Monday, February 17, 2020

I Recommend: The Bathsheba Battle!

Several years ago, I attended a writer's conference.  It was a good conference and I learned some stuff that has been beneficial.  But the best thing I got from those three days of meetings was a friendship with a truly delightful young gal named Natalie Snapp.  It's a nice friendship...she's about the age of my kids so we each bring our particular perspective to the conversation.

At that time, Natalie and I were embarking on the world of being published authors with our first books.  She was working on Heart Sisters and sold her project to the agent from Abingdon Press.  I left the conference fully realizing that for someone at my stage of life, the world of self-publishing and print on demand was the way for me to go.  So she published Heart Sisters and I published Faith Breezes.  Time passed and with it a whole lot of LIFE and here we are today.  I've just published Cradle and Cross and her latest, The Bathsheba Battle, came on the scene at almost the same time.  Finding hope when life takes an unexpected turn...that's what The Bathsheba Battle is all about.  By delving into the story of Bathsheba's relationship with King David, Natalie takes us through the process of sorting through the suffering and then moving forward.  "With every valley we tread, we experience that much more freedom and that much less fear," she says.  "The effort is almost always worth the outcome."

Ultimately, "Bathsheba's suffering led her to bear fruit that grew while she was in the deepest valley of her life and her story shows us all how God restores and brings beauty from ashes every single time."

Natalie writes with a warm "girlfriend" tone that draws the reader in and appeals across the lines of age.  After all, whose life hasn't taken an unexpected turn?  

Natalie Chambers Snapp is the author of Heart Sisters: Be the Friend You Want to Have and the accompanying Bible study Becoming Heart Sisters: A Bible Study on Authentic Friendships.  She has also written for various blogs and online devotionals, including Proverbs 31.  You can find her at

Monday, February 10, 2020

Beneath the Cross

Beneath the cross of Jesus I fain would take my stand,
The shadow of a mighty rock within a weary land;
A home within the wilderness, a rest upon the way,
From the burning of the noontide heat, and the burden of the day.
-Elizabeth C. Clephane

We sang this hymn in church yesterday.  

It was one of those times when certain phrases - so familiar - stood out from the rest and have stayed with me through this day.  Weary upon the way...burden of the day.  I often meditate by simply sitting still and envisioning quiet moments with Jesus.  I can see my weary self, sitting down on a rock in the shadow of the cross, and just sitting there.  

Resting.  Refueling.  Abiding.

Abide.  It's an old word.  We rarely hear it used in its biblical sense these days.  Webster defines it as "to remain stable or fixed in a state, as in love."  In John 15:4, Jesus tells us "Abide in me and I in you."  I think he's saying "Stay with me.  Focus on me. Let me be your abiding place."

I like to look at the story beyond the page.  What was it like for this author's life?  

Elizabeth Cecilia Clephane lived her whole life (1830 - 1869) in the area of Edinburgh, Scotland.  Her father was the county sheriff.  She and her three sisters spent their lives ministering to the needy.  Elizabeth was always frail and sickly but she did not let that stop her from what she saw as her mission in life.  The author of many poems, she wrote this one - as one person noted - at the very edge of her life, a year before she died.  A musician, Frederick Maker, later set the lines to this lovely tune.  

While her physical abilities may have hindered her, Elizabeth wore such a happy countenance that she was called "Sunshine."  That may be the source for a reference in the final stanza:  "I ask no other sunshine than the sunshine of his face."  What a witness!  When I am overwhelmed by the burdens of this weary land, I pray that I will remember to step aside, sit down on that rock, and abide.  

I take, O cross, thy shadow for my abiding place;
I ask no other sunshine than the sunshine of His face;
Content to let the world go by, to know no gain or loss,
My sinful self my only shame, my glory all the cross. 

Thursday, December 26, 2019

For 2020: Fear...Courage...Trust

And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there.  I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me.  However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.   (Acts 20:22)

         Looking back at messages given to Ladies Lunch at Vero Beach FUMC in years past, I came across these words.  They are issues for many of us.  As we turn the calendar to a new year, there will be challenges.  Some are continuing, some will be new.  All will produce their own fears and difficulties.  Perhaps the Apostle Paul will inspire us.

         This is Paul’s farewell to the elders of the church at Ephesus.  He spent three years there during which time he preached Jesus every waking moment and shared the Holy Spirit with all the converts.  Acts 19:11 and 12 says: God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.  What an amazing legacy!

        Along with the wonders, there were horrors.  It was a constant battle with the occult.  The threat of death was constant.  He constantly preached Jesus to Jews and Greeks alike.  But his time had come to move on to Jerusalem.  He wanted to be in Jerusalem for Pentecost.

         This paragraph from his farewell to the Ephesian elders shows us so much about Paul’s faith and his spirit.  He tells them “I am compelled by the spirit to go to Jerusalem having no idea of what I’m facing there.”  Based on his life up to this point, it’s reasonable for Paul to realize that the obstacles and persecutions are not going to stop wherever he goes.  The gospel he preached was volatile.  It upset people’s lives.  It often stepped between them and their money.  It divided families.  It made them deny their lifelong religious beliefs.  Just as Jesus was, Paul was a divider.  He was also the voice of the greatest hope the world has ever known.  And thankfully he was surrounded by those who had grasped the truth that he preached without failing every day. 

          A major thing we see about Paul as we have made our way through Acts is that he constantly preached the message of Christ…the same message almost word for word…every time.  At the point of today’s passage, he had been in Ephesus and the surrounding area for three years.  This was likely as close to a comfort zone as he came.  Now, he was being compelled by the Holy Spirit to move on.

          Compelled.  Have you ever been compelled to make a move that pushed you out of your comfort zone?  Is there something you are –or have been- led to do in your life that is so fearful to you but you know you will have no peace at all until you obey the prodding of the spirit?  You finally deal with your fear and make your move, all the way telling God “you know I don’t want to do this.  I’m scared to death.”

          Now, in our lives we probably aren’t facing probable jail or death.  But we could be putting ourselves out there with the strong possibility of persecution.  Or humiliation.  Those who are anti-Jesus are becoming more and more outspoken.  They laugh at us and poke fun at our beliefs.  And that stokes fear in our spirit.  And if we have this gut gripping fear, is this truly from God? 

          In his book The Dream Giver, Bruce Wilkinson says this is Misconception #1 about moving beyond your comfort zone.  We’re not going to make much progress if we allow fear to stand in our way.  Misconception #2 is:  I can’t go forward unless God takes my fear away.  We do have fears that protect us…like fear of snakes or bad people with guns.  Our inner sense says “steer clear…move away!”  But the fears that inhibit us...the ones that hold us back from doing the work God would have us do...those are the fears we are called on to walk through with courage.  Courage is not the absence of's choosing to act in spite of the fear.

          As Paul knew from his life, there is always another comfort zone, another fear to be challenged.  Always another city, another prison, another hardship. At this point in his life, Paul in his self had diminished so much and Christ had taken hold of so much of him that his only thought was to continue on with the race he had been given.  Though he always supported himself with his tent-making, he never stopped carrying the message that sustained his life…and gives so much meaning to ours. 

          Fear…courage…trust.  It all boils down to trust.  Do we trust the proddings of the Holy Spirit?  Can we put our fear into some special place in our heads and walk on through the fear, guided and propelled by this third entity of the Trinity?  He is, after all, the comforter Jesus promised before he left us.

          I want to close with some words from noted theologian Henry Blackaby.  In his book Experiencing the Spirit: the Power of Pentecost Every Day, Blackaby says this:

Will God ever ask you to do something you are not able to do?  The answer is yes – all the time!  It must be that way, for God’s glory and kingdom.  If we function according to our ability alone, we get the glory; if we function according to the power of the Spirit within us, God gets the glory.  He wants to reveal himself to a watching world.

          My prayer for us is that we will be watching.

May you know the Peace and Joy of the Lord in 2020.

Friday, December 20, 2019

A Moment of Caroling


      With Christmas just a few days away, I'm excited to share an excerpt from my latest book, Cradle and Cross, which is now available on and by order at your local book store.

       Does caroling fit into your holiday plans?  Here's how it went in our family.

Caroling We Will Go!

O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord!

-         King John IV of Portugal

“Let’s go caroling!  We’ve never been caroling.  We should go caroling!”

            The words came from our littlest grand, Nathaniel.  He was 7.  He had looked up from his plate as he finished his Christmas dinner and blurted out his thought.  My daughters, his sister and I were all still sitting at the table, relaxing in that lull between a huge meal and dealing with the kitchen.  We stared at each other.  Where in the world had this idea come from?  We had never talked about caroling.  What did he know about caroling?

            As is his practice, he kept on…with determination.  “Come on…we need to go caroling down the street.  It’ll be fun.”  And we could think of no reason why not.  We live at the end of a short street with little traffic…a nice setting for a happy activity.  Becky called her friend who came right over with her children and a group of ten of us headed out.  Left that kitchen in total disarray and went caroling. 

            As we made our way from house to house, I teared up at the reception from our neighbors.  Several came to the front of their homes when they heard our voices, opened doors and windows and came out to greet us with big smiles.  It was a first for my small neighborhood. 

            What makes this story even more special is that Nathaniel is deaf.  He has two cochlear implants which enable him to hear and we are so thankful for that.  At the time of this story, he had just received his first implant after wearing a hearing aid for two years.  And he was bugging the doctors to give him his second cochlear.  He got the second implant a month later.  When his mother became emotional before the first implant surgery, his reply was simply, “Mommy, I just want to hear.”

            And so he marched happily down the street that night, with a smile that would light up Times Square, singing Christmas carols for my neighbors. 

We came to adore Him…Christ the Lord.