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This summer has been hot, dry, and explosive. At home and abroad.

We have seen and heard horrific reports from Iraq and Syria. Brothers and sisters in Christ are losing their children, their homes, their possessions, and their lives because they chose to stand for Jesus Christ rather than bow down to the threats of men in black hoods, brandishing swords and guns. Heinous men who give no thought to slicing off the heads of babies, children, and adults who stand in their way or challenge their thinking. All for the demented thrill of obedience to an evil ideology. Men whose ungodly beliefs determine their criminal behavior.

This world is lost. Lacking understanding and wisdom. Deceived sheep with no shepherd. And time has run out for many and is running out for all of us.

Would you leave all you’ve worked for and go to the mountain to die for Jesus? You may well have to make that decision, and my heart twists and mourns for our nation and our people. A nation divided and far removed from the principles and precepts of God’s righteousness and His Holy Word. Because we’ve considered, condoned, and decided “it’s all good.” We don’t need God.

No, it’s not good. And we need God—desperately.

“Jesus said to them, ‘Is this not the reason you are mistaken, that you do not understand the Scriptures, or the power of God?’ (Mark 12:24 NAS).

* * *

I pulled into the parking lot and couldn’t tell which direction was North, East, South, or West. A series of twists and turns left me totally disoriented. The sun was high in the sky—no help there. Nothing looked familiar.

Just last week I considered, then rejected, a GPS System for my car and phone. I didn’t like the sound of the female guide’s voice on that stupid machine.

A small voice in my head whispered, “Get out of the car and ask directions.” But the neighborhood looked rough. Menacing looking people lurked on the curbs and in doorways of buildings. God says numerous times in the Word, “Do not be afraid.” But my hands were slick, my stomach knotted, and tears rimmed my eyes, ready to rush-in-a-gush.

Opening the console, for what must’ve been the twelfth time, I shuffled through the contents hoping a map would magically appear. I cried, “Oh Lord, give me something or someone to get me out of this mess and back on the right road.”

But isn’t that where most Americans live today—lost in life’s grungy parking lots, having rejected God’s GPS? Living a lie certain to bring death and separation from Him forever.

The church sat silent, while atheist Madalyn Murray O’Hare and her team of reprobates led a successful assault to have prayer and Bible reading removed from schools and Roe v. Wade made it legal for pregnant moms to kill their babies. And kill they have—over 55 million of them since 1973.

“So you shall not pollute the land in which you are; for blood pollutes the land and no expiation can be made for the land for the blood that is shed on it, except by the blood of him who shed it” (Numbers 35:33 NAS).

“So innocent blood will not be shed in the midst of your land which the Lord your God gives you as an inheritance, and blood-guiltiness be on you” (Deuteronomy 19:10 NAS).

But during the early ‘60’s these shadowy delinquents mounted a frontal assault on the principles and precepts our forefathers died for. Public schools became the battleground and our children the prize, while Situation Ethics, survival games, and other programs with varying names, taught the children “it was okay to do anything you wanted to do, if you have a good reason for doing whatever.” And we wonder why the horror of Combine repeats itself?

Sleazy politicians slid in and out of the shadows, serving special interest groups, while the Ten Commandments were snatched from our government buildings, courtrooms, schools, or any public facility. And drugs, immorality, social diseases, and lies took their place.

The past couple of years have seen references to Christmas sliced-and-diced in an attempt to make this holiday solely secular, with even an attempt to change the season’s name. Displays of the Christmas manger on government property are forbidden. And students are forbidden to mention Jesus name at football games or graduations.

Parents and churches ducked behind closed doors, never uttering a peep, consideringeducators and legislators surely knew best, while God and His Word were systematically banned.

For fifty plus years we’ve condoned radical education methods and educators rather than stand for righteous principles that made America one nation under God. And we’ve ended up with what Dr. James Dobson calls the “dumbing-down of America” and an attempt to force national acceptance of the federally funded rogue system Common Core.

This nation whose motto was “In God we trust,” has rejected God’s GPS. We don’t like His voice, His intolerance of unrighteousness, or His directions—they’re too straight and too narrow. We decided to take life’s scenic tour without Him. And now, when we cry to Him as a nation, He has turned his back on us. Do you wonder why?

Fifty years ago the nightly news would not have talked about or tolerated the broadcast of behavior that is called news today. Fifty years ago many of the actions classified normal and acceptable today would have been crimes. Fifty years ago parents raised children. Children didn’t raise parents.

But it’s take-to-the-bank certain, throughout the history of man considering and condoning have always greased the slippery descent into the pit of condemnation.

My mom repeated relentlessly, “Don’t pick friends with standards lower than yours. You won’t bring them up to your standards, they will drag you down to theirs.” And right along with that profound wisdom she advised, “Be careful! Water always seeks its own level.” In other words, water runs to the lowest point.

And the attitudes, actions, and allegiance of many children, teens, and adults of this generation prove her counsel to be correct. Birds of like plumage indeed hang together. And like bad diseases, they are contagious.

Americans have welcomed and embraced as normal values and beliefs they know are wrong. Homosexuality, sex trafficking, drug trafficking, abortion, same sex marriage, illegal immigration, pornography, spousal abuse, child abuse, legalized drugs, bribes, and gambling. And that’s just skimming the surface. Why? We don’t want to shake the boat, stand against the crowd, or be perceived as being politically incorrect.

Let me take this opportunity to affirm I am neither conservative, independent, nor liberal. Democrat or Republican. I live, act, and vote according to the principles and precepts of the Word of God as best I can. Am I a sinner? Yes. A sinner saved by the grace of the Lord God Almighty and the blood of my Savior, Jesus Christ.

But by silence or out-right acceptance we have, as a nation, condoned ungodly actions and people, allowing pagan practices to become the law of the land, and our children are confused. Our kids and our grandchildren have lost the ability to discern right from wrong because of our behavior. The lines have not just been blurred. They have been erased.

So what can we do—you and me?

Educate yourself on the issues. All of them. Don’t stick your head in the dunes. Educate yourself on every candidate. Decide who you will support. I would love to see a test given before citizens can become registered voters. Ignorance is defeat. And elections become a crap-shoot, a mockery, and a farce. Character matters. And perhaps God’s mercy will extend to us if we, in lock-step, put our shoulder to the wheel, return to God and follow His law as our forefathers did, so God can turn this battered ship called America around to walk in His ways.

Be informed and never miss an election. Voting is a privilege not a pain. Make yourself known to your city, state, and federal representatives. Phone calls, letters, emails, attend local meetings with those who represent you. Hold them accountable for votes they cast or their absence from a necessary vote. Otherwise they become divas, believing their press and elevating their status.

Refuse to participate in or allow your children to participate in organizations known to fund, support or agree with deviate practices. Let your hard-earned dollars speak. Don’t buy products from companies who support actions and organizations against your beliefs. Support businesses who claim the name of Jesus.

Challenge your church, your pastor, your teachers if they don’t teach and practice the absolute truths of the Word of God and loving the brothers and sisters. God tells us “judgment must begin at the house of God.” Just being a believer doesn’t give you or me a hall pass.

I’ve gotta wonder if ISIS has a conservative or liberal branch? Hmmm. Probably not. And gay rights and single parents aren’t recorded anywhere in their rule book. They kill the perpetrators—no testimony, no trial, just mutilated or dead.

Decide what you believe and know why you believe it. Remember I mentioned in the first few paragraphs—Your belief determines your behavior. Well, your doctrine determines your duty.

King Solomon said, “Behold, there is nothing new under the sun.”

And there sure isn’t. These same things were recorded several thousands of years ago in the nation of Israel. Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel screamed for the people to change directions, to slam on the brakes, toss away their false gods, and return to the Lord God Almighty.

The Book of Ezekiel records God giving this prophet a sneak-peek behind the scenes in the temple. Like many preachers today, the priests were participating in things of Satan. God finally had enough. His grace was done and He walked out of the temple in Jerusalem. Never to return, even to this day.

But one day He will return, in love to those who love and obey Him. But, in judgment for those who reject Him. God is not one dimensional. His character also requires justice, righteousness, and truth. And when these attributes are violated there must be condemnation and judgment

“And I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing; and I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:2-3 NAS).

This first week in September, 2014, America teeters on the precipice of God’s condemnation. Look at the droughts in the southwest. Floods and storms in the east and mid-America. Fires and earthquakes in the west. God’s warnings? Probably. But our betrayal of Israel may be the nudge over the cliff to our destruction. The road out of hell’s descent is still the same—Repentance—Being sorry enough to never rebel against Him again.

To know God is to love Him. And the only way to know Him is through the power of His Word and cleansing by the blood of His only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. God’s Protective System—GPS—is still available to those who repent and believe. But there will come a time, like with Israel, when God’s grace is done.

“The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin”(1 John 1:7 NAS).

God’s promises are the only truth. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9 NAS).

* * *

A soft-spoken old man, in dirty jeans and a Methuselah beard, walked toward my car and asked if I was lost. I said, “Yes sir.” He smiled and gave me directions to the nearest freeway. I thanked him and thanked God for him. Don’t know if he was an angel or someone God prompted to help this lost old woman. But I was grateful for his directions and followed them immediately.

How about you, I’ve given you the only sure directions out of the mess our nation is in. What will you do with these eternal truths? Will you stand and share them with others? Will you get on your knees and ask God to forgive, cleanse, and restore you? Will you follow Jesus, regardless of the cost—like those men, women, boys and girls in so many places in our world today—hiding, tortured, dying?

And remember: There could never be a heaven without a hell, And Jesus loves you enough to let you decide where you want to abide.

“And He said, ‘Write, for these words are faithful and true.’ And He said to me, ‘It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. He who overcomes shall inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son. But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death’ ” (Revelation 21:5b-8 NAS).

Longest Walk

dianegates:

Excellent post from my friend, Julie Cosgrove, written especially for my GriefShare friends during their long, dark, journey.

DiAne

Originally posted on Where Did You Find God Today?:

ID-100108485Infants become toddlers when they begin to, well, toddle. What parent hasn’t crouched down, arms extended and coaxed their wee one to inch towards them, one wobbly step at a time, then scooped them up and hugged them once their hands reconnected? It is necessary in the child’s development to crawl, toddle, walk and eventually run. We can’t carry them around until they are in their 30’s, can we?

In prayer, my mind pictured a toddler reaching out, unsure if it could walk.  Arms outstretched, it’s attention on it’s father’s beckoning hands, just three short steps away. A soft voice whispered, “Come. You can do it. Come. I’m here. Trust me.Try.”

Sometimes, I think God does carry us. But there are other times when He sets us down and backs away, just a few steps, so we will be enticed to walk towards Him. It is a test of faith and trust, but it also helps…

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DSCF6286Each year about this time caterpillars descend with a vengeance to devour my purple passion vines. They gobble leaves, stems, buds and blossoms and with a full tummy spin themselves DSCF6310into cocoons to await their metamorphosis into butterflies.

My yard has a zippety-do-da kinda feeling today. Splashes of orange, white, and black dance over my zinnias and roses, doing loopedy-looping circles of joy exhibiting their exuberant freedom.

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But do butterflies accomplish anything other than transmitting pollen and giving us a serendipity moment? Their transformation from worm to wonderful speaks to us about the transformation GodDSCF6347 longs to perform in our lives when we surrender to Christ and commit ourselves as bond-slaves to Him.

Other than fly and pollinate—what? What do butterflies do?

They’re pretty. Their flight patterns are exhilarating. They’re always hanging around beautiful flowers. But in essence, they are lightweights in God’s economy. This one wasn’t strong enough to DSCF6368overcome the prison of its confinement. They are creative miracles of life and laughter, but not longevity.

I wonder if God’s people are prone to concentrate on the lightweight, pretty part of living? Patterning ourselves to flitting around pretty people, picturesque piddling toward worship, and reciting presumptuous platitudes.

Yet not being truly transformed.

God has not called us to flutter along the breezes of life. He has called us to be bond-servants of the Lord Jesus Christ. DSCF5983Bond-servants whose purpose is to do the master’s bidding. Nothing more—nothing less. It’s a full-time, life-time job.

Images from Iraq this week have shown people in 2014 dying for their faith in God. Yet, I’ve read comments on FaceBook today from folks who refuse to look at these gruesome horrors. We don’t want to be confronted with the actuality of mothers throwing their babies off a mountain to die, rather than having them live to endure the torture that is certain to come at the hands of evil. We don’t want to see children beheaded. We don’t want to see the reality of the ugliness of life on a planet where the Prince of the Power of the Air rules.

Why?

We’ve grown so accustomed to pretty, clean, and easy we would do DSCF5984anything, serve anyone, even deny the Lord Jesus in order to maintain vanishing beauty, cover up our white-washed hearts, and disguise the lukewarmness of our faith.

Jesus said, “Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations on account of My name. And at that time many will fall away and will deliver up one another and hate one another” (Matthew 24:9-10 NAS).

He instructed us to stand firm in the faith ‘til He comes and said, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24 NAS).

If we choose to live our few years as butterfly Christians doesn’t that make us those folks He refers to in Revelations? Christ said, “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I would that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth” (Revelation 3:15-16 NAS).

But you say, “I live in the USA. What can I do to help people in Syria, Iraq, and other places around the globe? The answer is simple. If we don’t stop them there, they will soon be among us. Then how will you stop them?

First of all, pray diligently. Not just an adult rendition of “now I lay me down to sleep,” before you collapse comatose on your cushy Sleep Number. Brothers and sisters in Christ are being slaughtered. How will you justify your actions and reactions to those saints and to their Lord in that day?

Write, call, email your congressional representative to demand our government ceases to lag behind the curve. Ceases to send multiplied millions of our tax dollars to countries who persecute, torture, and kill Christians. And ceases to do business with nations who perpetrate violence against its own citizens.

Deprive yourself—of meals out, Starbucks, entertainment so you can contribute to organizations like Samaritan’s Purse. Organizations with boots on the ground relieving physical pain. Organizations who teach the truths of the Word of God—bond servants for the cause of Christ.

Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me” (Matthew 25:40 NAS).

DSCF2349So, dear one, are you a caterpillar, a butterfly, or a bond-servant. Your actions and reactions count for eternity.

Whatever channel you watch, I’m sure you’ve watched the unending flow of illegal immigrants over our southern borders. My husband and I live in Texas and I can assure you this is a real and troubling problem for all Americans. But, as a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ and in the principles and precepts of God’s Word, I’ve struggled aligning my feelings against the plumb line of the Word.

‘Til our LifeSavers Edit group last Saturday.

Thomas Jefferson said, “A nation without borders, is not a nation.” We must pray for our leaders. These are difficult issues. And without God’s help we will not make righteous decisions.

Author and friend, Kathie Melville, wrote the following article of her journey and has agreed to share with us. Kathie and her husband are volunteers with Texas Baptist Men. Please welcome my friend to the blog this week.

CHILDREN CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE

The disaster relief organization called “Texas Baptist Men” sent an email to me, a TBM volunteer, in May 2014 describing an unusual job assignment or call-out. Homeland Security requested assistance from TBM with a crisis not yet known by the general public. Overwhelmed with the influx of young children who had crossed the Texas border without parents, the border personnel needed a way to provide showers, clean clothes and oral hygiene essentials for hundreds of children.

TBM assignments normally come in response to a natural disaster–something no one could have prevented. But these children? Away from mothers and fathers? Couldn’t this have been avoided? When the call-out came, I didn’t want to go. Please leave me out of such a mess!

But visions of tired, dirty and frightened children invaded my mind. The communication noted a preference for women to serve. Many of the girls suffered sexual abuse by men during their travels and needed a woman’s gentle touch. Reports of preschool children wrenched my heart as I pictured young children sent from their homes to travel without parental protection or comfort.

Politics and questionable parenting ceased to matter when I thought about the children. They needed to know Jesus loves them just as I know He loves me. Isn’t that what Jesus commanded? As James 1:27 states: “religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress” (NIV). Although, possibly not literal orphans, these children were essentially parentless and in distress. I knew in my heart I had to go.

Our TBM van entered through a gate and passed brick walls topped with curls of barbed wire. Reminders these children lived in a jail facility because they had broken the law. Two TBM shower unit trailers sat in the hot sun on the grassy grounds outside the buildings. Little tents provided shade over the line of white plastic chairs where the children would wait for their turn to take a shower and brush their teeth.

A group of girls walking in line, soldier fashion, followed a female border guard out of the building and sat down in the row of chairs by the shower unit as the interpreter gave them instructions. My limited Spanish became a source of frustration as I wanted so much to converse with them. Our smiles and quick responses to their needs helped them relax and smile back. Many said “thank you” and smiled their appreciation as we assisted them. One girl told the interpreter she had been traveling for nine months. Another said she hadn’t bathed or brushed her teeth in fifteen days.

As the day progressed, groups of boys came out. One little boy could barely reach over the sink to brush his teeth and sprouted a white toothpaste beard. Our laughter brought smiles to otherwise somber faces. Others came out of the shower stall holding up pants too big for them. We had to go back to the piles of clothes and hope to find smaller pants.

The dirty clothes on their back comprised the total of each child’s personal belongings, although, one small child had a couple of tiny dinosaur toys in his pocket. Those clothes had to be washed, but surrendering them to us after they showered and dressed in donated clothes sometimes brought tears. We promised to give them back after they were washed and dried, but the children often left for another location before they received back their own clothes.

My fellow workers and I wondered how parents could release their beautiful children to travel so far without them, risking disease and danger on their way. What kind of situation would move a parent to such desperate measures?

We were not allowed to take pictures and only our leaders saw the children in their crowded cells. I pictured around twenty children in a small jail cell and didn’t like what I visualized.
Lice and scabies are almost impossible to control in such tight quarters. Our job expanded to include lice and scabies treatments. The TBM volunteer nurse sobbed when she told us the girls with lice must have their hair cut short. Sheared locks of thick, ebony hair added to the growing loss of personal possessions and home.

On the last day we worked, I watched the final group of children walk away toward the border guards. Tears filled my eyes as I remembered combing out some of the girls’ hair and telling them “Jesus te ama.” I remembered how my heart filled with a joyful sadness seeing their tears when they opened their hearts to God’s love. I remembered when I heard their sweet “gracias,” and felt their hugs.

Though exhausted from the long, hot work and anxious to return home, I thought, what now? What will happen to them now? What are they going to do without us?

We worked long hours for several days in over 90-degree heat and slept on the floor of a small church. Did it matter? Yes, it matters for eternity to children who responded to the Gospel shared with them by our interpreters.

Is the control of our borders a crisis? Yes, it is. Should the flow of illegal border crossings be stopped? Yes.

But there must be compassion for children caught in the middle. God allowed the flow of alien children to happen. Maybe our fears of going to Central America, because of dangerous criminal activity in those countries, resulted in God sending them to us? Could it be that He knows it’s an opportunity for some of these children to meet Jesus and become members of His family? During the eighteen days TBM provided aid to these children, ninety-three of these precious ones accepted Christ as their Savior and became my little brothers and sisters in Him.

Whether the children go back to Central America or stay, we must choose how to relate to them while they are here. Will it be with anger or compassionate love? Which response has God extended to you?

“The Lord watches over the alien and sustains the fatherless and the widow…” (Psalm 146:9 NIV).

“From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live” (Acts 17:26 NIV).

Kathie Melville is a teacher, writer, mother, and grandmother. She is an active member of North Texas Christian Writers and The LifeSavers, an adult edit group. Her devotionals appear in the Secret Place.

LOST TREASURE

My husband and I celebrated my birthday this past Saturday with a trip to Cleburne, the theatre, and dinner with friends. Relaxed and content, Dick and I climbed into the car, ready to enjoy our long ride home.

About fifteen miles out of Cleburne I reached to adjust my glasses. My hand brushed the side of my ear and panic swept through me like a down-draft. “It’s gone.” I shouted and rubbed my ear lobe.

“What’s gone?” Dick jammed on brakes, swerved, and pulled to the side of the road.

“My new earring.” I wailed. “I’ve lost my earring.”IMG_5903

“How? Where?” Dick glared at me like I’d lost my mind.

“If I knew where it wouldn’t be lost.” My mind raced back to Cleburne and I mentally retraced my steps. I had the earrings on DSCF5959at dinner. One friend had voiced how lovely they were. How would I ever be able to tell Lisa and Michael.

Our daughter-in-law is the best gift-picker-outer ever. She and my son had sent two pair of unique, creative silver earrings fromDSCF4389 the Kennedy Center in Washington for my birthday, just last week. This was the first time I had worn my beautiful gift.

“Dear God,” I breathed. “Please help me find my earring.”

“Why don’t you call the restaurant and see if anyone found them,” Dick said.

A short phone call brought discouraging news—no earring found.

“Honey, would you mind going back?” I knew my request meant we would be late arriving home. Too late to watch Dick’s Nascar race. And, it might be a useless trip. Still, I had to return to search for my treasured gift of love.

We parked in the same spot we left forty-five minutes earlier and retraced our steps between the car and the restaurant. I walked through the parking lot, my eyes scanning every inch of black asphalt. Remembering I had hugged a friend goodbye before we walked to our car, I stepped onto the sidewalk right where we had left the couple. I looked down.

The earring lay on the cement, right where it must have fallen.

Relief and joy replaced the weight of despair as I snatched and held up the recovered treasure for my sweet husband to see.

His eyes widened and a smile spread across his face. “DiAne, you have got to be one of the most…”

I interrupted, “…blessed.” I said.
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He hugged me. “Yes, dear, blessed.”

As we drove home, an enormous moon topped the horizon and I thought of the scripture where Jesus tells of the Shepherd who loved His sheep so much He left the ninety-nine obedient sheep to go search for one lost lamb.

The earrings were gorgeous and a wonderful gift, but the givers of my gift are the objects of my love. She loved me enough to DSCF4399pick out jewelry she knew I would enjoy and my love for my son and daughter-in-law caused me to search for my lost present.

In just that way, the Greatest Gift-Giver of the Universe offers each one of us His mercy, His grace, and His forgiveness. Forever. A priceless gift of love purchased with the blood of His only Son. And we risk losing that priceless treasure when we run from His amazing love. Why?

I rehearsed the scripture again. And remembered a time when I strayed because I was rebellious and lost. Lost in the false DSCF3352thrill of doing my own thing. But Jesus sought and found me. Forgave me. Restored me to a relationship with Him, because He loved me enough to take my punishment—death. And give me life—new life in Him.

How about you? How long have you been running? Lost and alone, running from the Father who loves you? The Shepherd is searching.

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You are His treasure and He takes pleasure hearing the sound of your voice. Why not cry out for His help today and come home? His arms are open wide. Waiting just for you.

“I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. He who is a hireling, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, beholds the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep, and flees, and the wolf snatches them, and scatters them. He flees because he is a hireling, and is not concerned about the sheep. I am the good shepherd; and I know My own, and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep” (John 10:11-15 NAS).

WORLD BLOG TOUR

In this enormous Cyberspace World it’s increasingly obvious we are but wisps in the wind. I pound the keyboards each week and fling my words into the airwaves of the universe to land where they may.

Last week I received an exciting invitation from friend and author, Julie B. Cosgrove, to join this blog tour of recommended artists, writers, creative Christian minds. The purpose? To help you find authors whose words tickle a lasting harmony along the chords of your heart.

Each one of us is to answer four questions for you, so here goes:

1. What am I working on?
Always on the ADHD side, I’m never working on one thing. Brain’s just not wired that way. Arnold, the Ant Who Didn’t Want to Be an Ant, I’ve written and illustrated for elementary ages or is the perfect book to read with your grandchildren. Arnold is a mischievous ant I met some years back. He learns to be content being just what God created him to be—an ant. But is was a rough ride to get there. And he will be coming to a bookstore near you soon.

I am finishing the last set of edits (notice I didn’t say the final edits) on my middle-grade manuscript Roped and will be seeking an agent and publisher. Roped is action/adventure about two Texas rodeo teens. Their unusual sport reveals all pre-teens face the same problems. Plus a few horrors hiding in life’s murky shadows.

Three weeks ago I typed the first few chapters of my WIP The Scarlet Cord. These words have been playing ping pong in my head for four years and will be the stories of folks who’ve been through the loss of a loved one and found the comfort of God at GriefShare.

2. How does my work differ from others of my genre?
Well, I’m an artist, as well as a writer, and tend to look at stories like a painting—in shades and hues of brilliant colors and deep, dark blacks. The fact I’m older than dirt gives me a different perspective on life’s issues. My husband just calls me different. Very, very different. Hmmm.

3. Why do I write what I do?
When I was fifteen I won a writing contest with a short article entitled The Basis of a Great Nation Is A Christian Home. And these years later I’ve come to realize how profound my topic was—then and now. You can’t teach what you don’t know. That’s why so many of our young people have no clue about God’s Word—Mom and Dad don’t know. My purpose is to teach both, one spoonful at a time. One life lesson at a time. One hardship and loss at a time.

4. How does my writing process work?
I’m what is fondly referred to as a seat-of-the-pants writer. And that’s my modes operandi for life—God gives the idea, I shift into gear and push the pedal to the floor. Yeehaaa! I make organized and sane people crazy. Having been a legal secretary for years, my fingers fly as fast as my thoughts. Then the real work begins—editing. And editing. And more editing. But that first draft is sheer delight. At least for me. My edit group? Not so much.

Julie B. Cosgrove’s blogsite, Where Did You Find God Today?— will help you focus on the many ways God is constantly involved in our lives, constantly teaching, constantly loving each one of us. I invite you to visit her site. And, if you like her writing as much as I do, click on “follow” to automatically receive her posts each week. You will also find a list of her books now available at your local bookstore.

Please meet my friend and author, John Tourney. AdobePhotoshopExpress_15d775caca034386bd325f82b65f2c91_jpg
Author and CAD Technician for a pharmaceutical, John Turney graduated from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio with a Bachelors in Fine Arts. While attending college, he took several writing classes. After graduation, he entered the Engineering field as a drafter when pencils and paper were still used. As a writer, he has published articles in eZines, devotionals, and several stories in the Splickety Magazines. His first novel, Innocent Blood: Equinox of Reckoning, came out in 2013. In August, his second novel Whiskey Sunrise, will be in a bookstore near you.

SLICED AND DICED

Peach time in Texas and the trees are loaded! Friday the 4th I picked twenty pounds, took them home and sliced and diced them for the freezer. DSCF5793And yesterday evening I took two friends back with me and we picked fifty pounds of yummy, organically grown, reddish delights.

I selected each peach and carefully plucked and placed the fuzzy fruit in my bag. But, in spite of careful handling, some peaches arrived in my kitchen blemished and bruised.

Grabbing my soup pot I brought water to a boil, filled the sink with ice water, preparing to slip the skins off and slice the fragrant beauties. To my horror, the peaches were wormy. Little white, yucky worms had burrowed holes clear to the seed, leaving portions of the flesh brown and mushy.

Now my Mama was never into canning and freezing or gardening—the food kind. So I learned from the cooking channel, recipe books, and trial and error. And in my younger, stupid years, I would have pitched the whole lot of peaches in the garbage.

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But as I stood at the sink this afternoon, I recalled a memorable lady who taught me to value food God provided.

Her name was Mildred McWhorter and she operated two mission centers in Houston’s inner-city. Along with several friends, I worked at the missions a day or two a week. We picked up bread from a local grocery store and transported it to the missions to be given away. When the lady in charge of store donations learned where the bread was going we found much, much more than bread in our baskets—detergent, rice, beans, and even an occasional toy or doll. The donations grew until we needed two cars to haul this marvelous provision from God.

One morning Kathy and I were unloading a super-sized car-full of goodies when I heard Mildred’s voice bellowing above the sounds of the city. “Well, you certainly don’t love your baby if you can’t take thirty-minutes to listen to God’s Word.”

I turned toward the mission entrance where she stood with this enormous man. Now Mildred was no small woman, but he dwarfed her. The man shook his head and mumbled something we couldn’t hear, but by the expression on his face we knew he was angry. Very angry.

In her booming out-door voice Mildred retorted, “No. No lesson from the Word—No diapers or formula.” She didn’t flinch.

The man turned in a rage, jumped in his car, and screamed insults at her all the way down the street.

Kathy and I were frightened, but when he left we questioned Mildred about the wisdom of sending him away empty-handed. “Should we feed the body and ignore the soul?” With her hands firmly planted on her hips, she glared first at me then at Kathy.

“No ma’am,” we whispered.

“If your child was hungry would you do everything in your power to get them food?” Her glare demanded an answer.

“Yes ma’am,” we replied in unison.

“And anyone with a hungry, messy baby would too. He didn’t want the food for a baby. He was going to sell it on the corner. How could I stand before God to answer why I fed his body, but not his soul?”

She turned abruptly as one of the volunteers dumped several huge bags of potatoes in a can to be taken to the dumpster. And in the same verbose voice bellowed, “What do you think you’re doing?”

The woman froze. Kathy and I were grateful we were not the object of attention of this courageous woman of God.

Mildred took the can and turned to all the helpers. “God provides everything we give others at this mission,” she said. “How arrogant we would be to throw food He provided in the garbage when it’s perfectly good—just because we’re lazy?” She reached down and picked out several potatoes and held them up for us to see. “Yes, there are a few bad spots.” She twisted them in her hand then handed them to the woman. “Cut out the bad spots,” she ordered.

I’ve never forgotten her words.

Those who came to the Mildred McWhorter Mission Centers knew they were going to receive spiritual as well as physical food. And those who came heard the Word of God. Many became brothers and sisters in Christ and God turned their lives around.

As I stood slicing wormy peaches this afternoon, I heard Mildred’s voiceDSCF5787 and remembered the lesson. And I determined once again, not to be lazy. I cut out the bad spots and preserved the good fruit.

And that’s what the Lord Jesus gives us the strength to do in our lives when we receive Him as Savior and Lord. He gives us the power of the Holy Spirit to cut the bad spots out of our lives—blemishes of addictions, adultery, divorce. Worm holes of pride, idol worship, greed, and covetousness. And bruises caused by lack of forgiveness, rebellion, and anger. Any and all sins of our flesh and our spirit. So our lives can produce good fruit to the glory of God.

Church, we are required to be a holy bride, without spot or blemish. A bride set apart for Christ.

My beautiful bags of delicious, de-wormed peaches wait in the freezer to be DSCF5786transformed into ice cream, pies, cobblers, and smoothies. And they will be gone before next year’s crop. But my de-wormed heart and soul will survive for all eternity.

“The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence. Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all transgressions” (Proverbs 10:11-12 NAS).

“…from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water? Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Neither can salt water produce fresh. Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom” (James 3:10-13 NAS).

 

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