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Monthly Archives: February 2014

Overruled

As you read this blog, I’m on a cruise to the Bahamas. For a week.

I saw that eye-roll.

I promise I’m not bragging. I don’t have any guarantee that I’ll be on that cruise. Yes, I paid for my ticket. But that doesn’t mean all will transpire as planned. What if I have a heart attack tonight? What if I have an accident on the way to the port? I’m not a pessimist, truly. But I can’t assume there will be always be fair winds and following seas. I should say, “If The Lord wills, I’ll get to cruise,” but too often, I’m presumptuous.

Think I’m exaggerating? In 1994, I traveled four hours to a cruise port with every intention of enjoying a tropical vacation. I boarded the ship and enjoyed breakfast. Then I was shocked to hear from the loudspeaker, “The Captain regrets to inform you we’ll not be leaving port this week due to unsafe weather conditions.” Oh, the complaints and curses that singed my ears that day! A steward approached the dining room and said, “We’re sorry, but there are twelve-foot seas. If the Captain doesn’t want to sail, trust me, you don’t want to sail.”

Proverbs 16:9 says, “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.” So as you’re reading this, I hope I’ll be cruising. But if the Lord overrules my plans and I don’t make that cruise, I’ll trust the Master of the wind.

James 4:13-15 says: Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”

Have you ever made plans that were overruled?

– Jericha Kingston

PHOTO CREDIT – stock.xchng

 
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Posted by on February 28, 2014 in devotion, Jericha Kingston

 

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Grace for the Lost

graceOnce upon a time, a stranger arrived in town. With directions clutched in his fist, he set off walking toward his hotel. But after a little while, he realized he was lost. The hotel was not where he thought it would be.

He looked around and saw a pretty little white church, steeple and all, on the corner. The sign outside read, “All Are Welcome Here.”

The man climbed the steps, entered the church, and found three members inside. He approached the first church member. “Excuse me, ma’am, I seem to be lost.”

The woman ran away, screaming.

Perplexed, he approached the second member. “Excuse me, sir. I seem to be lost.” Encouraged when the church member didn’t run away, the man continued. “I’m looking for the Right Way Hotel, and according to my directions—”

“Everybody knows,” the church member said, his nose in the air, “that the Right Way Hotel is on the next block.” The church member huffed and stormed away.

Finally, the man approached the third church member, a young man of about twelve. “Excuse me, young man. I seem to be lost. I’m looking for the Right Way Hotel.

”The young man smiled. “I know the way. I’ll walk you there.”

And the two left the church together.

I truly hope nothing like this happens in our churches. I would like to think that even the grouchiest among us would willingly give directions to the physically lost.

But what about the spiritually lost?

How often do we as church members run in fear from those who don’t know Christ?

How often do we attack those who don’t know the truth?

You see it all the time, the fear and vitriol aimed at politicians, celebrities, organizational leaders, and regular folks who don’t know the Lord. They share their beliefs, and we disagree, so we flee or argue or accuse. We hear statements that go against God’s word, and we attack the speaker, as if he ought to know better.

But he is lost. He doesn’t know your Bible, your God, or your Truth. To attack the spiritually lost is no better than to attack the physically lost.

According to Romans 5:10, we were once all enemies of God. Romans 3:23 tells us we have all sinned. Ephesians 2:8 tells us we have been saved by grace.

Merriam-Webster defines grace as: “unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification.”

Unmerited. That means we don’t deserve it. Divine. That means it comes from God.

We were lost, and God granted us grace and saved us. It’s also safe to say that some human granted us grace, too, because somebody told us the truth about Christ. Somebody showed us the way.

So the question is: Why do we flee those who don’t know the truth? Why do we attack sinners for sinning? Why, in short, are we shocked when the lost behave like they’re lost?

Grace. It’s not about tolerating sin. It’s about loving sinners. They are all around you, and if you don’t lead them to the Truth, who will?

This is the first in a series of blog posts addressing the subject of grace. I will post every other Wednesday, so don’t miss the next installment.

~Robin Patchen, Recipient of boundless grace.

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2014 in devotion, Robin Patchen

 

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Smart Cars and Snowbanks

Pegg12Living in the rural Great White North, we’re used to dealing with snow. A lot of snow. Snow that piles up, especially at intersections. This is, coincidently, one of the reasons so many northerners drive pick-up trucks. Large pick-up trucks, with 4-wheel drive, over-sized tires, and lift kits. It’s how we see over the snowbanks.

What we don’t see, at least not until the last moment, are those little Smart Cars. You know the type I’m talking about. They come in all sorts of non-truck colors like purple and chartreuse. What is chartreuse anyway? Smart Cars are shaped roughly like an aphid and are about the same size. Like an aphid hides under a garden leaf, these tiny cars hide behind snow banks.

Driving through town, where there are plenty of snowbanks and far too many Smart Cars, is a bit like playing a game of Whac-a-Mole. Remember Whac-a-Mole? That game where fuzzy little fake rodents popped up from random holes, and the player had to whack each one with a mallet back into its hole? Only with Smart Cars we play it in reverse. We try to avoid the whack.

I have nothing against Smart Cars *cough* in principle, but in the effort to save gas and the environment, we should not overlook the inherent danger to the population. People should have the proper tools for the job.

The proper tool for a Christian is the Bible. The way to avoid a lifetime of Whac-a-Mole – or even reverse Whac-a-Mole – is to equip yourself with the guidance of God’s Word. Train your reactions, ahead of time, for when something darts out from behind life’s snowbank directly into your path.

~ Pegg Thomas

photo image is of the author’s own awesome truck parked in her driveway beside the snowbank – after – last week’s warm temperatures 

 
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Posted by on February 24, 2014 in Humor, Pegg Thomas

 

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When Your Computer Tells On You

2dc3f3_6df02ba8a7264960bb8b7be188239dda.jpg_srz_p_225_300_75_22_0.50_1.20_0.00_jpg_srzThis time when my computer bit the dust, I was ready. Past experiences had prepared me, so I’d backed up everything of importance to three different devices. And when the dreaded “black screen of death” appeared and my beloved PC refused to start up last month, I wasn’t worried. At first.

But last week I realized I hadn’t backed up as carefully as I thought I had. One folder in particular, a folder that held tons of information regarding my family’s genealogy back to the 1800’s was missing. Hours of research and interview notes that couldn’t possibly be duplicated, were nowhere to be found.

I placed a phone call to our computer guy. The same guy who last month informed me that my previous computer was indeed dead, due to overheating. He added however, that he may be able to recover some items from my hard drive if I needed him to. I proudly informed him, that I’d been through this before, learned my lesson the hard way, and backed everything up thrice. So I told him thanks, but no thanks.

Now here I was days later, on the phone with him, desperate and asking if he could please see if this particular genealogy folder could be pulled from that fried hard drive. I could almost hear the smile in his voice as he let me know that he was already a step ahead of me. He told me that before he returned my computer, he’d already completed the recovery process and was just waiting on my phone call.

The one lesson I hadn’t learned from those past experiences was that all of the storage devices in the world were useless if the PC owner didn’t know how to utilize them properly. But evidently, our computer guy knew, and he waited patiently for me to realize it too.

Excited, I told him the name of the folder I needed to locate. One by one, he called off the name of every folder and every file he was able to recover. As he did this, panic set in. I had lots of personal files, photos, and notes on that computer. And he had access to them all. Right there at his fingertips.

But what concerned me the most was my journal. For the past six years, I’d faithfully kept one on my computer. It not only contained personal thoughts about me, but others as well.

And because I’m a writer, another thought hit me. He’d had this information stored at his place of business for at least a couple of weeks.  At any time, over a cup of coffee and a bagel, he could’ve been privy to my most inner thoughts. Thoughts about me, my friends and my family.

One of the definitions of blackmail is, “extortion or coercion by threats, especially of public exposure”. And there was more than enough material in my journal for that.

Like I said, I’m a writer. I knew my mind couldn’t help but think of these things.

But the thought still paralyzed me.

I MUST add here, that we’ve worked with our computer guy for years now. And from previous conversations, I believe him to be a Christian and a patriot, and there was nothing he said or did, that suggested in any way that he’d even consider such a thing. It was my overactive imagination that was the villain here, not him.

And it was all because I felt exposed.

Not only because he had access to very sensitive information, but because he also knew that I professed to be a Christian. Was there anything on there that would cause him to doubt that? Or worse, cause him to doubt his faith? Or cause him to stumble in his walk?

I needed to find out.

After our phone call ended, I frantically searched my brain, desperate to remember what I had written in that journal. Every folder, file, document, photo and video came under scrutiny as well.

The computer guy also knows I’m a writer, so I hoped some things would be self-explanatory. However, I’m not sure that he knows that I write Supernatural Suspense. Information in my research files about demonry, cults, Satanic worship and witchcraft would undoubtedly cause him to raise an eyebrow or two, but one glimpse into my WIP’s and MS (also on that computer) would easily put those concerns to rest.

But what about the others? Was there anything else? Was there gossip about my friends? Dirty laundry on my family? Secret love letters? Were there photos that needed to be explained, or videos I needed to create an excuse for?

Was there anything on there that would cause me to hang my head in shame when I picked up the recovery disc?

After a couple of minutes of this, I took in a deep breath, relaxed and remembered how far God has brought me. And how that relationship with Him, has not only changed my eternal destiny, but my life. It’s changed not only what I write, but how I write, whether that be a book, an email or a journal entry. And it also changes the way I see people. And the things I watch, and the activities I participate in.

I slept peacefully that night knowing that there was nothing in those journal entries that my friends or family didn’t already know. And if there was something of a more controversial nature, such as my views on the culture, politics and/or politicians (yes, there are a lot of those type of notes in there) those could easily be discussed and resolved over a hot cup of tea and a couple of blueberry scones.

I could now face the computer guy with a smile on my face and my head held high.

Not because of anything I’ve done or didn’t do, or something I wrote or didn’t write, but because of God. And His grace. And His mercy.

And His never-ending love for a sinner like me.

A God who loved me enough to show me through a single phone call, how important it is that I am who I say I am. Not just in word and deed and the places where someone’s looking, but in the places they aren’t. Not just for my sake, or God’s sake, but for the sake of others who are traveling this Christian journey. And for those who are about to begin one.

He also taught me that what really mattered wasn’t what the computer guy thought or even if I could lift my head up high the next time I saw him.

But whether or not I’ll be able to hold my head up high when I see Him.

And only by the continued grace of God will I be able to do that.

Kara R. Hunt

PHOTO CREDIT: stock.xchng

 
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Posted by on February 21, 2014 in Kara Hunt

 

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To Ski or Not to Ski

Marge12Cold and shivering—and bereft of any sense of accomplishment—I stood at the top of Mount Everest. The ski instructor called it the bunny hill, but I knew better. The icy slope in front of me could only lead to one thing. A painless death was out of the question, so I gripped my ski poles and prayed I’d be lovingly remembered. I took one last, shaky breath. It was all the encouragement my skis needed. One minute I was awaiting my demise, the next rushing toward it at breakneck speed. My skis traveled in opposite directions. My poles flew through the air. I didn’t mind. Better a snowball than a javelin. In the moments that followed, I became a firm believer that what must go down should never come back up.

I still have times when I feel as though I’m standing at the top of a mountain—figurative, of course—and wonder how I’m going to make it down. I see the slippery slope, and my mind pleads for escape. I can’t stay where I am—I know that—but the only way down looks like a scary one. Sometimes the situation involves facing an illness, or a problem with a family member or friend. At times my life takes me in a new direction, one that holds uncertainty.

Fear is a powerful emotion. Do I succumb to it and lay helpless in the snow, or do I get up and ski? Those moments of fear are inevitable, but we don’t have to let them rule us. When Jesus died on the cross, He conquered death and fear. With His help, we can take up our ski poles and glide—or tumble, if need be—our way to victory.

~ Marge Wiebe

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2014 in Humor, Marge Wiebe

 

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What Love Isn’t

~ Jericha Kingston

 
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Posted by on February 13, 2014 in Jericha Kingston, Video Blog

 

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If They Could See Me Now

You ever want to go back to somebody you knew in high school and blow him a great big raspberry?

Or is that just me?

It’s the person you think of when you hear the song, “If They Could See Me Now.”  Or maybe it’s your whole graduating class. Ah, if they could see me now . . .

Well, it wouldn’t be that impressive. I’m not famous or rich. Still, if he could see me now . . .

See, I always wanted to be a writer. Even back when I was a little kid, but I didn’t have the courage to tell anybody. Sure, I’d tell people I wanted to be the President. I distinctly remember a period of my young childhood when I wanted to be a princess, and I’d walk around with a book on my head all day so I could learn to walk like a princess walks. You know, so I’d be ready. I wasn’t shy about telling anybody that. Deep down, I was fairly certain I was never going to be a princess. My father wasn’t a king, after all. And I sincerely doubted I’d ever be president, since I never even had the nerve to run for student council.

Being a writer? That seemed both plausible and just out of reach. And all those years I dreamed of it, I never told a soul.

I remember when I changed my major to journalism in college. I told my mom, “I kind of like to write, I guess.” Truth was, I loved to write. I wanted to write. I just feared I wasn’t good enough.

And that’s where my high school nemesis comes in. Only he didn’t look like a nemesis. He looked like an English teacher. A six-foot-four, balding, blond haired Irish guy who hated his job almost as much as he hated his students. A miserable man who, every year, swore it was his last year teaching. It was he, that grouchy old (relatively—he was probably in his forties) man I was desperate to please.

My Junior year, I poured and labored and agonized over my term paper for weeks. I wanted it to be perfect. I wanted it to blow him away. I guess deep down, I figured if I could please him, then maybe I could become a real writer someday.

He gave me a B+.

I’m still mad.

So here I am, enough years after high school not to number them, and I still think about that teacher. He never encouraged me, never gave me any reason to believe I had any talent or ability. And yet, somehow, despite him and his lousy little B+, guess what I am? Yup, I’m a writer. A published author, as a matter of fact. And an editor, hopefully encouraging other writers on this journey.

Somewhere along the way, I learned a very important lesson. In Galatians 1:10, Paul tells us who he’s looking to for approval: “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (ESV)

When I quit living to please the teachers, professors, employers, and friends, and starting living to please Christ, He gave me the courage to do things I’d never have dared before.

I think, if that grouchy English teacher could see me now, he still wouldn’t be impressed.

But as long as God is pleased, that’s all I need.

~ Robin Patchen

 
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Posted by on February 12, 2014 in devotion, Robin Patchen

 

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