Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Inner Views of Rodney Griffin

"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord."
I Corinthians 15:58
(KJV)

One of the main ways God is working to keep His children encouraged in these last days
is through the ministry of song.
As the enemy tries his utmost to discourage and make us feel defeated, 
we can turn to a comforting, old hymn or a more recently-written song that God has inspired someone to write, and we can feel the darkness leave our spirits, as we realize, once again,
that God is in control, we are His children, and we have nothing to fear.

If you have been even a casual follower of Southern Gospel music over the course of the past several years, you are bound to have heard an anointed song penned by the man being interviewed today.

Some examples of songs you may have heard are...
"Faces",
(all recorded by Greater Vision),
(both recorded by The Kingdom Heirs),
(recorded by Ivan Parker),
and
(Recorded by The Triumphant Quartet)...
just to name a few.

Only eternity will be able to reveal how many lives his songs and music ministry have touched,
and we are beyond grateful to be able to share his interview with you today.


The

of 
follower of Jesus, Husband, Daddy, and Baritone for Greater Vision, who also enjoys writing songs,
Rodney Griffin.

Cheryl:  Could you tell us about your childhood and background? Were you raised in a Christian home? What role did songs and music play in your childhood?

Rodney:  My Dad was an alcoholic when I was born. He was saved when I was young, and then he surrendered to preach. So I’m a PK. My parents took me to see the Goodmans, The Downings, and, regularly, The Cathedrals and Kingsmen. That’s when I fell in love with this music.

Cheryl:  How old were you when you became a Christian? What life events led up to your decision to follow Jesus? How has surrendering your heart to Him affected your life?

Rodney:  I was 12 when I was saved…Sunday Night service during the invitation after Dad preached. We were having baptism that night anyway, so Mom walked across the church lawn to our house and got me some clothes to be baptized in that night. The greatest day ever! Jesus is my Lord and Guide. He tells me how to live and He helps me to make the right decisions. Any wrong decisions have come from me not paying close attention to Him.

Cheryl:  Who do you consider to be your strongest spiritual mentor? Was there a particular person who prayed for you during childhood and through the years, who has had the most powerful influence upon you, spiritually?

Rodney:  My Dad is the most Godly man I know. He has set a wonderful example for me to follow.

Cheryl:  Who keeps you spiritually encouraged today? Are there particular heroes of the faith whose presence in your life keeps you pressing on for God, in spite of all that comes to discourage you?

Rodney:  My wife, Regina, and two girls, Reagan (18) & Riley (15) are my inspiration. They are very active in our church in Mt. Vernon, KY. Those in our church are very encouraging. I enjoy when I get to attend on Wednesday nights and rare Sunday nights.

Cheryl:  When did you write your first song? What inspired you? How did God make it clear to you that songwriting was to be such an important part of His plan for your life? Us.songselect.com shows that you have written or co-written 384 songs that have been recorded. How does this number represent the total number of songs you have written?

Rodney:  I wrote my first song in 1989…I was 23 years old. That’s kind of a late bloomer compared to my songwriting friends. I was a college graduate working at Newport News Shipbuilding in Newport News, VA. During my breaks, at my desk, these melodies would pop into my head. I wrote down the lyrics that they matched up with. I’ve written over 400 songs now…a few of my early ones are not worthy to be demoed or pitched to a group for potential recording. They are not particularly interesting…that’s what I’ve learned that it takes for a song to be recordable. I’ve written them one at a time, and they have added up. I never set out to be known for writing…I was just doing what came natural. We all have something we can offer the Kingdom of God if we’ll just dedicate that gift to Him.

Cheryl:  Is there a particular place you like to go to get alone with God and write? What are some things that lend fresh inspiration and motivate you to write?

Rodney:  I enjoy writing while I’m driving. I have a 2 1/2 hour commute to the bus in Tennessee every week. Sometimes, that is good writing time. I stay in my Bible and try to get enough rest. If I’m tired, I’m not creative at all. When I’m rested, writing comes naturally.

Cheryl:  How did Greater Vision come to be? How was the name chosen, and how long have you been a part of the group?

Rodney:  Gerald Wolfe & Mark Trammell formed the group in December of 1990. Gerald had written a song entitled, “Greater Vision” that was the basis for the group name. I came into the group after it was 3 years old…so I’ve been here over 22 years. Hard to believe!

Cheryl:  One of our favorite songs of yours is, “Preacher, Tell Me Like It Is”. It just really resonates the burden upon our hearts in these perilous times. What inspired you to write this particular song?

Rodney:  I was out in my yard working one day, when I had the thought that so many well known preachers today are not particularly known for preaching against sin. They kind of assume everyone’s okay out there and that God loves us…so we’re all good. The problem with that theology is that we have to realize we are sinners in order to transact with the Savior. I love to hear preachers who aren’t afraid to brag on their flock…and then step on their toes, in love, when needed.

Cheryl:  As we face the dark days prophesied about in God’s Word, what do you consider to be the biggest hindrances to our staying close to God and remaining faithful to Him in this era of time? What can we, as Christians, do to most effectively make a difference in our world? What advice would you offer to those who may be weary in well doing and who may be exhausted from standing firm against evil in the cultural battles of our day?

Rodney:  One of my favorite evangelists through the years, Bill Stafford, who is now retired, always preached that the blessings of God are what lead us astray. Yep…same thing that caused the children of Israel to leave God. We get spoiled in our easy lives and quit depending on Him. That’s the danger in these, last days. We must be plugged in to a local church where we are using our gifts for Him and hearing His Word preached. We get weary when we try to do His work in our own strength. The best thing to do is to throw our hands up in praise and live out Proverbs 3:5-6. Trusting is hard, but rewarding.

Cheryl:  How do you, personally, stay encouraged, as we look around and it appears that evil is winning the war? Are there particular Scriptures, books, hymns, or other resources that you have come to rely upon to give you courage and keep you enthused and motivated to keep fighting the good fight of faith?


Rodney:  I try to read my Bible through every year. It’s not difficult when you follow a day by day plan. I also read Oswald Chambers’ "My Utmost For His Highest" every day, as well as Glyn Evans’ “Daily With The King”. I also actively pray for lost people.

Cheryl:  How can we support the ministry of Greater Vision and purchase your products?

Rodney:  You can find us at www.greatervisionmusic.com. Sign up for our newsletter, and Gerald will let you know when we are coming to your area. We’d love to see you at a concert!


Cheryl:  How can we pray for you, personally, at this season of life? Are there specific needs we can help you lift to the Father?

Rodney:  Yes, you can pray for our safety. We travel 85,000 miles each year on the bus. 😳


****************************************************************************************

In order for a songwriter to be able to successfully articulate the Gospel through song, they must first be a partaker of that Gospel and be a living testimony to its life-changing, transforming power.
For one to effectively influence and convince the listener, the words must ring with the truth
that the writer has written what they know and have experienced first-hand.

The songs Rodney has written convey an authenticity that proves he lives out the lyrics he composes
and that he is a direct recipient of the grace and redemption he so passionately sings and writes about.

God blessed us to meet Rodney in April of 2010 when Zach was nine years old.

Rodney Griffin and Zach

In spite of his success,
the things we noticed most about him, both during this interview and when we met him in person,
are his humility, gentle kindness, and down-to-earth friendliness and approachability,
all characteristic and true evidence of the meek Spirit of Jesus Christ dwelling within.

A HUGE thank you, Rodney, for taking the time to answer our questions.
We cannot count the times that we have been blessed, encouraged, spiritually challenged,
and motivated to keep pressing on for God, as we have listened to one of the songs God inspired you to write.
Your music has blessed our lives in so many ways,
and we trust God to abundantly bless you, in return.

Dear friends, please keep Rodney, his family, and the ministry of Greater Vision in your prayers,
as they travel and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ in song.

And, if you can, please take the time to listen to a few of our favorite songs written by Rodney.
I promise you will be encouraged and blessed!



If video doesn't load, click here.



If video doesn't load, click here.

I can't begin to tell you how many times I have listened to this next song.
But, no matter how many times I hear it, it never fails to bless my soul,
fill me with hope, and cause me to cry tears of joy, as I praise our amazing God!
I hope you will listen closely to these powerful words.



If video doesn't load, click here.

Praise God, there is NO problem too big for our awesome God to solve!
Keep encouraged, dear friends!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

And The Winner Is......

"Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless His holy name."
Psalm 103:1
(KJV)

I am SO excited to announce that the winning number was just randomly picked by way of a computer-generated program for our lovely, little Springtime giveaway!!!


Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,
the......winner......is.........
Commenter #2 ~
Shorty Bear!!!!!!!

CONGRATULATIONS to you, dear friend!!!!!
I am so happy for you!!!!!

Please email me privately by clicking here
then clicking "email" under the word "Contact" to provide your mailing address, 
and, Lord willing, your package of goodies will be on its way to you within the next few days!

A BIG thank you to all who entered!
Wish I had enough packages so each one of you could receive one,
as that would truly bless me beyond words!

Hopefully, we can do another giveaway someday,
and you can all try again.  ☺

I absolutely loved reading about your favorite places to pray and be alone with God!
And, thank you to all of you for your dear, kind words.
Oh, your comments do mean SO much to me!

If you get a minute, stop by sweet Shorty Bear's blog (aka Coco's Momma),
and leave her a nice congratulatory comment, too!

She is such a precious blessing to me,
and so many times she has left a comment at just the moment I needed encouragement the most.

God bless you, Shorty Bear, and God bless each one of you precious readers!
You are all so very dear to my heart.


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

On The Porch In Springtime...and a Lovely Springtime GIVEAWAY!!!

"Praise ye the LORD. Praise the LORD, O my soul."
Psalm 146:1
(KJV)

I love porches!
As you can see in the picture below, our front porch is not big...but it is plenty big enough for us.
I love going out there and spending time with the Lord.
Especially, in the springtime.


These are some of the sights I have been seeing over the past few weeks,
while sitting on our front porch, conversing with the Lord.











And, here are some lovely roses that my precious husband brought in to me
from the rose garden he has so kindly planted over the years.



They brightened the window sill over our kitchen sink for several days,
and each time I looked at them, I was reminded of how very blessed I am.
I don't have words to tell God how much I appreciate my dear husband and son
and every, single blessing He so faithfully bestows.
I am glad God doesn't look on the outward appearance, but He looks upon the heart,
because my feeble attempts of transferring gratitude into words would never be able to relay my true heart-feelings to Him.

Of course, this post would not be complete without a picture of our sweet dog, Paige,
sitting in front of these lovely azaleas.


What a pretty girl, so very loved...and spoiled!

There's a corner of our front porch that beckons to me from where I sit in our old rocking chair with peeling paint, listening to the birds sing, feeling the cool, spring, early-morning breeze upon my face.



This is what I see.
And when I see this, I am compelled to go get my laptop and write.



Being surrounded by the songbirds, listening to them praising our amazing God,
inspires me to send up a praise offering of my own...
through prayer and written words.
What could provide better inspiration?

This little corner is also a spot that beckons to Zach.
He often does his schoolwork here, with me sitting in the rocking chair nearby.
Those moments are beyond precious to me.

Remember me mentioning one of my favorite bluegrass songs ever?


If video doesn't load, click here.

My dear, sweet Mom and Dad and I used to love singing those old songs together.
Dad would play his 5 string banjo, Earl Scruggs-style, 
and I would play the guitar, and we would sing.
The bluebird song was, and forever will be, one of my favorites.
I can still hear Dad's perfect-pitch, high-lonesome tenor.

Remember when I was missing Mom and Dad even more than usual on what would have
been Mom's 88th birthday, and I wrote this post and talked about the bluebird song?

Well, it was either on that very day, or possibly the next,
that I was sitting on our front porch with the Lord, and something caught my eye.
It was flittering around in the grass, near a dandelion.
I ran and grabbed my camera and began to click away.


Be still, my heart, it turned out to be a bluebird!!!


It was as if God Himself sent this precious bluebird to our front yard.
Somehow, it made me think of Mom and Dad, and I felt comforted.

Pretty soon, it flew up to our gate post and perched there long enough for me to snap a picture.
I wish it would have turned around to face me, but this was the best shot I could get.


One day soon after that February day,
Kevin was working in the front yard, and he called to Zach and me to come and see
something he had discovered.
As he had been looking towards the maple tree, he saw two bluebirds fly out from inside this birdhouse.



We all walked over for a closer look, and lo, and behold, 
tucked neatly inside was a precious, little bluebird nest!!!


Since discovering the bluebirds, we have enjoyed watching them, day by day.
When they sense that we are too near their nest, they fly high above us and perch on this wire...

  

where they can keep their watchful eyes upon their precious babies tucked safely inside the nest they so carefully constructed for them.


Spending time on the porch in the springtime makes me happy.


So happy, that I wanted to put together a special, little giveaway for one of you!
Wish I could send every one of you this special little collection of goodies to celebrate life...
and the fact that God has spared us all to see another Spring season.  ☺

This is what one of you dear friends will win.


(I do apologize to the readers who live outside the US,
but, due to shipping costs, we will only be able to extend this offer to United States residents.
Thank you ever so much for your understanding.)

There is a cute, little, spring-colored, mirror key chain with the Scripture, 
"I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee" on it,


a lovely box that says "A Friend Loves At All Times" and inside the box is a beautiful pad of paper and pen,


(you could actually use the cover of this box as a wallhanging...it is just that pretty and sturdy)


a springy-looking coaster that says, "Miracles Happen Every Day", and gently tucked into the petals of one of the flowers at the bottom is this verse,
"May He give you the desire of your heart" Proverbs 20:4,



clean herbs-scented candle tarts and a beautiful little bar of almond-scented goat milk soap,


a "love~joy~peace" mug with a matching prayer journal and bookmark and pen,





and a purple and pink tote bag that says, "Be still and know that I am God".


If you aren't interested in winning this for yourself,
it would make a lovely Mothers Day gift, birthday gift, or "just-because" gift to recycle
and pass on to someone else!!
Or you could always keep part of it and re-gift the rest.  ☺

If you would like to enter the giveaway,
simply answer this question by leaving a comment below...
"Where is your favorite place to pray and spend time alone with God?"

Contest will be open from 8:00 PM EST, Wednesday, 4/20/2016 
to 11:00 PM EST, Sunday, 4/24/2016.
Winner will be chosen, at random, on Sunday, April 24th shortly after the giveaway ends
 and notified by email.
(I apologize, but anonymous comments will be rejected, 
since I would have no way of contacting you, should you win.)
Prize package will be mailed soon after winner is chosen.

Thanks so much for reading and entering!
God bless you, and Happy Spring to all!

Saturday, April 16, 2016

The Inner Views of Beth Willis Miller

"He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shalt thou trust: 
His truth shall be thy shield and buckler."
Psalm 91:4
(KJV)

I never cease to be amazed at the way God orchestrates, connects, and interweaves the lives of His trusting children, who are yielded to Him and His will.

The lady I am interviewing today is a fellow-blogger and Christian sister
who has blessed me abundantly through her wonderful blog,
and also through our personal email exchanges.

Some of you know her already; for some, this may be your first introduction.
All of you are in for a blessing, as you read her precious testimony.
This post is long, but oh, so worth the read!


Meet Beth Willis Miller, M.Ed., author of Name Above All Names Devotional: Focusing on 26 Alphabetical Names of Christ with illustrator Krista Hamrick; contributing author of three books: Under His Wings: Truths to Heal Adopted Children's Hearts; 21 Stories of Generosity: Real Stories to Inspire a Full Life (A Life of Generosity); A New Song: Glimpses of the Grace Journey (an anthology of essays, poems, stories and photos celebrating God's grace on life's journey); and member of AWSA, the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. Beth has a Master's degree in Education, in curriculum, instruction, and supervision. She writes articles on a variety of topics to inspire and encourage others. Her expertise as a creative and critical thinking specialist is steeped in years of experience as a writer, presenter, educator and former Florida Department of Education State Consultant for Gifted Education. Seeing others' lives transformed by the truth of God's Word is her passion and purpose. She is married with two adult children, and two adorable grandsons.

I present to you the
of wife, mom, grandmother, author, beloved child of God, overwhelmed by grace,
Beth Willis Miller, M.Ed. 

Cheryl:  We would love to hear as much about you, your past life, and current life as you would like to share.

Beth:  In many ways, it’s still a mystery...how I came to be. During a visit to Ellis Island's American Family Immigration History Center, I was delightfully surprised to be able to locate and obtain an authentic copy of the ship manifest page from the ship, Princess Irene, which brought my maternal birth grandparents, Olympio and Vincenza from their home in Scontrone, Italy, through the port of departure in Naples to Ellis Island on August 30, 1906. Just seeing their two names listed, one underneath the other, on the ship manifest page gave the mystery such a tangible basis in reality. She was only 16 years old, he was just 24, and they were on their way to live with cousins in Chicago. What compels a 16 year old girl to board a ship in Italy, facing days on the ocean in most likely uncomfortable, even dangerous, conditions for a destination yet unknown to her? Somehow she and her fiancé, Olympio, were so motivated to start a new life in a new country that they left their home in Scontrone, Italy, and traveled to New York City, eventually settling in Chicago. They married and had a daughter, Lydia, in 1911.

I met my birth mother, Lydia, in 1983, when I was 30 years old, and Lydia was 72. Lydia explained to me the circumstances of my conception, birth, and adoption. During a Memorial Day holiday get-away weekend with a gentleman in 1952, Lydia, at age 41, became pregnant with me. When she realized she was pregnant, she told the gentleman with whom she had spent the weekend, and he was unwilling to help her. Her mother, Vincenza, did not want her daughter, a single mother at age 41, to disgrace her family with an illegitimate child, so Lydia left Chicago to live with a relative in Miami, Florida. In October, around the time of Columbus Day, she went to a back-alley abortionist to abort me, but when the abortionist examined her and realized she was over four months pregnant, he told her the abortion might kill her, and he refused to do it. Lydia made arrangements with the Salvation Army hospital in Jacksonville to give me up for adoption. On Friday the 13th she gave birth to me, and signed the papers giving me up for adoption on Valentine’s Day 1953.

I believe there are no “accidents” and every conception and every birth is part of God’s Sovereign Plan. I rest and find comfort in these life verses: “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11) “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.” (Psalm 139:13-16)

My prayer, the desire of my heart is, “Lord, I want to delight in you! Center my heart in knowing you more and loving you more day by day. Help me to discover that there is fullness of joy in your presence and to take great delight in my relationship with you. May my heart desire you above everything else.” It’s been many years since I first began to pray this prayer in March 2000 after returning from my trip to Israel in which I walked beside the Sea of Galilee and on the Mount of Olives, to all the historical sites in Jerusalem, Capernaum, and Bethlehem. During this time in my study of the Scriptures, I came to a place in my life where I wanted, more than anything else, to love God more. I began to pray, “Lord, I want to delight in you!” God is so inconceivably good. He’s not looking for perfection. He already saw it in Christ. He’s looking for affection. That’s why every lasting change will invariably be a change of heart. He’ll even supply the heart, if we’ll ask him.

My daily prayer continues to this day, “Lord Jesus, give me a heart which yearns for Your Presence, a yearning for You that draws me over and over into Your Presence, a yearning that makes only a few days without time in prayer and Your Word seem like an eternity. Give me a heart which is motivated first and foremost by a desire for You, not for what You can do for me, but a yearning for Your Presence. Give me a heart that wants You more than anything else You could give, to love You and know You more than anything in life. Give me a heart that takes what You have made known to me and makes You re-known to everyone else, a heart that makes Your name and renown the desire of my heart. Give me a heart to feel Your Holy Spirit woo me once again to the place where I meet You. In the simplicity of my prayer time, give me a heart to be suddenly confronted by the majesty of my Redeemer—the One Who is responsible for any good in me. Lord, each morning, give me a heart that seeks Your forgiveness for past sins, and welcomes Your fresh mercies which fall like manna from Heaven, and once again move my heart. I surrender all. Morning after morning.”

My daily relationship with our living Lord Jesus reinforces my belief in the sovereignty of God, that nothing comes into my life that is not filtered through God's hands of love. I believe there are no “accidents.” I believe God planned who my birth parents would be and who my Mom and Dad would be, and both influences, plus His, are needed to help me become all that He created me to be. I believe that God sees the end from the beginning. He knows me intimately, He knit me together in my mother's womb, one day I will see Him face-to-face and I will know as I am known...until then, I will expect a mystery. It is His plan that’s important, not my desire. I didn't bring myself into this world, and I can’t take myself into heaven. I really don’t know what is best for me or for those I love. I ask God to make me sensitive to the reality that He is in control, and that He is using this—even this—to conform me to the image of His Son. I want that most of all. I train my mind to acknowledge God’s hand in whatever it is I'm living with. I practice words like, “I don’t know,” “I will trust,” “I can’t explain,” “I release it all,” because God is sovereign. He is the beginning, He will be the ending, and in between, by His grace, He lets us be part of His perfect plan, for His glory and for our good. In the meantime, I will expect a mystery.

Cheryl:  How did you come to know the Lord? When did you become a Christian, and what most influenced that decision? How has Jesus changed your life?

Beth:  I was adopted by loving Christian parents. I grew up in church, active in Sunday School and missions organizations. I prayed to receive Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior at the age of 10, and was baptized by immersion following my salvation. During an awe-inspiring trip to Israel in March 2000, I was baptized in the Jordan River as a recommitment of my faith. I grow closer to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ every day through prayer, worship, and the study of His Word. 

Cheryl:  Can you share with us about those who have mentored you in your Christian walk? Who has had the most influence upon you, spiritually, and what are some of the lessons they have taught you? Is there anyone you would like to give special honor to?

Beth:  My adoptive father, Eston Willis, was the most influential person in my life, spiritually. He felt called to the ministry the same year I was saved, 1963, but because he was the sole wage earner in our family, he didn’t feel he could financially afford to risk his salary as a general manager at a car dealership. He poured himself into teaching Sunday School to adults, and serving as a deacon in our local church. He would prepare his Sunday School lesson all week, and on Saturdays he would have his Matthew Henry Commentaries out studying for his lesson. One year when I was a newlywed, Daddy taught a Bible study in our home. I remember the text was Romans Chapter Eight, and every week he began the lesson by repeating several times the opening Scripture, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Even now, when regrets start to flood my heart, I hear his gentle words, and I remember once again what he taught me, that I am the righteousness of God in Christ, the blood of Christ covers all my sin—past, present, and future. I am under the new covenant in His Blood, loved unconditionally, blessed with every spiritual blessing, accepted in the Beloved Son of God, adopted as a child of the King, chosen before the foundation of the world, redeemed by Christ’s blood, forgiven by His Grace, loved with an everlasting love and underneath are the everlasting Arms of my Savior, Jesus Christ. My Daddy went home to be with Jesus in 1989, and I know I will see him again one day in heaven.

Cheryl:  What are you most passionate about, and what are the causes closest to your heart?

Beth:  Two causes I am most passionate about are children with special needs, and children who have been adopted. Adopted at four months of age, I had been an only child until my adoptive parents adopted my little brother from different biological parents when I was 12. We moved eight times in the seven years from 1961 to 1968, and although I felt greatly loved by my adoptive parents, I was reminded often that, “if there had been anything wrong with me, they could have given me back.” My empathy for children with special needs was born with that awareness. What if there had been “something wrong” with me, where would I be now? I made friends quickly in my advanced classes at Sebring High, becoming one of the editors of the school yearbook my junior year, and being elected as the first female president of the student body my senior year. At the same time, we had a sweet neighbor, Ralph Shuckford, who was an adult with developmental disabilities. I would often think as I spent time with him, “There, but for the grace of God, go I.” I led Bible studies at my church before school, and was a volunteer with a community group that planned parties and special events for mentally handicapped adults in Highlands County on the weekends. It was a natural progression when I completed two years at the community college to major in exceptional student education. I was participant in a college student group which completed the “Admitted-for-a Weekend” immersion program at the Sunland Training Center near Gainesville. I was brought in and admitted on Friday as if I was one of the mentally handicapped adults in one of the cottages with locked doors and house mothers. I was told only to observe and not speak for the weekend. On Sunday afternoon, we had a debriefing session, and I wrote my reactions to the weekend as a stream-of-consciousness term paper for my college English class. Now all these years later, after earning a BA in exceptional student education and a M.Ed. in gifted education, serving as the Florida Department of Education State Consultant for Gifted Education, in various teaching and supervisory roles in education, and as a staff liaison for a church ministry for children with special needs, the lyrics of the song, “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother,” still express the passion I feel for individuals with special needs … “The road is long, with many a winding turn that leads us to who knows where, who knows where. But I'm strong, strong enough to carry him, he ain't heavy—he's my brother. So on we go, his welfare is my concern. No burden is he to bear, we'll get there. For I know he would not encumber me, he ain't heavy—he's my brother. If I'm laden at all, I'm laden with sadness, that everyone's heart isn't filled with gladness of love for one another. It's a long, long road from which there is no return, while we're on our way to there, why not share? And the load, it doesn't weigh me down at all…he ain't heavy—he's my brother.”

As an adoptee, I found that I had stuffed many of my feelings of rejection and abandonment over the years. In 2011, I met Sherrie Eldridge, a fellow adoptee who has published many books. She asked me to join her in the publication of the book, “Under His Wings: Truths to Heal Adopted Children's Hearts.” This book provides a post-adoption growth experience for adoptees, ages 9 and upward! As adoptees read about Moses from the Bible, defensive hearts melt and adoptees realize they are just like Moses who was an adoptee, but went on to be one of the world's greatest leaders. This gives them hope and helps them to realize that there is a way to get through seemingly impossible sadness, depression, and anger. Sherrie and I wrote this introduction for the book, which explains why I am passionate about adoptees: “Ever get angry? Ever feel uncontrollable rage? Ever wonder if your level of anger is pathologic, that there's something inherently wrong with you? Ever feel like your emotions are out of proportion to the circumstances? Like us, you may weep longer and louder at stranger's funeral than the deceased person's family. Where does all this seemingly uncontrollable emotion come from? Why do many of us see life through a lens of rejection? Why do unanswered phone calls, emails, and letters spell R-E-J-E-C-T-I-O-N to us? Will we ever get over it? Why is our self-esteem not low, but non-existent? Why do we try to be like others instead of being ourselves? Do we even know who we are? Why are we afraid we'll be too much to handle and why are goodbye's so difficult? Why do we have meltdowns on birthdays when everyone is kind? Why aren't their efforts ever enough to please us? Why do many of us go from therapist to therapist and not find the help we need? Is there anybody out there who "gets it?" Can anyone hear? Yes! There are many that fit those descriptions and you will hear their voices as you read the pages in this workbook. You will discover that you're not alone. You will discover that being in their presence just one hour is better than years of therapy. Finding fellow strugglers on the journey is not enough, however. It's a huge step in the right direction toward healing, but what about our deep wounds? Wounds that we may not be able to describe? Wounds that make us feel crazy and unapproachable? Wounds like hearing we were conceived in the worst possible situation. Wounds that cloud our belief system to the point that we believe our lives are a mistake. Wounds that tell us we were never worth anything, anyway. Wounds that tell us that we deserve rejection from our first families? How can we know the reason why we've had disruptions in our families? Can we ever have peace when we've experienced such a painful past? There's only one way to find peace with a painful past and that is through a personal relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ. He alone, through His Spirit, can place a healing balm on our deep wounds. The Bible says: "You can't heal a wound by saying it's not there!" (Jeremiah 6:14 TLB). We (Beth and Sherrie) have found that in the places that hurt the most, God brings a promise from the Bible to our memory at just the right time. We have experienced comfort and growth through our growing relationship with Jesus and how we long for the same growth for you! You may be thinking, "Fine for Beth and Sherrie, but I know nothing about a personal relationship with God. I've never picked up a Bible, let alone know a verse well enough to bring it to mind." That's okay. Wherever you are in your journey is exactly where you should be and the fact that you've picked up this workbook shows that your heart wants to be healed. The Biblical account describing God as an eagle teaching his eaglets to fly is exactly the process you'll go through as you work through the chapters of the workbook. "Like an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them on its pinions." (Deut. 32: 11). Now, let's apply this verse by envisioning God as the eagle and yourself as one of the eaglets in his nest. First, he stirs up our nest by taking away the soft things in life. Losing our first family, being passed by in foster care or the orphanage, or being rejected when you finally find your birth mother. We complain to God and everyone within earshot. We don't like the pain. Why did we have to hurt like this? Why can't we have a normal childhood? Why all the chaos and change? Then, God the eagle hovers over us, showing us the magnificence of his wings--his strength, majesty, power, and sovereignty. If little eaglets could talk, they'd say, "We never knew you were so big and powerful." Notice that the eaglet's attention is drawn away from the painful nest to God's wings. Like eaglets, we want to know him more when we begin to discover his awesomeness is the pages of Scripture. After we have rested beneath his wings and allowed healing to begin, God invites us to ride on His wings, away from a painful past into an incredibly wonderful future. Are you ready to rest under his wings? Wherever you are in your journey, we are honored that we can walk with you for a while! With Love and Hugs, Sherrie and Beth”

Cheryl:  Please tell us about your new book, “Name Above All Names Devotional: Focusing on 26 Alphabetical Names of Christ.” 

Beth:  Krista Hamrick's beautiful original art print, Name Above All Names Alphabet, so inspired me that I wrote a devotional focusing on each of the 26 individual Names of Jesus Christ. Each of the 26 illustrations which Krista identified are so special, almost like stained glass windows, as Krista intricately painted each one with its Scripture reference. My heart was drawn to write a devotional word study based on the Scripture reference for each of the 26 Names. Combining the beauty of Krista's artistic excellence with my research of the Names, this devotional is perfect for individual quiet times or small group Bible studies focusing on the Name Above All Names--Jesus Christ--and His attributes and characteristics. Each of the 26 devotionals focusing on the Names of Christ closes with a practical application and personalized prayer, ending with reflections and takeaways.

Example from "King of Zion" Practical Application:

What does it mean to trust the Lord, the King of Zion? It means looking to Him as the source of our security and putting our faith in the grace, love, power, and protection of God when the inevitable pressures of life come. It means knowing as the psalmist did that as the mountains surround and protect Zion, the city of Jerusalem, God himself surrounds and shields His people. When we trust the Lord, we don't have to focus on the wicked and what they are doing or might do to us. We don't have to rehash our own woes. Even though there are problems the size of mountains facing us, we can cry out to the Lord who created the mountains and is able to move them. As we sing praises to Him, and focus on Him and His truth, He will encourage our hearts and help us to tell the nations about the great things He has done!

Example from "King of Zion" Personalized Prayer:

Lord Jesus, King of Zion, I put my trust in You today. You are my security and protection, my shield, my fortress, and my hiding place, and I sing praises to You. When enemies surround me and troubles multiply, help me to remember that You are ever faithful and that You surround and protect me, both now and forever. Thank You for the free gift of salvation, that we are justified on the basis of Your finished work on the Cross. Thank You that, right now, we are under the completely sufficient imputed righteousness of Christ. Because we have placed our trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ, we are redeemed by Your precious blood. The threat of failure, judgment, and condemnation has been removed. Knowing that God's love for us and approval of us will never be determined by our performance is the most encouraging promise to which we cling--what great things You have done! In Your mighty Name Above All Names--King of Zion, we pray, amen.

Example from "King of Zion" Reflection and Takeaways:
Look Up--meditate on Psalm 9:11
Look In--as you meditate on Psalm 9:11 pray to see how you might apply it to your life.
Look Out--as you meditate on Psalm 9:11 pray to see how you might apply it to your relationships with others.

Cheryl:  How did the book come about? What inspired you to write it? How can we purchase it?

Beth:  In the past year, I have been drawn to incorporate beautiful artwork as a focal point in my blog posts to wrap my study of Scripture and prayer around. After requesting and receiving permission from Krista Hamrick to feature her artwork on several of my blog posts in 2015, I was captured by the intricate beauty of her beautiful original art print, Name Above All Names Alphabet. My heart was drawn to write a devotional word study based on the Scripture reference for each of the 26 Alphabetical Names of Christ. Krista provided the illustrations, and we published the 144 page devotional on February 21, 2016.  It can be purchased on Amazon as a paperback or Kindle edition HERE.

Cheryl:  Have you written other books? If so, can you tell us about them and describe the events that led to the writing of them?

Beth:  I was the co-author of Under His Wings: Truths to Heal Adopted Children's Hearts with Sherrie Eldridge. Sherrie and I are both adoptees, and we were active in an on-line All Adoptee Growth Group in 2011. Sherrie asked if I would like to work with her to publish Under His Wings, and we spent a week working on it together in the summer of 2011, and then via email until we published it on Amazon in November 2011. Writing the book helped my feelings come to the surface for healing. There's only one way to find peace with a painful past and that is through a personal relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ. He alone, through His Spirit, can place a healing balm on our deep wounds. The Bible says: "You can't heal a wound by saying it's not there!" (Jeremiah 6:14 TLB). Sherrie and I both found that in the places that hurt the most, God brings a promise from the Bible to our memory at just the right time.

I was a contributing author to the book, 21 Stories of Generosity: Real Stories to Inspire a Full Life, in which my chapter was entitled “The Generosity of Adoption.” I found out about the opportunity to collaborate in this book through a local Christian Writers Group.

I was also a contributing author to the book, A New Song: Glimpses of the Grace Journey, in which my essay, “Comfort Measures Only” was published. I found out about the opportunity to collaborate in this book when I attended the Florida Christian Writers Conference.

Cheryl:  How long have you been blogging, and how did God lead you to start your blog?

Beth:  I have been writing my blog http://bethwillismiller.blogspot.com/ since 2009. I had been writing a journal all my life, since I was in high school. I started by writing about subjects I had been familiar with in previous careers. I also posted the photos and my journals from an awe-inspiring trip to Israel in March 2000 for the filming of Beth Moore’s Bible study, Jesus the One and Only.

Cheryl:  Can you name at least one childhood dream that God has fulfilled in your life?

Beth:  I never remember having any specific childhood dreams, but I always thought of myself as a writer, writing for school newspapers beginning in 5th grade throughout high school, and writing as a part of nearly every career I had, including writing very successful grant proposals. In many ways, the writing I am doing now is the culmination of all those childhood and young adulthood passions.

Cheryl:  We are living in the perilous times prophesied about in the Bible. How do you stay encouraged in these dark days? What are your favorite Scriptures to turn to for support and motivation to continue in the fight against wrong? What words of comfort would you like to offer those who may be struggling with discouragement and despair?

Beth:  During these dark days, I stay encouraged by praying God’s Word, these are my favorite Scriptures, which are my words of comfort for anyone struggling with discouragement and despair:

When you feel rejected, God says: You are ACCEPTED
"According to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. (Eph. 1:5-6)

When you feel abandoned, God says: You are ADOPTED
“Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will. (Eph. 1:4-5)

When you feel betrayed, God says: You are BLESSED
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” (Eph. 1:3)

When you feel inadequate, God says: You are CHOSEN
“You are my witnesses,’ declares the Lord, ‘and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he” (Isa. 43:10). “Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him.” (Eph. 1:4)

When you feel afraid, God says: You are REDEEMED
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are Mine” (Isa. 43:1).

When you feel condemned, God says: You are FORGIVEN
“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us.” (Eph. 1:7-8)

When you feel forgotten, God says: You are REMEMBERED
“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of My hands.” (Isa. 49:15-16)

When you feel insecure, God says: You are SECURE
“Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in Him, for He shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between His shoulders” (Deut. 33:12).

When you feel worthless, God says: You are CALLED
“You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of the darkness into His wonderful light” (1 Pet. 2:9)

When you feel unloved, God says: You are PRECIOUS, and I LOVE YOU
“You are precious and honored in My sight, and . . . I love you” (Isa. 43:4). "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16)

When you feel unable or unstable, God says: YOU ARE ABLE
“The Lord God is my Strength, my personal bravery, and my invincible army; He makes my feet like hinds’ feet and will make me to walk [not to stand still in terror, but to walk] and make [spiritual] progress upon my high places [of trouble, suffering, or responsibility]!” (Hab. 3:19).

When you feel it’s impossible, God says: ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE
"Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God” (Luke 18:27)

When you feel exhausted, God says: I WILL GIVE YOU REST
Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to Me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with Me and work with Me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with Me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

When you feel you can’t go on, God says: MY GRACE IS SUFFICIENT
"But He said to me, My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and show themselves most effective in [your] weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

When you feel you don’t know what to do, God says: I WILL DIRECT YOUR STEPS
"Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths." (Proverbs 3:5-6)

When you feel you can’t go on, God says: YOU CAN DO ALL THINGS
"For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength." (Philippians 4:13)

When you feel it’s not worth it, God says: IT WILL BE WORTH IT
"We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them." (Romans 8:28)

When you feel you can’t forgive yourself, God says: I FORGIVE YOU
"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9)

When you feel you can’t manage, God says: I WILL SUPPLY ALL YOUR NEEDS
"God will liberally supply (fill to the full) your every need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:19)

When you feel worried and frustrated, God says: CAST YOUR CARE ON ME
"Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully.”(1 Peter 5:7)

When you don’t know what to do, God says: I WILL GIVE YOU WISDOM
"If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (James 1:5)

When you feel all alone, God says: I WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU OR FORSAKE YOU
"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)

As I pray God’s Word, fear, doubt, and discouragement leave and His peace renews my heart and mind. As I experience His peace, I recognize when I have been held captive by controlling thoughts. As I stand in agreement with God, saying the same thing God says about my specific thoughts, I see the lies I have believed as wallpaper in my mind. I ask God to help me tear down the lies wallpapering my mind and re-wallpaper my mind with the Truth of God’s Word...to starve the flesh and feed the Spirit. I ask God to help me see situations in my life the way He sees them. The more I see the way God sees, I become saturated with the favor of God, seeing His view of me through the blood of Christ, I become favor-minded, re-wallpapering my mind with Truth.

Cheryl:  How can we pray for you? Are there particular burdens upon your heart that we can help to carry to the Father?

Beth:  Thank you so much, Cheryl. I know you are a prayer warrior. I would just ask you to pray that regarding promotion of , “Name Above All Names Devotional: Focusing on 26 Alphabetical Names of Christ,” all glory and honor and praise would go directly to our Savior, Jesus Christ—the Name Above All Names—from Whom ALL blessings flow.

You may follow and connect with Beth in the following ways:
God bless you, Beth, for sharing your wonderful testimony with us here!
I know it will bless others, as it has indeed blessed me.

As Beth and I have corresponded back and forth, sharing with one another,
she sent two links to articles she has written that have been especially helpful in the trials my family and I are now walking through. 
I want to share them with you here, in hopes that you can find the time to read them.
You will be abundantly blessed.

Beth so kindly sent me a copy of her book to read.
I am currently reading
"Name Above All Names Devotional: Focusing on 26 Alphabetical Names of Christ",
and I am enjoying it so very much.


It is reminding me of the glorious power of our dear Lord Jesus and everything He is to me.
When we say He is our "all in all", do we realize the depths of the truth of that statement?
Beth writes about and Krista illustrates 26 of the names of Christ that prove, once again,
that He is every, single thing you and I will ever need in this world and in the world to come.
Jesus, our Lord and Master, is everything we need!
Besides the beauty of Beth's writing and Krista's drawings,
I love that, at the end of every few chapters, there is a lovely blank page to record notes,
Beth included a lot of commentary from other authors,
but truly the parts I am enjoying the most are the parts that she herself wrote towards the ends of almost every chapter.

You may order your own copy of the book HERE!

Thanks for reading, and may God bless all of you dear readers!

To read previous

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Esther's Clarion Call

"Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed.
The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much."
James 5:16
(KJV)


Clarion Call 
Definition:
"A strongly expressed demand or request for action"

"Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish."
Esther 4:16

On February 22nd, God called me into a time of intense, intercessory prayer.
I talked about it here and asked you to join me.

Today is day #52, dear friends.
Day. Number. 52.
I never dreamed it would go on this long, 
but, here I am, still interceding.
Still pleading.
Still believing that there is hope in God to turn this nation around...
to hear and answer the heavy requests and to lift the burdens that are upon my heart.

We have seen some results, praise God, and I talk about some of them in detail below.
Some mysteries still remain and keep us seeking after His heart more than ever.

You know, as I have been walking through this "baptism of anguish" that David Wilkerson
describes in this sermon, I have come to realize more than ever before that there truly is a distinct difference between "praying" and "seeking God's face".

If there were not a difference, God would not have required two distinct steps in 2 Chronicles 7:14.

"If My people, which are called by My name, 
shall humble themselves, 
and pray, 
and seek My face, 
and turn from their wicked ways; 
then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

God mentions FOUR steps that we are to take in order for Him to hear from Heaven,
forgive our sin, and heal our land.

(I was led to delve into this more in the "A Spoiled Church" series.
If you care to read, here are the links...

In this current season of spiritual anguish, God is taking me to new and before-undiscovered
places and depths of both prayer and of seeking His face.

This Scripture is steadily staying on my mind,
"And ye shall seek Me, and find Me, when ye shall search for Me with all your heart."
Jeremiah 29:13

God is looking for whole-heartedness in our searching.
The thing that touches His heart, and the time He promises to reveal Himself
is when He sees that we are holding nothing back from Him...
that we desire Him with every fiber of our being...
that we are determined to find Him no matter what or how long it takes.

We, as Christians, love to quote the verse that is found two verses before Jeremiah 29:13.
In recent years, Jeremiah 29:11 has become one of the most popular and most frequently spoken about Bible verses.
I see it everywhere....
on plaques, greeting cards, wallet cards, journals, blog posts, t-shirts, Bible covers,
posters, you name it.
It is absolutely one of my favorites, and I lean heavily upon its truth.
It gives me hope when the enemy paints such black pictures as I look ahead,
and its words sustain me when I am grasping for the promise of a brighter tomorrow.
I absolutely love Jeremiah 29:11.
But, to get the whole picture of what God is saying and in order to not take His message out of context, we need to read the surrounding verses, too.
His children were in bondage, in a land that was not their rightful home.
I cannot imagine how desperate and God-forsaken they felt when they got this message from God.
These words were being spoken to those who were being held captive in a foreign land,
and God promised them in the verse above Jeremiah 29:11 that they would be released from their captivity and brought back home to their native land after 70 years.
He then went on to speak the words we have all come to know and love so well in verse 11,
"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, 
thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end."
But, that wasn't the end of the story, and, again, we need to keep reading.
Yes, God thought peaceful thoughts about His people, and He wanted to give them the end they had come to expect from Him, but He went on to tell them that in order for His plans to come about, there was something the people had to do.
They had a role and personal responsibility in the unfolding of God's plans for their lives.
Let's read on to verses 12 and 13.
"Then shall ye call upon Me, and ye shall go and pray unto Me, and I will hearken unto you.
And ye shall seek Me, and find Me, when ye shall search for Me with all your heart."

There is that distinction between praying and seeking again.

Before their great deliverance could come, the captivated Israelites had to pray,
and they had to seek for God with all their hearts.

Anyone who has been reading these devotions for long at all will know of the weighty burden that I carry for our nation and the current spiritual conditions.
The moral decline, disregard for God's Word, and pervading spirit of anti-God and anti-Christ are realities that lay heavy upon my heart night and day.

I feel like, as Christians, we have a personal responsibility.
Perhaps we have or have not, personally caused or contributed to the debauched state of our nation.
Whether we have or have not is not really relevant, at this point.
Pointing fingers and refusing to take the blame does nothing to remedy the situation.
Every, single one of us will be held accountable for what we do about what is going on.
We can bury our heads in the sand, pretend it is not happening, hit the snooze button, roll over, and go back into our delusional state of spiritual slumber, if that is what we choose to do.
Or we can shake off the apathy, complacency, and downright laziness,
wipe the spiritual sleep out of our eyes, and force ourselves to come wide awake and own our personal responsibility in solving the problem.

God promised that when we go and pray, He will hearken unto us.
He said that we would find Him when we search for Him with all our hearts.

I mentioned above that He is already answering prayer.
Praise God forevermore, we are seeing Him answer prayer.
To provide visible proof that He is hearing and answering,
I'll cite two examples.

Example #1 of answered prayer
Governor Pat McCrory in NC called a special session of the General Assembly 
for the sole purpose of overthrowing the dangerous "bathroom bill",
that would have allowed men and boys who "identify themselves as women and girls" 
to walk into women's and girls' restrooms, showers, and locker rooms, freely and at will.
Because of his stand for right and what is just plain common sense, 
and because HB 2 was passed into law to protect the precious children and women of NC,
Governor McCrory is being bombarded with much persecution
and backlash from those who support and have promoted this evil agenda.
Why not take a moment to write a note of support and thanks to Governor McCrory by clicking HERE and to Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest by clicking HERE?
These men are an answer to our prayers.
God, please bless them abundantly, pour out Your protection, love, and kindness upon them,
and keep them and their families safe and strong in You.

Please keep Governor McCrory in your prayers, as he has been battling a viral infection for the past four weeks.
I cannot even imagine the level of stress he has been under,
and we all know how profoundly stress can affect one's health.
Pray that he will continue to stand firm and not cower to the pressure of those who are bullying him.
Pray that he will win the lawsuit being waged against him.
Pray that GOD'S Word will continue to be defended in NC.
There are many prayer vigils being held in NC for Governor McCrory and NC's leaders.
It is a beautiful thing to behold.
You can keep up with them HERE.

Example #2 of answered prayer
Governor Phil Bryant in MS signed HB 1523 into law, 
so that Christians and pastors will be protected in the state of Mississippi.
Praise God for this huge victory for His people.
This is a major answer to prayer, and how grateful I am that God is raising up men in government 
who will not back down from doing what is right, even when the price for standing firm is higher than it has ever been in our Christian nation.
Why not drop Governor Bryant a note of profound thanks and support by clicking HERE?
Please keep Governor Phil Bryant in your prayers that God will keep him strong,
regardless what opposition he may face.

(On a sad side-note, Nathan Deal, the governor of GA, had a similar opportunity to protect Christian pastors in GA, after HB 757 unanimously passed the GA House (161-0), then went on to pass the Senate by 38-14.
Though this bill was passed by such an overwhelming margin in both the House and the Senate, 
Governor Deal chose to override the will of the people and leaders of GA and to succumb to the bullying of big business instead.
He made the choice to veto the law, thus leaving Christians and pastors in GA unprotected by man's law, but, praise God, man's law and protection will never trump His.)

There are prayers that we are seeing answered in our personal lives, also,
and for each one, we praise God from the bottom of our hearts.

How long will this intercession last?
When, if ever, will my heart feel relieved of this burden?
I cannot say.
I can't understand or predict God's plan.
He is in control.
My role is to be obedient.
To keep praying.
To persevere.

I admit, there have been nights throughout the course of these 52 days, that I have been utterly exhausted, and it has literally taken everything I had in me to fervently pray.
In the course of this, many things have happened in our lives that have made the continuation of this endeavor difficult, including the death of my dear Uncle John and the subsequent long-distance travel to and from his funeral.
In order to remain faithful to this call, we have prayed in some unlikely, somewhat unorthodox places!
At one point, God added an ongoing burden to add fasting during particular time periods.
In Mark 9:29, Jesus said, "This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting."
There are just certain burdens that are that heavy to move.
There are just certain mountains that are that big to shift.

I want to be faithful to Him and whatever it is that He is requiring of me.
Though I have been a prayer warrior for many years,
the spiritual warfare in which I am now engaged far surpasses all previous battles.

Sometimes, I feel like I was born way past my time.
My old-fashioned ideas and anguish over unGodliness is so completely out of sync with what is "accepted" in today's world.
I feel like I should have been born in the early 1900's, in the 1800's, or before.
Why now, when things are so opposite the way I believe?
Then, I think of Esther and how God strategically placed her in a position and time 
for the sole purpose of interceding for her people.

Perhaps you and I, as Esther in her day, were brought to the kingdom 
for such a time as this.
(Esther 4:14)

We have no control over when we are born.
God had a plan in place for each one of us when He allowed us to be conceived in our mothers' wombs.
He makes no mistakes.

Esther's purpose was to call for fasting and prayer,
to enter into the throne room of the King,
and to present an urgent petition to him for the saving of her people.

She did so at great personal risk.
No one was to approach the king's throne, without having been formally invited.
The cause of saving her people was greater than Esther's fear.
"If I perish, I perish", she said.

Do you see the correlation....between Esther....and us?

Dear Lord, help us to be faithful to our charge.
Esther's torch has been passed to us.
Will we find strength enough to carry it?

This is not an exaggeration, nor am I being overly-dramatic.
My heart is broken...and heavily burdened, because morality is in ruins.
Our nation is in great peril.
God's people are being persecuted, demonized, and ostracized on American soil.
Need I remind you again that likely the most crucial presidential election in the history of the United States of America is happening in around 7 months?
And lest we forget, let me reiterate once more that the person elected to be our next president
will more than likely choose up to 3, maybe even 4, lifetime-appointed Supreme Court Justices.

Names of presidential candidates cast aside, 
the most important thing you and I can do right now is pray and seek God's face like never before.

I present to you a clarion call, dear friends.
I implore you to pray...to intercede on behalf of our nation,
our precious children, our families, and the generations following after us.
I ask you to consider adding fasting to your prayers, as God leads.

Prayer is our most powerful weapon in the war against evil.
We must wield it...boldly, unashamedly, and courageously.
God is looking for those who will stand in the gap...as Esther stood.
"And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before Me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none."
Ezekiel 22:30

May it not be said, in our time, that God found NONE who would do what it takes to make up the hedge and stand in the gap before Him for this land that He should not destroy it!

Mom and Dad gave me the middle name of Esther...
perhaps that is why I have always felt such a connection to her
and her story has always challenged me so much.

May I rise to her challenge and ever live up to my name!
Will you join me?
To read other similar posts, click the following links:
A Praying Mother's Reward
What If I Don't Pray?