weakness (2 Cor. 12:9).

The heaven-sent mission of the Holy Spirit is about peace, confidence, hope, and freedom in Christ. The mission is only accomplished when we choose to walk in faith and to learn to trust in God's perfect love for us.

That once frozen, hardened, cold heart becomes a rushing flow of supernatural, new life when we yield all things to Him. Then, upon the breath of the Holy Spirit, God's peace and love will blow wherever it pleases, making His peace in your life known to those around you. And soon, you will see the new life flying to freedom on the wings of the Spirit, finding new birth and growing in places you never imagined!

Fly with Christ!
Sue Payne

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, June 27, 2008

He Said -- She Said June 27, 2008

He Said -- Wave Walking

“Lord, if it's you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” Jesus said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” - Matthew 14:28-31

What would if feel like to drown?

In a few weeks I’m traveling to Central America to surf the Pacific coast of Nicaragua. I’m not worried about wiping out. I’ve done enough of that already know I can’t catch and ride every wave. Failure is a part of success. But I do worry, a little, about drowning.

When I read the story of Peter wave-walking across the sea I don’t judge his “little faith.” I have looked up the face of a twenty foot set rolling toward me, knowing there is no way out up and over. I’ve felt the weightless of free falling as the lip tosses me onto a reef.

“If Peter had kept his eyes on Jesus he would have been fine,” the Christian-lite landlubber preachers tell us from the safety of their pulpits. Coaching from the beach is easy, but it takes a true disciple to get into the water.

The call to the abundant life is real, but so are the dangers. Without the sting of death, living on the edge of adventure means nothing. I like Peter. He’s a man of action.

  • Peter called and Christ said “come”

  • Peter got out

  • Peter walked on the waves

  • Peter experienced both excitement and fear

  • He sank

  • Peter cried out

  • Jesus reached out

It is that last part, the Jesus reaching out, that I like best.

Jesus didn't scold Peter for his foolish faith. If anything, Christ praised him. Remove one adjective and it reads, “You of … faith. Why did you doubt?”

Why indeed? Success lies in only one direction — straight ahead. If you look back, you’ll get sidetracked.

That night on the Sea of Tiberius the wind was real, the waves were large but sometimes a boat, even a large boat, will get swamped. The storms of life will come. That’s a fact. But if I’ve learned anything from wave walking it’s this: life begins when you jump in.

Are you stuck on the beach? Take a dip. You know what God is calling you to do. Now do it!

Christian Devotions

She Said -- Scared to Death

Click on this button to hear this devotion. - Scared to Death - By Cindy Sproles

"Lord, if it's you," Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water." "Come," Jesus said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!" Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. "You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?" - Matthew 14:28-31

I gazed up as the green cars soared overhead, then swallowed and pulled my shoulders back. “Naw, I'll be fine.” I'd convinced myself there'd be nothing to this adventure — this it was do-able, that I’d be fine. Then I took a deep breath and recalled of the ride’s specifications: zero to 40 mph in two seconds, maximum speed, 67 mph, seven inversions through two subterranean trenches, the longest 2-minutes and 15-seconds. For me, the ride would last an eternity.

I hate roller coasters, but the mother in me said I should spend quality time with my sons. With feet like lead and a mouth dry as sand, I smiled and followed my boys to the front of the line.

“Mom, you're the best. You'll love this,” said Cameron. Somehow, I didn’t think so.
More coaster cars roared past; metal grinding against metal, passengers squealing, women and some men bawling. My husband leaned over and offered to wait with me if I was too chicken. But I knew that wouldn't be fair. My husband’s the biggest kid of all.

The cars stopped and I slid in, my legs braced me against the front of the cart. They snapped the shoulder harness in place and I changed my mind. Too late. At the first inversion I felt as though I was going to slip through the harness and fall.
I can't count the times that I’ve fallen and failed Christ, the number of days when I’ve lost courage. And never once has he denounced me. Instead He's told me to come to Him, to joyfully step out on faith and walk toward Him. Unworthy as I am, He’s reached His hand to me and pulled me to safety, even when my heart has failed me.
What an amazing God.

Halfway through the ride, my husband’s arm came across me and grabbed my harness, and then Cameron's. My men pressed against me holding me firm. I cracked open one eye to see them laughing hysterically, yet they never turned loose. One ride on the Hulk was enough, but I will never turn loose of the arms that hold me, that love me, that keep me close.

When I keep my eyes centered on the Father, regardless of the perils that surround me, He never lets me fall. It's all about focus and trust.

Do you feel like you're sinking? Cry to Him. He will lift you up.

Christian Devotions

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Guest Devotionalist - Ariel Allison

“And I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me, says the Lord Almighty.” 2nd Corinthians 6:18

The cross that marks my father’s grave is nothing but a broken tree branch lashed together with twine. Knee high weeds grow above the sunken ground where the rustic plywood casket lies. The last time I visited his grave was late at night, shivering from the cold, staring at the peeling bark with the help of flickering headlights. I stood there, breathing in the chill of a Tennessee Autumn, and once again I felt the longing.
What I missed, standing on that frigid hilltop, was not the physical presence of my father, it was what I had never gotten, what I would never get; the love of my father.

The hardest part is not accepting the truth about our lives, but living with a longing that may never be satisfied. The easier thing to do is stuff the ache somewhere deep down inside where we won’t visit it again because, in essence, a longing is something that tugs at our heartstrings and makes us hunger. But sometimes the visitation is an act of healing. We need to approach that cross on a hilltop and admit that we are empty, longing for our Father – our true Father. The longing is a good thing. A right thing. A painful thing. A healing thing.

Almost five years have passed since we lowered my father into his final resting place. The longing is not gone – will never be gone in fact – but the healing is well underway. The rustic cross above my dad’s grave, represents the truth that I do have a Father who loves me. I have a Father who will never leave me nor forsake me.

Ariel Allison is the co-author of Daddy Do You Love Me: a Daughter’s Journey of Faith and Restoration (New Leaf Press, 2006). She ponders on life as a mother of all boys at http://www.themoabclub.blogspot.com/ and on her thoughts as a redeemed dreamer at http://www.arielallison.blogspot.com/.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Guest Devotionalist -- Ron Benrey


By: Ron Benrey

“I ask ... that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you ... (John 17:20, NRSV)

Before I became a Christian—I’m a late-bloomer, baptized less than ten years ago—I saw Christianity as a vast monolith: billions of people who shared the same beliefs. I was astonished to discover that the community of Christians is more fractured than a bag of crushed ice and that in-fighting among Christians is as common as sharing the Lord’s Supper.

Jesus clearly anticipated that Christians would disagree, but I think the disciples who heard him pray for unity would be dumbfounded to learn there may be 40,000 Christian denominations around the world. This is a breathtaking estimate, but even the most cautious count—9,000 denominations—is an extraordinary number. There are more than 2,000 Christian denominations in North America alone, each with its own spin on some Christian teaching or form of church government.

No other worldwide religion has as much “diversity.” It prompts thinking Christians to wonder what happened to Paul’s teaching that we’re all part of the “single body” (1 Corinthians 12).

My introduction to denominationalism—narrow-minded devotion to a specific teaching—came at the first Christian writers’ conference I attended. One of the other conferees told me in all sincerity that I’d made a “fatal mistake” when I’d chosen my mainstream denomination, because its teachings are not truly Christian. “You think you’re saved,” he said, “but you’re bound for Hell, until you join a real church.”

I recall using some distinctly non-Christian language when I urged him to worry about someone else’s salvation at the conference. Happily, I’d learned enough about Christianity by then to recognize that he was hot under the collar about teachings that had nothing to do with core principles of Christianity—the key doctrines that C. S. Lewis called “Mere Christianity.”

Most of the tussles among Christians fall into that category, because when you think about it Christians have almost nothing to fight over:

God’s Grace is available in unlimited supply—take as much as your situation requires.

Your personal relationship with God can be as deep (or as shallow) as you want—tap into it whenever the Spirit moves you.

And as for the Spirit—well, He’ll provide as much counseling and comforting as you’ need.

Christianity may have more flavors than an ice-cream maker’s convention, but I don’t expect to find any denominations in Heaven.

Ron Benrey, the author of the soon to be published Complete Idiot’s Guide to Christian Mysteries, an explanation of Christianity’s toughest teachings, is a prolific writer who has written nine non-fiction books and co-written nine novels with his wife Janet. Ron teaches courses and workshops at major Christian Writers’ Conferences on topics ranging from plotting to copyright law. He holds a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a master's degree in management from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and a juris doctor from the Duquesne University School of Law. He’s a member of the Bar of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Ron and Janet live in North Carolina

Friday, June 20, 2008

He Said, She Said -- June 20, 2008

The Graduate - He Said

Click on this button to hear this devotion - Listen to The Graduate- He Said, By Eddie Jones

“I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”Luke 15:7

The instructions were explicit. There was to be no cheering, no clapping — no whistling or calling of your child’s name. The culmination of twelve years of formal education was to be celebrated with silence. All the homework, lab experiments, research papers, class projects and late night study sessions had earned my son the right to rush across the stage and return to his seat empty handed. Even the real diplomas were stored in a box off stage.

As I watched him hurry across the platform I thought of how many times my wife and I had preached the importance of education and how on this, the biggest day of his high school career, we couldn’t applaud his efforts.

The silence was deafening.

Life is that way, sometimes. To often we reach our goals only to find the fame fleeting, the cheers muted. The world’s best golfer fights through an injury to win a major tournament and, after five days and 91 holes, his reward is a ten second sound bite on the evening news.

Man was meant for more than restrained adoration, made for more than solemn tributes. He was and is created in the image of God. Mark Twain was right when he said, “I can live for two months on a good compliment.”

It’s true. We appreciate being appreciated — wives, especially. And it helps to hear the words, “well done, good job and I’m proud of you,” even if for a few moments. But the applause is not enough because in the end, adoration is addicting.

Fame begets pride and pride gives birth to sin which, when it is full grown, kills.

Later that evening as I settled down with my Bible, I thought of my son’s achievements and how proud I was of his hard work, of how I’d wished I could have cheered when they called his name. Then I re-read the words of Jesus and was reminded that the real hand clapping and foot stomping began years earlier when my son gave his life to Christ.

“There will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents,” said Jesus. I was glad to know that the crowd had clapped and cheered on the day my son had repented and chosen Christ as his rabbi. In the end, that is the only achievement that matters, the only true hope I have for each of my sons, nieces and nephew.

But this I know for certain. On the day when I see my savior take His place of honor on the heavenly throne, no one will be able to silence my applause or quiet my voice as I chant the name, “Jesus Christ!” again and again.

… and again.

Christian Devotions

Lost -- She Said

Click on this button to hear this devotion - Listen to Lost - He Said, By Cindy Sproles

"I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent." - Luke 15:7

I was lost! Someplace where Mount Le Conte meets heaven, the Smokey Mountain mist sailed in on a breeze and covered the summit. The crystal blue sky turned white and miles of breathtaking views vanished in seconds. So I sat. Nothing else I could do. I'd only taken a short hike from the camp but everyone would wonder where I was. After all, who'd have thought I would be lost. When the minutes became hours and the fog did not lift, fear crept in.

The Father knows us each by name. He numbers his flock and when one wanders-when one is lost - He begins His search. Sometimes we elude Him unintentionally, stepping behind a rock to avoid detection and keep our sin private. Other times we just wander off to graze on the worldly desires that, in and of themselves may not bad, but which cause us to become distracted.

I was lost so I crawled across the ground in search of a pathway I couldn't see. I knew the others would be searching for me, and they were, so eventually I stopped crawling, sat and waited.

At last the hand of a friend touched my shoulders. A shriek joy and laughter sang across the pass and echoed off the mountain. Lisa embraced me and sobbed. "I was scared to death," she said. "I asked God to find you. How could someone be lost so close to heaven?" Never before had I felt such warmth and happiness as my friends celebrated. The mountainside rejoiced.

When I think of the times I sin--fail God, I hang my head. Still, Christ searches for me. He looks behind every bush and tree for this lamb who has lost her way. And when He spies me, crouched next to a rock, He lifts me into the air, and there
thunderous rejoicing in heaven.

If you're lost and crawling on your hands and knees. Stop. Sit still. Allow Christ to find you in the mist. You are as worthy as the rest. There will be great rejoicing because you have been found.

And when we find our way back into His arms, the Shepherd cries tears of elation.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Guest Devotionalist -- Aaron Gansky

Aaron and boys

Namesake - Part 3
By: Aaron Gansky

Again she conceived, and when she gave birth to a son she said, "Now at last my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons." So he was named Levi. -- Genesis 29:34-35

We shuffle into the doctor's waiting room and my wife takes a clipboard with sundry paperwork. Josiah busied himself bringing color to Spider-Man's epic battle against evil in his latest coloring book. Elijah was interested in two things, one on either side of the room. His two-year-old logic insists that it should be possible to be in two separate places at once, and so he conducts an experiment with this in mind. It consists primarily of running at brake-neck speeds from one end to the other. How can he go so fast with those two tiny legs? I'm fifteen times older than him, a wee bit taller, and can't keep pace. Like any father, this leads me to the natural conclusion: this boy will make me money someday. So I smile and let him run, making sure he doesn't plow into anyone along the way.

We're excited. Today my wife will have another ultrasound, but this time the baby is far enough along to determine gender. People tell us to wait until the birth, to be surprised. We say, "We'll be surprised at the ultrasound." Call us new-fashioned.

And we were surprised. My money was definitely on a girl. I figure, law of averages, right? Three kids, you should be able to get at least ONE girl. Maybe it's just not in me.

Leah was the wife of Jacob. Jacob did not love her, not the way he loved her younger sister Rachel. But God worked a miracle, and opened Leah's womb and Rachel was barren (at least at first). Leah's third son was named Levi, which might mean "attached." Leah's hope was that the birth of a third son would win her the affection of her husband.

And our third son has brought our family just a little closer. Josiah is excited about the eminent arrival of the new boy (he sings him to sleep each night via mommy's belly-button). Elijah, who, until this time, had little interest in the baby, was now able to put a face (skullish as it is) to what was inside mommy, and now will talk to him.

The tribe of Levi were responsible for ministerial duties among the other tribes. It is our desire that Levi, like his namesake, will carry the name of God on his lips.

And, with the coming of Levi, we'll have a prophet (Elijah), a priest (Levi),
and a king (Josiah).

Aaron Gansky lives with his wife and 2.5 children in Calfornia. He is a high school creative writing teacher, a novelist and a writer. Aaron and his family eagerly await the arrival of the other .5 of baby Gansky, due in the fall.

Friday, June 13, 2008

HE SAID - SHE SAID -- June 13, 2008

Shine On -- He Said

By: Eddie Jones

"The LORD make his face to shine upon you” – Numbers 6:24

How long can you stand in the presence of God before you grow bored? I lasted twenty minutes. Finally quit because my knees hurt from all the kneeling. Back ached from leaning hunched over. Trust me. This worship business takes physical stamina, something I can't even spell much less find on the aisle of a drug store.

I didn't mean to stumble into the presence of God but then Moses wasn't hunting for a lunch buddy when God appeared at the cookout. Jonah ran away, Gideon hid. I was taking a nap in the cockpit of the yacht.

I had a sailboat once. Sold it. Bought another. Sold it, too. This pattern continued for almost two decades before I realized I was addicted. I figured the cure was to go sailing on another friend's sailboat. He had a yacht. A yacht is any boat that's bigger than mine. So I was napping on his yacht.

We were a day north of the Bahamas, a hundred miles west of Florida and one longitude away from a stalled tropical storm squatting over the Gulf Stream. We were sneaking around the eastern edge of the storm, trying not to wake it.

Sun out. Seas calm. Sails tucked away. Diesel engine lulling us to sleep.

Then from the bow I heard my son call for me to grab his camera. We'd plowed through a pod of porpoises or dolphins or whatever they are. I can never tell the difference. I passed him the camera and then lay on my stomach, reaching down, trying to touch one. It rolled onto its side (the mammal, not the yacht) and looked at me. No kidding. My hand was less than a foot away. So close, in fact, that we made eye contact. I waited for it to swim away.

But it didn't. It swam beside the boat. In a while another one took its place and for the next twenty minutes the pod of porpoises or dolphins or whatever they were played with us. Then the rest of the crew grew bored and strolled back to the cockpit. I stayed, waiting. Trying to touch one. Wondering if I slipped under the lifeline and grabbed the fin if it would pull me along like Flipper.

Then I too grew tired, sat up and broke eye contact. The pod swam off. The water became calm again. I pounded on the hull but they dind't return. Ever. We did not see another porpoise or dolphin or whatever they were the rest of the trip.

I know God returns when we blow Him off but I wondered how many times He's been standing right in front of me. Enjoying my company and I've grown bored and wandered away.

Silence during my devotion, where's the fun in that? Long cryptic passages from Paul that make no sense so I finally close the Book, thinking, there's no way I can meditate on that. Staring a list of folks who need prayers and thinking, but I need to get to work. So I get up and wander off.

God, I'm sorry if I bailed on you. If you hear me banging on the hull will you come back? I can't promise I'll stay the whole time but I'd like a little more time with you.

I Can't Get Enough
by Cindy Sproles

"The LORD make his face to shine upon you” – Numbers 6:24

There’s nothing better than meeting God on the mountain. When I need to think, to sort things out—I find myself perched on a huge rock that forms a shelf on the side of sheer face of the mountain. It overlooks the river. Rock, river, mountains and God. The simple things are still the special things. God meets me in the cool of the evening on that rock. In my mind’s eye I see Him leaning back against the rock face, legs extended, ankles crossed, hands locked behind His head, listening to the sound the wind and water washing over his handiwork.

When I sit on that rock I, too, can hear the wind and water and I sense Him near, nudging me over to His side of the rock. The breeze that whispers through the leaves reminds me of the many prayers I lifted up and I imagine each leaf is an answer. Some beyond my grasp, others fallen and never noticed because of my too busy life. And still calls me close, telling me to lean back, rest and listen to His voice.

I never tire of sitting on that rock with God. Lose patience, yes. Get too busy to go sometimes, yes. But I never tire of the beauty of His tapestry of trees, ravines and rolling hills. And I long for Him to look upon me, to pat me on the shoulder, for I, too, am a part of His creation. His best part. He said so. I was made in His image. Made after Adam. God saved the best for last.

Moses met God on a mountain. He even got to see God’s backside pass by. But it was the shekinah glory of His face that Moses remembered. The glow of His holiness. I don’t see God’s glow. I only hear Him whispers as he rustles the trees, but the reflection of His glory bouncing off the sun and moon are enough for me.

To race through the day without spending even a small moment to admire the work of His hand is to say, “You are not enough, God, give me more.” As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord and pray that His face will shine upon us for if we have that, we have it all. I can’t get enough.

Christian Devotions

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

He's Finished

When he had received the drink, Jesus said, "It is finished." With that He bowed His head and gave up His spirit. −John 19:30

Click on this button to hear this devotion Listen to He's Finished - by Cindy Sproles

The crack of the baseball bat echoed across the stadium. Adam pushed his glove to his brow and supported it with his free hand. The sun brought tears to his eyes as he struggled to focus on the ball. He back peddled, his eyes tracking the ball over his head and toward the fence. This was his chance to win the game. A fly catch would be the third out. A miss meant three runners in would score− a win for the other team. The crowd cheered as Adam reached over his head. The ball clipped the tip of his glove, and bounced off the wooden fence.

He stood, hands on his hips, cleats kicking the grass. He yanked off his glove and slammed it to the ground, storming off the field. He was finished.

I can't tell you the times I've thrown up my hands and said, "I'm finished." I've struggled with a writing plot, writing and rewriting but not finding the right words. I worried until I finally hit the delete key and closed the program.

So many times we give up on a project before it's finished. We're frustrated, impatient, or too lazy to see our work to completion. God spent six days forming the world, and when day seven rolled around He took a break. The writer of Genesis tells us, "He rested from His work." God was pleased with what He'd done, so He kicked up His feet − His work was finished.

Think now, about Jesus nailed to the cross. Often we take His words "it is finished" and assume Jesus simply gives up His spirit. But His words are deeper than His impending death. He was sent to complete the work. Finish the plan. To the spectators on the field of Golgotha that day, the ball sailed over His head and the enemy circled the bases. But in losing, my Christ won. In defeat, He triumphed. The final score was not a reflection of the end of the game.

When you are tempted to accept defeat, to kick the grass and curse the outcome remember Christ. Or at least, remember Adam. His reach fell short, that is true, but there are other days and more games to be played.

The final out only comes for those who refuse to step out of the dugout and play again.


Click on this button to hear this devotion Listen to Fear - by Cindy Sproles

I was scared. So scared, I couldn't walk between the school and the extended building. At 2:15 the high school kids would be standing in the breezeway blowing white streams of smoke in our faces and waiting to bully us. Being yanked us off our feet and dangled above the ground was not an uncommon thing. I'd had my share of being stuffed into a locker and I was scared to death. I hated this daily trek from the elementary school to the high school.

The county incorporated the high school and elementary bands to add to the number. We were sixth graders, walking into the high school on the "bad" side of the building. Even when the teachers stood watch, I shook until I was safe inside the band room.

I hated being afraid. My stomach knotted every day. And when I'd go to bed at night, I had nightmares that one of rough-looking guys would choose to harass me. And I found little comfort in the band director's assurance that we'd be fine. Every day, I took a deep breath and muddled my way through the crowd of threatening teens

One day, I was about to be tossed like a sack of potatoes into the dumpster, when Jeff appeared. He stood just at 5'10", a little scrawny too, but when Jeff stepped onto the scene, folks scattered. He stepped forward and fought our battles. I never understood why this sweet kid came to our recue but I was glad he did. When I rounded corner of the school I knew Jeff would be waiting to walk us through.

Fear makes us powerless and prevents us from moving forward. Sometimes it stops us from making good decisions. And if we surrender to it, we may never enjoy the pleasures of life. We'll always be afraid.

Moses stood at the Jordon River charging Joshua to look what God had led them through. They'd wiped the lands clean of the enemy. He reminded Joshua, not to be afraid because "God himself would fight for them." The promised land lay across the river, but it was full of dangers yet to be overcome. Fear was not an option.

I'd gotten through the troubled times of elementary school, and I was thankful for Jeff. I could have quit, let the fear win, but I didn't, because I trusted Jeff would be there. Even as an adult I've had fears-things that have grasped hold and squeezed until I could barely take a breath. Each time I faced these hardships, I remembered what Moses told Joshua. "God himself would fight for them."

What a reassurance to know we have a Father who is willing to step in front of the enemy and charge ahead. We only have to trust.

Are there fears that weigh you down? Unknown things that haunt you? Do not be afraid for God himself will fight for you. Give the fear to the Father, let the one with the power to overthrow, take your battle and win.

Cindy Dec 2005 Don't be afraid!

In Christ,

Cindy Sproles

Monday, June 9, 2008

Guest Devotionalist -- Terri Kelly

He Has PlansLooking at the ocean - Aaron
By: Terri Kelly

Click on this button to hear this devotion Listen to He Has A Plan by - Terri Kelly

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." -- Jeremiah 29:11

Devastated. Defeated. Divorced.

By the time I was 36, I had been married twice and had a young daughter. No more marriage for me. I'd made plans.

I changed jobs, bought a condominium and began a new habit. I prayed for God to plan each day.

One spring evening, I attended a local country dance, and in the middle of a promenade, I glanced at a tall, dark, and regal man. Before the evening was over, the handsome King David look alike had asked me to dance.

A year later, we'd danced our way to the altar. We began to pray for a son. After not conceiving, we visited the fertility doctor. He gave us the diagnosis that our chances of a child were slim.

Again and again we prayed. "Dear Father, will you bless us with a son?"

Grouchy and tired one morning, I decided to try another pregnancy test. God had answered my prayer. Four tests later the blue positive lines validated I was pregnant. I called my husband and the the doctor's office.

"I believe I need to see a doctor immediately. I'm expecting."

"We have you scheduled for 8:30 a.m. in seven weeks."

I hung up afraid that I would miscarry before the appointment. Hey, I'm nearly "over-the-having-a-baby-age," but God had answered one prayer, so I clung tight to His blessing, and trusted He had a plan.

Four boxes of saltines and sixteen six-packs of Sprite later, I'd passed the curvey road of nausea. My appointment rolled around.

"You're doing great," the doctor said. "Any questions?"

"Yes. Are there restrictions?"

"No restrictions," replied the doctor.

"But....."and my voice trailed off into a squeaky whimper. The doctor said I was healthy. Why the whining? I needed to model God's power within me.

Everyday I see God's presence in my life. A Godly husband, a daughter, and now a son. My plans were different than God's. "For I know the plans I have for you, you.....plans to give you hope and a future."

What if I had not prayed? What if I hadn't made the choice to submit my daily plans-- my life to God? Things might have been different.

How about you? Have you asked God to plan your day, guide your future? If you pray, you can expect an answer. He has big plans for you.

Terri KellyTerri Kelly and her husband, Allen, are blessed with a daughter and a son. She calls North Carolina home. In her spare time, she and Allan work on their business, which is currently undergoing a transformation. Terri holds a master's degree in elementary education and has taught for 'umpteen' years prior to her current "stay-at-home mother" job. Writing pursuits include educational grants, children's curriculum, teacher's tips, and a children's book manuscript. She prays daily for words to write, words to teach, and words to keep silent.

Friday, June 6, 2008

He Said -- She Said June 6, 2008

dark night

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. - Psalm 119:105

Walking in the Dark - He Said

By Eddie Jones

I walked in darkness, taking small steps as the trail curved down and into the woods. To my left a creek drooled over rocks, spilling into the lake. Beneath my boots the path felt smooth and I used its solid familiarity to confirm my steps. But the darkness was oppressive, cloaking the forest in a heavy blanket as tree tops formed a canopy overhead. No moon, no stars. Not even the wink of red and green running lights from an airliner.

I paused and whistled for my dog. Ahead a curled finger-shaped shadow wagged, and I walked on. I could have flipped on my flashlight, but I was about to make a large decision in my life, so I needed to learn to trust in darkness. I needed to discern God's will.

The Latin word for will is voluntas. It means yearning. That night, as I walked, I asked, "Lord, what do you yearn for me to do for you? What is your will for my life? Which way should I go?"

He did not answer. But I walked anyway, placing one foot in front of another. Wrestling with the decision I had to make. Would this choice be a better use of my gifts? Would the other make me more loving? Which one would benefit those I love the most? Would either lead to fulfillment and a sense of peace?

An hour later I walked out of the darkness. There were other paths I could have taken that night and any one of them would have led me back to my car. But I had to walk the path in darkness. I had to learn to trust in the small steps of His leading and the faint flicker of a dog's wagging tail. I had to learn to move on.

What yearning has God placed in your heart? What hard choice has He asked you to make? Ask others to pray that He'll give you discernment as you ask the hard questions. Then trust the decision that He puts in your heart. Going back isn't an option.

It only leads to more darkness.

Eddie 2

The Position of Submission - She Said

By Cindy Sproles

The text on the church sign warned, "Famous last words: I did it my way." I laughed because I've been known to do things my way, to plow forward and run ahead without thinking about the consequences until the problems in my path trip me up. There's another way that works much better.

It's the path of posture. I've learned my best decision making comes when I'm on my knees with my hands clasped. God and I talk a lot when I'm like that. Well, mostly I talk. He listens. God knows I'm a lousy decision maker, so He's patient because I'm not.
Lately He's been teaching me to turn to His Word for discernment. The past few weeks, when tough times tackled me, I found peace in the Psalms. I quoted His scripture back to Him. "I have suffered much, O Lord, so preserve my life according to your word." Psalm 119:107, the New Cosmopolitan Cindy Version (NCCV).

Recently I had to make some tough decisions that worried me. I couldn't sleep. I threw God's words back at him again. "Your word says, 'He makes me lie down in green pastures,' so make me, Lord. Make me lie down and rest." Waiting on the Lord is hard work. I wanted to move ahead, but He said wait.

This morning I picked a spot by the pond where the early mist hung heavy over the lily pads. I watched as His breath clung to the grass along the bank, moving like zephyrs across the water as the breeze ruffled the pond. The only noise I heard was the peaceful trickle of the water against the rocks, His voice whispering through creation. I closed my eyes and tried to discern His muffled message. But the Psalmist would not be quite, "Direct my footsteps according to your word," I heard him say. "And let no sin rule over me." Psalm 119:133, the New Inspirational Cindy Version. (NICV)

Are you facing a tough choice? Take a moment to pause and wait upon the Lord. Give Him the chance to pop a scripture into your brain. Kneel, listen and ask, "Lord, what would you have me do? Which path is right? Guide my steps with your light."

When I have hard decisions, I take the position of submission. I go to my knees and hand it to the Father, and He leads me with His word. The decisions are no easier, except I have Him to lean against and look toward.

Cindy Dec 2005

In Christ,

Eddie Jones and Cindy Sproles
Christian Devotions

Click on this button to hear this devotion Listen to Position of Submission by - Cindy Sproles

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Spreads Like Butter on Hot Bread - A Tribute to a Friend

" In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power. - Acts 19:20

Click on this button to hear this devotion Listen to "Spreads Like Butter on Hot Bread by - Cindy Sproles

We have a saying in the mountains that goes like this-"It spreads like butter on hot bread." Let's take gossip. An unkind word travels faster than email, but what about the good things?

When our kids were in school there was one parent who had nothing better to do than walk the halls of the school. If something happened during the day, she'd rush home and start the phone line. Before the kids climbed off the bus, I knew what happened earlier. Some folks thrive on spreading negative things.

When this email ministry began four years ago, and when God moved it into a partnered ministry with my friend Eddie this past year, the intent was to spread the Word of God. Pure and simple. We'd write the devotions that God placed on our hearts, email them, post them and then pray God would use them.

Today I attended a funeral and I attended because of the influx of email I'd received, and one in particular. A fine man named Mike sent me an email to inform me one of our readers had passed away. He wrote the most beautiful tribute to her. But what impressed me about his note was his remark that, "Barbara loved the email devotions and she meant for me to love them as well. She forwarded them to me every day. And if she was sick and missed work, when she'd get back to work, she dumped eight or ten on me. She meant for me to love them, too." I smiled, because this is what the ministry was about.

I never met Barbara Brown face to face. But I talked with her via mail frequently-had her on our prayer list and through her battle with cancer her positive attitude and love of life never allowed her to wallow in self-pity. "There's always someone worse off than me," she's say. And when I learned of her loss, I sat at my computer and sobbed. We'd lost this battle which we'd prayed so hard to be repaired.

Not so. You see, Barbara Brown punched the forward button on her daily devotions EVERY day, and to tons of individuals just like Mike, whom she loved and wanted them to have the Word of God at their fingertips. This is not about the devotions it's about a woman who spread the Word like butter on hot bread. She oozed the flavor of Christ, and when the butter dripped down her arms, she licked it clean. That, my friends, is what it means to be a servant. Without hesitation this woman spread the love of Christ every day she took in a breath. And when her last breath was drawn, then those emails began to filter back to me.

There is no more fitting tribute to a life than to have someone's first words be, "She wanted me to know Christ." We rarely know the impact we have on others, but we can rest assured we have one. The question is, what is that impression? What have we done to further the kingdom? And when we stand before the Father, look Him face to face, will He smile and say "Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the gates."

I never had the privilege of meeting this woman of God whose emails bubbled with the joy of the Lord-at least not on this side of eternity. But I met her friend Mike who touched my heart with his tears. And I met her sister, and her daughters who's smiles were harbored in the peace and comfort of knowing Barbara is safe in the arms of God. Spread like butter on hot bread-that was Barbara. Is it you?

I met Mike. Barbara Brown introduced us from
heaven! Do you spread like butter on hot bread?

Monday, June 2, 2008

Guest Devotionalist -- Kathie Krakowski

Get Out of Your Comfy Chair

Click on this button to hear this devotion Listen to Get Out of Your Comfy Chair, by - Kathie Krakowski

".....I was in the Citadel of Susa....." Nehemiah 1:1b

Can I just say how much I love my power recliner? It is a big, comfy chair in my family room. I am the only one who sits in it. From this chair I watch TV, use my laptop, eat, even fall asleep. It is my version of a power tool (along with my juicer). To say that it's a place of comfort is an understatement. I cannot sit in that chair 24-7, but there are days when I want to do just that. Some days I don't feel well, or I am dog-tired. Some days I am facing a challenge that frightens me. I think Nehemiah had a day like that. He heard about the condition of Jerusalem's walls, and the people living there, and for days he sat and cried and didn't eat. Do you know the rest of the story?

The book of Nehemiah is one of my favorites for several reasons. It's about trusting God in the face of adveristy, and persevering in spirt of overwhelming odds. It's a story about mercy, restoration, forgiveness, joy, and the faithful and tender heart of our gracious God. And it's a gratifying story of an underdog coming out on top. When I read this book, I see Nehemiah prayed, planned, and perserved. The task before him was enormous and he faced tremendous opposition, but by God's grace, he was victorious. I never tire of reading it.

The last time I read Nehemiah, I chose the NIrV, which translates "citadel" as "the safest place". This makes sense, a citadel was the safest place in a city. Before Nehemiah could meet the challenge God had assigned him, he had to choose to leave a known place of comfort and safety for the hardships and dangers of the unknown. I realize my chair cannot compare with a citadel, but it is a place of comfort. I feel most safe where I am most comfortable.
The point is, my comfort and safety cannot be found in a place, or a chair, but only in the living God. He gives me everything I need to accomplish every task He sets before me, but I still have to choose to take on the assignment...and sometimes that means I have to get out of my comfy chair.Christian Devotions

Kathie Krakowski is a resident of Bear, Delaware. She is a wife, a mom, and a new grandmom (although she prefers to be called "Kiki"). She has been a pre-kindergarten teacher at a private Christian school in Newark, DE for the past 20 years and loves reading to children and teaching them how much Jesus loves them. She is a passionate worshiper of Jesus, the Lover of her soul, and enjoys expressing her devotion to Him through poetry. She also enjoys writing for children; including songs, tongue-twisters, and a series of alphabet stories that she hopes to have published.