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Thursday, March 28, 2013


How many of us, as children, used to think today was “Monday Thursday” and wonder how come we knew our days of the week but all the adults got confused this time of year?

The word maundy comes from the Latin mandatum, meaning command. It refers to the commands made by Jesus Christ on the Thursday he spent with his disciples at the Last Supper—celebrating Passover and telling them to be a servant to others, just as he—represented by his washing of their feet—came to serve.

It was at the Last Supper, that Jesus instituted the Eucharist—what many modern Christians call “communion” whereby we eat bread and drink wine or grape juice in remembrance of Jesus’ life on earth and his sacrifice for our sake.

We are reminded not only of Jesus’ life and death through the partaking of communion, but we are also reminded more so of his resurrection and the eternal life we have through him.

Jesus gave us this reminder and then commanded us to remember him each time we eat and drink bread and wine.

Do we?

We remember Jesus throughout the day—beginning and ending our day in prayer. We even begin our meals saying grace. But as we’re eating and drinking; as we’re stressing and stewing; as we’re living our daily lives, do we remember him?

Three commands: Love others in my name. Serve others in my name. Remember me.

We can remember Jesus’ commands, not only on Maundy Thursday but also on Monday, Thursday and every other day of the week.

PRAYER: Jesus, thank you for your life, your death, your resurrection and for loving us so much that you would include us in your plan of salvation. Thank you for the reminders of your life and love you place around us daily. Help us to remember you in the big things today and in the small things every day. Amen.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? Do you have a special observance you partake in on Maundy Thursday?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


I have a special gift for you today, Readers. Please welcome my writing colleague, Jon Stolpe as he shares his thoughts with us about courage. Welcome Jon!

When you think of courage, who or what comes to mind?

Maybe it’s the lion from The Wizard of Oz who fought through fear and insecurity until he discovered courage in the quest to conquer the Wicked Witch of the West.

Maybe it’s Maximus Decimus Meridius, the Roman general portrayed by Russel Crowe in Gladiator, who stood up to the Roman authorities and the competitors in the gladiator arena.

Maybe it’s Amelia Earhart who challenged the limitations and obstacles of flight and inequality to courageously go where no woman had dared to go.

When we think of courage it’s easy to think of the strong, the bold, and the heroic.  We often assign courage to those in the limelight – sports stars, politicians, movie stars, rock stars, and other celebrities.  It’s true that many of famous people have demonstrated courage in overcoming tremendous odds.  I don’t mean to diminish their accomplishments, but I think we can find deeper meaning for courage if we look to those around us and to those outside the spotlight.

Courage is about facing your fears, taking leaps of faith, and standing up to life’s challenges.  Framing courage with this definition brings others to mind.  I think of my Grandma Miller who lived for years with a smile and a positive attitude despite the pain and suffering caused by a life of multiple sclerosis and multiple knee replacements.  I think of Kinzey Lynch, a blind teammate on my daughter’s high school cross country team, who runs races and practices across uneven terrain with the help of a guide; he competes with a determination, a smile, and courage like few others I’ve seen.  And I think of my wife who overcame illness and a challenging recovery from what seemed hopeless at the time.  And now she’s a promoter of HOPE to others facing challenging circumstances.

I don’t know what you’re facing today.  The pain you’re dealing with may seem insurmountable.  The valley you are experiencing may appear deep and dark.  You may be afraid.  You may be intimidated.  You may believe that leap of faith is way beyond the realm of possibility. 
God is calling you to have courage.

“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.  Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.  Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”  Joshua 1:7-9

God’s direction to Joshua applies to us today.  Here are three simple reminders to help you have courage:

Courage comes from knowing and obeying God's Word. Just as God instructed Joshua, we must read God's Word, study God's Word and obey God's Word. God's Word provides a foundation for courage for those who know and obey it.

Courage comes from remembering God is with you! "If God is for us, who can be against us." No matter what you are going through, God is there with you. (See Psalm 139:7-12)

Courage takes strength. I'm not talking about physical strength. Courage involves an inner strength that comes from God. God doesn't proclaim an easy road when He instructs Joshua, but he promises success that can only come from God. We will need strength, focus, and determination to overcome the fear and discouragement in our lives. 

Who is in your “Courage” Hall of Fame?  How has God’s Word given you courage?  What are you going through today that requires courage?

Jon Stolpe is passionate about small groups, missions, family, marriage, parenting, and Philadelphia sports.  Jon is also a writer and blogs daily at Jon Stolpe Stretched. He lives in Pennsylvania with his wonderful wife, Leanne, and their two kids.  Connect with him on TwitterFacebook or his blog.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


The Last Supper by Leonardo de Vinci depicts Jesus and his disciples partaking in Passover

Yesterday at sundown began the Jewish observance of Passover, remembering the time when The LORD, through the Holy Spirit, protected the Jews living in Egypt from the tenth plague—the striking down of every first born. 

On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn—both men and animals—and—I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the LORD. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt. (Exodus 12:1-2, 6-7, 11-13).

In Genesis we see that the Spirit hovered over the waters. At Passover, the Spirit passed over Egypt.

The Holy Spirit does a lot of  flying and hovering, doesn’t He?

It didn't end at Passover. At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit hovered over the believers and then settled above them “something like a flame.” Then the Holy Spirit indwelled in those early Christians, just as He does in each of us today.

The Holy Spirit  hovered and flew. Then after Jesus returned to heaven, the Holy Spirit settled and indwelt. 

This past Sunday began the Christian Holy Week—the celebration of God’s plan through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

As Jews observe Passover today and celebrate the protection of God’s people from the evil plans of Pharaoh, I praise God that His Spirit has not passed over me but is living and working in and through me even today.

PRAYER: Holy Spirit, thank you for being so active in this world. Thank you for what you do to protect your people. Thank you for indwelling in me today. Please attune my heart and mind to listen to your leading and then to obey. Amen.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? How do you perceive the Holy Spirit living in you?

NOTE: I will be guest blogging on the site of my writing colleague, Eileen Knowles tomorrow, March 27. Please visit me there tomorrow at The Scenic Route. But come here tomorrow too to visit another of my writing colleagues, Jon Stolpe who will share his thoughts about courage.

Thursday, March 21, 2013


Each month I create prayers for people we love based on the meaning of their names. These additional names are then added to the ongoing list at the tab to the right titled, "PRAYING NAMES."

If you don’t find the name of your loved one listed, please leave a comment below. I’ll research it and create a prayer for a future month.

Rodney: island in the swift river

Heavenly Father, I pray that Rodney will live the meaning of his name. I pray that he will find his home in you; that you will be his place of refuge amid the raging river of life. I pray that he will also be a place of refuge for others. Amen.

Hector: anchor, steadfast

Heavenly Father, I pray that Hector will live the meaning of his name. I pray that he will always look to you as his anchor; that he will hold steadfast to your strong arm throughout his life. Amen.

Abigail: joy of the father

Heavenly Father, I pray that Abigail will live the meaning of her name. I pray that her life and her love for you will bring you joy and will glorify you. Amen.

Chelsea: port for chalk or limestone

Heavenly Father, I pray that Chelsea will live the meaning of her name. I pray that she will be a port in the storm for others and that you will be her strong port and safe harbor always. Amen.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


That new computer file. It’s clean. It’s fresh. It’s scary.

As a writer, starting a new project is exciting. It’s filled with possibilities. Where will the story take me? What will my characters discover? What lessons will be learned by my character, by me, by my readers along the way?

It’s also scary. I have the story in my mind. It’s brilliant. The writing is clear and lyrical. The theme will inspire millions.

But am I the person to write it? Can I do the brilliance justice? Or will my attempt turn to dust, withering on the screen and falling into scraps at the bottom of my cyber trash can?

I have not encountered a single writer who does not go through this stage of self-doubt. Our first drafts are horrible. Our second drafts often little improved. But still we endeavor to persevere.

Because God gave us the desire and the ability to create stories; to inspire readers; to glorify Him through words.

This month I will be finishing up the last bits of a book I began several years ago. As that computer screen is closed, as cover letters and manuscript pages head out the door to agents and publishing houses, it's time to open one more new screen. This new story has been in my head for several months. There will be several more months of filling a computer screen with plot twists, world building, character development, theme, tone, voice notes. Then a new screen will be opened and the story will begin to be told. 

It all begins with clicking on that little white paper icon at the top of the screen. It all begins with the opening of the file. And the opening of a mind to fill it with words.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, we are so grateful for the gifts you have blessed us with. For us writers, we love words and the talent you have given us to use them. All of us—writers or not—are often faced first with the thrill and later with the doubt—of not doing justice to the task you have led us to. Please remind us that the process for whatever task you call us to may be arduous but that it is the process you look to and our obedience to the call that causes you to say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Amen.

WHAT ABOUT YOU?  In what task or vocation do you see God leading you that you may need to open a file or a mind to begin the project?  

This post is part of the Christian Writers Blog Chain. Our theme for March is “open”—either an open topic or the meaning of “open” itself. Please click on the links to the right and see what my friends have to say this month. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

This year, my one-word focus is “courage . . .”

 . . . because my one-word default too often in life has been “fear.” Not fear of the boogyman. Not fear of peril. Rather fear of failing to accomplish what I intend or failing to live up to my own, others’ or God’s expectations.

Do you also need courage? Here are several scriptures for inspiration and meditation:
  • There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. (1 John 4:18)
  • They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord. (Psalm 112:7)
  • Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)
  • Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)
  • David also said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. (1 Chronicles 28:20)
  • Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. (1 Corinthians 16:13)
  • For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7)

And of course, every time an angel met up with a person, the first words out of his mouth were, “Fear not.”

Because fear is not of God; but of man. 

Over the past few months, a realization has come to me from various sources: God is more concerned with my obedience and the process rather than the results.

It’s like taking a walk. If I set out on my own, placing one foot in front of the other, I may not get to the exact place I’m headed, but all that exercise will make me strong and healthy.

Better yet, if I'm walking hand in hand with Jesus, not only will the process make me strong and healthy, we’ll get where he wants us to be, and the journey will be lovely.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, thank you for leading us.  Help us to focus on the walk you want us to take with you, and leave the destination decisions to you. Amen.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? Is there an area of life where you need to step out and exercise in obedience?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

10 + 1 Building Blocks Of Relationships: Support

Please welcome my friend, Chris Vonada for the next in his series on the building blocks of relationships. Go to his site to learn more about Chris, his books and his writing ministry. Visit him often.

I was reading an interesting book recently, "The Macintosh Way" by Guy Kawasaki. Guy was the Chief Evangelist with Apple's Macintosh Division back in the early days of this computer's development. Guy is an interesting and entertaining person, and he writes an excellent book about how to engage with the various people that you will encounter in the business world. The meat and potatoes of this book is doing business the Macintosh way, served up on two plates: Doing things right, and doing the right thing.

The history of how the venerable Mac came about is a pretty remarkable story. The computer was designed and produced for market without any software. Sounds crazy? Check it out, The Macintosh Way works! Apple provided a platform for creative people to work in. Their business model works because it empowered people to do what they do best... create. Apple didn't tell people what to create or how to do it, they simply provided a better tool to accomplish the task at hand. The Mac is simply a tool to achieve.

So what does all of that have to do with relationships, and particularly support? Everything!

"The best allies work freely and enthusiastically with you because they believe in your dream. The worthless ones want to be paid for their efforts. If someone doesn't believe in your dream enough to take a risk, he will fail you anyway." GK.

The most incredible part of The Macintosh Way is they accomplished taking a new, unknown computer to a top seller, enlisting a group of volunteers to develop the software for their product with virtually no internal support structure. They didn't enlist a cadre of support personnel and engineers to help out. Instead, they relied on user groups to serve this function. The user groups were established outside the Apple bubble. The people creating with the Macintosh started sharing information and knowledge freely as they encountered a need, fulfilling an important service to the Apple community. Cumulatively, we all benefited and learned a new way.

Speaking of "The Way," Jesus says in the Bible that He is "The way, the truth and the life". John 14:6

In the book of Acts, the movement of believers in Jesus became known as The Way. There weren't any "Christians" back then, only The Way. There was just one way. As far as Jesus is concerned, there is still only one way. Pretty cool!

Remember, God didn't put us all here to walk through life alone. As a body of believers we work together to help support each other's needs. Maybe think of your small group as a user group. They serve to facilitate and support you in your relationships. Trouble in your marriage? Lean in on your user group. They're there for a reason. Accountability? A user group will help you stay on track. Need help when you're sick or your car breaks down? That's what friends are for, right? A good user group or circle of friends will help to keep you moving forward in the right direction. 

Support functions to take us to a place far beyond where we could go individually. When I think of support my first thought is helping someone in need. The Macintosh support groups pioneered answering the question before I ever even asked it. How? Well, if I was an applications developer I would be able to go to the support community, describe the issue that I was facing and generally find someone who had encountered a similar issue, and they either provided assistance in real time, or I would find the solution posted in a community board. The uber (Deutsch) cool thing about life is that we're not on the learning curve. Somewhere in the body of believers that connect us together we can find someone with wisdom that is relevant to our issue. Someone who can guide us through it. I like that.

Final thought there  for today... In our  closest relationships, marriage, for example, we can achieve way more together than we ever could individually. How? Well, consider a couple that identifies their strengths and weaknesses. For instance, suppose that I'm really good at and enjoy cooking (I would like to think so!) while you're really thrive on and are excellent at planning. If I leave the planning up to you and you leave the cooking up to me we're both way happy and achieving awesomeness. While we technically may not individually need support to cook and plan, whenever we work together God's hand is in the mix and we're making beautiful music together (or cake, vacation plans, or whatever else we want to make). You catching my drift...

Thursday, March 7, 2013


Every month has a birthstone. The birthstone for the month of March is aquamarine. And it reminds me of Jesus.

The word aquamarine means “water of the sea.” Genesis tells us that in the beginning, the Spirit of God hovered over the water. Later, Jesus became the living water. Water itself—in the Christian practice of symbolically proclaiming our faith through baptism by water—points us toward Jesus. All of us need water to live. We need living water for eternal life.

The aquamarine gemstone is believed to enhance divine communication and help us connect with heaven. Spiritual metaphysics notwithstanding, gazing at the cool, clear blue of aquamarine gives a person a sense of well-being. Spending time with God does so even better.

A secondary birthstone for March is the bloodstone. It is a dark green jasper with bright red spots, caused by iron oxide. Legend tells that this stone was created when Christ’s blood dropped onto green jasper at the foot of the cross.

Happy birthday to everyone born in March.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, thank you for the beauty of this world and the reminders of you and your glory that are all around us. Please remind us that you have gifted us with prayer for divine communication and that through your blood—our living water, we are washed clean. Amen.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? Know anyone who needs an aquamarine gemstone?

Tuesday, March 5, 2013


OZ AND I is a series related to the classic daily devotional My Utmost for His Highest, by Oswald Chambers. Today’s post is based on his devotional for February 5.

This morning Oswald Chambers took out his mahogany ruler and whacked me over the knuckles. He wrote about sacrificing myself—without personal glory—so that God’s will might be done and He glorified through others.

Often a sacrificial need will fly up into my face swept along on a God-breathed wind. My first reaction is: Okay, I’ll help. But how will my helping affect ME?

In other words, how little can I put myself out in order to be helpful?

Fortunately, once I get over myself, then I help with a cheerful heart. But how I wish the cheerful heart showed up first, instead of last.

How I wish I didn't always first moan and complain before jumping into God’s plan with joy.

Today Oz took me a step further, asking: am I willing to sacrifice myself (my time, my efforts) for someone else even if it’s that other person who gets the glory?

Wait. Me help someone else get the kudos?

As a writer, I want to encourage other writers and help them make their projects the best they can be.

But helping people with their projects is a major time sink. An article may only take an hour or two, but helping develop a book or copy editing one can take 30 hours or more.

What about MY writing?


Several years ago, God whispered to my heart: You are in the writing business, Carol, not for your personal glory, but for mine.

What does it matter in the eternal scheme of things, whether God is glorified by my books or whether He is glorified by the books of people I have helped or encouraged in their projects?

It doesn’t. 

Today Oswald posed the question. Do I say:

“I am not willing to be poured out right now, and I don’t want God to tell me how to serve Him. I want to choose the place of my own sacrifice. And I want to have certain people watching me and saying, ‘Well done.’”

It’s tough, this humble servant stuff, isn’t it?

Then again, maybe “certain people” won’t be watching; but God will be. And if He’s the one saying, “Well done,” then who cares about the rest? Really.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, please help me get over myself. Please remind me that your plan and your glory are more important than mine. Amen.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? In what area of your life might you need to get over yourself and work for God’s glory instead of your own?