Thursday, April 30, 2009


I spent the week before my daughter's June wedding. Running last-minute trips to the caterer, florist, tuxedo shop, and the church about forty miles away. As happy as I was that Patsy was marrying a good Christian young man, I felt laden with responsibilities as I watched my budget dwindle . .
So many details, so many bills, and so little time. My son Jack was away at college, but he said he would be there to walk his younger sister down the aisle, taking the place of his dad who had died a few years before. He teased Patsy, saying he'd wanted to give her away since she was about three years old!
To save money, I gathered blossoms from several friends who had large magnolia trees. Their luscious, creamy-white blooms and slick green leaves would make beautiful arrangements against the rich dark wood inside the church. After the rehearsal dinner the night before the wedding, we banked the podium area and choir loft with magnolias. As we left just before midnight, I felt tired but satisfied this would be the best wedding any bride had ever had! The music, the ceremony, the reception - and especially the flowers - would be remembered for years.
The big day arrived - the busiest day of my life - and while her bridesmaids helped Patsy to dress, her fiance Tim walked with me to the sanctuary to do a final check. When we opened the door and felt a rush of hot air, I almost fainted; and then I saw them - all the beautiful white flowers were black. Funeral black. An electrical storm during the night had knocked out the air conditioning system, and on that hot summer day, the flowers had wilted and died. I panicked, knowing I didn't have time to drive back to our hometown, gather more flowers, and return in time for the wedding.
Tim turned to me. 'Edna, can you get more flowers? I'll throw away these dead ones and put fresh flowers in these arrangements.'
I mumbled, 'Sure,' as he be-bopped down the hall to put on his cuff links.
Alone in the large sanctuary, I looked up at the dark wooden beams in the arched ceiling. 'Lord,' I prayed, 'please help me. I don't know anyone in this town. Help me find someone willing to give me flowers - in a hurry!' I scurried out praying for four things: the blessing of white magnolias, courage to find them in an unfamiliar yard, safety from any dog that may bite my leg, and a nice person who would not get out a shotgun when I asked to cut his tree to shreds.
As I left the church, I saw magnolia trees in the distance. I approached a house...No dog in sight. I knocked on the door and an older man answered. So far so good. No shotgun. When I stated my plea the man beamed, 'I'd be happy to!'
He climbed a stepladder and cut large boughs and handed them down to me. Minutes later, as I lifted the last armload into my car trunk, I said, 'Sir, you've made the mother of a bride happy today.'
'No, Ma'am,' he said. 'You don't understand what's happening here.'
'What?' I asked.
'You see, my wife of sixty-seven years died on Monday. On Tuesday I received friends at the funeral home, and on Wednesday . . . He paused. I saw tears welling up in his eyes. 'On Wednesday I buried her.' He! Looked away. 'On Thursday most of my out-of-town relatives went back home, and on Friday - yesterday - my children left.'
I nodded.
'This morning,' he continued, 'I was sitting in my den crying out loud. I miss her so much. For the last sixteen years, as her health got worse, she needed me. But now nobody needs me. This morning I cried, 'Who needs an eighty-six-year-old wore-out man? Nobody!' I began to cry louder. 'Nobody needs me!' About that time, you knocked, and said, 'Sir, I need you.'
I stood with my mouth open.
He asked, 'Are you an angel? The way the light shone around your head into my dark living room...'
I assured him I was no angel.
He smiled. 'Do you know what I was thinking when I handed you those magnolias?'
'I decided I'm needed. My flowers are needed. Why, I might have a flower ministry! I could give them to everyone! Some caskets at the funeral home have no flowers. People need flowers at times like that and I have lots of them. They're all over the backyard! I can give them to
hospitals, churches - all sorts of places. You know what I'm going to do? I'm going to serve the Lord until the day He calls me home!'
I drove back to the church, filled with wonder. On Patsy's wedding day, if anyone had asked me to encourage someone who was hurting, I would have said, 'Forget it! It's my only daughter's wedding, for goodness' sake! There is no way I can minister to anyone today.' But God found a way - through dead flowers.
'Life is not the way it's supposed to be. It's the way it is. The way you cope with it is what makes the difference.'
If you have missed knowing me, you have missed nothing. If you have missed some of my e-mails, you may have missed a laugh. But, if you have missed knowing my LORD and SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST, you have missed everything in the world.
May God's blessings be upon you.

By Edna Ellison

This story is far too beautiful not to send along its way to others ... And its's true.

"God does notice us, and he watches over us. But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs." Spencer W. Kimball
"Though our trials are diverse, there is one thing the Lord expects of us no matter our difficulties and sorrows: He expects us to press on." - Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin
From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind; from his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth - Psalms 33:13,14

Cheap Advice

Jesus said, "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye."1

In a Peanuts cartoon Lucy is playing her role as psychiatrist. She sits in her booth with the sign that reads: "Psychiatric Help—5 cents." The sign below says, "The Doctor Is In." Lucy says to Charlie Brown, "Your life is like a house."
In the next frame, she says reflectively, "You want your house to have a solid foundation, don't you?" Charlie Brown has a kind of blank look on his face. Lucy says, "Of course you do."
Charlie Brown is still silent—saying nothing. Then in the fourth frame, psychiatrist Lucy says, "So don't build your house on the sand, Charlie Brown." About that time, a huge wind comes up and blows the booth down. Lucy, sitting in the rubble says, "Or use cheap nails."2

Sad to say, too many of us are too quick to give cheap advice to others and forget, as the old saying goes, that when we point a finger at others, there are four fingers pointing back at us. People who are quick to give unsolicited advice are, generally speaking, very insecure and gain a sense of false security by having a ready answer for everyone else's problems—except their own.
So "my advice" is: "Don't be an unsolicited advice giver!"

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me not to be a judgmental person, nor be quick to find fault with others, or be an unsolicited advice giver, but rather, help me to see my own character flaws and lead me to the help I need to overcome these. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."

1. Matthew 7:3-5 (NIV)

2. Brett Blair,


Daily Encounter

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Lord, Kill the Spider

"Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."1

Last Sunday our pastor told an interesting story and, had it not been serious, it would have been funny. He told about a fellow in a support group who for months on end kept praying about a personal problem but never did anything about it. Week after week he would pray with seemingly great conviction, "Oh God, clean the cobwebs out of my life…clean the cobwebs out of my life!"
Finally, in utter frustration the leader of the group broke into the man's prayer and prayed rather boisterously, "Oh God, KILL THE _ _ _ _ _ _ _ SPIDER!"
I can identify with this leader in that I, too, know of people who have been confessing the same sin and/or problem for years, asking God for deliverance but never doing anything about it. True, God feeds the sparrows but as the old saying goes, he doesn't throw the food into their nests.
If we are struggling with a besetting sin or bad habit, what can we do about it? Certainly pray and ask God for deliverance but also pray that He will show us the root cause of our problem because, more often than not, our repetitive failures are the fruit of a deeper root. God not only wants to deliver us from habitual sins but also free us from the deeper root cause. Also, we need to ask God to lead us to the help we need to overcome whether it be an AA Group, some other kind of recovery group, a counselor, a pastor or whatever help we need. And then we need to do something about finding that help. As we do our part, God will do His, but He won't do for us what we can and are able to do for ourselves. For us to do less is an avoidance of personal responsibility.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank You that You have already done for me what I couldn't do for myself in that You gave Your Son, Jesus, to die for and free me from a life of sin and failure. Please help me to see the root cause of my besetting sin or problem [name it] and help me to find the help I need to overcome. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."

1. Hebrews 12:1-2 (NKJV).

Daily Encounter

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Speak Up For Those Who Cannot Speak For Themselves

As Christians, we are all leaders and people of influence.
We must speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. We must be a voice for the voiceless. The greatest tragedy for those in dire need is that they have no one who will stand up and speak for them.
The unborn cannot speak up for themselves. If we don't, who will? Most prisoners and ex-offenders are not allowed to vote. They have no voice in our system, though we expect them to act like responsible citizens. The hungry and homeless need someone to speak up for them so that they may have shelter, food and job training. Speaking up means defending the rights of people who are at risk.
When we were dead in our sins, poor and needy, with no way to voice the cry of our hearts, Jesus came. He died, rose again, and ascended to heaven to be our advocate before the Father's throne. He pleads our cause even today, based on his sacrifice for us. And he calls us to plead the cause of people in need.
Today -
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Matt5:7

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Written in Stone

A story is told of two friends who were walking through the desert. During some point of the journey they had an argument, and one friend slapped the other one in the face. The one who got slapped was hurt, but without saying anything, wrote in the sand, "Today my best friends slapped me in the face."
They kept on walking until they found an oasis, where they decided to take a bath. The one who had been slapped got stuck in the mire and started drowning, but the friend saved him. After he recovered from nearly drowning, he wrote on a stone, "Today my best friend saved my life."
His friend asked him, "After I hurt you, you wrote in the sand and now, you write on a stone, why?" The other friend replied "When someone hurts us we should write it down in sand where winds of forgiveness can erase it away. But, when someone does something good for us, we must engrave it in stone where no wind can ever erase it."

Stephen Felker, "How Often Should I Forgive?"

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times." Mat18:21-22

Friday, April 17, 2009

Believing a Lie

'''I will scatter you like chaff driven by the desert wind. This is your lot, the portion I have decreed for you,' declares the LORD, 'because you have forgotten me and trusted in false gods.'"1
Ravi Zacharias in "A Slice of Infinity" shares how he was invited to participate in a discussion with six Russian generals (all of whom but one were atheists) at the Lenin Military Academy in Moscow.
Zacharias reported, "As the conversation unfolded from early unease through robust argumentation all the way to our warm conclusion, something incredible happened. One by one, each of these generals conceded that Russia was now in a pathetic state, not just economically but morally. As the men stood to bid us good-bye, the senior-ranking general grasped my hand and said, 'Dr. Zacharias, I believe what you have brought us is the truth. But it is so hard to change after seventy years of believing a lie.'"2
Again I recall the words of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the Russian-born Nobel Prize winner for literature(1970), who said, "Over half a century ago while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of older people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: 'Men have forgotten God, that's why all this has happened.'"
How tragic when nations forget God and exchange the truth for a lie. Over and over again history records the results of those nations who forgot the one true God and believed a lie. And it's happening today in the world in which you and I live.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to be a messenger of grace and truth in all that I am, do, and say—and help me to live it first so that others seeing your love flowing through me will want your Truth and love for themselves. And please save our nation from believing a lie about you and the devastation that believing a lie causes. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
1. Jeremiah 13:24-25 (NIV).
2. Ravi Zacharias, "Believing A Lie, Believing The Truth" Copyright (c) 2001 Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) in "A Slice of Infinity"

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Freedom from Judging, Freedom for mercy

We spend an enormous amount of energy making up our minds about other people. Not a day goes by without somebody doing or saying something that evokes in us the need to form an opinion about him or her. We hear a lot, see a lot, and know a lot. The feeling that we have to sort it all out in our minds and make judgments about it can be quite oppressive.
Add Image

The desert fathers said that judging others is a heavy burden, while being judged by others is a light one. Once we can let go of our need to judge others, we will experience an immense inner freedom. Once we are free from judging, we will be also free for mercy. Let's remember Jesus' words: "Do not judge, and you will not be judged" (Matthew 7:1).

Henri Nouwen - Daily Devotion


What I Hate, I Do

"I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do, but what I hate I do." Romans 7:15 (NIV)


He came home from work, feeling tired I am sure. But instead of complaining, he rolled his sleeves up and jumped right in making french toast and frying bacon for our dinner. As he worked, he told me about the rough day he had--more than 100 people had been laid off at his company. While he had not been laid off, he felt sorry for those who had been, and wondered if he would be on the next list of names.
After dinner, he tackled bath times with the younger kids. After they were safely tucked into bed, he took one son with him to the store. He returned home happy, reeling off the things on the list he had gotten for me.
"You didn't get the vitamins," I told him. "That was the whole reason you went!" His smile disappeared. Bewildered, he offered to go back out and get the vitamins if we really needed them. "Well, of course we do or I wouldn't have asked for them," I said. He left again. It was late. He was tired.
He returned home for the second time, happy again, brandishing an off brand bottle of the vitamins I had asked for. "These were buy one, get one free!" he said, waving two boxes, one in each hand. I took one look at those boxes and sneered. "There are some things you don't bargain shop for," I chided. He slunk off to the kitchen to stow the vitamins in the cabinet, out of sight. Later, he fell asleep on the couch, the book he had attempted to read rising and falling on his chest as he slept. This is an actual scene from life at my house.

This morning as I was in prayer, God brought that scene to mind, allowing me to see my ugliness. Here we see this really great guy trying to serve and love and give - and here we see his snippy, unappreciative wife totally dropping the ball on loving and serving him in return. Instead we see how she wants her own way and pouts like a two year-old when she doesn't get it. We see that, once again, her need to say little unnecessary comments surfaces. We see her focusing on the negative and missing so much positive in the process.

Today I was reminded again of what I have - and what I stand to lose. My words wound or, at the very least, fall far short of what they could bring to my husband's life. I choose to nitpick instead of nurture. I choose to litigate instead of love. I hate these choices I make, and yet, again and again I go back to this same driving need to plead my case, assert my rights, get my way, and be first. When God asks me to be willing to be last (Mark 9:35). In life. And in marriage. I want to do better, to speak kinder, to look for the many good things instead of seizing on the bad. I want to be a wife who brings him good and not harm all the days of her life (Proverbs 31:12). I am working on it, but some days I fall right back into flesh patterns that are so evil and ugly I recoil at my own image when it's played out for me. I know better - I should do better. Tomorrow, I will try again. And, Honey? Thanks for hanging in there on days when I don't.

Dear Lord, help me to honor my husband with my words, my deeds and my thoughts. Help me to realize that my words matter. I can choose to build him up or tear him down. Help me to choose to build him up and give me the strength to do so. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Marybeth Whalen

Encouragement for Today - Proverbs 31 Minitries

The Satisfaction of the Cross

"When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied." Isaiah 53:11 (NLT)

Approximately 600 years before Jesus was condemned to the cross, the prophet Isaiah foretold of the event. Open up and invite those words to penetrate your soul today:

"See, my servant will prosper; he will be highly exalted. Many were amazed when they saw him beaten and bloodied, so disfigured one would scarcely know he was a person. And he will again startle many nations. Kings will stand speechless in his presence. For they will see what they had not previously been told about; they will understand what they had not heard about.
Who has believed our message? To whom will the Lord reveal his saving power? My servant grew up in the Lord's presence like a tender green shoot, sprouting from a root in dry and sterile ground. There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him. He was despised and rejected a man of sorrows, acquainted with bitterest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way when he went by. He was despised, and we did not care.
Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God for his own sins! But he was wounded and crushed for our sins. He was beaten that we might have peace. He was whipped, and we were healed! All of us have strayed away like sheep. We have left God's paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the guilt and sins of us all. He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led as a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth. From prison and trial they led him away to his death. But who among the people realized that he was dying for their sins that he was suffering their punishment? He had done no wrong, and he never deceived anyone. But he was buried like a criminal; he was put in a rich man's grave.
But it was the Lord's good plan to crush him and fill him with grief. Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have a multitude of children, many heirs. He will enjoy a long life, and the Lord's plan will prosper in his hands. When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied. And because of what he has experienced, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins. I will give him the honors of one who is mighty and great, because he exposed himself to death. He was counted among those who were sinners. He bore the sins of many and interceded for sinners."
Isaiah 52:13 -- 53:12 (NLT)
Approximately 2,000 years after Jesus hung on the cross, the passion of our Christ is still the power of God unto salvation. His suffering accomplished righteousness for us, and through it, both He and we are satisfied.
Dear Lord, may I realize afresh today what Your death and resurrection mean for me. Forgiveness ... Freedom ... and the ability to walk with You through this fallen world into eternity. May I always find my satisfaction in You and Your willingness to offer Yourself to me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Encouragement for Today - Proverbs 31 Ministries

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Camping Too Close to Sin

"Abram settled in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled among the cities of the valley and moved his tent as far as Sodom." Genesis 13:12 (ESV)

"You play with fire you are going to get burned" is something I heard all the time growing up. It was my parents' way of warning me of potential danger when hanging around with the wrong crowd, or going places I should not go. Of course I thought my parent's advice was outdated and out of touch with my generation. I had no idea how wrong I could be.

I don't believe Lot intended to fall into the immoral activity and evil practices taking place in Sodom when he chose to set up his tent in the valley. The valley near the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah was lush and beautiful. Lot chose to live in the area because it was a wonderful place to raise livestock.

Sodom and Gomorrah became so infiltrated and consumed with evil, war broke out. Lot and his family were captured and taken prisoner. When rescued by his Uncle Abraham, the Bible tell us that Lot went right back to the "edge of sin." Although the Bible does not give specific evidence of any immoral activity by Lot, I wonder if something about the area, other than the lush green beauty, fascinated him. Why would he return there after coming so close to losing his life?

Unfortunately, I can understand Lot and his decision to stay near the "edge of sin," and to return to the "edge of sin." I have camped on the edge too often in my life and find myself going back to the same campsite over and over again. Why? Sin feels good, if it didn't, we would not keep going near it.

This is how the enemy traps us. If you play with fire, you are going to get burned. Sometimes you only get singed, or you may only come away smelling a little smoky, but you are tainted nonetheless.

God loves us so much; He doesn't want us anywhere close to sin. He will bring destruction -- sooner or later -- to the means of the sin in our lives. He did this for Lot. God set out to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham begged God to save Lot and his family. Because of God's love for Abraham, and I believe for His love for Lot too, He sent angels to rescue Lot and his family. As they were leaving, God sent destruction to Sodom and Gomorrah.

As I read Lot's story, I no longer judge him like I once did. Now I choose to learn from him. When you are too close to sin:
You are bound to get seduced. Sometimes we like to live right on the edge of sin and flirt with it. The enemy entices us while on the edge, hoping we will cross over and stay a while.
God will give you an opportunity to be rescued. The rescue might not look like a "typical" rescue but nevertheless He will provide a way out.
It is hard to reach out and accept the rescue because the grip of the stronghold of sin becomes tighter and tighter with each passing day on the edge.
Once you are rescued, don't look back. The first time Lot was rescued, he went back to the "edge of sin." In the second rescue, his wife looked back and was turned into a pillar of salt. Don't look back, but look toward your freedom.
What about you? Have you chosen to set your tent in an area that seems lush and green? Perhaps it is at the water cooler where workday conversations are not appropriate. Or maybe you are looking in the wrong place for "Mr. Right." Has the mommy-and-me playgroup become too gossipy? Are you "too close" to the edge of sin? Do you need to be rescued? Cry out to be rescued and when you leave, don't look back.

"Dear Lord, I want to ask You to forgive me for staying too close to sin. I admit that I need Your help to leave. Will You come and rescue me? Thank for You for always being there when I need You. I bless Your name. In Jesus' Name, Amen."

Wendy Pope

Encouragement For Today - Proverbs 31 Ministries.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Where Is God?

"Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD … From heaven the LORD looks down and sees all mankind … [and] considers everything they do. No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength…But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine."1

I recall having read in a college newspaper about a student who painted in big white letters right across the side of a garbage truck, "Where is God?" Perhaps he was thinking at some level, why does God allow garbage to happen?

It's an age-old question, as old as Job and as fresh as today: "Where is God when tragedy strikes … when a loved one dies and the heart is torn with grief … when innocent children are kidnapped, sexually abused, and murdered? And where was he on September 11, 2001? And again, when terrorist bombs blasted a resort hotel in Bali? Or when a sniper in the Washington, D.C. area was shooting and killing innocent people at random?"

I don't want to sound callous by any means but we are asking the wrong question because God is where he always was and always is. The Apostle Paul said it best, in that God "is not far from each one of us. 'For in him we live and move and have our being.'"2

So the question needs to be, "Where is man?"
Our problem lies in the fact that we as nations have left God—or are fast leaving him. As God's Word, the Bible, says, "Blessed is that nation whose God is the Lord."3 And what of those nations whose God is not the Lord? Perhaps history can best answer that question.
But the great tragedy is, as Friedrich Hegel said, "The only thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history."

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please open our eyes and help us to see that when we leave you, forsake your Word and throw out your commandments, we open the door to evil. Grant that we will see in today's senseless acts of terror a wakeup call to turn back to you. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."

1. Psalm 33:12-19 (NIV).
2. See Acts 17:24, 26-28.
3. Psalm 33:12.


Acts International - Daily Encounter


Please teach me, Lord. I want to know exactly how to pray. I need some words. Which ones are right? Please tell me what to say. I've bowed my head. I have knelt down. But should I be upright? I've closed my eyes. I've raised my hands. Or should I fold them tight? Do I stand up? Should I sit down? Dear Lord, what do you like? Are lights turned on? Or are they off? Maybe candle light?
Wear my glasses? Take them off? Be at my desk or table? Should I whisper? Speak out loud? Do I quote the Bible?
What do you think about the time? Do you prefer the dawn? Should I pray fast? Or keep it slow? Better short or long? I'm new at this. What are the rules? I want to do it right. How do I know You'll even hear that I am in your sight? And while I sat there quietly waiting for some sign, I heard a gentle voice say, "Oh, dearest child of mine. Do you think I really care about the time of day, or whether you are standing up, or kneeling when you pray? I don't care about your posture, or about the place you choose. Just open up your soul to me. I have no other rules. Tell me what is in your heart, and tell me what you seek. Tell me of your sorrows, and of those things that made you weak. Speak to me in private. About what concerns you most. I know about your good deeds. You have no need to boast. My child, you don't need lessons. Just talk to me each day; Tell me anything you want, dear child. Anyone can pray."

--by Virginia Ellis



Monday, April 13, 2009


A few years ago a group of salesmen went to a regional sales convention in Chicago. They had assured their wives that they would be home in plenty of time for Friday night dinner. Running through the airport with their briefcases in hand, one of these salesmen inadvertently knocked over a table which held a display of apples. Apples flew everywhere. Without stopping or looking back, they all managed to barely reach the plane just in time for the final boarding call.
All but one.
He paused, took a deep breath, got in touch with his feelings, and experienced a twinge of compassion for the girl whose apple stand had been overturned. He told his buddies to go on without him, waved good-bye, told one of them to call his wife when they arrived home and explain his taking a later flight. Then he returned to the terminal where the apples were all over the terminal floor.
He was glad he did.
The 16-year-old girl was totally blind. She was softly crying, tears running down her cheeks in frustration, and at the same time helplessly groping for her spilled produce as the crowd swirled about her--no one stopping and no one care for her plight.
The salesman knelt on the floor with her, gathered up the apples, put them back on the table and helped organize her display. As he did this, he noticed that many of them had become battered and bruised; these he set aside in another basket. When he had finished, he pulled out his wallet and said, "Here, please take this $40 for the damage we did. Are you okay?"
She nodded through her tears.
He continued on, "I hope we didn't spoil your day too badly."
As the salesman started to walk away, the bewildered blind girl called out to him, "Mister..."
He paused and turned to look back into those blind eyes.
She continued, "Are you Jesus?"
He stopped in mid-stride. Then slowly he made his way to catch the later flight with that question burning and bouncing about in his soul: "Are you Jesus?"
Do people mistake you for Jesus? That's our destiny, is it not? To be so much like Jesus that people cannot tell the difference as we live and interact with a world that is blind to His love, life and grace.
If we claim to know Him, we should live, walk and act as He would.
Knowing Him is more than simply quoting Scripture and going to church. It's actually living the Word as life unfolds day to day.
You are the apple of His eye even though we, too, have been bruised by a fall.
He stopped what He was doing and picked up you and me on a hill called Calvary and paid in full for our damaged fruit.
--author unknown

Diverted by Lesser Things

"Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: 'The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.'"1

Julian Aldridge, Jr., tells how "Some years ago, Hollywood produced an exciting film titled, The Bridge on the River Kwai. The setting was during the Second World War in a Japanese Concentration Camp for prisoners of war. One of the prisoners, the Senior British Officer, talked the Japanese into letting the prisoners build a bridge over the River Kwai. The officer realized that it would boost morale, give life some purpose, and engender hope if the men had something to which they were committed each day.
"The work proceeded to the point of conclusion with a bridge that was a substantial piece of engineering skill; in fact, it was such a logistical benefit to the Japanese that the Allies had to send in an expedition force to blow it up. In the movie, there is a dramatic scene when the Senior British Officer, himself a prisoner of the Japanese, suddenly confronts with stark realism the fact that the other prisoners and he had spent all their time and energies building a bridge for the enemy!"2

As Aldridge pointed out, "There is, in the story, a lesson for all time. We, too, often spend our time and energies in pursuit of, or to perfect, the wrong things. This was the situation with those invited to the wedding banquet in the story Jesus told. They had an invitation to the party of a lifetime, and yet, they were diverted by lesser things."2

May God help you and me not to be diverted by lesser things and thereby dissipate our energies and resources in non-essentials. Keeping eternal values in mind, let us make the most important things the most important things—both in the church and in our personal lives. And above all, whatever you do, don't miss Christ's invitation to you—his invitation to attend his "banquet in heaven" to be with him forever. For help see the article, "How to Be Sure You're a Real Christian" at:
1. Matthew 22:1-3 (NIV).
2. Rev. Dr. Julian M. Aldridge, Jr., Sermon: "Amazing Grace."

Acts International - Daily Encounter


Sunday, April 12, 2009

A Better Place

"But he [Jesus] was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement [punishment] for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed."1

On a much greater scale the world today is a better place because on Good Friday 2,000 years God the Father gave his Son, Jesus Christ, to die on a cruel Roman cross to pay the penalty for the sins of all mankind. Thank God that includes you and me. And now, because of Jesus' death, all who put their trust in him will live forever in Heaven with God where there will be no more sickness, sadness, sorrow or death.

Thus Good Friday and Easter Sunday—when Jesus rose from the dead—are two days that changed the world forever.

1. Isaiah 53:5 (NKJV).

Acts International : Daily Encounter

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


He could hear the crowds screaming "crucify, crucify". He could hear the hatred in their voices, these were His chosen people. He loved them, and they were going to crucify Him. He was beaten, bleeding and weakened. His heart was broken, but still He walked.
He could see the crowd as He came from the palace. He knew each of the faces so well. He had created them. He knew every smile, laugh, and shed tear. But now they were contorted with rage and anger. His heart broken, but still He walked.
Was He scared? You and I would have been. So His humanness would have mandated that He was. He felt alone. His disciples had left, denied, and even betrayed Him. He searched the crowd for a loving face and He saw very few. Then He turned His eyes to the only one that mattered. And He knew that He would never be alone. He looked back at the crowd, at the people who were spitting at Him, throwing rocks at Him and mocking Him and He knew that because of Him, they would never be alone. So for them, He walked.
The sounds of the hammer striking the spikes echoed through the crowd. The sounds of His cries echoed even louder, the cheers of the crowd, as His hands and feet were nailed to the cross, intensified with each blow. Loudest of all was the still small voice inside His heart that whispered "I am with you, my son", and God's heart broke. He had let His son walk.
Jesus could have asked God to end His suffering, but instead He asked God to forgive. Not to forgive Him, but to forgive the ones who were persecuting Him.
As He hung on that cross, dying an unimaginable death, He looked out and saw, not only the faces in the crowd, but also, the face of every person yet to be, and His heart filled with love.
As His body was dying, His heart was alive. Alive with the limitless, unconditional love He feels for each of us. That is why He walked.
When I forget how much My God loves me, I remember His walk.
When I wonder if I can be forgiven, I remember His walk.
When I need reminded of how to live like Christ, I think of His walk.
And to show Him how much I love Him, I wake up each morning, turn my eyes to Him, and I walk.

AllWorship : Author Unknown


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Was Jesus Ever Politically Correct?

"In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear."1

It's amazing how, in our day and age, so many are afraid to stand up and be counted when it comes to taking a public stand for that which is morally correct, based on biblical principles and the Judeo-Christian ethic, for fear of not being politically correct. To bash Christianity, the Ten Commandments, the Word of God and even Jesus' "Sermon on the Mount" has become acceptable (and even popular) among certain circles, but try condemning gay marriage or other religions such as Islam and it becomes a different story.
But did Jesus Christ ever allow himself to be so controlled? Hardly.
Jesus was a man of passion. He hated the abuse of God's house so he drove out the money changers with a whip. He hated evil and sin, not simply because these were opposed to his Word but because they were, and are, damaging to those whom God loves—us. But he always loved sinners and was against anything that hurt them, kept them in bondage, or hindered their growth. And he was hated for his stand.
"In Jesus' case, we have the story of the holiest man who ever lived, and yet it was the prostitutes and lepers and thieves who adored him, and the religious who hated his guts."2

Why? Because he loved people and was opposed to religious dogma and programs that kept people in bondage and used them for their own ends rather than helping them to grow.
"People were offended with Jesus because he violated their understanding of religion and piety. The religious of his day were particularly incensed that he deliberately healed on the Sabbath…. They accused him of being a drunkard, a glutton and having tacky taste in friends. As Gene Thomas is fond of saying, 'Jesus was simply not your ideal Rotarian.' It is a profound irony that the Son of God visited this planet and one of the chief complaints against him was that he was not religious enough."3

In other words, Jesus was totally committed to people's spiritual and personal growth and was strongly opposed to anything that stopped or hindered that growth. Political correctness was never ever a part of his agenda.
As an English Bishop once said, "Wherever Jesus went there was either a revival or a revolution. Wherever I go, they serve tea."
Question: Do we, the members of our church, want to start a revival or a revolution? Or do we just prefer to serve tea?
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please give me the courage to stand up and be counted as a true follower of Jesus Christ and never be afraid to state clearly, in love, what your Word, the Bible, teaches—and help me to live it first. And help me never to allow myself to be controlled by today's politically correct nonsense. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus' name, amen."

1. 2 Timothy 4:1-3 (NIV).
2. Rebecca Manley Pippert, Out of the Saltshaker and Into the World (Downer's Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1979), p. 39.
3. Ibid, p. 40.

Daily Encounter : Tuesday, April 7, 2009


Saturday, April 4, 2009

Relationship with God

The preaching of the Word is the primary means of grace by which we get to know God. Public worship is vital for spiritual growth. Of course, there are other important means as well-such as personal prayer, Bible reading, and meditation-but knowing God involves daily private worship that is guided and built up by weekly public worship.

We too have a relationship with God because of his grace alone, in Christ. God gives us faith to bind us to him, and he invites us to get to know him intimately through Jesus, who freed us from our slavery to sin.

Lord God, may your people get to know you better as they hear your voice through your Word. May we be listening everyday as we learn to live faithfully for you. In Jesus, Amen.


Thursday, April 2, 2009


Have you ever seen a couple and thought, "Wow, they look like siblings?"
If given the opportunity to spend a little time with them, you may find that not only do they look alike, they think and act alike.
They speak the same language, have the same purpose, visions and goals. They are simply in sync. They have found their "rhythm", if you will. I witnessed36 of the 52 years my parents were married (until death he did part) and they made it a priority to serve, learn, get to know and spend time with one another.
Ephesians 5:25 admonishes husbands to go all out in their love for their wives, exactly as Christ has done for us. A love marked by giving, not getting. Christ's love for us makes us whole and so should a husband's love toward his wife.
His words should evoke her beauty. Everything He does and says is designed to bring out the best in her which is to his advantage since they are one, striving for that harmony.
Our fellowship with God is parallel to the marital relationship. The more time we spend with Him, the more we become the mirror image of Him. We willbegin to think, act and speak like Him.
Spending time with God should never be a task or chore. It's not the next bullet on your to do list or a quick consult when you're either in distress or looking for answers.
Our time with Him is our existence. It's where we receive instruction, get clarity and direction.
It gives us the opportunity to know Him and become of like mind. We become aligned with His will, His purpose and His plan for our lives. Our time with Him teaches us to love unreservedly. It heals the wounds of our past and makes us whole.
His words spoken during our time alone affirms and builds confidence while at the same time demolishing fear and inferiority. It establishes trust so we can undoubtedly know His character and rest boldly in His abilities.
It disconnects us from confusion, frustration and our daily emotional roller coasters. It gives us access to His peace and puts us in the calm of it all.
Our time with God exposes our hidden motives, impure hearts, and personal agendas, which help keep us in a place of humility, thereby bringing us all to repentance that we may experience 'the refreshing from His presence'(Acts 3:19).

by Pastor Latrice Pace

Yeah, we should spend more time alone with God!