The second annual 5K benefit to aid the building of a local homeless shelter had ended successfully with a whopping $25,000 raised.

Two walkers remained steadfast on the course. One had no original intention of walking; the other had every intention of completing the journey, no matter how long it took. That journey would take two hours.

With the assistance of crutches, college-student Erin began the race. Runners whizzed past and walkers trekked toward the goal. The distance widened between Erin and other participants. Born with cerebral palsy, Erin displayed the fortitude of one who is not used to giving up.

Angela wanted to support the event and registered as a volunteer. Posted near the first stretch of the race, she directed participants and waved encouragingly to those she knew.

Angela said, “When I saw Erin, I admired her determination and didn’t want her to walk alone.”

Leaving her post, Angela asked Erin if she could join her and, with water bottle in hand, one friend joined another on the journey.

“Her spirit was joyful the entire time,” Angela said of her friend. “She never complained. She was determined. It was inspirational for me.”

When the organizer of the event heard two walkers were still on the path, she returned to the location and waited at the finish line. Dee later said she was reminded of the verse in Acts 20:24. “I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me.”

Where are you today on your writing journey? Struggling to complete the task? Crossing the finish line with zeal? Supporting another writer on the trek?

Finish the race, with God’s help, and inspire others along the way.

Julie Lavender

Julie Lavender

365 Ways to Love Your Child by Julie Lavender

365 Ways to Love Your Child by Julie Lavender

Julie Lavender is a journalist, author, and former homeschooling mom of twenty-five years who holds a Masters Degree in Early Childhood Education. She is married to her-high school and college sweetheart, David, a wildlife biologist, who’s spent the last thirty-seven years encouraging her to love and appreciate all of God’s creations. Julie’s parenting book, 365 Ways to Love Your Child: Turning Little Moments into Lasting Memories, releases in October.

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 “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” (Romans 5:1-5).

Who reading this today has been “justified through faith”? If so, the Bible says you should have peace with God through our Lord Jesus.

Who reading this today “boasts in the glory of our sufferings”? Today, we could say “boasts in the glory of losing our job,” or “boast in the glory of contracting COVID-19.”

Who reading this knows “suffering produces perseverance and perseverance produces character?” Yet, we pray often for our lives to be suffering-free and chaff at the thought of enduring suffering time after time.

Who reading this knows “character produces hope”? The kind of hope that defies human understanding…the kind that seems other-worldly because it is not of this world, but of the kingdom of heaven…

You see, to have hope in days like these, you must have already been through the fire. You must have suffered on more than one occasion.

To have hope in days like these, you must be able to outlast viruses and government shutdowns and rely on the living God with a “crazy” determination.

To have hope in days like these, your character should be forged of God’s heavenly dominion, not earthly whims, filled with fear and regret.

To have hope in days like these, your hope—built through the fires of suffering—will be the thing that shines brightest before men and women in your sphere of influence.

To have hope, Biblical hope, isn’t easy. But when attained and maintained, it is by far the most peaceful. For our God is bigger than any virus.

Kevin Thompson photo

Kevin Thompson, author

The Letters

Kevin Thompson is an ordained minister, and his published works include two award-winning novels, The Serpent’s Grasp (winner of the 2013 Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference Selah Award for First Fiction) and 30 Days Hath Revenge – A Blake Meyer Thriller: Book 1, the first in a continuing series. His latest novel, The Letters, was released in Feb. 2020. For more, visit Kevin’s website www.ckevinthompson.com/ or his Writer’s Blog www.ckevinthompson.blogspot.com/. Facebook: C. Kevin Thompson – Author Fan Page; Twitter: @CKevinThompson; Instagram: ckevinthompson; Pinterest: ckevinthompsonauthor; Goodreads: C. Kevin Thompson; BookBub: C. Kevin Thompson

 

 

 

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All of us have dreams of what we want to do with our lives. Sometimes those dreams get sidetracked by the reality of life. Sometimes they’re so long in coming that we tend to give up and think, “What’s the use?”

How do we make those dreams come true? Whether the dream is about a career choice, a place you want to visit, or something you would really like to do, the dream can come true.

Fulfillment depends on attitude and faith. By attitude, I mean surrounding ourselves with the resources or the tools and information we need to pursue the dream. Faith, of course, means trusting the Lord.

Dreams don’t come true overnight. Often life gets in the way and dreams go by the wayside. We make excuses for not following through and keep putting off doing something about it.

To follow your dream, stay focused on that dream and what the Lord wants you do. Don’t let age, insecurity, or doubt creep in and rob you of the desire God has placed in your heart. Grab it, hold on to it, and never stop dreaming. God has plans for you! Remember that those plans are not to harm you but to give you hope and a future (see Jeremiah 29:11). He won’t steer you wrong.

Four “P’s” to success: prayer, planning, patience, and perseverance. Without these, we will have a more difficult time seeing our dreams fulfilled. It’s time to stop making excuses and start looking at what we can do to help that dream along. When we bathe our plans in prayer and we have the patience to persevere in pursuit of those plans, they will succeed in God’s timing. Maybe they won’t be exactly what we expected, but the result will be the best—because it’s God’s plan for us.

Martha Rogers

Martha Rogers

Love Blooms at Christmas by Martha Rogers

Love Blooms at Christmas by Martha Rogers

Martha Rogers, a multi-published author, writes a weekly devotional for ACFW. She and her husband Rex live in Houston, Texas. They have three sons, eleven grandchildren, and four (soon to be five) great-grandchildren. Martha is a retired teacher with twenty-eight years experience teaching home economics and English at the secondary level and eight years at the college level, supervising student teachers and teaching freshman English. She is director of the Texas Christian Writers Conference held in Houston each August, a member of ACFW, ACFW WOTS chapter in Houston, and a member of the writers’ group, Inspirational Writers Alive. Find Martha at www.marthawrogers.com or www.hhhistory.com. Twitter: @martharogers2; Facebook: Martha Rogers Author.

 

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“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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By Dianne Barker

“Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain” (Psalm 127:1NIV).

Got it. Unless the Lord does it, our best efforts will fail.

Synonyms for “vain” are ineffective, hopeless, unsuccessful, unproductive, futile, useless, worthless.

Why would anyone pursue such a life? Who gets up in the morning desiring your day’s work be ineffective, unsuccessful, unproductive, futile, useless, worthless?

We’re off and running, determined to achieve something significant. But if we’re trusting in our own wisdom and strength, our best efforts will be futile.

God created us for a purpose. The greatest disappointment in life is coming to the end of it, never having achieved the purpose for which we were created.

How do we discover God’s purpose?

I accepted Christ at seven and during teen years sensed a desire in my heart to write. At eighteen I landed my dream job writing for the local newspaper while attending college. Within a few weeks, I had my own weekly column. Being young, bold, and confident I had answers to life’s big questions, I often injected my Christian faith.

After finishing college, trying to decide what to do with the rest of my life, I couldn’t see myself doing anything else.

There was no passion for anything else.

I joined the newspaper’s fulltime staff. Besides writing my column and news stories, I covered many religious events and evangelistic crusades. The Lord brought a host of celebrities across my path: Corrie ten Boom, Vance Havner, Bob Hope, Joan Crawford, Debbie Reynolds, Johnny Cash, Jerry Clower, and others. I shook hands with President Richard Nixon.

The newspaper sent me to Minneapolis to attend the School of Christian Writing, sponsored by Decision Magazine, founded by Billy Graham. I met Dr. Sherwood Wirt, founding editor, who became a friend and mentor.

A year later while covering Dr. Graham’s ten-day crusade in Knoxville, Tennessee, I reconnected with Dr. Wirt. Through his influence I was chosen to write a book about the crusade, Billy Graham in Big Orange Country—my first book at twenty-four.

Clebe McClary, a Vietnam hero from South Carolina, saw the book and asked me to write his story, Living Proof. Through Clebe I met Harold Morris and wrote his story, Twice Pardoned, first book for Focus on the Family Publishing and a 1986 national Christian bestseller.

That book (still available on Amazon, 1.5 million copies in print) surpassed my dreams.

God built the house! I simply followed Jesus, sensitive to impressions of my heart and opportunities he presented. He kept me close, whispering encouragement, whenever the path wound through disappointment and difficulty.

Have you grown weary pursuing dreams, only to slam into a stone wall? Pick yourself up and dare to dream again!

  • Pray, diligently seeking guidance from the Lord, and study his Word.
  • Be sensitive to desires of your heart.
  • Consider your natural talents and learn your spiritual gifts; often natural talents and spiritual gifts are related.
  • Ask godly friends for counsel. They may recognize abilities you haven’t seen and suggest opportunities you haven’t considered.
  • Use what you have and serve where you are. Don’t wait for something amazing to come along. Be faithful where God has placed you.

Your purpose on this earth at this moment in time is to serve and glorify him. Stay as close to Jesus as you can get. He still calls disciples with a simple invitation. “Follow me.”

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 a member of Christian Authors Network, Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, and Christian Women in Media Association. Visit www.diannebarker.com.

 

 

 

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