“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

Poignant words from the heart of Jesus, who would soon lay down his life for his friends.

The words hold deep meaning for families who’ve lost loved ones in battle. They hold deep meaning for all of us who live in America, land of the free, home of the brave.

We’re grateful for those who spilled blood on foreign soil, sacrificing their lives—the cost of freedom.

Most of us will never find ourselves in treacherous war zones dodging enemy fire and literally laying down our lives. But we have opportunities each day to lay down our life for people we love.

Today offers a chance to give ourselves sacrificially—even when we don’t feel like it or don’t want to be inconvenienced.

This kind of laying-down-my-life is a hard thing because it’s totally opposed to the flesh. The flesh hates sacrificial giving—the selfish self must be denied. The flesh asks, “What do I get?” One committed to following Jesus in the laid-down life asks, “What can I give?”

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brother” (1 John 3:16).

Supernatural love. Superior love. Sacrificial love. Laying-down-my-life love. Christ-followers cannot give less.

“Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone desires to be My disciple, let him deny himself [disregard, lose sight of, and forget himself and his own interests] and take up his cross and follow Me [cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying also]’” (Matthew 16:24 Amplified).

(Scriptures from NIV unless noted.)

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 and blog coordinator for Christian Authors Network and a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. www.diannebarker.com.

 

 

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Marti Pieper

Marti Pieper

Warm April greetings from Marti Pieper in lovely Mount Dora, Florida, where we anticipate sunny celebrations of our Savior’s birth. I have a special guest for you to meet today. Dianne Barker and I became virtual friends through our love of writing and our mutual membership in CAN. I have long appreciated her gracious spirit and talent for putting just the right words together.

Welcome, Dianne! Please tell us about your book.

Dianne Barker

Dianne Barker

I Don’t Chase the Garbage Truck down the Street in My Bathrobe Anymore! throws a rope to the desperate drowning in disorganization. It offers practical strategies to organize space, time, and family chaos; wrestle thieves (slothfulness and procrastination); de-clutter; manage finances; begin personal renovation—purging interior garbage (inferiority, low esteem); submitting fully to Christ, gateway to balance and abundant living. Read More →

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Reading these words in Psalm 116:7 (KJV), “the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee,” reminded me of conversations with two of my strongest Christian friends. On the same day, both spoke of being mad at God.

One said a relative felt angry because of what she considered the undeserved suffering that came into the life of her young child. “Why didn’t God do something?”

The other friend spoke of a huge disappointment she had experienced. “Why didn’t God stop this?”

Both friends felt God had not dealt bountifully with them. He hadn’t done what they asked and expected. He seemed absent and left them struggling with an unanswered why.

Asking why puts us in good company.

Moses “returned to the Lord and said, O Lord, why have You brought trouble on this people?  Why is it You have sent me?” (Exodus 5:22 NKJV).

Joshua said, “Alas, Lord God, why have You brought this people over the Jordan at all—to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? Oh, that we had been content, and dwelt on the other side of the Jordan!” (Joshua 7:7 NKJV).

The angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon saying “The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor! Gideon said to Him, O my Lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about saying, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the Lord has forsaken us and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites” (Judges 6:12-13 NKJV).

On the cross, about the ninth hour Jesus “cried out with a loud voice, saying…My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46 NKJV).

Asking why is a normal response to hurt and heartbreak. It’s not a problem as long as we’re content without an explanation and willing to leave the matter in God’s almighty hands.

Along life’s journey we experience disappointment, loneliness, physical decline, stressed relationships, grief. Is God still good? The Bible repeatedly says he is. In the NIV, Psalm 116:7 reads, “the Lord has been good to you.”

How do we respond in hard places? We choose to believe in the dark what we found easy to believe in the light.

“For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and His truth endureth to all generations” (Psalm 100:5 KJV).

Even when we don’t understand, we can rely on fact. God always deals bountifully with his children.

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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The enemy I battle most is Discouragement. I know better than to give that rascal a toehold in my life. But it slips in subtly, whispering hopelessness, just like long ago. Remember how the Israelites responded to Moses when he came to lead them out of bondage in Egypt.

“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh: Because of my mighty hand he will let them go; because of my mighty hand he will drive them out of his country…‘Therefore, say to the Israelites:

I am the Lord and

I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians.

I will free you from being slaves to them, and

I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment.

I will take you as my own people, and

I will be your God….

I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.

I will give it to you as a possession.

I am the Lord.’

“Moses reported this to the Israelites, but they did not listen to him because of their discouragement and cruel bondage” (Exodus 6:1, 6-9 NIV).

Despite those I wills, discouragement ruled.

But the Lord didn’t change his plan. After a series of plagues, his people left Egypt for the land he’d promised, a land flowing with milk and honey.

Moses sent scouts to explore the land, and it was everything they could have dreamed. But only Joshua and Caleb believed they could move forward and inhabit the land. The other ten gave a negative report about giants in the land, discouraging the hearts of the people and filling them with fear. Instead of taking possession of their inheritance, they wandered in the wilderness for forty years, until all of the men twenty years of age and older had died because they didn’t wholly follow the Lord (Numbers 32:11).

What a sad story illustrating the power of discouragement.

All the more reason to guard our mind and heart against this mighty weapon wielded by the enemy of our souls.

Remember the Lord’s promise to Joshua when he assumed leadership, “…Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9 NIV).

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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“I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving…” (Psalm 116:17).

From this verse I get the impression we offer thanksgiving with difficulty or under hardship—because we should do it, not necessarily because we want to do it.

Early in my walk with the Lord, my expression of thanks depended on my circumstances. When favorable, my heart overflowed with gratitude and praise. I found it easy to rejoice and thank the Lord.

I offered thanksgiving as a reward for his being good to me and withheld it if I thought he hadn’t treated me fairly. Then I read “in every thing give thanks” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

In everything? That’s expecting a lot. So I gave thanks as a formality, with great effort, begrudgingly.

Reading those beautiful hymns of praise, the Psalms, I saw how others handled this.

Those writers offered thanks and praise to God in spite of circumstances, with gratitude for his marvelous works in the past and confidence in his promises for the future. They praised him for his very nature—he is good, gracious, righteous, merciful, slow to anger, rich in compassion and forgiveness.

If that weren’t enough, they praised him simply because he deserved it. The Lord God is worthy of honor and exaltation.

Regardless of my circumstances, he is still good, gracious, righteous, merciful, slow to anger, rich in compassion and forgiveness–and so worthy of honor and exaltation.

Giving thanks is a decision. And sometimes it’s a sacrifice. Even so…

“My heart, is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise” (Psalm 57:7).

(Adapted from Cabbages and Kings—Reflections on Living Abundantly in Christ)

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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