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, July 31, 2008

Guest Devotionalist - Susan Boyer

Get on With It

by: Susan Boyer

Click on this button to hear this devotion - Listen to Get on With It- By Susan Boyer

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

Recently, Cindy sent out an email with an update on the Christian Devotions ministry to the authors who contribute. I am honored to be on that list. She attached a formalized guidelines document for writing devotions.


The first thing that went through my mind was, “Wow, they have twenty-two authors writing for the website now—that’s awesome.”

The second thing that went through my mind was: “They surely don’t need me.” Having read the devotions, and seen the bountiful blessing of talent therein, I was both joyous and intimidated.

The third thing I thought was: “I can’t color inside the box.” I really, really can’t, both literally and figuratively—never have been able to. Whatever the boundaries are, I can’t stay inside them. My special challenge as a writer is staying within word counts. My writing tends to be a little on the chatty side.

Immediately, I began composing an email in my head, explaining to Cindy all the reasons why I wasn’t right for the site. “I’m just so overwhelmed right now… you have so many infinitely more qualified authors… I can’t address an envelope in four hundred words or less…”

A voice in my head that sounded like Cindy said, “Pray,” so I did. It was a half-hearted, already defeated attempt, but I gave God a glancing-look and a question.

As always, He had my number. Immediately, Philippians 4:13 popped into my head: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” This is as true today as it was when Paul wrote the letter to the church of Philippi.

No matter what your calling is in this world, there are forces both within and without that will tell you that you can’t. The voices make compelling arguments, and use your own best and worst qualities against you.

Insecure like me? The voices insist you don’t have the talent.

Committed to other worthwhile projects? The voices scream that you don’t have the time.
Busy caring for your family? The voices assure you that family comes first.

So what if you never finish that book, sing that song, or see your painting hanging in a gallery?

The voices will comfort you as you walk away from your dreams, telling you it just wasn’t meant to be.

If you believe them, the enemy wins.

Trust me, if God wants you to do it, you can.

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 serves on the board of directors for the South Carolina Writers Workshop, and is in her second year as chairperson for the organization’s 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, where she mostly complains about the exercise and her sluggish metabolism.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Guest Devotionalist -- Polly Boyette


By Polly Boyette

(Photo courtsey of Ashley McCue Photography)

Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap." Luke 21:34

Have you ever done something so crazy that you're embarrassed to admit you did it? Recently I decided my Chrysler, PT Cruiser had collected enough dirt and trash to warrant a good car wash. I drove to this station near my house where they have this touch-less car wash.

I punched in my code and the automated voice told me to drive forward. When the sign told me to stop I put the car in park but as the sprayer started moving around my car I thought it sounded a bit different than in the past. It seemed to be louder somehow, like one of the windows was opened. I pushed all of the window buttons to make sure each one was tightly closed.

As the sprayer rounded the back of the car it still sounded like one of the windows was opened. Then I glanced over my shoulder and saw that my trunk was wide open. As the sprayer moved across the front of my car I jumped out, hoping to close the trunk, but quickly realized that was a big mistake. The sprayer soaked me in water and suds.

I screamed, jumped back into my car and backed out.

It just goes to show that even when we think we have everything covered and that there are no open and vulnerable areas the enemy sneaks in and we get blasted from behind. As a Christian, we must never let our guard down. When things are going good we may leave our lives open and that's the time the enemy will trap us with a false sense of security leaving us exposed and vulnerable.

Luke 21:34 teaches us, "But be on your guard. Don't let the sharp edge of your expectation get dulled by parties and drinking and shopping. Otherwise, that Day is going to take you by complete surprise, spring on you suddenly like a trap for it's going to come on everyone, everywhere, at once. So, whatever you do, don't go to sleep at the switch. Pray constantly that you will have the strength and wits to make it through everything that's coming and end up on your feet before the Son of Man."

Think you got your backside covered? Look again; your trunk might be wide open.

Polly Boyette
Polly Boyette is the author of "Life is a Buffet So Save Room for Dessert,".
She was born and raised in Virginia where she still lives today. Her friends will tell you she has a strong sense of humor and a gift for telling stories. Polly has worked in Russia with orphans providing humanitarian aid and giving them hope through the gospel of Christ.

Friday, July 25, 2008

He Said - She Said - July 25, 2008

How You Bean? -- He Said

"For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.” - Psalm 84:11

Click on this button to hear this devotion - Listen to, How You Bean?

A few miles south of Granada, Nicaragua the Mombacho volcano rises above Lake Cocibolca offering an incredible view of the Zapatera and Ometepe islands. As clouds engulf the hills of the wildlife reserve, toucans, parrots and howler monkeys hoot from the tree tops while below, on the forest floor, volcanic soil, darker than a shot of espresso, spreads like chocolate. Here the richness of God’s beauty is breath-taking.

I stood on the platform, my back resting against the trunk of a tree so thick a compact car could have been parked on the other side. Looking down through the canopy of branches I counted the plants, each almost as tall as a full-grown man. In the spring these plants produce majestic blooms that undergo a natural self-pollination process. As the buds blossom their white flowers open, but for only a few days. It is then, during this time of pollination, that the hills of Mombacho appear as if covered in snow. The abundance of blooms predicts the bounty to come.

It is also during this time, when the plant is most vulnerable to disease, thieves and insects.

Our righteousness is like that. We desire to be holy, to be snow-white pure, but then we pray, asking God to transform us into the likeness of His Son and the enemy swoops in to rob us of our bloom, turning tomorrow’s produce into today’s sin.

The beauty of the petals is the promise of perfection, but it is not the final product. For the coffee plant—the bean, is the harvest. For us, it is service done in His name and the proclamation of the Good News.

In the fall the pickers pluck the beans from the hills of Mombacho, but we must wait longer. Our harvest lies years, perhaps an eternity, away. Still, our righteousness should be evident long before the picker fills His sack with our efforts.

Has sin robbed you of your beauty? Has shame, guilt and bitterness caused you to whither on the vine? If so risk righteousness, dare to be holy and walk blameless. Confess your sin and ask Him to forgive you.

Then get about the business of producing a bumper crop for your Lord.

Christian Devotions

The Flavor of Favor -- She Said

By: Cindy Sproles

Click on this button to hear this devotion - Listen to The Flavor of His Favor

"For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless." Psalm 84:11

The simple pleasures are the best and Ben and Jerry's ice cream rates at the top. For some the hardest thing about B&J's is deciding which flavor to choose, but I don't have that problem. For me anything chocolate works just fine.

Or it did until a few days ago.

The store I shop at added a few new flavors. Normally this wouldn't be an issue for me because the newbies are usually some off-the-wall concoction like Turkey with Dressing, French Toast or Bacon Biscuit A-La-Load. But this time, they actually came up with something that sounded pretty good.

Chocolate Brownie.....the name says it all. Chocolate on chocolate. Nothing short of a dream. Phish Food, chocolate with chocolate chunks. Now, there was a catchy combo.

Okay, Phish Food was one of the new flavors at the store, but not the one that got my attention. What had my saliva glands glistening was Chocolate Therapy. Humm..... I decided I could use a little of couch counseling, so I bought a whole tub.

The road to righteousness can be like this, sometimes littered with choices tempting us to stray from our favorite - His will and love. Sometimes we take a bite of Rocky Road Rejection and end up with a lot of sticky goo on our shirt. Or Marshmallow Cream Compromise which is sort of like Half-N-Half gone bad, just rotten enough to make you want to spit it out after you've swallowed a mouthful.

God calls us to walk blameless before Him. Some think this leads to boring days of duty, void of any of life's sweet goodies. Nothing could be further from the truth. Just like chocolate mixed with anything, anything mixed with and approved by God is scrumptious. The key is to start with the right base.

Chocolate. God. For me both bring a smile to my face.

Do you have a hankering for something cool, sweet and refreshing? Try God. Add whatever topping you wish but a dish of Him is enough by itself.

Christian Devotions
Authors, Eddie Jones and Cindy Sproles are co-founders of www.ChristianDevotions.US and writers of the weekly series He Said, She Said. Visit ChrsitianDevotions.US and read the multitude of devotions that will touch your life.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Guest Devotionalist -- Susan Boyer

Acts of God and Other Puzzlements

Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. John 3:6

I travel a good bit with my husband, Jim, on business. Last spring, business took us to Jasper, Alabama. Jasper is one of the many towns across our country that I would never get to see were it not for the fact that my husband’s job carries him to places generally not found in Fodor's guidebooks. Jasper’s a nice, regular town, much like the one I grew up in, only bigger.

We arrived on Sunday evening, April 8th. April 8th is the anniversary of when an F-5 tornado blew through those parts. Not Jasper, but real close by. Now, I haven’t told y’all this yet, but I have a life-long, blood-freezing terror of tornadoes.

You might be asking yourself if I was raised, perhaps, in Kansas, where such horrific storms are common. No, in fact, I was raised in Faith, NC, and as so far as I am informed, there has never been a tornado there, nor anywhere in the vicinity. The Wizard of Oz was my favorite movie as a child. Perhaps that explains it. Or maybe it was the way my family huddled in the hall every time it thundered, even in the dead of night. Mamma would get me out of bed to duck for cover with the rest of the family until the last rumble faded.

Anyway, Jim and I were right there where this media-declared Act of God transpired—
Why do they call such things "Acts of God?"

Why are bad things—tornadoes, tsunami's, earthquakes, et cetera—Acts of God, but none of the good things? The sun came up this morning, and no one else—not even any of the presidential candidates—claimed credit, but no one refers to Daylight as an Act of God.

And what about summer? Home-grown tomatoes, blackberries, and watermelon. And great picnic weather...well, except for places in the Rockies, where it's still snowing. Snow. Now, that's an Act of God…according to newscasters and insurance agents everywhere. But wisteria in bloom? He doesn't get the credit. I find this a puzzlement.

As someone who knows God personally, I'd like to see Him get more appreciation in the media for everything miraculous that happens throughout His divine creation each and every day. We can't have it both ways: If a tsunami is an Act of God, then by golly, so is the rhythmic surf caressing beaches all over the world right this minute.

It’s hard to think that our loving Father would create—or allow—killer storms that punish guilty and innocent alike. I know atheists that cite this as reason number one they don’t believe in an all-powerful, loving God.

I’m no theologian, but here’s where I find my Peace: everything we experience in creation is through our limited, human lens. Loss of a human—fleshly—life is tragic, and I don’t mean to minimize grief. But God, I think, is more concerned with our spirits than our flesh. Our relationship with Him is wholly spiritual, and our spiritual lives vast compared to the brief sojourn we spend on planet earth. He has his eye on eternity, and we live in the moment.
Take one of those moments to appreciate everyday miracles. Each of us is an Act of God.

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 serves on the board of directors for the South Carolina Writers Workshop, and is in her second year as chairperson for the organization’s 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, where she mostly complains about the exercise and her sluggish metabolism.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Guest Devotionalist -- Pat Patterson

We Must Walk By Faith!

“We live by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7)

I found the bus parked on the side of the road. A small crowd stood to one side, shocked looks on the angry faces. I climbed aboard and found my patient sitting in the aisle in a pile of broken glass, her hands pressed to her forehead, her arms and lap stained with blood. She might have been angry, cursing and shaking her fist at the foolhardy teenagers who had reportedly flung the rock at the bus shattering the window and hitting her in the head, but she didn’t seem to be. She took a deep breath, told me her name, and then quietly submitted as I lowered her hands to examine the wound. And it was deep—a three inch gash above her right eyebrow. A golf ball sized hematoma had already formed. Her eyelid looked swollen, discolored and wet.

“It could be worse,” I said taking a wad of water soaked gauze and gently cleansing the site. “But you’re going to need stitches.”

“There’s glass in my eye,” she said. “I can’t open it.”

“Don’t try.”

I finished washing the wound and dressed it with fresh gauze, careful to cover both of her eyes to prevent unintentional movement.

“Now—” I took her hands. “Stand up and follow me. My partner has the stretcher at the bottom of the steps.”

I saw her face draw up tight. “But I can’t see. How can I—”

“Larissa. Trust me.”


“Think of it as a faith walk.”


Her face relaxed. She nodded as if she understood. I helped her stand and then backed down the aisle, coaxing her with quiet words of encouragement. Her first few steps seemed timid, unsure, but as her faith in me grew she gained momentum and together we walked down the steps, through the door, and outside into the humid night air.

The back of the ambulance was cool and bright. I checked her vital signs and started an IV. We made small talk—about the event, about her wounds—but eventually the conversation turned to faith.

“You’re a Christian, aren’t you?” she said, more a statement than a question.

“Yes,” I responded. “I am.”

“Will you pray for me?”

Now I’m no saint, not even by a stretch. I don’t pray with every patient I get into the back of my ambulance. I’ve argued with many, fought with a few, and battled my own prejudices more times than I can remember. But her words? They were like cinnamon candy to my ears. A sweet feeling came over me. I knew what I had to do.

“Of course I will.”

And we prayed—two people from different worlds meeting in the most unlikely of circumstances, holding hands and praying as if they’d known each other for years. You know, they say God works in strange ways; I see it more as creative brilliance. His love breaks down barriers. It shatters human defenses. It brings people together who would otherwise never meet.

“You know what’s fascinating?” I said when I raised my head from prayer. “You haven’t even seen me yet and, still, you trust me.”

I saw Larissa nod. Then she smiled. And I couldn’t see them but at that moment, beneath the bloody bandages, I’m sure her eyes twinkled.

“We walk by faith,” she murmured, “not by sight.”

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

Monday, July 21, 2008

Guest Devotionalist -- Catherine Painter

Your Ticket to Real Success

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.....My son, do not despise the LORD's discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in." Proverbs 3:5-6, 11-12

George Truett defined success as, “the ability to find the will of God for our lives and doing it.” All of us want success and are disappointed when failure rears its head instead.

I was introduced to failure during grade school. My name was often called last when team captains chose sides for a softball game. Evidently, an athletic career was not God’s will for my life, as I was athletically handicapped. The good news was, however, that I was on the team.

Day after day the balls dodged my glove. Then one day the miracle happened. The batter hit a ball that landed smack into my glove! The game halted, the class roared, and I stood awestruck, knowing I hadn’t caught the ball; I only received the credit.

One day you and I will join heaven’s team spiritually handicapped. We’ll arrive only because, by His grace, Jesus hit the balls and gave us the runs. He ran the race and gave us the trophy; He took the test and gave us the A. On that wonderful day, He won’t say, “Well done, good and successful servant,” but “Well done, good and faithful servant”. He won’t scold us for the games we lost, but reward us for playing by God’s rules, simple enough even a child can understand.

Here they are:
• Admit you’re a sinner (Rom. 3:23).
• Believe in Jesus (John 3:16).
• Commit your life to Christ (Rom. 12:1).

There’s the rub. Have we committed ourselves completely to following God’s rules? Proverbs is crammed with how-to’s for applying wisdom, the ticket to real success in life.

One day we’ll approach heaven, smiling at the sign on the gate: “You did not choose Me, but I chose you.” Jesus won’t ask how many balls we caught or missed. He’ll want to know whether we remained in the game playing by His rules, or grew weary and dropped out, deciding the reward just wasn’t worth the effort.

Are you in heaven’s line-up today? If not, fall in anywhere along the way; but don’t delay. One day the Eternal Time Keeper will stop the clock and time will be no more. Where will you be when the final buzzer sounds?

Catherine Painter is author of the twelve-week Bible study,So, You’re a Christian! Now What? published by Hensley Publishing, Tulsa, OK. Catherine is a columnist for Biblical Recorder, a state religious journal. She writes Sunday School curricula for LifeWay Resources, Nashville. She is available for speaking engagements by contacting her at: 617 Great Pine Way, Raleigh, NC 27614. Email: cspwrites@nc.rr.com Or telephone: (919) 846-1745

Visit her on the web at www.catherinepainterministries.com

Friday, July 18, 2008

HE SAID - SHE SAID --July 18, 2008

Another Day in Paradise -- He Said

Click on this button to hear this devotion - Another Day In Paradise- By Eddie Jones

“I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wickedness.” Psalm 84:10

I took a seat on the “chicken bus,” hugging my backpack to my chest. Outside brown-skin people scurried from stall-to-stand as street venders hawked bananas, mangos and poultry. Spikes of broken glass ran along the top of a cinderblock wall, protecting the busses from vandalism and thieves. In a place where lawlessness runs rampant even rudimentary forms of security offer a measure of comfort.

In a few minutes the aisle swelled with peasants standing chest-to-back, the heat oppressive as the bus idled. Over the radio speaker a popular Phil Collins tune began to play and I wondered if the song was more than just a random selection. Perhaps God was whispering to me.

“Oh, think twice, ‘cause it's just another day for you and me in paradise.”

Nicaragua wasn’t paradise. Not even close. But it was the place to which I’d chosen to vacate so as the sweat soaked the front of my shirt I thought of the long bus rides over dusty highways and muddy roads, cool showers dripping from rusty pipes and a bathroom trash can overflowing with used potty paper. (Only Flush Fluids And Such, read the sign above the toilette in my hostels.)

Then I thought of Christ and how he, too, had left the splendor of His Father’s kingdom to travel to an impoverished people. But for Him, leaving the luxury of His palace to save and serve me was more than a minor inconvenience. It was His life’s mission.

“Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet,” He said. “I have set an example for you. Now, do as I have done for you.”

As the song ended, the bus pulled away. For me it was just another day in paradise, but I sensed God was calling me to a new pilgrimage, to something more than just a week of surfing the coast of Nicaragua. I had the means to help these people find the riches of God’s kingdom, even the time. But was I willing? Had I become addicted to the palatial comforts of my “tent of the wickedness?”

If you feel God is calling you beyond your comfort zone to serve others do not ignore His voice. It just may be your role as doorkeeper in God’s house is to serve those in the streets and invite them into His kingdom.

Christian Devotions

Watching the Door -- She Said

Click on this button to hear this devotion - Listen to Watching the Door- By Cindy Sproles

Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.—Psalm 84:10

I sat at my computer, chin resting in my palm, frustrated and shunned. I'd waited, just like I was asked, and then nothing. I gritted teeth and wrenched my jaw. Self-pity seeped in. I'd done everything that was asked, been on time, answered the questions, and now—now I have to wait again. Couldn't someone be inconvenienced for me, just once?

Do this, do that; be here, go there. Wait. I grumbled, tossed my pen, then sent my desk chair rolling across the floor. I popped the monitor switch with my knuckle and shut the door. I'd had it. I took the stairs by threes and headed to the pond.

What does it mean to be a servant? Does servanthood mean always being left behind? Always being last?

A breeze brushed the hair from my eyes as I lay, one arm and leg hanging off my swing. The impending night sky pushed the last remnants of daylight away, and I thought, "I'm tired of being the fall guy?"

The tree limbs swayed back and forth in front of me and as my eyes adjusted to the darkness I began to think of how Jesus must have felt when He asked His disciples to wait for Him — to keep watch and pray — only to return and find them sleeping. Could they not serve Him for just one hour?

That's when it hit me, the realization that I, too, was derelict in my duty. I’d allowed myself to fall into the pit of pouting, thinking only of my needs, not the desires of my Father or, more importantly, the needs of others.

Striving to be Christ-like isn’t hard; it only requires that we give up and give in to His will. Ah, but that’s where our free will battles best, striving to retain control.

My bitter thoughts melted as I rolled off of the swing, resting on my knees, face buried in the grass. "Oh, Father, I'm so slack. I had a place at the door of your house and I walked out to go looking for a better room. Please forgive me."

The job of a doorkeeper doesn't protect us from frustration and temptation. The hard time will come. We are, after all, standing in the doorway as the storms swirl outside. But I would rather be abundantly blessed in His house than left to fend for myself in the streets.

Has someone asked you to stand in the gap for them, to lift them up and serve them in a time of need? Don’t shirk your duty. To serve is to see the face of Christ in those who are hurting.

Christian Devotions

Eddie Jones, author, columnist and humorist, and Cindy Sproles author and columnist are the co-founders (along with the Father) of ChristianDevotions.US. Two friends, called by the Father to serve together in this ministry, they work along with 22 other writers to spread the Word of God worldwide.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Guest Devotionalist -- Sue Falcone

Click on this button to hear this devotion - Listen to Got Duck Tape- By Sue Falcone


"All we like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him (Jesus) the iniquity (sins) of us all."--Isaiah 53:6

We all have heard and used the wonderful product, Duck Tape. It was created and manufactured in 1942 by Johnson and Johnson. It was for use in World War II, to keep moisture out the ammunition cases. It was named "Duck Tape" because it was waterproof. The military personnel, just as we have done today, found that "Duck Tape" had many more uses.

"Duck Tape" was created to be a temporary fix for our problems; but as a young child I choose to invent my own personal roll to be the permanent fix for my life.

I spent many years filled with bad choices, many broken relationships, always having a weight problem, financial worries, and being performance driven resulting in over-working and wanting to be perfect. I had trusted and received Jesus at an early age, but had not given Him my roll of "Duck Tape." I was like a lost sheep and had gone my own way.

Then facing early retirement, being an empty nester and heavily overweight and deep in debt, all my life fell apart. For the first time I realized I had spent my life applying pieces from my roll of "Duck Tape" to fix my life instead of putting my faith in Jesus Christ.

I cried out to God and He heard me. He had never left me and showed me how to change from the inside-out. He has given me a new life work which includes speaking, writing and singing for Him. I am so thankful and grateful that I no longer live in a prison of my past, but face each new day with God's love and forgiveness.

Hope for You

Today are you looking for true joy, peace and contentment in your life? Have you searched and it never seemed to last? Do you need a Savior and a friend? Today call on Jesus and you can have a new beginning that is a permanent answer, not just a temporary fix like "Duck Tape."

Sue Falcone

Sue Falcone had spent a lifetime avoiding her fears. She journeyed through an abusive childhood, the stress of divorce and single parenting, as well as the challenge of raising step children. As a gifted speaker and teacher God has called Sue to use her unique presentation of encouragement and humor to help others overcome their fears. Skilled as a former "corporate America" manager, Sue is a graduate of Dale Carnegie and is a speaker for Stonecroft Ministries- Christian Women's Clubs. She is a successful small business owner and is certified in the areas of time management, financial counseling, and sales and marketing. Sue is married to Carmen, and together they have a blended family of 4 awesome children and 6 grandchildren. She loves the beach, walking, music, reading and inspiring others to find faith in Jesus Christ and have fun living fear-free.

THE LIGHTHOUSE OF HOPE - by Sue Falcone is available through her website and will be in bookstore soon

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Friday, July 11, 2008

HE SAID - SHE SAID July 11, 2008

Knock On Wood -- He Said
By Eddie Jones

"There is a time for everything,and a season for every activity under heaven. A time to be born... and a time to die." - Ecclesiastes 3:1-2

The morning after Bob Deaton’s funeral I awoke to find a red-headed woodpecker of some dark denomination drilling a hole in the top of my dock piling. Pecking away in the bright sunlight. Knocking on wood. Reminding me that I should be too.

The bird departed when I lifted the top hatch board of my sailboat and stepped into the cockpit, disturbing the glaze of frost that coated the cushions. I looped a leg over the lifeline, found good footing on the narrow pad along the toe rail, and stepped onto the finger pier. My yard-sale bike, a boy’s model at least two generations too small for my short legs, was propped against the white dock box. The black seat was gray under the dusting of frozen dew. The air was cold. Mighty cold. Too cold for me to be riding a bike on a narrow dock in February.

I mounted the bike, pointed the front tire south, and started towards the bathhouse, hoping this would be one of those good mornings when the hot water heater worked. The apparent wind from my forward progress bit into my thin skin, but I didn’t risk adjusting my grip for fear of veering off the dock and into the creek. I’d tested the temperature of the water in February, once, clothed only in jeans and sneakers. It wasn’t an experience I wanted to repeat.

So I rode slowly, shifting the small pouch of shower garb over the front spokes, centering the weight more evenly, making careful corrections to keep me in the center of the dock. The sun was rising over the black pine tops. Dock lines glistened like tinsel as sunlight broke through. Hot breath formed dense clouds as I worked the low gear. Beneath my pedals I could see fresh tire tracks carving a slender trail in the thick icing on the planks.

There was a lot of beauty in the early hours of that cold February morning, but it came with some pain. Thin air burned my lungs. Knuckles hurt from the chilled wind. Eyes watered from the intense cold. Pleasure and pain were both a part of the morning. You can’t have the splendor of a winter sunrise frozen in time without the pain of the cold. The sting of death mutes the joy of life, and it’s a very gray world indeed, without both.

The hot water worked, but the pressure was low. I hurried along, changed into my author’s outfit and headed for New Bern to participate in the first annual Book Lovers Affair. I set my box down on the short end of a long table, saving most of the counter space for Nicholas Sparks. Sparks didn’t arrive, but I sold a few books, any way.

Still, there remained a chill in the air. A tremor of remorse rattled the crowd whenever the conversation turned to boating. The news was still too fresh, the after shocks too close to home. Someone would stop to look at the cover of my book, tell their own story of how they’d run aground, and then end with, “It’s just awful about Bob’s death, isn’t it?”

It was. And it is. And it will be for sometime. Fifty-two was a good-sized number, but it’s not big enough. Not by a long shot.

The great deception of life is to believe that we’ll live for a very long time, that we’ll always have another chance to make a difference. But we won’t. Often we only get one chance to do the right thing, at the right time, for the wrong kind of person — for the person who is interrupting our plans with their own petty problems. Then we’re off again on our bike or car or boat. Filling another busy moment with ourselves. Making a living, making a life, making excuses for why we can’t stop to help or hear or offer a measure of hope to someone in need.

I missed Bob’s funeral. I didn’t think I knew him well enough to attend. But I should have gone. I should have gone out of respect for his life, out of respect for what he meant to this community. I should have gone to testify that his life made a difference, that his work had meaning, was necessary and good. It would have only taken a little time out of my day. I had the time. I should have spent some.

Take the time to be a friend today.

(Reprinted with permission from Hard Aground... Again)

Christian Devotions

He Said--She Said
authors, Eddie Jones
and Cindy Sproles

In His Time -- She Said

By Cindy Sproles

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven. A time to be born... and a time to die." - Ecclesiastes 3:1-3

My dad sat up in the bed and broke into prayer. “If this is what you want for me I’m ready,” he said. As comforting as it was to know dad was ready to leave his earthly body, it did nothing for me. I wasn’t ready.

I’ve often been amazed at the wonders of life and death, at the coincidence of the last breath of life leaving a body, yet and in the same instant—a newborn takes its first gasp of air. It’s as though one draws from the other. One gives and the other takes. Somewhere in the scheme of things God has His ultimate balance and when we talk about events happening in His time, we need to understand that those words are not just words, but truth.

We worry much too much about time. My friend reminded me, “He makes me lie down in green pastures so He can restore my soul.” When I ignore the time God has set aside for me, I’m missing out on His presence, His peace, and His restoration. God has His timing. A time for everything. And though disease and accidents are horrible things the truth of the matter is, none of us know the hour our soul will leave our bodies. We’re really all on the same plane—a time frame that is only known to God.

I’ve brought life into the world, two sons. I’ve lost it as well, one unknown infant. I’ve experienced the loss of my dearest friend whose death twenty years in the past, still aches as though it was yesterday. Then death struck home and dad left this earth, and as I stood by his gravesite, I realized that in an instant it could be me.

That’s when I learned about God’s time. I realized I needed to live my earthly life with joy; be an encourager to others. In my impatience, God teaches me that His agenda takes precedence. His winter puts nature to sleep and spring wakes her. New life inches through the dirt and from the womb. But for the new to come, something must go. We call it the circle of life. God calls it timing.

When you feel as though your life is out of balance, seek the Father’s timing. Call to Him and He will hear. There is a time for everything. Summer and winter, life and death, peace and war, hope and despair. But through it all, God is eternally faithful—walking us through His plan…..in His time.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Guest Devotionalist -- Ariel Allison


Click on this button to hear this devotion - Listen to Loved- By Ariel Allison

“As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Now abide in my love.”

John 15:9

Several years ago I was encouraged to pray a different sort of prayer. We’ve all asked God to help us love Him more, to grow our faith and our passion for Him. But my friend suggested I ask God to reveal how much He loves me. Every day. For a year.

“Pray it in the morning before your feet hit the floor,” he said. “And see if your life doesn’t change.”

It was an interesting proposition. Show me that You love me, Lord. Show me today. Uttering that one request somehow took the striving out of my spiritual life. It reminded me that I can only love Him because He first loved me. And I began looking in scripture for all the places where God utters his love for me.

Loved by the Father. Loved by Christ. Loved with an everlasting love. Loved so much, in fact, that Christ died for us. And He challenges us to rest in that love. To accept it. To enjoy it. The truth of our human nature is that it is difficult for us to rest in anything. We work. We strive. We don’t know how to simply receive and be loved. We want to earn it but we never can.

“As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Now abide in my love.”

John 15:9

Merriam Webster’s dictionary defines “abide” as to “accept without objection.” My children don’t argue with me when I tell them that I love them. They don’t object that they have disobeyed too many times. They don’t find reasons why they’re not worthy of my love. They simply grin, full of delight, and believe that I tell them the truth.

So today I challenge you to ask that God will show you how much He loves you. May you feel it, and embrace it, and be humbled by the overwhelming flood of love that He offers. And then allow yourself to accept that love without objection. Only then will you truly be able to love Him in return.

Ariel Allison is a published author who lives in a small Texas town with her husband and three young sons. When not writing books or caring for her family, she indulges her penchant for adrenaline-infused madness such as rock climbing, running marathons, and jumping off bridges – as if raising three pre-school boys were not adventure enough! A voracious reader since childhood, Ariel has spent much of her life learning and honing the craft of writing. She 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 www.themoabclub.blogspot.com and on her thoughts as a redeemed dreamer at www.arielallison.blogspot.com.

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Monday, July 7, 2008

Guest Devotionalist - Derek Maul

Christian Unity in 350 Words

"My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me." (John 17:20-21)

One of my regular writing jobs is a weekly profile column featuring interesting people who make the community tick. Teachers, doctors, politicians, small business owners, preachers, artists, personalities; I'll talk to just about anyone.

In one market I concentrate exclusively on spiritual leaders; 130 to date in Plant City (Florida) alone. According to my records, and in writing for five local papers, I've conducted in-depth interviews with over 250 preachers over the past six years.

The diversity has been remarkable. Eighteen recognizable denominations; tall steeples; modern auditoriums; humble meeting houses. Traditional congregations, counter-cultural gatherings, and then one church for motorcyclists that features hard rock music and a preacher wearing leather.

I've interviewed clergy with advanced degrees who disdain titles and high-school drop-outs who insist I call them "bishop." I've met with pastors who drive BMWs and parsons who ride tractors. From the polished mega-church leader who preaches to 3,000 to the farmer who shepherds a congregation of fourteen.

Ages range from twenty-one to ninety-two, politics from left to right, ethnicity is all over the map. I have had conversations that lasted as little as twenty minutes, comfortable discussions that covered an hour, and – more than once – listened to three hour monologs featuring anecdotes I could never hope to run in the newspaper.

Each individual minister shared their own story, unique in every detail. But, and this is true every time – from the Eastern Orthodox priest who wore gold vestments and a huge black hat, to the Baptist preacher in a suit, to the Methodist who interviewed in jeans and heels, her hair stuffed under a baseball cap – the bottom line has been consistent, compelling, and charged with a degree of authenticity that speaks volumes.

Hundreds of preachers, representing variations in worship style and doctrine and religious expression that will make your head spin; but they all witness to this one simple truth: We were all created for relationship with God, and a life committed to following Jesus is the heart of God's plan for everyone.

There it is; end of story; Christian unity in 350 words; that wasn't so hard after all.

Love and blessings,
Derek Maul

DEREK MAUL is the author of Get Real, A Spritual Journey for Men and a columist for the Tampa Tribune. Buy Now

His book second book, My Heart I Carry A Star: Stories for Advent" is to be released August 2008).
Click on the link to see his newest book to be released.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Guest Devotionalist -- Ariel Allison


Click on this button to hear this devotion - Listen to Broken- By Ariel Allison

The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places.”

- Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms

My family put the “funk” in dysfunction. Not to say that my childhood was entirely traumatic. There were moments of pure joy amidst the poverty and pain. You see, I am a child of the hippie movement, a daughter of two black sheep. Non-conformists. Off the grid. Off the map. And out of whack. We lived at the top of the Rocky Mountains, in a home with no running water or electricity. I spent my days lost in the pages of a book, running barefoot through the sagebrush, and climbing pine trees. I know what it means to find God in a mountain sunrise. And I also know what it feels like to be abandoned. Lonely. Hungry.

As Ernest Hemingway so aptly put it, the world breaks everyone. We live in a fallen world where we are subject to experiences God never wanted for us. So what do we do with that brokenness? Where do we take it? We can either rail against God, shaking our first in anger or we can believe in faith that God allows our pain for a purpose. He allows it for our good and for His glory.

“For the Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

- Psalm 34:18

Brokenhearted. Crushed in spirit. Close. God is close in those moments. He longs to save, to comfort. He longs to be a Father to that little girl in the mountains. He is eager to comfort the woman who finds herself alone after twenty years of marriage. He pursues the man trapped in addiction. He desires to erase the shame of the abused child. He is waiting for us today at work, at home, as we read these words and as we remember what is broken in our lives. He is close.

I would have never known God had I not known what it means to be broken. I wouldn’t be able to cry with the woman who never knew her father, if I had not also struggled to know mine. All these years later I see that there was great purpose to my pain, and I choose to embrace it because my healing has brought glory to God. As Hal Urban observes, “a broken bone becomes even stronger when it heals, and so do we.”

Ariel Allison is a published author who lives in a small Texas town with her husband and three young sons. When not writing books or caring for her family, she indulges her penchant for adrenaline-infused madness such as rock climbing, running marathons, and jumping off bridges – as if raising three pre-school boys were not adventure enough! A voracious reader since childhood, Ariel has spent much of her life learning and honing the craft of writing. She 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 www.themoabclub.blogspot.com and on her thoughts as a redeemed dreamer at www.arielallison.blogspot.com.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

His Promises

Click on this button to hear this devotion - Listen to His Promises- By Cindy Sproles

I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.—Genesis 9:13

The rain started as a mist. I peered through the sunroof at a thunderhead looming above. Bubbles of clouds stacked one on the other, heavy with the tears of heaven, waiting. Our area is so dry. When the rest of the country suffers from fires and flooding, we see the beauty of a clear and cloudless sky—the down side, no rain.

I parked my car then pushed open the door. The rain dropped as God dowsed the earth. I slammed the door shut and watched as sheets of rain blew across the parking lot. Folks ran for the safety of their cars. For some reason that didn’t seem right. We’ve been drought stricken for months, why run from the rain? The water pelted my vehicle as I watched the edges of red, lavender and blue form across the sky. A rainbow climbed its way across the heavens and I was awed at the boldness of the colors the artist had painted.

There’s nothing more beautiful than a promise. Think about it. A promise is like a soul held tenderly in the hands of the Father—made, kept, and protected. For centuries God has drawn His rainbows across the sky reminding us of His presence and His promise, of His love and of His discipline. When I see a rainbow I’m reminded of the sin that caused the discipline and resulted in a consequence. I’m reminded of my own sin. By the same token, I see the promise of a loving forgiveness. One I am often unworthy to have.

A friend asked me, “So what about this God stuff? Do you really believe He answers prayers, keeps promises?”

I thought of the rainbow—a visual promise that is still faithful and true. I can’t hear God speak audibly, nor can I see Him. Why should I believe His promise where there is nothing about Him that my physical eyes can see? But He’s there and though He doesn’t answer every prayer the way I want, He keeps every promise He’s ever made, including the one to forgive me.

I opened the door and stepped into the rain, then lifted my face toward the sky. Water splashed over me and it felt wonderful. My hair dripped and my shirt was plastered tight to my skin. But I walked slow allowing the freshness of God’s rain to wash across me and resting assured that His promise still stands.

Do you believe in the promises of the rainbow? God promised He would never leave us, never abandon us, and He hasn’t. Open your heart to Him. Let him breathe the hope of a renewed freshness into you. He keeps His promises.

Christian Devotions