Friday, August 31, 2012

Friday Friends - Nan Jones

Nan Jones
It's my honor to introduce to you my dear friend, Nan Jones. Nan and I met through Vonda Skelton's Blog, The Christian Writers Den, just over 2 years ago. In that short time, Nan has taught me what it means to trust in God...not just say it with my mouth but actually believe it in my heart. I pray that through Nan's words, you'll be truly encouraged. 

Welcome, Nan!

1. Tell us a little about your family and growing up years.

Most of my growing up years took place in Charlotte, NC.  I have a brother, six years older, who is now deceased. I loved having an older brother to look up to and to pester. I was blessed with a solid home life that revolved around the church. With each passing day, I am more and more thankful for this blessing. After many years of ministry I see the devastating effects of homes without a strong biblical foundation. It breaks my heart.

2. When did you know God was calling you to write?

I have written all my life, but more as a hobby in earlier years. In 1992 I was in a ladies' conference in Tulsa, Ok. During a time of worship, with my hands outstretched in surrender to a loving God, I heard His gentle whisper, Nan, look about you. Many are hurting and need my assurance and hope. I have gifted you and I have given you a message to share. Don't worry about the timing. Only follow Me each step of the way. Eighteen years later I launched Jubilant Light Ministries, a writing/speaking ministry to encourage Christians struggling with their faith.

3. Who is a person that is making a strong impact on your life and why?

Many names come to mind, but if I have to choose one for this moment in time I would say my friend Debbie Welch. Debbie is battling stage 3 lymphoma and multiple myeloma of the blood. Even though her battle is fierce, her faith is strong. Regardless of her own pain, she continues to think of others and give God the glory. Debbie is exhibiting authentic faith, not religious rhetoric. She privately shares her struggles and fears, and yet the bottom line is that she belongs to the Lord and trusts Him completely. She inspires me to fight the good fight of faith.

4. What is your life verse?

"Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. 'The Lord is my portion,' says my soul, ' Therefore I hope in Him!'" ~ Lamentations 3:22-24

5. Other than Jesus, what bible hero would you like to talk to?


6. What in-depth bible study would you recommend to my readers?

A Woman's Heart: God's Dwelling Place, by Beth Moore

7. Tell us how you came to a saving relationship with Christ?

I am the wife of a Baptist pastor, but I was raised in the Methodist church. My senior year in high school, a youth lay-witness team came to our church for a weekend. I had never seen people so in love with God. These teenagers were different. They were alive and had purpose in their lives. On the final afternoon - December 10, 1972 - I knelt at the altar and gave my life to Christ. I have never been the same.

8. Please give a word of encouragement and hope to my readers who may be struggling today.

If I can share anything it would be that God is able to perform His Word and He is faithful to do so. Faithful! Dare to believe Him. Step out in faith as He directs you - as He leads you  by the hand. I have learned that God really is with me always. It is in Him that I live, and move, and have my being. In Him! Surrounded and immersed in His Presence. In Him I find my purpose, my peace, my protection and provision. And, in Him, I fully realize His faithfulness.

Nan lives in North Carolina with her husband, David. She blogs at

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Are You Ready for the War?

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. (Ephesians 6:10, NKJV)

Are you ready for the fight of your life? I ask that question because according to this passage, we're in a war. This isn't a war of gunfire and people being killed, this is a spiritual war. The next few verses speak of putting on the full armor of God. Like soldiers have to wear protection when they fight, we're no different. Do you have the helmet of salvation? The shield of faith? The shoes of peace? The sword of the spirit-the Word of God? The breastplate of rightiousness? The belt of truth?

Ladies, if one peace of our armor is missing, we're not ready to fight. And we do have an adversary. His name is Satan, and he is real! He's out to steal, to kill and destroy you. Let's put on our full armor and get in the fight of our lives!

Dear Lord, help us wear that armor each day. Help us not take one peace off or better yet, not let us forget it. In Jesus name, Amen.

***The Bible study on Psalm 91 that I will be co-leading with my friend, Glenda Mills will be moved to Thursdays. That will serve as my Thursday posts for the next 6 weeks. Please invite your family and friends to join us!***

Monday, August 27, 2012

Strength to Stand

A Guest Post by Lynn Huggins Blackburn

Deuteronomy 33:25 ~ Your bars shall be iron and bronze, and as your days, so shall your strength be. (ESV)

Right now, I don't feel like my bars are iron or bronze.

I feel like a half-way decent puff of wind could knock me over. I'm in serious need of a vacation. And a massage.

Each day, my to-do list taunts me. Housework, laundry, cooking, shopping, packing lunches, trying not to eat chocolate (and failing), playing with my kids, hanging out with my husband.

And let’s not forget that there are flowers that need watering and relationships that need nurturing and neighbors who need Jesus.

I'm exhausted just thinking about it.

But these words from Deuteronomy, the blessing that Jacob gave to the tribe of Asher, remind me that there will be enough strength to accomplish what God wants accomplished.

Not necessarily what I want accomplished.

So I'm planning. I'm praying. And I'm trying to hold my goals out in open hands.

I'm starting each day asking God to rule and reign over my day and my calendar. Then, I'm talking to Him about my to-do list and asking Him for my next step. I'm choosing to believe that what truly needs to get done will get done and I'm trying to stay open to the Spirit's leading as I go through my day. (This method comes from Having A Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver).

Some days start this way, but by 7:13 a.m. (more or less), I've grabbed the reins and I'm running the show. Those days always end in exhaustion and aggravation.

Some days I make it until noon. It's a rare day that I make it past supper before I start trying to do things in my own strength. I have to surrender - repeatedly - throughout the day.

I'm not sure what your life is like right now. My guess is you could teach me a thing or two about hectic lives and crazy schedules.

So join me. Don't wait until tomorrow.

Ask God to take the reins right now. Ask Him as many times today as you need to. And then watch as He gives you strength to do what truly needs to be done.

You'll have to repeat this process again tomorrow. And the next day. And the next.

But when the winds blow and life threatens to take you down, you'll feel His strength.

And you will stand.

Day by Day, sung by the Antrim Mennonite Choir

Lynn Huggins Blackburn has been telling herself stories since she was five and finally started writing them down. She blogs about living life at the intersection of fear and faith on her blog Out of the Boat.

Lynn is a member of the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild and Word Weavers, Greenville. She lives in South Carolina where she hangs out with three lively children, one fabulous man, and a cast of imaginary characters who find their way onto the pages of her still unpublished novels.

She drinks a lot of coffee.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

In Need of a Shelter?

photo courtesy of
I'm not talking about a tax shelter. No....This one is for spirit and soul!

With autumn just around the corner, I can't think of a better time to start a new venture with my friend, Jamie Britt. 

Jamie and I will be co-bloggers beginning the first Wednesday of September. We can hardly wait to get started on our blog study.

Yes, there is a Promise of a Shelter through all the changing seasons of our lives. We invite you to join us as we dig into the treasure trove of promises found in Psalm 91.

He will dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. (Psalm 91:1).

Our study begins Wednesday, September 5th. We would love to have you join us!

Grace and peace to you,
Jamie and Glenda 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Making Room for God

Guest post by Cathy Baker

"Enlarge the place of your tent; Stretch out the curtains of your dwellings, spare not; Lengthen your cords And strengthen your pegs." Isaiah 54:2

With plans drawn and the perfect spot chosen, I began planting shrubbery that would one day enclose a secret garden for my grandchildren.

I dug through layers of dirt, but before dropping my plant in its new home, I measured the diameter of the hole...and for good reason. You see, I've learned the hard way that if I dig a hole just large enough to set the plant in, the roots will more than likely continue growing in a circular fashion, becoming root bound, and eventually strangling itself to death. 

However, if I take the time to dig the hole two to three times larger than the pot size and add nutrients (Natures Helper from Home Depot is my favorite) I am doing so in anticipation of having a stronger, healthier plant. Preparation is the key!

In the same way, if we are anticipating God to work in and through us for His glory, we must make room for Him by enlarging the place of our tents. This kind of preparation begins with prayer but it also involves a steadfast willingness to stay alert to those things which can quietly strangle His power from our lives—busyness, sin, bitterness, unforgiveness, hobbies, and dare I say, ministry/church activities?

When I find inadequate "holes" being dug in preparation of God's work in my life, I know my anticipation is lacking and His power is being strangled.

We serve a BIG God. We love a BIG God. And we live for a BIG God.

Are you anticipating a great and mighty work to be accomplished in and through your life for God's glory?

I thought so. Hand me a shovel and let's get digging!

Cathy Baker is an award-winning poet who delights in observing God at work in the nuances of life, and sharing those observations through writing, journaling, and blogging. An experienced Bible teacher, Cathy leads a community Bible study for women. She and her husband Brian live in South Carolina with their answer to the empty-nest syndrome—a pampered pooch named Rupert. Visit Cathy’s blog at

Thursday, August 16, 2012

God's Path

guest post by Edie Melson

“Take my life and let it be, consecrated all to Thee.” 

I heard the words to that old hymn today and found myself transported back in time. Twelve years ago I hit a crossroads with God. Even back then I knew He’d called me to writing—in my heart I knew—but all around me everything was rejection and heartache. I’d been so thrilled when God called me to write. It just felt . . . right. I already had my future mapped out. I’d write Bible studies and teach and speak—bringing His Word to His people. I didn’t see anything except the glory.

I railed at God that night, shaking a metaphorical fist toward Heaven. “I didn’t ask for this gift of writing—this insane compulsion. Why make me suffer for it.” Even before the echo of my cry died away I knew it for the lie it was. I remembered an earlier time, when I’d committed myself to God, asking Him to do what He willed with my life. And now I complained because He had? I’d known what that commitment meant and the suffering that would come. How could I have ever thought suffering would be easy or martyrdom pleasant.

But that night at the crossroad I saw a different future. I saw a future where I didn’t second-guess God’s plan, but kept my gaze locked tightly on Him. I chose to trust Him and believe that He knew what was best for me, no matter what.

That was the night I died—died to myself and my dream—and began to learn how to live for Him. It was when I learned that to be truly His in every way means giving up my every way.

I didn’t know if God would resurrect me as a writer. Only time held that answer and I had to come to a point where I refused to care. Did I care? Oh I cared, I desperately cared. My dreams, my hopes, my ambitions had been tied to my writing. Now my ambition became the emptying of myself so that I could be filled with God. I learned that didn’t mean “make me look good because I work for You.” Instead it meant, “Make me look any way You choose because I’m totally Yours.”

The Rest of the Story
Why am I sharing this now? Because with the passing of years has come perspective . . . and peace. So many of you are where I was—second guessing your calling because it doesn’t look like what you thought it would. I urge you to stay the course. Place your confidence in a Worthy God. My life hasn’t taken the path I thought—it’s taken a much better one. 

Edie Melson is a freelance writer and editor with years of experience in the publishing industry. She’s a prolific writer, and has a popular writing blog, The Write Conversation. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, as well as a popular faculty member at numerous others. She’s also a regular contributor to Novel Rocket, a Writer’s Digest pick for top writing websites.
She currently has two books available, the best selling eBook, Social Media Marketing for Writers, and her latest project, a devotional for those with family members in the military, Fighting Fear: Winning the War at Home When Your Soldier Leaves for Battle. Married 30 plus years to her high school sweetheart, Kirk, they have raised three sons.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Perks of Faith

By Susan Stilwell, Guest Blogger

What’s the best job “perk” you’ve ever had? I’m not talking about dental coverage and a drug card, although those are excellent perks! I’m talking about something fun, like a discount on shoes... free passes to the movies... free food...

My best perk (at the time) came when I worked in a concession stand. I could have all the fountain drinks, french fries and corn dogs I could eat! I cringe at that now, especially since I know how much sugar is in Coke, how much fat is in french fries, and how much unmentionable “animal byproduct” is in a corn dog.

Since then I’ve had better jobs with better benefits, some of which I use regularly, like medical insurance. And there are some benefits I have yet to “cash in” on, like retirement accounts.

Faith has benefits too, some of them we experience in the present and some, like eternity with God, we won’t experience until the future. Romans chapter 5 has some of my favorite “faith perks” -
  • peace with God,
  • access to Him through prayer,
  • joy in midst of suffering,
  • hope,
  • character and maturity,
  • God’s love poured into us,
  • Holy Spirit living in us,
  • justified and reconciled before God,
  • recipients of God's grace, and
  • eternal life
We have all those benefits spiritually, but do we experience them physically? Mentally? Relationally? My guess is that the average Christian has a head-knowledge of these, but has yet to let them do their full and transformative work in his/her whole being.

Since “we are what we think,” what do we fill our minds with? Trashy literature? Fearful thoughts? Questionable entertainment? We shouldn’t complain about not having any joy in our lives if we continually fill our minds with junk.

But what if we filled our minds with the Word? What if we memorized even tiny verses of scripture, like Philippians 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord always”? Since God’s Word is active and alive and sharper than a two-edged sword, our thought-life would be transformed. 

We would start to view the world thru the lens of the Word, and would start to learn what was good for us and what wasn’t. We would be convicted of things we should or shouldn’t do. We would be prompted to get out of our comfort zones and start taking bigger steps of faith.

As the Word transforms our mind, our body begins to transform. Our countenance will change. Rest will restore us. God will give us healthier physical desires.

The transformation continues to our relationships. We’ll look at people and actually see them instead of looking past them. We’ll be more sensitive to the needs of others. We’ll be more gracious and forgiving because we understand how important the Lord’s grace and forgiveness has been in our lives.

But the best thing of all is that we’ll be more like JESUS, and that will make Him smile. And when we open our eyes in eternity and see THAT, it'll be better than all the discounts, freebies and fries in the world.

Susan Stilwell is a wife to Steve, and mom to Scott and Sarah. After that, she teaches Bible studies, writes and speaks. In her spare time, she helps friends learn to program their gadgets and fix up their blogs (

Roanoke, VA is her home and she can be found on Twitter (@susanrstilwell) and on the web at

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Oppinions Needed!

Instead of my normal devotional post for tomorrow, I would love to hear your oppinion. I'm praying about starting a study in one of the Psalms. I've done Psalm 23 previously. Is there one particular one you'd like to go into a little deeper? Also, I'd love a co-leader in this as well. We'll post every other week...I'll post one week and the other person will post the next. If anyone would like to help, please let me know in the comments section!

God Bless You all!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Lord Is My Shepherd...or Is He?

The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want. (Psalm 23:1, NKJV)

This is a very familiar verse of Scripture to most people. A lot of times, it's the only one they know other than John 3:16. And for Christians, that's really sad. We quote "The Lord is my shepherd" like we're going to the store. But I have a deeper question. Is the shepherd our Lord? I know, ouch! I think I've hit a nerve. (Please don't start throwing things at me!) :) Scripture tells us that we're like sheep without a sheperd. If we want to truly surrender our lives to what God wants, He has to be our Lord. We can't just give Him lip service. Ladies, we have to mean it...and truly mean it. So let me ask once more, is the shepherd our Lord?

Father, thank You for being our shepherd. Help us all to say with confidence, "yes the shepherd is our Lord!" Amen.

***If you need special prayer, please feel free to email me at:

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Impossible! But God...

But He said, “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.” (Luke 18:27, NKJV)

The tears cascaded down my face in a pool of frustration and disappointment. I wanted to be there to minister to a dear friend during an important meeting, and when I realized I couldn't be there my heart was breaking. Though the circumstances were beyond my control, it felt as though Satan was doing everything in his power to make this trip not come to fruition. But then something happened that was impossible, unless you serve the same miracle-working God that I serve! The meeting that was scheduled to take place after the service this past Sunday didn't happen! It was postponed until this Sunday!

But God...

Only He alone could've changed those circumstances! Do you have a situation facing you today that you feel is an impossibility? Maybe it's a failing marriage, maybe it's fear of not passing an exam in school. Ladies, as a friend of mine reminded me, "your Daddy God's got this!" God knew how desperately I wanted to be there for my friend, and in His perfect wisdom He's allowing me to do just that!

Father, thank You for making a way where there seems to be no way. Thank You that when we see an impossibility, You see it as a way to once again proove Your might and power. Help us when we can't see You hand to trust Your heart. Lord we love You and we praise You. In Jesus name, Amen.