Archive for the ‘Guest Post’ Category

Treasures in Heaven: Earth is Not Home

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A devotional by JJ Gutierrez

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The cabinet.

I sat quietly and stared at the glass cabinet that set on the back wall of my dining room. This cabinet housed a special treasure of mine. A treasured I inherited nearly thirteen years ago from my grandmother. A treasure that beheld heartfelt memories and I was sure the safest place for it was on the shelf, behind the glass where no one could accidentally break it. This treasure, much like a chest filled with gold, diamonds, and colorful gems, came in many vibrant hues too. Some with beautifully painted elaborate flowers; others with a simple but elegant design. My favorite one was part of a set…six small teacups and one teapot. On the front of each cup was a swan peacefully resting in the water. Grandma used to fill my little cup with tea, ice water, or on occasion, she would surprise me with soda pop. Many days were spent at her oak kitchen table giggling, chatting, and maybe even shedding a tear or two while we sipped from her antique collection of teacups.

The memories.
As I pondered those precious memories I continued starring at the cabinet. I thought about the tea party I was hosting. It was a celebration with my mother-daughter tween bible study group and I wanted the afternoon to be extra special. Building a strong mother-daughter bond is especially important to me because I have three daughters of my own and I didn’t have a deep connection with my mother. My heart’s desire is that every little girl would know and feel the love and support of her mom–that she is important and worth spending time with–that she is a gift from God and a blessing. Sharing my treasured teacups with them would mean all those things and more.

The loss.
However, since grandma went to heaven these cups have never left their home in the glass cabinet. Occasionally I take them out to clean off the dust and I’ve packed them up a few times during a move to a new house, but mostly they just sit lifelessly. No new memories of laughter, conversation, or tears. The thought of pulling my treasure out of the cabinet felt scary, but the more I stared at them the more they begged to be used. I wondered how I would feel if one slipped off the table to its fatal ending. Would I mourn the loss of grandma again or would I shed tears of something I could never get back? It was going to take courage to put this precious possession on the table for the mother-daughter tea party.

The realization.
The day came for the gathering. I decorated the table with a burlap table cloth, floral place settings, and all the necessities for a tea party — plates, spoons, tea bags, and of course, sweet treats. I glanced one again at the cabinet where my treasures rested and considered what my grandmother would want me to do. Would she want them kept safe in the cabinet or would she want me to share the teacups with these precious girls and their moms? The answer to that question was easy and without hesitation, I picked them up one by one, washed them off, and set them carefully at each place setting.

The table
The table was perfect, and when the girls and their moms arrived we sat around the table sipping tea, laughing, sharing, and connecting. As I surveyed the room it was then I realized I had mistaken what the treasure was all these years. My grandmother’s teacups weren’t the gold coins in the treasure chest. The treasure was the person holding the teacup, the conversation that was taking place, and the gift of time that was being given to each other as we slowly sipped tea. I was taken back by emotion and it reminded me `of the Bible verse: “Don’t store up your treasure here on earth, where they can be eaten by moths and get rusty, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where they will never become moth-eaten or rusty and where they will be safe from thieves. Wherever your heart is,
there your treasure will be.” (Matthew 6:19-21 NLT.)

The timeline
I’d wasted over thirteen years trying to keep my teacups safe because I thought they were the treasure. But the true treasure is not found in earthly, perishable things; my grandmother’s teacups will not stand the test of time nor pass from this life into eternity. My heart was misplaced and I was focused on the physical cups. I was missing out on the true treasure my grandmother had given me: her time. That day I learned those brewing flavorful tea leaves, adding sugar and honey, stirring, and sipping with my bible study group was a method to facilitating the ever-lasting treasure of building relationships. There is no measurement great enough to adequately size up the value of strengthening the mother-daughter bond. Each sweet little girl and her mom — they are the eternal treasures who are loved dearly by God Himself, and I am filled with joy that my grandmother’s teacups could participate in such a life-giving day. Letting go and having the courage to share my grandmother’s antique teacup collection revealed that the treasure my grandmother left me was so much more than pretty cups in a cabinet! The legacy she left me was that of sharing, caring, and loving — treasures that can never be stolen away, broken, or destroyed.

What treasure have you kept tucked away because you’re afraid to use it? Will you have the courage to pull it out today? There might be a greater, eternal treasure awaiting you…will you have the courage to find out?

 

Many Blessings,


JJ Gutierrez
Author, Speaker & Ministry Leader
Chickening IN-from FEAR to Courageous FAITH
www.jjgutierrezauthor.com
IG and FB @jjgutierrezauthor

Heaven’s Music: A Mother’s Musings

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Heaven’s Music

by Judy DuCharme

 

My second child, a boy, had just been born. He would be Christopher Lee and we couldn’t be happier. I was still a little groggy from the C-section as my husband, our pediatrician, and my surgeon all came in to see me. As they took my hand, I got nervous.  Christopher had been born with Down Syndrome. As tears and shock took over, I asked, “Can he go home with us?”

Yes, he would go home with us, but the concerns of having a special needs child were new territory. How did this happen? Why? What would the future hold? The glorious joy of a new child slipped away to be covered with apprehension. Friends and family came to see us.  It was all a blur. People from church came to pray for Christopher – I loved that. I loved my son, my baby.

The second morning in the hospital I awoke with the awareness that a song was coursing through my being. The song woke me up . . . in more ways than one. I heard in full melody, “Awake my soul and sing of Him who died for me . . .”  (from the hymn ‘Crown Him with Many Crowns’) It was loud within me. I knew in that moment that fear could not be my controller. I had to put my trust in God for Christopher and for me. I had to praise Him for what He would do in my son.

Chris is now 40. He works part-time but is a full-time participant in life. He’s healthy, a good worker, a fair communicator, an excellent swimmer, has a good sense of humor, and is a consummate Green Bay Packer fan. Most of all though, he is a praiser. In all his ways, he acknowledges God and has a song of praise to go with every situation. He owns more worship CDs than most people and knows the song and the artist.

And still, I remember when times are great and when times are a challenge to awake my soul and sing of Him who died for me. And I am thankful for that constant reminder.

The Woman Behind the Words

Discover more about Judy and her award-winning books here. A Door County native, Judy divides her time between Door County and sunny Florida. When she isn’t crafting tales in her head, she is spending time with her husband, children, and grandchildren. Judy’s author interview can be found on Ambassador International’s YouTube page. 

 

Forgiveness: Letting Go

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Forgiveness – Let it Go

There it was again. I was out walking, enjoying the day, and my mind reached down and pulled up that hurtful memory like a cow pulling up its cud to chew. And chew I did. I was there again. I rehearsed what they said, what they did. It was simply wrong. It wasn’t true or right. I saw their expression. It hurt. It made me mad. My body tensed. All the words I should have said coursed through me.

Finally, I said to myself, “That was five years ago! WHY am I thinking about that now? I thought I forgot that.” Obviously, I had not. As I settled down and focused on why I was remembering so vividly rather than what I was remembering, I had the thought that perhaps I needed to forgive.

The word forgive comes from the Greek word aphiemi which means to release or send away. Bottom line: it means to let it go.

Unforgiveness puts us in a prison of torment. They say it’s like preparing poison for the person you haven’t forgiven and then drinking it yourself, not understanding why they don’t change.

Unforgiveness makes us ugly. We think we are unaffected, except for what they did to us. The truth is we become difficult to be around. Perhaps we are always the victim, promoting the poor-me attitude. Perhaps we put up a wall so no one else can hurt us or deceive us. We also may get aggressive, just to make sure no one has the opportunity to do anything against us.

Forgiveness sets us free. Most of us think it lets the other person off the hook. Not so. It does not deny what they did or that it was wrong. They will have to answer to God, to themselves, and perhaps the civil/criminal court of law. But we can be free of their sin’s control over us. That person may not even know anyone was offended. It’s possible their comment or action was inadvertent. And, certainly, it may have been on purpose, mean-spirited, and downright evil. Either way, forgiveness sets us free from those chains.

Forgiveness is the highest order of life.  If you forgive constantly, if you make a habit of letting it go, life is a joy.  It destroys the stumbling blocks of anger, frustration, resentment, bitterness, and wariness that seem to place themselves right in your path. You have the opportunity every day to take offense, but it will be poison in your veins.  Forgiveness cleanses you, protects you, and so blesses others. Why not begin developing the habit? As with any habit, you will have to practice. Sometimes you may need to forgive the same thing many times, but it becomes easier and easier.

I spent a whole summer walking and forgiving.  It seemed all those things that had festered below the surface were brought up to my mind, like the cream rising to the top so it could be skimmed away. I learned to let it go, to skim it away. Some were easier than others, but I began to develop a pattern, and I began to learn to recognize the poison for what it was. Looking back, a lot of good doors opened after that summer. I think when those ugly thoughts aren’t dominating our thinking that we are so much more open to hearing God’s thoughts and good plans for us.

I still have to work at it at times, but life is so much better when I let it.

Judy DuCharme is an award-winning author of six books, with more coming soon. When she’s not writing in Wisconsin, she’s walking Florida’s sunny beaches, pondering her next story,

 

 

 

Seeing From A Sycamore

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Seeing From A Sycamore
by Malinda Fugate

 

The crowd was gathering and excitement was bubbling over. They’d heard all the stories, but now had the chance to see the miracle-worker with their own eyes. He was passing through their town today! No one wanted to miss him, so they filled the street as soon as they could, eagerly keeping an eye down the road to spy the first glimpse of this man and his companions. 

Zacchaeus, though just as anxious to see the visitor, had a problem. He had tolerated his short stature his entire life, and now it prevented him from getting any view of the street. Attempts at slipping between his taller neighbors failed as the crowd grew thicker. “Excuse me,” he requested- at first meekly and then with increasing frustration at being obviously ignored. And could he blame them? These were the people who avoided him every day, dreading their turn for tax collection. When the time came, it was Zacchaeus who had the power to take great sums from them, devastating their ability to feed their families. He might have been short-changed by height, but he made up for it in the ability to gain wealth and exert some amount of power over the townspeople. They saw his life of luxury while they struggled to meet basic needs and they despised him for it. But now, in this small way, the tables had turned. There was no law that said they must acknowledge him here. If he missed seeing the miracle-worker, the teacher who some said was the Son of God, well, that was what Zacchaeus deserved.

But Zacchaeus didn’t achieve his career goals by passively waiting for life to hand him wealth and success. He was a quick-thinker, a go-getter. Inspired, he ran up the street to the waiting shade of a sycamore. The sturdy branches were in reach, allowing Zacchaeus to practice a skill he hadn’t used since childhood. The scramble into the tree rewarded him with a much better view than anyone could find on the ground. And just in time! Over the heads of his loudly chattering neighbors, Zacchaeus saw the small group of men walking his way! So this was the miracle-worker at last! His name, Jesus, was on the lips of many crying out greetings and requests for help or signs from God.

As Jesus walked closer to the tree perch, he abruptly stopped. The crowd hushed, hoping to see something amazing. Zacchaeus nearly fell from his branch when Jesus looked up, straight at him! How was he visible among the leaves? How foolish must he look, sitting like a bird in a nest! Then Jesus spoke kindly, “Zacchaeus, come down from there. I must stay at your house today.”

And so began a transformation in Zacchaeus’ life. His encounter with Jesus changed everything and did not end with that moment on the street or the afternoon at home. No amount of wealth or power mattered compared to the kingdom of God, and Zacchaeus whole-heartedly wanted to right the wrongs he committed against his fellow man. And no amount of sin could keep Him from God’s love. The Son of God did not treat Zacchaeus with the scorn, contempt, or revenge he often received from the townspeople. Instead, Jesus honored Zacchaeus by sharing a meal, and then showed him acceptance and love.

“Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” (James 4:8-10 NIV)

When we draw near to the Lord, He will not ignore or reject us. He does not require a checklist of qualifications before we can approach Him. His love is not conditional, nor do our shortcomings, failures, flaws, or sins disqualify us from His salvation. He will welcome us into His kingdom with the same compassion He welcomed Zacchaeus. Though we might feel like we don’t fit in with our community, there is a place for us at God’s table. 

Dear friend, do not allow self-doubt to keep you from closeness with your Savior. Seek Him, take one more step towards His open arms, and find His unconditional love and He draws you closer to His heart.

 

Learn more about Malinda and her inspirational book, The Other 3:16s, a challenging study of faith in the Christian’s quest to understand the God of the Bible. 

Preparing Our Hearts and Homes to Celebrate Thanksgiving

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This is the first in a three-part series on preparing our hearts and homes for Thanksgiving. Dee Travis is the author of  Celebrate Life: Living to Serve God and Encourage Others as We Celebrate Life Together.

November is here and it makes me start to think about the holidays. I always feel bad because Thanksgiving it such a great holiday and it gets here so fast and then after one day….it’s over and Christmas bells are ringing. Just one day of thankfulness doesn’t do it for me. There is so much to see and do as we think about Thanksgiving approaching. How about taking the whole month of November to celebrate Thanksgiving with me?

Thanksgiving-PinterestStep into November by getting outside and looking for God’s goodness and bounty! His glory in creation can be seen everywhere in the fall! The trees are changing into a beautiful display of God’s canvas of red, orange and yellow! How about visiting a pumpkin patch or a farm during harvest of the crops. Take your kids or grandkids to an apple orchard and pick some crisp juicy apples. We live on a farm in rural Iowa so we get to see harvesting of corn and soybeans first hand. We also grow a ton of pumpkins for the grandkids to pick. God is so good to us! We have a few apple trees so one of our favorite traditions is picking apples and making fresh apple cider! Those times all makes me reflect on how good and faithful God has been to us throughout another year. Harvest time with the bounty He gives us through crops and food and nature’s beauty will help us prepare our hearts to thank and praise an Almighty God!

Try reading a Psalm every day during November! Every day is a gift from God so celebrate His goodness every day. Start with Psalm 100 and go through Psalm 136. Some are short so you will be able to combine a couple of chapters on certain days. I kind of think that the Psalms and Thanksgiving go together like turkey and pumpkin pie! Each day after you are done reading write down three different things you are thankful for so that you can look at them during the month and then read them all on Thanksgiving Day! Always be ready to give thanks to God for what He had done for us! God is always good and you are always loved.

One of the things I love to do every year in November is attend my grandchildren’s Thanksgiving program at school. It really makes me think about our 9781620205310country and how the first Thanksgiving Day was started. The Pilgrims came to America to be able to worship God freely. They set aside this special time at harvest to thank God for all He had done for them. (And it was probably more than just one day!) It is such a good example for us to follow! The pilgrims not only shared their food with the Indians but they also shared their faith in a mighty God. Our forefathers sacrificed a lot for the freedoms we enjoy today and for that I am truly thankful!

Well are you in? I hope you will start to prepare your heart all month long and this Thanksgiving may be the most blessed ever!

Preparing for Thanksgiving: Five Verses to Ready Your Heart

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This is the third in a three-part series on preparing our hearts and homes for Thanksgiving. Dee Travis is the author of Celebrate Life: Living to Serve God and Encourage Others as We Celebrate Life Together.

 

Psalm 100 is one of my favorite scripture to meditate on as we approach the Thanksgiving season. When I think about that first Thanksgiving I imagine the Pilgrims and Indians in 1621 gathering to thank God for a bountiful harvest.

Thanksgiving-PinterestBut long before that another group of people had set aside a time to celebrate God’s goodness. It was the children of Israel during the Feast of Booths. In the fall after crops were harvested, the people had a time of worshiping and thanking God for all He had done for them. They brought their offerings of Thanksgiving to the Lord. (Leviticus 23: 39-44)

Psalm 100 is a song of thanksgiving and praise to God that we can reflect on during this Thanksgiving.

Day 1   “Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth.” Psalm 100:1

Have you ever felt so thankful you just couldn’t keep quiet? Sometimes I just stand in awe of God’s handiwork in the things I see around me in His creation. Sometimes I just want to proclaim what an awesome God we serve! Everyone on the earth is admonished to praise His name because everyone benefits from God’s goodness! In Psalm 19:1-3 and Psalm 98:7-8 it says that all nature joins in to declare the glory of God and sing praises to His name. It is neat to imagine the rivers clapping and hills singing together for joy in praise to God.

Day 2 “Serve the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful singing.” Psalm 100:2

There is joy in serving Jesus! We can all serve Him whether we are young or old. Offer to teach a Sunday school class or volunteer to take a meal to someone or go visit someone who is in need of a friend. And sometimes the hardest thing is to do it with a happy heart. Many times we do something because we know we need to…. but our heart isn’t really in it. Having a joyful attitude comes from loving God and reading His word and spending time in prayer. With happy hearts we can use the talents God has given each one of us for serving Him not just during the holiday season but each and every day!

Day 3 “Know that the Lord Himself is God; It is He who made us and not we ourselves; we are His people the sheep of His pasture.” Psalm 100:3

God is the very one who created us. He knows us better than anyone. He know when we all overwhelmed or discouraged with so many things pulling at us in a hundred different directions during the holidays. That’s when we go to Him as His sheep and lie down in green pastures. (Psalm 23:2) Find that quiet spot and sit beside the still waters talk to God. He loves us and will restore our weary soul! He cares for us like a good shepherd and for that I am truly thankful.

Day 4 “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and bless His name.” Psalm 100:4

We are so blessed in this country to be able to go to church and worship God freely. Being thankful for God’s love will show in our actions as we enter into worship and praise with others who love Him too. I love to gather together with my church family during Thanksgiving and hear testimonies of God’s goodness and faithfulness and mercy. Bless His name for all he has done for us!

Day 5 “For the Lord is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting, and His faithfulness is to all generations.” Psalm 100:5

One of my favorite sayings is “God is always good and you are always loved”. What a great truth to know that the God of this universe loves us so much He was willing to send His Son to die and take the punishment for our sins. We simply have to believe and He gives everlasting life! (John 3:16) God’s lovingkindness is everlasting! He will love us forever!! And His faithfulness is to ALL generations! God daily loads us with so many benefits. God knows our needs and watches over us and never leaves us to fend for ourselves. He cares about us and will always do what is best for us. God is so good!

 

Thanksgiving is a time of celebration and a time to turn our thoughts to God and His word and realize how very blessed we are of Him. Every day is a gift that we have been given…so every day (not just at Thanksgiving) thank Him and praise His name!

Preparing for Thanksgiving: Welcome an Attitude of Gratitude

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This is the second in a three-part series on preparing our hearts and homes for Thanksgiving. Dee Travis is the author of  Celebrate Life: Living to Serve God and Encourage Others as We Celebrate Life Together.

I really enjoy our church Thanksgiving Eve service. My week has usually been hectic and I have a house that needs cleaned and food that needs to be prepared but nothing helps my “attitude of gratitude” more Thanksgiving-Pinterestthan this night! Everyone enjoys homemade pie and then we have an informal time of singing and testimonies. It is good for me to hear others thanking God for what He has done in their lives over the last year. For some it has been a difficult year with pain and sorrow but they are still praising God and that is so encouraging. Sometimes it is a child who gives a testimony and it doesn’t get much better than childlike faith! I always go home feeling blessed and thankful for my church family! If you don’t have a Thanksgiving service at your church maybe you can make a list of the ways God has been good to you over the last year. Then have your own testimony time by thanking Him for all He has done!

We can also welcome gratitude to God for all He has done and provided for us by doing something special for others! We have so much to be thankful for as Christians. We have a God who loves us and has provided a way for us to have a home in heaven through Jesus Christ. When we place our trust in Him we receive eternal life. We enjoy the freedom to worship God here in America. We also have warm homes to live in and an abundance of food to eat at our tables. Every day God has richly blessed us and that should make us willing to bless others.

Plan to take a traditional Thanksgiving meal to some elderly or needy people in your church or neighborhood. It would probably be easiest to plan your dinner before Thanksgiving. This is a great service for kids to be involved in. They will love helping and it is good for them to see that we love and care about others. You might also want to print out Psalm 100 and attach it to one of the food containers. Contact families ahead of time so they will know you are coming and be sure to spend a few minutes and visit with them as you deliver their Thanksgiving meal. I know it seems like a lot of work but everyone will receive a blessing!

And then there is Thanksgiving Day that we spend with family and friends. It might be the biggest test for our attitude of gratitude! Most people get together on Thanksgiving Day with those they love and friends they care about. We celebrate together on Thanksgiving Evening. If we know of a family who doesn’t have their family close we will ask them to come join us. Since some have already had turkey and stuffing and are a little “stuffed” themselves we just do appetizers. It seems to be a big hit at our house. I usually put out our Scrabble game and everyone is to make a word about something they are thankful for. Mostly the kids like to do it! Sometimes I have the grandkids draw something they are thankful for and we have to guess what it is! An active game time usually finishes or evening together. I am so blessed and Thanksgiving Day and every day is a good time to celebrate God’s goodness!

 

A Fresh Approach to New Year’s Resolutions

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A Fresh Approach to New Year’s Resolutions
by JJ Gutierrez

One of the most common traditions to kick off the beginning of a New Year is to create a resolution. A resolution is simply a personal decision to do or not do something.  It is an act of the will that often fails somewhere between January 1st and January 31st. Many New Year’s Resolutions include losing weight, eating healthier, saving money, making career changes, or spending more time with God.

I’ve never been a big fan of New Year’s Resolutions because they lacked success which usually left me feeling like a failure. Most likely it was due to my inability to “will” myself into accomplishing them. However, there is enormous value in re-evaluating life, setting goals and re-prioritizing at the start of each year. It’s a natural time of reflection and one I embrace fully.

Several years ago I decided to abolish this age-old custom that didn’t produce much fruit and replace it with something new. I decided to take a fresh approach that would actually help and not hinder my desire to follow God and achieve goals in the new year. This will be my fourth year practicing this new tradition and it has become one of my favorite end-of-the-year activities.

Creating a personal motto is my new annual tradition. I couldn’t be more excited to share this with you because it actually works! And it’s easy to make one of your own.

A motto is a short and very specific phrase that can easily be remembered and repeated.  It’s used to convey a message with few words. It is a quick, go-to phrase that becomes an over-arching theme.  Mottos are widely used for groups and organizations to draw attention to a cause, but a personal motto is for the individual.  It is useful for self-encouragement, a personal pep talk or to change bad thoughts into positive thoughts. Mottos supply courage and strength, and most importantly they can direct our attention back to God and remind us of our goals and priorities.

In my years of creating a motto, all of my sayings stemmed from an area of personal growth- a much needed character improvement or an attitude transformation that supported the work God was doing in my heart. By focusing on character and attitude development instead of willing myself to accomplish a New Year’s Resolution, I have found success. The self-will is weak and prone to temptation, but a motto can weave truth into our hearts all year long, producing lasting change.

Recently my husband, daughter and I moved to a brand new city.  We left behind family, friends, established networks, Bible studies and well-known routines.  Our new surroundings are unfamiliar and different. Nothing looks or feels the same and the temptation to want to replicate the old, familiar way of life is strong, but God has directed our path to something new. This year’s motto is in response to this recent change and I am excited by the perspective it will provide all year long.

My 2020 motto is Finding a New Normal. Each time life feels out of place or I am tempted to look back on what was I will whisper to myself, “I am finding a new normal.” Within these few words lies the power to renew my mind and redirect my thoughts back to truth. Instead of giving into feelings of awkwardness, loneliness or fear I am able to embrace the new path God is paving. It’s a reminder that feeling out of place is only temporary and that God is equipping me for the road ahead. I am also reminded of Noah after the flood, Abraham after leaving his country, and Paul after the road to Damascus…they too had to find their new normal.

If you’ve found little success with New Year’s Resolutions, then maybe it’s time to try a personal motto.  Always start with prayer.  Asking God for insight and direction is critical. He knows our heart better than we do (Psalm 139:1, Psalm 33:15) and we can trust Him (Psalm 9:10, Psalm 33:4).  Be open to areas of character growth, attitude adjustments or ongoing struggles. Focus on what is within your control. Many things are beyond our ability to govern so leave those out of your motto…you can’t do anything about them anyway. Scripture can be very useful for mottos too.  If you cannot think of one, adopting a Bible verse is a great place to start!

To learn more about JJ Gutierrez and her book Chickening IN: From Fear to Courageous Faith releasing March 24, 2020 visit HERE.

#MilesApart

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This devotional is an excerpt from the free two-week devotional for couples by Hope N. Griffin available at www.HopeNGriffin.com.

Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?”Hope Griffin
“Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.”
Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my Lord[e] have for his servant?”
The commander of the Lord’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.”
And Joshua did so.
— Joshua 5:13-15

Do you remember the story of Jericho? The one where they marched around the city in silence for six days and on the seventh day they blew their trumpets and the walls fell-down? Whenever I hear this story I can’t help but see Veggie Tales and think of the green-peas throwing insults at the Israelites.

The Israelites are victorious. But there is a small story before they march that is rarely discussed. I don’t mean Rahab, but rather this man who suddenly appears in Joshua 5 standing before Joshua with sword drawn. Joshua upon seeing this stranger simply asks are you with us or with the enemy. In other words, are you a threat or are you falling in line with our agenda? The man answers simply, “I’m not with you or them. I’m with God.”

I wonder how many times in life we are faced with the same confrontation. We get so busy defending our ground and drawing lines in the sand without stepping back and first asking “but are we on God’s side.”

Joshua humbly recognized that this battle was not his but the Lords. He responded appropriately and fell facedown in reverence identifying himself as being on God’s side. If he were not a humble man willing to listen more than command would he have had the humility to march in silence? Would he have trusted that God’s way was the right way?

Are you trusting that God’s way is the right way?

To learn more about Hope N. Griffin and her book Finding Joy: The Year Apart that Made Me a Better Wife, visit HERE.