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Posts by Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth

The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.

Proverbs 11:3

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Flying home from a speaking event, I was thumbing through a magazine someone left behind when the title of an article caught my eye. “Image is everything” the author declared. For a few seconds, I found myself mentally agreeing with the author’s statement until I recognized the subtle lie hidden in the seemingly-benign words.


As followers of Christ, we sometimes focus on developing and presenting the right image while neglecting the spiritual discipline of integrity. Our public lives are only as authentic as our private lives. Image is who and what people think we are while integrity is who and what we really are. Billy Graham once said, “Integrity is the glue that holds our way of life together.

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Today’s Truth

A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.

Proverbs 14:30

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We all know what it is like to be green with envy. We all struggle with jealousy at some point in life. Let’s be honest. How often do we look at another person and covet their success? How many of us are not content to serve God with the gifts He has given us while whining about the fact that others have the gifts we want. We convince ourselves that our longing for a bigger platform is to further the Kingdom when, in reality, that longing is for self-promotion, fame and recognition. Ugly, isn’t it? Jealousy is one of the most dangerous emotions because it is one of the most destructive.


“Anger is cruel, and wrath is like a

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Today’s Truth

He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.

John 15:2

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I try to avoid pain whenever possible.


Pruning sounds painful to me … cutting and tearing away and leaving behind. But I have come to realize that pruning is an important part of the growth process.


Lincoln Love was a member of the first church where my husband was the lead teaching pastor. Before he retired, Lincoln worked for the Department of Defense … or they worked for him … I’m not really sure which was the true chain of command.


Lincoln was short … but only in height. He was a brilliant man with a big heart. Sparkling blue eyes gave away the boyish charm and energizing perspective with which he lived life.


Lincoln and his wife Marion adopted Dan and

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Today’s Truth

The Lord's servants must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone. They must be patient with difficult people.

2 Timothy 2:24

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All relationships require patience. But the more difficult the relationship, the more patience is needed. As a result, we often find ourselves seated in one of God’s waiting rooms, waiting for that exasperating person to become encouraging, hoping that the difficult relationship with which we struggle will become easier. I hate to wait, for anything or anyone, which is the very reason I am in the waiting room to start with and the purpose behind the presence of sandpaper people in my life. They teach us to wait.


It is in those waiting rooms that the condition of the heart is exposed. Who and what we really are emerge from the unique pressure only a difficult relationship can bring.


When

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Today’s Truth

When Jesus saw her, He called her forward and said to her, ‘Woman, you are set free from your infirmity’ 

Luke 13:12

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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 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. He could have called her

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Today’s Truth

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Ephesians 5:21

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Hudson is only three years old, but he is already beginning to grasp the concept of accountability. Somewhere in his little heart, Hudson understands the truth that he needs someone to help him do the right thing. He knows he is weak. He wants to make the right choice, but sometimes he just can’t. And in those moments of weakness, he needs someone to take the decision out of his hands. Hudson has chosen his six-year-old brother Justus to be that someone in his life.


Justus and Hudson love the television show Paw Patrol which is a preschool action series about seven heroic puppies, Chase, Marshall, Rocky, Zuma, Rubble, Skye, and Everest, led by a tech-savvy boy named Ryder.

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Today’s Truth

Faithful are the wounds of a friend.

Proverbs 27:6

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Dan and I just celebrated 42 years of marriage. And every single day has been filled with peace, marital bliss, more peace … and I need to stop right there before a bolt of lightning strikes me dead!


Dan and I have a great marriage – most of the time. Honestly, there have been days when I have thought about getting in the car and driving away. I am sure there have been more days when Dan has had the same thought. We have weathered some severe storms in our marriage, and it is only by the grace of God that we still love and respect each other after all these years. We are best friends – flawed and

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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

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I was in a hurry. It was Wednesday, and I had several errands to run before heading to the church where I teach a monthly Bible study for women. My last stop was the grocery store. I wanted to pick up snacks and drinks for many of the women who came straight from work to the study. It didn’t take long to fill my cart with drinks, chips, fruit and a few bags of the oh-so-necessary chocolate treats. Mission accomplished, I headed to the checkout lane.


I suddenly had the thought that I should check out the Christmas decorations. Huh? Where had that thought come from? True, it was only a few weeks until Christmas, but I didn’t even

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Today’s Truth

so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

Romans 12:5

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A certain expert guide lived in the deserts of Arabia. He was known for his tracking skills and the fact that he never lost his way. The secret of his success could be found in the fact that he carried with him a homing pigeon that had a very fine cord attached to one of its legs. When he had doubts as to which path to take, he threw the bird into the air. The pigeon quickly strained at the cord to fly in the direction of home, leading the guide accurately to his goal. Because of this unique practice, the man was known as “The Dove Man.”


We always need connections to those who will point us in

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Today’s Truth

Never be lazy in your work, but serve the Lord enthusiastically.

Romans 12:11

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I recently stopped at a local discount store to pick up a few things. When I went to check out, the cashier looked very familiar. He must have seen the question in my eyes because he smiled and said, “It’s good to see you, Mrs. Southerland.” When I heard his voice, I immediately recognized him as the manager of a local grocery store where I frequently shopped. Before I could say one word, he explained, “I lost my job at the grocery store. Evidently, I needed to change mission fields for a while.” Now that is what I call a heavenly perspective of an earthly job.


God uses our work as one of His tools to mold us into

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Today’s Truth

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

Colossians 3: 23

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Isn’t it amazing to think God has fashioned a “work” for each one of us to do? We often assume God is only interested in “church work.” Nothing could be further from the truth.


When Jesus lived on earth, He spent most of His time outside the temple walls, with people. He visited their homes, their workplaces, their parties – their lives. Jesus wanted to be with people. We need to have that same attitude when it comes to the workplace. God has placed you in your job for many reasons.


We all want to be successful in our work. Your office may be downtown or just inside your front door. Your work clothes may be a Casper suit or

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Today’s Truth

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

Hebrews 12:11

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As a grandmother, I can testify to the importance of gates. I remember when our grandson Hudson first started walking. He was a champion crawler and he especially loved stairs. We just happened to live in a townhouse that had three flights of stairs, much to Hudson’s delight. Oh, we bought him toys, but they were nothing more than momentary distractions from his favorite toy – the stairs.


When Hudson first learned to climb up the stairs, we bought a gate to keep him from falling down those same stairs. I wondered how he would react to his new confinement. It didn’t take long to find out. When our daughter dropped him off for a visit, Hudson played with

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Today’s Truth

As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples. In fear and amazement, they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him”

Luke 8:23-25

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I hate storms! And yet, it seems that I have just come through a storm, am in the middle of one, or see dark clouds gathering just ahead. Storms are a reality of life. I have always thought of storms as bad things until I look back over my life and see what God has done through them.


Sometimes the storm came to disrupt my path and sometimes it came to clear it.


I have learned who God is on a whole new level and in a more intimate way.


I once thought that every storm was punishment for something I had done in my past.


Jesus and the disciples had just fed thousands of men, women, and children with a few

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Today’s Truth

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.

Romans 8:1-2

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I will never forget the day I discovered that our son is not perfect. Jered was about six months old and crawling everywhere. I had just returned from running errands and was busy putting groceries away in the kitchen, which had a pass-through opening that enabled me to keep an eye on Jered while I worked. He seemed content as he played with his toys, occasionally taking a break to terrorize our two cats.


When Jered first began to crawl, we removed anything that could hurt him, most of our breakables and everything of sentimental value. We left a beautiful conch seashell on the living room coffee table and used it to begin the arduous but vital task of

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Today’s Truth

My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me.

John 10:27

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Voices.


Our lives are filled with voices clamoring for our undivided attention.


Every day … all day.


Have you ever had the thought that God loves you and everyone else has a plan for your life?


My husband was going back to seminary and I wanted a teaching job. Even though I applied early, successfully went through the interview process, and even met with a principal I really liked, my phone was silent. No teaching jobs were available.


Even though my heart was not in it, I began looking for another job. I had to make some money while Dan went to seminary. I landed a coveted job in downtown Ft. Worth at an insurance agency. The people I worked with were wonderful,

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Today’s Truth

The God who made you is like your husband. His name is the LORD All-Powerful.

Isaiah 54:5

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When Dan and I were first married, I really struggled with what to call his parents. Mr. and Mrs. Southerland seemed too formal, but Jerry and Norma seemed too familiar and did not address my level of respect for them. On the other hand, “Mom” and “Dad” were just a little too intimate for me – maybe because I was still working through a lot of issues concerning my dad who died when I was four years old. My mom was both mother and father to me for most of my life. It almost seemed disloyal to address another woman as “mom.”


I solved my problem by not calling them anything – which was not really a solution at

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Today’s Truth

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.

Psalm 23:4

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The greenest grass is always found in the valley. Shepherds and sheep are well acquainted with the fact that both mountains and valleys are an inevitable part of life. Again, the shepherd is the one who has to figure out a way over the mountain and through the valley. If a sheep is injured, the shepherd must carry his sheep and tend to its wounds until they are healed and the sheep is ready to return to the fold. The shepherd’s whole world revolves around the safety and comfort of his sheep, even in the deepest valley.


Valleys are a certainty of life. Your job is eliminated. Your husband is having an affair, or your teenage daughter is pregnant.

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Today’s Truth

Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these’ Matthew 19:14

Matthew 19:14

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I believe that much of our stress is the result of a constant and innate quest to be loved and to love. As a result, the problems come when we look in the wrong places for love.


For years, I desperately struggled to be a Christian with only head knowledge of who God was and wanted to be in my life. The result was a pitifully shallow existence with stress and frustration as my constant companions.


I grew up in a Christian home, attending church every time the doors were open. It was not until middle school that the spiritual integrity of a dynamic youth pastor made me hunger and thirst for something more. I wanted to know God and

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Today’s Truth

For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works.

Ephesians 2:10

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As an elementary school teacher, I am fairly certain I learned a whole lot more than my students did. My first full-time teaching position was in a school of 900 students, K3 through second grade.


As I read over the files of my students, I was appalled at the labels that had been attached to these kids by their previous teachers. At the ripe old age of six, these children were described as corrupt, bad, failures, impossible to control … and one child was actually pronounced “stupid.” I was furious! I was also determined to change the way the children saw themselves. I pulled out all the stops to help them understand how special they were, but “Star of

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Today’s Truth

This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses since He had the same temptations we do, though He never once gave way to them and sinned. So let us come boldly to the very throne of God and stay there to receive His mercy and to find grace to help us in our times of need.

Hebrews 4:15-16

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I learn a lot from our grandchildren. When our grandson Justus was five years old, he came up with what I thought was an ingenious plan for disobedience. Our daughter called one day, laughing. “Mom, I have to tell you what your grandson just said.”


Now when Danna refers to Justus as “your grandson” it generally means he has done something wrong – an extremely rare occurrence as far as I can tell.


Danna said, “I told Justus it was time to put away his toys and get ready for his nap. He stopped what he was doing, and I could tell he was seriously thinking about what I had asked him to do. Then his eyes sparkled, and he

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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. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us.

2 Corinthians 8:1-5

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My husband is a surrendered giver. 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

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4

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You have heard the old saying, “What goes around, comes around.” Truer words were never spoken when talking about encouragement. We all need encouragement – especially during the tough times. Those “tough” times can come in all shapes, sizes and forms and can vary from person to person.


We have one child who has been known to run an extremely high fever, walk around on a broken foot, and have a headache that would put me in bed … all without a word of complaint. The doctors have always been amazed at this child’s high level of pain tolerance. We have another child who has been known to dissolve into hysterics at the sight of a splinter embedded in

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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

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I was raised to be an independent and self-sufficient woman. At an early age, I learned that if I wanted something done right, I needed to do it myself. Consequently, when the hard times come, my first response is often to assure God and everyone else that I am fully capable of handling whatever life throws at me. Like the stubborn toddler, I insist that I can “do it myself!” I have trained my heart and mind to believe the lie that I am in control of my fate, fully able to run my own life, and prepared to call my own shots. In other words, I am playing God.


Several years ago, I underwent what I thought was

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Today’s Truth

Sometime later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, He asked him, ‘Do you want to get well?’

John 5:1-6

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I opened my eyes and came face-to-face with darkness, a very familiar foe. I immediately knew it was going to be one of “those” days. I have struggled with clinical depression for many years and am well acquainted with its ugliness.


A heavy blanket of darkness seems to be weighing me down.


Each step is like trying to walk through quicksand.


Joy and laughter are buried under layers of gripping pain.


The smallest tasks seem like huge mountains to climb.


I don’t want to do anything or see anyone.


I know better. God’s promises have not changed nor has His faithfulness abandoned me. He is with me. He never promised I would have no pits in this life, but He did and does continually

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Today’s Truth

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Isaiah 40:28-31

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Have you ever wanted to “freeze” a moment and make it last a lifetime? I have. I have also lived through certain moments that I wish I could change or even delete and pretend they never happened. But change is a natural part of life. We can embrace it, or we can fight it.


My husband often says that the only people who really like change are wet babies. However, I have discovered that some people thrive and live for change to the point that they are “change junkies” and have little stability. Others dig in their heels and refuse to change a thing and ultimately become prisoners of old habits – both good and bad. When it comes

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Today’s Truth

You, O Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.

Psalm 18:28

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A beekeeper once told author F.B. Meyer how some of the young bees are nurtured to ensure their healthy development. The queen lays each egg in a six-sided cell, which is filled with enough pollen and honey to nourish the egg until it reaches a certain 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 narrow that in the agony of exit, the bee rubs off the membrane that encases its wings. When it finally does emerge, it is able

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Today’s Truth

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right. It is God’s way of preparing us in every way, fully equipped for every good thing God wants us to do.

2 Timothy 3:16

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If we really want to know God, if we really want to understand who and whose we are, the Bible must have the highest place in our lives. We don’t have to be a Bible scholar or have a firm grip on the Hebrew and Greek languages to know and apply God’s promises. As we read the Bible, the Holy Spirit will give us understanding and teach us how to apply God’s truth.


A disciple is a follower and a student. If we want to follow God and be His disciple, then we must understand the importance of the Bible, love the Word, and spend time in it. I thought I was doing a fair job of loving God’s

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Today’s Truth

So, let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.

Galatians 6:9

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The story is told of a great pianist who was scheduled to perform for a small country town. Everyone in the town was excited since they rarely had the opportunity to hear a famous musician. A young mother was especially excited. Her son had been taking piano lessons and showed great promise. However, he hated to practice. His mother was hoping that if her son saw the great pianist perform, he would be motivated to take his music more seriously.


The night of the concert finally arrived, and it seemed as if everyone in town had come. As the young mother settled her son in his seat, her attention turned to the crowd pouring in. Everyone was dressed in

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Today’s Truth

So we do not look at what we can see right now, the troubles all around us, but we look forward to the joys in heaven which we have not yet seen. The troubles will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever.

2 Corinthians 4:18

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In an effort to escape the brutal summer heat of South Florida, our family headed to the beautiful mountains of North Carolina. We splashed in the icy mountain streams until our hands and feet were almost numb from the cold and spent as much time outside as we possibly could; trying to soak up the cool, crisp mountain air. The Blue Ridge Parkway was one of our favorite spots for hiking, so we planned a day trip that included exploring a few hiking trails, a picnic, and a visit to the beautiful and historic colonial home of Carl Sandburg.


We woke to discover the beautiful weather of the day before had dissolved into a soupy mix of drizzle and

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Today’s Truth

But if we confess our sins, He will forgive our sins, because we can trust God to do what is right. He will cleanse us from all the wrongs we have done.

1 John 1:9

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As a little girl, I always looked forward to the first day of summer vacation because it meant two things. First, I did not have to sit in a classroom all day wasting precious brain power trying to comprehend and learn what I considered to be useless information. Second, I did not have to wear shoes except when I went to church or when my mother handed down the decree, “If you are going with me, you have to wear shoes.” It had to be a really important errand for me to don even a pair of sandals or flip-flops.


Those first few days of my shoeless adventures were always a painful shock to my tender feet since my

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Today’s Truth

May He give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.

Psalm 20:4

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Did you know that the African impala is able to jump over ten feet high and cover a distance of greater than thirty feet? Yet these magnificent creatures can be kept in any zoo by a three-foot wall. The animals will not jump if they cannot see where their feet will land.


I can really relate.


I like to consider myself a woman of great faith, but if I am brutally honest, I tend to be more like an impala. I want to understand every step of God’s plan, and I want to know exactly where the finish line is for that plan.


I have come to the conclusion that many of our problems stem from the fact that we are

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Today’s Truth

Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.

James 1:12

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Patience is not one of my greatest strengths. In fact, I tend to live each day with a schedule in mind – an agenda by which to live that day and several goals I need to meet before the day’s end.


God does have a sense of humor.


I can’t tell you how many times my schedule falls apart, the agenda is completely forgotten, and I have to move today’s goals to tomorrow’s list of things to do. I am learning that when God wants to build a certain quality in my life, He puts me in the opposite circumstance. For example, if God wants me to be more patient, He arranges the hours and minutes of my day in

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Today’s Truth

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from Him.

Psalm 62:5

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As we drove through the scenic mountains of North Carolina, I could feel my soul begin to settle and my spirit grow quiet. It was a welcome feeling … one that was a long time coming.


We had been vacationing at Lake Lure since our children were toddlers. Now Jered and Danna are married and have children of their own. And we were about to meet all of them for a whole week of vacation together!



Could. Not. Wait.

But I really needed a little time to just be still. To set aside the busy schedule I had just left behind. To reset my heart and mind on the precious lives and legacy about to arrive, yelling “Mimi” as they scampered

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Today’s Truth

Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.

Mark 10:15

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When I answered the phone and heard the frantic edge in my husband’s voice saying, “I’m okay! I’m okay!” I knew he was not okay.


My husband has had heart problems for years. I know a lot about irregular heartbeats, a fib, cardio versions, heart ablations, and defibrillators. When his heart is not in a normal rhythm, he experiences a shortness of breath, extreme fatigue, lightheadedness, and cannot climb even a few stairs without wheezing. That is normal for us when he is in a fib. But we soon learned that this time around, he was also dealing with a drastic drop in blood pressure – to the point that he blacks out for a minute or two.


Dan was

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Today’s Truth

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

Hebrews 11:1

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Nori is our youngest grandchild. Her blue eyes, quick smile, and spunky personality will capture your heart in a split second. But one of the things I love most about Nori is the faith she has in her daddy. It is the kind of faith I want to have in my God.


Our son Jered is a construction project manager and a master carpenter. Since he was a little boy, he has loved building and repairing things. That love has grown into a profession that now provides for his family.


One Sunday all of the kids and grandkids were at our house for lunch. The six grandkids were playing in our basement while the adults visited upstairs. Suddenly I heard

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Today’s Truth

As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah 55:9

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Sometimes I just don’t get it. I have been a Christ follower for over 50 years, written books and devotions, and spoken for women’s conferences and events across the world. I founded Journey Ministry and serve with Sharon Jaynes and Gwen Smith as part of a ministry to women, Girlfriends in God. Over the years, God has brought me out of more pits than I can count, and I’ve been attending church since the day I was born. My faith in God should be unwavering, and I should never doubt or question Him or His plan.


But sometimes I do.


Several years ago, I received a phone call telling me that a young mother (whom we will call Sally) in

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Today’s Truth

Faithful are the wounds of a friend.

Proverbs 27:6

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A certain expert guide lived in the deserts of Arabia. He was known for his tracking skills. He never lost his way. The secret of his success could be found in the fact that he carried with him a homing pigeon that had a very fine cord attached to one of its legs. When he had doubts as to which path to take, he threw the bird into the air. The pigeon quickly strained at the cord to fly in the direction of home, leading the guide accurately to his goal. Because of this unique practice, he was known as “the dove man.”


We always need connections to those who will point us in the right direction. We will

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Today’s Truth

Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.

James 1:19

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It had been a very long and extremely hard day. My husband’s grandmother had died, and we had just returned from her funeral. Trying to establish a sense of normality for our two young children, I unpacked suitcases, started the laundry, and spent some time playing with Jered and Danna. After a dinner during which Dan and I tried to lighten the atmosphere with silly bantering, we got the kids ready for bed.


Dan and Danna headed to her room for one last game of “Pretty, Pretty Princess” before bed. (And let me just say that you have not lived until you have seen Dan Southerland in a tiara and pink plastic earrings!) Jered and I settled in his

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Today’s Truth

You don’t have enough faith, Jesus told them. ‘I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.

Matthew 17:20

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I am constantly amazed at the way God works in my life. He constantly puts me in situations that are so over my head and beyond my ability that His presence and power are my only hope and the only possible explanation.


As a high school senior, I began taking organ lessons from our church organist. I had played the piano for years but never touched the organ, which requires an entirely different technique. I had a grand total of eight one-hour lessons under my belt when the phone call came.


“Mary, we have a county-wide crusade coming up in two months and would like for you to be our organist.” My first thought was that one of my friends

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Today’s Truth

Don't turn off the road of goodness; keep away from evil paths.

Proverbs 4:27

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At the close of the sermon, a church member came forward to speak with the pastor. He was very upset because of the sin in his life and his blatant disobedience to God. With tears streaming down his face, the repentant man took the pastor’s hand to confess that his life was full of sin, but what came out was, “My sin is full of life.” I can relate.


I don’t know about you, but my sin is definitely “full of life.” I am always amused but also saddened by people who think that just because I am in full-time ministry, I am holier than they are, better than they are, or don’t have to battle sin like they

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Today’s Truth

I pondered them in my mind.

Nehemiah 5:7

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We all have to deal with anger. One of the first steps in dealing with our anger – God’s way – is admitting that we are angry. That sounds so simple. It isn’t.


Instead of admitting that we are angry, we explain away our fury by using the excuse that we are simply upset. Really! We are just frustrated. My personal favorite is that while I may look and sound angry, what I really am is exhausted and tired. Why is it so hard to admit that we are just plain mad? It is the first step to dealing with anger – the right way.


Admitting our anger does not mean giving that anger free reign. In fact, just the

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Today’s Truth

So encourage each other and give each other strength.

1 Thessalonians 5:11

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Yep! It is hard to love people who are hard to love. But they are the ones who need love most. I know. I am sometimes hard to love and I desperately need the love of those around me who can look past my flawed behavior to the hidden pain.


We once lived in South Florida where we experienced a couple of unlovable neighbors. In fact, they seemed to thrive on being unlovable … but our children were determined to love them anyway.


Jered and Danna made special Christmas cards for these neighbors, the Smiths, and wanted to deliver those cards in person. I suggested they wait until their dad came home so he could get in on the fun.

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Today’s Truth

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him. Matthew 7:7-11

Matthew 7:7-11

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Dan and I now have six grandchildren … and I am in so much trouble. I want to give them everything! I know love is the most important gift I can give them, but I love to give in other ways, too.


I usually have a list of the hottest toys in hand when I go shopping, as was the case the last time I took our daughter-in-law shopping. But I only found half of the items on my list. I was not happy!


When Jodi hugged me and thanked me for the gifts, I looked at her and said, “You are welcome, honey, but it’s not enough!” Jodi chuckled, but I was serious!


“No, you don’t understand,” I continued. “We

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Today’s Truth

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:7

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Our grandson Justus has such an amazing relationship with Jesus Christ. Justus is eight years old and has been a follower of Christ for three years. His heart truly has been captured by the Father. I have often been the student and Justus the teacher since he met Christ. Such was the case after the horrific mass shooting at a high school in Florida.


We lived in South Florida for many years. Our children grew up in Ft. Lauderdale. When I heard the newscaster reporting a mass shooting in South Florida, I stopped in my tracks.


A teen gunman had opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle at his former high school in Parkland, Florida, killing 17 people and wounding many

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Today’s Truth

Sing to God, sing praises to His name; Cast up a highway for Him who rides through the deserts; whose name is the Lord, and exult before Him.

Psalm 68:4

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I love the story of the woman who woke up one morning, looked in the mirror, and noticed she had only three hairs on her head. “Well,” she said, “I think I’ll braid my hair today. She did, and she had a wonderful day. The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror, and saw that she had only two hairs on her head. “Hmm,” she said, “I think I’ll part my hair down the middle today.” She did, and she had a great day. The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror, and noticed that she had only one hair on her head. “Well,” she said, “today I’m going to wear my hair in

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Today’s Truth

A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flar.

Proverbs 15:1

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It had been one of “those” mornings and I was behind schedule in preparing to teach the women’s Tuesday morning Bible study at our church. I am fairly certain I did not exude peace and joy as I rushed around – as my Mama would say – like a chicken with its head cut off. The auditorium was set up correctly. The sound man had my power point ready to go and was waiting to do a sound check. The coffee pot was plugged in and doing its thing. Smiling ladies gathered to greet each other as they arrived. I paused and breathed a sigh of relief. It looked like everything was ready – everything except my heart.


I knew I

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Today’s Truth

He is not here; He has risen!

Luke 24:6

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The boys and girls in Mrs. Stephens’ fourth grade Sunday school class entered the room and quickly found their seats. The girls were dressed in frills and lace and chatting excitedly about the candy-filled baskets they had received that morning. The boys pulled at the unfamiliar ties around their necks and quickly discarded the sports coats they had obviously been forced to wear. The room was filled with excitement – for good reason. It was Easter Sunday.


Mrs. Stephens wanted to help her students understand that there is so much more to the Easter holiday than new clothes, chocolate bunnies, and egg hunts. Easter is more than family gatherings and tables filled with luscious food. Easter is about life.

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Today’s Truth

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

Psalm 23:1

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Storms are a reality of life. That’s the bad news. The good news is that God is bigger than any storm we will ever face.


When our daughter, Danna, was a toddler, she and her daddy had a favorite game. Dan would place her in some high spot. He would then hold up his arms, and say, “Jump to Daddy!” I hated that game, but Danna loved it. She would always jump into his arms, laughing and giggling. One day, Dan picked a spot that seemed just a little too high for Danna’s taste. She did what I do when I get scared. She closed her eyes. When her dad said, “Jump!” she said, “I can’t! I can’t see

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Today’s Truth

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

Psalm 23:1

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Stress is a familiar and faithful companion. It doesn’t matter where life takes us, we will encounter stress. Unless we learn to manage and deal with that stress – God’s way – we will find ourselves trapped, an easy target for the enemy.


I heard the story of a farmer who, as the owner of a large piece of land along the Atlantic seacoast, constantly advertised for hired hands. Most people were reluctant to work on farms along the Atlantic because of terrible storms known to plague the area. As the farmer interviewed applicants for the job, he received a steady stream of refusals. Finally, a short, thin middle-aged man applied for the job. “Are you a good farm

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Today’s Truth

I'm sure you have heard about the Good News for the people of Israel - that there is peace with God through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.

Acts 10:36

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I love the story of the little girl who was working very hard on her homework one night. As the hours went by, her parents became very curious and asked her what she was doing. “I’m writing a report on the condition of the world and how to bring peace,” she replied. Her parents were impressed! “Isn’t that a big assignment for just one person?” her dad asked. With complete confidence the little girl responded, “Don’t worry, Dad. There are three of us in the class working on it.” Wouldn’t it be wonderful if finding and experiencing peace was that easy?


We work hard at peace – in our world, in our homes, in our relationships, and in our

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Today’s Truth

We serve God whether people honor us or despise us, whether they slander us or praise us. We are honest, but they call us impostors. We are well known, but we are treated as unknown. We live close to death, but here we are, still alive. We have been beaten within an inch of our lives. Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything.

2 Corinthians 6:8-10

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When golf balls were first manufactured, their covers were smooth. Golfers soon discovered that after a ball had been roughed up a bit they were able to get more distance out of it. Manufacturers then began producing golf balls with dimpled covers.


Life is a lot like that.


It takes some rough spots to make us go our farthest.


It takes some storms to teach us that God is faithful and will provide the strength to stand firm.


The Apostle Paul knew all about storms. As a fully devoted follower of Christ, Paul was despised, slandered, mistreated, abused and poor. He had every right to be angry and distressed but instead chose joy. “We own nothing, and yet we have everything.” (2

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Today’s Truth

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up.

1 Thessalonians 5:11

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The red bird gently landed on the tree branch in front of the kitchen window.


Carla gasped when the bird first appeared. But then a smile slowly spread across her face as she closed her eyes and whispered a reverent prayer, “Thank You, Lord.”


It was definitely a holy moment. I didn’t really know why. I just felt it.


“What was that all about?” I finally asked.


My sweet friend sighed, still staring at the red bird.


“Mary, it has been a really hard week. This morning, I couldn’t take it any more. I lost it, and just ranted and raved, pouring out all of my anger and frustration to God!” Tears began to down her cheeks. I hugged her … and then

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Today’s Truth

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from Him

(Psalm 62:5

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I could tell it was going to be another long night. I could not sleep. I prayed. I tossed and turned for what seemed like hours. But a quick glance at the alarm clock said it was only 2:30 a.m. I know. Only 2:30 a.m. Right? Hours of darkness spread before me and the battle was on.


I cried out to God, “Father! Why can’t I sleep? I am so tired and have been for weeks. You know that, Lord. Please let me rest!”


It was as if the Lord Himself walked into my room … into my soul … into my mind and said, “Finally! I have been waiting for you to come to the place where you realize

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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

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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. For weeks, 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. She never pulled up on a piece of furniture and never took “a” step. 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

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Today’s Truth

And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast

1 Peter 5:10

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The sounds of voices in the distance crept through my drug-induced fog. People talking, hospital beds clanking – the sounds of the recovery room all slowly but surely helping me wake from surgery.


I had separated my shoulder. The orthopedic surgeon explained that he not only needed to get my collar bone back in the right place, but that I had torn muscles, tendons, and nerves that needed to be repaired. In other words, surgery was my only option unless I wanted to live with excruciating pain and have a crooked collarbone for the rest of my life. When I asked the surgeon why he couldn’t just pop it back into place like they do in the movies, he

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Today’s Truth

I’ve loved you the way my Father has loved Me. Make yourselves at home in My love

John 15:9

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Our twin grandchildren were born on December 2. Their mom and dad go out of their way to make their birthday special since it is so close to Christmas. But Jodi wanted to make this year’s birthday celebration extra-special since Lelia and Jaydan were turning 10 – the first double-digit birthday!


Jodi and Jered sectioned off half of their basement garage for games like hot potato, beanbag toss, and the old fashioned game of Gossip. Thankfully, the weather co-operated. It was a gorgeous day with fresh, crisp autumn air, clear blue skies, and just the hint of a breeze. The kids played soccer, football, and even one or two games of Red Rover until we remembered why we should

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Today’s Truth

Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; He’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all. Run to God!

Proverbs 3:5-6

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After a long and tenacious conversation with the orthopedic surgeon, I finally resigned myself to the fact that shoulder surgery was in my near future. I had managed to separate my shoulder – and a Southerland does nothing half way. Oh, no! I even looked it up. And I quote, “Surgical intervention when treating a separated shoulder is very rare and only performed in the most severe cases.” I was a severe case, which was evidenced by the amount of pain I was in, but refused to admit. I had endured said pain for 10 days until I finally gave in and went to my general practitioner who promptly sent me to an orthopedic surgeon. I said, “Fine!

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Today’s Truth

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:7

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My husband, Dan, has battled high blood pressure since we first married over thirty years ago. Hmmm…now that I think about it, there just might be a connection there! Nevertheless, for several years, Dan struggled with an irregular heartbeat, a debilitating condition that drains energy and generally promotes a compelling sense of exhaustion.


Now you need to understand something very important about my husband. Dan Southerland is not accustomed to doing anything short of full speed ahead, so you can imagine his frustration and my concern. Little did I know that the opportunity for fear and worry would escalate to a whole new level when, at 2:30 am on March 15, Dan looked at me and said, “Honey, I think

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Today’s Truth

“He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver”

Malachi 3:3

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The story is told of a group of women who met each week to study the Bible, hoping to learn more about the nature and character of God and how He works in our lives. The women were puzzled and even a little troubled by the description of God they found in Malachi 3:3, “He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.” One of the women offered to do a little research on the subject and report back to the group at their next meeting.


The woman found a local silversmith and made an appointment to observe him at work, explaining that she was particularly interested in the process of refining silver. She watched as the craftsman

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Today’s Truth

The LORD is my shepherd. I am never in need. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside peaceful waters. He renews my soul. He guides me along the paths of righteousness for the sake of his name. Even though I walk through the dark valley of death, because you are with me, I fear no harm. Your rod and your staff give me courage. You prepare a banquet for me while my enemies watch. You anoint my head with oil. My cup overflows. Certainly, goodness and mercy will stay close to me all the days of my life, and I will remain in the LORD’s house for days without end.

Psalm 23:1-6

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Christmas is my favorite time of the year! When our children were younger, a whole set of rules surrounded buying our Christmas tree. It must be purchased on the day after Thanksgiving, and it must be purchased from the nice man who ran a tree lot just down the street from our house because he had the best Frasier Firs in town.


We all piled into “Old Blue,” my husband’s well-worn truck, and headed for the tree lot two minutes away from our house. When we arrived, my husband and our children fanned out in search of “the tree.” As tradition demanded, my husband, Dan, immediately began muttering, “Bah, humbug” under his breath, but just loud enough for us

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Today’s Truth

But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of Him everywhere. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. 2 Corinthians 2:14-16

2 Corinthians 2:14-16

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I tend to be a creature of habit in many ways – a fact that impacts all areas of my life – even when it comes to smells. I know. A little strange, but let me explain.


While teaching third grade at an elementary school in Texas, I habitually took the same route to work every morning. The elementary school was only a fifteen-minute drive from our home, and there were several different and even shorter routes I could have taken. However, the one I normally took went by a bakery at the precise time they were gearing up for the day. The aroma of fresh bread was like a magnet that lured me in to grab a hot

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Today’s Truth

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever.

Psalm 23:1-6

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As I drove home from a busy day of running errands, my thoughts drifted to the absurd schedule through which I had hurled myself that day. It was a schedule without margins, every moment assigned to something or someone. My stress level grew with every task, threatening to overwhelm my heart and soul in a torrential downpour of anxiety and tension. I couldn’t wait to get home, change into my comfort clothes and sink into solitude and rest. But stress was waiting to greet me, just inside my front door. Children needed clean clothes, hot food, transportation to various events, help with homework and a listening ear. My husband had experienced the same kind of chaotic day I

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Today’s Truth

Now as they went on their way, He (Jesus) entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to what He was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to Him and asked, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.’ But the Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her’

Luke 10:38-42

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As I watched the movie “Twister,” I was reminded of the small Texas town where I grew up. Tornadoes were a common occurrence in Brownwood. When ominous dark clouds gathered and the possibility of tornadoes increased, warning sirens screamed a warning, and everyone headed for the nearest shelter. Our shelter was an old, musty storm cellar in the back yard where my family huddled until the “all clear” siren sounded. I hated storms and always hoped that each storm would be the last storm. It never was.


Life is filled with storms – overcrowded schedules, emotional bankruptcy, and physical exhaustion. Emotions spin out of control and chaos reigns. My first reaction is to run and hide until the storm

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Today’s Truth

Now as they went on their way, He entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home.

Luke 10:38

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Balance always requires a fierce and ruthless examination of priorities. Our true priorities are not just lists of activities. They are candid reflections of our heart desires. What we deem important receives the most time, energy, attention and resources. The importance of right and balanced priorities is illustrated by the life of Martha.


Jesus knew that He was always welcome in the home of Martha. Scripture tells us that Jesus “had no place to lay His head,” but He often came to this home when He needed to rest or get away from the demanding crowds. At the age of thirty, the Son of God left His natural home and there is no record of His ever returning to

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Today’s Truth

If you love Me, you will obey what I command.

John 14:15

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Obedience is an active choice to do what God wants us to do. Obedience is not just an outward motion, but an inner attitude as well.


I love the story of a small child who was running an errand with his dad. The little boy scrambled into the front seat of the car and stood beside his father. When the dad told his son that he had to sit down and put on his seat belt, the boy refused. “But Dad, if I sit down I can’t see anything,” he argued. The boy’s father smiled and said, “I know, Son. But I love you and want to take care of you. What if we had a wreck? Wearing a

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Today’s Truth

The LORD is my shepherd. I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He refreshes my soul.

Psalm 23:1-3

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Life is so daily and often filled with uncertainty, a reality that can make me very nervous. I want to know what the plan is and how that plan is going to be implemented. Details! I need details!


Instead, God calls me to rest. I don’t want to rest. When I rest, I feel guilty. I have places to go, people to see, and important things to do. I hear the quiet whisper of the One who knows me best and loves me most, “Mary, it is time to rest.” I have tried to ignore that whisper on more than one occasion, but it is only a temporary maneuver on my part.


The Lord is my Shepherd, He is used to dealing

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Today’s Truth

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son.

John 3:16

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Do you dread the Christmas holidays or do you look forward to them? Did you promise yourself that this Christmas would be different? How is that working out for you? I have been there many times and want to share some tips that will help you get the most out of the holiday season.


Create a Christmas countdown calendar. Plan a special holiday event to mark each day of the season. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate.



Plan an evening with hot cocoa in front of a crackling fire.
Choose one night of the week to watch a Christmas movie or program.
Make picking the perfect tree a family event.
Buy a box of Chocolate-covered cherries and eat one a day.
Buy or
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Today’s Truth

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son.

John 3:16

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It is the Christmas season – my favorite time of the year! I know many of you are still looking for the perfect gift, wrapping presents, baking your famous sugar cookies, packing the car for a long trip, and wrestling with overly excited children. Ho! Ho! Ho!


Stop right where you are! Take a deep breath and travel back with me to a time when there was no hope and no celebration. I can’t imagine a world without Jesus and yet, many times I live my life as if He doesn’t even exist. A trial comes and I try to handle it on my own. Loneliness floods my heart and instead of reaching out to Him, I withdraw into

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Today’s Truth

He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge Psalm 91:4

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A story in National Geographic several years ago provided an interesting picture of God’s wings. After a forest fire in Yellowstone National Park, forest rangers began their trek up a mountain to assess the inferno’s damage.


At the base of a tree, one ranger found a bird literally petrified in ashes. Dismayed by the strange sight, the ranger knocked the bird over with a stick. To his amazement, three tiny chicks scurried from under their dead mother’s wings. The loving mother, sensing the impending disaster, had carried her chicks to the base of the tree and gathered them under her wings. She could have flown to safety but had refused to abandon her babies. The blaze had descended upon

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Today’s Truth

“Each one should give as you have decided in your heart to give. You should not be sad when you give, and you should not give because you feel forced to give. God loves the person who gives happily.’

2 Corinthians 9:7

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We make a living by what we get out of life, but we make a life by what we give and how we give it. I am convinced that God loves to see us give for no other reason than the joy of giving.


The true story is told of a self-made millionaire who had lived in New York City his entire life. Born and raised in a ghetto, he worked hard and achieved much. Anyone who knew this man would testify to the fact that he was generous – to a fault, some would say. One year, the man was disturbed by an attitude of selfishness and greed that seemed to pervade the Christmas holiday season and everyone

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Today’s Truth

Give thanks to the God of gods. His love endures forever.

Psalm 136:2

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The story is told of a young boy who carved a small sailboat from a block of wood. When the boat was finished, he couldn’t wait to try it out! Racing to a nearby stream, the boy gently slid the boat into the water and let it go. With a quiet reverence, the boy watched his precious boat as it floated away. He did not realize that there was an undercurrent in the stream until the boat was swept away beyond his reach. His precious boat was gone! The little boy frantically searched until there was no light but could not find his boat. With a heavy heart, the young boy headed home.


Several days later, the little boy

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Today’s Truth

Life is worth nothing unless I use it for doing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus – the work of telling others the Good News about God’s mighty kindness and love

Acts 20:24

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God uses our work as one of His tools to mold us into who He wants us to be. When we learn to trust God with our work, we can then view our job as an opportunity to provide the tools we need to accomplish our life mission.


Paul worked as a tentmaker, a church planter, and an author. His purpose and mission never changed, but his work certainly did.


Many of us do not need a different job. We simply need a different attitude and a new point of view about the job we have. Begin by envisioning Jesus standing in the midst of your work place as your real boss. Then look for the life lessons God provides

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Today’s Truth

I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God

Psalm 40:1-3

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In the 1950s, Curt Richter, a Harvard graduate and Johns Hopkins scientist, did a series of experiments that tested how long rats could swim in high-sided buckets of circulating water before drowning. Dr. Richter found that, under normal conditions, a rat could swim for an average of 15 minutes before giving up and sinking. However, if he rescued the rats just before drowning, dried them off, and let them rest briefly before putting them back into the same buckets of circulating water, the rats could swim an average of 60 hours.


Conclusion: If a rat were saved – even temporarily, it would survive 240 times longer than if it were not saved at all.


Interesting!


How could these rats swim so

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Today’s Truth

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Matthew 11:28

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Physical therapists scare me. They are so friendly and so kind … until they get hold of whatever body part needs therapy. That’s when the torture begins.


At first, the therapist is gentle, lulling you into a false sense of comfort. Then it begins. I soon learned that they push just a little past the point where pain begins and your trust in them ends, doing very little to change my mind about the role of a physical therapist.


Several months ago I had extensive surgery for a separated shoulder. For six weeks, my surgeon threatened me within an inch of my life about not moving my arm and shoulder at all. When I went in for a follow-up visit,

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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

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“You need surgery, Mary,” the doctor said. Surely I had heard him wrong. My summer plans flashed before my eyes, and I clearly did not have time for surgery.


I had writing projects to complete, trips to take with our grandchildren, my usual painstakingly thorough summer house cleaning, several home improvements to complete … the list was impressive.


The doctor’s words interrupted my thoughts, “When can we get you on the schedule? We don’t want to wait too long.” I simply could not believe what he was telling me.


I had gone to see my general practitioner after a pretty nasty fall, but I just thought I had bruised my collarbone or pulled a ligament in my shoulder. He x-rayed my

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Today’s Truth

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

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I am told that in the famous lace shops of Belgium there are certain rooms used for spinning the finest and most delicate designs of lace. Each room is completely dark – except for one small window. Through this tiny window, light shines directly on the work at hand. A solitary spinner works in the darkness, sitting where the narrow stream of light will fall on the delicate thread. The choicest pieces of lace, the most exquisite designs, are created when the worker is in the dark and only his work is in the light.


When it comes to dealing with our past, we often find ourselves sitting in the darkness of frustration and pain, wondering if anything good

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Today’s Truth

“But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”

Luke 6:27-28

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I sometimes think the holiday season should come with a warning label that reads, “The Sandpaper People are coming!” Holidays usher in many things – one of which is the opportunity to deal with the difficult people in our lives. The relative that irritated you last Thanksgiving may very well do the same exasperating things this year. The people waiting in line with you will most likely be impatient and grumpy, and the person checking you out will probably be exhausted and running on fumes. Now is the time to get ready to deal with your sandpaper people – the people who rub you the wrong way.


God created us with the capacity for strong emotions. Sandpaper people not

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Today’s Truth

For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16

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“You will never be able to have biological children,” the doctor said. After years of painful tests, expensive treatments, frustrating procedures, and desperate pleas and prayers, our hopes of having children were shattered by his harsh diagnosis. “Then we will adopt” my husband immediately replied. I wasn’t so sure. Could I love another woman’s baby as much as a child I would give birth to? I just didn’t know.


Months later God called Dan to be the Youth Pastor of a church where we met a Christian attorney. “We’d like to talk with you about adoption,” Dan said. Ron’s response wasn’t encouraging. “I rarely do adoptions, but come by my office and fill out the papers – just in

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Today’s Truth

God did not give us a spirit that makes us afraid but a spirit of power and love and self-control.

2 Timothy 1:7

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We all battle fear. Fear constantly tries to elbow faith aside, hoping to derail God’s plan and purpose in our lives. Fear keeps many of us from dreaming God-sized dreams, persuading us to settle for safety and comfort instead of riding the waves of possibilities. When faith yanks our hideous fears out of the darkness and into the light, we can see them for what they really are – powerless.


Faith is a three-letter word.


Faith says “yes” to peace and “no” to fear.


It may be one tiny step or one puny choice.


It may be a whispered prayer or a desperate cry.


But God always honors the choice to walk straight ahead through fear. Fear trains us to anticipate the worst

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Today’s Truth

Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow. Though they be as crimson, they shall be like wool.

Isaiah 1:18

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Before becoming a lead teaching pastor, my husband served as a youth pastor for 13 years. During that time, he and I were invited to Washington, D.C. to lead a youth conference in a Korean Baptist Church. It was an amazing week during which God showed up in powerful ways!


At the end of the week, a woman on the Church Youth Committee invited us out to dinner. We went to a wonderful but very expensive restaurant – you know, the kind of restaurant where the menu shows no prices. At the end of the meal, our host went to pay for our meal.


I could see her talking with the restaurant owner, and I could tell that she was

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Today’s Truth

Go to the lost, confused people … touch the untouchables. You have been treated generously, so live generously.

Matthew 10:5

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The heat was brutal. My back was killing me. I was exhausted from a nearly sleepless night, and I had a pounding headache. Every muscle rebelled against the long flights and relentless van rides it had taken to arrive at this rural village in India. I longed for a relaxing, hot bath, but what I had was a bucket of cold water and a plastic cup with which to bathe.


My outer appearance certainly denied my inner attitude. I plastered what I thought must surely be a spiritual kind of smile on my face in an effort to portray the mercy and love I wanted to share. My husband and I were on a 19-day whirlwind trip to South

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Today’s Truth

For he [Abraham] was looking forward to the city with firm foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

Hebrews 11:10

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Our son was born to be a builder. From the time he could hold a plastic red hammer in his toddler-sized hands, Jered began hammering imaginary nails into the coffee table, fixing everything that was broken in our house, and drawing crayon blueprints of various objects he planned to build.


I knew we had a true builder on our hands when Jered built a clubhouse inside our garage. And what a clubhouse it was – complete with four walls, a roof, windows and a door, carpeted flooring and a window air conditioning unit – all of which he scrounged from neighbors, dumpsters and piles of discarded wood at construction sites. If we needed storage cabinets in our garage, Jered

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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

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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. Every friendship must contain the element of risk if it is to grow and mature, reaching its full potential. 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 very future for the sake of her friendship with her

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Today’s Truth

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.

Romans 8:28

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A father was trying to take his Sunday afternoon nap but having little success because his young son kept waking him up with the complaint, “Daddy, I’m bored.” The father knew he needed to come up with some kind of plan to keep the little boy occupied, or there would be no nap. He glanced at the newspaper lying on the coffee table and had what he thought was a brilliant plan to keep his son busy and give him more time to sleep.


The father picked up the paper and pointed to a picture of the world on the front page. “This is a picture of the world, but it is also a puzzle,” the father explained. He then ripped the picture into about fifty pieces, handed them to his young son and said, “I

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Today’s Truth

This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses since He had the same temptations we do, though He never once gave way to them and sinned. So let us come boldly to the very throne of God and stay there to receive His mercy and to find grace to help us in our times of need.

Hebrews 4:15-16

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I learn a lot from our grandchildren. Justus, our eight-year-old grandson, came up with what I thought was an ingenious plan for disobedience when he was a toddler. Our daughter called one day, laughing. “Mom, I have to tell you what your grandson just said.”


Now when Danna refers to Justus as “your grandson” it generally means he has done something wrong – an extremely rare occurrence as far as I can tell.


Danna said, “I told Justus it was time to put away his toys and get ready for his nap. He stopped what he was doing, and I could tell he was seriously thinking about what I had asked him to do. Then his eyes sparkled, and he

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Today’s Truth

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up.

1 Thessalonians 5:11

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Like all relationships, the marriage relationship has a certain dynamic. If one person changes, then the whole relationship will change. I don’t know about you, but I absolutely hate making personal change. It is hard work and more often than not, extremely painful! So when it comes to the marriage relationship, I attempt to make sure that it is my husband who does all of the changing instead of me. Unfortunately, that tactic is not only contradictory to God’s plan for marriage, but it never works and inevitably leads to frustration and friction in the home.


In every relationship, but especially in marriage, God calls us to encourage one another and build each other up. During our first year

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Today’s Truth

My soul, wait thou in silence for God only; for my expectation is from Him.

Psalm 62:5

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Elijah is a great example of a man in need of rest. One day he was the conquering hero, the next time we see him, he is sitting under a Juniper tree, wallowing in self-pity – and begging God to let him die. The poor man was simply exhausted. True, it was an exhaustion produced by victory, but it was still exhaustion.


Elijah called down fire from heaven, proving the existence of the only true God, destroying idols and idol worshipers. Elijah should have been celebrating. So why was he so discouraged? It was a woman, Jezebel, who was largely responsible for his discouragement.


Jezebel was the evil and influential wife of Ahab, King of Israel, and was widely known

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Today’s Truth

The LORD is my light and the one who saves me. So why should I fear anyone? Evil people may try to destroy my body. My enemies and those who hate me attack me, but they are overwhelmed and defeated. If an army surrounds me, I will not be afraid. If war breaks out, I will trust the LORD.

Psalm 27:1-3

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I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when the phone rang and my husband said, “Honey, you need to turn on the television – right now.” It was the middle of the day and I was busy cleaning house, doing laundry and trying to cram in an hour of study time, but the sadness and dread in my husband’s voice stopped me in my tracks. Something was very wrong.


I was still totally unprepared for the horrific scene that played out in vivid reality on the television screen before me. I stared in shock at the surreal images of two airplanes flying into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City.

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Today’s Truth

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4

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I am not normally a fan of boxing, but there is one boxing movie that I love – the first Rocky Balboa movie. Yep! It’s a winner.


One particular part of the movie really grabbed my attention. Over the years, it has produced layers of spiritual truths in my life. I know that’s hard to believe, but it’s true. Stay with me.


Here’s the story. Rocky barely made enough money to buy food and pay the rent on his truly disgusting and roach-infested apartment. Rocky’s job was to retrieve money for a loan shark. Translation? He was a muscle man and probably broke various body parts to collect past due loans for his boss, Gazzo.


But in his spare time, Rocky

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Today’s Truth

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

Proverbs 4:23

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You know how kids are. Older children tend to think it’s their job to educate younger children about the facts of life – and I do mean the facts of life.


Two of our grandsons, Justus who is seven and Hudson who is five, often play with several boys in the neighborhood. Up until now, the older boys have protected Justus and Hudson and have always been kind enough to include them in whatever game they were playing. One of the 10-year-old boys told Danna that Justus and Hudson are the coolest little kids he has ever met. He attends our church and is such a sweet kid. He truly loves our grandsons and thinks of them as his

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Today’s Truth

So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.

Romans 12:5

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Sometimes it is the little things that really get to me. As a writer, I spend a great deal of my time in front of a computer – with which I have a love-hate relationship. I love the convenience a computer offers when it comes to recording the thoughts and truths God gives me to share, but there are times when I would like to throw my laptop into the nearest body of water and be done with it.


I can remember the days when I literally wrote out every word of a lesson or devotion because I was terrified of even trying to use a computer. But the day finally came when I realized that the good reasons

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Today’s Truth

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing.

John 15:4-5

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Anyone who knows me well also knows that I can kill any plant. If you are thinking you have some foolproof gardening tips that can help me, think again. Trust me when I say that I have already heard and tried whatever tip or technique you believe will transform me into a master gardener. It won’t.


But I am not a quitter! What some might call stubbornness, I prefer to call perseverance. And that perseverance has finally paid off! I am now the proud owner of a tower garden.


A tower garden is a vertical aeroponic growing system that allows me to grow up to 20 vegetables, herbs, fruits and flowers in less than three square feet—indoors or out. So

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Today’s Truth

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

Hebrews 11:1

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Valleys are lined with disappointment and discouragement. Some people seem to thrive on adversity, emerging from their valley with greater strength and deeper faith. Others stumble and fall, giving in to discouragement and dropping out of the race. The difference in outcome is determined by the way we choose to handle discouragement.


We must respond to each valley with trust and faith. The word “trust” means, “to lie helpless, face down” and is the picture of a servant waiting for his master’s command or a soldier yielding himself to a conquering general. “Heart” refers to “the center of one’s being.” In other words, to trust God completely means that from the very center of our being, from the very

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Today’s Truth

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.

Psalm 23:4

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The greenest grass is always found in the valley. Shepherds and sheep are well acquainted with the fact that both mountains and valleys are an inevitable part of life.


Remember – the shepherd has to figure out a way over the mountain and through the valley. If a sheep is injured, the shepherd must carry his sheep and tend to its wounds until they are healed and the sheep is ready to return to the fold. The shepherd’s whole world revolves around the safety and comfort of his sheep, even in the deepest valley.


Valleys are a certainty of life. Your job is eliminated. Your husband is having an affair, or your teenage daughter is pregnant. Financial pressure suffocates dreams,

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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

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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

He tends His flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart; He gently leads those that have young.

Isaiah 40:11

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As a little girl, I really did have a little lamb whose fleece was white as snow. I can remember the day my mother showed me the lamb and explained that she did not have a bottle with which to feed the stray lamb. I agreed to let the lamb have my bottle if I could have the lamb. I have been fascinated by the unique relationship between sheep and their shepherd ever since.


The type of shepherding referred to in the Bible is not the farming of fenced pasturelands, but a type of nomadic grazing. The shepherd must carefully plan the path and lead the way so that the sheep have neither too little nor too much grazing,

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Today’s Truth

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.

Romans 8:28

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I will never forget the day I learned how God really can turn tragedy into triumph. I was sitting at my desk, working on an assignment from the counselor I had been seeing. For months, I had been wrestling with my past – slowly, methodically working through painful issues and buried memories that seemed to be feeding the clinical depression I was battling. As page after page filled with harsh realities, a memory slammed into my heart and mind.


The pain was overwhelming as a vile scene from my childhood slowly took shape. I could hardly breathe as I frantically tried to escape the certainty that I had been molested. The perpetrator had been our family doctor and a

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Today’s Truth

Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever.

Psalm 136:26

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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

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your body.

1 Corinthians 6:19

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Through the years, God has grabbed my attention with an illness that drove me to bed or a crisis that drove me to my knees. He is a persistent Father who understands the value of rest. Jesus even modeled the truth that it is in Sabbath moments where we will find Him most precious and hear His voice more clearly. After all, He was in charge of the creation process that included the need for rest. Did God need to rest? Obviously not, but by creating a day of rest, He drove home the fact that our bodies were created in such a way that rest is not an option. Make no mistake – we will rest –

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Today’s Truth

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your body.

1 Corinthians 6:19

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It is much easier to give in to sin or yield to temptation when we are physically depleted. Discipline begins in the mind and then travels to the body. I can hear you groaning already, but stay with me. Sin and temptation often find their greatest opportunity to work in the body.


I have struggled with diet and exercise from childhood. Part of my struggle is rooted in “fluffy” genes lovingly passed down to me through several generations of “fluffy” relatives. The remainder of my struggle is firmly rooted in the fact that I enjoy eating, hate exercise, and sometimes use food as an emotional outlet. Consequently my weight has fluctuated over the years like a championship yo-yo.


Satan rejoiced

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Today’s Truth

Without faith no one can please God. Anyone who comes to God must believe that He is real and that He rewards those who truly want to find Him.

Hebrews 11:6

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I grew up in Texas where tornadoes are a common occurrence. When the clouds took on a peculiar shade of green and the wind began to blow, we would turn on the radio and wait for any news, hoping and praying it was just an ugly storm headed our way. Many times we were forced to climb down into the damp, musty storm shelter buried in our back yard. I hated those storms!


Dan and I had been married several years when God moved us to South Florida where hurricanes seemed to be the norm for native Floridians. Then Hurricane Andrew came along, and I experienced first-hand the devastation these monstrous storms can inflict. I saw nothing normal at

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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