Welcome October 2019

Welcome October 2019

“Father,  I long for your blessing, so keep me delighted with your words. It’s too easy for my focus to shift to the world around me and all its frustrations, but I know my hope lies in you and the eternal blessings you promise. Keep me closer to you and help me meditate on your truths. In the Jesus Name, Amen.”

As we continue to be intentional with our mission to “bloom” for Jesus, may the October 2019 Others Centered Calendar Challenge be an encouragement to you and those around you. My team and I pray these prompts get you one step closer toward our God, the Ultimate Father.

To download, the October 2019 Others Centered Calendar Challenge, click here.

Kindle Fried

Kindle Fried

While turning off lights for the night, my husband frowned as he stepped in the kitchen. “What’s that odd smell?”

I glanced toward the microwave and gasped. My kindle was going round and round on the turntable. With two seconds left on the timer, I had no hope of rescue.

Crazy! What was I thinking? Last winter I started a new bed-time ritual.  I climbed in bed with my heating pad and kindle. The heating pad made me comfy and reading ensured I’d get drowsy. That night, however, I’d fallen asleep in the basement.  Quite groggy, I’d staggered toward the kitchen and cooked the wrong item.

Using a pot holder, I lifted my sizzling kindle out of the microwave and gazed at the smoky mess. The screen was smoldering and black. The ‘on’ button didn’t respond, but then it was searing. While the leather case looked okay, the keyboard tossed a letter across the room, as if to protest.

I felt like protesting too. When Amazon first announced the kindle, I thought it was an odd idea. I loved everything about books, the cover, the pages, and the smell. Why use digital device? I wanted to hold the entire book in my hand.  After my husband gave me one, however, I found lots of ways to use it. It’s much lighter than a laptop and great for taking notes. Plus, I plugged it into my car stereo and had it read to me when I drove.  I downloaded a writing app and used it for a personal prayer journal too. But a cooked kindle no longer does any of that.

At this point, I was pretty disgusted with myself, but a bad mood would keep me awake.   My body doesn’t function well without sleep, so I had to do something. I recalled how positive my mother was, and I chose good thoughts. In the midst of my foolish mistake, I allowed my mess up to remind me of God’s perfections. He never falls asleep and never fumbles anything.  Once I started listing his goodness to me, the negative emotions lifted.  Besides, a kindle won’t last forever, and he does.

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.

Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40


Fickle Desires

Fickle Desires

Ragdoll cat

Colonel Brandon

My cat gazed at me with his big blue eyes and gave another pitiful meow. He turned his head toward the door to the back porch, as if I would grasp his meaning. Colonel Brandon lived inside, but that day the outdoors appeared fascinating.

“Silly kitty.” I stroked his back. “It’s too cold out there. You won’t like the snow.”

He managed to look down at me, even though I towered over him, and he repeated his desperate wail.

“Okay, fine. You want ice, and I’ll let you try it.” I opened the back door onto the porch where the snow mounded three inches deep.

Without the flick of an eyelid, he pranced onto the porch, but he sank into the white stuff and froze. He sniffed all around him and took a tentative step. A grimace crossed his kitty face, and he held up his front paw, as if disgusted.

“Well, kitty?” I chuckled. “Does it meet with your approval?”

He looked off into the distance and got that wild look in his eyes, as if he spotted something to chase. A few steps later, the Colonel stopped and looked about the icy porch with narrowed eyes. He picked up his back feet, one at a time, and shook. Right away he turned his attention to his front legs and repeated the exercise.

My husband and I stood inside the door laughing.

He picked up his front foot, as if ready to run, but he glared at the snow. His gaze took in the snow all around him. Every step he took would mean plunging into that white stuff. He wiggled each of his feet again and glanced at us with pleading in his eyes.

We opened the door and he dashed in, wiggling his feet fast. WE could not contain our mirth. He hurried past us with his head elevated, as if he knew we had fun at his expense.

Just like my cat, I’ve begged God for things and lost my cool when he didn’t do what I asked. Perhaps he knew I wouldn’t like what I asked for or that what I wanted wouldn’t be good for me. I’m thankful our heavenly father isn’t a vending machine, which pops out whatever we request. Instead he cares so much that he refuses our thoughtless demands and grants us what we do need.

Praise our wonderful Abba Father.


Faith and Forgiveness

Faith and Forgiveness

Author and Speaker

Cynthia L Simmons

Luke 1:6 “And they (Elizabeth and Zacharias) were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord.” (ESV)

Elizabeth and Zacharias, the two people proclaimed godly in this verse, gave birth to John the Baptist. If you continue reading the first chapter of Luke, you discover their story. While Zacharias performed his priestly duties, an angel appeared to him to announce his wife would bear a son. Up until that time, he and his wife had no children, so this was great news. Frankly, I expected the man to jump up and down or shout praises. Instead this priest—whom God declared righteous—asked for a sign.

Hmm? So where was his faith? This holy man doubted? How could that be after God applauded his sterling character? Throughout Scripture God made it clear that “the just shall live by faith.” (Hab. 2:4)  Later, Jesus complained about his reception at the hands of Jewish people because “This generation is an evil generation. It seeks for a sign…” So how could the Lord label Zacharias blameless when he did the same thing?

I believe the answer can be found in 1 John 1:7 “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” (ESV) Yes, Zacharias blew it when he failed to believe. However, I’m sure he repented when he found out he wouldn’t be able to speak again until after his son’s birth. After his wife delivered, his speech returned, and he overflowed with praise. The Lord knew how his priest would respond. Zacharias’s heart sought God, so Christ’s sacrifice covered his sin.

I often fail too, and my tendency is to berate myself, even after I confess. This passage encourages me because it teaches the Lord still regards me as holy, even when I fall. He knows my heart, and my weaknesses. I’m made of dust. Even though I strive never to trip up, I still do. When I stumble, I run back to his arms and seek forgiveness. He sees me as righteous because I’m under the blood. “There is therefore no condemnation to those that are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1.



What About Praise?

What About Praise?



Church in England

Bath, England

Every Sunday, organ music boomed throughout the sanctuary and adults around me sang.  Choir members wore gold robes and serious looks while they added their voices to the congregation. At five, praise made no sense to me. In church, people sang the doxology (whatever that was) while wearing good clothes. (The ones I wore itched.) I wasn’t really sure what ‘pavilioned in splendor’ meant or what ‘girded with praise’ had to do with life.

For me, life meant I had to do with a series of chores. Finding my shoes in time for school made me worry. Writing my name— especially the ‘y’—created anxiety. Learning to add and subtract created the worst crisis I could imagine.  Praise didn’t fit in anywhere. Yet I went to church and tried to sing those songs every week.

As I grew older, I recall looking forward to finding out what my internal organs did. For some reason, I thought they did wonderful things for the world. When I learned that my stomach, intestines and liver only kept me alive, I got upset.  And then I sensed the routine of life could become a rut. Chores never stayed completed, and life presented obstacles to accomplish what you had to do.  You woke, dressed, had breakfast, lunch, dinner, and then repeated it all the next day. Life offered inherent meaning. (I didn’t know Philosopher John Paul Sartre already said that years before my birth.)

Then, one day it clicked. “Man shall not live by bread alone…” doesn’t mean we need to eat vegetables. It means we need God.  The rest of the verse said “But by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.”  These words lead us to transcendence—something bigger than life.  We have to live for something. That something is our Creator, the one who calls himself ‘existence’ or Jahweh.

In light of my discovery, praise has great value. I can forget daily frustrations while lifting my voice in praise of the one who holds all things together, forgives my sins,and gives me eternal life.


“You make me glad by your deeds, O LORD (Jahweh)

I sing for joy at the works of your hands.

How great are your works, O LORD (Jahweh)

How profound your thoughts!” Psalm 92:4 – 5

Needing Rebirth

Needing Rebirth

Cynthia and Ray Simmons

Cynthia and her husband, Ray

I’m sick of cold weather. This time of year trees should sprout and roses develop buds. But more than anything, I’m weary of the spiritual darkness that’s enveloping this nation. We desperately need a spiritual spring time. Just as surely as God makes the sap rise in the trees and the grass start to grow, he’s at work in his church. 

For example, in the late 1600s a minister named Samuel preached, taught and prayed with diligence. Every ounce of his soul longed for revival and he brought that desire before the Lord each day. The people of his parish at Epworth, England made their living from farming and had little education. They despised his politics and failed to understand his preaching.  His growing family stayed in debt, and his parishioners found ways to persecute him. At one point they burned his home to the ground, forcing the family to move in with neighbors. How discouraging!

The Lord did answer his prayer, but not the way he expected. His wife, Susanna, educated their children and occasionally the congregation. She taught and advocated order and method. When her son, John, went to Oxford, she wrote him long letters reminding him of his spiritual duties.  Encouraged by her example, he and other students banded together. They committed to regular prayer, Bible study, and righteous living.  He called the group The Holy Club.  Fellow students ridiculed the young men and labeled them ‘Methodists.’ John adopted the name as a mark of respect.  The Methodists emphasized the gospel and holy living, filling a void in the Anglican Church.  Revival swept the nation as many English citizens came to Christ through the movement.

But that’s not all. Christianity started in the Roman Empire, but didn’t disappear when the empire dissolved. That’s because God softens hearts. Throughout history we see men he used like John Hus and the Moravians, Zwingli and the Anabaptists, John Knox and the Presbyterians.  You might say these men lived in the past, and that’s correct. But in our time God raised up James Dobson of Focus on the Family, Greg Kokul of Stand to Reason, William Lane Craig of Reasonable Faith. Think for a moment, and you can probably call to mind more.

Just as the irises poke new leaves out of the dirt, God moves in every generation.  Like Sam Wesley we may not see it, but he brings new life. Trust him and pray.




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