Friday, June 17, 2016

Night Light for Couples - Cool Blades

by Pam Gross

It was a vaguely familiar feeling—a feeling of freedom experienced a lifetime ago. Motion. Speed. Wind. Excitement. Small but present danger. Oh, yes! That same exhilaration that comes with competence. I was doing it! I was rollerblading on the boardwalk at Seaside, Oregon, on a glorious late summer afternoon. Two miles of flat, smooth pavement, sunshine, ocean air. I couldn’t help my smile; it was as ridiculously relentless as a yellow happy face. My body moved with relative ease and a modicum of grace. Push, glide, push, glide—don’t lift the feet so high. Swing the hips. Oops! Too much push means too much glide. Let’s get more control here. Up and down! Up and down! Miles and miles—every once in a while picking up the scent of a cigar as I once again whizzed past my husband reading Tom Clancy on a bench.

Getting tired, I informed my husband that on the next pass I wanted to stop.

“Okay,” he said. “I’ll be ready.”

Stopping was not a skill I had mastered at that point. As I approached him, I slowed to a more manageable speed. He stood up, swung his arms wide, and enfolded me in a great hug.

“I am your stopping post,” he whispered.

I thought, Yes. What a wonderful metaphor. You are my safe stopping place.

I sat for a while on the bench enjoying the moment. Some teenagers sauntered past, talking quietly among themselves. The last, a young man of about thirteen, looked admiringly at my skates, bent down, and murmured just so we could hear, “Cool blades.” Then he picked up his pace to catch his friends. My husband and I said in unison, “Cool blades?” And we laughed.

Then the sunset zealots began converging like football fans on Super Bowl Sunday. I hoisted myself off the bench to make the most of the fading light. Up and down, push and glide. Lost in the exquisite rhythm and the elegant air, I almost missed them. But out of the corner of my eye I glimpsed a bicycle surrey pulled up close to the boardwalk. Four women nested there comfortably in that distinctly female way of companionable silence. I thought they were completely absorbed by the inch‐by‐inch disappearance of the day, but as I moved past, almost out of earshot, I heard the soft call of support: “You go, girl!” To acknowledge, I signaled a “thumbs up” and continued on.

Now, whenever I put on my skates, I hear the young voice saying, “Cool blades,” and I smile. When I think of my husband as a safe stopping place, I smile. When I recall the soft call of support, I smile. I’m sure glad I didn’t take seriously those people who predicted, “Rollerblade? You’re nearly sixty! You’ll kill yourself!”

Kill myself? I’d say I was perfectly alive that day on the boardwalk.

Looking ahead…

The routine of what might be called the safe, predictable life has a way of wearing down wives and husbands. Too many years spent in that same office with the broken air conditioner, mowing that same lawn with the crabgrass that never goes away, scraping the ketchup off those same dishes, and making the same lunches for seemingly ungrateful children can leave married couples bored and restless. What’s the solution?

One answer is to open your mind to the possibilities around you. Learn a new skill… study a new subject… take on a new hobby… pursue a new adventure. Think about what you’ve always wanted to try, then do it. You may even find yourself rollerblading down the boardwalk—and loving it.

- James C Dobson

From Night Light For Couples, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson
Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.
“Cool Blades” by Pam Gross. © 1997. Used by permission of the author. Pam Gross is president of CareerMakers, a life planning and career management firm in Portland, Oregon. She is the author of Want a New, Better, Fantastic Job? and can be reached at either (503) 297‐6689 or

Men of the Bible - Elijah

His name means: "Yahweh Is My God"

His work: Elijah was a prophet active in Israel in the middle of the ninth century BC. His primary work was to combat Baal worship and restore the worship of the true God of Israel.
His character: Like Moses, who stood against the false gods of Egypt and the oppression of Pharaoh, Elijah was a prophet who stood against the worship of Baal at great risk to himself. To do so meant defying Ahab and Jezebel, Israel's royal couple, and trusting God to take care of him when his life was threatened by famine and violence.
His sorrow: Though Elijah was not the only true prophet left in Israel, he appears to have thought he was, perhaps because the rest of the prophets were silent and in hiding. Exhausted after his battle with the false prophets of Baal and his narrow escape from Queen Jezebel, he became so despondent that he prayed God would take his life. Instead, the Lord sent an angel to strengthen him.
His triumph: Elijah was a miracle-working prophet, whose powerful prayer life and whose persistence in speaking God's word helped preserve the faith of God's people during a time of religious persecution.
Key Scriptures: 1 Kings 17-19

A Look at the Man

"How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him." Elijah's no-nonsense challenge seems all the more powerful, all the more compelling nearly three thousand years later because of the witness of his life.

Persecuted for speaking the truth, hunted by powerful enemies, he was a man with the unenviable task of speaking truth to those who held the truth in contempt. His enemies had not only embraced a lie but were forcing it on others. At times the task seemed too heavy to bear. But just when he thought he could not possibly go on, God supplied whatever he needed—rest, food, strength, hope. Elijah never lacked the grace to remain faithful to God. His dedication was unwavering.

It's tempting to think of the prophets as superhuman figures, fanatics who relished delivering one thundering pronouncement after another. But preserving the truth in a time of darkness is the costliest of ventures. It would have taken tremendous moral, emotional, and physical strength to stand against the king and queen, their prophets, and all the rank and file who had embraced their false gods. But strength wouldn't have been enough. Such a task also would have required love—love for God and for the people who had strayed so far from him. Love is what must have kept Elijah on the path God had chosen for him.

Elijah's strong words still strike a chord today. They remind us to stop wavering between two opinions, to stop hedging our bets and straddling the line when it comes to living out our faith in a world that is so often hostile to faith. They remind us that if the Lord truly is God, then we must follow him. And following him means loving him with all our hearts.

Reflect On: 1 Kings 18:41–46; 19:1–8
Praise God: For hearing our prayers.
Offer Thanks: For the way God has answered your prayers in the past.
Confess: Any tendency to believe your prayers won’t make a difference.
Ask God: To show you how to pray for the things he has promised.

Today's reading is a brief excerpt from Men of the Bible: A One-Year Devotional Study of Men in Scripture by Ann Spangler and Robert Wolgemuth (Zondervan). © 2010 by Ann Spangler. Used with permission. All rights reserved. Enjoy the complete book by purchasing your own copy at the Bible Gateway Store. The book's title must be included when sharing the above content on social media.

His Princess Every Day - His Paradise

Devotionals for Women - Inspirational author and speaker Sheri Rose Shepherd imagines what a letter written from God to you would look like.

My Precious Daughter,

Remember that you are not home yet. I know you don’t fully understand now, but the day is coming when I will come for you and take you to the beautiful place I have prepared for you. There is a reason you do not feel at home where you are: I don’t want you to settle into this world. I want you to settle into Me alone. During this life, you are My ambassador of love and hope to those who need to know Me. The time is coming very soon when I will wipe away every tear you’ve ever cried, My beloved. Then you will reign with me on the New Earth I will create. Let your heart dream of eternity, and let your soul soar as you breathe in the amazing thought of being with Me forever.

Your Dwelling Place

No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him. - 1 Corinthians 2:9

Treasure of Truth

Don’t give up hope; you are not home yet.

This devotional is written by Sheri Rose Shepherd. All content copyright Sheri Rose Shepherd 2015. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Visit for devotionals, books, videos, and more from Sheri Rose Shepherd.

Girlfriends in God - God Loves You No Matter What

by Sharon Jaynes

Today’s Truth

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39 NIV).

Friend to Friend

Most of us live in a world of performance-based acceptance. We make good grades and mommy is proud. We look pretty and daddy smiles. We do a good job at work and the boss is pleased. We serve at church and congregation thinks we are “good Christians."

Unfortunately that same sense of having to perform well to be accepted by people can easily roll over into our relationship with God. We falsely believe that we must perform well to be loved and accepted by Him, when nothing could be further from the truth. As a result, we strive to obtain something that we already have…God’s unconditional love.

Anabel Gillham was a woman who loved God, but had trouble accepting that God could love her. Sure, she knew the Bible verses that talked of God’s unconditional love for her. And yet she knew herself and doubted a God who knew her innermost thoughts would approve of her.

Then God used a very special person to help Annabel understand the depths of His love for her – her second child, Mason David Gilham, who was extremely mentally challenged. Let’s let Anabel tell you her story.

I never doubted for a moment that Jesus loved that profoundly retarded little boy. It didn’t matter that he would never sit with the kids in the back of the church and on a certain special night walk down the aisle, take the pastor by the hand, and invite Jesus into his heart. It was entirely irrelevant that he could not quote a single verse of Scripture, that he would never go to high school, or that he would never be a dad. I knew that Jesus loved Mason.

What I could not comprehend, what I could not accept, was that Jesus could love Mason’s mother, Anabel. You see, I believed that in order for a person to accept me, to love me, I had to perform for him. My standard for getting love was performance-based, so I “performed” constantly, perfectly. In fact, I did not allow anyone to see me when I was not performing perfectly. I never had any close friends because I was convinced that if a person ever really got to know me, he wouldn’t like me.

Mason could never have performed for his parent’s love, or for anyone’s love, but oh, how they loved him. His condition deteriorated to such a degree—and so rapidly—that they had to place him in an institution when he was very young. His parents enrolled him in the Enid State School for Mentally Handicapped Children. They drove regularly 120 miles to see him but occasionally also brought him home for a visit.

On one particular visit, Mason had been with them since Thursday evening. On the following Saturday afternoon God painted a vivid picture of His great love for Anabel through Mason. She was standing at the kitchen sink, dreading what lay ahead. In just a few moments, she would be gathering Mason’s things together and taking him back to “his house.” She had done this many times before—and it was never easy—but today God had something in mind that would change her life forever.

“I stood up to the sink again,” she continued. “More dishes, more washing, more crying – and thoughts, foreign to my way of thinking, began filtering into my conscious awareness. I believe God spoke to me that day, and this is what He said: “Anabel, you don’t look at your son and turn away in disgust because he’s sitting there with saliva drooling out of his mouth; you don’t shake your head, repulsed because he has dinner all over his shirt or because he’s sitting in a dirty, smelly diaper when he ought to be able to take care of himself.

“Anabel, you don’t reject Mason because all of the dreams you had for him have been destroyed. You don’t reject him because he doesn’t perform for you. You love him, Anabel, just because he is yours. Mason doesn’t willfully reject your love, but you willfully reject Mine. I love you, Anabel, not because you’re neat or attractive, or because you do things well, not because you perform for Me but just because you’re Mine.

And friend, that’s exactly how God feels about you. He loves you just because you’re His.

Marinate in that love today.

Let’s Pray

Heavenly Father, thank You for loving me unconditionally. You love me when I perform well, and when I fall flat on my face. Help me to love others the same.
In Jesus’ Name,

Now It’s Your Turn

Do you ever feel that God loves you more when you perform well?

I’m guessing you said, “yes.” So tell me, what is wrong with that way of thinking?

More from the Girlfriends

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Standing Strong Through the Storm - FATHERHOOD

For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory. 1 Thessalonians 2:11-12

The Apostle Paul is very specific here in defining a fatherly role and gives three special characteristics of a Christian father. We fathers tend to apply them in reverse order but Paul states them as:

A. Encouraging

Like children, we are often tempted to give up. When that happens, the real need is for someone to come along side who can identify with and encourage them to keep going. A Christian father is one who is always there to give an encouraging word when needed. And the need is often!

B. Comforting

This reference is to the kind of comfort that helps a child or another person carry a burden of grief or pain. Just by coming alongside in this concerned way, the burden is made lighter and the pain is lessened. We were not created to be alone, especially in grief. The Christian father and disciple maker is also always there for times of comfort giving.

C. Exhorting

This is the direction and assertiveness characteristic that should be evident in the father/disciple maker relationship. There are times when the father moves from the side to stand squarely in front and confront them with something that they need to face. The dangers in not exercising this responsibility are very great and should compel us to be diligent toward both our children and our brothers and sisters in Christ.

J.J. Andrews is an elderly Lutheran pastor friend in Rangoon, Burma—now Myanmar—with a great father’s heart for ministry. Several years ago his daughter died of viral hepatitis. Two months later his wife passed away from a broken heart. Six months after that one of his sons suddenly died. He was crushed. He said, "I felt like Job, only no one visited me."

A young Filipino staff member of Open Doors heard about this situation. He made a special trip just to visit Brother J.J. and encourage him. J.J. said, “Thank you for coming in my darkest hour.”

Some months later, I was visiting Brother J.J. in Rangoon. He had his young grand-children laughing and playing around his home. He smiled as he shared unforgettable lessons with me. The words I remember verbatim were, “God rewarded me for my perseverance and healed my broken heart!” The ministry of encouragement is straight from the heart of Father God.

RESPONSE: Today I will commit to being an encourager, comforter and exhorter.

PRAYER: Thank You Lord for Christian fathers who have modelled Your heart with their children.

Verse of the Day - June 17, 2016

Psalm 68:4-5 (NIV) Sing to God, sing in praise of his name, extol him who rides on the clouds; rejoice before him—his name is the Lord. A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.

Read all of Psalm 68