Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Christmas Stocking

Every year my family, like many families around the world, hangs stockings on our fireplace mantle, one for every member of the family. It’s a wonderful tradition that brings childhood memories flooding back. Though nobody knows precisely when the tradition began, it is said that originally, children would put out a regular sock or a shoe in hopes of receiving a gift from Saint Nicholas, or in some countries known as Father Christmas.

I remember my Grandfather saying that if we weren’t good we would get a lump of coal or an old piece of cornbread in our stocking. I had no use for a piece of coal but the consolation prize of cornbread never bothered me. I thought that as long as I could put it in a glass of milk, it would be just fine. Ha.

When I was a kid, the Christmas stocking was the only present we were allowed to open before our parents got up. So before dawn, my Brother Chris and I would get our stockings and crawl back in the bed. With only the glow from the streetlight beaming through our shared bedroom window, we would hurriedly empty the stocking of all its contents. Sifting through our new found treasure, we whispered to each other:

“I got a car.”

“I got hard candy.”

"I got a tangerine.”

"I got a set of Jaxs.” And so it went.

Eventually we tired and dosed back off to sleep, stockings in hand. Later we awoke to open the “real” presents. Stockings were all but forgotten as we ripped open our presents with Parental supervision and joy. Forgotten, that is, until next year when the Christmas stocking was the most important gift of early pre-dawn Christmas.

Even today as I hang the stocking for my family, precious memories flood back. Sadly, one stocking won’t be hanging on our mantle this year. It still remains with the others, carefully packed in our decorations box. Our family pet Buzzy, the most beautiful Collie I’ve ever seen, passed away after battling a long illness. Three times she was at death’s door and the Vet sent her home to die. Twice, our prayers were answered and God miraculously spared her life.

Even the Vet was amazed at her incredible recovery two times, several months apart. But on the third time, we had to finally release our good friend to the Lord.

With the passage of time, sorrow weakens and the joy of fond memories grows strong. As we hang our family stockings on the mantle with care, the one with Buzzy written in glitter brings a smile to our faces and warms our hearts, as we remember her and how we used to fill her stocking with chew toys, balls, and treats. Then we carefully place it back in the decorations box.

If you have lost a loved one, friend, or even a beloved pet, and are facing the Christmas season in grief, remember the good times, just for Christmas. Treasure the precious memories with an inner peace. Depend on the Lord Jesus, whose birth we celebrate, to fulfill His mission to you. The mission that this season proclaims, peace on earth, good will towards men.

“Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” (Luke 2:14 NLT)

Jesus gave us encouragement in the Bible where these words were recorded:

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NLT)

God loves you, and offers to you a spiritual Christmas stocking overflowing with love and peace. Merry Christmas Dear Reader!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Grace and Mercy

A young co-worker asked me, “What is the difference between grace and mercy?” An immediate answer didn’t come to mind so I resorted to humor and replied, “Grace works on the first shift and Mercy works on the second.” Laughter and chuckles came from those within earshot because we have two ladies with those names working with us.

Later, her question came back to mind, which gave pause for me to consider the real answer. I thought about God’s grace, the free and unmerited favor that He has shown towards us as a gift. And I thought about God’s mercy, His compassionate forbearance toward us showing Him kind and forgiving, even though we deserve punishment. Surely our heavenly Father is the finest example of grace and mercy.

As I considered how grace and mercy work together, I remembered a famous event from the battlefields of World War I. It was Christmas Eve 1914, on the western front, where British and German forces faced each other in fierce fighting. The following is an excerpt from a letter written by a British soldier who was present on that night.

“I never hope to see a stranger and more lovely sight. Clusters of tiny lights were shining all along the German line, left and right as far as the eye could see.

“What is it?” I asked in bewilderment, and John answered, “Christmas trees!”

And so it was. The Germans had placed Christmas trees in front of their trenches, lit by candle or lantern like beacons of good will. And then we heard their voices raised in song.

Stille nacht, heilige nacht . . . .

This carol may not yet be familiar to us in Britain, but John knew it and translated: “Silent night, holy night.” I’ve never heard one lovelier—or more meaningful, in that quiet, clear night, its dark softened by a first-quarter moon.

When the song finished, the men in our trenches applauded. Yes, British soldiers applauding Germans! Then one of our own men started singing, and we all joined in.

The first Nowell, the angel did say . . . .
In truth, we sounded not nearly as good as the Germans, with their fine harmonies. But they responded with enthusiastic applause of their own and then began another.

O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum . . . .

Then we replied. O come all ye faithful . . . .

But this time they joined in, singing the same words in Latin.

Adeste fideles . . . .

British and German harmonizing across No Man’s Land! I would have thought nothing could be more amazing—but what came next was more so.

“We’ve agreed there will be no shooting before midnight tomorrow,” he announced. In minutes more, there we were in No Man’s Land, over a hundred soldiers and officers of each side, shaking hands with men we’d been trying to kill just hours earlier!

Even those who could not converse could still exchange gifts—our tea for their coffee, our corned beef for their sausage. I myself traded a jackknife for a leather equipment belt—a fine souvenir to show when I get home.

As it grew late, a few more songs were traded around the fire, and then all joined in for—I am not lying to you—“Auld Lang Syne.” Then we parted with promises to meet again tomorrow, and even some talk of a football match.”

Reflecting upon this Christmas miracle I ask myself, what could cause two opposing armies, fighting to the death, to lay down their arms and embrace each other as friends? Only grace and mercy. The same grace and mercy that first entered men’s hearts on another night more than two thousand years ago.

On that night, an Angel announced to the world through a tiny band of shepherds, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14 KJV).

Those same shepherds found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. As their weary eyes beheld Him, they witnessed the embodiment of God’s grace and mercy made flesh, and living among them, Christ Jesus!

May we follow the example of our heavenly Father, and like those British and German soldiers in the icy war-torn Belgium countryside, extend grace and mercy to all whose path we may cross. Merry Christmas!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Thanksgiving Day is Ours

early English settlers americans eating thanksgiving meal
There is a friendly debate among historians as to when the first Thanksgiving was celebrated in America. Some say it was in Virginia in 1610, and others hold fast to our traditional first Thanksgiving celebrated in Plymouth Plantation, Massachusetts, in 1621.

Whichever side of the debate one chooses to embrace, the fact remains that Thanksgiving Day is ours.

Before America existed as a nation, the hardy souls who persevered to found this great country made the effort to thank God Almighty for His provision and grace.

Giving thanks in Virginia, Massachusetts, and many other settlements across the new world was a spontaneous act by grateful people. They experienced a life so rugged, that without the providence of God they would have surely not survived. They were grateful for God’s favor and blessing.

Our first President, George Washington, a man acclaimed to be the Father of our Country, acknowledged God as the source of our Nation’s strength and very existence. He felt so strongly about this that he made a proclamation for a national day of thanksgiving on Thursday, November 26th 1789.

He believed in the importance of setting aside a day to honor God and give thanks individually and corporately as a people. President Abraham Lincoln made it a national holiday on Thursday November 26th, 1863.

Thanksgiving day has become a tradition, which like other traditions, has developed, grown, and transitioned from being a simple spiritual act of acknowledging God’s blessings, to a national event of unbridled proportions.

Ball games, shopping, days off from work, and travel are just a few of the Thanksgiving activities that can encumber us and help us to forget the true meaning of the holiday.

This day is meant to be a time to stop, take notice of our blessings, and acknowledge God with a grateful heart. Lest we forget, there have been Thanksgivings in the past that were very trying and somber, days of prayer and fasting.

Today one could say that we are too busy enjoying our blessings to pause and be thankful. We all share in the responsibility for the national event that Thanksgiving Day has become because it is our day.

I am so thankful to God that He has given us the freedom to worship Him with our thanks. And the blessings that we enjoy over this holiday are truly from Him.

I believe that He continues to bless us in part because we do take a day, our day, each year, and as a people tell the whole world that we thank Almighty God for His provident grace.

The Bible says: “Give thanks to the LORD and proclaim his greatness. Let the whole world know what he has done” (I Chronicles 16:8 NLT).

This Thanksgiving as we share our feast with our loved ones, plan our shopping for Friday, and our Christmas decorating for Saturday, give a nod to our forbearers whose grateful hearts made this all possible.

Enjoy taking part in a celebration uniquely our own, individually and corporately. Pass on to the next generation the knowledge of how blessed we are as individuals, families, and as a people.

Speak of the mighty and wondrous things that the Lord has done, and share our thankful hearts one with another.

“Let each generation tell its children of your mighty acts; let them proclaim your power” (Psalms 145:4 NLT).

The famous author O. Henry wrote, “There is one day that is ours. There is one day when all we Americans who are not self-made go back to the old home to eat biscuits and marvel how much nearer to the porch the old pump looks than it used to. Thanksgiving Day is the one day that is purely American.”

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Beware of Shadow Lane

daily devotional two story brick house with black shutters and two dormers

Some years ago my wife and I were planning to purchase our dream home. We searched and searched to find just the right house in the best location. We found it at the end of Shadow Lane.

It was a beautiful traditional two-story home in a quiet neighborhood. It seemed like the answer to our prayers. The price was right and we were ready to buy. Everything seemed perfect…too perfect. So I decided to check the court records on the property. It didn’t take a long search before discovering that the owner did not have clear title to the property. There were liens against the property, which he failed to disclose.

After confronting him with the situation, he refused to pay off the liens. He wanted us to lease the house from him until the liens were paid off. If we had taken the bait, we would have ending up investing our money and not owning anything. We were so disappointed! This was our dream home, our answer to prayer, our blessing from God. Or so it appeared. But it was revealed to be a counterfeit, a substitute, and a trap!

God had promised us a house. He was, if fact, preparing a house and a great deal for us, but before His plan could be fulfilled, the enemy tried to slide in a counterfeit blessing and rob us of the true blessing that God had for us.

Well, in spite of how badly we wanted the house on Shadow Lane, we rejected the deal. A short time later, we found and received the house that God had for us all along. It was a better home in a better location, and we bought it for below market value. The grief over losing what we thought was the perfect home, turned to joy when we received the authentic, perfect home.

When you walk in the blessings of the Lord, be advised that the enemy will try to rob, cheat, and steal those blessings from you. He will even go so far as offer something similar to God’s blessing, anything, in order to ruin God’s plan for you.

When Satan tempted the Lord Jesus, he offered a substitute for Father’s plan.

“Next the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. “I will give it all to you,” he said, “if you will kneel down and worship me” (Matthew 4:8-9 NLT).

As good a deal as that may have appeared to some men, it was a poor counterfeit for the kingdom that Father had for Him. Satan offered Lord Jesus every Shadow Lane in the world, but He didn’t settle for what the devil had to offer. No, He knew that the best gifts, the authentic gifts, come from our heavenly Father, and He was determined to follow Father’s will.

He faced this again through His Disciple Peter. When Jesus told His disciples that He was the Christ, and that He must suffer at the hands of the Chief Priests in Jerusalem,

“Peter took him aside and began to reprimand him for saying such things. “Heaven forbid, Lord,” he said. “This will never happen to you!” Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s” (Matthew 16:22-23 NLT).

The enemy used every trick to encourage Jesus to receive a substitute, counterfeit Kingdom, one of Satan’s making, one that would not satisfy, one that would not last. If Jesus had invested Himself in Satan’s Kingdom, then like the owner of the Shadow Lane property, Satan would have been the true owner, and Jesus would have lost everything, and missed the true Kingdom that Father had for Him.

As you follow Christ, seek His will, and wait on your blessing. Be careful not to fall for the first thing that comes along. It might look good, and feel great, but if you notice that one little detail that doesn’t fit, when in doubt, throw it out. Don’t get stuck on Shadow Lane!

Read "Beware of Shadow Lane" my devotion today on

Monday, October 17, 2011

Do Christians Have A Split Personality?

What a difference a day makes! Sunday you’re in church where people love you, where you’re at peace with God and filled with love, basking in His presence. Then Monday comes. Home is hectic and disorganized; every single driver on the road has it in for you, the boss snaps you up for no good reason, and your co-workers hate you.

The world has hammered you hard, so when you get back home, everybody had better watch out for your patience is long gone. Sound familiar? We can be one person at church and totally different during the rest of the week if we’re not careful. It’s hard to recognize it in ourselves because we see ourselves as that same good church person all the time, not as a hypocrite. Why do we fail to be the people we think we are? Why do we fail to sustain the personalities we think we have?

The Apostle Paul wrote, “I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway” (Romans 7:18 NLT).

We tell ourselves that it’s the circumstances that make the difference. Well, it’s more than the circumstances; it’s our split personality! The Bible says, “Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God” (1 Corinthians 6:19)?

The temple of God, as described in the bible, was divided into three distinct areas. The outer court where anyone could enter, the holy place where the priests enter, and the holy of holies where only the high priest was permitted to enter once a year in order to make a sacrifice for all the people. It is the most holy part of the temple, the place where the Ark of the Covenant was kept, and the presence of God met and communicated with man. There is a trinity to the make up of the temple.

Our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and there is a trinity to our make up as well. We are a spirit; we possess a soul, and live in a body. Our body is like the outer court of the temple. It is there for the entire world to see. It is our connection to the world through our five senses, without which, we could not communicate with the world.

Our soul is like the holy place in the temple. It’s between our spirit and body. It is where our mind, will, and emotions rest. It’s our connection between the spiritual and the physical, heaven and earth.

Our spirit is like the holy of holies, the innermost sacred part of the temple. It’s the place where God dwells, heaven is approached, and where we fellowship with the Lord.

Our spirit, soul, and body are in a constant rivalry. We determine in our soul if we are going to be more body oriented or spirit oriented. This is the struggle we endure. This is where the split happens. The pull and tug between our fleshly body, which craves the things of the world, and our spirit, which craves the things of God, can become fierce unless we keep our body under control and seek God through our spirit. Our body will rule us unless we die to self and embrace the presence of God through our spirit.

We become born again by asking Jesus Christ to forgive our sins and come into our heart. Our spirit becomes alive to God when this happens and we have a new relationship with Him through our spirit. The split personality we were born with becomes one in Christ, and God accepts us as a temple in which He can dwell, through the Holy Spirit.

The split between the things of heaven and the cares of life will always challenge us, but when we submit to God and keep our flesh, that worldly connection, under subjection, we bring the peace from Sunday into the chaos of Monday and all is right with the world.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Blind Faith

My Article today is called "Blind Faith" today on

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Don't Squirm

daily devotional girl with mouth open dentis working in mouth

Some people have an aversion to going to the Dentist. They wait until it’s absolutely necessary to see one, and others never go. I can understand the fear and dread that can come with a dental appointment, even though I have a great Dentist who is caring and professional.

The uncertainty of what the Dentist will find, and what procedure will be done can be un-nerving. But for optimum health, regular check-ups and cleanings are imperative.

When I get in the Dentist chair, I try to relax, put my brain in neutral, and let them do their job. When there are sharp instruments in your mouth, that is the worst time to squirm. The very procedure that the Dentist is performing in order to help you, could actually hurt you, and damage your teeth if you squirm.

Imagine what would happen if you moved or got up while the Dentist was drilling. He could damage your teeth, which would not help you at all. The problem could actually become worse.

There are times in life when we suffer painful physical or emotional circumstances, and cry out to God to deliver us, not realizing that He is performing a procedure to help us through the situation. We are told in God’s word to rest in the Lord.

The LORD replied, "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest” (Exodus 33:14 NIV).

Resting in the Lord doesn’t necessarily make the circumstances change immediately, but we can rest in Him being with us to help us through the situation. Remember these words from the 23rd Psalm, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.” And, “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies.”

Put your brain in neutral, trust in the Lord, and let Him finish His job. You won’t be in the chair forever, but if you squirm, you make His job harder, and it could hurt you worse.

Someone asked a friend of mine, who has a chronic illness, when God was going to heal him. He replied, “I know that God is going to heal me, but “when” is up to Him.

I also have found myself in difficult circumstances in the past. In the midst of it I prayed, “Lord, I know that you are leading me, but this path is narrow, rocky, and it’s difficult to keep from stumbling. It’s hard. Nearby is a beautiful meadow of green grass. Why can’t we walk through there?

The Lord replied, “Son, I am purposely leading you around that beautiful meadow. There are alligators in that grass!”

My difficult circumstances were actually the safest path around the real danger. Though I didn’t understand at the time, I later realized that God’s purpose was beyond my understanding. Through hindsight, now I see.

Don’t forget that God is your Father. He loves you and will do what is best for you. You might not see it at the time, especially if the circumstances seem impossible, but hold on to His word. He who cannot lie says, “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10 KJV). Don’t squirm!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

No Hamburgers?

See my devotion today on​fe/Devotions/markland-no-hambu​rgers.aspx

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Heavenly Intercession by Michael Plemmons Guest Blogger

It has been twelve days now of prayer and intercession for me and thousands of others. So much has happened during this time that I hardly know where to begin. Moses had told me that Father would unveil to me his great purpose in this hour and also his will for my life. I now know what God would have of me and it will be the purpose of this journal to both chronicle the events as they happened, but also the inner struggles and decisions I have made.

Going back twelve days all of us began to intercede for Fathers will to be done. The Holy Spirit overshadowed us in a fire of pure blinding light. He began to share with me details of insight both in my past and its effects on how I got here. He spoke to me in that beautiful still small voice. I knew that although I was linked with him and all these others that he was ministering to each of us on an individual level as well

“Son you have traveled a great distance to find yourself here and you have known me and heard my voice from the beginning indeed you were chosen by Father for his purpose before you were even born. Your mother while you were yet in her womb cried out to us in intercession that we would overshadow you and use you for our work. She did not realize she was anointed of God in praying that which Father had lain on her heart.

You always had the ability to hear our voice. It was a proud day for us that day when as a six-year-old child you gave your heart to us. You have suffered many things including abuses you should never have endured. Satan has always hated you for he saw in you that spark of divine favor Father had for you.

You have spent most of your life seeking our face. Satan knew God’s plan for your life and that it was Father’s will to show you his whole heart and reveal the kingdom to you. It is Father’s plan to have you close to his side always and to dwell in the light with him. Satan thus plagued you with abuse as a child. Yet we knew what Father had planned and also your innermost deep convictions of love, service, and dedication to Father that have always been there. Those who would walk in the glory are tried as by fire. For a time you walked away from us and Satan was allowed to torment you in the very opposite of that which Father had for you.

Yet in the midst of it all your heart was always fixed on us. Think of how unusual your life was even as a small child. How much your heart yearned to hear the word preached even as an toddler. Your mind as yet could not even fully understand what was being said yet in your heart of hearts you responded to our presence.

You always had a deep affection for us and a love for the word. I placed in you that divine touch of hunger to both learn the truth and be fed thereby. Yes you were tormented of hell yet had you not known the depths of darkness as it were you would not be the compassionate servant touched with the wounds of others that you are. Remember that day as a teenager when you for the first time had a conscience awareness of my voice speaking to you, and from that day till now you have always heard me.

Then so many glorious things happened including the years of prophetic training when you both saw and heard things here in our presence that few have ever heard. At the end of which Jesus asked if you were willing to pay the price to go to the next level no matter what the cost and you said yes. It was with both joy and sorrow that we felt such pride in you.

The bodily afflictions you have suffered since November are the afflictions hell has hit you with to again be deterred from Father’s purpose for your life. It is no coincidence son that you have been ill since coming here. Going into this time of intercession your heart has discerned the truth and we would have you reflect once more on what is happening both now and will ever be”

With that the Spirit ceased speaking and my inward conviction was verified. I will continue to pay a price for walking where I have been called to walk. It is Fathers will that I enter that glory cloud I saw back in July and once there to never leave it. I no longer care what I must endure for it is my greatest desire to know his heart and be an obedient son and follow him in his purposes for my life whatever the cost.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Prophetic Vision Guest Post By Richard Spangler

The Mountains of Refreshing Part 5
Climbing up the path of one of the Mountains of Refreshing, I looking back down to give a last wave of good-bye to John, but as I do I see he has already returned to position sitting on the edge of the Foundation of Signs and wonders. I also see some else lying on the ground, glowing with the power of the Holy Spirit. My own curiosity wants to go back down the mountain and see who it is but the Spirit is urging me to move upwards.

As I turn and start up the mountain, I hear a roar off in the distance and roaring is getting louder and louder, then suddenly I see a great cloud of God’s Glory racing towards me. It’s height and width is infinite (as far as I can tell). I am quickly engulfed by the cloud and find that the Cloud of Glory is more like the ocean than a cloud. I am soon picked up off my feet and I am carried along by the powerful currents flowing in the Glory of God. I have the freedom to move this way and then back another way, it is like swimming and skydiving at the same time. The love and power I feel flowing all around me is amazing. I this point I feel like the currents are moving me downward and I soon see the ground coming from below. I touch down like superman in the movies and start calmly walking up the mountain again.

The path winds upward and comes to a place around on the side of the mountain where I can see the view. The beauty of the panorama before me is breath taking. I see off in the distance, great mountains, going far higher than the one I am standing on.

Some of the mountains look like they are made out of pure gold, others out of silver still others look giant diamonds, others like rubies and still others like sapphires all glistening in the sun and seemly giving off wave after wave of the Glory of God. Then, I look down to valley below and realize that it is the Valley of the Foundations of God stretched out before me. Forgive me for being a little slow it is then it dawns on me that the Glory had sweep me up and me perhaps hundreds maybe even a thousand or so miles up the mountain. As I stand there trying to take it all in I hear a familiar voice saying, “Having you been waiting for me?” I turn around and standing there is Katherine Kuhlman with a beautiful warm smile and the Glory of God surrounding her. I am speechless. She says to me, “You are right, the Glory of God and the Spirit have carried you up the mountain, but they will carry you only as far as you are willing to go. I learned this long ago before I came here to be with the Father, in His house. Then, I say, “But, we are outside not in house.” Then Katherine says, (in a lovingly beautiful way) “Stop thinking in earthly terms of a house, Father’s house encompasses all that there is, in both the physical and spiritual realms and beyond. And before you ask, Yes Father’s house even encompasses those places, the evil one thinks are his and yes there are realms beyond the physical and spiritual that you cannot even begin to understand, now.

Learn as much as you can about the Father’s Love, learn how to express your love for him in all you do, let him teach you who truly are and are called to be. Then mediate on what you learn and spend time with God. Get to know Him; that is the secret to all. Teach others to do the same.”

Then Katherine gave me a loving hug, turned walked away and was gone. I hear the roar once again and see the Glory coming down the mountain towards me. I am again, caught up in the cloud or the tidal wave of the Glory of God. This time is different, I not only feel and see the glory all around but I feel it flowing inside me as well. I feel myself racing up the mountain, to next encounter. Before I can realize it, I am set down once again. Waiting for me there is a woman, sense I that I somehow know but I do not recognize her. She has a great authority around her.

She begins to speak, I am Aimee Semple McPherson, and there is not much time before the next wave, so just listen. I preached, living a holy life before God and God blessed me with many signs and wonders in my day. Learn that holiness does not the outward things you say or do. Holiness has been imparted to you, into your spirit by the Father, release the Holiness of God from within you, and it let flow out like a mighty river. Many have learned that the Love of God flows out of you and yet they try to impose Holiness from the outside in. It is the same for God’s Holiness just as it is with God’s Love. God’s Holiness is within you, given to you at salvation and it must released from within you, out to the world that so desperately needs it. Anything else is dirty self-righteous that does no good and only causes harm and destruction. Release God’s Holiness from within you. Now Go.”

With that I am Swept up again by the Glory of God, this time I feel myself becoming one with the Glory and Spirit of God, somehow flowing together as one, yet separate. Which I can no more describe than I can trinity; the three being one yet separate, flowing together as one, yet flowing separately. I come to rest on the peak of the Mountain of Refreshing, I look around and all I see is mountain tops and other mountains reaching up skyward and out of sight, I look down, and cannot even see the valley below. I have learned much and there is much to mediate on yet I feel totally and completely refreshed. I hear the voice of the Holy Spirit within me saying, “It’s time to go”

Follow Richard's blog at:

Friday, July 15, 2011

Where's Jesus?

We’ve all heard stories of missionaries of the past who traveled to the most remote areas of the earth searching for lost souls, people who have never heard the name of Jesus. Once I met a man who originally came out from one of those remote areas, searching for Jesus. His name is Yume, and he is a Pygmy from a remote village in the rain forests of South America. I had the privilege of interviewing him on Christian TV in Nashville, Tennessee.

Yume appeared the way you would imagine a Pygmy would look, less than five feet tall, slight of build, with facial features of someone from the remote regions of a South American Jungle. Yume had so much love of Jesus in his heart that it sparkled out of his eyes. His firm handshake and broad smile was infectious. His story is incredible.

Yume was born and raised in a Pygmy tribe deep in the rain forest of South America. Back in the 1960’s Yume came of age, which meant he had to submit to secret rituals and initiations, like every boy did, in order to be recognized as a man. In the final portion of the initiation, the elders of the tribe took him to a secret place in the deepest, most foreboding part of the Jungle. Wild beasts thrived there, and danger lurked behind every tree.

Young Yume’s challenge was to survive the night alone, armed only with his fear. They believed that sometime during the night, the spirit of the forest, a mystical being of terror, would find Yume. With his touch, the boy would die. Then the spirit of the forest would bring him back to life… as a man. Every boy feared this transformation from death, to life as a man, as much as the wild beasts from the unknown jungle.

So they left Yume there…alone. His thoughts soon turned to the boys who never returned. Did they get lost and die? Did wild beasts devour them? Did the spirit of the jungle find them unworthy to be brought back as men? What would happen to him? These were his thoughts as he waited in the night, naked, cold, defenseless and alone, curled up on the ground under a large tree between two protruding roots.

Then the miracle happened. A man of light appeared. His skin was lighter than Yume’s and he had long brown hair and a beard. Clothed in a white garment from neck to toe, he shined like the sun. Yume thought, “This must be the spirit of the forest. I am going to die.” With that, he curled up even tighter as fear gripped him.

The man spoke and introduced himself as Jesus. He told Yume that he had come to save him and give him eternal life. Yume loosened up some. Jesus comforted him, protected him, and stayed with him through the night. At daybreak, Yume looked around and Jesus was gone!

After a harrowing run through the forest to his village, Yume told his family and the elders what had happened. How this man Jesus came to save and protect him. Nobody believed him. Yume told me that neither he nor anyone from his village had ever seen a white man before. He was ridiculed and abused, so he left.

He set out through the rain forest to find Jesus. He traveled through dangerous forests and jungles, climbed unknown mountains and swam across rivers. He searched from villages to settlements asking the same question of those he met. “Where’s Jesus?”

Every place he went, he would tell his story and ask the same question, “Where’s Jesus?” Weeks turned into years, and Yume grew up, but he never gave up. Eventually Yume found his answer and discovered where and whom Jesus is, but not before walking through South America, Central America, Mexico, and into the United States!

“He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6 KJV). Yume became an evangelist and a missionary. Not one who went to the jungle, but one who Jesus brought out of the jungle. Now everywhere he goes, he shares the answer to where’s Jesus, “He’s in my heart!”

“And if you search for him with all your heart and soul, you will find him” (Deuteronomy 4:29 NLT).

Monday, July 4, 2011

Passing the Test of Liberty

daily devotional american flag

Reading today’s headlines, we learn of constant challenges to our liberty. Terrorist’s threats against our nation, economic turmoil, and political struggles are on our minds. But hasn’t that been a constant in the history of our country?

From the very outset of our nation’s birth, our forefathers passed the test of liberty in places like Bunker Hill and Valley Forge. But there has come a steady stream of trials and tests to our nation that we have had to pass in order to remain free. We mustn’t forget the Alamo, the battle of New Orleans, or Gettysburg, and our current herooes who fight a war against global terror.

There has been a test that each generation has had to pass for liberty. And these tests are always given to the individual. A woman, who we’ll call Maria, had always wanted to become a United States citizen, but could not pass the test. Well, after praying with a CBN prayer counselor, Maria passed the test of liberty and became a United States citizen!

There once was a young boy named Tommy who was brilliant at an early age. Born and raised in a rural area, he read all of his father’s books by the age of six, and had a hunger for knowledge that was unquenchable. He was tested many times in his life but at the age of 14, his father passed away, leaving him to assume the role of head of house.

In spite of life’s circumstances, he entered college at the age of 17. Maintaining his home with his mother and siblings, at the age of 24, Tommy passed the bar exam and became a lawyer. When he was 27 and away working in another city, his home burned down and he lost all his prized possessions, including his extensive library. In time, he rebuilt his library, had an illustrious career, and passed the test of liberty.

Harriet Powers, a woman freed from slavery after the civil war, suffered hardships and struggled to pass the test of liberty. She was an expert seamstress who made quilts to help support her family of nine children. Few black women could write in those days, but Harriet told the stories of the Bible with the figures she sewed into the panels of her quilts. To see Harriet’s quilts was to get a visual of the great stories of the Bible. She passed the test of liberty and led her family into the free world.

The greatest test of liberty, however, came in a garden in Jerusalem. The Lord Jesus passed the test of liberty for all mankind when He submitted Himself to His Father and said,

“Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine” (Luke 22:42).

He sacrificed His liberty for ours, even to His death on a cross. Now we have liberty in Christ, eternal life that no man or devil in hell can take from us. When we accept Christ Jesus as our savior, we are free!
The test of liberty is an individual test, which we must pass daily. Our struggle, whether spiritual, physical, or financial, is not in vain. Just as we reap the rewards of those who have passed the test before us, we pass the rewards of our tests on to those who come after us.
The Apostle Paul wrote, “As for the rest of you, dear brothers and sisters, never get tired of doing good”
(II Thessalonians 3:13).

So pass the test of liberty, and be an over-comer like Harriet Powers, the freed slave whose Bible quilt hangs in the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC today. Or Maria, who passed the test of liberty and became a United States citizen at 96 years of age! And finally, let’s not forget Tommy, who at the age of 33 passed the test of liberty when he penned these words, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” (Thomas Jefferson, July 4, 1776).

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Overcoming the Four D’s

Roy was the Senior Pastor of the church he pioneered, when his marriage came to an end. This most significant disaster in his life nearly destroyed him. Feeling like he could not go on, Roy left his church of nineteen years and moved to Virginia to live with his sister and brother-in-law.

In the months and years to follow, Roy describes what he went through as the four D’s, Depression, Despair, Defeat, and finally Despondency. Though he would not admit it at the time, Roy was, in fact, a man of faith with the strength of a lion. God would not let him languish forever. Oh no. Christ was in him and scripture helped him keep his sanity.

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them” (Romans 8:28 NLT).

Roy began to attend his sister’s church and eventually headed up the men’s group. He had one consistent message. It’s not too late, God is not through with you yet, and the best is yet to come. I was in that men’s group and witnessed the optimism and faith that sustained him.

Roy went on a short-term mission trip to Romania, and developed relationships there with Christian leaders. On a subsequent trip to Romania, God sparked a vision in him and Roy began to stay for extended periods of time, preaching in churches all over the country.

He found the Romanians to be a poor people with a rich hunger for God. All day they would work in the fields, and afterward eagerly come to his meetings at night. The people touched his heart and he realized God’s purpose for the next phase of his life.

He received the vision and calling to reach the Nation of Romania for Christ. With only his small minister’s pension, he turned his face from retirement and set out on his greatest adventure with Christ as his only partner.

He bought an old house with a barn and declared it Apa Vie, which means living water. He repaired, and renovated the building into a conference center. From this commitment began Evangelistic meetings for youth, and Pastors conferences training hundreds for ministry. Roy has spoken before the elite political and scientific leaders in the country, including major Universities.

He developed an outstanding reputation among Romanians from all walks of life. Pastors and churches in the US have partnered with him and use his Apa Vie conference center as a base of operations for mission trips.

God proves through Roy that we do not have to wait until everything is in place to start. We must face the reality of our circumstances, hold faith in God and His plan for us, and act! You do not have to languish either. Don’t give up hope. Your dreams may seem impossible to accomplish. The four D’s may be your daily companions, but don’t quit!

Remember what the Bible says, “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him” (Philippians 2:13 NLT).

Roy’s dream is still in progress as he has plans for further expansion. We are all part of God’s expanding Kingdom, so don’t fall prey to the four D’s. Take your rightful place in the Kingdom. With Christ, your dream is possible! In Roy’s words, “You are significant! The best is ahead of you! You never know what God is up to! Keep the faith, and trust God!

Sunday, June 19, 2011


In my life I have held many positions with various titles. Some have been professional, some spiritual, and some just for fun. But of all the positions I have held. None compares with the title of Father. When you are young you assume that one day you will become a father because most every man does. It's the way of nature. And when you marry you assume it is just around the corner because you are now in the relationship in which you can become fruitful and multiply as the Lord commanded in the Bible.

Yet you still haven't a clue how your life will change, how you will change. For me, it was a long wait. Nineteen years we waited, then one day our prayers were answered and the miracle of life happened for us.

Seeing that beautiful precious face of our baby girl was as close to a divine experience as one could have on this earth. We fell totally and completely in love with this little stranger, whom we felt that we always knew. We held our dream in our hands for the first time.

Yes, we were crazy about our blessing and set about to do everything we dreamed of doing with a child. We bought her everything we dreamed of, we took her every place we dreamed of going and took great care to plan her future. That was to be expected. But the love I felt for my child, was something I never expected. I had experienced nothing with which to compare.

I remember my Godly Grandmother, when she visited, upon seeing dozens of pictures of my baby daughter on the walls warned, "Now son, be careful not to worship that child, we are only supposed to worship the Lord." I explained to her, "Grandmother, my love for her is so great, I can't help it. God understands."

I know she meant well, but as far as I was concerned, my love was God given and so I didn't consider it worship, just the highest, most pure love one could have. That love has never wavered or waned. It continues to grow with time. It is unabashed. And as far as I am concerned, it is the nearest a man can understand the love that God, our heavenly Father, has for us, His children.

The title of Father comes to men through biology, marriage, or adoption. The love of a Father solidifies and confirms the right to that title. It is the highest title a man may hold. It is a title most solemn, conferred and blessed of God. Laura is and will always be, my cherished blessing, and I will always be her Father.

Monday, June 13, 2011

He Cares, He's Family

By Shanna Wolfe, Guest Blogger

Yesterday, I worked 11 hours. When, I came home I turned on my televion watching this show called "Coming Home" on the Lifetime channel. It was about young military fathers returning home to their wives and small children. Each segment of the show was very powerful and emotional. I love a good story like that.

After the show was over, I got up from my couch and went into the kitchen. As I walked around the corner of my living room and into my dining room, I saw out of the corner of my eye the Pillar of Fire of the Holy Spirit. The Pillar of Fire extended from my living room floor to the ceiling (11ft). I went into the kitchen to grab something to eat out of the "frig" and laid back down on my couch. The Father then spoke to me.

He said, "Shanna, I'm here for you no matter how you feel or what you are going through. I know that your hurting. I can feel what your feeling. I'm here for you."

He walked over to where I was laying, kneeling down by the couch where I was. He then began to stroke my hair, like a caring loving Father that He was/is. In His eyes, I could see true concern and love. I didn't say anything. I just looked at Him and took the words He said to me into my heart. I needed to hear those words from Him.

The Father then looked at the Holy Spirit, who was near by observing. The understanding I have that this is my family. The Holy Spirit and the Father were there for me. I had a vision a few months back where I was seated in cabin in the forest of God. I was seated at a table with the the Father, the son and the Holy Spirit was hovering around. We were having a conversation, which I cannot recall. I realized at that moment we were family.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

God's Love, God Heart

By Shanna Wolfe   Guest Blogger
I feel very blessed to have been chosen by God to receive such beautiful visions of Himself. Often, when I do have these visions my mind cannot quite comprehend the experience. It just seems to be to extraordinary and to wonderful to behold. However, it's exactly as the the Lord shows me. If it is God showing it, then it's meant to be received as truth. God is not a man that he should lie. Who am I to say what God is showing me is authentic or not? I know the visions are real. The visions I have are always backed up by scripture.

One night, while I was sitting on my couch (most my visions happen while I'm sitting on the couch) the Lord asked me a question. He asked, "Ask me anything and I will grant it to you?"

My heart swelled with overwhelming joy when He presented me with this wonderful opportunity.

I replied to the Lord saying, "Lord, I want your heart. I want to know you personally."

In a vision I saw the Father standing next to Jesus. The Father dropped to His knees, wrapped His arms around Jesus, and began to cry when I said this to Him. In that moment, I began to understand just how desperately the Lord wanted me/us to know Him personally. He craves it with all His heart, mind and Holy Spirit. My hope is that I can get the concept of God's great love into my own heart and spirit! It's a beautiful, beautiful thing we have in God.

I am thankful to have God as my god. I cannot image having a God who was far off and distant. My God is right there wanting a personal, loving and intimate relationship with me/you on passionate level.


Saturday, June 4, 2011

Is Your Faith Worth the Leap?

In today’s culture, many people have the opinion that we should live by our own standards, oblivious to the Word of God. Some want the blessings of the promises of God, without subjecting themselves to obedience to God. However, to truly be happy and fulfilled, we must examine ourselves in the light of God’s Word and live by it.

The Bible says, “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path” (Psalm 119:105 NLT).

The stress and tensions of life become more unbearable when we live in selfish disobedience to the Word of faith. Yet simple submission and obedience to God’s Word relieve the stress that disobedience and today’s culture impose. Doubt is crippling, but faith is empowering; so make that leap! Faith in action brings victory!

The Bible says in James 2:26, that faith without works is dead. I have learned that faith with works (action) is alive. Faith without works (action) can become an unfulfilled fantasy. For if I have faith that God is leading me, but I do not follow or act on it, then faith turns to doubt and my inaction leads to death; the death of my faith and the death of my dream. This is a horrible state in which to exist.

Unfulfilled faith creeps into one’s life like oil into water. Just as oil pollutes, leaving a nasty film which ruins the purity of the water - so doubt, solidified by inaction, covers the purity of faith; rendering it polluted, unfit, and unusable. Faith activated by works (action) skims the doubt that covers the water of life, cleans it, and recovers the purity of the gift that obedience brings to fruition.

We must be doers of the word and not just hearers. It is so human to hear the word, rejoice in what we hear, and then…. ponder. Pondering plants seeds of doubt, which grows into the mighty tree of procrastination, that bears the poisonous leaves of inaction.

“But they delight in the law of the LORD, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do” (Psalms 1:2 NLT).

We must be like good soldiers and jump to attention, springing into action at the orders of our commander, the Lord. But what do we do instead? We hear the order and then prepare to jump, but inaction and hesitation cause us to get caught in the preparation, and we fail to jump. What a sad sight, to see the army of the Lord procrastinating before Him! How undignified!

It is better to jump and fall, than be stuck squatting down to jump. Squatting is a horrible place to stay. You can’t sit down. You can’t rise up. You can neither rest in your success nor stand in the knowledge of a job well done. Go ahead and jump! You can ask how high on the way up! Better to relieve the tension and stretch in the jump than to live with the constant strain of being stuck in the squat. Obedience in the jump is the better way. Make that leap of faith. We’ll see you on the way up!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Empty Pockets

Old Joe sits on the edge of his bed and struggles, with arthritic hands, to fasten his shirt. He does pretty well for a 91-year-old man. The people at the assisted living center help him into his wheelchair, for the church bus is soon coming. Today is a special missions Sunday service and Joe hasn’t missed one in 82 years.

As they roll him toward the door, he reaches over to a small wooden box sitting on his bureau. He takes something out and puts it in his change purse. Returning the empty box to its place, he leaves for the bus.

Later at church, he sits in his wheelchair at the end of the front row, and his mind is flooded with memories. The singing ends and the Pastor begins his sermon about the missionaries they support, some of which are in attendance.

Again Joe’s memories take him back, to a time in his childhood at the age of nine. He sat in this same church on this same missions Sunday, and listened to songs calling men to service for God, and testimonies of the glorious works of God overseas. When they passed the offering plate, though inspired, young Joe had nothing to give. This saddened him, so on that day he purposed in his heart to never again have empty pockets, when the missions offering plate is passed around.

So young Joe got himself a paper route and the next year he placed a brand new silver dollar in the missions offering. Every year thereafter Joe continued to give. The church grew and prospered and so did Joe. It seemed like the more Joe gave, the more he prospered and the more he prospered, the more he gave.

Years passed and he became a successful manufacturer, owning his own factory. As hard as he tried, he couldn’t out give God. Mission’s projects flourished around the world for years, through his giving, and God blessed him in all his ways.

In time, Joe retired, sold his factory and enjoyed his latter years with his beloved wife Bernice. Now she is with the Lord and his possessions have been reduced to one small room in an assisted living center. Through insurance, his expenses are paid but he has no income, and therefore no spending money. So after all those years of blessing and wealth, old Joe sits in the mission’s service once again with empty pockets.

He thinks back to his first wedding anniversary and the mint condition silver dollar, dated the year of their marriage, that Bernice gave him, and the small wooden box he kept it in all those years. Today, old Joe would reach beyond his empty pockets and into his change purse.

As the Pastor prayed over the special missions offering, Joe struggled with knarled bony fingers to open the clasp on his small change purse. He reached inside and held his treasure tightly between his thumb and forefinger. As the offering plate was presented to him, he held his feeble hand over it and raised his thumb to reveal that precious silver dollar that Bernice had given him so long ago.

A tear rolled down his cheek as he lovingly placed his last offering in the plate for the Lord. His pockets are empty once again. As the service continued, Joe’s hands rested in his lap and his chin rested on his chest. Joe entered his rest and his reward.

I suppose as he entered heaven, he was met by his heavenly Father, who embraced him and said, “ Son, you started with empty pockets and ended with empty pockets, but in between, you have been faithful. Multitudes of souls rejoice here today because of your generosity. Like the widow who gave all she had, though small, it was counted as great. So well done Son! Great is your reward in heaven, and you don’t need pockets!”

“I tell you the truth,” Jesus said, “this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them. For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has” (Luke 21:3-4 NLT).

Saturday, May 7, 2011



Mother. Just the name evokes a flood of thoughts and memories. Childhood memories of a loving hand to bandage a skinned knee, and a magical kiss upon that bandage that made the pain fade away. The big smile and wild applause from the third row in the audience of a second grade school play, acknowledging my dramatic interpretation of a tree, a tree that spoke not a word. The bedtime stories and prayers where I learned that the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

Sometimes I look at her blood stained Bible, which she took with her to dialysis treatments in her latter days. There she shared her faith and testimony with the other patients, being a blessing in her time of sickness. Though she is with the Lord, her life and love remains in my heart.

Mother. I am doubly blessed that my child has the best one, a Mother whose child is the center of her world. She’s a Mother who loves, teaches, corrects shares, prays, plays, and focuses herself completely on the health, welfare and happiness of her child. She’s a Mother who cries every year on the first day of school after we put our daughter on the school bus. So to cheer her up and get her mind off of it, I take her to breakfast at IHOP. It’s hard to cry in your pancakes. She’s a role model our daughter will be hard pressed to duplicate, though I know she will.

Mother. There are many wonderful Mothers in all our lives and though we honor them every year, it seems inadequate considering what they really deserve.

Mother. There once was a Mother so unique, so precious, that our heavenly Father chose her to be the Mother of His only begotten Son. She was so trusted that even though she was young, inexperienced, and poor, she was chosen to Mother our Lord Jesus. Difficult circumstances was her lot in life, and yet through unspeakable adversity, such as the death threat against her son by the King, she poured herself into her son, who became the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.

It makes one wonder, what part of His determination; compassion, patience, longsuffering, and love came from her influence on Him. We assume that He received all of His attributes from His heavenly Father because He is the Son of God. But He is also the Son of man, so we must not forget to honor His Mother for being used of God the Father to instill many of those attributes.

Mother. She’s the one who pushed Jesus into His public ministry by making Him do His first public miracle. John 2:1-11 describes how He wasn’t prepared to turn the water into wine because He said that His time had not yet come.

“This miraculous sign at Cana in Galilee was the first time Jesus revealed his glory. And his disciples believed in him” (John 2:11 NLT).

Like us, He experienced that wonderful force of nature, a Mama who knows best!

He acknowledged her and provided for her even during His torture on the cross.

“When Jesus saw his mother standing there beside the disciple he loved, he said to her, “Dear woman, here is your son.” And he said to this disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from then on this disciple took her into his home” (John 19:26-27 NLT).

Their love and devotion for each other didn’t end there. As she prayed with the others in the upper room on the day of Pentecost, He filled her with the Holy Spirit, and their relationship continues to this day. She is an example to Mothers, as He is an example to Sons and daughters.

Mother. Love her. Cherish her. Honor her. She deserves it!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Mothering Arms of Forgiveness

Yolanda, a mother who carries a deep relationship with God, mindfully raised her family in the love and admonition of the Lord. Her faith sustained her through every trial, but nothing could prepare her for the trial that lay ahead.

One day a young man coming from a college party made a decision that changed her world forever. He was experiencing road rage. A car had innocently pulled out in front of him and he hit the rear end of the car; causing a horrible accident. This car carried two of Yolanda’s young sons. Both tragically lost their lives that day.

The authorities brought the proper charges. However, the guilty young man was given mercy by the court and placed on probation. After five years of an excruciating ordeal, Yolanda received a call from her lawyer. A meeting had been arranged for the young offender to come face to face with her and give an account for his actions on that tragic day.

They met in a conference room, facing each other across a table while the attorneys and staff carefully observed. The young man spoke. Holding his head down to avoid eye contact, he tried to give justification for himself. He complained that her sons had pulled out in front of him. He clumsily fumbled out unacceptable excuses for his actions, blaming her sons for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Some of the things he said didn’t even make sense. And he did not ask for forgiveness.

The attorneys, the court recorder, and everyone in the room sat in silence, anticipating what Yolanda would say or do. After five years of suffering, she now sat across from the source of her pain, and her heart cried out to the Lord. Like so many times before, the Lord Jesus spoke gently to her and gave her guidance.

“Yolanda,” He said, “That boy is lost. He needs me. He has no one here. His family let him come here alone. He needs me.”

“But Lord,” she asked, “What do I do?”

“Daughter, I have you. I have always had you, and I’ll never let you go. But he needs me. He has nothing, no one. Forgive him Yolanda, forgive him.”

Scripture rang in her ear. “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36 NIV).

She asked herself. “How can I forgive him? How can I? Yet I know that Jesus forgave me.”

After a moment of reflection, Yolanda took a deep breath and broke the silence in the room. She looked him square in the face, which was still lowered toward the table, and said, “I love you with the love of the Lord. I forgive you!”

Everyone looked at her. Shocked and stunned, they couldn’t believe what they were hearing. Slowly the young man raised his head and for the first time their suffering eyes met. His confused and bewildered expression displayed the inner turmoil that he was struggling to understand.

With grace, which could only come from the Lord Jesus, Yolanda stood to her feet, spread open her arms and said, “I forgive you!”

With that, the young man bolted around the table and into her arms. He buried his face in her chest and covered her with his tears, crying in convulsions. Yolanda held him tight like one of her own. Mothering him, she patted him tenderly on his head and said, “It’s alright baby. It’s alright baby.” He wept uncontrollably.

Then she prayed, “Jesus, take the anointing for ministry that was upon my sons and place it upon him. Give him a double portion! He came in here as a Saul, let him leave as a Paul!”

As she prayed, his knees buckled. Yet she held him up firmly in her mothering arms of forgiveness. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room as the miraculous love of Christ was displayed in this incredible act of forgiveness. They were both freed to continue their lives in peace.

Our God, who is love, displayed His forgiveness as He sacrificed His only begotten son for us. Through Christ, we receive His incredible forgiveness that frees us from sin and shame. Jesus said, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34 KJV).

Because of Jesus, we too can hold our head up, walk in the love of God, and experience the mothering arms of forgiveness.

Friday, April 22, 2011

New Devotion on

Read my latest devotion on It's a powerful true story of forgiveness. Here's the link.

Forgiveness releases the giver into peace. Unforgiveness is a cruel prison.

Sunday, April 17, 2011


When I think about a spiritual revival, my mind goes back to the days when it meant a traveling Evangelist came to town, set up a large tent, covered the ground in sawdust, and posted flyers on telephone poles. For the most part, that has become an event relegated to a bygone era, uncommon in this day and time.

Revivals moved into church buildings and for a couple of weeks, people received a fresh gospel message and an opportunity to renew their faith and their excitement for God. Eventually two weeks became one until now most church “Revivals” run from Sunday through Wednesday. In some Churches, revivals have become a short burst of life in an otherwise predictable series of routine services.

Young people are hungry for spiritual awakening, the reality of the gospel, but when they don’t find it they lose interest all together. Some say revivals have died due to a lack of interest. I hope that is not true, for revival is what we need more than anything. We need to recapture our first love, turn back to the God of power and might, the God of love who changes lives and heals broken hearts.

But one question remains. Are we revivable? Are we? If so, then how does it happen? What should we do? First, we must understand that revival begins with us, as individuals. The greatest revivals began with one concerned person who went to their knees and prayed for God to bring revival as a sovereign act.

We have God’s promise in the Bible that says, “Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me” (Psalm 138:7 KJV).

From this and other scriptures we know that the heart of God is to draw us close to Him and to have pure Holy fellowship together. No matter what we have done, or how far we have strayed from Him, His loving arms are outstretched to His children. When our relationship is right, there is so much peace that floods our soul that we must ask ourselves, why? Why do we stray and allow ourselves to become cold and distant from God?

A cold indifferent world of sin will drag us away if we let it, but is it ever worth it? No. A relationship with our Loving Father is priceless and should be our first priority. Yet we take Him for granted because He is always there.

It’s time we turn back to God, repent, and ask for revival, for our families, our Nation, and ourselves. Yet the question remains, are we revivable? The same question is asked in the Bible as the Psalmist wrote, “Will You not revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You” (Psalm 85:6 KJV)?

Yes we are revivable! God will breathe new life into us when we ask. It’s His will to forgive us, bless us, and welcome us back to our first love. He is so wonderful, and His grace is unfathomable. He will not only bring us back to where we were, but He will take us to new places in Him.

If we humble ourselves in the sight of the Lord He will lift us up.

“For thus says the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones”” (Isaiah 57:15 NKJV).

Pray for revival. History shows that God has sent revival to America in times of national crisis, war and economic stress. His word describes how He will look throughout the earth for those whose heart is toward Him. And to those loyal to Him, He will prove Himself strong on their behalf, and will actually fight their battles.

The Bible is replete with examples and proof that He wants to bless His people because He cares about each one. So since we are revivable, pray for revival as if it all depends on you. It very well may.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Play Your Game

I sit in amazement as I watch a champion golfer win yet another major golf tournament. I have to wonder what it must be like for those other golfers he beat? They are great golfers, the worlds top ranked players, who must know in their hearts, that if the champion is playing, their best hope is to place at number two. Yet they keep competing week after week, doing their best.

I know exactly how they feel, whenever I play golf with my buddies. I’m only assured number four…that is when I’m in a foursome. Ha! Yet I keep coming back. You may ask why keep playing when you know there’s a better guy in the game that will probably win? Well, there’s the love of the game, the thrill of competition, the occasional great shot, and the satisfaction that comes from knowing you’ve done your best.

But, there is a deeper reason. I learned it one day on the golf course as a new golfer. I was paired up with an older, more seasoned golfer who played very well. He was a retired military officer who had played some of the finest golf courses around the world during his military career. He sensed my frustration with being number four in our foursome, and gave me a tip I’ve never forgotten. He said, “Gene, don’t worry about me or anybody else. Play your own game.”

He taught me that I was frustrated because I was trying to play his game and I couldn’t. That frustration was ruining my game. He showed me that it’s OK to play my game along side of his game. Yes his drives were longer, and his shots more accurate than mine, but that had nothing to do with my game. If I play my game, I’ll play better and in time I’ll improve. Since that day my game has improved, but at my own pace. I enjoy my game and challenge myself to succeed.

God has given us our own calling, or game, in life. Sometimes we get caught up trying to compete with others and become frustrated with what we fear is a lack of success. A Pastor with a congregation of 110 members comes home after service and turns on the television to see a young Pastor with a congregation of 10,000! Just like the golf champion's fellow players he thinks, “No matter what I do I’ll never be that good.” Then depression sets in.

He hurts, as gloomy thoughts of defeat descend like a shroud that covers his dreams for burial.

Stop it! God has given you your own calling, your own game. So play it. You can never win your game by playing somebody else’s. You can never get your promotion by moaning about somebody else’s. If you have four children in your home daycare business, you can’t focus on the daycare down the street with forty children. Be the best with your four and you’ll grow with satisfaction.

God has you where you are for a purpose…His. He put you there because you are the best choice for your calling, your game. Does God make mistakes? No. Does He want you to succeed? Yes! You see, God knows the end result of your game and if you were going to fail, He would have put you somewhere else.

Bigger isn’t always better, for quality is what counts. I’ll refrain from repeating the old saying, “It’s not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game.” I won’t say that. But know that you only have yourself to compete with in your game. You win your game, so play it! When your game is over, you’ll be able to say, with the Apostle Paul, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (II Timothy 4:7-8 KJV).

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Healer


On the day my best friend Mike went in for open-heart surgery. I awoke at 6:04 AM and began interceding for him in prayer. There is an experience in prayer, where as you pray, your spiritual eyes are open to a vision in the spirit realm of God.

The Apostle Paul prayed for us to receive such revelations and to see in the Spirit. “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints” (Ephesians 1:18 NIV).

This was just such an experience. In the Spirit, I sought the Holy Spirit to approach Father, expecting to see Him on the throne. But instead of the throne room, I found myself outside in heaven with Father. With a reassuring smile, He gave me a hug and said, “Hello Gene. I’m glad you’re here. Come with me.” I followed Father from Heaven into Mike’s Hospital.

Arriving at Mike’s room, Jesus was already standing at his bedside with His right hand on Mike’s left shoulder. He looks up and acknowledges Father and me with a slight smile, then lowers His eyes back upon Mike. An overwhelming flood of peace washes over me as I stand with Father and Lord Jesus, who have my brother safely and firmly in their hands. Hallelujah!

The attendants come for Mike. Father is on Mike’s right and Lord Jesus is on his left. Two large angels are present. One is at the foot of his bed and the other is at the head of his bed. They all four walk with Mike as he is wheeled into the operating room. Once inside, the angel that led at the foot of his bed stood posted at the doorway facing out like a sentry.

The other angel moves around the surgical room, and seems to be monitoring all the activity. He watches every move the Doctors, nurses, and staff makes. When the Doctor speaks, the angel verifies that his orders are carried out. The angel surveys all the instruments, then the machines monitoring Mike’s vital signs, etc.

To the casual observer, the angel looks like a surgical supervisor who is making sure that every detail, every action, and every protocol is being performed flawlessly. Meanwhile, Father and Lord Jesus stand by with their eyes fixed on Michael. I am so grateful and privileged to be allowed to be here with them in the Spirit, observing them attending to Michael.

Hours are passing and all is well. In the Spirit, I stand in the corner of the operating room observing the activity. Everything seems normal, routine, and peaceful. Lord Jesus is standing with His hand softly stroking Mike’s shoulder, and Father is on the other side, standing beside the surgeon with His left arm around the surgeon’s shoulder.

Father seems intensely involved in the actual surgery. Every so often, Father turns and whispers something into the surgeon’s ear. When He whispers, the Doctor briefly pauses what he is doing with his hands in Mike’s chest, then he continues. This happened three times.

As they finished, before they closed, Father, with His left arm still around the surgeon, reached out His right hand and placed it directly on Mike’s heart. When he did this, Mike took a deep breath and there was a quick beep on the machine. Everything returned to normal as Father withdrew His hand. The surgeon drew a deep breath and let out a sigh of relief. It is over!

The last thing I saw was Father, the surgeon, and Jesus standing at the operating table looking down at Mike. With that, the vision was over. A few minutes later I received the news from Mike’s son that the operation, a quadruple bypass, was completed successfully. I already knew.

God promised, “I am the LORD, who heals you" (Exodus 15:26 NIV). How many times have we prayed for a loved one in surgery and asked God to direct the surgeon’s hands. Well, He does because He is the healer!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Find Your Joy

Jesus Laughing - christianity fan art

I remember the song from Children’s Church, ”The Joy of the Lord is My Strength,” and the verse of laughter when they sing, “Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha,” and so on. What a blessing, hearing the pure unadulterated joy and laughter coming from those precious children as they rejoice in the Lord. Yes, the joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10, NLT).

But do we as adults share the joy? How long has it been since we’ve recognized His joy in our own lives, and how does that joy manifest itself?

I remember the story in the Bible when King David was returning the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. The joy that King David felt as he ushered in the presence of the Lord was almost more than he could contain.

“And David danced before the LORD with all his might, wearing a priestly garment. So David and all the people of Israel brought up the Ark of the LORD with shouts of joy and the blowing of rams’ horns” (2 Samuel 6:14-15, NLT).

It goes on to say that King David leaped and danced before the Lord. In those days, the presence of the Lord, the God of the universe, rested upon that one spot, the Ark of the Covenant. Today, that same presence of the Lord rests within us. Oh the joy that comes when we recognize this fact.

I’ve personally seen this joy manifested when a person humbly asks Jesus to forgive their sins, and come into their heart. I have seen people shout for joy upon receiving their salvation, and praise God upon coming out of the water after baptism.

“Then I will rejoice in the LORD. I will be glad because he rescues me” (Psalm 35:9, NLT).

I remember as a boy of seventeen, receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the joy that He brought into my life. I spoke in tongues and laughed the rest of the night!

Some churches have exuberant praise and worship services where people sing, clap, dance, laugh, and release themselves to rejoice in their Lord’s presence, regardless of what onlookers might think. The Lord loves to see their joy and love for Him displayed in such a manner. But He also enjoys the person whose joy is so deep and personal, that it’s expressed by sitting quietly as they bask in their joy, which resides deep within.

Sometimes the cares of life will weigh us down, and it would appear that joy is nowhere to be found. And yes, there is a time for grief and sorrow. Even the Lord Jesus experienced it as He wept over Jerusalem. But when the day is done, the house is quiet, and you relax in the comfort of your dimly lit room, turn your thoughts away from the cares of the day and toward your Lord who lives within you.

Realize that the very presence of God, before whom King David danced, is with you and has shared this day with you. Rejoice, for you possess the Lord, and He possesses you. The communication and fellowship that you have with the Lord is your secret treasure. No one can understand or share in the intimacy that is yours and His alone. The sacredness of this treasure, the presence of God in and with you, is your source of joy and strength. This is not joy as the world knows it, but it’s the kind of joy that comes only from God through the Holy Spirit, “joy unspeakable and full of glory” (I Peter 1:8 NLT).

Don’t let anyone steal your joy. Jesus said,

“I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow” (John 15:11, NLT)!

It is His will that you live and breathe in the overflow of joy that comes from Him. Acknowledge and encourage His presence to be with you in word and in Spirit so that joy, His joy in you, becomes a lifestyle. The Apostle Paul wrote,

“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22, NLT).

Allow the fruit of joy to grow and manifest itself in your life. Your joy in the Lord is your great source of strength, and no bad report, circumstance, or person can take it away from you!

“So rejoice in the LORD and be glad, all you who obey him! Shout for joy, all you whose hearts are pure” (Psalm 32:11, NLT)!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Harvesting the Whirlwind

A modern day prophet received a message, a warning, from the Lord. God said, “Your Nation mocks me. Therefore, expect three judgments. They are tied together. First there shall be natural disasters, floods, tornado’s earthquakes, hurricanes, and temperature extremes. Second, there shall be financial upheaval. Your Nation’s financial systems will be shaken to their very foundations. Third, your political system will be shaken, turned upside down with change. Watch and be prepared.”

This prophecy was given in the fall of 2007. Who would have guessed what the next two years held for America. The initial events of the three judgments have come to pass, yet have we as a nation learned anything? God shall not be mocked and His word will not return to Him void.

Repent America! Cry out to God. We have only begun to see the works of His mighty hand. The prophet Hosea wrote, “They have planted the wind and will harvest the whirlwind. The stalks of grain wither and produce nothing to eat. And even if there is any grain, foreigners will eat it” (Hosea 8:7 NLT).

Like Israel, will our national folly and arrogance leave us destitute? Is our nation going into a black hole of debt at warp speed as some experts claim? If so, then upheaval and destruction is at hand. It seems like the more we make the less we have, and the more we owe. Even our profits are eaten up by our debt to strangers, foreign nations.

“Look! The LORD’s anger bursts out like a storm, a whirlwind that swirls down on the heads of the wicked” (Jeremiah 30:23).

God spoke through Hosea, “I will hold my people accountable for their sins, and I will punish them” (Hosea 8:13 NLT). Where are our Godly leaders? So many false Prophets roam the land speaking happy words to itching ears.

“Therefore,” says the LORD, “I am against these prophets who steal messages from each other and claim they are from me. I am against these smooth-tongued prophets who say, ‘This prophecy is from the LORD!’ I am against these false prophets. Their imaginary dreams are flagrant lies that lead my people into sin. I did not send or appoint them, and they have no message at all for my people. I, the LORD have spoken!” (Jeremiah 23:30)

On April 7th, 2009, the President of the United States, while making a State visit to Turkey, stated in his speech that the United States is not a Christian nation. We have been positioned as a secular nation. Have we, like Israel in times of old, forgotten our Maker?

We must repent America! Though our Nation mocks God, we believers in God must seek His face, humble ourselves, and pray. We must ask for His forgiveness and mercy for America. Our future and the future of our children hang in the balance. Pray, for the whirlwind is on the horizon!

Remember that in the midst of the storm, Jesus is with the true believer. He said, “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid” (John 14:27 NLT).

The gift that the world is giving us is the harvest of the whirlwind. Jesus offers us calm in the middle of the storm. So pray!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Two Deer on the Range

The other day I made one of my regular pilgrimages out to the range, God’s beauty of nature nestled in the woods by a lake. It was late in the afternoon and I wondered what I could do before sundown. But with an afternoon this beautiful, I simply couldn’t pass up this brief opportunity.

So with my gear in hand, my driver and I headed down a path through the woods. Soon I found myself out on the open range looking square into the eyes of two beautiful deer. I quietly set my gear down and very slowly sat on a wooden leaning rail, carefully observing the deer. They watched me for a few moments, and then continued grazing. They kept picking at the short grass, satisfying themselves.

I looked at my driver, leaning against the rail, and asked, “Do you think we can hit them from here?” No response. I mean, it wasn’t like I was going to kill the deer. I decided not to shoot because they are only about 150 yards out and I’m pretty accurate at that distance. I’ll just watch for now.

Sitting in silence studying the deer, I realized how unaware they are of the nearby danger. Anyone could easily harm them, yet they’re living their lives as God made them, like deer have done since time began. Their world appears one way to them, yet the reality is completely different. Encroachments around them have reduced and changed their habitat.

But for a few moments, it was as if the modern world disappeared and I experienced the peaceful, serene life of the two deer on the range. A Psalm came to mind, “As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God” (Psalm 42:1 NLT). In my heart I thought, “Oh, to have peace like this in a world filled with the clanging cacophony of cluttered chaos.”

Just then, the Lord spoke to my heart and replied, “Son, I have always had a remnant of peace in My kingdom, and people who live in My peace that passes understanding. This peace I give to you and all my children. Fix your thoughts on me. Meditate on my word, soak in my presence, and the peace you seek, the peace you need, shall be yours. I enable my people to rest and breathe the peaceful air of heaven, as they trust in Me and place their cares at My feet. Though you are moving quickly through a world of strife, I will make a place for you where peace exists from the Ancient of Days.”

Lost in these thoughts and revelations, I didn’t notice that the deer had moved further away. Naturally my driver didn’t warn me, so I said, “Let’s give it a fair shot.” Preparing for my first shot, I looked down the shaft, which was painted gun barrel blue, and took careful aim. The sound of the shot cracked and echoed across the range and bounced off the surrounding woods.

Although my shot rang straight and sure, the deer were more than 250 yards away by now, and in no danger from me. Suddenly I heard the sound of a small vehicle behind me and wondered if the marshal was coming to advise me to leave, as it was getting dark. It wasn’t him so I took a few more shots, while the deer pranced safely into the distant woods.

Breathing in the pure fragrance of nature, I stood there pondering the words of the Lord as His peace flooded my soul. Things aren’t always as they appear. We can have peace in the midst of a restless and chaotic culture.

Feeling peaceful and rejuvenated by the Lord, I decided to leave. So I carefully cleaned my driver with a towel…placed it in my golf bag…and left the driving range for the putting green.

“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you” (Isaiah 26:3 NLT)!