Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Peace of God

I couldn’t remember a time in my life when I had been so jumpy and nervous, and with each passing day it worsened. Ever since the tragic death of my seventeen-year-old stepson, a few months earlier, I had been going through the motions and feeling anything but alive.

My husband and I had two children of our own. It felt as if my grieving family was directing all their anger at me, making it even more difficult to cope with my own despair. Thoughts of divorce and even suicide, constantly plagued my mind.

I used to wonder how the death of a child could destroy a marriage. I assumed the thread of common agony would bring a couple closer together, and their shared grief would build a bridge instead of a wall. Instead, the anger over our loss had begun to poison our relationship. When one wanted to talk, the other didn’t. Communicating with anyone, including each other, was very difficult.

One day at work, after hanging up the phone from yet another argument with my husband, I desperately whispered aloud, “Dear Lord, help me.”

Suddenly, I felt a strong hand on my shoulder. I looked up to see my cousin, Jay, who worked nearby. In a comforting voice, Jay asked if I needed help, and then offered the number of a friend—a Christian counselor named Joe.

During my first visit with Joe my tears flowed effortlessly as I poured out my torment to a stranger schooled in listening to hearts. Before long, he nailed it. “How much time are you spending in the Bible?” he asked.

The Bible? I just told him I was having trouble focusing on anything, especially reading.

“God’s Word has tremendous power. And, you don’t need to read much for it to help,” he said, as if he read my mind. Handing me a piece of paper, his eyes met mine. “I want you to look up these two scripture verses and memorize them.” Neither of us blinked.

I had been a strong Christian prior to my stepson’s death, but between the weight of the grief and my own anger at God, I had stopped having my quiet time with the Lord. Even though I continued to attend worship services, I was going through the motions there, too.

When I returned home, armed with the verses in hand, I looked them up and slowly read them out loud. “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” It was Philippians 4:6-7.

I had to break the words down, meditating on just a few at a time, but with each reading I felt as if a soothing balm was being lovingly massaged directly into my heart. Gradually, an amazing transformation began to occur. As I spent more time in the Word, I returned to prayer. Then the fog in my mind began to clear, sound sleep returned, and the heavy pain slowly subsided.

With God’s help I began crawling out of that deep, dark cave that my soul had been choking in for so many months. I became more patient and loving with my family, too, praying out loud with them again, infusing hope and comfort in their hurting hearts, as well.

I realized how close I had come to almost allowing the enemy to destroy my marriage, or even my life. God had divinely intervened; first through Jay and then with Joe, but mostly through the power of His Word. Christ is the light at the end of the tunnel. Our part is to turn to, and trust in, Him alone.

Wishing you peace,

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Time Well Spent

“I’ve been offered a part-time job,” my friend, Linda, said in a tone that was more questioning than matter-of-fact. “But, I’m not sure what to do.”

Recently widowed and retired, Linda was still very active, both mentally and physically. She liked staying busy and had excellent secretarial skills; I assumed this job would be perfect for her. But, Linda went on to share that she had gotten used to her freedom, and while she could use the money, she could get by without it.

I said a quick prayer for wisdom before responding to her. Having been home writing for several years, I loved setting my own hours; arising early in the morning to write if I knew I had something else going on during the day. Sure, I could find a “real job” that paid better, but I knew I was doing what God called me to do. Plus, this flexibility had allowed me to spend more time with my aging parents, both of whom were around seventy.

Linda’s parents were even older and she was very close to them. We had a short discussion of the pro’s and con’s of going back to work, even just part-time, when suddenly I made a statement that I didn’t realize would make all the difference: “I’ve never regretted the extra time I had to spend with my dad, especially since he passed so unexpectedly.”

Those few years prior to my father’s passing, he and I had lunch together several times, which included lots of long talks about the past. One day, Dad accompanied me on the two hour trip to Ohio University to see my son. Dad and I had a great day together; even talking about the Lord, which Pops was never comfortable with. I didn’t pressure him, I simply shared my faith.

Dad quietly responded with, “I’m not ready to do that yet, but… don’t give up on me.”

I didn’t. And more importantly, God didn’t.

Unknown to dear ole Pops, his response had lit a fire in me to “pray without ceasing” for him (1 Thessalonians 5:17). I prayed daily for dad to come to the Lord and put his name on the prayer chain at my church, too.

Then, just two short years after our OU trip, I got the horrible call that dad’s aorta had suddenly burst—he had only hours to live. I arrived in time to remind Pops of our conversation—how the Lord had not given up on him. I told Dad to squeeze my hand if he was ready to ask Jesus into his heart—thankfully he squeezed hard.

Linda knew all about this, because…she had been married to my dad. She had witnessed over the years the seeds planted in his heart for Jesus. After dad passed, she rededicated her life to the Lord. Then just this year, she learned her father had only months to live. Linda was able to spend time caring for her dad and sharing her faith in private conversations with him. A few weeks before he passed, Linda’s father asked Jesus into his heart. He even went on to share his faith with his family before leaving this earth.

Sometimes the enemy tries to convince us that we need to make more money, or that we simply don’t have the time to invest in others. But in actuality, our time is a gift from God. One day we will stand before Him alone and give an account of how we spent it. Spend it well—for Him.

“But seek ye first the Kingdom of God…” (Matthew 6:33).


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thankful for His Gifts

It’s good to be back writing my column again. I am blessed to have such wonderful writing friends (Connie Johnston and Nanette Friend) who are willing to take over so I can focus time on other pressing items, such as the publicity and marketing of this new book.

When I first started writing almost twenty years ago, many book publishers could afford to hire their own publicists to set up interviews and arrange book signings for their authors, allowing writers more time to, well…write. But these days, unless you are a well-known and widely published author, most publishers don’t have it in their budget to promote your book. So, it is up to the author to see that those who could benefit from reading what they have written are made aware of it. The downside is—publicity is very time-consuming. Along with that, after months (or even years) of writing about your subject, you’re more than ready to move on to something else. But, you now have to stay excited about your book.

Thankfully, for me, it is easy to stay passionate about ministering to those behind bars. If you are a regular reader of this column you know God has given me a desire for prison ministry. It is a passion that has only increased over time, not diminished. I have been so blessed this past year to get even closer to some local jail ministry board members who share this passion, as we tirelessly worked together on many of the stories in the devotional book, Stories of Faith and Courage from Prison. And I’ve also been privileged to meet many dedicated people from around the country who diligently reach out to the incarcerated, spurring me on to keep laboring over this huge project.

God, in His infinite wisdom, knew just what I needed and when I needed it. And, He longs to do a similar work in your life, too. No, not necessarily writing a book, but there is some unique gift that He has placed inside of each one of us. There is something that He has made each of us passionate about. When we sincerely seek the Lord and ask Him to reveal to us what our gifts are, coupled with a true longing to serve others (instead of our focus being on making a name for ourself or becoming rich), I believe God is more than happy to reveal those gifts to us. He sits up and takes notice when our heart matches His. Nothing in life is more fulfilling than discovering who we are in the body of Christ, and then using our God-given gifts and talents to build up and bless others, thereby glorifying God in the process.

As we've entered into this time of thanks, followed by a hectic time of gift giving, I urge you to get alone with our Heavenly Father and seek Him with all your heart. You are special to Him and He has big plans for your life. Give Him thanks for the many blessings you have, including the unique way that He knit you together in your mother’s womb. Become determined to discover your gifts and to stay focused on living your life for His glory…for He alone is worthy to be praised.

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; His love endures forever (1 Chronicles 16:34).



Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Single Red Pane

My husband and I visited our first male prison a few weeks ago. It was a nice prison, as prisons go, and we had a great visit. The man we visited, Timothy, is a good writer and has several stories in the upcoming prison devotional book, Stories of Faith and Courage from Prison. More importantly, he came to the Lord three days after being arrested. His conversion experience was powerful and sincere. It was a pleasure to meet him and witness his love for the Lord.

Tim teared up twice during our visit; once when we prayed with him before leaving, and the other when my husband asked if he minded if we came back to visit him again. He was humbled almost beyond words.

Tim gave me permission to share a special poem he wrote. It was recently published in our jail ministry newsletter, and is included in the new devotional, too. I think you’ll agree that he has, indeed, been given a gift. (Tim was recently transferred to another facility and is no longer at Lebanon Correctional.)

The Single Red Pane
By Timothy James Burke

It is ironic that in prison, where I have very limited freedom of movement, I should often feel lost. The distractions and temptations inside these walls are every bit as powerful as the ones outside, and staying focused is just as difficult.

In the chapel at Lebanon Correctional, we have all variety of inmates attending the services. Most are there for the right reasons, but some guys use the worship time to talk with their friends from other blocks, pass contraband, or just get out of the confines of their six-by-eleven boxes.

One Sunday, during a service in which I was having a tough time with my feelings and the distractions around me, I looked up and noticed that all of the chapel’s stained-glass panes were yellow, blue, or white – all but one pane. The following poem came through me….

Sunday, each Sunday, I sit in these pews

And listen to preachers dispensing their views.

Doing my best to ignore and deflect

All the talkers around me that won’t show respect…

Trying to tell if the sermon I heard

Matches up with the lessons I learned in the Word.

Trying to quiet my anger and violence

So I can hear Jesus alive in the silence.

Forgive me, God, for my negative mind

For the times when I don’t trust the plan You designed,

For the nights when my faith flies away on a breeze

Cause I’m too weak or stubborn to drop to my knees.

Dear God, my thoughts are full of disease

So I sit in these pews and I pray, “Father, please

Help me to walk on the path of pure light

With my eyes always forward and Jesus in sight.”

Tears wet my cheeks in a lacrimal flood

When I think of the Savior shedding His blood.

I look to the heavens for God to explain

And there…in the stained glass…a single red pane.

“I have not left you, My Word’s never lost;

The blood I gave freely has covered that cost.

That single red pane is there to remind you

Whenever you wander…I can still find you.

The blood that I gave left a permanent stain,

A sign and a promise, My love will remain.”

“… God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

As the Christmas season approaches, may we all keep in our hearts the true reason for the season.

In His Grace Alone,

Saturday, October 13, 2012

God Knows Our Location

Not too many years ago it was easy to tell if another driver was lost on a road. Not only would they be pulled over, but usually the interior of their windshield would be completely covered—with a map.

In today’s electronic world maps are almost obsolete. I still enjoy using them, however. (AAA is glad of that!) For me, there is something about seeing “the big picture” that makes me feel better—more grounded. I like being able to see where I’ve been, where I am, and where I’m going, all laid out on a paper map. I enjoy circling my destination and highlighting landmarks along the way. What I don’t like is folding it back together—I never could master that!

Nowadays most people have a GPS (Global Positioning System) of some sort. These remarkable devices can quickly spot our location and tell us how to get to where we want to go. They can immediately display the restaurants, gas stations, and points of interest in the area, too. These little gadgets are amazing. We’ve selected a lady’s voice for ours and she quickly gets on my nerves when she tells me to “turn around,” or to “make a U-turn, if allowed.” (As if I didn’t know I just blew it.) And I’ve learned, too, not to completely trust her as she has been wrong on more than one occasion.

Along with using a map and a GPS, I also like to print out the directions from online map sites. So if you haven’t realized it by now, getting lost scares me. As my dear friend and ex-columnist of the newspapers that this column appears in, Faye Landrum, used to say, “Getting lost with a friend is an adventure; getting lost alone can be a nightmare.” Faye was always the optimistic one. I have never thought of getting lost as an adventure, whether I am with someone or not.

But during those times when I am lost, what helps ease my fears the most is to remember that God knows where I am. He knows my physical location; He has not lost sight of me. I can still talk to Him, and I do. I ask Him for wisdom and to show me the way. I ask Him to calm my fears, help me to stay clear-thinking, and to keep me safe until I can get turned around or get my bearings. He always comes through—every time.

For Christians, it’s the same principle when we feel spiritually lost. When we remember that our all-knowing, all-loving, and all-caring Father is there for us, we can cry out to Him and ask Him to show us the way. He will. His directions may include making a U-turn in life—but unlike the GPS lady, God will never point us in the wrong direction. His way is always best.

From the moment we invite Jesus into our heart and choose to live our life for Him, we have the most wonderful GPS available to man—God’s Power Source—the Holy Spirit. Let’s not forget to stay plugged in. He has our best interests at heart and won’t mislead us.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path (Psalm 119:105).

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The “Incentive” to Pray

I recently read an article about whether incentives should be used to entice people to come to church. The usual lures were named to get the attention of the public, such as potlucks, special programs, and ice cream socials. This article was supposedly written by a Christian, but he left out one important factor: prayer. While each of the above named attractions do sometimes draw a few outsiders in, whatever happened to praying and then following the leading of the Holy Spirit? The Lord may very well impress upon the hearts of the believers to have another program or potluck; but then again, it may be something entirely different.

When I think back over my own salvation experience and the draw I felt to come to Christ, it wasn’t a meal, or even a lot of meals, that led me to the Lord. It wasn’t seeing Jesus on a cross in a moving Passion play, or the temptation of a huge buffet; rather, it was the Holy Spirit—period. It was decades ago, back when our son was four and our daughter was two. One day after his pet turtle died, my son began asking questions about death and where we went when we died. I gave him a vague response about heaven. That response only led to more questions about God; who He was and where He lived. Again, I responded vaguely. While my answers seemed to satisfy his curiosity, I became driven to gain answers about death and the afterlife—for myself.

I now know it was God who would not let me be content; He kept nudging me to come to Him. There was no sign in front of a church that offered barbequed pork or homemade desserts—just promptings from the Holy Spirit stemming from the simple questions of a little child. (Thankfully, God uses little children to lead many an adult to the cross.) Don’t get me wrong, I know some people have eventually become Christians after responding to an outside incentive, but if God is left out of the picture—incentives won’t be blessed.

I also know that when my Grandma Grimes was alive she prayed regularly for her family—for each of her descendants to come to the Lord. She was a strong Christian lady who wasn’t pushy about her “religion”; rather, she was sweet and kind and lived out her relationship with Jesus. Grandma had been in heaven for years before I became a Christian, but I know with certainty God was answering her faithful prayers the day I dropped to my knees, repented of my sins, and invited Jesus into my heart.

Sometimes I think we are getting lazy, or even forgetful, when it comes to prayer. We’d rather “do” something about increasing church attendance instead of praying and waiting on the Lord. We tend to forget that it is His church, and it is His Spirit that will draw people to Him. When we pray as a body of believers, truly caring more about lost souls than we do about our attendance numbers, God will answer and will also bless our “Spirit- led” efforts. What a privilege we’ve been given to intercede on behalf of the lost—let’s not forget to do it.

Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know (Jeremiah 33:3).


Monday, August 6, 2012


Last February marked the beginning of our fourth year of finishing our basement. We temporarily stopped the work a while back while my husband was unemployed. And yes, I am more than ready to have it done. Our furniture has been stored and the dust has been never ending. A few months ago we discussed with our remodeler that our goal to be completely finished was the first day of summer, which also happens to be a big birthday for my husband. For some reason it seemed fitting to me to have things in order before Chuck began a new decade.

Finally the painting was done, the carpet was tacked down, the furniture was out of storage and the curtains were hung. It brings a smile to my face each time I travel down the steps and see the finished product.

For those who have read my book, God’s Gentle Nudges, you know I used to live in a 150 year old farmhouse on 53 acres. Prior to that nine year experience, I never cared much about owning a new home. But after the first year or so of living with uneven floors, limited counter space, few electrical outlets, and a laundry room located in an old, dingy cellar; I couldn’t stop daydreaming about a new house. More than five years ago we sold the farmhouse and built a ranch. Now with the deck added and the basement finished, it feels complete.

Getting to this point, though, was wrought with many choices and some heated discussions. My husband and I had different visions of the finished product. He wanted a man cave and I wanted a pretty apartment for when our kids and grandkids came over. In the end, we compromised and we are both very happy with it.

There’s something about having restoration in your life that brings about a level of peace and contentment. After spending more than a year on my latest book I took a few days off from writing to bask in its completion and to rest. And—I found I missed it. Just pondering the next project was enough to get my creative juices stirring again. It’s the same with the basement remodeling— I look at these upstairs walls that are five-years-old and realize it is time to repaint some of them, too. I’m daydreaming about colors….

As much as I long for complete restoration and perfect peace in my life to stay, I know there will always be some project that needs tackled. And that is how it should be. God planned for us to stay busy; it is part of His design that things on earth rust and wear out, needing replaced and repaired.

We are not supposed to be content here—for the Believer, lasting contentment will come someday—in another time and another place. But for now, there is much to do. It’s time to get back to work.

But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal (Matthew 6:20).

Monday, July 9, 2012


In previous posts I’ve shared how each week God gives me a recurring theme—a topic that He wants me to write about. He usually gives me at least three separate nudges and then I pray about it to make sure. This week the topic has been exceptionally clear and exciting. On Monday, after taking a several day sabbatical from writing my latest book, I received the first nudge. I had been praying about what my next writing project should be, and also about our finances. I opened a devotional book and my eyes went straight to a specific paragraph—the words seared my soul: When we make a point of putting others before ourselves, God will bless us. Now, like most of us, I know the Bible says to do that. But this time it was as if God was saying, Something is coming up where you need to remember this. That night while preparing for bed I had a Christian talk show on the television. My ears perked up when I heard an author talk about the theme of his book: “When we are interested in others, helping them to meet their needs and achieve their goals, our own needs will be met. God will bless us and doors will be open to us that were previously shut.” Again, my ears perked up and my soul was seared. The next day I met a man for coffee who is a successful businessman. This man, like me, has a heart for prison ministry and also has a few moving stories in my upcoming book. Not long into our conversation he said he had a powerful life story and asked if he could share it with me. It took an hour. At least three times in that hour God spoke to my heart to stay quiet and listen. (For those of you who know me, you know what a struggle that can be for me!) Then, when he finished, he said that God had been nudging him to get his story written into a book. I had to agree. He liked my writing style and—would I consider writing his book? I had several writing projects that I longed to get to after dedicating so much time to the prison devotional book. I really wanted…. Put others first. “Yes,” I heard myself say to this man. “Let me get with my agent and see what she says, but yes, I would love to help you.” I had tremendous peace and even joy after agreeing to help him achieve his goal. To confirm the decision, my agent really liked the idea, too. But that was not all. Two days later I received an email from another person whose short version of their story is also in my prisoner devotional book. He asked if I would help him get his full story into a finished manuscript. He would send me the chapters and I would edit them. Again I heard, prefer others before yourself. I love how God takes a basic Christian concept and makes it powerful and personal to us. And I also love how creatively He answers our prayers when we seek Him. Often His answers are something we had never considered (when I prayed over how to increase our income.) The joy and peace I have from helping some brothers in the Lord to achieve their dreams is hard to describe. And when these dreams involve glorifying God and pointing others to Him, it makes it all the more worthwhile. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves (Romans 12:10). In His Grace Alone, Connie

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Everyone Has a Story

I look forward to the CBS Friday evening news segments for one main reason; to watch “On the Road,” by Steve Hartman. The series was originally hosted by Charles Kuralt and ended in 1980. I am glad it’s been resurrected, but I have to admit I miss Steve’s previous Friday evening segments, “Everybody Has a Story”. I enjoyed watching Steve throw a dart over his shoulder at a map, travel to the city it landed on, and find a phone booth. Once inside he would open their local phonebook, close his eyes and call the phone number his finger landed on. I, like millions of others who watched, was repeatedly amazed at the unique story he could pull out of one of the family members. Most of his stories were heartwarming and ended in such a way that I couldn’t help but exclaim out loud, “Awww.” Sadly, the show had to end. After all, who can find a phone booth these days? I love learning about the personal life experiences of others. Everyone has a story – and no two stories are exactly alike. I frequently get asked for help in writing those stories and in getting them published. I truly wish I could help each person who asks, but the bottom line is, there are no shortcuts or “secrets” to getting published. It simply boils down to hard work. Most often that hard work refers to a lot of re-writing, but it can also mean being able to take constructive criticism from those who know the business, including those who know how to write. Time is money for all of us, which means if you want lots of help with your writing, including a good critique of your work, expect to pay for it. Writer’s conferences are usually worth their weight in gold for all that you receive: the educational classes, the networking with other writers, the handouts and samples, and especially the face-to-face meetings with editors. I have inadvertently offended many people by responding (as nice as I know how) that I was not able to help them with their book. My prayer is, if God is calling them to write, they won’t give up. Discouragement will be part of the process, but as with most things in life, if it is worthwhile it will involve perseverance and it will come with a price. When we think of the many scribes who labored over the creation of the Bible, the time, energy, and even negative comments they must have endured, it should encourage us to persevere to share what God lays on our heart, too. What if those scribes had decided it was too hard part-way through and given up? Or it interfered with their “real” job. Yes, the Author of the greatest love story ever told would have found others, but what an eternal privilege the quitters would have missed out on. Never forget that the One who calls you into His service, will also equip you with all that you need, in His way and in His timing. “Then the LORD said to me, ‘Write my answer plainly on tablets, so that a runner can carry the correct message to others,’” (Habakkuk 2:2, NLT). Writing for Him, Connie

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

When God Puts Us in “Time Out”

A few columns ago I shared that we had acquired a yellow lab puppy. Cleo is now four months old and full of energy. Our other dog, Colby, is a two and-a-half year old mid-sized mixed breed. They are fun, exhausting, and frustrating, all wrapped into one.

Some days the “frustrating” aspect is at its peak. Colby is bigger (for now), and very dominating. He won’t share anything with Cleo, who seems to want whatever Colby has. The dogs run through the house rough housing, growling loudly and yipping constantly. Last week the stress escalated to a point where I knew I had to do something. I said a quick prayer for help and was suddenly reminded of my four-year-old granddaughter, Elaina. At our last visit, while she and “PeePaw” put a puzzle together, she showed him her time out chair. “It’s where I go when I don’t obey,” she explained.

I realized that if time out works for kids, it could work for dogs, so I put Colby outside in the fenced yard for a while. Then, right before I let him back inside, I put Cleo in her crate for a nap. Ahhh, peace at last.

I heard another reference to “time out” this week that, at first, was funny. During our jail ministry board meeting, another board member mentioned that sometimes God puts people in “time out” when they go to jail. It can be His way of getting their attention, especially when they “don’t obey”.

It made me stop and think, because God has ways of getting the attention of law abiding adults, too. Sometimes it takes something serious, like an accident or illness, for us to slow down. In those times (jail time or physical impairment), we need to remember that what Satan means for harm, God can turn into good (Genesis 50:20). God may choose to stop us in our tracks to keep us from going down the wrong path, and in the process hopefully turn our heart to Him. Sometimes God allows “a time out” in our life for His divine purposes.

When kids are put in time out, the goal is for them to realize they have made a bad choice. We want them to learn from it, and, if warranted, apologize. God hopes for the same reaction from us. He is not being mean when He puts us in time out; rather, He is showing us how much He loves us. If we are making wrong choices (including not choosing to have Him in our life at all), He sometimes goes to extremes to get our attention…even sending His innocent Son to the cross…on our behalf.

Our parents trained us for a little while. They did what they thought was best. But God trains us for our good. He wants us to share in his holiness. No training seems pleasant at the time. In fact, it seems painful. But later on it produces a harvest of godliness and peace. It does that for those who have been trained by it (Hebrews 12:10-11 NIRV).

Taking "time out" for Jesus,

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Fresh Starts

A while back I wrote about “do overs”, how we can’t go back and do any part of our life over, no matter how much we desire. I went on to say that the secret to wanting fewer “do overs” in life is to keep Jesus in the forefront, living with the end in mind.

Recently, while praying over what to write in my weekly newspaper column, I realized that we all need reminded (myself included) that, while we can’t “do it over”, we can have a fresh start every day, no matter our past. When we confess our sins and truly repent, God wipes the slate clean. He forgives and forgets, and expects us to do the same; forgive ourself, forgive others, and get on with serving Him. To stay “stuck” in our past is to say that we don’t believe God is who He says He is. We are actually saying we don’t believe He is a redeemer and a restorer.

The word “restore” is mentioned over one hundred times in the Bible. Often it refers to giving back what the enemy has stolen. It can even mean restoration of our inner peace: "He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake” (Psalms 23:3). Not only can God fill us with His hope, peace and tranquility, He can also nudge us to get back on track and go in the right direction.

When my son was young, around eight or nine years old, he would sometimes wake up saying, “Mom, I am excited about today, but I don’t know why.”

It wasn’t Christmas or his birthday. As a matter of fact, there usually wasn’t anything on the calendar for that day. He was facing the day like we all should, with excitement and anticipation of the good things that could happen.

"Do you ever feel that way, Mom?” Chase asked once. “Like you know something good is going to happen, but you don’t know what?”

Yes, yes I have.

Oh, to wake up everyday with the excitement of a child! To begin our day wondering what is in store for us, keeping our eyes open to the awesome way God might show up in our life; looking for Him and expecting to see His works around every corner.

The prophet Jeremiah knew the secret: “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart,” (Jeremiah 29:13).

This year is still relatively young; why not commit to having a fresh start every day by pursuing Jesus with all your heart. Come to Him with the simple faith of a young child, beginning each morning with excitement and expectancy.

“In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly,” (Psalm 5:3).

Seeking Him,

Friday, February 3, 2012

Upcoming Prison Book – Stories Needed!

If you know an inmate/ex-inmate, minister to one, work with one, or are one, and you have a short "God story" that you would like to share, please let me know!

I am contracted with AMG Publishers to co-write an upcoming book in their "Battlefields and Blessings" series of books. The subtitle is, "Stories of Faith and Courage from Prison”. The book will be released in the fall of 2012. It will have 365 devotionals, each 350-400 words and one scripture verse. (If you need more words to tell your story accurately, you may have several consecutive devotionals.)

You DO NOT have to do the writing, but you are welcome to. Also, names and locations can be changed.

Please submit your stories ASAP. Deadline is Feb. 29, 2012, but the sooner I receive them the better chance you have of getting a slot in the book.

If you have a good true “God story” about any aspect of incarceration that you feel led to share, please email me, thru my website.

Subject ideas include, but are not limited to:

• Finding God behind bars
• Beginning a ministry while incarcerated
• Leading another inmate to the Lord
• Witnessing a divine miracle in jail/prison
• How God changed your life after incarceration
• Your involvement in jail/prison ministry as a volunteer
• “God moments” for staff members/employees of prisons
• Growth in the Lord as a family member or friend of an inmate

AMG Publishers has final say concerning which stories are selected, and stories may be edited for clarity. AMG will provide a copy of the book to those whose stories are included.

A release form will need to be signed (I will provide it).

Thank you!

Connie Cameron
Author, Columnist, and Secretary of the Board, LC Jail Ministries

Thursday, January 26, 2012

No “Do Overs”

Do you remember playing a game as a child, and if it wasn’t going the way you wanted (you weren’t winning) you’d call out, “Do over!” You might even have kept repeating those two words until you actually won. Or maybe you were practicing a musical piece and goofed up during the first stanza. Again, “Do over!” you’d exclaim.

As adults, how many times at the end of a year do we look back and long to beg, “Do over, please!” Maybe what leads us to that desperate request were some poor choices we made, such as our mortgage – we never should have agreed to those painful balloon payments. We assumed our income would increase and that the value of our home would, too, but instead we lost our job and our house. Or maybe it was that new car scent that got us to sign on a whim. “It’s been so long since I’ve had a new car…” we yearned. Or perhaps your “do over” doesn’t have anything to do with money. Maybe it was words spoken in haste or in anger. “If I’d just walked away and kept my mouth shut…”

We all have them – regrets. Oh sure, I’ve run into people who say they live their life so that they don’t have any, but I believe that in most cases they are either very young, they are fibbing, or they haven’t done much with their life. We all have sin in our life and the Bible says we are to hate sin. In that respect we should be regretful of our sins so that we humble ourselves before God and ask His forgiveness.

Because I am human I will not stop sinning this side of heaven, but I have found the secret as to how to lessen the longing for “do overs” in my life. Actually, John nailed it when he said:

“I must decrease so that He will increase in my life”, (John 3:30).

How do we do that? How do we decrease and how do we increase Jesus in our life? For starters, we need to put Him first. As soon as you awaken talk to the Lord, then ask Him to help you throughout your day. Spend time in God’s word, studying it and praying it back to Him. Put God above yourself, humbling yourself, obeying Him, and putting others before your own wants and needs.

I’ve had the privilege of visiting several people on their deathbed, praying with them as they prepare to leave this world. Not one of them has ever said they regret what they did for Jesus. Most are feeling quite the opposite, wishing they could have a “do over” and put Him first instead of last, or maybe He wasn’t even in their life at all.

We are in a race and we can’t go back and salvage any time lost from 2011, but we can resolve not to waste 2012. We can do our part to make disciples in all nations, share His message of hope with a hurting world, and love our neighbor as we love ourself. In other words, we can resolve to live this year as if it will be our last.

Because, when our heart truly yearns for Home, we won’t want to stay here and do it over.

Jesus said, “The time has come. The holy nation of God is near. Be sorry for your sins, turn from them, and believe the Good News,” (Mark 1:15).

Believing in Him,
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