Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Appetite of Vengeance by Jennifer Slattery: Psalm 103: 6

“Vengeance is a monster of appetite, forever bloodthirsty and never filled.” ― Richelle E. GoodrichThe Tarishe Curse

Few wounds hurt as deeply as betrayal. It pains our hearts, shatters our trust, destroys relationships, and most notably, awakens our inner sense of justice. Ah, vengeance! To make the other pay for what they did, or at the very least, to feel the same pain they have caused us.

Whenever I think of betrayal, mine or someone else’s, I can’t help but think of Joseph. (Gen. 37-50) That poor man was betrayed continuously! First by his family then by his boss, then by two men he helped in a darkened dungeon. And how did Joseph respond? With bitterness, spending his time calculating how he’d get even? Or at the very least, how he’d alert everyone to how greatly he’d been wronged?

Nope. He responded with praise-filled surrender, because he knew God had it all—Joseph’s hurts, dreams, and current circumstances—under control. More than that, he knew God is a God of justice. It’s part of His very nature. Couple this with His Father’s heart, and you’ve got an all-powerful, ever-present, completely just and righteous God who, at this very moment, is working all things—all things!— for our good (Rom. 8:28) and His eternal purposes.

That means that betrayal that completely leveled us and even now causes our teeth to grind will be used for our good.

Consider this, speaking of Jesus, Paul said, “This man was handed over to you by God’s set purposes and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put Him to death by nailing Him to the cross” (Acts 2:23—emphasis mine).

Speaking of this, in his book, The Peace Maker, Ken Sande says, “[God] chose not to restrain the acts of evil men so that His plan of redemption would be fulfilled through the death and resurrection of His Son.” (Rom. 3:21-26) (Pg. 61)

In other words, God allowed His only beloved Son to be betrayed to the point of death so that you and I might be saved. Pause and meditate on this for a moment—the very God that allowed you to be betrayed or wounded in a situation is the same one who allowed His son to be betrayed and wounded—for you. That’s a lot of love—incomprehensible love. Enough love to warrant our full surrender and trust, even when betrayed.

Because we either believe God is all-loving, or we don’t.

We either believe He’s all-powerful or we don’t.

We either believe He’s all knowing or we don’t.

We either believe He’s just and righteous or we don’t.

And let’s not forget, it was our sin that drove Christ to the cross in the first place—that led to His betrayal unto death.



If we believe those things, and if we remind ourselves of those things, especially when we’re hurting, our response to our offender will be utterly different.

Because grace changes everything and takes vengeance off the table, replacing it with surrender and praise.

Vengeance never belonged to us, anyway. As Romans 12:19 says, “Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, ‘I will take revenge; I will pay them back,’ says the LORD” (NIV).

And as Psalm 103:6, today’s focal verse says, “The Lord gives righteousness and justice to all who are treated fairly.”

In other words, God will deal with appropriately—righteously—with the offender and the offended. So take a deep breath and let it go. It’s too big of a burden for you to carry, anyway. And in trying, chances are, we’ll only get in God’s way.

As you read today’s devotion, did one hurt or person rise to the forefront of your mind? If so, ask God to take that from you, then trust Him to work all things out—for your good.

Jennifer Slattery writes soul-stirring fiction for New Hope Publishers, a publishing house passionate about bringing God’s healing grace and truth to the hopeless. She also writes for Crosswalk.com, Internet CafĂ© Devotions, and the group blog, Faith-filled Friends. When not writing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her teenage daughter and coffee dates with her handsome railroader husband.
Visit with Jennifer online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud. 

Her debut novel, Beyond I Do, is currently on sale at Amazon for under $4 (print and kindle version)! You can get that here: http://www.amazon.com/Beyond-I-Do-Jennifer-Slattery-ebook/dp/B00MMRRCZU/

When Dawn Breaks:

As the hurricane forces Jacqueline to evacuate, her need for purpose and restitution propel her north to her estranged and embittered daughter and into the arms of a handsome new friend. However, he’s dealing with a potential conspiracy at work, one that could cost him everything, and Jacqueline isn’t sure if he will be the one she can lean on during the difficult days ahead. Then there are the three orphans to consider, especially Gavin. Must she relinquish her chance at having love again in order to be restored?


You can buy a copy here:


On Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/when-dawn-breaks-a-novel-jennifer-slattery/1120694122?ean=9781596694231

On CBD: http://www.christianbook.com/when-dawn-breaks-a-novel/jennifer-slattery/9781596694231/pd/694231

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Psalm 103:3:: Jake Our Miracle by Ally Carter


Seeing them in there as big as they were was hard. They’d stop breathing while eating, and let me tell you that made my heart stop when it happened when I was in there. It was a helpless feeling. No family around to lean on. They were 14 hours away. I thank God for our church family. The pastor and his family took in our two older children, so we knew they were safe and cared for.

But, I tell you that wasn’t the hardest thing to go through. No. The doctor coming in and telling us Jake had some heart defects. It felt like someone kicked me in the gut. I couldn’t breathe. We didn’t know how bad it was. Numbness took over. I couldn’t think or feel much of anything. I’d just given birth, and this was to be a joyous time but then we got slammed with this news.

I remember on the outside keeping it together but on the inside I was falling apart. Each time I held them, because twin two had problems too just not as severe. I’d pray over them. I’d sit in the rocking chair rocking them back and forth praying. I didn’t talk much as I was taking it all in. The hospital they were at couldn’t do a cardiogram on him, so it took a couple weeks to find out.

Again in the Dr. office 45 minutes from our home he told us he did in fact have some heart defects. Two to be exact. The one may close and it may never. We were facing surgery for him somewhere between then and 2 yrs of age, but he was hoping for the latter. My close knit group of prayer warriors got right on this. There wasn’t a day I didn’t worry. But, I knew God had this. We had to step out in faith into His Grace. I can’t even tell you how scared I was. I wanted to run away and hide.

God was working in the background. I became close to the Lord through this. I met another mom with a baby who had the same condition. She was a believer and we sought God for one another. God knew we needed each other during this time. Two years later, we took him in for a check up, and the cardiologist couldn’t hear any murmur. He did another cardiogram and everything was perfect. He said he didn’t get how because he should need surgery. We told him, God healed him. He called Jake a miracle. I don’t think he believed us when we say God healed him. That’s the only way this could have happened.

Bio

Allyson writes in the Christian romance and suspense genres. In her books, you’ll find emotionally stirring story lines, as well as suspense with faith mixed in. She resides in Missouri with her loving husband and four wonderful children, and three cats. When not spending time with her family, you can find her knitting, and watching way too many suspense shows and reality TV

You can find her on her Facebook, website and Twitter.


Monday, March 9, 2015

Praise the Lord, O My Soul by Sarah Ruut

“Praise the Lord, O my soul!
With all that is within me, praise his holy name!”
(Psalms 103:1, NET)

You probably know that David was not afraid to be genuine and to pour out his heart in his songs. He pleads for deliverance, vents his anger, and begs for forgiveness. Here in Psalms 103 we find him pouring out his love for the Lord.

Do we do the same? Does our worship bubble out of us, unstoppable?

I’m afraid, unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Sometimes we go to church because it’s just what is expected of us. We sing the songs because that’s what you’re supposed to do. We go through the motions, doing what we ought, and then we go home. As we make our way through the week, our time and effort is spent putting out “fires” and tending to the billions of little things we all have on our overly-full plates. There’s not much time for the Lord, because we have so much else to do.

Before we know it, it’s time for church again. We load up and head out, only to repeat the same expected pattern once more.

Sound familiar? Trust me, if that describes you, you’re not alone.

So what made the difference for David? He didn't just say, “Thanks, God! You got me out of that mess!” He didn't text, “PTL!” and go on with his day. He didn't even post on Facebook: “David is feeling blessed.”

It was more than a lack of technology that made his response different! ;-) Here’s what he said: 
With all that is within me, praise his holy name!”

There’s the key. David wasn't doing what was expected of him. He wasn't going through the motions. Instead, he was praising God with ALL that was within him.

Praise like that comes from deep within us. It bubbles to the surface in response to who God is. The more we understand God, his nature and character, the more we desire to praise and obey him. It’s a natural outpouring that comes from the fullness of knowing God.

If your worship has been feeling a bit robotic lately, I encourage you to take some time digging through the following verses. I pray that He will show you, through His Word, just how praiseworthy He is. And I pray that, as your heart begins to overflow, you will join David in saying, “Praise the Lord, O my soul! With all that is within me, praise his holy name!”

Psalms 9:1
Psalms 28:7
Psalms 35:28
Psalms 40:1-3
Psalms 59:17
Psalms 68:19
Psalms 96:6
Psalms 103:20
Psalms 104:1, 14
Psalms 107:8
Psalms 119:7
Psalms 136:1, 25

Psalms 138:7

Sarah Ruut is an avid reader who loves talking books and authors on her blog. Although she is regularly interrupted by geometry proofs and foreign languages, she wouldn’t trade her homeschooling days for anything. All she needs is a cinnamon roll and a great novel to get through the rough spots!


You can find devotional thoughts as well as reviews of Christian fiction, interviews with amazing authors, giveaways and more at sarahruut.com. You can also connect with Sarah on Twitter: https://twitter.com/sarahruut

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Chocolate: The Perfect Valentine's Gift

chocolate bean
"Forget love, I'd rather fall in chocolate." Deanna Troi, Star Trek: The Next Generation

Valentine's Day approaches and I have to agree with Deanna Troi--forget love. Let me fall in chocolate.

Actually, as a child, that was my daydream--to get a Hershey bar as big as my bedroom and not have to share--or to swim in a pool of chocolate.

Why am I, like so many Americans (read on to see that I don't lie) obsessed with this delectable seed?

English: Roasted cocoa (cacao) beans
Look how tiny the seeds are!
  1. The very smell of chocolate increases theta waves in your brain. That makes you relax. Can you imagine me without my chocolate?
  2. It's a great, natural anti-depressant. (Imagine what I would be like without chocolate!) It contains tryptophan which helps create serotonin. Forget the turkey. I want chocolate for Thanksgiving.
  3. The inventor of the chocolate chip cookie was a brilliant individual. The recipe was sold to Nestle in return for a lifetime supply of chocolate. Who got the better end of the deal? Uh duh. It's obvious.
  4.  A single chocolate chip can provide enough energy for an adult human to walk 150 feet. Thirty-five chips enables the adult to walk one mile. For 875,000 you can walk around the world.
  5. It takes about 400 cacao beans to make one pound of chocolate.
  6. And every second, Americans (collectively) eat 100 pounds of chocolate. That's a lot of beans. (See the picture above, right).
  7. Each person consumes 12 pounds of chocolate a year. (I personally make-up for the few who eat no chocolate.) 
  8. Americans spend $7 billion dollars a year on chocolate. (I thought my budget was bad.)
  9. Hershey produces 20-25 million kisses a day.
  10. Eating dark chocolate every day reduces your risk of heart disease by one-third. However, I don't think that extends to the quantities I consume them.
  11. Chocolate has an anti-bacterial element that protects your teeth from decay.
  12. Be careful. Good things need to be used in small doses. A lethal dose of chocolate (heavens, how could there be such a thing) is 22 pounds--about 40 Hershey bars.
  13. The average chocolate bar has about 8 insect parts.
  14. There's a pill that makes your fart smell like chocolate.
  15. The original name for hot chocolate was cacahuatl. Translated it was cocoa water. The Europeans did not like drinking anything named caca water. Would you? 
Which is your favorite chocolate fact? Currently #14 is my favorite. What can you expect from caca water?



Sunday, January 25, 2015

Sin Is a Jack Pine

Jack Pine. Pine cone.
Jack Pine. Pine cone. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Years ago, I fell in love--my first love as a Christian, so I let down every self-preserving defense I had put in place against heartache. I had prayed. Fleeces had been place. God gave me two thumbs up. This love was a go.

Unfortunately, six weeks after our love affair began, it ended with the cliched line, "I'm not ready for marriage. This wouldn't be fair to you."

Two weeks later, he fell in love with my best friend. Jealousy, Song of Solomon says, "...is is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which has a most vehement flame." And boy oh boy, did I get burned.

Fire is critical to many trees--two examples would be the jack pine on the East Coast, sequoia on the West. The cones are virtually glued shut with resin. When fire sweeps through their habitat, the cones release their seeds. In the fire swept environment, new trees flourish.

The same can be said of jealousy. If it's a fire, it ignites those close-held seeds of sin and years after you think you've eradicated it, it blossoms again.

Quite a few years after the marriage of my beloved--long after I was happily married, my beloved died, and after an appropriate time, my best friend found new love. Jealousy gripped me.

Totally weird. I had everything I wanted. A man who loved me, whom I adore and have absolutely no intention of leaving or trading in. I plan on making him stay with me until I croak (and probably wouldn't re-marry should he have the audacity to die before me).

Beautiful grandchildren blanket me with love. Home and finances exceed that of any of my friends. Still, jealousy nudged me.

No one ever accused me of being rational.

That made me think--sin is a habit. We see it easily in alcohol or food addiction. Gossip rears its ugly head when conditions are juicy. But all sin seems to steep its seeds in cones of selfishness--given the right conditions...it rears its sticky head.

How do we break the habit? You know the obvious--prayer and Bible reading. But here are a few more ideas on how to break habitual sin.

  1. Take time to note why you are doing it? My jealousy comes from leftover childhood disappointments--the popular boy wanted the cheerleader. I wasn't good enough. Ralph, my idol, wanted Betty, my friend,--therefore the fault was mine. Gossip improves our self-esteem. Sex ignites our serotonin levels, alcohol hides our inhibitions. Get to the root--through therapy or counseling or journaling.
  2. And speaking of journaling--write it down. The Bible says to confess our sins--and confession does release the guilt feelings. Find out what may trigger your sin. Work to eliminate the problem.
  3. Reward your success. When I was growing up, my church preached vigorously on humility. I learned it (it wasn't taught as such) as putting myself down. That is not humility--it's self-deprecation. When I thank God for the good in my life, praise Him for my success or honestly assess my good qualities, I'm less likely envy others or desire to get something unsavory in my life. According to my yoga teacher, being thankful five times a day for a month will improve your life expectancy.
  4. Know that God doesn't deem certain actions sin just because He's a big meany. Sin is sin because it: 
    • hurts others
    • hurts you
    • hurts God
How do you keep your jack pine seeds from blossoming?

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Divorce: Dealing with Visitation

English: An artificial Christmas tree.
School will be out shortly for Christmas break, and that means your ex gets custody. It certainly doesn't seem fair. You fight over homework, correct behavior, eating green beans, and he (she) gets to be Santa Claus.

Yes, he's the father, and we are grateful he loves his children. Still the loss of time with them over significant holidays burns like reflux from too much eggnog. Add, on top of that, the guilt from being resentful of not having our children all the time, and we have a recipe for depression.

However, we can take simple steps to overcome our pain. How? So glad you asked.


Drinking chocolate (not hot cocoa) at a cafe i...


  1. Move Christmas. Obviously, the world will not change it from December 25. Should they agree to that, the ex will have the kiddos during that season. However, you can create a new holiday. Choose one that has significance for you. The winter solstice is the darkest day of the year. Make that the time that you celebrate Christmas. Wrap presents, put them under the tree, do all the December 25 stuff on December 21 (or 20). Hate using solstice? Try the Feast of the Epiphany in January. We called it Little Christmas, and it is the Russian celebration. Christmas is not about the day. It's the family and the love and the remembrance of Christ's birth.
  2. Celebrate Christmas. Go to church, volunteer in a shelter or soup kitchen or a hospital. Maybe you can invite friends over who have no one to share this season with--empty-nesters whose kids live across the country or world. 
  3. Invite yourself. Do you have a good friend who celebrates with her family? If it isn't chaotic--ask if there's room for one more at the inn. I tend to be introverted and fear asking to be involved, but in my years as a teacher, I discovered from my students, by simple asking, 'Me, too?', an invitation is gladly extended.
  4. Movie night. Make the day special. Stay in PJs, drink more hot cocoa than you do all year, and stream every corny Christmas music Netflix offers. Make the day special to you.
  5. Adopt a child. This needs to be planned in advance. Does a special friend have a child or children you love? Become their grandma/pa, aunt/uncle, and dote on them all year. Christmas morning, after the family chaos has died down at their house and before they must leave for the real grandparents, stop by with gifts and coffee and homemade maple scones.
  6. Count your blessings. Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Christ. Read the Scriptures of his arrival--or Hebrews 10: 1-7 for a new perspective. Keep a journal for the year and record the way your children have blessed you. Re-read during this hiatus.
  7. Remember. This is only an interlude. Pretty soon the kids will return and you'll be wishing you could pawn them off on someone and get a break (knowing all along, you'd rather die--literally).
In divorce any holiday: Hanukkah, Easter, summer vacation can be hard. Be positive. Find alternatives, and you will survive.

What have you done that works for you?


Thursday, December 11, 2014

SANTA’S RELUCTANT HELPER by Linda Rondeau

English: Thomas Nast's most famous drawing, &q...

Wiping the sleep from my eyes, I saw her squatting and looking eye to eye at the packaged item standing under the Christmas tree. It was four in the morning, and I had no idea how long she had been there.
            I was grateful for the toys and clothes Mother had bought for my children. She had set a few unwrapped items under the tree before retiring to bed, doing her bit to keep the fantasy of Santa alive for another year—a magnanimous gesture for one who so despised the myth.
             If it had not been for her, my children would have wondered if Santa cared about them. Divorced, unemployed, and with a scant amount of support money, what little allowance I received from the government barely paid for rent and food. Outside of crayons and coloring books, Christmas, as I hoped it would be, was out of the question.
            Mother understood my heartache. She herself had known many disappointing Christmases, and hoped to provide better for her own children; but, it was not until Christmas, 1948, that she first began to actually despise Santa. “Santa Claus is a cruel hoax for poor children.”
The years following World War II were difficult for returning vets. Jobs were scare and finding shelter for their families a daunting task. The only housing my parents could afford was in the south side of the city. They rented a cold-water flat, the euphemism given to apartments with no running hot water. Rats often found their way into the cleanest of these dwellings. The adaptive rodents would eat anything, even gnawing their way through aluminum garbage cans. They thrived in cold-water flats. Fearful that the rats would bite her children, Mother spent many sleepless nights vigilantly listening for any sounds that might indicate danger. 
A child of the depression and a wife of a war soldier, Mother was grateful for her surroundings, grateful that her family was all together under one roof even if money were scarce. My father’s factory paycheck paid the rent and bought food—leaving little for luxuries of any kind, especially events like Christmas. I was still a baby, unaware that there was a special day to be excited about. My brother, on the other hand, had been looking forward to Christmas and to Santa’s showering of presents for all good boys and girls.
At first, my brother was thrilled when he opened the holster gun set and cowboy hat under the tree. 

“Oh, boy! I’m a real cowboy, now!” He flitted about the house shooting bad men that lurked behind 

the couch and chair. Then he took his treasure outside. It was not long before he rushed back into the 

house, his countenance forever changed. “Have I been good, Mom?” my brother asked.
“Of course, you have,” Mother reassured him.
“Then why did Santa Claus only bring me two presents? Santa brought Danny ten presents and a new bike?”
My mother didn’t know how to answer his child spirit. How could she explain poverty to a four-year-old, an innocent who didn’t know he was poor? Mother took the fall for Santa.
“Well, honey,” she ventured to explain. “Moms and dads have to pay Santa for the presents. We didn’t have very much money to give him.” She watched helplessly as her child faced the brutal realities of social inequities for the first time in his life, knowing the experience would be repeated many times over.
Yes, I knew Mother understood the heartache I felt that Christmas.
My three-year old turned to look at me, eyes filled with tears. “For me?” she asked, not quite believing it might be true.
“Yes, honey. Santa brought it for you.”
I helped her remove the cellophane wrapping. She hugged the treasured gift so tightly, her little fingers turned white.
 “It’s just what I wanted! He remembered!”
 “Yes, he remembered.”
In my heart, I was grateful to a mother whose memory reached from her pain and gave comfort.


Linda Wood Rondeau is an award-winning author of many books. My favorites are It Really Is A Wonderful Life and The Other Side of Darkness. 
You can find her works on online venues wherever books are sold, and you won't regret reading any of them.
You can also contact Linda at www.lindarondeau.com