"The Changed Cross" is a poem that tells of a weary woman who taught that the cross she must bear surely was heavier than those of other people, so she wished she could choose another person's instead. When she went to sleep, she dreamed she was taken to a place where there were many different crosses from which to choose. There were various shapes and sizes, but the most beautiful one was covered with jewels and gold. "This I could wear with comfort," she said. So she picked it up, but her weak body staggered beneath its weight. The jewels and gold were beautiful, yet they were much too heavy for her to carry.

The next cross she noticed was quite lovely, with beautiful flowers entwined around its sculptured form. Surely this was the one for her. She lifted it, but beneath the flowers were large thorns that pierced and tore her skin.

Finally she came to a plain cross without jewels or any carvings and with only a few words of love inscribed on it. When she picked it up, itproved to be better than all the rest, and the easiest to carry. And as shelooked at it, she noticed it was bathed in a radiance that fell from heaven. Then she recognized it as her own old cross. She had found it once again, and it was the best of all, and the lightest for

You see, God knows best what cross we need to bear, and we never know how heavy someone else's cross may be. We envy someone who is rich, with a cross of gold adorned with jewels, but we do not know how heavy it is. We looked at someone whose life seems so easy and who carries a cross covered with flowers. Yet if we could actually test all the crosses we think are lighter than ours, we would never find one better suited for us than our own.


When I was a little boy, my mother used to embroider a great deal. I would sit at her knee and look up from the floor and ask what she was doing. She informed me that she was embroidering. I told her that it looked like a mess from where I was, the underside. I watched her work within the boundaries of the little round hoop that she held in her hand.

She would smile at me, look down and gently say, "My son, you go about your playing for a while, and when I am finished with my embroidering, I will put you on my knee and let you see it from my side."

I would wonder why she was using some dark threads along with the bright ones and why they seemed so jumbled from my view.

A few minutes would pass and then I would hear Mother's voice say, "Son, come and sit on my knee."

This I did, only to be surprised and thrilled to see a beautiful flower or a sunset. I could not believe it, because from underneath it looked so messy.

Then Mother would say to me, "My son, from underneath it did look messy and jumbled, but you did not realize that there was a pre-drawn plan on the top. It was a design. I was only following it. Now look at it from my side and you will see what I was doing."

Many times through the years I have looked up to my Heavenly Father and said, "Father, what are You doing?"

He has answered, "I am embroidering your life."

I say, "But it looks like a mess to me. It seems so jumbled. The threads seem so dark. Why can't they all be bright?"

The Father seems to tell me, "My child, you go about your business of doing My business, and one day I will bring you to Heaven and put you on My knee and you will see the plan from My side."


"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Matthew 11: 28-30

Often, as I gaze out the kitchen window in the mornings, there is a bird, usually a dove, perched on a palm tree branch that's yet unfurled From that tippy top vantage point, he can see clearly, for quite a ways, in all directions. The branch might bend and sway, but he doesn't leave until he's ready to take flight again.

I've met people from all walks of life, in various situations, who seem so tired. Not the cheerful lighthearted way that we hear we can be..... wearing the world, and its' cares, as a garment and not a dark consuming cloud enveloping us. Just tired.

We have promises in the Bible about that. One I really like is in the eleventh chapter of Matthew (verses 28-30), where Jesus talks about coming to Him and letting Him give us rest.

There are several translations and meanings for the word "come" in scripture, for example it might mean "come up". And a "yoke" can be something shared by a pair, two with one purpose or task.

Can't you just picture Jesus, our friend, holding out His hand to you, and speaking softly, Hey, you don't have to stay under your circumstances. Bring all your stuff, your cares, your angst, bring it to me. I'll take care of things. I'll take care of you, I'll give you rest for your soul-tired body.

Today, my plan is to purpose and decide to give Him my cares and concerns....come up to that higher ground, and have peace 'in the midst' of everything.

Thank you, Lord, for Your offer, and Your promise! That is good news.

SHAKE IT OFF Author Unknown

A parable is told of a farmer who owned an old mule. The mule fell into the farmer's well. The farmer heard the mule 'braying' - or - whatever mules do when they fall into wells. After carefully assessing the situation, the farmer sympathized with the mule, but decided that neither the mule nor the well was worth the trouble of saving. Instead, he called his neighbors together and told them what had happened...and enlisted them to help haul dirt to bury the old mule in the well and put him out of his misery.

Initially, the old mule was hysterical! But as the farmer and his neighbors continued shoveling and the dirt hit his back...a thought struck him. It suddenly dawned on him that every time a shovel load of dirt landed on his back...HE SHOULD SHAKE IT OFF AND STEP UP! This he did, blow after blow.

"Shake it off and step up...shake it off and step up...shake it off and step up!" he repeated to encourage himself. No matter how painful the blows, or distressing the situation seemed the old mule fought "panic" and just kept right on SHAKING IT OFF AND STEPPING UP!

You're right! It wasn't long before the old mule, battered and exhausted, STEPPED TRIUMPHANTLY OVER THE WALL OF THAT WELL! What seemed like it would bury him, actually blessed him...all because of the manner in which he handled his adversity.

THAT'S LIFE! If we face our problems and respond to them positively, and refuse to give in to panic, bitterness, or self-pity...THE ADVERSITIES THAT COME ALONG TO BURY US USUALLY HAVE WITHIN THEM THE POTENTIAL TO BENEFIT AND BLESS US! Remember that FORGIVENESS -- FAITH -- PRAYER -- PRAISE and HOPE...all are excellent ways to "SHAKE IT OFF AND STEP UP" out of the wells in which we find ourselves!


The famed German writer Goethe offered a list of nine requisites for contented living. They are as timely now as they were when he wrote them 200 years ago.

"Health enough to make work a pleasure. Wealth enough to support your needs. Strength enough to battle with difficulties and overcome them.

"Grace enough to confess your sins and forsake them. Patience enough to toil until some good is accomplished. Charity enough to see some good in your neighbor.

"Love enough to move you to be useful to others. Faith enough to make the real things of God. Hope enough to remove all anxious fears concerning the future."

Goethe showed wisdom in these thoughts, perhaps especially in the use of the word "enough." Often we seek something more, when contentment could come with gratitude for having enough.

There is great gain in godliness with contentment; for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. (1 Timothy 6:6-7)

"Grace me with contentment , Jesus, for after all I do have everything in You. "


In an interview, actor Kevin Bacon shared a conversation he had with his six-year-old son after he had seen the movie Footloose for the first time.

The boy said, "Dad, that was really cool how you jumped up on the roof and swung from the rafters. How did you do that?"

"Well, son, I didn't actually do that part," said Bacon. "A stunt man did."

"What's a stunt man?" asked his son.

"That's someone who dresses like me and does things I can't do. Things that are too dangerous."

"Oh. Well, what about that part in the movie where you spin around on that gym bar and land on your feet," persisted the boy. "How did you do that?"

"Well, son, that was the stunt man again, not me. He's really good at gymnastics."

"Oh." A long pause. "Dad, just what DID you do in the movie?"

Bacon sheepishly replied, "I got all the glory."

Jesus stood in for us so that we could have eternal life and share in God's glory. He was nailed to the cross in our place, to pay for our sins, because he was the only one who could do it and emerge victorious.

GOD'S PLAN Author Unknown

God has a plan for me. It is hidden within me, just as the oak is hidden within the acorn, or the rose within the bud. As I yield myself more fully to God, His plan expresses itself more perfectly through me. I can tell when I am in tune with it, for then my mind and my heart are filled with a deep inner peace. This peace fills me
with a sense of security, with joy, and a desire to take the steps that are a part of the plan.

God's plan for me is a perfect part of a larger plan. It is designed for the good of all and not for me alone. It is a many sided plan and reaches out through all the people I meet. All the events and people who come into my life are instruments of the unfolding of this plan.

God has chosen those people he wants me to know, to love and, to serve. We are continually being drawn to one another in ways that are not coincidental. I pray that I may become a better instrument to love and to serve and that I may become more worthy to receive the love and service of others.

I ask the Father within me for only those things which he wants me to have. I know that these benefits will come to me at the right time and in the right way. This inner knowing frees my mind and heart from all fear, greed, jealousy, anger and resentment. It gives me courage, and faith to do those things which I feel are mine to do. I no longer look with envy at what others are receiving. Therefore, I do not cut myself off from God, the giver of all good things.

God's gifts to me can be many times greater than I am now receiving. I pray that I may increase my capacity to give, for I can give only as I receive, and receive only as I give.

I believe that when I cannot do those things I desire to do, It is because God has closed one door only to leave ajar a better and larger door. If I do not see the door just ahead, It is because I have not seen, heard, or obeyed God's guidance. It is then that God uses the trouble of seeming failure which may result to help me
face myself, and see the new opportunity before me.

The real purpose of my life is to find God within my own mind and heart, and to help my fellowmen. I thank my father for each experience which helps me to surrender my will to his will. For only as I Iose myself in the consciousness of his great presence can his plan for my life be fulfilled.

DEEPER By Sally I. Kennedy

The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7

The small Flats boat was whipping along on top of the sea. No bouncing, just gliding on the glassy waters. What a glorious day! My husband was at the wheel, and as we entered a shallow area, he slowed to make sure we didn't get stuck in the sandy bottom.

Gazing out, I watched the horizon meet the Gulf. I was lost in God's beauty, when Ben exclaimed, "Look at these flats. Lotta grass." Then, " Here's a nice low profile reef."

I peered over the edge, and sure enough, purple sea fans were clearly visible. As we drifted a bit deeper, we could see some larger fish and some coral that had a little more dimension.

Being a fisherman, Ben knows that looking beyond the surface, you see more. The deeper you go in the ocean, the more you see.

It's good to go deeper in the word of God, too. There is more to be seen. More revelation.

It is good, also, to go deeper with the Lord in prayer and meditation. Going deeper with God, and His word, affords us wisdom in our day to day relationships.

The bible tells us that God looks beyond the surface, that He is looking deeper; He is looking at our hearts.

Deeper. Better than shallow. Today may I go deeper with God and His Word.

I ASKED GOD Author Unknown

I asked God to take away my pride.
God said "No".
It is not for me to take away, but for you to give it up.

I asked God to make my handicapped child whole.
God said "No".
Her spirit was whole, her body was only temporary.

I asked God to grant me patience.
God said "No".
Patience is a by-product of tribulations; it isn't granted, it is earned.

I asked God to give me happiness.
God said "No".
I give you blessings, happiness is up to you.

I asked God to spare me pain.
God said "No".
Suffering draws you apart from worldly cares and brings you closer to me.

I asked God to make my spirit grow.
God said "No".
You must grow on your own, but I will prune you to make you fruitful.

I asked for all things that I might enjoy life.
God said "No".
I will give you life so that you may enjoy all things.

I ask God to help me LOVE others, as much as he loves me.
God said... Ahhhh, finally you have the idea!

What if God couldn't take the time to bless us today because we couldn't take the time to thank HIM yesterday?

What if GOD decided to stop leading us tomorrow because we didn't follow HIM today?

What if we never saw another flower bloom because we grumbled when GOD sent the rain?

What if GOD didn't walk with us today because we failed to recognize it as His day?

What if GOD took away His message because we failed to listen to the messenger?

What if GOD didn't send His only begotten Son because He wanted us to be prepared to pay the price for sin?

What if the door of the church was closed because we did not open the door of our heart?

What if GOD stopped loving and caring for us because we failed to love and care for others?

What if GOD would not hear us today because we would not listen to Him yesterday?

What if GOD answered our prayers the way we answer His call to service?

What if GOD met our needs the way we give Him our lives???

THE SNEEZE Author Unknown

They walked in tandem, each of the ninety-three students filing into the already crowded auditorium. With rich maroon gowns flowing and the traditional caps, they looked almost as grown up as they felt.

Dads swallowed hard behind broad smiles, and moms freely brushed away tears.

This class would not pray during the commencements ----- not by choice but because of a recent court ruling prohibiting it. The principal and several students were careful to stay within the guidelines allowed by the ruling. They gave inspirational and challenging speeches, but no one mentioned divine guidance and no one asked for blessings on the graduates or their families.

The speeches were nice, but they were routine.......until the final speech received a standing ovation.

A solitary student walked proudly to the microphone. He stood still and silent for just a moment, and then he delivered his speech ... an astounding -- SNEEZE!

The rest of the students rose immediately to their feet, and in unison they said, "GOD BLESS YOU." The audience exploded into applause. The graduating class found a unique way to invoke God's blessing on their future with or without the court's approval.


I'm part of the fellowship of the unashamed. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made. I'm a disciple of Jesus Christ.

I won't look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still. My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, my future is secure. I'm finished and done with low living, sight walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, mundane talking, cheap living, and dwarfed goals.

I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. I don't have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded. I now live by faith, lean on His presence, walk by patience, lift by prayer, and labor by power. My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven, my road is narrow, my way rough, my companions few, my Guide reliable, my mission clear.

I cannot be bought, deluded, or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of the adversary, negotiate at the table of the enemy, or meander in the maze of mediocrity. I won't give up, shut up, let up, until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up, preached up for the cause of Christ.

I am a disciple of Jesus. I must go till He comes, give till I drop, preach till all know, and work till He stops me. And when He comes for His own, He will have no problem recognizing me-my banner will be clear!

- This is a statement, or a compiling of statements by "Uncle Buddy" Robinson.

IF JESUS CAME Author Unknown

If Jesus Came
Would you have to change your clothes before you let Him in?
Or hide some magazines, and put the Bible where they had been?

If Jesus Came
Would you hide your worldly music and put some Christian music on?
Would you let Jesus walk right in, or would you rush about?
And I wonder, if the Savior spent a day or two with you,
Would you go right on doing the things you always do?

If Jesus Came
Would you go right on saying, the things you always say?
Would life continue as it does from day to day?

If Jesus Came
Would you take Jesus with you everywhere you go?
Or would you maybe change your plans just for a day or so?

If Jesus Came
Would you be glad to have Him meet your closest friends?
Or would you hope they stay away until His visit ends?

If Jesus Came
Would you be glad to have him stay forever on and on?
Or would you sigh with great relief when he at last was gone?

If Jesus Came
It might be interesting to know the things that you would do.
If Jesus came in person, to spend some time with you.


The park bench was deserted as I sat down to read
Beneath the long, straggly branches of an old willow tree
Disillusioned by life with good reason to frown
For the world was intent on dragging me down

And if that weren't enough to ruin my day
A young boy out of breath approached me, all tired from play
He stood right before me with his head tilted down
And said with great excitement, "Look what I found"

In his hand was a flower, and what a pitiful sight
With its petals all worn - not enough rain, or too little light
Wanting him to take his dead flower and go off to play
I faked a small smile and then shifted away

But instead of retreating he sat next to my side
And placed the flower to his nose
And declared with overacted surprise
"It sure smells pretty and it's beautiful, too"
"That's why I picked it; here, it's for you"

The weed before me was dying or dead
Not vibrant of colors: orange, yellow or red
But I knew I must take it, or he might never leave
So I reached for the flower, and replied, "Just what I need"

But instead of him placing the flower in my hand
He held it mid-air without reason or plan
It was then that I noticed for the very first time
That weed-toting boy could not see: he was blind

I heard my voice quiver; tears shone in the sun
As I thanked him for picking the very best one
"You're welcome," he smiled, and then ran off to play
Unaware of the impact he'd had on my day.

I sat there and wondered how he managed to see
A self-pitying woman beneath an old willow tree
How did he know of my self-indulged plight
Perhaps from his heart, he'd been blessed with true sight

Through the eyes of a blind child, at last I could see
The problem was not with the world; the problem was me
And for all of those times I myself had been blind
I vowed to see the beauty in life
And appreciate every second that's mine

And then I held that wilted flower up to my nose
And breathed in the fragrance of a beautiful rose
And smiled as I watched that young boy
Another weed in his hand
About to change the life of an unsuspecting old man.

THE LIFEBOAT Author Unknown

Annie was a large, rather unattractive girl. Actually, Annie was fat. A member of a youth group, Annie regularly attended most of the youth functions and Bible studies. During one of those meetings, the youth leader introduced a situational learning game called, "The Lifeboat." He instructed the dozen high school kids present to form their chairs to resemble the seating on a lifeboat. Then he said, "You twelve are the only survivors of a shipwreck. You have managed to make it to this lifeboat.

Once you are aboard, however, you find to your horror that there are only provisions for eleven. Also, the boat can hold only eleven survivors.

Twelve people will capsize the boat, leaving you all to drown. You must decide what to do." The group stared blankly at each other for a few moments before bursting into lively discussion. They decided that for the good of the majority of the members of the group, one person must be sacrificed. But who?

As the group discussed who would be left to drown, they eliminated various individuals perceived to be of value to the survivors. The strongest and most athletic boys couldn't be sacrificed ¬ their strength would be needed to row. Naturally, the boys wouldn't think of letting any of the pretty girls become shark food. Slowly each individual in the group, with the exception of Annie, was mentioned
and then discarded as a candidate for sacrifice. Some were too smart, too talented, or too popular.

Finally, Annie, who may not have been attractive but who was not dumb, blurted out, "I'll jump."

"No, no!" protested the group. But when pressed, they couldn't think of one good reason why she shouldn't jump ¬ so they remained silent. When the time to play the game ran out, the group members announced that they couldn't reach a decision on what to do. The youth worker went on to teach a lesson using the example of the lifeboat. But Annie had already learned a lesson. The next day, Annie jumped. Her youth group had affirmed her worst thought about herself.

She was of no value. Her "friends" in the youth group were baffled and deeply saddened by her suicide. After all, she had so much to live for.

They just couldn't think of what it was.

We rarely look below the surface to see the worth of a person. Instead, we too often equate a person's value with looks, popularity, possessions, or abilities. If none of those things is obvious, then we see no value at all in that individual. But every
human being was created in God's image and is loved by Him. In fact, He loved us so much that He sent His only Son to sacrifice Himself for us.


"Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted" (Psalm 25:16, NIV).

Do you know someone who is recently widowed, divorced, or homebound with an illness? Do you know anyone who is new in town, or who travels frequently on business?

Perhaps you know someone in prison, in the military or in a nursing home.

These are just some of the people in life that may experience loneliness in one form or another. But you don't have to be by yourself in order to be lonely. Many people feel alone in the middle of a crowd because inside they feel inferior or rejected. Some people feel misunderstood or unwanted so they isolate themselves; they are afraid of getting hurt by others. While they silently keep to themselves, deep inside they are longing for interaction with another.

Does this sound like anyone you know? Some people try to fill up the empty places in their heart by overeating, drinking excessively or other addictive behaviors.

True, only God can fill our emptiness with himself, but we need human contact, too. Perhaps you've heard the story about the little boy whose Father told him that God loves him and the boy replied, "But Daddy, sometimes I need someone with skin on."

Sometimes we learn the most important life lessons during an empty, silent time. Traits like patience and submission give us character and strengthen our faith as we learn to trust God for his provision.

Jesus took time to go to the lonely places and pray. Perhaps one of his loneliest times was when he prayed alone in the Garden of Gethsemane before he was betrayed. Or, when he was hanging from a wooden cross. The One who knows true loneliness is indeed our True Companion.

How can you be "someone with skin on" to a lonely person today? How can you hold out hope and reach out a person in need?

Someone in your neighborhood, church, community or even circle of friends needs your warmth, encouragement and listening ear. Lord, teach us to trust You during the lonely times in out lives. Be our True Companion and help us to reach out to others who may need a friend.


"My father didn't like kids, he'd rather be alone doing his things. We were a nuisance to him! Now my teenagers are rebellious. Suddenly, I realize why my wife has complained all these years that I have neglected my own kids."

This father was distraught with his belated discovery. "Like Father, Like Son" is the proverb that came to mind. Is it a curse or a blessing?

Children will, in some way, duplicate their parents, especially in those areas of life where they were not formally taught--like parenting skills, how we react to marital frustration, family responsibilities, and even how to have fun.

As children, we also unconsciously imitate our parents: their values, hospitality, respect for each other, and their love for the Lord.

Moises pointed out how important each parent's role is in conveying who God is to his or her child.

"Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them
to your children and to their children after them." Deuteronomy 4:7-9

Our kids learn from us, even if we don't want them to. Can they learn about God from me? As children, we may have to unlearn the negative examples we have adopted unconsciously. Are there things I learned from them that stop me from fully appreciating who God is?


For years I have had a saying which I tell my family. Whenever they compliment my cooking, sewing abilities , gardening skills or thoughtful deeds, I always say, "well, you know it is special because it was made (or done) with love." This is true- the special added secret ingredient to make anything more exceptional is to add an extra dash of love to it.We should remember to say a quick prayer for the recipient, a prayer of thanks for God given talents or praise to the Lord for the desire to do this special thing . Counting our blessings never hurts!

Likewise, our loving heavenly Father has added this "special ingredient" when He made you and when He made me. He made us in His likeness, with a special measure of love. It never ceases to amaze me that the God of the universe- the One who created everything has added this beautiful "secret ingredient" into the lives of His children. How blessed we are! Let's remember to thank Him today!

GROW UP! by Melanie Schurr

"When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways." 1 Corinthians 13:10

When my children were younger, while my husband and I gave them various chores to do around the house so they would learn responsibility, we understood that their abilities could only go so far. However, when they became teens, I expected more from our children because I knew their level of maturity had increased.

Now that Aaron and Lindsey are now nineteen and twenty, their dad and I hold them to greater accountability.

So too does our Heavenly Father understand that, with the passing of time, should also come an increase in learning, wisdom and knowledge, for man cannot stay a babe forever.

Unfortunately, some of us may grow in body and years, yet there is little change in maturity of mind. I am sure we all may know someone who makes the same mistakes year in and year out, blaming their misfortunes on others, and refusing to take responsibility for their own actions and behaviors.

My dear friends, today is the day to grow up and set aside that part of us whose immaturity is keeping us away from God and godliness.


A little girl walked to and from school daily. Though the weather that morning was questionable and clouds were forming, she made her daily trek to the elementary school. As the afternoon progressed, the winds whipped up, along with thunder and lightning. The mother of the little girl felt concerned that her daughter would be frightened as she walked home from school and she herself feared that the electrical storm might harm her child.

Following the roar of thunder, lightning, like a flaming sword, would cut through the sky. Full of concern, the mother quickly got into her car and drove along the route to her child's school. As she did so, she saw her little girl walking along, but at each flash of lightning, the child would stop, look up and smile. Another and another were to follow quickly and with each the little girl would look at the streak of light and smile.

When the mother's car drove up beside the child she lowered the window and called to her, "What are you doing? Why do you keep stopping?"

The child answered, "I am trying to look pretty, God keeps taking my picture.

May God bless you today as you face the storms that come your way.

And don't forget to SMILE!

REBIRTH Author Unknown

"You feel sorrowful now, but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice. And no one will take your joy from you." - John 16:22

Fr. Nil Guillamete tells this wonderful story about this beautiful branch that enjoyed life on the tree.

One day a man passed by and admired its beauty. The next day, he cut it down and began its horrific transformation. First, the man stripped the leaves attached to the
branch. This caused slight pains to the branch. Then, he gutted out the core, which really hurt. And while the branch was quivering in pain, the man placed it in a dark dry place.

It stayed there for days, getting more and more despondent. Finally, the man released
it from the dark place and the branch rejoiced. Only to be wounded once more, holes were made which once again caused pain. And then the man took a special cloth and rubbed the branch all over. He rubbed on and on, harder and harder, it felt like its skin was peeling off.

Then he stopped, looked the branch over. The man beamed with pride and brought the branch to his lips. The branch thought he would kiss it but the man did more than
that. He blew on the branch and the branch trembled and music flowed forth from its core.

The man had transformed the branch into a beautiful flute, capable of so much more
than it could, hanging on the tree. Tisha L. Do we allow the Lord to fashion us to be capable of so much more?

Lord, fashion me in a way that you will be glorified.


For in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. Romans 8:37

From a distance, it looked like a victim of last year's hurricane. My friend Susan, pointed. "Look at that!", she exclaimed. I followed her finger, and saw the huge tree where half of it had been ripped off. Literally. The jagged place showed just where the wind force lopped off a giant part of the tree.

We walked closer to it and noticed a dark area in the trunk. Upon closer examination, we found, what appeared to be, the heart of the tree all blackened and dead looking. How could the tree be alive if it were dead on the inside?

I thought of Robin. Radiation treatments had claimed her dark, curly hair. On the outside, her body was failing. On the inside, her spirit was more vibrant than ever. Her sunken eyes were closed, breathing shallow. But oh my, the peaceful _expression on her face said it all. Talk about shekinah; the glory of the Lord shone from within her. Her spirit was very much alive, even though, on the outside, her body was wracked by disease

Last week I was at the home of a neighbor. Tina looked great on the outside, acted fine too. She welcomed us, chatted animatedly, graciously offered a snack her husband had laid out on the kitchen table. We were there to pray with Terry, whose diagnosis was stage 4 , metastasized cancer. She was thin, and her body clearly showed signs of battling a disease. On this inside, though, her spirit was vigorous, as was clearly evident as we prayed together.

Looks are deceiving, and things are not always what they seem. Some people are alive on the outside, yet dead on the inside, in their spirit. Still others look sick on the outside, yet are very much alive in their soul, on the inside.

At Tina's home, I found this note taped to the bathroom mirror :
Cancer is so limited.
It cannot
Cripple love
Shatter hope
Corrode faith
Destroy peace
Kill friendship
Suppress memories
Silence courage
Invade the soul
Steal eternal life
It cannot
Conquer the Spirit.

The bible tells us we are "more than conquerors through Jesus Christ. (Romans 8:37).

That is very good news.

LITTLE SPRINGS By Sally I. Kennedy

To each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines. The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. 1 Corinthians 12:7,11-12

I almost missed it. The ground looked soggy, the trail puddly. And muddy. On closer look, a little spring was coming from under a rock to the right of the trail.

One little spring. Enough water to give drink to animals, birds. As it meandered across the road, and downhill on the massive mountain, it would join other little springs.

The little springs would merge and eventually flow together into one mighty river at the base of the mountain. Together they would make beautiful music as one, as they rolled through the floor of the mountain valley.

Little springs. Like different gifts and talents, I thought. Individually they are wonderful, and have a purpose. Sort of like musical instruments. So great individually. Together, though, they create bands, and songs; orchestras, and symphonies.

God gives the gifts as He sees fit. And every believer is guaranteed one or more. He alone knows what beautiful music they will make together - for us, as well as for others.

That is good news!

PLANNING by Melanie Schurr

My husband and I are still in the prime of our lives, yet we are beginning to seriously discuss our impending retirement. As a newly married couple, when my spouse tried to raise the issue of old age, financial security, and death, I was not as open to discussing such topics at length. They were often painful and I felt there was more than enough time to ponder such things. But as I now approach my 40's
and my husband his 50's, I know that, as painful as it is, we must face age for there is no way to avoid it. Thus, it is best to prepare, plan, and make the most of it by doing things now that will ensure our optimal health and well-being for later.

So many times we plan and prepare for our earthly future, yet give little regard to our spiritual welfare and future. And, just as there are some individuals who reserve thoughts of old age for when they are seniors, suddenly finding them self unprepared, so too, do some people put off thoughts of God and salvation until they
are facing serious trauma, illness, or death.

Why put off for tomorrow what you can do today? Call on Christ and ensure your spiritual future.


In the mid 1970's, Ed Roberts created the world's first commercially successful personal computer (PC). He hired a 19 year old named Bill Gates to write software for him.

Roberts sold his computer business in 1977 and bought a farm. Seven years later, at age 41, he entered medical school. Today Bill gates is the head of the largest computer software company in the world. Ed Roberts is a physician in a small Georgia town.

Roberts says, "The implication is that the PC is the most important thing I've ever done, and I don't think that's true. Every day I deal with things that are equally if not more important here with my patients."

How can we evaluate the significance of our lives? Something deep inside tells us such a thing cannot be measured by wealth and fame.

As we look at the apostle Paul's turbulent life, it seems noteworthy that he approached the end with a peaceful sense of successful completion. He wrote, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." (2 timothy 4:7) Paul looked confidently not to the world but to "the Lord, the righteous Judge"
for approval and reward (vs 8).

Since sooner than later we'll face our creator,
Whose gaze pierces through to the heart,
Let's make sure our dreams, our goals and grand schemes
Have Christ in our plans from the start.

The measure of a life is determined by the Ruler of the Universe.

ARE YOU ADOPTED? by Melanie Schurr

"And the child grew, and she brought him to Pharaoh's daughter, and he became her son; and she named him Moses, for she said, "Because I drew him out of the water." Exodus 2:10

I have a cousin who is adopted. While I have always regarded her in the same way I do any of my other blood relatives, she revealed to me that there was a period in her life she felt like she didn't really belong because she was not born into her family. When she would express these feelings to me, I would always remind her that her adoptive parents choosing her above all other children was proof that she was a very much wanted and loved child.

The word "adoption" is derived from its Latin meaning: option. When we have an option, we have a choice. In this case, there is the choosing of another person's child as one's own.

As we can see from the above Bible verse, the concept of adoption is ancient. However, just as there is earthly adoption, so too is there a spiritual adoption.

Those of us who repent of our sins partake of God's offer of eternal life and allow ourselves to be born again by the renewing of our spirits, are now children of God.

"But to all who received Him, who believed in His Name, He gave power to become children of God" John 1:12

God is our Father, and we are His children. We have become heirs of Jesus Christ, and share the bloodline of the Most High.

"you have received the spirit of son-ship. When we cry, "Abba! Father!" it is the Spirit Himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him" Romans 8:15-17

Although I am not adopted, there was a time when I was a young adult that I too felt disunity with my natural parents. There were moments when I too felt alone, and that there was no one that I could really talk to. My comfort, however, was found in my relationship with God. Whenever I felt low, I would remind myself of who I was. When you are a son or daughter of the Most High, and whose love is so rich, and family so vast, it is impossible to feel down for long.

If you are not yet a child of God, please know that our Heavenly Father is just waiting for you to come to Him. His love for you is already there, but the choice to grab hold of His outstretched hand must be yours, for God would never force His love on an unwilling heart.

Come, and be adopted into the body of Christ!


A quick trip to see some friends out of state. My husband was driving, on our way out to dinner. It was pitch dark, and we weren't quite sure where we were. We both watched for identifying landmarks, to guide us back.

I never saw the big warehouse that night, but next day I did. In the daylight, so easily visible, it was plain to see. And funny, it was huge. We wondered how we could have missed it!!

That got me to thinking about when we are "in the light", and we see things we never saw in the dark. How many times have I asked myself the question about something in my past, "How was it I didn't know that? How come I didn't realize??"

The answer is always the same. I couldn't see it. Enlightenment is just that; receiving understanding IN the light. Jesus truly is the Light of the world. I believe as we live, and walk, in the Light, the Holy Spirit continually bathes us in revelation.

I am wondering, "What am I not seeing today?"

Prayer: Lord, please come and shine your Light on anything that is shadowed, or in darkness, in my life. Let me see clearly, through the eyes of Jesus. Amen.


One rainy afternoon I was driving along one of the main streets of town, taking those extra precautions necessary when the roads are wet and slick. Suddenly, my son Ben spoke up from his relaxed position in the front seat. "Mom, I'm thinking of something." This announcement usually meant he had been pondering some fact for a while and was now ready to expound all that his seven-year-old mind had discovered. I was eager to hear. "What are you thinking?" I asked.

"The rain," he began, "is like sin and the windshield wipers are like God, wiping our sins away." After the chill bumps raced up my arms was able to respond.

"That's really good, Ben." Then my curiosity broke in. How far would his little boy take this revelation? So, I asked... "Do you notice how the rain keeps on coming? What does that tell you?"

Matthew didn't hesitate one moment with his answer: "We keep on sinning, and God just keeps on forgiving us." I will always remember this whenever I turn my wipers on. Isn't it comforting to know that God does keep forgiving us? That all we have to do is ask Him to come into our lives and He will keep washing our sins away.


A little boy celebrated his eighteenth birthday.When I asked him what he remembers of his birthday last year, he answered: "Last year, I received my first pair of long pants." According to him, this new pair of pants was about six inches longer than his usual size. So he asked his mother to cut it short for him. His mother refused, saying: "Keep it that way. In no time it will fit you as you grow so fast." Wanting to really have his pants cut short, he approached his elder sister and grandmother with the same request. Both offered some excuse not to do it for him.

With a heavy heart, he went to sleep, resigned with the fact that he will have to wear his pants longer than usual. As he was asleep, his mother saw his pants by his bed. Feeling guilty at having turned down the boy's earlier request, she cut off six inches from it to fit his size. After which, she returned the pants by the bed. Then, his elder sister also happened to pass by. She saw the pants and felt guilty also so she cut off six inches from it as the boy had requested. The grandmother came in next and did the same thing as his mother and elder sister. The next day, on his birthday, he had a new pair of short pants! On that day also his mother, elder sister and grandmother felt even more guilty. Why? They knew that what they did for the boy was an effort that they did not think about. It was a careless effort.

We all do the same thing ourselves. We do things without much thought. We say things we do not mean. We make promises that we could hardly keep.

Peter and Paul were like that. We know how Peter said to the Lord: "Lord, I will never leave you." And to that remark the Lord could only say: "Tomorrow, before the cock crows three times, you will deny Me three times." And Paul? Paul was a dedicated Pharisee. He thought that in killing the first Christian he was doing God's will.

...We do not celebrate Peter and Paul's faults and careless efforts. We celebrate the fact that despite our own carelessness and faults, God gives us new opportunities. Peter made a mistake. Paul committed the same. But God gave them another chance.

You may have committed so many sins. You may have made broken promises. You may have done things without reflecting. But there is always second chance for you. I invite you to begin again and become great yourself.


There was a little boy visiting his grandparents on their farm. He was given a slingshot to play with, out in the woods. He practiced in the woods, but he could never hit the target. Getting a little discouraged, he headed back to dinner.

As he was walking back, he saw Grandma's pet duck. Just out of impulse, he let fly, hit the duck square in the head, and killed it. He was shocked and grieved. In a panic, he hid the dead duck in the wood pile, only to see his sister watching. Sally had seen it all, but she said nothing.

After lunch that day grandma said, "Sally, let's wash the dishes."

But Sally said, "Grandma, Johnny told me he wanted to help in the kitchen today, didn't you Johnny?" And then she whispered to him, "Remember, the duck?" So Johnny did the dishes.

Later Grandpa asked if the children wanted to go fishing, and Grandma said, "I'm sorry but I need Sally to help make supper."

But Sally smiled and said, "Well, that's all right because Johnny told me he wanted to help." And she whispered again, "Remember, the duck?" So Sally went fishing and Johnny stayed.

After several days of Johnny doing both his chores and Sally's, he finally couldn't stand it any longer. He came to Grandma and confessed that he killed the duck. She knelt down, gave him a hug, and said,"Sweetheart, I know. You see, I was standing at the window and I saw the whole thing. But because I love you, I forgave you. But I was just wondering how long would you let Sally make a slave of you."

I don't know what's in your past. I don't know what one sin the enemy keeps throwing up in your face. But whatever it is, I want you to know something. Jesus Christ was standing at the window and He saw the whole thing. But because He loves you, He is ready to forgive you. Perhaps He's wondering how long you'll let the enemy make a slave out of you. The great thing about God is that He not only forgives, but He forgets.

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