My darkest days

By Jen Gentry

When I was asked to write this devotional I started to panic. You see I love the Lord with all my heart
and I remind the Lord every day “I have never not believed.” I can’t remember a time in my life when
I did not know the Lord Jesus as my personal savior. I have recited the sinner’s prayer many different
times in my life as I rededicated my life to him. But I still can’t recall a time when I did not know of Jesus
and believe that he died on the cross for my sins.

Back to my original panic here, how can I write a devotional in what I deem to be one of the darkest
periods of my life in what has been the worst year of my life? How can I share what the Lord has done
for me and how he has saved me when I am suffering so? There is only one way. I have to believe. John
3:16

Let me share with you how this past year has changed my life forever. My story is heartbreaking and
difficult to tell. On February 2, 2012 my youngest son was backing out of my driveway struck my two-
year-old granddaughter and killed her. He was her uncle as she was the daughter of my oldest son.

How can I convey in words the heartache me and my family have suffered? Sadly I find there are no
words. The pain is indescribable. In the hours and days immediately following this great tragedy our
church stepped in to minister to us and an entire community reached out to my grieving family. Some
of us questioned how could God let this happen? I got on my knees and prayed. I was hurt, angry,
confused. I begged and pleaded for my granddaughter back, but the Lord told me very clearly. He is
sovereign. Every knee shall bow every tongue shall confess…Romans 14:11

I promised God that I would praise him through this awful storm. I did not know what else to do so I
praised him. It was then in my complete surrender that changes began to take place in my home. My
husband who always confessed to being a Christian but never lived the life started going to church with
me. He rededicated his life to Lord. This may sound like it was a very simple thing, but let me tell you for
me this was huge. This was an answer to a prayer I had been praying for over the last twenty years.

In the months following I completed a novel I had been working on for the last year. It was not my first
work, but it was the one I felt the most sure about. This was the work I would see published for the first
time. The Lord has performed a great and mighty work in my life over the last year and I give him all the
praise and glory for it.

I have learned it is when our days are at their darkest we must cling to him the most. Just as King David
praised the Lord continuously during times of great tragedy as when his first son from Bathsheba passed
away and the Lord was merciful and forgave David his sins. So must we be like David and cry out to
the Lord as we sing his praises in the midst of the storms in our lives. Psalms 9-10 It is in our complete
surrender to the Lord that he can do his most mighty works in our lives.

The Gift of Light

imag002Emily and her Aunt Gemma are two very special women. They see into the spiritual realm and commune with angels. With this exciting tale, reminiscent of the great Frank Peretti’s This Present Darkness, debut author Gentry portrays in realistic terms the angelic and demonic creatures who inhabit our world, and why.

A centuries-old battle, waged in the heavenly realm between the forces of good and evil, is fast reaching a flashpoint in Hook Pond. Demon Prince Azelius has a centuries-old stronghold over the family of Senator Brad Steel, whose goal is to become President of the United States, a goal Azelius wants him to achieve. Azelius wants the senator’s son as well, but someone is praying and interfering with his plans. That someone must be silenced, permanently.

When young Bradley Steel finds the Lord, he goes through a profoundly life-changing experience. He is overwhelmed with the need to ask forgiveness for an adolescent transgression that has haunted his life. Marta forgives him and promises forgetfulness as well. They become friends and eventually fall in love and marry. Bradley goes to Afghanistan as chaplain and is critically wounded in an explosion, but a pregnant Marta is told of his death.

With the presidential election drawing near, Senator Steel makes his bid, and threatened with exposure of past misdeeds including adultery and kidnapping ending with murder, he utilizes his demonic connections to summon the Ba’al and a shaman priest.

A spine tingling ending that will have you cheering.

Find Jen Gentry online: 0

Website

https://jengentrysbooks.com

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http://www.facebook.com/jenny.gentry.758

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Motivation That Works

By David Megill

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure. (1 John 3:1-3)

This is an amazing verse.  it’s so amazing that many of us not only don’t quite believe it, but we are afraid to even contemplate believing it.  John actually encourages here a very audacious kind of expectation and presumption.  It may seem at first both dangerous and un-motivating, but for some reason John doesn’t think it’s easier.
Walk it through:  He begins by reveling in the truth that God calls us children of God.  This is awesome and yet seems fairly straightforward.  Our salvation has earned us the title “child of God.” While not too many people argue with this, I hear people mitigate it all the time.  We talk about being righteous, “in God’s eyes.”  and being “reckoned” a child of God.  We say these things as if they explain how such an obviously untrue thing can be said to be true.  We say them as if we know better.
God says I’m righteous, but I know myself and I’m not really.
John is prepared exactly for the way his readers will distance themselves from this truth and follows up this amazing statement with the clear declarative, “And that is what we are!”  Who sees reality more clearly, God or us? If God calls us Children of God, says John then such we are.
He then goes on to explain that even we are not clear on what we are.  Our true righteousness and inheritance has not yet been clearly revealed.  But, and this is the really amazing part, He says that when we see Christ we shall see that we are like Him.  The family resemblance will be clear and obvious.  He further stresses that this awareness will be based upon reality (“we shall see him as he is”) and not upon any kind of illusion or wishful thinking.
Imagine, the big surprise when you get to Heaven is not how far from Christ you will be, not how ashamed all your hidden sins revealed will make you, but that as you see clearly for the first time you will find that you are like Him!   This is the power of the Gospel, not only that Christ forgave us but is committed to remaking us, until we will be like Him.
But John doesn’t stop there.  Here’s the mind-blowing part.  All who have this hope in him purify themselves just as he is pure.  In other words, John is encouraging every believer to have a firm confidence in this future (hope in scripture is certain, not wishful.).  The more you believe in this truth, that your righteousness is a guarantee, that your Christlikeness is a settled issue, the more you will purify yourself.  A confident, firm hope in God’s ability to complete the work begun does not make you lazy, licentious, or worldly.  On the contrary it purifies you now.
Unfortunately as pastor, what I find is that people are afraid to believe this.  They fear that too much confidence will lead them to sin more.  They do not trust themselves, and worse they do not Trust Christ in them.
In a well intentioned, but extremely wrong headed attempt to motivate good behavior, pastors too often encourage us to be afraid, wary, expecting shame, at this glorious meeting with Christ in Heaven.
Guilt is an easy tool for a pastor, politician or parent who wants to motivate.  We’re already primed for it with skewed world views, the enemy offers no resistance to it and we’ve all learned to count on it to save us from our own frailty.   This is unfortunate, for guilt does not save us, Christ does.  John says the more we believe in our guiltlessness, the more Godly our life will be.
Holy ones, (for that is what the epistle writers constantly call us) dare to believe that when you see Christ you will see Him just as He is and you will not be ashamed for you will see that you are like Him!  Dare to believe in the Righteousness of Christ bought at the cross!  The Freedom you’ll find will be freedom to live as you’ve been created to, with dignity, righteousness, and impact!

 

David Megill was born in a little village called Rotifunk. This little village happened to be located on another continent (Africa) from the one in which he currently resides (North America). No credit should be awarded to him for this bold move, but rather to his parents who happened to be there when it happened. David was born the baby of the family, for which he should also not receive credit for all people are born babies. David did not know this when he was born but has since learned this after the birth of his own seven kids for which he should receive only partial credit, barely any really, but it is still true that all of them were born babies. This is a fact which David’s wife Ann finds rather convenient.

Through the next four decades David dabbled as a juggler, a magician, a musician, a locksmith, Danny Kaye/Dick Van Dyke wannabe, pizza maker, pizza eater, horse track gate opener (is there a name for that?), thermo-vaccum former operator, dragon tamer (with the business card to prove it!), and various less notable jobs before settling in mostly as a pastor, conference speaker and writer.

David hopes his books, in which he rarely speaks in third person will bring you encouragement, hope, laughter, joy and an understanding that you matter to God.

 ~~~

Sometimes it’s as if the life we’ve been seeking has managed to elude us. We wake up and ask ourselves, “Is this what life is all about?” Life has not turned out exactly the way we expected or hoped. We were promised certain things, by parents, culture, by church, and, as Christians believe, by Christ Himself. Were we lied to? Did we misunderstand the promises? Scripture actually tells us the truth: that life is hidden, not always obvious. This book shares one pastor’s story of walking through such disappointment and the principles of hope he learned. Along the way, we explore the nature of the Hidden life and where to find it, and embracing the Incredible GIFT of God. (Grace, Identity, Faith and Training) At least once in their life everyone thinks they are a failure. Through the counseling and conferences of the last 20 years, I have been able to see people who were stuck in their past, mired in their failures, or simply run out of steam, catch a fresh take on life and find confidence of the God they’d always been hoping existed; a God who truly loves them and needs no cajoling to bless. No one’s life will be “fixed” by reading this book, but this book will give people hope. Hope can transform burden to freedom, despair to faith. Such faith and hope can turn ones eyes back to a God who does save and redeem and to the revelation of the hidden life.

Of Waterpots and New Wine

By Staci Stallings

And on the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there; and Jesus was also invited, and His disciples, to the wedding.  And when the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to Him, "They have no wine."  And Jesus said to her, "Woman, what do I have to do with you? My hour has not yet come."  His mother said to the servants, "Whatever He says to you, do it."  Now there were six stone waterpots set there for the Jewish custom of purification...  John 2: 1-6

There is more of course, but for our purposes we will stop right there. You’ve probably heard this story more times than you can count. It is of course the story of Jesus’ first miracle when He changed water into wine.  And not just any wine, no, the best wine. That lesson is for another article, for now I want to focus on the final eleven words of this passage.

Specifically I want to ask you to reread the passage and look closely at what kind of pots they used.  In my previous reading of this passage, I had always pictured... well, pitchers.  Large earthenware vessels that look like modern day vases. You know the kind you would normally put wine into. But that's NOT what it says!  NO.  They put it in "stone waterpots set there for the Jewish custom of purification."  In the Message Bible it says it this way... "six stone pots, used by the Jews for ritual washings..."  Do you know what that means?

Very simply, those pots were used to enforce and carry out the rules, the law, the prescribed way of purifying yourself so you were clean enough to be presentable to society.  Ritual washings were one of the biggest outward signs that someone was steeped in the rules of the Jews.  There was a prescribed amount of time you had to wash, a prescribed amount of times you had to wash... And Jesus used those pots to do something totally new!

On top of that, the ritual washings were meant to show one's attempt to wash away their sin and thus be pure. (If I wash myself enough, if I follow all of the rules, I shall be clean in the eyes of God). But the reality was, people were still dirty.  Their bodies were dirty. Their hands were dirty. Their lives were dirty with sins they could not get rid of no matter how many times they washed themselves. And even when they washed, they got dirty again and thus had to wash again.

And Jesus (isn’t He awesome?) used the pots that had been used to wash people, pots that symbolize us and our lives (dirty and nasty) to put drinking wine in.  That is not just a little inconsequential detail!  That's huge!

In fact, upon closer reading, it does not even say that Jesus first said, “Take those waterpots and wash them out, clean them out, and then fill them.”  No. He said, “Go and fill them.”  In all the times you have read and heard this passage, have you ever for a second pictured those servants as taking the time to go and wash out the pots on their own? 

I haven’t because prior to really reading this, I hadn’t seen the need for them to. However, at the risk of your lunch, consider what they did.  Guests had washed themselves with water from these pots. Surely some of the grime went back in them as they finished.  We don’t know how many guests there were, but I have always pictured a rather large contingent of guests.  At very least we know of fourteen, Jesus, the disciples, and Mary. At minimum, that’s 28 hands, four for each pot, that have recently been washed in them. Now, Jesus says, “Go and fill those with water,” and presumably without the benefit of Dawn Dishwashing Liquid, these pots were filled with water.

Then Jesus said, “Draw some out now, and take it to the headwaiter.”

Something tells me, if I was one of those servants, I wouldn’t have had the guts to tell the headwaiter what kind of receptacles that wine came from. Of course, we all know that the headwaiter proclaimed that this wine was the finest of wines.

So, consider that in one moment, Christ took us, these waterpots, empty yes, but permanently stained with the dirt of many hands. We had been steeped in the myth that our own actions could somehow wash us clean enough to gain entrance into Heaven. He took these empty, dirty, disgusting waterpots, and He poured Himself (His blood--water made wine) into us, and then he did something new!  Not just new wine. The BEST wine!  Not the rules.  Not our sins.  Him.  And He is enough to make us THE BEST!

Believe me, I will never mistake those waterpots for pitchers again, nor will I so easily take for granted the mercy and grace He poured into me, dirty from within with no hope to ever get myself clean enough to earn anything. He did not require me to clean up before He washed me with Himself. He didn’t look at me and say, “Ew, disgusting. Let’s use something else.”

Instead, He looked at me and saw not what I had done and what I was but at what He could do inside of me. That’s the new wine—what He can do in a life, and trust me, it’s the best thing you’ve ever tasted, poor dirty waterpot that you were before He showed up.

Copyright Staci Stallings, 2006

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Staci’s “Amazing!” novel:

To Protect & Serve

“Reading To Protect & Serve, I’m taken away to another world, a world I want to be a part of and never leave. Staci’s characters are real with real everyday problems. I love that.

Oh, and the firemen in this story, they’re smokin’ hot! Especially the hero!”

–Debra, Amazon Reviewer

When control freak Lisa Matheson falls for handsome but shy firefighter, Jeff Taylor, it’s possible that life might just be going her way for a change. The only problem is she can’t control Jeff or the death wish he seems to have…

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