Diane Stortz
Kevin Thompson

Kevin Thompson

Greetings, everyone, from Kevin Thompson! We’re in full summer mode in Florida. Wake up. Already hot. Muggy all day. Afternoon thunderstorms. Go to bed. Wake up. Rinse and Repeat. So, I’m inside where the A/C is cool, the air is dry, and the Lay-Z-boy is comfy. It’s here that we welcome children’s book author, Diane Stortz!

Welcome, Diane! Tell us about your book, I AM: The Names of God for Toddlers.

Diane Stortz

Diane Stortz

Bible stories, verses, and prayers help toddlers and preschoolers get to know God by discovering the meaning of twelve different names for God, such as Creator, Savior, Healer, Teacher, and Friend. It’s an 8×8-inch board book with a padded cover.

That’s cool. Why did you write this book?

It was a natural follow-up to I AM: 40 Reasons to Trust God, and I AM Devotional, just for a younger age group. Each of the three books is based on names in the Bible for God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit and uses Bible stories and devotional thoughts to illustrate the meaning of each name. God tells us a lot through His names about who He is and what He does. As children learn about His names, they discover His character and His love for them and grow to know, love, and trust the great I AM more and more. Read More →

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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

Peggy Cunningham

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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“. . . those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 14:11)

 

He sat in my office, his marriage in ruins, yet he was pridefully proclaiming all the things his wife needed to do, his kids needed to do and even what God needed to do. Nothing seemed to be his fault. Is arrogance was the biggest roadblock to healing his own family. We can all drift into conceit and smugness unless we are willing to be humble. To humble means “to depress and in Hebrew, the word humbly implies a stance of bowing, stooping or crouching as in worship.

Every day we have a choice. We can humbly cooperate with the way life is, we can bow to trust God or we can arrogantly try to define life the way we want it to be and attempt to boss God around.

Is there an area of your life that needs to bow to God’s will and God’s ways?

Pray together
Stay together

 

Pam Farrel is an international speaker, author of 45 books including A Couples’ Journey with God,

which inspired this post.

A Couple’s Journey
with God
Harvest House
Publishers

 

 

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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).

Dynamo by Eleanor Gustafson

Dynamo by Eleanor Gustafson

Eleanor Gustafson

Eleanor Gustafson

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.

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