Devotions

COMMUNITY BIBLE STUDY ~ A Fall Tradition

Posted by on Oct 9, 2013 in Blog, Devotions, Journal | 2 comments

There are many things I love about this season of the year, but one of my favorites might surprise you. For nearly thirty years I have taken part in Community Bible Study (CBS) classes. Each autumn when the new class starts, I’m eager to begin whatever course my class is studying that year. This year our class is delving into Galatians, Hebrews, and PhilippiansCBS Course Material

Community Bible Study in an interdenominational ministry that offers in-depth Bible studies available to all. It doesn’t matter whether one has never studied the Bible before or if they’ve been studying the Scriptures for years.  It’s a place where men and women, children and teens from whatever religious tradition or denomination can gather in a friendly, accepting setting and study God’s Word. As CBS states on its website, they “concentrate on the essentials of the Christian faith, not on denominational distinctives.”

Many churches graciously host the classes even though the ministry has no ties to any specific church or denomination. There are now about 700 classes around the United States and many additional classes offered in 70 countries around the world.  There are day, evening, student, teen, after school, Inprison, and international classes. In addition, many adult classes have programs for children of all ages. The children’s ministry curriculum alone has blessed so many families. There is nothing more adorable than watching preschoolers quoting Scripture or singing songs of faith that will be remembered forever.

Community Bible Study even has material available that can be purchased and used in home or church Bible studies.

Classes typically run for thirty weeks with a few weeks off in December and another week-long break in the spring. People can join anytime, not just in the fall.

Over the years I’ve been involved in many different classes; I’ve experienced, and watched others, form life long friendships as well as casual ones. I love passing on information to people moving to another area about the CBS classes in their new locale, since it’s a great way to make friends and also to learn more about the churches in the area.

There are many wonderful Bible studies available through other para-church ministries and churches; I just appreciate all I’ve witnessed at Community Bible Study. If this sounds like some thing you might be interested in check out http://www.communitybiblestudy.org/index.aspx.


Praying Hands -Bible, etc.Once on the website, there are a variety of menu choices so you can learn more about CBS, as well as find a class near you.

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REMEMBERING THAT AMERICAN HERO

Posted by on Sep 29, 2013 in Blog, Devotions, History | 2 comments

On Thursday I shared with you about when I, and many others, met and thanked returning Viet Nam POW Gary Thornton. Well, that wasn’t the last I’d hear about this American hero.

After the evening of the Seabee Ball in early March of 1973, my momentary life in the limelight ended. Gary Thornton had a lot of living to catch up on and I hoped only the best for him. Having been married to a Viet Nam vet, I was well acquainted with the many adjustments involved for people returning from the war, but for POW’s, reentry to family life and to living in the United States had to be incredible. 

While I can’t recall the exact date, I do recall praying that Gary was finding joy and peace with his new found freedom. Still living in the San Francisco Bay Area, I remember sitting on the floor of my apartment one Saturday listening to the radio, and involved in some craft, when a news broadcaster announced that Gary Thornton, one of the Viet Nam POWs, had just married a former Playboy bunny.

My heart was pounding, and my jaw probably dropped.  I had just heard on the radio an answer to my vague request that I’d had never even verbalized. Since I worked five days a week, what were the chances that I’d be home and listening to the radio at just the exact time that this somewhat obscure announcement was made? Yet I had an answer I didn’t really deserve. At that time in my life I thought it an amazing coincidence.

I married another military man and relocated to northern Virginia. Years passed, and in 1983 I entered a Redbook Magazine’ Great Embarrassing Moments Contest. The event I wrote about for the contest took place on an evening when I was being given the instructions on the protocol of the Seabee Ball that I referred to in my earlier post.  As I wrote the piece for the contest, it brought back so many memories of the Seabee Ball events I had participated in ten years earlier. Again, I wondered about how Gary Thornton was faring, and prayed that his life and marriage had been blessed.

Shortly after submitting my contest entry, I made my monthly trip to the Ft.Belvoir commissary to stock up on food and goods.  While there I spotted a free magazine called Ladycom, and for some reason, this time I picked one up.  After arriving home, stowing the food, and taking care of my young sons I sat sown to enjoy a cup of coffee and glanced through Ladycom.  As I tuned the pages I came to an article about how some Viet Nam POW families were faring ten years after returning home. Gary Thornton was one of five or six POWs, interviewed for the story. He was still married to the former Playboy bunny; they had a daughter and were living very happily.

I was struck by all the combined factors necessary for me to have an answer to my simple prayer.

~ It had only been a short time since I wrote the piece for the contest and prayed.

~ Ten and a half years had passed.

~ Of the 556 returned POWs, Gary Thornton was one of only six or so interviewed.

~ I lived three thousand miles away from where I did on the evening of the Seabee Ball

~ I rarely went to the commissary and even less often picked up Ladycom.

Some people call it serendipity; others call it luck or coincidence. By that time in my life, I gave no credence to coincidence. I’d had the eyes of my heart opened enough times to see how God reveals Himself, and how He works in our lives and in the lives of others. It was such a simple request, yet I was delighted for His generous gift.  Once again, I could only thank Him and praise Him for His faithfulness.

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God is Faithful

Posted by on Sep 9, 2013 in Blog, Devotions, Journal, Uncategorized | 6 comments

God is Faithful

I’ve been reminded of God’s faithfulness several times over the past few days.

 

On Sunday morning at church:

~We heard several testimonies of God’s faithfulness in the lives of people.

~We were reminded of His faithfulness in providing for a debt free facility during a time when

people’s jobs and finances took a big hit.

~We sang O God, Our Help In Ages Past, Isaac Watts’ ancient hymn, based on Psalm 90, that has brought comfort and encouragement to many over the centuries. It’s a reminder that the same God who has been with us through earlier trials will continue to guide us through whatever sorrows and challenges life will bring in the future.

 

Earlier Sunday morning:

~Our daily devotional, Jesus Calling by Sarah Young reminded us that each day we can turn to God at any point and He will not reject us. He will encourage us, give us the strength for each moment and all we need for each day. We can trust Him by relying on His empowering presence.   (my paraphrase)

On Saturday:

God is Faithful

~I read

“God’s voice has never misspoken…

His faithfulness has never betrayed…

His care has never faltered…

His kindness has never disappointed…

His love has never failed.

His love will not fail you now.”

– Roy Lessin

“I have loved you with an everlasting love;

therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.”

 Jeremiah 31:3 ESV

 

On Friday:

~We celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary  

~a marriage designed in heaven

 

The Man

Widowed after a happy marriage of 34 years.He prays and asks God to select a wife for him, and to prepare her heart and identify her.

God selected the wife and identified her in a crowd of about 750 people.

The man, not expecting to hear God’s voice, says, “Now what do I do?”

And God helped the man and showed him the way to win her heart.

 

  The Woman

Alone for 10 years and not interested in dating much less getting married.

When caring friends suggested re-marrying might be God’s will for her, she would answer, “if it was God’s will that she married again, God would have to send the man, God would have to prove He sent the man, and God would have to change her heart.

And God sent the man, proved in numerous ways that He sent the man. And God changed her heart. 

 September 6, 2003

God is Faithful

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Maximizing Your Influence

Posted by on Aug 27, 2013 in Blog, Commentary, Devotions, Journal, Uncategorized | 6 comments

I have to admit it, creating and maintaining my own website was not on my bucket list. My preference would be to spend my “computer time” catching up on news, communicating with friends and family, or working on writing projects. However, successful writers, agents, and publishers stress the importance of having a web presence, a platform, where we can maximize our influence.

So, almost two years ago when I was invited to become a regular contributor to a group blog, Colonial Quills http://colonialquills.blogspot.com/ I was thrilled. Most of the other writers who contribute to this site were multi-published authors and all share a common interest in our colonial past. This would give me a chance to write about topics dear to me, our incredible history and the Christian faith.  Terrific! Now I had a web presence.

In 2012, Michael S. Hyatt, the former Chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, one of the largest trade book publishing companies in the U.S. produced a bestseller on just this topic. Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World. Wanting to be current, I read this excellent book about getting our message out, and getting Platform 1noticed. http://michaelhyatt.com/platform

Perusing the web and checking out many author’s blog and websites was fascinating with so much talent, creativity, and my goodness, so many published books on display. Hmm, I would certainly need to get a website as soon as my manuscript was picked up by a publisher. It didn’t take long to notice that almost all the writers that I knew, published or not, already were on the web. I needed to take the plunge and not put it off any longer

Now, two weeks after launching my website, I’ve learned so much, and like so many other things in my life, I’ve learned some important lessons the hard way. My first lesson was; after you post, ALWAYS review it again to be sure it is ALL there, no missing paragraphs, words, or letters.

In addition to reading Jesus Calling every morning, I also receive a wonderful devotional from Nicky Gumbel, the Vicar of Holy Trinity Brompton, the largest Anglican Church in Britain. He pioneered the Alpha Course, an evangelism ministry that I was involved with for many years. http://www.alphausa.org/Groups/1000065342/Alt_Home_page.aspx

On August 14th, the very day my website went live Nicky’s devotional was waiting for me in my inbox. Now, why would I be surprised at the timing of his message?

“Maximizing Your Influence”

(used with Nicky’s permission)

1.  Use your influence for the good of everyone   Psalm 96:1-13

2.  Use your influence to spread the good news 1 Corinthians 9:1-18

3.  Use your influence to plant good seeds Ecclesiastes 9:13-12:14

          •        Watch your words

          •        Take risks

          •        Spread your efforts

          •        Take your opportunities

I particularly appreciated his closing prayer.

“Lord, help me and help our community to make the most of every opportunity that you have given us.  Help us to fear you and keep your commandments.  Help us to use our influence for good and not for evil.  Help us to make the most of every opportunity that you have put before us.”

‘Of the making of books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.’ 

Ecclesiastes 12:12  NIV – UK

http://www.htb.org.uk/bioy

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Summer Days By The Sea ~ Part Two

Posted by on Aug 22, 2013 in Blog, Devotions, Uncategorized | 8 comments

Summer Days By The Sea

Many years ago during a very difficult season in my life, some kind friends offered their condo at the beach to my sons and me for a mini vacation. It was a generous gift that I’ve never forgotten, a few days that allowed us to forget our troubles for a time. What I thought would only be a change of scene, and a brief escape from the stress that had come our way, became so much more for me. Twice, under very different circumstances, I was reminded of the Lord’s presence, provision, and love for us.

 

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

Ephesians 3: 20,21

 

~   Part Two

When we returned to the condo after our stroll on the boardwalk we settled in. Later, after the boys had finally quieted down for the night, I took a cup of tea and settled on the sofa and noticed a little book on the coffee table, Parables by the Sea by Pamela Reeve. It was a thin paperback book with layered pages and lovely pictures and parables of shells, tide-pools, and waves. The message in this remarkable book touched all the hurting places in my heart. Since Parables by the Seathe book belonged to my friends who owned the condo, I couldn’t remove it. But what if the book was out of print? I searched for my notebook and pen and proceeded to copy it word for word. This little treasure was like a love note from God, acknowledging my pain, while reminding me that He was in control and still had a plan for our lives. It was an assurance that He would guide us through that journey. Months later I was able to find a copy of Parables by the Sea, that I still treasure to this day.

The Lord used our friend’s generous gift of those days at the beach to bless me in ways that they, or I, could have never imagined. He knows just what we need, and often uses faithful friends to bring it to pass. Thank You, Lord.

 

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Summer Days By The Sea

Posted by on Aug 20, 2013 in Blog, Devotions, Uncategorized | 10 comments

Summer Days By The Sea

Many years ago during a very difficult season in my life, some kind friends offered their condo at the beach to my sons and me for a mini vacation. It was a generous gift that I’ve never forgotten, a few days that allowed us to forget our troubles for a time. What I thought would only be a change of scene, and a brief escape from the stress that had come our way, became so much more. Twice, under very different circumstances, I was reminded of the Lord’s presence, provision, and love for us.

 

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord,

“plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11

  

~   Part One

We arrived on a warm summer afternoon and immediately made our way to walk on the beach boardwalk. On one side were the typical, some might say tacky, beach shops and the fast food establishments selling funnel cakes, salt water taffy and other equally unhealthy, but delicious fare. The beach side was an entirely different scene, God’s glorious creation of blue sky and sea, with the rhythmic and seemingly eternal waves washing up on the shore.

As we walked back to the condo we came across a sculptor working on the beach with the simplest of tools, a plastic knife and a spray bottle of water and sand, huge mounds of sand. We stood entranced by the artist, a pastor, silently demonstrating his God-given skill for a long time. His designs were the most incredible biblical scenes on several sand hills with etched Sand sculpturesScripture verses beneath. These scenes were dramatic and rather incongruous across the boardwalk from shops with racks of bikinis and boogie boards for sale. It was a stunning reminder for me that even when we are wandering through a difficult period, with all its worldly distractions, God’s plans won’t be thwarted. One can experience the powerful provision and presence of the Lord in the most unexpected places.

Come back on Thursday and learn of the second gift the Lord provided.

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