Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Frost on the Pumpkin, Dust on the Bible

I remember waking up to the radio alarm one day to the refrain “Hello country bumpkin, how’s the frost out on the pumpkin?” My wife and I laughed and laughed at such words to be awakened with. In this season of the fall harvest when pumpkins seem to spring up everywhere, I think about those days of innocence, those days when our biggest concern was the frost on the pumpkin.

 At this time of the year our nation celebrates Halloween’s many activities, which includes carving out pumpkins and sitting them on the front porch steps. It has become a family tradition for millions of people. Yet very few use the bounty of the pumpkin for food. 

 One year at this time we had so many real pumpkins on our porch, fake pumpkins in the flowerbeds, and even giant blow up plastic pumpkins in the front yard that we earned the title, “The Pumpkin house,” from the neighborhood kids. But we didn’t eat a single one! (Pumpkin, not kids).

 Now here we are again in the fall season when these orange spheres show up in front yards like dandelions on a summer day. We surround ourselves with this beautiful bounty as decoration but the food within we discard on newspaper.

 The Bible says, “Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee” (Psalm 116:7 KJV). Are we enjoying the bounty?

The poet John Greenleaf Whittier, who was born in Massachusetts in 1807, wrote:

“The Pumpkin” (1850)
Oh! Fruit loved of boyhood! The old days recalling.
When wood-grapes were purpling and brown nuts were falling!
When wild, ugly faces we carved in it’s skin,
Glaring out through the dark with a candle within!

Back in the olden days, a carved pumpkin was placed on the family hearth to keep evil spirits from coming down the chimney and into the home to do their dastardly deeds.

Today, in homes across America many have replaced this use of the carved pumpkin with the Bible. Now bear with me a moment. We set the Bible out on the coffee table, enjoy its beauty, and yet rarely pick it up. We know that it holds a bounty within, yet we don’t feast on the rich food of the word when it’s sitting right here in front of us. We dust it, and display it with pride when visitors come, yet how many times, like the pumpkin, does it end up just sitting on a newspaper?

The food within the Bible nourishes our spiritual man within, yet we are starving ourselves and allowing the spirits to enter our homes through the modern day chimney, the television. Now that’s scary.  Wouldn’t our fore-bearers be aghast if they could see us today. We might call them superstitious for trying to ward off evil spirits with a carved pumpkin, but what would they say about us for not even trying.

The wonderful bounty of the pumpkin awaits the pies, while the life giving food in the Bible awaits our eyes.  This season, when you see the pumpkin carved so ingeniously and sitting on the porch, remind yourself of the Bible written so divinely and sitting on your table. It has a candle within which will never go out, and will keep every evil spirit at bay.

Inside the Bible it says, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105 KJV).

So hello County Bumpkin! How’s the frost out on the pumpkin? Hello modern rival! How’s the dust out on the Bible? Happy Feasting!

Friday, October 25, 2013


toddler eating mudHow many times have we heard a child’s bad or unusual behavior described as, “Oh, he’s just going through a phase.” I remember that when my sister Carmen was a toddler, she would eat dirt. Yes dirt!

We would find her in the back yard sitting on the ground with her hands covered in dirt and a ring of black dirt around her mouth. We ask her if she was eating dirt and she would shake her little head back and forth and say, “nooooo!”

 Although it was comical, our Mom was worried and so off to the doctor they went. He assured Mom that Carmen was fine and prescribed coffee grounds. His advice was to give her dry coffee grounds to play in because, “She is just going through a phase.” He was right. The dry coffee grounds broke her of eating dirt. Phase over.

 My brother Chris went through a childhood phase when he was determined to drop eggs from his second floor bedroom window to watch them splatter on the driveway below. Mom didn’t take him to the doctor. He was taken to the world of hurt. Ha.

 The truth of the matter is that we all go through phases in our life growing up as kids and teens. As we grow older, phases turn into Era’s. Mostly we look back and laugh, but some phases in our life can make us cry. Illness, bad relationships, and failures can leave us filled with regret, which is the nature of life.

But when we follow Christ, we have the assurance of hope, forgiveness and another new beginning. Phases lived in error are forgotten by the Lord when we ask for forgiveness. The Bible says, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new”
(II Corinthians 5:17 KJV).

 As the Lord forgives and forgets, so should we in order to move on with our life. Often it is our own self, and the fact that we were ever in that phase, that is the hardest to forgive and forget.

The good thing is that all phases eventually come to an end. You may have come through an extended illness, a disastrous relationship, or your boss may have told you that your season of employment in the job you love is over.

If so, remember the encouraging words of the Apostle Paul, “I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.  I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:12-13 NLT).

Yes there are ups and downs as we go through those pesky phases but we have the blessed assurance that this too shall pass. Except for my brother Chris, who liked to drop eggs out of the window… He became a professional chef and cracks eggs to this day.












Saturday, May 11, 2013


mother's day Devotion mother daughter

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!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A Light For Patty by Michael Plemmons Guest Blogger

In our world, millions of anxious souls greet each new day on a quest for light, a light that would push aside the despair of their broken heart. Patty was such an anxious soul, caught in the grip of heroin addiction. She had seen both her husband and daughter die from aids which they had contracted by using dirty needles. She longed for a light that would shine far brighter than the inward shadows of despair and fear. She knew that life could be hard and uncertain. The question of her heart was whom can I turn to for answers?
Out of control, Patty finally turned to prostitution to support her habit. On a cold February night she was standing on a street corner wondering if she should end her life. She needed 20 dollars to rent a room and get off the street. In her hopelessness, she mustered a small silent prayer not expecting any help.
Meanwhile, in another part of town the lord began to deal with a Pastor’s heart. Getting his coat and car keys, he left his home not having any idea where he was going. He drove around aimlessly for a time not knowing that God was guiding him.
He soon found himself on a street in a part of town to which he had never been. A woman was standing on the corner and the Lord prompted him to pull over and speak to her. Patti got in the car and the young pastor somewhat sheepishly told her he had been sent by God and to give her 20 dollars. Patti was amazed to see her prayer answered so quickly. Weeping, she accepted Jesus into her life and received His light.
Over two thousand years ago despair and fear filled the hearts of the disciples of Jesus as they left the upper room where they had been staying. Slowly and deliberately they made their way from the city to the Mount of Olives. Jesus had told them that he would soon leave them. The weight of the awesome task ahead grieved Him to the marrow of His bones.
It had been three years since he had begun his public ministry, and during that time he had been the voice of the light with his teaching and miracles. Yet all of these things were but a prelude to what was yet to come. He knew that he must die the next day and by that death purchase eternal freedom for every lost soul.
John the Baptist had told of the light to come, a light to the world. Jesus was that light. He asked his Father to remove this cup from him, but he bowed to the will of his Father in order to open the door to the light of His Father. He died so that each wounded heart, each soul filled with grief, every individual should find not merely forgiveness, but an eternal connection to the Father through belief in his Son.
Yours may be a heart wounded by the loss of a loved one, the loss of your job or your home. Your body may be wracked with the pain of disease, or your mind depressed with loneliness or fear.
Whatever you may be facing, Jesus’ mission was to bring the light of life to you. Do not despair. He will fill your heart with His glory, a new internal vision. The light of that glory will drive away the voices of self-loathing and despair, and replace them with love and acceptance, which can only come from the Father of love, the Father of light.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Daily Scroll:
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.(Matthew 5:3-5)
Embedded image permalink

Saturday, April 13, 2013

A horse Called Hope, by guest blogger Richard Spangler

Those of us who watched Superbowl 2013, may remember the advertisement with a Clydesdale foal.
The story was about a man who raised a foal. He bottle-fed it, slept with the foal when it became sick, and played with and trained it. The man and the young horse bonded. Then one day a company truck came and took the horse away. The man missed his companion.

Three years later the man goes to a parade and the Clydesdales go by. The horse sees the man and as soon as he is free of the carriage, charges off and the man and his horse are reunited. The company asked people to help name the foal seen in the first part of the commercial. Well after more than 60,000 tweets and Facebook comments, "Hope" was one of the most popular names; so the horse is named Hope.

This led to a simple and true realization that people are looking for hope. This is the heartcry of those who submitted the name "Hope" whether they realize it or not.

A constant drumbeat of negativity is tearing individuals down. People are losing or have lost hope. We see this in the "I don't care", "What's the use", "Nothing will ever change" attitudes gripping our world today. People are giving up, losing faith and losing hope. Some are killing themselves, their families and others because they see no hope for the future.

We as believers can also lose hope. I have lost hope from time to time. There have been times in my life when the circumstances of life have caused me to say, "What's the use? I give up. Nothing's going to change." And yes I have prayed, "Lord, take me home." This has occurred in my life when I lost sight of God and I let circumstances draw me away from my relationship with God.

But, there is hope! The Bible states, "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13 (NIV)
God is a God of hope. He wants each of us hope in Him. Many say, "I have been lied to so many times. Promises have not been kept. Why should I hope? Why should I believe?" God is not human and does not lie, He keeps His promises.
"God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?" Numbers 23:19 (NIV)
"In the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time," Titus 1:2 (NIV).
We as believers must continue to place our hope in God, Our Father, in spite of the circumstances we see around us. This is not always easy, but we must set our minds and hearts on Him. If you trust His timetable and that God loves you, knows what you are going through and will keep His promises, He will restore your hope.

What about those who live in the world and do not know these truths? They do not understand that God loves them, that He is Hope and that He keeps His promises. We, as believers know these truths and we have the responsibility to tell those who are hopeless, "There is hope." We must be willing in these times to stand up and say, "There is a hope and that hope is in Jesus Christ."

This hope is not just for the sweet by and by or when we all get to heaven; but it is for the nasty here and now. God is Hope and He is willing to give Himself to you if you are willing to receive Him.

© Copyright 2013 Richard Spangler(used by permission)

Sunday, March 31, 2013

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.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Stop Human Trafficking

Please watch this powerful video on #HumanTrafficking #SexSlavery Produced by my daughter @lauramarkland

Please visit and like this website that my daughter is trying to build to raise awareness of human trafficking.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Goals and Dreams

As I think back on the past year, and reflect on the years gone by, the goals I had set for myself come to mind. I looked in my notebook where I had written down my goals over the years and made a startling discovery. I had achieved every goal I had set out to accomplish in my life up to this point.
Immediately I thought, “I should have made bigger goals!” It is truly amazing what one can accomplish by just writing it down. Sounds easy, right? No. It’s not. There’s an old saying, “If it was easy, everybody would do it.”
Over the years I’ve probably read most every motivational Author, listened to tapes, etc. and they make success sound so easy. Well I figured out that if enough people buy your motivational books and tapes, success is assured! Good for them.
Now this brings us to this year. What shall we do? What shall we do? I submit that we should turn to the pages of the greatest motivational book ever assembled. You probably already own more than one. Yes, it’s the Bible.
This year as I set out to crystallize my goals my prayer is, “I shall write according to your will Lord.” His words come to mind, “For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you ... plans to give you hope and a future" (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV).
God, the Author and creator of all that exists, has plans for us! Wow, what a thought! Of all the Authors I’ve read, not one can compare with the plan that God has. We know this on a spiritual level, so why do we fail to flesh it out and bring it into the natural? I guess I’m as guilty as the next fellow, but not this year.
No. I will seek His plan for my year and walk it out to the best of my ability. Remember that God doesn’t see things like we do. Unlike us, He sees things perfectly, and has given His wisdom through the ages, recorded in the Bible. So our first goal should be to immerse our selves in the Bible, God’s wisdom of the ages. That’s easy, right?
Sure it is. We can all do that. And if that is all we do this year, I believe that this year will be amazing. One man wrote that he read the entire book of Proverbs every month and became a millionaire! Wow, that’ll make you want to blow the dust off the old book won’t it? Ha. Yes it will.
This brings us to dreams. Have we forgotten how to dream? Have your dreams been crushed and squeezed out of you? It happens. But, that is the beauty of dreams. They are limitless! You can always have more. Do you know that God is the greatest dreamer of all? Yes He is. Before He created everything He dreamed it!
One time while I was praying in the Spirit with the Lord Jesus, He sat me down and told me to dream. So we sat down on a hillside of green grass and lay back, side by side, and looked up at the sky. He said to me, ”Remember when you were a boy and you would look at the sky and dream?”
“Yes Lord,” I replied.
He asked, “Do you remember what you dreamed about?”
“I believed I dreamed of having great adventures, of sailing the ocean, or flying airplanes in battle. Those things,” I said.

“Well, do it again.” He said.
So I spent time in fun light-hearted dreams. The Lord opened my mind to the joy of dreaming. Sometimes dreams come true, but while you are dreaming, they are true. This is just one of many gifts our Holy Father has given us. It’s beautiful. It’s His nature to dream, and He has so many wonderful dreams for all of His children. He really does.

The Bible says, “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth” (III John 1:2 KJV).

So seek Him in His word, the Bible. Seek Him in prayer. Seek Him as you walk in the Spirit and He will reveal to you His plans, His desires, and His dreams for you. He will! Then as you write out your goals and dreams for the new year, you will know deep down in your heart, that this year, this time…All things are possible!

Happy New Year!