Written and Photo Credit by Cathy Schrock - Heartland Church - Fort Wayne, IN
It was an especially crisp afternoon, that bracing fall atmosphere in which children love to play. There was just a hint of chill in the air as I raced through the crunchy, colorful leaves to try out our new rope swing. Earlier, my father had thrown the rope up over the lowest branch on our tall walnut tree, tying a big, knotted loop at the bottom end of it. He came inside with a huge grin on his face as we were preparing the table for supper, then pointed to the swing through the kitchen window. “Who’s going to be first?” he asked. I just had to be first! I was determined, as the youngest of three, to prove my moxie to my two older siblings.
I was the first one out the door and ran across our lot as fast as I could, winning the footrace to the walnut tree. “Lift me up, Daddy!” I cried out with my arms held over my head. My father was built like an ox and strong as a bear, the strongest man I have ever met. He swept me up in his massive hands, tossing me up over his head like a sack of potatoes. I squealed with glee as he caught me again. He placed me on the knot and held on to me, swinging me back and forth. I was up off the ground at least four feet, but never once was I afraid. I knew that my Daddy was right there with me, holding on to me and that he would not let me fall.
How about you? Think of a time when you were in a precarious situation that could have filled you with fear. Have you ever felt like you were in over your head and in danger? Or have you experienced a temptation so irresistible you felt as if you would give in at any moment and wreck your life, your witness, your family? Your heavenly Father is right there with you in every situation, no matter how overwhelming or dangerous (Hebrew 13:5). You can trust Him implicitly! He is mighty to save and can rescue you from imminent danger (Psalm 68:20). He is wise and can guide you through each and every situation you face (Proverbs chapter 2). He is ready, willing, and able to come to your aid, and He has every resource at His disposal, ready to dispatch the exact aid you need at just the right moment (Matthew 4:6). All you need do is ask for His help, and He will save you (Psalm 18:3)!
READ: Psalm 63:7,8; John 10:29; Psalm 55:22; Proverbs 3:25, 26
PRAYER: “Father, You have always shown Yourself faithful to me, and I trust You. In my current situation, I need Your help. I know You have all I need, and that I am in Your hands. Please help me!”
Written by Janet Mueller - Heartland Church - Fort Wayne, IN
Photo Credit: Jonathan Kaufman
My hand instinctively swept over my lower left abdominal quadrant. “Oh, no,” I thought to myself. “Not now!” As the morning proceeded, the familiar, sharp pain increased. Soon I was doubled over and left the kitchen to recline in the living room. It was Thanksgiving Day, and we had guests. I was cooking the turkey and all the other traditional dishes, and the aroma was making me nauseous. Meal time was drawing near, and I knew I wasn’t going to be able to serve the food, let alone eat it.
I had a history of diverticulitis, and it would strike at the most unpredictable, inopportune times. Symptoms were severe abdominal pain and sometimes fever, nausea, and chills. Most times, I would need to treat it with antibiotics and a very limited diet. I announced to my family and guests what was happening and that they could still have Thanksgiving dinner, but I would not be able to eat with them. As soon as dinner was over, I would need to go to ER or urgent care for treatment since it was a holiday, and no doctors’ offices would be open. But first, I said, “Let’s pray and see if God heals me without treatment.”
Our guest, who was not a believer, asked me, “Does it ever work?” I relayed to him and the others the following story:
It was the middle of the night. I had been sleeping but was jolted awake with left abdominal pain and chills. Larry was working nights so I was alone. I recognized the pain as diverticulitis, an old nemesis that raised its ugly head from time to time. But why now?! Our annual women’s retreat was just two days away, and I was leading it. Typically, the pain lasted a few days before it dissipated with antibiotic treatment. “Oh, God, I need You,” I cried out. “Please heal me.”
Tula, our cat, was sleeping beside me on the pillow next to my head. Suddenly, she shot into the air and landed back down on the pillow. “What was that?” I laughed. I placed my hand on Tula, and she seemed okay. But what had spooked her? Then I realized that the abdominal pain and shaking chills had abruptly ceased. I pressed around the area, trying to elicit the pain…but it was gone! “Had God sent an angel to heal me?” I wondered. “Did our cat sense the presence of someone in the room?” In the morning, I checked myself again. Still no pain. I was amazed and thankful that I was able to attend the women’s retreat with no problem!
“Would God do it again?” our friend inquired.
“Well, to be honest, most times I need to go to the doctor,” I replied, “but I always ask for healing first. Let’s see what happens.” As an afterthought, I added, “All healing comes from Him, whether instantaneous or through medical means.” I wanted so badly to be instantly free of the pain so our friend would see God’s mercy at work, but mentally I was preparing for an ER visit.
Pulling together, everyone placed the meal on the serving counter. We joined hands and prayed a short, simple prayer of thanksgiving with a request for healing. The guests sat down and began to enjoy the dinner. Surprisingly, within minutes the pain left and my appetite returned. “Hey, guys, I’m feeling better! I think I can join you at the table.” I sat down and devoured mashed potatoes, turkey, and stuffing. I even had pecan pie later.
Prior to that unforgettable Thanksgiving, regular diverticulitis attacks had been the norm for me, typically two or three times a year. But to this day, I have never had another one. More importantly, my family and guests saw God’s hand of healing in a most dramatic way!
Written by Cameron Miller - Heartland Church - Fort Wayne, IN
Photo Credit: Janet Mueller
God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?” Numbers 23:19 NIV.
The Bible makes a claim that God cannot lie. I used to think this meant that He can’t say anything that contradicts reality. “Black is black, white is white, pineapple doesn’t belong on pizza, and the Lord Almighty is unable to claim otherwise.” That’s how the thinking went. But more recently, I’ve come to realize a deeper truth: reality isn’t so important that God dare not contradict it; rather God’s word is so powerful that reality can’t help but correspond to it.
I have this power myself — or a lesser refraction of it, at least. As an author, when I write a story, it’s my story. And as the owner of that story, whatever I say is true. If I want there to be magic in my world, then all I have to do is write that there’s magic. If I describe my main character walking through the bazaar, encountering a variety of sights and smells, then that is what that bazaar is like. The story is composed entirely of the words I write, and so everything I say becomes truth.
So if that’s what I can do, just imagine what God is capable of. He is the creator of the universe, and so it cannot help but be exactly what He says it is. The world was dark, but He said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. Lazarus was dead, but Jesus said, “Come forth,” and a dead man walked out of his grave. He took one look at the raging sea and said, “Be still,” and it was.
Sometimes I act like a character in the story trying to argue with the narrator. I need to remind myself that this is God’s world. It came to be because He told it to. It is what He says it is. And it is becoming what He says it will be. As God’s Word, the Bible does not merely explain the principles by which the world works, it defines them, the same way computer code tells your device how it has to operate. If God were to proclaim pineapple on pizza to be delicious, then no matter how my limited mind would recoil at that statement, it would be true. I may have my opinions, my reasoning, and my preconceptions, but they all pale before the supremacy of what God speaks. So in the end, two choices remain: I can either trust, or I can rebel. And only one of those choices works out well.
Prayer: God, You have spoken words into my life that are shaping me to become who you have called me to be. May I play a role in them coming true, and in helping this world to live up to what You have told it to be. Help me release the lies I’ve convinced myself are true when You want to replace them with Your Truth.
Written by Peggy Lundy - Heartland Church - Fort Wayne, IN
Photo credit: Caitlin Spaulding
Have you ever wondered if it’s possible to live as a favored child of God? Well, it is, and answering a few more questions will help us unpack this blessing.
What is the favor of God?
Favor comes when someone takes notice of you and turns his gaze on you. God’s favor is primarily expressed as His unfailing, unconditional love for you. It’s His attitude of grace toward you, and it’s your position as the one who receives His love and blessing.
The phrase,“find favor in your eyes,” is used more than forty times in the Old Testament. The words ‘favor’ and ‘grace’ are usually interchangeable in the Scriptures. ‘Favor’ is used more commonly in the Old Testament while ‘grace’ is used in the New Testament.
Where do we find His favor?
To find someone’s favor we must first seek their face or their full attention. David said, “‘Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice, and be gracious (favorable) to me and answer me.’ When You said to me, ‘Seek My face,’ my heart answered, ‘Your face, O LORD, I will seek’” (Psalm 27:7-8 from NASB). David knew his salvation was found only in the grace/favor of God. He knew that being face to face with God gave him God’s full attention and therefore God’s full deliverance from his enemies.
Aaron blessed the children of Israel, including New Covenant children as well, with, “The LORD bless you, and keep you; the LORD make His face shine on you, and be gracious (favorable) to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace” (Num. 6:24-27, NASB). The light of the Father’s face shines the light of His favor on us. Jesus is that Light. If we have seen Him, we have seen the Father. He is the best demonstration of the Father’s favor.
How can we experience God’s favor every day?
As we seek the Father’s face each day, He is looking for our full attention. We drop all pretense, excuse, demand, fear, and shame when we look into His eyes. In fact, the only thing that can obscure His face is our sin. Even then, His grace provides forgiveness. Like David, we know our salvation is found only in His grace, in His favor.
That grace/favor is the constant in our lives. We don’t earn it or deserve it; He gives it to us freely, lavishly. We can now live in the confidence that our Father’s favor is something we have. Like His mercy, His favor is renewed every morning. We live out of His favor, not for it. We have the settled assurance that His favor lasts our entire lifetime.
Pray with me: Father, thank You for lavishing Your favor on us each day. Please give us eyes to see the truth You are showing us and hearts willing to believe and obey. Amen.
Written by Fr. Dale Minor - Reclaim Ministry - Rutland, OH
Even a cursory study of home architecture will reveal an age when porches on a house were common. A proper home had to have a front porch. It served several purposes. First of all, it protected the entrance from the elements. It also provided an opportunity for one to shake off the dust of the road, even kick off a boot before entering the home. Before air conditioning was common, it also served as a place to do certain tasks where the air might be a little cooler and the chance of a breeze was good. And there was no place in the home more conducive to just sitting and relaxing; a place to read, to pray, or just reflect upon the circumstances of one’s life and talk to the Lord. Most of all, front porches are a place of welcome, they just say, “Come on in.”
In small towns and villages, in urban neighborhoods, at a time when people walked or rode a horse to get most anywhere, people could greet their neighbors as they passed by. Sometimes these folks had pressing matters such that they could only wave or tip their hats as they moved on. Others might pause a moment, exchange greetings and inquire of each other’s wellbeing. And some, would come on up, accept the invitation to stop, rest awhile, and spend some quality time with neighbors, both those who were long time friends and those they were just getting to know.
But the industrial age came upon the world. Motorized vehicles enable us to buzz along the streets and roads without even noticing the homes or who lived there. The houses had central heat and air conditioning; television took over our need for human contact. We even got to where the characters in a TV drama were more familiar to us than our next-door neighbor. And front porches were replaced by carports and back-yard retreats. Personal privacy became more important to us than sharing our lives with good friends and neighbors. And it was all to our loss.
There are literally dozens of scriptures calling us to love and share our resources with neighbors and strangers alike; far too many to list, so, here are just a few.
“Therefore, comfort each other and edify one another, just as you are doing.” (1 Thess. 5:11)
“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Gal. 6:2)
“Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification.” (Rom. 15:2)
“Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, long-suffering; bearing with one another and forgiving one another,.. “
Even as our fast-paced life may hinder opportunities for “front-porch encounters,” it may even provide more opportunities to interact with acquaintances and strangers alike, for a stranger can be a friend you have yet to meet. We are probably all familiar with the passage from Mt. 25:34 and forward in which Jesus said. “I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me, I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.” And when his companions asked when they had done these things, Jesus replied, “In as much as you did this to the least of these, you did it to Me.”
This speaks about the condition of our hearts more than the architecture of our homes, as opportunity abounds for us to be witnesses to the saving grace of our Lord Jesus, and we begin by opening our hearts and minds to friends and strangers alike.
“Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing, some have unwittingly entertained angels.” (Hebrews 13:2)