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He Touched Me!

Early in the morning I stumbled toward the well to draw water, just as I did every morning.  It was a long walk, made longer because my legs didn't work so well. The sun had not yet peaked over the crest of the mountain to the East to spill her sunlight into our sleepy little village.  I was glad to be walking in the half-light of dawn, because that meant fewer people would see me - gawk at me, the crippled girl.

My legs used to be strong. I used to run with the other kids in the dusty streets of Philippi, but I haven't been able to do that since Papa's mule kicked me.  It took a long time for me just to be able to limp along and even longer to be able to help Mama with simple tasks like fetching water. I was glad to be useful again, but still terribly embarrassed by the clumsy way I walked.

As I neared the well, I saw a man, all alone. He was kneeling near the well, praying. I stopped a ways off, so as not to disturb him, but he must have heard my feet scuffling along in the dirt because he turned and smiled at me.

"Good morning, Sara," he said, motioning for me to come closer.
"You know me, sir?" I asked.
"Yes, child, I know you." he said, then he asked me to draw water that he might have a drink.

As I lowered my vessel into the well, the man spoke again.
"Sara, I see you limp, does it hurt?"

I nodded as I drew the vessel back to the top again. "Yes, it hurts, but my father says that there is a man named Jesus, who can touch me and make me well again. We have heard that he is coming to our village soon."

"Do you believe this man can heal you, Sara?" he asked.

I hesitated.  I wanted to say yes, that I believed it with all my heart, but the truth is, that I just didn't know if any man could heal a person just by touching them. "I want to believe," I said. "I hope he can."

"Sara, I am Jesus," he said.

There was something about the way he said his name that caused my heart to jump in my chest.

"You are the man sent from God?" I asked.

He nodded.

"I am," he said and again my heart leapt.

"Can you really heal me?" I asked.

Again he nodded and this time he reached out and put his hand on my shoulder, then raising his eyes to heaven he said, "Father, bless this child with health that she might be your witness in Philippi."

With that, a warmth moved through my body, moving from where his hand rested on my shoulder downward to my legs and feet. I heard or felt (I'm not sure which) a popping and stretching and then the pain was gone. My bent leg was straight again. The funny thing is that I hardly noticed the newness of my legs until he removed his hand, for I was mesmerized by the way he looked at me.

"Sara," he said in the most loving voice I had ever heard, "You are healed, go and tell your family, tell everyone you know that today God has touched you and tell them that I am coming."

Before I knew it I was running, yes, running! Straight and strong and fast! I ran all the way through the village, passing several women on their way to the well. They stopped to stare, but I didn't mind. I kept laughing and running all the way back to my house.

I had completely forgotten about the water and had left our jar sitting near the well, but I didn't get in trouble, because when Mama and Papa saw me running towards them, they were so happy they cried!

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(Copyright© 2011 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

I'm Feelin' Blue

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
   Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
   for I will yet praise him,
   my Savior and my God.
Psalm 42:5

Oh, I just hate days like this when I feel blue for absolutely no reason. What? You thought Christians didn't have those kind of days? Sorry to disappoint you, but we have them, too.  In fact if you read through your Bible, you will find that many of the pillars of the Old Testament and New Testament went through times when their spirits were low, too.

It's nothing to worry about. Just because I'm feeling blue doesn't mean my faith is weak or that God has let me down. No matter how I feel, I know that very soon my feelings will catch back up to the Truth - that God is still the Lord over all my life and that He has great plans for my future.

So, even when I am down, I will put my hope in God and I will take time to praise Him for He is worthy to be praised no matter how I am feeling.

Prayer:
Father, I praise you, even when my spirit is downcast, for you are worthy, you are loving and kind, you are my protector, my provider and my hope for the future. I love you with all my heart. Amen
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(Copyright© 2011 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

The Unfathomable Mystery

(Jesus speaking) "And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you...On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you...Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them." John 14:16,17,20,23 (NIV)

No matter how much I contemplate it, I can not fathom the truth that the God of the universe lives in me and that I am in Him.  It's a mystery too wonderful for me to comprehend, and yet, I believe it with my whole heart!

Some days I can sense His presence and other days I can not, but regardless of what I sense, or what I feel, the truth is that He is within me, guiding me, counseling me, changing me, protecting me, loving me and working through me to love and reach out to others.

What a profound and wonderful life this is!

Prayer:
Father, thank you for the saving grace of Jesus Christ, by whose sacrifice I am forgiven and adopted into the family of God, indwelt by your Holy Spirit, living with the promise of an eternity spent with you. Thank you for living in me. I submit myself to you once again. Use me to be your hands extended to those you have placed around me. Help me to show them all the love you have for them. In Jesus' name, Amen.

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(Copyright© 2011 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

The Day the Cross Became Real to Me

"They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand. Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said. They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again."  Matthew 27:28-30 (NIV)

Several years ago we attended an evening Easter service at our church. It was a reinactment of the the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

I was delighted to be seated on the aisle seat so that I had a perfect view. At one point in the play, "Jesus" carried a large wooden cross down the center aisle. He was followed by two Roman soldiers who where beating his already bloodied back with whips. (They were actually hitting the wooden cross with the whips, not the actor.) The room was dark, the makeup and the sound of the whips cracking and hitting the cross made it all seemed very real.

As they reached the place where I was sitting, tears were streaming down my face at the thought of what Jesus had to endure to so that I might be forgiven. Just then one of the soldiers raised his whip and struck the cross again, but they were so close to where I was sitting that the end of the leather strap whipped back and hit me on the arm. It hurt - really hurt, and I realized the pain I felt could not even begin to compare the pain and suffering that Jesus took upon himself in order to bring salvation to us.

From that day forward, every Easter reminds me of His incredible love for us - and all because I got just a tiny, tiny taste of what He went through that day.

Prayer:
Father, it was your incredible love for mankind that caused you to send Jesus, your only Son to earth, to live as a man, to set a perfect example, then to be crucified for our sins that we might receive forgiveness and have a renewed relationship with you. As we remember His incredible sacrifice, may our hearts be humbled and may we reach out to Him and invite Him to come into our hearts and be our Lord and Savior forever. Amen
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(Copyright© 2011 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

We have a winner!

Yeah - I just made it to the 25 followers mark on this blog!  Had my husband draw a name at random and he picked DEBBIE SUMSTAD PETRAS.

Debbie has a great blog called Heart Choices. Drop over and pay her a visit sometime. You'll be glad you did!

I'll be sending out a copy of Heaven is For Real by Todd Burpo.  It's an awesome book. If you haven't read it, you should pick up a copy. Very inspiring.

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(Copyright© 2011 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Wait for it...............

"For the vision is yet for an appointed time and it hastens to the end [fulfillment]; it will not deceive or disappoint. Though it tarry, wait [earnestly] for it, because it will surely come; it will not be behindhand on its appointed day."  Habakkuk 2:3 (AMP)

I hate waiting. Ok, hate is a strong word. Maybe I should say that I'm not very good at waiting...because I HATE IT!

I remember as a child, several promises that were made that never materialized.  Some were promised rewards if I put in some hard word, but the reward was never given. Some were promises of fun times, but when the time came, there wasn't enough money and some were promises that "it" would never happen again...but it did.

Either way, I would spend hours, days, weeks looking forward to receiving what was promised. Those were exciting times at first. The hope of receiving, the anticipation made each task or day exhilarating, but as time went by and promises were broken, those days of exhilaration turned into anxiety. Would I receive what I had been promised or would my hopes be dashed again.

I felt a little like Charlie Brown - hoping that Lucy wouldn't snatch the football away at the last moment.

All that angst has faded, but occasionally, it rises up in me again.  Will the reward come? Can I trust the one who promised? Will unforeseen circumstances change things?

Thank God I can count on every promise made in God's Word! I can read each one and let myself get excited about it.  I can look forward with excitement, knowing that He will never change His mind, that His promises will always be kept...even if I have to wait longer than I expected, they will always be fulfilled!

Prayer:
Thank your, Heavenly Father, that we can always be sure of your promises, though they tarry, we will wait for them, for you do not lie.  If you promised it, you will bring it to pass. Thank you. Amen
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(Copyright© 2011 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Show them how much you care.

"Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective." James 5:18 (NIV)

I've been experiencing an ongoing medical condition for which the doctors say there is no cure and very little to be done in the way of treatment. It's painful and depressing at times, so when someone tells me they are praying for me, I am extremely grateful.

Recently God has been leading me to read several books on prayer; Intercessory Prayer by Dutch Sheets, The Power of a Praying Woman and The Power of Praying Together - both by Stormie Omartian, and now I'm reading Prayer by Richard J. Foster.

After reading these books, I find I have a richer prayer life than I've had in my 33+ years of following Christ and I've come to realize that the most effective and most loving thing I can do for another person is to pray for them.

Richard J. Foster puts it this way…"If we truly love people, we will desire for them far more than it is within our power to give them, and this will lead us to prayer. Intercession is a way of loving others." (Richard J. Foster - Prayer)

Even my friend, who is an atheist thanks me when I tell him I am praying for him. He says it's because he knows that I believe prayer will help him and he takes it as a sign that I care what happens to him…even though he doesn't believe in God or that there is any merit to prayer.

So, how much time do you spend praying for others?

Prayer:
Father, thank you for the power of prayer and for the privilege of coming to you not only for our own needs, but for the needs of those we love. Bring to mind those who are in need of praying and help us to be consistent in lifting up the needs of others to you. We thank you, now for the answers we will see in the coming days.

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(Copyright© 2011 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

For the Sake of Argument

"And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth."  2 Timothy 2:24-25 (NIV) 

Have you ever run into those people who enjoy making a debate out of everything?  They will play the devil's advocate on every issue just for the sake of argument.  They may not even believe the stance they're taking on the topic at hand, but enjoy the debate so much that they're willing to flip-flop just to keep things going.

They're usually not interested in coming to a solid and truthful conclusion - they just want to debate.  They drive me crazy!

As Christians, I hope that none of us allow ourselves to be pulled into these pointless arguments.  If we are careful to listen to the Holy Spirit, we will be able to discern when someone is truly interested in an honest discussion or when they just want to argue every side of an issue.

We must always be ready to give an answer for our faith...

"Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect," 1 Peter 3:15 (NIV)

 ...but we don't have to feel obligated to engage in pointless arguments with someone who is not truly interested in discussing God.  Let the Spirit lead you, speak kindly in hopes that God will open their minds, but at the point it just becomes an argument - feel free to politely walk away.

Prayer:
Father, thank you for friends who are truly seeking answers. Give us the right words at the right time to point the way to Christ. Help us also to recognize those who just want to pull us into senseless arguments and show us a way to politely excuse ourselves from the debate. Amen

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(Copyright© 2011 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

The Voice of Truth

"Guide me in your truth, and teach me, my God, my Savior. I trust you all day long." Psalm 25:5 (NCV)

As a non-fiction writer, attempting to write my first novel, I sometimes catch myself wondering what makes me think I can write a novel good enough to compete with thousands of other novels vying for the attention of agents and publishers these days.

From what I've read, only about 10% of queries or submissions ever make it into print; 10 in 1000 books. Those odds alone are enough to make you wonder if it's worth pouring your heart and soul...not to mention hours and hours of your life into writing a book.

In spite of the odds, I am convinced that if God has placed within you the ability to write and if you cultivate that ability by learning your trade and if you persevere at your craft, you will be published. If you feel God prompting you to write a book, write it - I did and my book was published by the first publisher I approached. (You can read how it happened HERE.)

So, the next time you doubt your calling to write, don't listen to all the statistics or the nay-sayers that tell you it's next to impossible to get published these days, instead, listen to the Voice of Truth!



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(Copyright© 2011 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Make Your Own Kind of Music!

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well."  Psalm 139:14 (NIV)

A mockingbird sat in the tree just outside my window this morning, singing his little heart out. I was amazed by the many different sounds he could make.  When I lived in Ohio, I had bird feeders at my windows and quickly learned to recognize different species by their calls. I could usually tell which birds were at the feeder before looking.

As I listened to the serenade outside my window this morning, I didn't know whether to feel sad because the mockingbird had no song of his own and had to imitate the sounds of other birds or awed that this articulate bird could speak so many different languages.

The books say that male mockingbirds sing the loudest and that males without mates often sing into the night. (Resisting the urge to make a snide comment here) A male mocking bird is able to learn up to 200 songs and has even been known to imitate the sounds of barking dogs, sirens and crying babies. (still resisting the urge)

I feel sad for the mockingbird. It's so lonely and has to imitate the songs of other birds in an effort to attract a mate. 

I've known people who are like mockingbirds. They are so lonely that they will disguise who they really are and take on the persona of the kind of person they think others want them to be in order to attract companionship.

Since we are fearfully and wonderfully made by God, shouldn't we be who He has created to be?

Prayer:
Father, thank you for making each one of uniquely wonderful. Help us to stand proud and be who we truly are, secure in the knowledge that you love us and that you will bring others into our lives that are attracted to us for who we are, not for who we pretend to be. Amen (and please bring a mate for that poor little mockingbird outside my window.)

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(Copyright© 2011 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Mindreaders - real or hoax?


"Lord, you have examined me and know all about me. You know when I sit down and when I get up. You know my thoughts before I think them.  You know where I go and where I lie down. You know everything I do. " Psalm 139:1-3 (NIV)

Mindreaders - real or hoax?

I'm sure you've seen those TV shows or Vegas acts where they claim to be able to read people's minds. They seem to know things about their subject that they just couldn't know unless they're actually reading their minds. Fortunately, these performers have been exposed so many times that most people don't buy into the whole mind reading hoax, but let's bring this subject a little closer to home.

Can you read minds? Can those around you read your mind?

Bunk, you say? Then why is it that people often assume that they know what someone else is thinking? And why is it that we often assume that they are thinking something bad?

I'm sure it's happened to you. You're having a discussion with someone...maybe we should call it a disagreement and the person accuses you of thinking something that has never crossed your mind. Or maybe it was you who accused the other person,  "I know what you're thinking!"

In fact we can put ourselves in the place of playing mindreader without even talking with the person. You know, those imaginary discussions you have with other in your head...the ones where you supply the dialogue for the both of you?

We don't like it when people assume that they know what we are thinking, so let's not do that to others.

There is One, however, who can read our every thought, feel exactly what we are feeling and even know what we are going to do before we do it. He is loving and kind and has our best interests at heart. He is all knowing, full of wisdom and is willing to share that knowledge with us.  Now, there's a mind worth reading!

Prayer:
Father, help us to refrain from assuming the thoughts of others, because that often leads to misunderstandings. If we are to read anyone's mind, let it be the mind of Christ as laid out in your Word. Let us receive wisdom and guidance from your Holy Spirit as He gives us insight into what you think and how you feel about us. And Lord, keep us ever mindful that you are reading our thoughts and that you know the intents of our hearts. May they be pleasing to you, O God. Amen

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(Copyright© 2011 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Want to change things in Washington DC?

photo courtesy slonecker, rgbstock.com
"Pray for rulers and for all who have authority so that we can have quiet and peaceful lives full of worship and respect for God." 1 Timothy 2:2 (NCV)


I turn on the evening news and just shake my head in amazement or is it in dismay? There must be some mind altering substance in the drinking water in our nation's capital.

It seems to attack the memory first because most of those politicians we voted into office have forgotten their campaign promises. Next, it affects the ability to tell the truth and finally, it zaps the common sense right out of a person. At least that's the only explaination I can come up with for the crazy goings on in Washington these days.

I am so glad that God told us to pray for our rulers and those in authority over us, because that means that He wants to get involved. He wants to influence the decisions made on our behalf so that we can live quiet and peaceful lives.  So why isn't that happening?  Why are those crazy politicians messing everything up so badly?

Perhaps it's because we are too busy complaining about them to pray for them.

Prayer:
Father, you see the condition our country is in - the decisions being made on Capitol Hill that affect our economy, our security, our health....standard of living. There are many good decisions being made, but it seems that there are many more poor decisions being made. We can't possibly know all the details, but you do.  You have commanded us to pray for our rulers and those in authority - please help us to remember to do that so that you might influence their decisions.  We ask you now to help our politicians and law-makers to make wise decisions on our behalf that we might live quiet and peaceful lives. We declare once again, "In God We Trust!" Amen

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(Copyright© 2011 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Waking Up to the Good Stuff

“Your words are what sustain me. They bring me great joy and are my heart’s delight.” Jeremiah 15:16 (NLT)

 
I've developed a habit each morning of starting the day with a good cup of coffee and the Word of God.

When I first started, I had to force myself to go to my bedroom, sit in my comfy chair and pick up my Bible. (The coffee was no problem.)  I always enjoyed my time with God in the morning, but just making the time to sit down and read seemed hard.

Now-a-days, I look eagerly forward to starting each day curled up in that chair with my Bible in my lap. I read until a verse hits home, then I copy it down on a 3 X 5 card and carry it with me throughout the day. I take time to pray after reading each morning and then go about my day knowing that God is with me no matter what the day brings.

If I happen to skip a day for whatever reason, I really miss it because this has come to be such a cherished moment in my day.

If you don't already have a regular time of Bible reading and prayer, do yourself a favor and start one. It will bless you to no end and will move you into a natural, steady growth in your spiritual life.

Prayer:
Father, your words do sustain us and bring us great joy. Time spent with you is precious and is a perfect way to start the day. As we withdraw to a special place and make time in our day for You, make us aware of your presence and lead us through your word and then through our day. Amen


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(Copyright© 2011 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Make a list!

"Praise the LORD, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefits— " Psalm 103:1-2 (NIV)

Why is it that psychiatrists/psychologists want you to dig around in your past and bring up every bad thing that ever happened to you in order to explain why your life is a mess right now?  Does it make you feel better or worse?

Wouldn't it be better if they sat you down with a piece of paper and a pen and told you to write down every good thing that's ever happened to you - every blessing you've had in the past and every blessing you have in your life right this minute.

You may still have problems to work through, but you would be starting from a much more positive place than the other way around.

While reading Psalm 103 today, I realized that this is exactly what the Psalmist did. He reminded himself to praise the Lord from his the deepest part of his soul and reminded himself not to forget all the Lord's benefits (blessings), then he began to make a list of those blessings.

Here, read it for yourself, then go grab a piece of paper and pen and make your own list. I promise it will make you feel better!

Psalm 103


1 Praise the LORD, my soul;
   all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
2 Praise the LORD, my soul,
   and forget not all his benefits—
3 who forgives all your sins
   and heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit
   and crowns you with love and compassion,
5 who satisfies your desires with good things
   so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
 6 The LORD works righteousness
   and justice for all the oppressed.
 7 He made known his ways to Moses,
   his deeds to the people of Israel:
8 The LORD is compassionate and gracious,
   slow to anger, abounding in love.
9 He will not always accuse,
   nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
   or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
   so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
   so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
 13 As a father has compassion on his children,
   so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;
14 for he knows how we are formed,
   he remembers that we are dust.
15 The life of mortals is like grass,
   they flourish like a flower of the field;
16 the wind blows over it and it is gone,
   and its place remembers it no more.
17 But from everlasting to everlasting
   the LORD’s love is with those who fear him,
   and his righteousness with their children’s children—
18 with those who keep his covenant
   and remember to obey his precepts.
 19 The LORD has established his throne in heaven,
   and his kingdom rules over all.
 20 Praise the LORD, you his angels,
   you mighty ones who do his bidding,
   who obey his word.
21 Praise the LORD, all his heavenly hosts,
   you his servants who do his will.
22 Praise the LORD, all his works
   everywhere in his dominion.
   Praise the LORD, my soul.

Prayer:
Father, help us to remember to focus on you and the many blessings you pour out each day, rather than on our problems. Help us to remember that you are in control and that you will bring us out on the other side of each problem victoriously and that you will give us peace and joy as we go through it, holding tightly to your hand. Amen

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(Copyright© 2011 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Thunderstorms and Wimpy Dogs

"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. " Isaiah 41:10 (NIV)

We had a short, but beautiful thunder storm tonight. My husband and I sat on the porch watching lightening streak across the sky and counting the seconds before we heard the thunder.  My Dad always said that if you begin counting as soon as you see the lightning, whatever number you stopped on, that's how many miles away the storm is.  He was probably making it up, but I still like to do it.

Our dogs Max and Oliver came out on the porch to watch, but ran back inside the house everytime they saw the lightening and heard the thunder.  They were scared to death (we have wimpy dogs).

I have to say that sometimes I react to the storms of life the same way my wimpy dogs do.  I want to run for cover and hide under the bed until the storm has passed.  I don't like storms in my life.  I want sunny days and cool breezes. But if I never faced a storm, how would I ever know that God is strong enough to see me through them and that He never leaves my side when I am walking through the storm?

It may sound funny, but just like I enjoy sitting outside and watching a thunderstorm with my husband, I am beginning to enjoy the storms of life when they come my way, because I know that at the end of the storm (which is usually pretty short-lived), I will have a deeper understanding of the grace and mercy of God.

Prayer:
Father, thank you for the storms of life that teach us that we can depend on you no matter what life throws at us and that we are never alone, but that you are right there with us, holding our hand and leading us through.  Amen

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(Copyright© 2011 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Healing Hugs

"Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms." 1 Peter 4:10

Sandy hopped into the car at the end of the school day.

"Did you have a good day?" asked her mother.

She nodded her head, making her blonde curls bounce in place. "Oh, yes," she said, "but it didn't start out very good."

"Why is that, honey?" her mother asked.

"Well, at first recess I saw Karen sitting on the steps crying, but I helped her and after a minute she stopped crying and we went to play on the swings, then we have fun all day together." said Sandy.

"That's great, sweetheart. How did you help Karen? What did you say to make her stop crying?" Mother asked.

"I didn't say anything," said Karen, "I just hugged her and helped her cry."

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We don't have to be extremely talented to be used by God to help other people. We just have to be willing to reach out with whatever gift God has given us to encourage, uplift, strengthen those around us.

If you can write - write, if you can cook - cook, if you can fix a car - fix a car, if you can sing - sing, if you can teach - teach...(you get the picture).

God has given each of us gifts, talents & abilities for one purpose - to serve others. By cultivating and putting into use those gifts, we are being good stewards of God's grace - no matter what form it takes.

So, what's are your talents? Are you using them to serve others?

Prayer:
Father, thank you for the gifts, talents and abilities you have given me. Though they may seem small in my eyes, they were given for a specific person - so that I may minister to those around me. Help me to recognize my gifts and please help me to see opportunities to use those gifts so that I may be a minister of your Grace to those around me. Amen
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(Copyright© 2011 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Growing Up

"When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things." 1 Corinthians 13:11 (NLT)

While doing some cleaning, I came across some little boy toys and infant clothing belonging to my grandsons, Ethan and David, who just turned 12 and 10.  These items brought back many treasured memories of when they were babies and toddlers.

How we loved to sing songs about dinosaurs and read their favorite book about a grandma who baked such wonderful pies that she was kidnapped by pirates so she could bake pies for them.  We made regular trips to the park where I would push them high in the swings as they squealed with delight (or fear - I'm not sure which).

I miss those days, but as I look at these boys now, fast becoming young men, my heart swells with pride. Ethan has just finished a young leaders course at church and has taken on the task of greeting other kids as they come into their youth group and making them feel welcome.  David is becoming a leader at school and loves to sing contemporary Christian songs. (I think he's going to be a worship leader.) I look at their parents, who are pouring themselves into these boys and I think what a blessed woman I am!

It's hard to watch them set aside their little boy ways, to not be able to cuddle them on my lap or to make up silly songs just to hear them laugh (now they just roll their eyes), but I can watch them grow into fine young men who love God with all their heart and love others. It's another phase of Grandmothering that just makes me burst with pride and thanksgiving to God.

Prayer:
Father, we thank you that as our children and grandchildren grow, we can still be a vital part of their lives. We can bring joy and love and just as important, we can pray for them, trusting that You will direct their footsteps and bring them in adulthood as fully devoted followers of Christ. Thank you for all you're doing in their lives. I'm glad that the frequent, fervent prayers of a righteous Grandmother are being heard and answered. Amen

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(Copyright© 2011 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Blessings

"For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you." Isaiah 41:13 (NIV)

Blessings - by Laura Story




I heard this song for the first time this week and just had to share it.  Laura wrote this song out of a life experience she and her husband, Martin have been living for the last several years.

A couple of years into their marriage, Martin was diagnosed as having a brain tumor. The couple went from not knowing if he was going to live for a while to seeing God bring healing in parts of his body, but they have still been struggling for several years with areas in which he had yet to experience healing, such as his vision and memory.

Often it's the ongoing struggles which lead us to wonder where God is. It makes us question his love and our faith.  Laura's song addresses this struggle so beautifully and asks the question; what if the trials of this life are His mercies in disguise.

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(Copyright© 2011 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

You Changed my Sorrow into Dancing!

"You changed my sorrow into dancing…" Psalm 30:11a (NCV)
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"Get up," Mary said, shaking me out of a troubled sleep.  Memories of the previous day clawed at my wakening mind. I groaned and rolled away from the hands trying to pull me from my slumber.

"Go away, Mary," I said.

"Hurry," she insisted, tossing my sandals at my feet, "We must take the spices and anoint the body of our Lord."

We stepped out on the street just as the sun was rising. The air hung heavy about us, stifling and still. As the sunlight began to steal across the city, I thought how pointless it was. Why should the sun ever shine again?

Our hope had been crucified; our Beloved, beaten and scorned had hung on a cross as we watched Him draw a last ragged breath.  Even the heavens had convulsed in horror of His death.

Mary nudged me onward toward the cave belonging to Joseph, the one where they had placed Jesus just before the Sabbath had begun.

Salome had been quiet until now.

"How will we roll the stone away?" she asked as we neared the place.

We stared at each other, realizing that the three of us together could not budge the boulder covering the opening of the grave.

"We will a find a way," Mary' said, pushing steadily forward.

As we neared the grave, the ground began to shake. Terrified, I clutched Mary for support, and then reached for Salome, who was nearly thrown to the ground. It was over quickly, but fear would not leave my heart.  The earth had quaked like this immediately after Jesus had died, the skies had turned black as a terrible thunder roll across the heavens.  Was the world coming to an end?  It may as well; there was nothing to live for any longer.

Mary set her jaw the way she often did when she had made up her mind to do something, "Keep moving - we must anoint His body, " she said.

We hurried to keep up with her, but she suddenly stopped and I ran right into her.

"Look," she said, pointing at two Roman guards lying on the ground.

"Are they dead?" Salome asked, but Mary did not answer. She had turned and was staring at the grave.

I followed her gaze to see that the stone had been rolled away.

My heart pounded violently in my chest as I pushed past Mary and ran to the tomb.

"He's gone," I said when Salome and Mary clamored in behind me.  Suddenly a light so bright that we had to shield our eyes filled the cave and a voice said, "Don't be afraid. I know that you are looking for Jesus, who has been crucified. He is not here. He has risen from the dead as He said He would."

I looked toward the place where Jesus had lain and saw a being I can barely describe.

"Come," he continued, "and see the place where His body was. And go quickly and tell His followers that Jesus has risen from the dead. He is going into Galilee ahead of you, and you will see Him there." The light faded and he was gone.

We stood, trembling and numb from fear. Had we seen an angel? Could it be that Christ was alive? My heart leapt for joy as a vague memory of Jesus ' words came to mind...the Son of man shall be delivered unto the chief priests, and unto the scribes; and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentiles: And they shall mock him, and shall scourge him, and shall spit upon him, and shall kill him: and the third day he shall rise again.

"He's alive!" The realization sent shivers down my spine. "He's alive, risen from the dead, just as He said He would.  I clutched at Mary's arm, "He's alive, Mary - He's alive!"

We rushed to tell the others, tripping over our garments as we ran, laughing and shouting from that place.
Jesus was alive!

In the days that followed, our Lord showed Himself to many of us and we rejoiced at every moment spent with Him until one day He bid us farewell and promised to come again to take us to be with Him forever. As we stood, watching Him ascend into the skies, my heart sang, for I knew this was not a parting. Even as I watched Him go, I could feel His presence filling my very soul. I would never be without Him, and someday, He would take me to be with Him for all eternity.

Jesus is alive!


This story is part of an Easter/Ressurection themed blog chain. Below are links to other bloggers who posted on this theme. I invite you to visit each blog and enjoy reading about Easter & the Resurection of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Comments are welcome. Have a blessed Easter!


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(Copyright© 2011 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

A Father's Wisdom

"…we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began...These are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God."  1 Corinthians 2:7 & 10 (NIV)

As a child, I thought my Dad was the smartest man on earth. If I needed to know something, Dad had the answer (even if he had to make it up). If something needed fixed, he knew how to fix. If something needed built, he could build it. Everyone in the family came to him for answers.

Unfortunately, there was one area of life where his expertise ran out…the spiritual part of life. I remember asking him a question about God. He wouldn't answer. Didn't want to discuss it and I quickly learned that spiritual questions would put him in a bad mood, so I quit asking.

Fortunately, I didn't have to depend on my Dad to learn about God. My aunt and uncle took me to church and encouraged me to read my Bible. My pastor and Sunday school teachers taught me about Him and finally, God, himself began teaching me and He has continued teaching me for nearly 50 years…and I'm still discovering delightful mysteries about Him as His Spirit reveals them to me, for the Spirit knows the deep things of God and will open our eyes to them as we consistently seek to know God better.

What a wondrous journey we are on!

Prayer:
Father, thank you for your Spirit, who reveals the wonders of your character, the depth of your love, the vastness of your grace and mercy. Thank you for being a Father who is never bothered by questions, never too busy to answer and never in a cranky mood. I love you! Amen

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(Copyright© 2011 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)