When Times Get Tough…Remember By: Sharon Jaynes

When Times Get Tough…Remember. Sharon Jaynes

Today’s Truth

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart(Luke 2:19 NIV).

Friend to Friend

Have you ever thought about what Mary, the mother of Jesus, must have experienced at the foot of the cross? We don’t have a lot of information about what was going on in her heart, only that she was there — standing below her precious flesh-torn, blood drenched, and physically battered Son.

We do know she heard the hammer hit the nails, saw the Roman spear pierce His side; felt the labor of His breathing. As His heart burst, her chest ached. For six hours she watched him die.

Pierced. How perfectly that word described her at this moment. The sword that had hung over her head for 33 years now pierced her heart.

It must have seemed like an eternity since a symphony of angels announced his birth. On that day a cacophony of accusers hurled insults and accusations.

“Crucify him!” the savage rabble demanded.

“He could save others but he can’t save himself,” the burly soldiers taunted.

Where are those angels now, she must have thought. If she could have peered into the spiritual realm, she would have found them hovering low, silent in full armor array.

It is difficult to envision God’s presence surrounding the tragedies in our lives. Somehow the two don’t seem to be able to co-exist in our minds. It is almost incomprehensible to picture angles standing by while mere humans taunted and tortured the Son of God.

What do we do when life doesn’t make sense? We remember. Mary remembered.

Mary remembered Gabriel’s announcement.

Mary remembered Elizabeth’s welcome.

Mary remembered Joseph’s dreams.

Mary remembered the shepherd’s arrival.

Mary remembered the Magi’s gifts.

Mary remembered Simeon’s prophesy.

Mary remembered Anna’s words.

Mary remembered the 12-year-old boy in His Father’s house.

Mary remembered the water transformed to wine.

Mary remembered the miracles.

Mary remembered the teaching.

Mary remembered the healings.

Mary remembered.

After the shepherds’ visit in the stables that first Christmas evening, Luke tells us, “Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19). No doubt her thoughts returned to that treasure chest of memories for the reassurance she so needed. The events of Jesus’ life slipped through her mind like beads on a string with the knot of faith tied securely in the end.

And friend that is what we must do.

The Bible tells us that in Christ “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3). When we treasure God’s Word in our hearts, just as Mary did in hers, it calms the waves of doubt during the storms of life. The storm may not be removed, but God’s Word will help us to hold steady as the difficulties of life toss us to and fro.

Let’s Pray

Dear Heavenly Father, as life tosses me to-and-fro, help me to remember. Help me to remember Your promises. Help me remember the ways You have blessed me in the past. You are my Rock, my Redeemer, and my Restorer. And though I may not always understand, I know that Your ways serve a greater purpose in my life than I may ever know.

In Jesus’ Name,


Sometimes I Talk Too Much By: Lysa Terkeurst

OCTOBER 29, 2015

Sometimes I Talk Too Much LYSA TERKEURST

“The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.” Proverbs 18:21 (NLT)

I have some opinions.

I have some thoughts.

I have a plethora of words that beg to be spoken.

And if I’m not careful those words can be too much. Maybe you can relate.

Unchecked words that come too fast bring with them a rush of trouble. That’s why it’s important for us to consider three things with our words …

  1. Listening should take precedence over speaking.

Honestly, I think a lot of relationship troubles could be solved if we made the commitment to listen more than we speak. Gosh this is hard, isn’t it? Sometimes when I’m listening to someone all I can focus on is when I’m going to be able to jump in and say what’s screaming in my brain. Later I realize all that focus on my next words prevented me from really listening to what they were trying to say.

What if I made the commitment today to do more listening than speaking? I’m going to challenge myself to not interrupt. Wait until there is a true pause in the conversation. Truly consider what the other person has said. And then respond with care.

“To answer before listening — that is folly and shame.” Proverbs 18:13 (NIV)

  1. Words should be measured.

I need to engage my brain before I engage my mouth. Just like I consider how a purchase will affect my bank account, I have to consider how words will affect my relationship account. I can do this by thinking about how my words will come across and intentionally asking myself if there are better words that could be used in this situation?

“Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions.” Proverbs 18:2 (NIV)

  1. Once words are spoken, I can’t un-speak them.

Once words come out of my mouth I can’t gather them back in. It’s like once you squeeze too much toothpaste out, you can’t get it back into the tube. Now certainly, I can quickly say I’m sorry. I can ask for forgiveness. I can attempt to make the wrong right. But I can’t un-speak my words.

“The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.” Proverbs 18:21

If my greatest desire is to honor the Lord with every word I say and interaction I have, these three things are crucial for me to keep in mind. Instead of allowing my flesh reactions to lead me, I’ve got to boss my thoughts and opinions around using God’s Truth.

Dear Lord, I always want my words to reflect the fact that You live within me. But sometimes my first reaction isn’t as God-honoring as it should be. Help me to keep these three perspectives in mind as I deny my flesh response and follow Your teaching in this. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY: Proverbs 10:19, “Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues.” (NIV)

Galatians 5:16-17, “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.” (NIV)

Operation Purge By: Mary Southerland

Operation Purge Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you (Luke 6:38, NIV).

Friend to Friend

I am on a mission. I have been thinking about and carefully planning every step of this mission for over a year. I have gathered the required supplies, notified all parties concerned, issued warnings, and marked strategic dates on my calendar.

It is “Go” time for Operation Purge!

I am systematically purging our home of every unnecessary, unused, or no longer wanted item. My husband is on board as well. Just to be safe, I said, “Honey, if you really, really want to keep something, it would be wise to put a yellow sticker on it, or it is outta here!” I think the gravity of Operation Purge began to dawn on him at that moment, but he solemnly nodded his head in agreement.

Operation Purge is going to be brutal! Why? One reason is that I am simply over “stuff.” We have moved and downsized three times in the last ten years, so I know how to eliminate and donate. Operation Purge goes far beyond anything I have done so far.

God has called me on the carpet and convicted me of the truth that if something is no longer serving a purpose in our lives, it could very well be meeting a need in the life of someone else.

Take my Coca-Cola dishes. At one point in my life, I was an avid collector of all things Coke. Part of my collection was an eight place setting of ceramic Coca Cola dishes. Our family used them for a couple of years until I got tired of them and moved on to something new. I carefully packed the dishes and stored them in our attic. We moved those very heavy boxes of dishes three times without using them. Never unpacked them. Just moved them.

During a spring-cleaning frenzy, I found the dishes and realized I did not want them anymore and certainly did not want to move them one more time. Neither did our son and daughter. So I gave them to our church thrift store that sells just about anything you could imagine to help fund our mission work in downtown Kansas City.

A few weeks later, a friend who works in one of our missions said, “I have a story to tell you about those Coca Cola dishes. We gave them to a woman who is a single mom. She has worked very hard to complete our program and get a job. When she was ready to move into her first apartment with her three children, we told her she could have the set of dishes you donated. She burst into tears and told us it was the first set of dishes she had ever owned in her life.”

My possessions are nothing more than resources loaned to me by God for me to disperse. They are not earned rewards or deserved pleasures. Every spiritual gift, every financial resource and each possession has been given to me by God as a way to serve others.

“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others” (I Peter 4:10, NIV).

I have said it before and I will say it again. I want to live my life with open hands, dusty feet, calloused knees, and rolled-up sleeves. I want to be a generous giver. I may not have much money, but I can give what I have.

Let Operation Purge begin!

Let’s Pray

Father, thank You for reminding me that what I have is temporary but that who I am is eternal. Give me a heart that loves to give. I pray that others would see You in the way I give myself away in service and that I would never count on earthly possessions for the peace and contentment only You can give.

In Jesus’ Name,


Your Life Can Display God’s Power By: Tracie Miles

Your Life Can Display God’s Power TRACIE MILES

“‘It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,’ Jesus answered. ‘This happened so the power of God could be seen in him.’” John 9:3 (NLT)

Have you ever wondered why God allows you to suffer? Was it something you did wrong? Or was someone else at fault? We want to find someone to blame, especially when so much bad happens in our world.

I struggle with these thoughts as well, but years ago God’s Word helped me see a different perspective. Jesus’ disciples had these same questions, and John chapter 9 records Jesus’ interesting response.

Jesus and His disciples were walking through the streets of a city when they encountered a blind man. One of the disciples asked Jesus why the man was blind: “As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. ‘Rabbi,’ his disciples asked him, ‘why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?’” (John 9:1-2, NLT)

Jesus lovingly put their confusion to rest with today’s key verse, “‘It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,’ Jesus answered. ‘This happened so the power of God could be seen in him’” (John 9:3).

I imagine the disciples standing there, looking perplexed by Jesus’ answer. How could this man’s blindness display the power of God? How could this physical infirmity bring glory to God? How could his life serve a higher purpose?

The passage continues, “Then he spit on the ground, made mud with the saliva, and spread the mud over the blind man’s eyes. He told him, ‘Go wash yourself in the pool of Siloam’ (Siloam means ‘sent’). So the man went and washed and came back seeing!” (John 9:6-7, NLT)

The blind man’s sight was completely healed, but notice that his healing wasn’t immediate. He wasn’t healed when Jesus spat on the mud and smeared it on his eyes, but only after he obeyed what Jesus instructed him to do.

The blind man was healed when he chose to obey the command of Jesus to “go.” Without questioning or hesitating, the man went and his obedience resulted in not only healing, but discovering a holy purpose from his pain.

Like many, this man had been suffering with undeserved physical and emotional challenges for decades. He may have lived his entire life feeling inferior, unloved, rejected, excluded and possibly believing he had no purpose. He may have also assumed his past and his current limitations rendered him useless. After all, he didn’t have any special skills or qualifications … or even eyesight.

But here stood Jesus, telling everyone this man’s life could serve as proof of the power of God. But it only happened because of obedience.

Unlike the blind man in this story, we often talk ourselves out of obedience, rather than trusting and obeying God’s command to “go.” But when we walk in faith, even when we don’t feel ready and have to push through our doubts, fears and hesitations, true healing and purpose can begin to take shape in our hearts and lives.

We don’t always get answers to why something happened. But regardless of our circumstances or our limitations, when we choose to take a leap of faith, we too can experience true spiritual healing and see a new perspective about our past for the very first time.

What a wonderful world this would be if we all caught a glimpse of how God wants to turn our pain into purpose and use our lives as proof of His power.

Lord, I want my life to serve as proof of Your goodness. Fill me with courage and motivation to go and share with others what You have done for me. Show me how You can turn my pain into purpose and make my life count for You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY: Romans 8:28, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” (NLT)

Psalm 119:60, “I will hasten and not delay to obey your commands.” (NIV)

Unwanted Change in Your Life By: Kristen Strong

SEPTEMBER 15, 2015

Unwanted Change in Your Life KRISTEN STRONG

“The LORD had said to Abram, ‘Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you …’ So Abram went, as the LORD had told him.” Genesis 12:1-2a, 4a (NIV)

I stand in the kitchen, lost in the rhythm of dinner preparation, while singing with a tune sauntering from the radio. Suddenly, an offbeat percussion noise invades my peaceful space as it bounces around the house. I quickly move to the window to see if it’s what I think it is. Sure enough, nickel-sized hail pings everything, like a drumbeat set to the tune of destruction.

I fly out the door to bring my potted plants toward protection. But it’s not ‘til the storm leaves and the hail melts that I see the full extent of the damage.

Flourishing flowerbeds have been reduced to flower shrapnel. The potted arrangements fared better because I brought them in mid-storm, but many petunia and geranium stems stand stark naked, their foliage in limp piles on the Miracle-Gro dirt.

Commence yours truly throwing a fit big enough to make any toddler proud. I stomp my feet and shout, “It’ll take a miracle to get these flowers back to the way they were!”

This is one change I could do without.

If you’re like me and have spent much of life viewing unwanted change with crossed arms and stomping feet, you might see it like a devastating hailstorm. Just when your life is settled and moving along well, something comes along and damages much that is beautiful within it.

The man who was supposed to stay, left. The place that was “home,” is no longer your address. The boss you showed your best work to, showed you the door.

A monumental moment fell into your life, and it stands like a stone in your pathway blocking your contentment. Within the darkness of your fears, you think, “It’ll take a miracle to get things back to the way they were.”

As a longtime Air Force wife, my life played to the soundtrack of change. Just when I got used to something — our location, local friends, my husband’s schedule — things would be shaken and rearranged, and I’d have to get used to something different. I spent years fighting this reality until one day I felt the Lord ask me to change my prayers from God, remove this change from my life to a new perspective:God, remove my attitude toward this change.

Sometimes, a girl has to find a new song to sing. I needed new lyrics to redirect my attention from my fears to the faithful promises of God, like the one found in Genesis.

In Genesis 12, when God asks Abram to leave his home for a new, unfamiliar land, He gave Abram a promise to hold onto during the weary transition. A promise to bless Abram through the change. And you know what? God does the same for you and me as He did for Abram.

If God is sending you to a new place, He’s sending you with a promise of blessing.

Perhaps the best thing you and I can do is, like Abram, obey God by leaning into the change rather than fighting it.

Whether you experience transition under your feet, in your heart, or both, the Lord is using it for you, not against you. He is bringing you to a new place for the purpose of blessing you. We can trust change is not a life hindrance, but a life occurrence acting as a stepping-stone toward God’s best for us.

It’s more than OK to mourn the loss change brings. But as we do, may we also remember that change is not the end. A new song, sung to the tune of God’s promises and to the steady rhythm of His grace, is the blessing to find as a result.

Dear Father, thank You that while unwanted change is a surprise to me, it’s not a surprise to You. Thank You for being my safe place where I can share my fears about this change. Help me to believe that if You’re allowing something I never fathomed into my life, it’s because You’re working something unfathomably good for me through it. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY: Romans 9:33, “God warned them of this in the Scriptures when he said, ‘I am placing a stone in Jerusalem that makes people stumble, a rock that makes them fall. But anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.’” (NLT)

Galatians 3:29, “And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you.” (NLT)

Forgiving the Unforgiveable By: Sharon Jaynes

Forgiving the Unforgivable Sharon Jaynes

Today’s Truth

Forgive as the Lord forgave you (Colossians 3:13 NIV).

Friend to Friend

Trish Campbell’s life was bursting with promise. It was Friday, June 27, and her son, Wayne, was home from Camden South Carolina Military Academy. The 16-year-old cadet had just received his driver’s license and a new truck. In just four days, Trish would be marrying Teddy and then honeymooning on an Alaskan cruise. Life was good.

Wayne had plans to spend the weekend with one of his best friends from the Academy, Karl. Karl had recently graduated from Camden and was scheduled to start classes at The Citadel in the fall. He was an “A” student and graduated second in his class at Camden. He was president of the honor society and the fine arts club, lieutenant governor of the key club for North and South Carolina, captain of the soccer and wrestling teams, and company commander to 65 cadets in his senior year.

Trish liked Karl. He was outgoing, polite, and seemed responsible. She also trusted his parents. His father was a pastor at a large church, and his mother was a former school board member.

Trish didn’t feel comfortable with Wayne driving his new truck out of town in rush hour traffic to Karl’s, so she rode along with him as her fiancée followed behind to bring her back home.

“I love you,” she said repeatedly before leaving Wayne at Karl’s home.

“I love you too, Mom,” he replied as he hugged her several times.

What Trish didn’t know was that the boys had a secret. Nineteen-year-old Karl and his friends had planned a party. They had the place—a nearby field. They had an alibi—a lie that they were spending the night with a friend. They had a keg of beer—purchased by an older boy.

Around midnight Karl and his best friend, Wayne, jumped into a Jeep. Karl was at the wheel. About a quarter of a mile from the party, Karl’s Jeep drifted left. He overcorrected and cut a hard right, then back to the left. The Jeep and the driver were out of control. The right-side tires blew and the rims dug into the road. Then the Jeep flipped and ejected Wayne about 50 feet onto the pavement. Karl’s upper lip was torn and hanging, but he still did not understand the gravity of the situation. For the first time he realized he might be drunk.

The tranquility of the early Sunday morning was pierced by sirens, the swooshing of a rescue helicopter, and wailing of young adults. As the helicopter airlifted Wayne to the hospital, Karl rode in the ambulance. But Wayne never left the hospital. Six days after he had arrived, Wayne Campbell, the only son of Trish Campbell, died.

Several months later, Karl had his day in court, facing a charge of involuntary manslaughter and possible prison time. One by one, men and women stood and testified on Karl’s behalf—his soccer coach, his teachers, and his Sunday school teacher. After the prosecutor presented his case, Trish, asked if she could address the court. Permission was granted.

“My son and Karl went to school together and were best friends,” Trish began. “I love this boy like my own child. It’snot my wish that he should serve prison time. I understand that he will have some type of punishment, and I accept that. But I know Karl is truly remorseful and never intended for this to happen.

“I am a sinner, and God sent His only Son to save me and forgive me of my sins. I’m not worthy of that forgiveness. So why wouldn’t I forgive Karl?”

Those who stood by to hear and see the interaction were startled at such forgiveness and grace pouring from this woman. It was not human, but divine.

I know this family. I lived this story. My heart breaks even now thinking of precious Karl and the pain he has had to suffer for one bad choice. But you know what? We all make bad choices every day. His came at a very high price.

I see myself in Karl. No, I haven’t been convicted of involuntary manslaughter while driving impaired, but I’ve done other things that have been detrimental to people’s souls…and to my own. And then I see Wayne’s mother approach the bench on Karl’s behalf. I see Jesus approach the bench on my behalf.

“Judge,” He would say. “I love this woman like she is my own…sheis my own. I know she will suffer consequences here on earth for the poor choices she has made, but I do not want her to serve any jail time. I ask that You extend mercy and grace to this woman—that You commute her sentence and set her free.”

Then the gavel comes down and the Judge announces to the court, “No jail time. She’s free.”

How about you? Have you accepted God’s grace and forgiveness in your life? Is there someone you need to forgive today?

Let’s Pray

Dear God, thank You for forgiving me and wiping my slate clean. Help me to show that same mercy and grace to others as I forgive quickly and completely.

In Jesus’ Name,


A Spiritual Detox By: Mary Southerland

A Spiritual Detox Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:8-9).

Friend to Friend

When my husband was a church pastor in South Florida, one of our favorite traditions was the Thanksgiving Day breakfast. Even our kids got in on the action. We woke while it was still dark and headed to the church to help dozens of volunteers prepare pancakes, bacon, eggs … the works. After breakfast, Dan shared a brief message and everyone headed home to enjoy the rest of their holiday.

Then the cleanup began. We all shifted into high gear, breaking down tables, washing dishes and getting the buildings ready for the weekend services. The kids quickly completed their assigned tasks and disappeared to play until it was time to head home.

I was finishing up in the kitchen when our daughter came running in, crying and holding a paper towel over her eye. “What happened, honey?” I asked. “I don’t know, Mom. We were playing and something flew in my eye. It really hurts!” she cried. I looked at our son who explained, “We were having a mulch war and Danna got some in her eye.” Since I wear contacts, I always carry saline solution and thought that would take care of the problem. I couldn’t see anything in Danna’s eye, but after washing it out, she said it felt better. As the day wore on, it was obvious that something was still in her eye as the pain increased and her eye began to swell. We called a friend who is an optometrist. He dropped by to take a look at Danna’s eye. After a quick exam he said, “She does have something in her eye, but I’ll need to see her in my office to remove it.” He applied numbing drops, an eye patch, and said he would meet us at his office in the morning. Even though I still couldn’t see anything in our daughter’s eye, I knew it was there.

When we arrived at the doctor’s office, he went to work and within seconds handed me a tiny speck of mulch nestled on a tissue. I could barely see it. But Danna blinked a couple of times and grinned. “It doesn’t hurt any more.” I remember wondering how something so small could cause so much pain.

Sin is like that. We may view it as nothing more than a little lie or an insignificant transgression, but it was enough to send Jesus to the cross. If we refuse to deal with sin, it will cause great pain and damage in our lives.

The word “sin” comes from an old archery term that means to “miss the bull’s-eye” or anything other than the dead center of the target. When sin is not confessed, it is a slow but steady drain that sucks the life out of us. Sin erects a wall between the Father and us. We have to get rid of that sin and eliminate the spiritual garbage in our lives if we really want to be free in Christ.

We are not perfect – just forgiven. To experience that forgiveness fully, we need to constantly eliminate the spiritual junk in our lives. I call it a spiritual detox.

One of my favorite spiritual disciplines to get rid of sin is to use what I call a Sin Sheet.

I take a blank sheet of paper – or two. I pray and ask God to help me remember any sin I need to confess.

I then write down every sin that comes to mind on that sheet of paper. And I do not mince words. If I have lied, I write, “I am a liar because I lied to Sally.” When no more sins come to mind, I confess each sin one-by-one. If that sin is between God and me, I then mark through it with a permanent marker. Done.

If I have sinned against someone, I must not only confess the sin to God, but I must also make it right with the person I have sinned against. Yep! I must go to them and ask their forgiveness.

I know. It is hard. But in order to be right with God, we must also be right with each other.

Repentance literally means to change your mind, turn your back, and walk away from sin. Because we are frail humans, chances are we will commit that sin again. Thank goodness for God’s mercy and grace, and for His unending love and forgiveness.

Confession is not for God to find out something He already knows. Confession is for us to be made whole and fit because we have dealt with the sin. It is for us to eliminate the junk in our lives. It is our spiritual detox and the starting place for a powerful life of freedom.

Let’s Pray

Father, I come to You today, asking Your forgiveness for the sins in my life. I choose today to turn away from those sins. I accept Your forgiveness and praise You for the love and mercy You so freely offer. Please help me eliminate these sins from my life.

In Jesus’ name,


Now It’s Your Turn

Spend some time alone today with God in prayer. Complete a Sin Sheet and celebrate God’s forgiveness and love. Read 1 John 1:8-9 aloud and claim these promises from God in your life.