“Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us…Let us fix our eyes on Jesus” (Hebrews 12:1b-2a NIV).

A baton strikes a music stand. Absolute silence falls on the auditorium. All eyes fix on the 500-voice choir—all of their eyes are fixed on the director.

He lifts his baton and the orchestra plays. A few measures later, he brings in the sopranos followed by the alto section, then the men. They have learned to read his hand gestures, large and small. When to hush. When to soar. When to accent. When to cut short. When to start. When to stop,

Just as those singers follow their conductor, so also Christians follow the lead of their conductor, Jesus Christ.

The author of Hebrews describes the Christian life as a race. From start to finish, we can fix our eyes on the finish line where Jesus waits. He set the standard for all who have followed when He ran the first heat.

The contest takes perseverance. It’s more of a marathon than a sprint. The course is clearly marked, the rules given in the word of God, and our breath comes from the Holy Spirit. Jesus knows the best way to run. He teaches us how to persevere. The race wasn’t easy for Him either. He endured the cross—and the scorn that came with it.

Like the orchestra conductor, Jesus will tell you when to move quickly and when to slow down. When you follow His instruction, you won’t grow weary. With Him as your compass, you won’t lose your way. He and the Holy Spirit go with you—so fix your eyes on your leader and do as He says.

Darlene Franklin is a best-selling Amazon and ECPA author whose greatest claim to fame is that she continues to write from a nursing home. She keeps going because God keeps giving her more assignments. She’s written more than fifty-five fiction and nonfiction books, including Pray Through the Bible in a Year, Of Cash and Cats, and Love Comes on Kitten Paws. Follow her at https://www.facebook.com/DarleneFranklinFun/.

 

 

 

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My Favorite Book. It Is Yours? by Darlene Franklin

 

 

Since I’m an author, it’s not surprising that I read. Some books I never finish, some I’ve read five times. But even with my favorite books, I reach a saturation point and let them gather dust on a special shelf.

But there is one book I started reading as a child which I find as endlessly fascinating and worthy of study as the first time I opened it over fifty years ago: my Bible. No other book stirs so much discussion with friends and strangers. Whenever I’m sad, it gives me solace. I chose to memorize chunks of scripture to keep my aging brain active. No other book speaks life to me.

The written word, teaches me so much about the living Word of God, His Son. Whether I open it at Bible study, rehearse memory verses, read through the Bible, research a theme, look up a verse, or read the day’s passage in a devotional—nothing else convicts me, inspires me, teaches me, or draws me closer to God. Nothing is a greater tool for devotion, for prayer, for ministry.

Recently have I have begun the practice of praying the Bible. What a freeing experience! I no longer need to know someone’s exact needs today to know how to pray (although it helps). I pray for unknown situations and never met people, missionaries, the unsaved, leaders—simply by praying God’s word. Not the mention the insight I get into God’s answers for myself and known needs by praying His word.

How about you? What excites you about the Bible, about prayer? Do you struggle with Leviticus and freely pray the Psalms, like I do? So dig in to the daily spiritual nourishment from the Lord. Enjoy the mountain tops in the Psalms. I learn something new every day.

Darlene Franklin is a contributing author to the currently available Daily Wisdom for Women 2018 Edition (http://www.barbourbooks.com/product/Daily-Wisdom-for-Women-2018-Devotional-Collection,14789) (and to the upcoming 12-Month Guide to Better Prayer for Women (TBR Feb 2018). I’m also the author of Praying Through the Bible in a Year, TBR in Nov 2018.Darlene Franklin is a contributing author to the currently

Darlene Franklin

available Daily Wisdom for Women 2018 Edition oduct/Daily-Wisdom-for-Women-2018-Devotional-Collection,14789) (and to the upcoming 12-Month Guide to Better Prayer for Women (TBR Feb 2018). I’m also the author of Praying Through the Bible in a Year, TBR in Nov 2018.

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Being a Digital Missionary  by Julie Cosgrove

Digital Missions

Digital Missions

Before I began writing fiction, I became a freelance writer. My late husband’s job required us to move a lot (28 times in 35 years.) The best way I could bring in income was to click away at the keyboard. Wherever there was an internet connection, my customers could find me!

I immediately landed bids. In thanksgiving, I tithed my work day to God, writing for Him first. I came across a devotional blog site through Truth Media, Christian Women Today. I queried them in 2008, and from then on wrote two devos a months—pro bono. The leader of our writer’s critique group chided me, stating I should charge. But I felt God firmly saying, “No.”

After my husband died, I prayed for a steady income which would allow me to pursue my fiction writing. I landed a job as a church secretary. Most days, I was the only one there, available to answer the door and phones, and open rooms for various groups. It gave me plenty of time to write. The priest was fine with that. He told me, “I’d rather you write Christian fiction than play Angry Birds.” I still wrote devos for four sites, pro bono, as my ministry.

Truth Media became Power to Change. Two years later, the church laid me off. I knew God had plans for this widow who now had no income. Within two weeks, the editor in chief of The Life Project, one of the divisions of Power to Change, asked if I would consider coming on staff. As a branch of Campus Crusades, the position required me to raise my salary through partnerships. A huge leap of faith!

Now I am a writer and editor for their digital ministry. Our free articles and devos average half a million clicks a month, and encourage both Christian and secular readers to seek spiritual mentors in one of three, soon to be six, languages. Never did I imagine that what I write, and help others write, woul

Julie Costrove

Julie Cosgrove

d have such a global impact.

The world is on the internet. We help them know Jesus. Right now, donations will be matched by an anonymous donor through 2017. If God has stirred your heart to learn more about this amazing mission field, contact me at julie.cosgrove@p2c.com.

 

 

 

 

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My Chaos Theory  Sydney Avey

Chaos is an element of most transitions. My husband and I live two lives.  Half the year we shelter under the California Gold Country oak and pine trees in the shadow of Yosemite’s granite cliffs.  The other half a year we settle into Arizona’s Valley of the Sun, nestled up against the White Tank Mountains. In California, I sing on a praise team in a small community church. In Arizona, I sing with a fifty-voice choir in a large Presbyterian church. The Phoenix area offers resources we don’t have in Groveland—recreation centers, accessible shopping, theaters, medical centers, a university, and an airport. Groveland offers rural peace and a close community.

As we pack to leave, I am re-launching my first novel, The Sheep Walker’s Daughter, and readying the house for six very welcome houseguests (family) who will visit until departure day. When stress over deadlines mounts, I remind myself that I chose a life that supports my work, not work to support my life. A bit of chaos is good for creativity.

The contrary nature of chaos

Recently I asked some friends to pray for me. Their prayers changed my approach to dealing with stress.The very act of requesting prayer helped me articulate the real need, and the answers I received were refreshingly counterintuitive. Contrary to popular wisdom, striving isn’t always the answer. Here is what I learned:

  1. Cease your striving.I reset my internal clock, which runs fast, to be more in tune with God’s timing. Facing anxiety over being in the public eye, my prayer is “Lord, make me dwell in safety.” NIV Ps. 4:8b (Courtesy of a prayer partner.)
  2. Bigger effort doesn’t always yield better results. A prayer partner reminded me of the fishermen who struggled with more than they could handle. They asked their partners in other ships to come help and both ships benefitted. Power is available to us when we do it God’s way.
  3. Learn to wait. Creativity consultant Dan Blank cautions artists to spend the majority of their time improving their craft and helping people connect with the soul of their work. Trying to master every promotion strategy is time misspent. Amen!
  4. Stop pushing and let some things go. It is easy to say it is all in God’s hands. His timing is perfect. It is harder to see a publication date slip and not want to do something about it. If my identity is truly in Christ, I need to trust that it is Christ who is in the details, not the devil. If I identify first as being in Christ then I shouldn’t stress over my identity as a writer. That takes a lot of pressure off!
  5. Count God faithful.I had a moment when I was solving one tough technical problem after another and God said, “See? You couldn’t have done this four years ago.” He brought to my mind his faithfulness. As we push through chaos, it is good to acknowledge how far we’ve come, and count God faithful.

Sydney Avey write historical fiction novels about dynamic women in changing times. In each of her books, small graces foster hope and and give people courage to step over uncertainty and continue the journey. She is the author of The Sheep Walker’s Daughter, The Lyre and the Lambs, and. coming in February 2018, The Trials of Nellie Belle.

Sheep Walker’s Daughter

When Dee Moraga’s secretive mother dies in the 1950s, Dee gives up hope of ever learning her father’s identity. But a series of puzzling discoveries causes her to reconsider. Why did her mother send money every month to the Basque Relief Agency? And what does the Anglican priest who shows up at her door know about her cultural heritage that he isn’t telling? A tribute to the resilience of immigrant families, The Sheep Walker’s Daughter pairs one fractured family’s history of loss, survival, and tough choices with one lonely woman’s search for reconnection.

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THE MUSIC OF SOUNDS  by Jeanne Gowen Dennis

Sing to the Lord all the earth. (Ps. 96:1)

 Musical Sounds

I’ve been thinking lately about the amazing gift of sounds. The songs of birds. The tinkling of water in a stream. The whispers of wind through leaves. The crashing of waves. The music of various instruments. Voices lifted in song.

The Human Voice

Most of all, I’ve marveled at the human voice. We can hum a tune, belt out a popular song, sing an aria, cheer someone on, shout out a warning, talk in normal tones, or whisper a prayer. So many sounds from one wonderfully designed instrument.

I think of the sweet sound of a mother’s voice singing a lullaby or comforting her child. Something akin to the still, small voice of God, perhaps. My mom went to heaven last year, but I can still hear her voice. One of the last things we did together was to sing one of her favorite hymns.

It seems countless times the Bible tells us to sing to the Lord and praise His name. And doesn’t it fill you with joy to do just that? It does me. Our choir plans to sing Handel’s “Halleluiah Chorus” this Christmas. Every time I hear or sing that majestic piece of music, my heart soars heavenward. No wonder people stand when they hear it.

The Music of Language

Great writers make music with words. I often stop to savor a well-written phrase as I would a luscious peach. Some have a natural gift, but most writers have to work hard to reach that level of skill in their craft. And they really appreciate it when readers write to encourage them. You might say readers’ kind words are “music” to an author’s ears.

Our speaking voices hold music in them too. I’ve always had a fascination for languages and wanted to speak several. I’m working on my third and fourth right now – not very successfully, I’m afraid. But as I’ve studied foreign languages, I’ve been astounded at the different sounds the human voice can make – including drumbeats, chirps, whistles, twitters, and various vibrations. Among other things, language sets us apart from the animals. Yet each language has a rhythm and beauty all its own.

Heavenly Music

When God made humankind in His image, he made us to praise Him with our voices, both in song and words. Just think of the music that will rise to the throne of God when every people, tongue, tribe, and nation worships Him together in heaven! Rather than a cacophony of widely different tongues, I believe we will hear every language blended together into the perfect harmony of praise.

At least that’s how I imagine it. For now, I’ll enjoy the music of life here on earth and lift my heart and voice to the God who made it all. I hope you’ll join me.

“Live your faith. Pass it on.” An award-winning author and songwriter, Jeanne Dennis hosts Heritage of Truth TV at https://jeannedennis.com. She is also a commissioned Colson Fellow and Centurion. Through her writing, speaking, music, and online ministry, she encourages families to live biblically in our spiritually confused culture.

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