I didn’t see it with my own eyes but I heard about it. The Israelites faced a desperate circumstance—the Red Sea before them and the Egyptian army behind them. No way out! Then the Lord sent a strong east wind causing the water to pile up like walls making a path, and turning mud into dry ground for that massive throng to cross. When the army pursued, the waters returned to normal flow and swallowed the Egyptians (Exodus 14).

I didn’t see it with my own eyes but I heard about it. After the Israelites had wandered in the wilderness forty years because of their unbelief, the Lord said it was time to take possession of the land he’d promised them. How would they cross the Jordan River? Again he caused the water to rise in a heap, and they crossed the Jordan—at flood stage—on dry ground (Joshua 3:9-17).

I didn’t see it with my own eyes but I heard about it. The Israelites used a baffling strategy—marching around the city of Jericho once for six days and on the seventh day, as the Lord commanded, they marched seven times, blowing trumpets and shouting. The walls tumbled and the Israelites conquered the city (Joshua 6:1-21).

I didn’t see it with my own eyes but I heard about it. As the Israelites fought for the land they would inherit, Joshua asked the Lord to let the sun stand still while the nation battled the Amorites. “The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day” (Joshua 10:1-14).

What’s your desperate circumstance? Do you wonder if it’s too difficult for the Lord?

He often reminded his people, “You have seen with your own eyes all that the Lord your God has done” (see Deuteronomy).

Don’t forget what you’ve seen with your own eyes…or what you’ve heard about. The Lord has a reputation for doing the impossible.

“Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you” (Jeremiah 32:17).

Dianne Barker is a speaker, radio host, and author of 11 books, including the best-selling Twice Pardoned and award-winning I Don’t Chase the Garbage Truck Down the Street in My Bathrobe Anymore! Organizing for the Maximum Life. She’s secretary of Christian Authors Network and a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association and Christian Women in Media Association. Visit www.diannebarker.com.

 

 

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In 1776 our country was founded by men who believed in God. Nearly two centuries later, “In God We Trust” was written on our currency, and The Pledge of Allegiance added the phrase “one nation under God.”

Though these statements represent a variety of faiths, belief in God is the common denominator.

As we all know, our nation is becoming more and more secular and many people are turning away from God. But there will always be a remnant who remain strong in their faith and in their commitment to God.

We will always have a voice, although it may be more difficult to be heard. Whether we put words on the printed page, blog posts, or Facebook, we can share our faith and commitment to God and our nation.

We can proudly fly the American flag. We can support veterans. We can volunteer at local schools, shelters, and food banks. There are many ways we can remain patriotic while letting our words and actions reflect our love for God and our country.

Most of all, we can be the hands and feet of Jesus to a hurting world. May our lives be a testimony that God is our Creator and we still trust in him.

“Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people he chose for his inheritance” (Psalm 33:12 NIV).

 

Crystal Bowman is an award winning, best-selling author of more than 100 books for children. She’s a speaker and mentor for MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) and teaches at several writers’ conferences throughout the U.S. She is a monthly contributor to Clubhouse Jr. Magazine and writes lyrics for children’s piano music.

 

 

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I the Lord, do not change” (Malachi 3:6 NIV).

Tumultuous circumstances jolted me out of my usual schedule. My routine changed drastically on a rainy Sunday morning. A call from our neighbors woke me from a deep sleep.

“Your classrooms are flooding!”

Torrential rains caused the river over the mountain to rush into the valley irrigation ditch that runs behind our property and overflow downward directly into our classroom building on our mission base––narrowly missing our house. Shocked at the sight of six inches of water in the classrooms, my husband and I splashed our way through and commenced the task of cleanup.

All changed that day…week—our plans, our meals, and our priorities. We focused on the task of cleanup. We worked hard and swished the water out of the building with mops and brooms––room by room. Then the scrubbing began, and the airing out, and checking for damage. What a lesson for my life.

Clean up my life daily and focus on priorities. 

I’d been busy with things––people, problems, and goals. My focus had changed to earthly things, not eternal things. God uses circumstances, His Word, and others to teach us His ways––or bring our focus back to Him. Now, water will always remind me to focus on God and His plans when hard things flood my life.

The buildings shine once more, but more importantly, my focus changed. First and always, we should strive to focus on God. Unlike circumstances, people, or possessions that change, God never changes.

We get distracted from time to time, and we’re out of focus.

But looking to the One who never changes puts everything back in focus.

If we adjust the lens of our lives daily, we stay focused on God’s vision––a fresh focus every day.

Peggy Cunningham and her husband are missionaries in Bolivia, South America. They work with the Quechua people and have a children’s ministry. Peggy is author of several children’s books and devotionals. Her latest book is a women’s devotional Shape Your Soul—31 Exercises of Faith that Move Mountains.  www.PeggyCunningham.com .

 

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Dianne Barker, Topics: Marriage * Parenting * Living in joy *

Dianne Barker, CAN Secretary Topics: Marriage * Parenting * Living in joy *

Done… Now What? 

Done. That’s what I told the Lord, repeating it many times during a long drive, alone except for him.

I’m a big dreamer, and I’ve spent my life pursuing dreams. That’s not a bad thing. Other people call this goal setting. I call it pursuing dreams because that’s the way I’ve lived it—chasing dreams the Lord put in my heart.

I did a pretty good job of living in the moment—with plans always simmering. Then I seemed to reach the end of the path. No clear direction to move ahead. So I got honest with the Lord.

I’m done! Done trying to arrange circumstances. Done trying to figure how to use my gifts to bring you glory. My life is yours. If you don’t tell me what to do, I’m done.

I wasn’t quitting on God…just letting him know if nothing else comes, I’ll continue living in the moment, not worrying about the future, content and grateful for my wonderfully blessed life today.

Maybe he accepted that as a fresh surrender. I’m still reeling from what happened next—unexpected opportunities and exciting possibilities, all bearing his fingerprint.

My computer Thesaurus gives these synonyms for surrender: relinquish, give-up, hand over, part with, forfeit, concede.

Many years have passed since I first learned God requires total surrender. Andrew Murray writes in Absolute Surrender, “The condition for obtaining God’s full blessing is absolute surrender to Him…Give yourselves up absolutely to the will of God…what can God do to fill a vessel absolutely surrendered to Him?…God has prepared unheard-of-things, blessings much more wonderful than you can imagine, more mighty than you can conceive.”

These words are embedded in my heart. “’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).

I’m done! Lord, your plans are better than mine. You lead. I’ll follow.

Dianne Barker is a speaker, radio host, and author of 11 books, including the best-selling Twice Pardoned and award-winning I Don’t Chase the Garbage Truck Down the Street in My Bathrobe Anymore! Organizing for the Maximum Life. She’s secretary of Christian Authors Network and a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association and Christian Women in Media Association. Visit www.diannebarker.com.

 

 

 

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Saint Gregory

What country was the first Christian nation?

I couldn’t have told you, either, until I read about St. Gregory the Illuminator.

Gregory was born in Armenia, and following a Christian upbringing, he returned to Armenia, where the king appointed him secretary. After a major military victory, the king instructed Gregory to lay wreaths and laurels in a pagan temple as thanks to the gods.

The young man refused.

The king was ticked. “If you don’t worship the idols, I’ll have to kill you.”

Gregory stood his ground. “I believe in Jesus and can’t worship anyone but the Lord God.”

Furious, the king had Gregory tortured and thrown into a deep pit to die.

But God….

A lady up top began lowering food to him—and kept it up for thirteen years! She also passed along news from the upper world, and Gregory started praying for the nation and for sick individuals. Folks began paying attention to this man in a pit. He prayed; they were healed.

Thirteen years later the king himself became ill. Doctors could do nothing for him. His sister had a dream about Gregory and persuaded the court to fetch the pit dweller.

Hauling him up by ropes, they said, “You pray for people, and they are healed. Can you heal the king?”

He prayed, and sure enough, the king was healed. The grateful monarch sent Gregory out to evangelize the entire country. Led by Gregory, the Armenians destroyed their pagan temples and built churches on their sites. Before long, Christianity was adopted as the national religion. Armenia became the first Christian nation in the world.

Are you in a pit? Look up. God’s light and provision sometimes come in unexpected ways.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me! (See Philippians 4:13).

Eleanor K. Gustafson, author

Eleanor Gustafson is a minister’s wife, teacher, musician, writer, and encourager. Her passion is God, and then loving people and writing. Her short stories and articles have appeared in national and local magazines. Her pallet of experiences has helped bring color and humor to her fiction. In many of her stories, Ellie explores the cosmic struggle between good and evil in light of God’s overarching work of redemption. Her books include Dynamo, a story about a man, his horse, his faith, and his God. Ellie has three children and eight grandchildren. Visit her at http://www.eleanorgustafson.com.

 

Dynamo, a Novel by Eleanor Gustafson

Dynamo, a Novel by Eleanor Gustafson

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