Posts by Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth

My purpose is to give life in all its fullness (John 10:10 TLB).


 


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I have discovered some wonderful advantages of growing older. Honestly, I can get away with so much more than I could when I was younger – and I love it!


Like many of you, I have paid some heavy life dues. I am enjoying a refreshing freedom in what I say and do – as long as I say and do it in love and with integrity before God.


I am flat-out amazed by the fact that people value my advice. They actually think I know what I am doing. Hilarious! I know!


But I am thrilled to share some of the God-truths I have learned along the way. I’m also

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Today’s Truth

Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever (Psalm 136:26 NIV).


 


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The doorbell rang, but I had absolutely no desire to answer it. I was desperately trying to withdraw from my world. It was too dark and too painful. I just wanted to be left alone.


Clinical depression was sucking the life out of me. I was seeing a counselor. I was also under the care of a psychiatrist who discovered I had a chemical imbalance that required medication. But it would be a long, hard road.


The doorbell rang again. I pulled the covers over my head, determined to outlast whoever was trying to work their way into my pain. It was easier to just surrender to the darkness than it was to struggle my way to the light.


The doorbell

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Today’s Truth

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV)


 


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Three ministers were talking about prayer and the most effective positions for prayer. As they were talking, a telephone repairman worked silently in the background.


One minister shared that he felt the key to powerful prayer was all in the hands. “I always hold my hands together and point them upward as a sign of worship,” he explained.


The second minister suggested that real prayer should always be conducted on the knees.


The third minister shook his head and said, “I’m afraid you both have it wrong. The only position worth its salt is to pray while stretched out flat on your face.”


As the three ministers solemnly contemplated the wisdom they had shared, the phone man put down his tools, approached

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Today’s Truth

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV).


 


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While in Ravensbrück, Corrie ten Boom and her sister Betsy dealt with appalling conditions. The women’s labor camp dorms were crammed into three high trough-like sleeping barracks with rancid hay as their bed.


The cramped conditions and lack of basic sanitation led to lice and a massive infestation of fleas. Corrie wondered how they could endure such a dreadful place.


Betsy prayed and told her sister they must “give thanks in all circumstances.”


Corrie wondered how she could ever be thankful for the lice and the fleas.


Several weeks later, one of the supervisors was called into their barracks to view something Betsy was working on. The supervisor refused because the place was crawling with fleas.


Betsy then reminded her sister that it

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Today’s Truth

Listen to my voice in the morning, LORD. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly (Psalm 5:3 NLT)


 


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Every moment of every day is focused on someone or something. We either set the focus through which we live, or we allow it to be set for us. A balanced life is focused on God as a result of sitting at His feet.


What does it mean to “sit at the feet of Jesus”? 


First, we must stop. The lives of Mary and Martha are great examples of this truth. Mary stopped helping Martha in the kitchen to sit at the feet of Jesus. 


Martha complained that she had been left to do all of the work while her sister was wasting time. There will always be someone who misunderstands or complains when you choose to do what Jesus told

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Today’s Truth

Today’s Truth Always give thanks to God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:20 NCV)


 


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When we lived in South Florida, the grass in our yard grew year-round. So did the weeds. We soon learned that the best way to deal with weeds was simply to take really good care of the grass. When the grass was healthy, it was thick and lush – leaving little room for weeds to grow.


When our hearts and lives are filled with praise, worry is a weed that will die from a lack of attention. When we choose to continually give God thanks, there will be little room in our hearts for fear.


Why?


Because praise acknowledges the very character of God, while thanksgiving recognizes the work of His hand. Together, praise and thanksgiving are powerful weapons against worry

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Today’s Truth

Lord, you are my strength and my protection, my safe place in times of trouble (Jeremiah 16:19 ERV).


 


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Movies with happy endings are my favorite movies. My family constantly teases me about my surreal perspective of movie entertainment, but honestly, life holds enough reality. Why would I want to pay good money to see even more reality made bigger and more frightening on a gigantic movie screen?


When the movie, “The Perfect Storm,” was first released, the previews suggested it had a happy ending. I should have known better, but we love the water and really, how bad could it be?


We bought tickets, popcorn, and drinks, found the best seats in the theater, and prepared to be entertained. Wrong! Just about every scene showed tiny boats caught in the grip of frightening waves and fierce winds. I

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Today’s Truth

Do not worry about anything. But pray and ask God for everything you need. And when you pray, always give thanks. And God’s peace will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. The peace that God gives is so great that we cannot understand it (Philippians 4:6-7 ICB).


 


 


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Stress management is a spiritual discipline that begins with diligent preparation in every area of life – mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual. We must be ready to deal with stress before we are required to deal with stress. 


Dealing with stress is an ongoing daily battle that will not end on this side of Heaven. To win that battle, we must be prepared. While there is no single secret to handling stress, God’s Word is filled with many truths that can enable and empower us to deal with stress in a healthy, productive, and God-honoring way.  


Sometimes the most familiar passages of scripture are also the most overlooked. Psalm 23 is one of those passages. I often find myself rushing to this psalm for peace and

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Today’s Truth

Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind” (Matthew 22:37 NIV).


 


 


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From the moment of birth, we are taught that successful people never give up. Yet, I have discovered the paradoxical secret that true success can only be found in complete surrender. 


Dr. Billy Graham tells the story of a little child who was playing with a very valuable vase. The child put his hand into the vase but could not pull it out. His father tried to free the little boy’s hand but couldn’t. They were thinking of breaking the vase when the father said, “Son, let’s try one more time. Open your hand and hold your fingers out really straight and then pull.” The look of alarm on the boy’s face surprised the dad until the little boy explained, “Oh

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Today’s Truth

He gives strength to those who are tired and more power to those who are weak (Isaiah 40:29 NCV)


 


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I love a great movie! To me, a movie is great when good wins over evil, the right guy gets the right girl, nobody gets hurt and everyone lives happily ever after. A bit naive, I know. But I have decided that there is enough harsh reality ripping through daily life without paying to see more on a movie screen.


With these criteria in mind, I went to see the movie “Seabiscuit.” There I was popcorn in hand, minding my own business and enjoying my brief respite, when his words slammed into my soul, yanking me back to the tenacious essence and interminable power of truth.


“You don’t throw a whole life away just because it’s banged up a little.”


I was done.


Although

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Today’s Truth

And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability (2 Corinthians 8:1-3 NIV).


 


 


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My husband is a surrendered giver. But I struggle with giving. I tend to blame my reluctance to give on the fact that I grew up in a shack on the edge of town. My mother often worked two and three jobs a day just to put food on the table.


My husband, on the other hand, grew up in a middle-class family, lived in a very nice house in a beautiful neighborhood, and never had to worry about having his needs met. You can see where my rationalizations took me. Yep – to a place of sin. 


God wants us to surrender everything we have to Him because the reality is that giving is the antidote to selfishness. I

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Today’s Truth

The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity (Proverbs 11:3 NIV).


 


 


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My husband was a youth pastor for many years before becoming the senior pastor of a church. I learned many important life lessons during those years of working with youth. One of those lessons was accountability.


Several times a year, we would load our high school and college kids on a Greyhound bus and travel to a conference or mission field to help needy churches. Most of our trips required driving through the night to avoid the expense of staying in a hotel.


Long hours on a bus at night was the perfect setting for young romance to flourish. So Dan devised a plan that helped nip those blossoming romances in the bud. At any given moment, Dan would yell,

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Today’s Truth

For you created my inmost being. You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful. I know that full well (Psalm 139:13-14 NIV).


 


 


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The story is told of a young boy who carved a sailboat from a block of wood. When the boat was finished, the boy raced to a nearby stream, gently slid the boat into the water, and let it go. The boy watched his precious boat gather speed as it floated away. He didn’t realize there was an undercurrent in the stream until the boat was swept away beyond his reach. The little boy frantically searched until there was no light but couldn’t find his boat. With a heavy heart, the young boy headed home.


Several days later, the little boy was walking down the main street of his small town, when he saw a wooden boat in the

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Today’s Truth

Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control (Proverbs 25:28 NIV).


 


 


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I could not believe my eyes! I had decided to go grocery shopping – a chore I hate with all my heart. I drove around the parking lot, looking for a good parking spot – and there she was. A woman standing in the middle of a parking place waving cars away. Why? She was saving the spot for her husband who was circling the lot.


I had a choice to make. I could give in to my rising anger or I could harness that anger and drive away, praying that someone did not mow down that woman with their car.


And then, the story of Jesus confronting the money changers in the temple came to mind.


When Jesus saw money

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Today’s Truth

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him (Luke 10:38 NIV).


 


 


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One summer, our family went to Pennsylvania, where we visited Amish country. Amish people have always fascinated me, and I enjoy every minute spent in their beautiful and carefully ordered world.


As our visit ended, I wanted to buy a souvenir to remind me of the peaceful days we had spent there, but everything I picked up was too expensive. But, being a committed shopper, I did not let that stop me. 


We traveled up and down each community’s small, hidden back roads, looking for the Amish products known only to a few and to those relentless shoppers who were willing to persevere. I was beginning to lose hope when I spotted the small, white sign posted on the fence

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Today’s Truth

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you. Before you were born I set you apart (Jeremiah 1:5 NIV).


 


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Have you ever wondered if God even knows your name? Have you doubted His awareness or even His concern about what you are going through? Have there been times when you felt totally alone and worthless? I have. I can really relate to the woman described in Luke 13. Oh, our problems may not be exactly the same, but the feelings and emotions are – and so is the answer.  


Jesus knew this woman. He knew she had been sick for 18 long years and that she had tried everything to be healed. He knew – but He looked past her pain and saw who she really was, and all she was created to be. And just as He

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Today’s Truth

He (Jesus) replied, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:20 NIV).


 


 


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I am not a quitter! What some might call stubbornness, I prefer to call perseverance – especially when it comes to growing flowers and plants.


We recently downsized and moved to a house with a small wooden deck in the backyard. I took one look at that deck and could almost hear it crying out for beautiful plants spilling over the edges of brightly colored ceramic planters. My stubbornness … uh, perseverance … kicked in, and I thought, “I can do this!”


I headed to the local nursery where they know me. And by “know me” I mean they understand that I can kill just about any living plant known to mankind.


Linda greeted me with a smile. Linda and I

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Today’s Truth

But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me” (2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV).


 


 


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For many years, I did everything I could to hide any weakness in my life. When that didn’t work, I simply pretended those weak areas didn’t exist. Why? Because if I was weak, how could Jesus love me? How could anyone love me? How could I love myself?  


When our son, Jered, began to walk, I immediately noticed that his feet turned inward. Our pediatrician recommended a specialist who examined Jered thoroughly, then ordered several x-rays. The more he examined Jered, the more concerned we became. When the specialist finally called us in for a consultation, we braced ourselves for bad news. 


The doctor’s stoic face revealed nothing, but his diagnosis was a gift. “There is nothing wrong with Jered’s

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Today’s Truth

We are God’s workmanship (Ephesians 2:10 NIV).


 


 


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Sandpaper people, the people who rub us the wrong way, are not only a reality of life but also a gift from God. God has used these difficult relationships as catalysts in my life through which He has lovingly upset my comfortable plans and purposefully redirected my self-ordered steps. The results have often been chaotic and unsettling, but always life-changing.


As a junior in high school, our son Jered experienced his first surgery to repair a broken bone in his foot. The orthopedic surgeon explained what he would do during surgery. “I’ll remove the scar tissue that has formed around the break. I will then insert a metal screw to connect the broken bones.” As he spoke, I was

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Today’s Truth

Know that the Lord is God. He made us, and we belong to Him; we are His people, the sheep He tends (Psalm 100:3 NCV).


 


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In the early days of the automobile, a man’s Model – T Ford stalled in the middle of the road. No matter what he tried, he couldn’t get it started. A chauffeured limousine pulled up behind the stalled car and a wiry, energetic man stepped from the back seat to offer his assistance.


After tinkering with the engine for a few moments, the stranger said, “Now try it!” Immediately, the engine leaped to life. The well-dressed man then identified himself as Henry Ford. “I designed and built these cars,” he said, “So I know what to do when something goes wrong.”


When our lives are broken, when the plan falls apart and everything goes wrong, we need to wait on

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Today’s Truth

I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name (Isaiah 45:3 NIV).


 


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Children are wonderfully different.


When our son Jered was nine months old, he began to pull up on every piece of furniture he could find. He maneuvered his way around our home until the day he took his first step … alone. It was a step of inches, but we celebrated as if he had run a marathon.


Our daughter Danna had a different plan. When she was ten months old, Danna stood up, looked around, and trotted across the room. Jered and Danna both walk extremely well today as young adults, but they both began with tiny steps … and in their own way.


Nobody gets depressed overnight, and nobody overcomes depression overnight. The journey out of the pit is

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Today’s Truth

Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others (1 Peter 4:10 NIV).


 


 


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Hamburgers are a regular item on the Southerland summer menu … for several reasons. Hamburgers are inexpensive, easy to prepare, and scrumptious.


On one particularly hot summer night, I was craving hamburgers. So, I fired up the grill on our deck and began to prepare the hamburger patties.


I didn’t want to be in the scorching heat one minute longer than I had to be, so I quickly seasoned the hamburger patties, slapped them on the grill, and headed back inside.


Our daughter met me at the door with our grandson who was looking for his Mimi. That’s me.


When Justus saw me, he smiled and stretched out his chubby little arms for me to hold him. I grabbed him and promptly

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Today’s Truth

Listen to my voice in the morning, LORD. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly (Psalm 5:3 NLT).


 


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I had a list of things to get done – even though my back was killing me. When my husband walked in from work, I gave him a quick hug and resumed my almost frantic pace.


“What are you doing, honey?” Dan asked.


With one of my famous sighs, I responded, “I just need to get a few things done.”


“How’s your back?” Dan persisted.


With growing irritation, I answered, “It hurts!”


Dan quietly watched me for a few minutes. “You don’t know how to sit down, do you?” he finally said.


My first response was irritation – which quickly escalated into anger – until I heard the unmistakable prompting of the Holy Spirit affirming the truth Dan had spoken. I needed to learn

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Today’s Truth

…rejoice that your names are written in heaven (Luke 10:20b NIV)


 


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Heaven is on my mind these days. The holidays have a way of bringing to mind the family and friends waiting for me there.


Christmas vividly reminds me that this world is not my home. Heaven is. When I came to Christ in a personal relationship, my citizenship was changed from Earth to Heaven. And what a sweet exchange it was for me!


Heaven is where Jesus is.


“LORD, look down from the heavens and see; look at us from your wonderful and holy home in heaven” (Isaiah 63:15a NCV).


Heaven is a real place, a beautiful city of light.


“The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, because the glory of God is its light, and

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Today’s Truth

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance (Romans 5:3 NLT)


 


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The story is told of a shepherd who tried to persuade his sheep to cross a swiftly flowing stream. Since sheep are naturally afraid of rapidly running water, the shepherd couldn’t get them to cross. Then he had an idea.


Picking up a lamb, the shepherd stepped into the river and carried the lamb to the opposite shore. When the mother saw that the shepherd had safely led her lamb across the stream, she forgot her fear and stepped out in faith and into the rushing current. Soon, she was safely on the other side. The rest of the flock followed.


Valleys are lined with disappointment and discouragement and sometimes streams of rapidly running water. Some people seem to thrive

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Today’s Truth

He replied,... “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:20 NIV)


 


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I am not a quitter! What some might call stubbornness, I prefer to call perseverance – especially when it comes to growing flowers and plants.


We recently downsized and moved to a house with a small wooden deck in the backyard. I took one look at that deck and could almost hear it crying out for beautiful plants spilling over the edges of brightly colored ceramic planters. My stubbornness … uh, perseverance … kicked in, and I thought, “I can do this!”


I headed to the local nursery where they know me. And by “know me” I mean they understand that I can kill just about any living plant known to mankind.


Linda greeted me with a smile. She and I

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Today’s Truth

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves (James 1:22 NKJV)


 


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How many times were the words, “Because I said so!” spoken to you by a parent? I was determined to never say those words to our children. Of course, I failed to keep that commitment.


But I do remember the first time those words slipped out of my mouth! I was shocked. My next thought was how many times has God spoken those words to me?


Hearing the truth is only half the battle. Obeying the truth is where the real battle begins.


Jesus taught about this very thing in the parable of the soils. He compares those who hear the truth but do not act on it as follows:


“When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand

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Today’s Truth

Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? (Romans 6:16 NIV)


 


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Normal can be a good thing.


Like when the doctor’s office calls to say that the test results are normal or when the mechanic tells you that the funny noise your car is making will not cost you hundreds of dollars to repair – it is just a normal part of wear and tear.


But when it comes to our spiritual lives – normal may not always be a good thing.


I am a pastor’s wife and love the fact that God has called me to serve beside my husband in that role. But some people think a pastor’s wife should look, act, speak, and dress a certain way. I tend to think God called me to be Mary … and

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Today’s Truth

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong (1 Corinthians 16:13 NIV).


 


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I thought I was so godly … until we decided to move. If you want to measure your faith, just decide to pack up everything you own, put it in cardboard boxes, and move.


And if you really want to test the strength of your faith, decide to basically gut the house into which you are moving. Yep! That ought to do it!


Paint. I know a fresh coat of paint can make old walls dance with new life, but painting is also messy, time consuming, and the source of total chaos. Cans of paint lugged from room-to-room along with paint trays that are guaranteed not to spill … until they do. And don’t get me started on the whole

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Today’s Truth

My soul, wait silently for God alone; for my expectation is from Him (Psalm 62:5 NKJV).


 


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The alarm went off. Surely there was some kind of mistake. Nope! Time to get up and face another day of appointments, writing deadlines, piles of laundry … and you know exactly what I’m talking about.


I fell back in bed, exhausted. I need a vacation! Right? But I need more than a physical timeout. My soul needs rest. My heart needs solitude. My mind turned to a man in the Bible who probably felt the same way – Elijah.


Elijah is a great example of a man in need of rest. One day he was the conquering hero, the next we find him sitting under a Juniper tree, wallowing in self-pity – and begging God to let him die.

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Today’s Truth

The LORD answered him, “I will be with you. It will seem as if the Midianites you are fighting are only one man” (Judges 6:16 NCV).


 


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I was born to be an elementary school teacher – period. So, when a total stranger tapped me on the shoulder and said, “While you were singing, God told me that you are supposed to be my Music and Youth Assistant this summer,” I felt sorry for him. He obviously needed to have his hearing checked.


I had just graduated from college with an elementary education teaching degree. A good friend was leading worship for a local church and asked me to sing a solo in the evening service. That’s all – or so I thought.


When the service ended, my good friend introduced me to his good friend, the hard-of-hearing stranger, and said, “You should at least pray about

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Today’s Truth

Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another (1 John 4:11 NIV).


 


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I could not tear my eyes away from the television screen as the 33 miners began to emerge from the depths of what could have been their mass grave. The men had been trapped for more than two months in the collapsed Chilean copper mines nearly half a mile underground. Everything I have read or heard about the tragedy is extraordinary.


The miners survived the early days by rationing food and working together as a team. Each man was assigned a job, one of which was to maintain peace and harmony until they were rescued. The selfless mining supervisor who insisted on being the last to leave his underground prison showed the world what it really means to put

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Today’s Truth

Always give thanks to God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:20 NCV).


 


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When we lived in South Florida, the grass in our yard grew year-round. So did the weeds. We soon learned that the best way to deal with weeds was simply to take really good care of the grass. When the grass was healthy, it was thick and lush – leaving little room for weeds to grow.


When our hearts and lives are filled with praise, worry is a weed that will die from lack of attention. When we choose to continually give God thanks, there will be little room in our hearts for fear.


Why?


Because praise acknowledges the very character of God, while thanksgiving recognizes the work of His hand. Together, praise and thanksgiving are powerful weapons against worry and

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Today’s Truth

The Lord is my shepherd (Psalm 23:1 NKJV).


 


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Stress happens … a lot. In fact, stress seems to be a constant companion in many of our lives. Yes, we live in a world filled with people and circumstances that seem to feed our stress. But I believe much of our stress is the result of an innate quest to love and be loved. The problems come when we look for that love in all the wrong places.


There is only one right place where we can find true love – in a personal relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ.


It is really very simple. When we know God, we will know love. When we experience His unconditional love, we are then free to love ourselves and

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Today’s Truth

For God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power and of love and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV)


 


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We do a lot of laundry at the Southerland house. There always seems to be a load in the washer that needs to go in the dryer, a load in the dryer that needs to be folded and a load of dirty laundry waiting to begin the process all over again.


Our washer and dryer have numerous settings for everything from hand washables and fine delicates to cotton and permanent press. After a few loads that yielded pink male underwear and sweaters shrunk to fit Barbie dolls, we decided to wash everything on one setting. Heaven help anyone who dares to change that setting.


When a life crisis comes, we generally have an automatic setting of fear and anxiety. The

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Today’s Truth

Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised (Job 1:20-21 NIV).


 


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Life rarely turns out the way we want it to, does it? I grew up in a shack on the edge of a little town in Texas. In the winter, we stuffed newspaper between the boards in our walls to keep the cold air out. I always volunteered to sweep the floors because you could simply sweep the dirt through the cracks in the floor.


I can remember Mama saying, “We may be poor, but we can always afford a bar of soap.” Our house was always clean and so were we. I didn’t understand why my mother had to battle cancer for 20 years. It was her greatest fear, and it took her life.


Over the years, there are

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Today’s Truth

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV).


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Three ministers were talking about prayer and the most effective positions for prayer. As they were talking, a telephone repairman worked silently in the background.


One minister shared that he felt the key to powerful prayer was all in the hands. “I always hold my hands together and point them upward as a sign of worship,” he explained.


The second minister suggested that real prayer should always be conducted on the knees.


The third minister shook his head and said, “I’m afraid you both have it wrong. The only position worth its salt is to pray while stretched out flat on your face.”


As the three ministers solemnly contemplated the wisdom they had shared, the phone man put down his tools, approached

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Today’s Truth

Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom (Psalm 90:12, NLT).

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I once read an African proverb, “Lord Jesus, make my heart sit down.” The first time I read those words, I immediately thought of my husband who often says, “Honey, it really is okay for you to sit down and rest.” I tend to work myself into what my mama called a “tizzy.”


I have back problems … but sometimes pride myself on how much pain I can handle … instead of doing what I need to do. Rest.


I struggle with clinical depression every single day … but have been known to ignore the warning signs that it is time for me to stop, be still, and rest.


I have to admit I struggle with the idea of rest. For

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Today’s Truth

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken (Ecclesiastes 4:12 NIV).

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The emotional demands on women are immense. One of the ways God replenishes us emotionally is through friendships. Many women are convinced that the risk of having close friends outweighs the rewards. I disagree.


There is no love without risk. Friendships make us stronger. Ecclesiastes 4:12 says that “a cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” If you add a strand to a single cord, you double its strength. But if you add a third strand to the cord, it becomes ten times stronger.


Ruth was willing to risk her future for the sake of her friendship with her mother-in-law, Naomi.


John 15:13 says it well: “Greater love has no one than this; that one lay down his life for

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Today’s Truth

Lord, you are my strength and my protection, my safe place in times of trouble (Jeremiah 16:19 NCV).

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I enjoy movies that have a happy ending. My family constantly teases me about my surreal perspective of movie entertainment. But honestly, life holds enough reality. Why would I want to pay good money to see more reality made bigger and more frightening on a gigantic movie screen?


When the movie, “The Perfect Storm” was first released, the previews suggested it had a happy ending. I should have known better. Seriously, how bad could it be?


We bought tickets, popcorn, and drinks, found the best seats in the theater, and prepared to be entertained. Wrong!


Every scene showed tiny boats caught in the grip of frightening waves and fierce winds. I kept waiting for the storm to die down so everyone

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Today’s Truth

And He said unto them, ‘Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while’ (Mark 6:31 KJV).

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I have learned many lessons from my husband about how to do ministry. Dan is a people person and views strangers as friends he simply hasn’t met yet. But his heart beats for the lost man who seems to be running from God with every ounce of energy he has. Dan’s passion gave birth to the Fireside Ministry.


Every Sunday night men from all walks of life gather in our driveway around a fire pit to share what God is doing in their lives as well as the struggles they are experiencing. They ask for help. They pray for each other. Fireside time is a holy time where God shows up and works in amazing ways.


One Sunday night I

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Today’s Truth

Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever (Psalm 136:26 NIV).

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I heard the doorbell ring, but I had absolutely no desire to answer it. I was desperately trying to withdraw from my world. It was too dark and too painful. I just wanted to be left alone.


Clinical depression was sucking the life out of me. I was seeing a counselor. I was also under the care of a psychiatrist who discovered I had a chemical imbalance that required medication. But it would be a long, hard road.


The doorbell rang again. I pulled the covers over my head, determined to outlast whoever was trying to work their way into my pain. It was easier to just surrender to the darkness than it was to struggle my way to the

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Today’s Truth

For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11 NLT).

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Our son was born to be a builder. From the time he could hold a red plastic hammer in his toddler-sized hands, Jered began hammering imaginary nails into the coffee table, fixing everything that was broken in our house. No wooden surface in our home was safe from Jered’s scrutiny or design.


Since my husband enjoyed woodworking, he built Jered a miniature workbench beside his own. Several nights each week, Dan and Jered headed to the garage to pound and hammer and do what they called “man stuff.” I thought it was cute – a philosophy that would drastically change in the years to come.


When he was in middle school, Jered built a clubhouse inside our garage. He scrounged

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Today’s Truth

A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of (Luke 6:45 NIV).

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What is really inside will come spilling out for all to see when life puts the squeeze on us. My Mama used to say, “What’s down in the well comes up in the bucket.” In other words, a crisis will usually reveal what is really in our hearts. What is down in the well of your heart will come up in the bucket of your words.


It is easy to do and say the right things when life is calm and everything is going right, but what we say and do when chaos hits and the pressure is on tends to paint a more accurate picture of who we really are. It is kind of like sponge theology.


Suppose you

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Today’s Truth

Listen to my voice in the morning, LORD. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly (Psalm 5:3 NLT).

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Every moment of every day is focused on someone or something. We either set the focus through which we live, or we allow it to be set for us. A balanced life is focused on God as a result of sitting at His feet.


What does it mean to “sit at the feet of Jesus”? First, we must stop. The lives of Mary and Martha are great examples of this truth. Mary stopped helping Martha in the kitchen to sit at the feet of Jesus. Martha complained that she had been left to do all of the work while her sister was wasting time. There will always be someone who misunderstands or complains when you choose to do what

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Today’s Truth

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God … (Ephesians 2:8 NIV).

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I often settle for so much less than God’s very best for my life. I tend to invest time in good things and miss the highest things God has planned for me because I do not pray in faith.


A small country town was in desperate need of rain. One Sunday morning, the pastor of the local church called for a special prayer meeting to be held that night. “It’s time to pray for rain,” he said.


The people gathered with a sense of purpose and excitement, but when the pastor stood to lead the prayer time, his words stunned the waiting crowd. “Only one of you came in faith,” he announced.


Looking down at the first row, the pastor pointed

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Today’s Truth

He gives strength to those who are tired and more power to those who are weak (Isaiah 40:29 NCV).

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I love a great movie! To me, a movie is great when good wins over evil, nobody gets hurt and everyone lives happily ever after. A bit naive, I know. But I have decided there is enough harsh reality ripping through daily life without paying to see more on a movie screen.


With these criteria in mind, I went to see the movie “Sea Biscuit.” So, there I was, popcorn in hand, minding my own business and enjoying my brief respite, when his words slammed into my soul, yanking me back to the relentless power of truth.


“You don’t throw a whole life away just because it’s a little banged up.”


I was done.


Although I enjoyed the rest of the movie,

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Today’s Truth

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1 NIV).

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Ah guilt! The gift that keeps on giving. Right?


Guilt is a powerful emotion that can overwhelm and paralyze us. We all struggle with something we have done or not done in our past. We have several ways to deal with past sin. We try to ignore it, explain it away, or do enough good works to cover that sin. Unfortunately, none of those methods will work.


When we ignore sin, it allows condemnation and guilt to build up in our lives, draining us and keeping us from moving forward. There is no explanation for our sin. We simply made the wrong choice. And we could never do enough good works to pay for our sin. But then Jesus came,

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Today’s Truth

Be careful what you do, and always do what is right (Proverbs 4:26 NCV).

Friend to Friend


When Dan and I first married, I knew almost nothing about football. In fact, I would often ask, “Honey, who has the ball now?” He was so patient, answering every question without bursting into laughter.


Dan’s favorite football team was the Dallas Cowboys, and his favorite player was Emmitt Smith, their star running back at the time.


During one particular game, Emmitt was playing on grass instead of the artificial turf he preferred. The grass was wet, and Emmett was not playing his best game, falling down two plays out of three. Frustrated with his performance, Emmitt took himself out of the game to change cleats. It didn’t help. In fact, it took three more cleat changes before he found

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Today’s Truth

Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall (Proverbs 16:18 NIV).

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A famous explorer in South America was once forced to abandon his journey by an almost invisible enemy. He was equipped to meet leopards, serpents, and crocodiles. They proved to be no threat, but what he had failed to consider were the tiny insects called chiggers. Someone composed this poem about these tiny invaders:


Here’s to the chigger, the bug that’s no bigger


Than the end of a very small pin.


But the itch that he raises simply amazes,


And that’s where the rub comes in!


Pride and chiggers have a lot in common. Pride comes in little ways, unseen actions, subtle thoughts, or inconspicuous comments. Unguarded attitudes and random thoughts are prime breeding grounds for pride. We must take charge of those

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Today’s Truth

Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies (Psalm 34:13 NIV).

Friend to Friend


I recently received an email from a friend who told me the story of a private school in Washington that faced an unusual problem. Some of the 12-year-old girls were beginning to use lipstick and would gather around the mirrors in the bathroom to compare shades.


The girls thought it was cute to press their lips to the bathroom mirrors, leaving dozens of lip prints. The maintenance man did not think it was cute because he had to clean the mirrors – and you know how icky lipstick on a mirror can be.


Every night the maintenance man would remove the lipstick prints only to find that the girls put them back the next day.


The principal finally decided that something

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Today’s Truth

There is no God like you. You forgive those who are guilty of sin; you don’t look at the sins of your people who are left alive. You will not stay angry forever, because you enjoy being kind. You will have mercy on us again; you will conquer our sins. You will throw away all our sins into the deepest part of the sea (Micah 7:18-19 NCV).

Friend to Friend


Sometimes the hardest thing to say is “I’m sorry” or to admit it when we have hurt someone! The only thing that can be harder is to forgive those who have hurt us!


We cannot really forgive until we have really been forgiven. Forgiveness was born on a cross where Jesus Christ loved us enough to die for our sin.


“But God shows his great love for us in this way: Christ died for us while we were still sinners” (Romans 5:8 NCV).


He didn’t wait until we shaped up or got cleaned up. He didn’t wait until we asked for forgiveness or even knew that we needed forgiveness. God is serious about forgiveness. Listen to what Jesus said in Matthew

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Today’s Truth

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord (Acts 3:19 NIV).

Friend to Friend


Music has always been an important part of my life. I attended college on a music scholarship. The piano was my main instrument, but I also wanted to be a guitarist.


The musical challenge of playing the guitar was not my problem. It was my fingers.


A friend gave me guitar lessons, but after a few hours of practice, my fingertips were sore and raw to the point of bleeding. When I asked him what I was doing wrong, he just laughed and held out his hands, showing me the rough calluses on his own fingers. “When I began playing the guitar, my fingers were just as sore and raw as yours are now. Just keep playing, and your fingers

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Today’s Truth

If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them (James 4:17 NIV).

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Procrastination is one of the greatest sources of stress in life. I once heard a preacher tell the old story of three demons who were arguing over the best way to destroy the Christian movement.


The first demon had it all figured out. “Let’s tell all the Christians that there is no heaven. If we take away the reward incentive, their movement will collapse,” he said.


The second demon responded with, “Let’s tell all the Christians that there really is no hell. If we take away their fear of punishment, their movement will collapse.”


The third demon offered, “There is a better way. Let’s tell all the Christians there is no hurry.” The other demons applauded in delight! “That’s it!” they

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Today’s Truth

“My purpose is to give life in all its fullness” (John 10:10 TLB).

Friend to Friend


I have discovered some wonderful advantages of growing older. Honestly, I can get away with so much more than I could when I was younger – and I love it!


Like many of you, I have paid some heavy life dues. I am enjoying a refreshing freedom in what I say and do – as long as I say and do it in love and with integrity before God.


I am flat-out amazed by the fact that people value my advice. They actually think I know what I am doing. Hilarious! I know!


But I am thrilled to share some of the God-truths I have learned along the way. I’m also free to occasionally respond with a hearty “I don’t have

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Today’s Truth

I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name (Isaiah 45:3 NIV).

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God doesn’t waste any experience in our lives. Some experiences come by His design while others come as consequences of our actions, but they all come with His permission and are filtered through His fingers of love.


While vacationing in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina, our family developed several traditions. One of those traditions was mining for gold.


The routine was always the same. After buying a bucket of muddy rocks, we were handed a mesh-bottomed tray and seated on a mud-covered stool in front of a wooden trough. Cold water rushed down from the mountain above, spilling over the trough’s sides all over us and our clothes.


Lovely!


We slowly filtered the bucket’s contents into the tray, placed the tray

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Today’s Truth

For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect (1 Peter 1:18-19 NIV).

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I grew up in a small country church that loved to sing hymns. One of my favorite hymns was “Power in the Blood.” When that hymn was sung, it seemed like the whole auditorium was filled with God’s power and His presence became more evident.


Blood is mentioned 460 times in the Bible. Fourteen times in the New Testament Jesus spoke of His own blood. Why? Because by the shedding of His blood, He made the possibility of our salvation a reality. He paid the penalty for our sin and redeemed us.


The penalty for our sin and rebellion is death, but Jesus stepped out and said, “I’ll take that death.” He voluntarily laid down His life and took the

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Today’s Truth

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast (Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV).

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I recently read the story of a man who died and went to heaven. St. Peter met him at the Pearly Gates and said, “Here’s how it works. You need 100 points to make it into heaven. You tell me the good things you have done, and I will give you a certain number of points for each deed, depending on how good it was. When you reach 100 points you get to come into Heaven.”


“Okay,” the man replied. “I was married to the same woman for fifty years and never cheated on her, not even in my heart.”


“That’s wonderful,” St. Peter responded. “That is worth two points.” The man was shocked and said, “Only two points?” The

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Today’s Truth

The Lord is my Shepherd. I shall not want (Psalm 23:1 NIV).

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When it comes to the resources that we need for life, this promise from the 23rd Psalm is staggeringly important to remember, because it holds the promise of contentment in our lives. The Lord is my Shepherd. I shall not want. Wow!


A famous actor was once the guest of honor at a social gathering where he was asked to recite favorite excerpts from various literary works. An old preacher who happened to be there asked the actor to recite the twenty-third Psalm. The actor agreed – on the condition that the preacher would also recite it.


The actor’s recitation was beautifully intoned with great dramatic emphasis for which he received lengthy applause. The preacher’s voice was rough and broken

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Today’s Truth

Faithful are the wounds of a friend (Proverbs 27:6 ESV).

Friend to Friend


One of the basic needs of every healthy relationship is confrontation. To confront someone is to meet them head-on in the quest for compromise. Just as God separates us from our sin, He calls us to do the same in our relationships. We must disconnect who they are from what they do, loving the sinner but hating the sin, looking beyond their weaknesses, searching for their strengths.


Sometimes silence is agreement. Confrontation is a gift we bring to every healthy relationship and the unhealthy relationships with which we struggle. Unfortunately, confrontation is a spiritual surgery that tends to be painful. But without it, the cancer of contention and discord will remain free to grow and spread its deadly poison.


When

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Today’s Truth

You, O Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light (Psalm 18:28 NIV).

Friend to Friend


A beekeeper once told author F.B. Meyer how some young bees are nurtured to ensure their healthy development. The queen lays each egg in a six-sided cell filled with enough pollen and honey to nourish the egg until it reaches a particular stage of maturity. The top is then sealed with a capsule of wax.


When the food is gone, it is time for the tiny creature to be released. The wax is so hard to penetrate that the bee can make only a very narrow opening. It is so thin that in the agony of exit, the bee rubs off the membrane that encases its wings. When it finally does emerge, it can fly.


The man telling the story

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"We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well…" 1 Thessalonians 2:8