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  • A Grace Place

    Lysa

    "Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." Hebrews 4:16 (NIV)

    "Does God ever get tired of my issues?"

    I've asked myself this question many times throughout my lifelong struggle with emotional eating.

    Over the course of my journey, I've whined to God, gotten mad at God and often ignored God. And I've worried I was going to use up all my grace with God.

    I felt He would be justified to say, "Enough! Go away. I'm tired of your issues. Figure it out for yourself!" That is, until I read again the "first story" of God's grace with fresh eyes.

    We often think of God's grace beginning at the cross. But as I read through the Scripture from the point of view of someone struggling with food issues, I saw a revelation of God's grace right from the start in Genesis.

    Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating from the forbidden tree and ushered sin in to the world. God handed down the consequences of their actions, which included banishment from the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3). They must have believed they had pushed past the boundaries of God's grace. After all, He was sending them out of the garden.

    Whenever I've read that story, I thought they had to leave paradise because God was punishing them. God was disappointed in them. God was giving them what they deserved. But I was wrong. Their relocation was not a place of abandonment — it was a place of grace.

    You see, there were two special trees in the Garden of Eden. One was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; this was the one with the forbidden fruit. The other was the tree of life. This was the one that gave Adam and Eve perpetual life — no diseases, no death, no sagging body parts. (Okay I'm not sure about that last benefit, but I'm banking on this reality in heaven.)

    Anyhow. When they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, sin entered in. Sin corrupted everything. And at that point, it was God's absolute love and most tender mercy that ushered Adam and Eve out of the garden. Not His anger or retaliation. They had to leave.

    If they'd been allowed to stay, they would have kept eating from the tree of life and lived forever, wallowing in sin. Wallowing in all the brokenness sin brings with it: disease, fear, heartbreak, separation from God.

    An unending life of shame and sin would have been their fate.

    God couldn't stand that for the people He loved. So, His love made them leave and allowed them to die. So that they could experience the resurrected life His Son would one day provide.

    Brokenness to redemption.

    God did not run out of grace at the dawn of humankind. And He will not run out of grace for you or for me. He does not want us to ever stay in a perpetual state of sin and despair. We were not created with a food struggle or physical cravings because God is angry at us. It is because He loves us so much that He allows our struggle with food to be a physical indication of a spiritual situation.

    God is asking for us to go to a new place as well — and it is a place of grace!

    Receive grace and let it wash away all shame and guilt from every unhealthy choice you've ever regretted and fretted over. Yes, there is work to do and progress to be made, but we will walk from here with a clean slate.

    This grace and the unfathomable depth of God's love settle me. Breathes hope into my dread. And trust into my doubts.

    So when I stumble along on this journey, I know this grace is there for me, and I will come running back. And once again, it will give me a soft place to land.

    Dear Lord, thank You for Your grace. Help me to rely on You in the midst of my struggle today. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond: What issues are you tired of battling?

    Bring them all to God in gut-honest prayers. Soak in the truths of His grace found in our key verse and power verse today.

    Power Verse: 2 Timothy 2:1, "You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus," (ESV)

    © 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries 630 Team Rd., Suite 100 Matthews, NC 28105 www.Proverbs31.org

  • God’s Will: Thankfulness

    Boyd

    Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18

    Thankfulness is abnormal for the unbeliever, but normal for the believer. A heart void of God’s grace is incapable of consistently initiating gratitude, but a heart governed by grace can’t hold back a thankful expression. It erupts in public worship and praise to God. It naturally flows from joyful lips in private prayers. Like a small child ecstatic over the gift of a new doll or toy truck, so those who have received the gift of salvation are exuberant over their abundant life in Christ.

    Indeed, grace is the gift of God that keeps on giving. Not only are we its recipient at conversion, but His grace continues to infuse our faith day by day, until that day we appear with Him. Yes, gratitude keeps our attitude focused on the Lord’s goodness. He is still good, when others are bad. He is still good, when we are sad. He is still good, when we are mad. He is still good, when we doubt. He is still good, when we struggle. So, we remain thankful regardless of our situation.

    "And we know that in all things God works for the goodof those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28).

    There are obstacles to exercising God’s will of thanksgiving in all circumstances. A wounded heart can’t see beyond its own hurt and anger. There is no gratitude, only disappointment with God and people. Why would my Savior allow me to be hurt? The heart of Jesus hurts when we hurt. His Spirit enters into our pain with comfort and compassion. Our pain is not an excuse to pout, but to pour out our emotions to the Healer of our heart. Gratefulness is God’s antibiotic.

    What can you release to Jesus for Him to handle? A relationship? A health issue? A past pain? Let go and let God do His work of grace. Perhaps you daily journal the blessings of God. Thank Him for your joy in Jesus Christ. Thank Him for the air you breathe, the water you drink, and the food you eat. Thank Him for physical shelter from the elements and spiritual shelter from the enemy. God’s will for you is to be grateful. Your thanksgiving inspires others to be thankful!

    "Let the peace of Christrule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.And be thankful" (Colossians 3:15).

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, I am thankful for Your grace and peace You provide in all situations.

    Related Readings: Romans 1:21; 2 Corinthians 4:15; Ephesians 5:20; Hebrews 12:28

    Post/Tweet today: Our pain is not an excuse to pout, but to pour out our emotions to the Healer of our heart. #God’swillthankfulness

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry info@mail.wisdomhunters.com /www.wisdomhunters.com

  • Girls with Swords from Lisa Bevere

    Lisa

    You Are a Target

    Christianity is a battle, not a dream. —Wendell Phillips

    In a world already overrun by violence, you may wonder why I would suggest that women of all ages take up arms and join the fight. As you turn these pages, I hope you will discover the many reasons why there is no neutral territory. We do not live by the violence of a sword, but the time has come to live by the power of one.

    The first reason you need a sword is that, whether you realize it or not, you are part of an epic battle, and God does not want his daughters unarmed or caught unaware.

    The poignant need for addressing these issues head-on was brought home in an unexpected way. It was early June in the summer of 2010, and I had just returned home from traveling and speaking in five different countries in the short span of four weeks. Mind you, these were not nations clustered together, so traveling meant crossing date lines, exchanging night for day, and bouncing between the northern and southern hemispheres.

    Overcome by a persistent strain of jet lag, I was wandering a bit dazed through my second evening home when I realized I was alone with my youngest son, Arden. As I approached him, he patted the sofa and invited me to join him in watching a movie. Thrilled to have a chance to perhaps cuddle with my son, I settled myself in as close as possible and asked, “What are we watching?”

    “The Terminator,” he answered.

    Okay, before you react, stay with me. I am not endorsing the movie, nor am I suggesting that you watch it. I saw an edited TV version, and even then it was eighties awful! But amid the ridiculous hair, disjointed music, and bad acting, I found something valuable I want to share here, because it perfectly sets up the why behind the journey of this book. In case you’re not familiar with The Terminator, allow me to paint a vastly shortened version of the movie for you. It is the story of Sarah Connor, a moped-riding waitress who is living a boring, mundane life in the hope that one day love will find her. Every twenty-four hours plays out pretty much the same. By day she serves pie and coffee; by night she hopes that one of her blind dates will turn into Prince Charming. By day she works, and by night she waits.

    This predictable 1980s pattern is radically interrupted when a robotic assassin from her future shows up. Our hero, Sarah, first learns she might be at risk when she is taking a break at work and realizes a number of women who share her full name have turned up dead.

    Apparently the terminator, a.k.a. Arnold Schwarzenegger—actor, former governor of California, and ex-husband of Maria Shriver—has time traveled, and anyone bearing the name Sarah Connor is his target.

    There seems to be no way this cyborg assassin can possibly fail. Not only does he possess the strength and processing capabilities of a robot; he also is loaded down with the latest in automatic weapons. In addition to all this technology, he has in his possession what would have been the height of eighties data, a sheet torn from the white pages, which supplies him with the phone number and address of all the Sarah Connors who reside in his target area. As the futuristic terminator systematically works his way down the list of Sarahs, our heroine becomes a bit concerned.

    After work she returns to the apartment she shares with a friend only to learn via an answering machine that yet another blind date has canceled, so Sarah heads out to a club. That way, if the threat is real, she will be able to hide in a crowd. It isn’t long until the terminator is on her trail, and after a brief visit to her apartment, Arnold shows up at the club with guns blazing and begins wreaking mayhem. Chaos, bloodshed, and screaming displace bad dance moves as everyone scrambles to escape. But wait, there is yet another player in this dark drama.

    You see, at the same time as her assassin from the future shows up, her protector from the future makes his presence known while extending Sarah this compelling invitation: “Come with me if you wanna live.” With the choice so obvious, it doesn’t take Sarah long to decide: she wants to live. Sarah runs from the bar, jumps in a car with a total stranger, and the two of them try to escape. But the terminator assassin is relentless. A high-speed chase ensues. Bullets shatter the car windows and frazzle Sarah’s nerves. No matter where they go or what they do, they just can’t seem to shake her futuristic assailant.

    This mild-mannered waitress and wannabe girlfriend has no idea why this epic battle rages around her. As bullets fly and cars crash, her protector begins to tell her who she is. He explains that in the future she is a legend and that an entire army wages war equipped with the foresight and strategies she recorded and passed on to her son. In the future she is part of a heroic fight against the enemy of all humanity.

    Sarah just can’t buy that she is a player in this absurd story and is confident there has been a case of mistaken identity. There is no reason for her to be viewed as a threat in the present or the future! In an attempt to bring clarity and some sanity, Sarah counters the claim of her protector from the future. She isn’t a hero…she is just a waitress! She doesn’t even have a boyfriend, so certainly there’s no son! This nightmare is all a grave mistake; she’s been confused with someone else!

    But her guardian insists that she is, in fact, Sarah Connor the hero and that his mission is to equip and protect her. Understandingly overwhelmed and suddenly undone, Sarah yells out, “I didn’t do anything!”

    To which her future guardian counters, “No, but you will!”

    At that moment, sitting with my son on the couch, I was arrested.

    This line from decades past, “No, but you will!” crashed into my present with the realization that our enemy often knows who we are before we discover who we are. And it is high time we each realize the two things Sarah learned that night. Lovely One, 1. You are a target. 2. You might be a hero. I say might be, because the choice is ultimately yours.


    Excerpted from Girls with Swords by Lisa Bevere Copyright © 2013 by Lisa Bevere. Excerpted by permission of WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

  • Top Albums of 2013

    John

    Ok. You are right. I am a little late in getting our "Top Albums of 2013" out for you all. Believe me, I know. I mean, being so far into the month of February already, it seems that 2013 is so far ago. I hope that my lapse in time doesn't allow you to miss the value of each one of these albums.

    So here they are. The top albums of 2013. Chosen from you, our followers.

    How Great is Our God: The Essential Collection

    As one of the most-sung artists in the church, Chris Tomlin writes music that connects people to the heart of Jesus and leads them to a greater worship of him. After six studio albums and numerous appearances on Passion live worship albums, Chris released his first-ever greatest hits collection, How Great Is Our God: The Essential Collection, featuring three all-new recordings of classic Tomlin worship songs. Included is a new recording of "How Great Is Our God," which features guest appearances from renowned international worship leaders, singing parts of the song in their native language.

    Top 25 Praise Songs: 2014 Edition

    Renew your spirit with this collection of the Top 25 Praise Songs: 2014 Edition! Featuring twenty-five of the most refreshing worship songs made popular by today's best selling artists, this 2-CD compilation is a must-have for fans of praise and worship music.

    A sampling of the songs include: 10,000 Reasons (Bless The Lord),  Our God, Forever Reign, - Glory To God Forever, Your Love Never Fails, Jesus Messiah, How He Loves, Hosanna and Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone).

    Come To The Well

    Come To The Well is an appeal to Christians to let the "living water" of Christ well up in them, overflowing into the relationships we have around us, both inside the church and beyond.

    Inspired by the story of Jesus talking to the woman at the well, the title track, "The Well," illuminates that main theme. With no-fluff lyrics and a genuine heart of worship, Casting Crowns sings truth about the Christian life journey, rewarding their listeners with a musically progressive sound that has widespread appeal.

    WOW Hits 2014

    Only one record a year brings you the biggest Christian artists and songs! Featuring your favorite artists and their best songs of the year, WOW Hits 2014 captures the songs that are impacting our world. With songs about finding strength, placing your hope in Jesus and the promise of everlasting life, WOW Hits 2014 is filled with 30 uplifting songs from top artists, as well as three bonus tracks from up-and-coming artists.

    Also available is the deluxe version that contains features six additional songs.

    Burning Lights

    Is it fair that Chris Tomlin have two albums listed on our Top Albums of 2013? Only if they are good enough. And yes, Burning Lights is just that.

    One of the most storied worship leaders of our time, Chris Tomlin returns with his latest album, Burning Lights. As the songwriter behind the worship favorites "How Great Is Our God," "Jesus Messiah," "Holy is the Lord" and "Forever," Chris continues to write songs that connect people to the heart of Jesus and lead them to a greater worship of Him.

    Burning Lights features the single "Whom Shall I Fear (God of Angel Armies)" and an all-new recording of the radio hit "White Flag."

    Miracle

    Third Day spent a generous part of 2012 immersed in the recording of its studio album, Miracle. The album, Third Day's 17th career offering, was recorded within the walls of the band's own state-of-the art studio, The Quarry, in Atlanta, GA, with the help of veteran rock producer Brendan O'Brien.

    From the opening track, "Hit Me Like A Bomb," it is clear that Third Day means business when they say they want to bring something new to the table. Musically, there are sounds that have never been on a Third Day album, including layered guitars, layered harmonies and sing-a-long gang vocals. Music styles range from pulsating rock to acoustic pop-rock, yet the classic Third Day sound everyone loves is still there - but refreshed and rejuvenated.

    The Hurt & The Healer

    The Texas-based band does so yet again on their seventh studio album, The Hurt & the Healer, a compelling collection of songs that rock with the authority of a seasoned band, yet also insinuate themselves into the souls of listeners through insightful, heartfelt lyrics. “We’ve been doing this for 17 years,” Bart Millard says of the group. “You still need a fresh perspective. You still need to have these moments where you are like, ‘Oh I totally get it. I see something new.’ That is what this album has been for us.”

    The Hurt & The Healer is a celebration of the moment when these two worlds collide - the deep need for healing and the God Who provides it. Produced by Brown Bannister and Dan Muckula, The Hurt & The Healer features signature MercyMe anthems, engaging pop songs and worshipful and intimate moments.

    10,000 Reasons

    As the writer of many popular worship songs including "Blessed Be Your Name," "The Heart of Worship," "You Never Let Go" and "Better is One Day," Matt Redman’s songs are sung by millions of people every Sunday. He has a unique ability to craft songs that teach deeply spiritual truths and remind us of God’s steadfastness, which he displays again on 10,000 Reasons. The album features 11 all-new songs and was recorded live.

    The first single, "Never Once" speaks of God’s faithfulness in our lives as he is always with us, and never abandons us. Inspiring and hopeful, this album will resonate with fans of worship music everywhere.

    The Struggle

    After two highly acclaimed albums, Tenth Avenue North takes a bold creative leap forward on its new album, The Struggle. Inviting fans all over the country to lend their voices to the process as they recorded this album in cities along its tour route, the songs explore themes of forgiveness, redemption and grace.

    "We really fostered the dance of both the music and they lyric while thematically unpacking the idea of what it means to struggle," says lead vocalist Mike Donehey. "We are free to struggle, but don't need to struggle to be free. It's about the permission to struggle but also a challenge not to stay there." With The Struggle the band offers up lyrically substantive songs people have come to expect from Tenth Avenue North.

    Overcomer

    Coming up her most successful album ever, American Idol alum and three-time Grammy nominee Mandisa returns with Overcomer. Produced by Christopher Stevens and David Garcia, Overcomer showcases her powerful vocals and pop-leaning hooks that blend effortlessly through all 11 tracks.

    With caution-to-the-wind melodies weaved throughout the record, anchored by emotional songs like her open letter to her brother in "Dear John," Overcomer may be Mandisa’s most impactful release to date.

    So there you have it. The 2013 Top Albums. What do you think? Do agree with the list? Would you add any titles to it? What is your top albums of this past year?

  • Live so That ...

    Wendy

    "He died for us so that we will all live, not for ourselves, but for Him who died and rose from the dead." 2 Corinthians 5:15 (The Voice)

    As I stood in the kitchen of our new house, gut-wrenching loneliness swept over me. My heart ached for all that was familiar. Doubts plagued my mind. Had we made a mistake? Did we really hear God? Was this really His plan?

    We had just moved from Dallas, Texas to Charlotte, North Carolina, but moving had not been on our original agenda. It meant leaving an amazing circle of friends, a wonderful church family and great jobs. But we both felt God calling us away from Dallas, away from all that was comfortable and familiar. In fact, He orchestrated circumstances in such a way that we could not not move to Charlotte. But it was still unclear why He brought us here.

    Although Jesus was clear about His mission, I wonder if He experienced similar sensations of loneliness and heartache as He left all that was familiar to follow God's plan.

    Jesus willingly consented to His Father's plan and did the incomprehensible. The One who was rich in everything became poor, making Himself nothing. He assumed our debt of sin and paid it with His very life so that you and I could become beloved children of God.

    And His sacrifice, when accepted by us, gives us not only new life but also a new role in life!

    Our key verse from 2 Corinthians teaches that Jesus died so that we will live ... not for ourselves but for the One who died for us. And when we read a bit further in 2 Corinthians, verse 20 clarifies our role: "We are therefore Christ's ambassadors ..." (NIV).

    Ambassadors are connectors. They connect the lives of those they represent with the lives of those in their sphere of influence. And to be effective, the chosen appointees must live so that people are drawn to and find favor with them and those they represent.

    Friend, we too are ambassadors. We are ambassadors appointed by Christ, not by a nation or an organization. God intentionally placed us on this earth to live for Him.

    What a privilege and honor to be hand-picked by God to live fully engaged lives in this generation, in our communities, in our neighborhoods and in our families so that He can use us to shine His love and light!

    It took time, but I came to understand that God had not abandoned me years ago when we moved. He intentionally placed me in that home and neighborhood to be His ambassador. He brought friends into my life who invited me to my first Bible study. He gave me an insatiable hunger for His Word that led to teaching and writing Bible studies. He continues to open doors for me to speak and write for Him.

    God had a plan that day in the kitchen that I could not see. And He faithfully equipped me through the years so that I could live out that plan ... so that I could impact my sphere of influence and represent Him well.

    Will you join me in being an ambassador? Together let's invite God to help us live a so that life ... a life that truly makes a difference for the Kingdom of God.

    Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of Your amazing grace ... a gift that gives me new life. Help me to live a "so that" life, one that pours out Your love and grace. Equip me with all I need to be Your ambassador. Father, I want to represent You well. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond: How well do you represent Christ?

    Read Romans 6:12-13 (see below). Prayerfully consider how you use your new life in Christ. Commit to take one action step this week to live so that ... to live as God's ambassador in your sphere of influence.

    Power Verses: Romans 6:12-13, "Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires. Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God." (NLT)

    © 2014 by Wendy Blight. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries 630 Team Rd., Suite 100 Matthews, NC 28105 www.Proverbs31.org

  • God’s Permissive Will

    Boyd

    Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. John 7:17

    The will of God is what He wills for His children, but it is not forced. What our heavenly Father wants for us is Himself, His plan and His provision, but only at our instigation. God’s will is a choice. It is an option between a conflicting system of understanding and the Spirit’s process of revealing His clear path. What the Lord wills is what’s best. When we are willing, He is more than willing to show us the next step of faith. A little walk with Jesus unveils His vast love for us.

    When we choose the will of God, we choose to follow God no matter what. It is a capitulation to Christ and Christ alone. Belief is what brings discernment into focus. Belief creates clarity, but unbelief clouds our choices. Like the scary sensation of a pitch black bedroom, we stumble toward the bathroom in the middle of the night. So, we cannot see unless we flip on the switch of faith. It's from the bright light of trust that we find the Lord’s best. His will starts with our Savior.

    "The Lord confidesin those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them" (Psalm 25:14).

    Are two conflicting choices staring you in the face of your faith? Both are good, but you want to know the Lord’s best. Where to work? Who to date or marry? Where to live? Where to attend church or school? Rise above your affections for your options and set your affections on Jesus. Release your earthly attachments and set your heart on heavenly outcomes. What you let go of, God gives back in what’s best for you. Prayer and patience produce your best choices for Christ.

    Faith is confidence in Christ; a total trust in His character and His claim to be God.  Once you settle this, submit your will to the Lord’s will. Surrender your right to know what’s right and take the next right step. Your choice to do God’s will does not guarantee instant revelation, but it does mean you move forward under the Spirit’s guidance. Follow by faith, even if you don’t feel a spiritual sensation. Obedience to what you know, may eventually answer what you don’t know. Choose God’s will and He will affirm His truth in your heart. You are a confidant of His will.

    "For the Lord detests the perversebut takes the upright into his confidence" (Proverbs 3:32).

    Prayer: Heavenly Father I submit my will to Your will, so I can joyfully follow Your ways.

    Related Readings: Job 29:4; Psalm 111:10; Mark 3:35; Acts 18:21; Romans 12:1-2

    Post/Tweet today: Obedience to what you know, may eventually answer what you don’t know. #chooseGod’swill

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry info@mail.wisdomhunters.com /www.wisdomhunters.com

  • The Holy Land Key from Ray Bentley

    Ray

    These Are the People the Prophets Saw

    The Holy Land Key is not a book that renews familiar debates over a prophetic time line or argues for or against a particular interpretation of John’s Revelation. We will not try to narrow down the most likely candidates for the Antichrist. It is important to read prophecy carefully, to handle its interpretation with great care, and to anchor all our conclusions in God’s Word, but we also want to explore some new territories in Scripture that have prophetic significance.

    In the chapters that follow, we will look at certain passages of Scripture from a Hebrew perspective. We also will study what God has written in the heavens and what the Bible says about these heavenly revelations. We will look at the testimony of history, we will study the Jewish calendar and the biblical feasts, and we will even find startling insights based on research done by NASA on blood moons. Paul wrote in Romans 1 that we are without excuse if we fail to see God and His character in the signs that are clear in His creation. God has left signs for us in more places than we can imagine. It would be a mistake to ignore any of them.

    God’s Covenant with His Chosen People

    One of the clearest and most enduring signs is God’s unbroken relationship with the Jewish people. The people living today in the Holy Land are the people the ancient prophets saw in the end times. They are the descendants of Jesus’s family and of His disciples. They are living evidence of God’s plan to gather His people back to Israel after two thousand years of exile.

    Israel is a witness to the world. It is not an exaggeration to say that when we look at Israel, we are looking into the eyes of God. When we look at Israel, we see God’s intentions for the world. We will explore this further in the chapters that follow. We also will look at patterns throughout history that open our eyes to what the very near future holds. Some of the patterns that most clearly reveal God’s plans as well as His heart are found in the Hebrew calendar and the timing of the feasts of the Lord listed in Scripture. The significance of these Jewish holidays is far greater today than was the original purpose of each feast.

    Further, it has been revealed that the timing of the feasts—right down to the specific dates—coincides with repeated cycles of astronomical events and patterns. The full meaning of this correlation remains to be seen, but it is significant that God confirms the testimony of history, of the Scriptures, of religious observance, and of the signs He has put in the heavens. All these together point to the coming—and the return—of the promised Messiah. Ultimately, they point to Israel’s destiny and to the destiny of humanity. The Jews were given the predictions of the ancient prophets long before the Christians inherited those Scriptures along with the New Covenant of God’s Word. It is important to look carefully at the way Jews understand the written testimony of the Hebrew prophets. Familiar prophecies from thousands of years ago are being fulfilled today in Israel. It is no overstatement to say that God’s plan is being moved forward by committed Jews, and this, too, is a revelation to us. God called Israel the “apple of His eye” (Zechariah 2:8). That never has changed, and when God looks at His chosen people today, He sees His plans unfolding at the end of this age. When we look at Israel, we see God’s intentions for the world. I will introduce you to modern-day Israelis who—no matter if they are Jewish or Gentile, Christian or otherwise—are answering the call of God on their lives. These current-day brothers and sisters of Jesus have much to show us of the ways and the heart of God.

    But the people of Israel and their work to restore the Holy Land is only a start. In addition, we will look at the signs of what God will bring to pass on earth. This includes a study of the heavens, the way time is recorded, and more. A  guiding principle here is to identify and learn from patterns that are repeated throughout Scripture and described in 1 Corinthians 15:46: “However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual.” What God does in the natural realm is a picture of what He is doing in the spiritual realm. God reveals His plans and His future work, including what is in store at the end of the age, first in the natural world.

    Bringing Prophecy to Life

    Prophecy and its interpretation are a fascinating study. You can get lost in the words of God’s ancient messengers, studying their dreams and visions and seeking to piece together the larger picture. It is important to know what God has said through His prophets. However, we need to avoid the tendency to study prophecy with a sort of academic detachment that separates us emotionally—and spiritually—from the impact of what God is doing on earth. Prophecy is a biblical teaching to be lived out. We need to bring prophecy to life by connecting it to our lives and the lives of others.

    By getting to know people who live in the Holy Land (Jews, Christians, Israeli Arabs, and Palestinians), we are drawn into more than just the facts of prophecy. We go beyond end-times theories and encounter the people who are involved in the fulfillment of prophecy. These descendants of Jesus are witnessing events He prophesied when He lived in the same land two thousand years ago.

    More and more, Christians are taking action by joining with God’s people of Israel. The Israelis witness daily what God is doing in their ancestral land. They are eyewitnesses to the unfolding of God’s work. You and I—and all people of  faith who join with Israel in an active way—are part of the prophetic story. A Jewish friend who helped me go much deeper in my study and understanding of prophecy opened my eyes to this truth.

    Ron Nachman, the mayor of a small Israeli city in the West Bank, took great risks to help rebuild Israel after the Jews started returning to their homeland after 1948. He read the Hebrew prophets and studied the ways their visions were becoming reality in the Holy Land—the land he was committed to help restore.

    Men such as Ron see the solidarity of Christians who work alongside Israelis as an important sign of prophecy being fulfilled. The people living in Israel are already on the scene of God’s culminating work on earth: the return of His Son to claim His own. As God brings this age to a close, Israelis are having their eyes opened to God’s dealings with humanity. It is not simply the building of a nation, protecting Israel against the enemies that surround it, or arguing the issues related to territory and boundaries as part of the so-called Palestinian question. All those are important, of course, but there is a growing sense that developments are taking place that transcend political, military, and nationalistic concerns. These are spiritual issues and spiritual concerns shared by Jews, Arabs, and Christians alike.

    For years we have seen the Arab-Israeli conflict dominate the headlines. As I was writing this book, Israel was criticized for sending aircraft into Syria to destroy missiles supplied by Iran and stored near Damascus. The missiles were said to have a two-hundred-mile range and were en route to Hezbollah fighters. Hezbollah, a sworn enemy of Israel, typically operates in Lebanon but also has joined the fighting in Syria’s civil war.1 Global tensions have focused in and around Israel since the rebirth of the Jewish state in 1948. Just about everything concerning Israel—even its right to exist—remains the focus of international debate in spite of decades of negotiations, wars, shifting boundaries, and treaties.

    What Are Israelis Hearing from God?

    Many of the signposts we have missed in our past study of prophecy come clearly into view only when we study Scripture in tandem with committed Israelis. How do the people of Israel read the signs of the times? What do they anticipate for the future as they face the hostility of enemies bent on their destruction?

    To study prophecy apart from the people who live in the Holy Land is similar to studying a road atlas and pretending you’ve visited the Grand Canyon or Yosemite National Parks. Reading words on a page is only one of the steps in learning the deeper meaning of prophecy. The prophets delivered their prophecies to people who needed to have their eyes and hearts opened to God’s plans. None of this has changed since the days of Isaiah and Jeremiah. God has not changed His plans, nor has He stopped speaking to His people—as we will see.

    Many of the people I am working with in Israel are hearing from God. He is opening the eyes of His people to the reality of His power, His involvement in world affairs, His never-ending love for His people, and His plans. He is setting things in order to bring about His kingdom on earth, just as His prophets foretold.

    In The Holy Land Key you will be introduced to contemporary Israelis—from national leaders to local leaders to ordinary citizens. You will begin to hear from God just as those in Israel hear from Him. Let’s start making introductions.


    Excerpted from The Holy Land Key by Ray Bentley with Genevieve Gillespie Copyright © 2014 by Ray Bentley with Genevieve Gillespie. Excerpted by permission of WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

  • How to Ruin Your Appetite for God

    Tracie

    "Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful." Joshua 1:8 (NIV)

    With the summer season just a few calendar pages away, the media is preparing to bombard us with information about new diets, exercise programs and creative ideas for healthy eating. So in light of all the buzz, I considered my own health goals for this season and wondered what changes I need to make.

    My thoughts soon wandered away from my physical health, to my spiritual health. As I pondered the junk food I need to remove from my diet and toss from my cupboards, I considered what spiritual junk food needed to go as well.

    Junk food is usually delicious in flavor, low in nutritional value, but high in fat and calories. While okay once in awhile, if I fill myself with junk food on a daily basis, I won't be hungry for nutritious food.

    In the same way junk food derails our health goals, succumbing to the temptations of spiritual junk food throws us off track and curbs our appetite for God.

    Today's key verse addresses this subject of filling ourselves with God's Word, instead of the temptations of the world. In this first chapter of Joshua, God appointed Joshua to lead the Israelites after the death of Moses. To prepare Joshua for the task, God gave him instructions and encouragement. God explained the importance of meditating on His Word to avoid temptation and sin, and the importance of keeping His commands on Joshua's lips.

    God knew the distractions and discouragements of the world could easily derail Joshua from God's chosen path. So He commanded Joshua to have a daily menu of God's truth — to meditate on the Law every day and talk about it often — so that His ways would always be fresh in Joshua's mind. In other words, God wanted Joshua to be filled with His Word, so that he would have no hunger for the temptations of the world.

    An infinite amount of spiritual junk food tickles our fingertips every day through television, movies, computers, smart phones, books, radio and more. Even though these mediums can offer good "food" as well, if we don't use spiritual discernment to selectively choose what we are consuming, we may find ourselves filled with the wrong things, and a curbed appetite for what is spiritually nutritious.

    If we aren't careful, the spiritual junk food the world offers might inadvertently become our primary source of nourishment, diminishing our appetite for God's Word and lessening our desire for healthy portions of His instruction.

    Too much junk food of any kind will weaken our bodies and our spirits. But spending time with God and keeping His Word on our lips will bring strength and health, inside and out. Might we put His words on our lips today and pray for an insatiable hunger from this day forward?

    Dear Lord, open my eyes to the spiritual junk food I have fed my heart and mind. Help me see where I need to make some changes in order to be spiritually healthier. Give me the courage and perseverance to break unhealthy habits and focus on what You know is best for me instead. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond: What "junk food" have I been consuming that is possibly curbing my appetite for God and His Word, and negatively impacting my relationship with Him?

    Ask yourself these three questions, and then pray over your honest answers:

    1. In what ways do I feed my heart and mind on a daily basis? (TV, radio, books, God's Word, devotions, etc.) 2. Does my hunger for God outweigh my hunger for other "foods"? 3. What two changes can I make in my daily life to increase my appetite for God?

    Power Verses: 1 Peter 2:2-3, "Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment, now that you have had a taste of the Lord's kindness." (NLT)

    Matthew 4:4, "Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" (NIV)

    © 2014 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries 630 Team Rd., Suite 100 Matthews, NC 28105 www.Proverbs31.org

  • God’s Sovereign Will

    Boyd

    He [Jesus] fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cupbe taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will." Matthew 26:39

    The cross of Jesus Christ was a decree of God. It was the Lord’s sovereign will for Jesus to die for our sins and forgive all who believe. Yes, even Christ in His last hours struggled with the intensity of His suffering. Yet in humble prayer He cried out, “Not my will, but Your will be done.” There are times, events and people that were prepared beforehand by the triune God. Nothing stops their influence for they are from the Lord, for the Lord. God’s will, will reign.

    Furthermore, the Lord uses sinful men and women to carry out His righteous outcomes. What some meant for evil, our Savior Jesus uses for good. Abandoned children are found and adopted by a loving Christian family. Released prisoners are trained and given a second chance to work. Heroism rises from the ashes of a terrorist attack, as individuals unselfishly serve the injured, the unconscious, and the dead. God is not finished with pain until something comes out of the hurt.

    "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us" (1 John 5:14).

    Yes, we are wise to bend our wills to God’s will. We can make a request, but we trust He will do what’s best. For example, we can ask for physical healing on earth, but God’s best may be ultimate healing for eternity in heaven. We can ask for our heart’s desire, but God’s best may be to change the desires of our heart. We can ask for favor with the student body, but God’s best may be only a few who follow. Thus, we can ask anything, according to His will in Christ Jesus.

    Therefore, surrender to the sovereign will of the Lord for your life. If it is to suffer, then do good while you suffer. If it is to financially prosper, then be aggressively generous with your wealth. If it is to live with less, then learn contentment with what you have and not obsess over what you don’t have. If it is to struggle in a family relationship, then model the gospel with your love. If it is joy and peace or sadness and fear, thank God in (not for) all kinds of circumstances. God’s sovereign will is a decree that will happen, regardless. His will is what’s best for all parties.

    "The king's heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will"(Proverbs 21:1, ESV).

    Prayer: Heavenly Father I surrender to Your sovereign will, so I will follow wherever you lead.

    Related Readings: Daniel 4:35; Ephesians 1:11; 1 Thessalonians 5:18; 1 Peter 3:17; 1 John 2:17

    Post/Tweet today: We are wise to bend our wills to God’s will. We can make a request, but we trust He will do what’s best. #God’swill

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry info@mail.wisdomhunters.com /www.wisdomhunters.com

  • And Life Comes Back from Tricia Lott Williford

     

    Tricia

    October 2012

    Gas tank: full. Cell phone: charged. iPod: stocked. I drive up I-70 toward the mountains. A decision of classic, spontaneous impulsion on my part. Once I’ve decided I want to do something, I want to do it today. This is no exception.

    Robb and I weren’t a perfect match. We were different in every way. But maybe the differences make the perfect match. He liked a planned agenda; I thrive on spontaneity. He was a filer. He put everything in its place. I am a piler, and I can’t find anything once it leaves my hands. He liked to visit the same restaurants and order favorite dishes; I like to try new places and taste new things. He went to bed at the same time every night, just after the nightly weather report at 9:17 p.m.; I come alive at night, often thinking and writing and creating into the early morning hours. He was deeply invested in the decisions of the government and any election; I am apolitical and often handed him my ballot since it mattered so much more to him. He believed in the thrill of competition; I enjoy the commercials and believe in the gracious social merits of the game. I always have a book in my hands; he was nonliterate. Not illiterate, but nonliterate; he hated to read. We parented differently. I read books, conduct Internet research, post on parenting blogs, and study consequences based on love and logic. He wrestled on the floor, tickled and roughhoused, and earned respect by saying things like, “Dude, just obey. I’ve pooped bigger than you.”

    But we both loved road trips and loud music on the iPod. (I like mine louder than he preferred.) We loved having people in our home (although I could quickly and seamlessly add a chair to our dinner table while he preferred a guest list in advance). We both loved serving people; I would listen and learn their favorites and their fears, while he would grab his tool belt and fix any problem at hand.

    Years ago I stopped trying to make us match—him the same as me, me the same as him. I learned that his relationships, although far less verbal, were in no way inferior to mine; they were just different. His experiences and his preferences were different from mine, but they were equally valuable. The ways he chose to love me were, in fact, loving me. The face of love depends on one’s willingness to understand two vernaculars of the same language. We were not the same.

    We didn’t always understand each other. And we made a great team. In the passenger’s seat is the white paper bag with handles. It looks like it could come from a candle shop or a quaint boutique. No one might guess that it holds the canister of my husband’s ashes.

    I drive on a two-lane road that becomes more winding, less crowded, and finally utterly secluded as I arrive at a lake just below the mountain’s highest elevation. I turn off the car. I step out. The air is crisp and silent. I button my coat, grab the handles of the white bag, and click the remote to lock the car as I walk toward the water.

    Part 1 I Will Love You Forever

    Life was rich. No matter what the future held, this was a marvelous moment. —Madeleine L’Engle, Two-Part Invention

    October 2009

    As I scrambled with the many dishes on the stove and in the microwave, two-year-old Tyler cried because he wanted to sit in his chair, twenty-five minutes before it was time to eat. Four-year-old Tucker needed, needed, needed to be in the kitchen with me, standing at my feet, asking to help.

    Please. Help. Please.

    Tyler wanted to be held. Then Tyler wanted to wear his Superman shirt. It could not be found. He could not think of eating without it, so he organized a search party, looking high and low. When we found it, he didn’t want to wear it. He put on a Power Ranger costume instead. Meanwhile, Tucker endlessly blew the pinwheel he had made at preschool, sending spit flying all over everything and everyone. That’s fun, just before dinner.

    The kitchen door opened from the garage, and the familiar jangle of car keys exploded into boisterous, joyful shouting. “Daddy! Daddy!” The boys tumbled over each other in their race to greet Robb, which became a fest of shoving and blaming and claiming. I stood by the stove, stirring the spanish rice to accompany the chicken enchiladas in the oven. I watched the greeting unfold, aware of two things: he was finally home to help referee such scenes, and we would have our own hello once the hubbub settled. I could leave them to their wrestling match. Sure enough, they dispersed as quickly as they had commenced, spinning and bouncing like pinballs.

    “Hey, babe,” he said as he came behind me, one hand on my waist, one hand holding the mail. I gave him a quick kiss over my shoulder.

    “Hi, love. Welcome home. How was work?”

    “Eh, you know. Work.” He flipped through the mail, sorting the wheat from the chaff. “How was the day here?”

    “Eh, you know. It was the day here.” I pulled the enchiladas out of the oven, balancing the casserole dish in one hand, clicking the beeping timer off with the other hand, and giving a quick, upward exhale to blow my bangs out of my eyes.

    “Anything you need help with before dinner?”

    “Yes, you can pour drinks and have them go potty and wash their hands.” (Perhaps in another life stage I won’t say “potty.” Lots of grownups say “bathroom”—so I’ve heard.)

    “Boys! Go potty and wash your hands! Time for dinner!” He headed up the stairs and returned in a frayed T-shirt and athletic shorts. He wore shorts 350 days of the year, even when there was snow on the ground.

    Robb and I had a silly joke between us. About trivets. Really, that’s what marriages are made of: silly little nothings that add up to a decade of important somethings. As you probably know, a trivet is the little doodad that goes under a hot plate or dish to keep the heat from scorching your table or countertop. Robb insisted on calling it a trinket. I insisted on calling it by its name, trivet.

    I carried the hot dish to the table. “Could you hand me a trivet?”

    “You mean a trinket?”

    “No. I mean a trivet.”

    “Sure, babe. Here you go. Here’s your trinket.”

    “Thank you for the trivet.”

    “Trinket.”

    “Trivet.”

    We did this, I kid you not, every single time one of us set the table for dinner. It was a nightly dialogue, a playful banter. The trinket/trivet debate. One night he said, “You know, when I’m dead and gone, you’ll look at that trinket and smile. You’ll remember me, and you’ll call it a trinket.”

    “Doubt it.” Lower my vocabulary standards? Hard to wrap my mind around that.

    The dinner scene unfolded with arguments over washing hands with soap and water versus sanitizer and whether dinnertime is an appropriate opportunity for such shortcuts. There were spilled drinks and excessive napkins. Any semblance of real conversation was replaced instead with interruptions and incomplete sentences. Someone wise once said, “Where two or more are gathered, someone will spill his milk.” I envisioned my family dinner table looking so much more collected than this.

    Tyler didn’t want to eat at all; he simply wanted out of his chair. No dice, kiddo. You have to take the three obligatory “thank-you bites.” That’s the rule. And he could have his share of yogurt and grapes. I support the idea of children eating what the adults are having, but sometimes I don’t want to argue and negotiate every bite of the one meal we all eat together each day. Some might call me a short-order cook. I’m willing to risk the name calling. I prefer to describe myself as a mom who doesn’t want to argue incessantly and in the end throw away food that her son doesn’t want to eat. Bring on the kid-friendly side dishes.

    Tucker got in trouble for shouting potty words at the table. He didn’t need to go. He just thinks he is hysterically funny. We try to discourage these syllables as appropriate dinner conversation, so he spent a few minutes in time-out.

    Robb tossed in some adult humor for me—his teammate and captive audience. “Listen, Tucker. We need to redefine your mission statement. There is about to be some corporate restructuring around here, and I don’t think you’ll be pleased with your performance review.” I smile in spite of myself; I couldn’t have said it better. Time for a disciplinary action plan, I’m pretty sure. We’ll consult with the board.

    Oh, wait. We are the board.

    “Tuck, when you’re ready to use polite words, you can come back.”

    “Can I come back now?”

    “Are you ready to use polite words?”

    “No.”

    “Then you can keep sitting on the steps.”

    Tyler had no interest in dinner, his meal, his chair, or his life as he knew it. He wanted Mommy. In his whiniest, most tearful voice, he cried for me. Since I was enjoying my enchiladas, as much as I could in such an environment, Robb tried to encourage him to eat instead. “Tyler, can you eat your chicken? This is Daddy’s favorite chicken. Very favorite. Taste it.”

    “No. Mommy. Mommy, mommy, mommy.” Cry, cry, cry.

    Tucker announced from the living room: “I’m ready now.”

    “Okay, come join us.”

    He announced upon his arrival that he had to go potty now. Robb and I exchanged glances over the table: to allow or not to allow? We were still freshly out of the potty-training graduation ceremony, so we were reluctant to keep the boy from going when he said he had to go. Go. Now. Quickly. Then eat. Now. Go.

    Tucker yelled from the bathroom, “Soap! Soap! SSOOOAP!” It was hard to know if he was yelling at us or at the soap. Especially since he didn’t need a single bit of assistance when I arrived at his side to help him reach the soap. He was fine, thanks.

    Tyler cried.

    Enchiladas, anyone? Are you kidding me? Is it time for bed yet? And then the negotiations started. Because try as I may, dinner almost always ends with a negotiation.

    “Boys who eat their dinner can have a cookie.”

    “I want a cookie!”

    “Did you eat your dinner?”

    “No.”

    “Then no cookie.”

    “But I want a cookie!”

    “Eat your grapes or your chicken.”

    “I want a cookie.”

    “I want Mommy!”

    I want a stiff drink.

    Robb raised his voice above the din. “Boys, enough. Mommy fixed this dinner for you. Stop complaining. Start eating.” What is it about the dad’s voice? It evokes a moment of trepidation, just enough to make them remember who’s boss. He is. And he says I am.

    In an adult moment above it all, I whispered to him, nearly in pig Latin, “I made chocolate raspberry trifle for dessert. I’m not sure they’ve earned it. I’m pretty sure we have. After their baths and bedtime, let’s eat it. Just us.” In the end they didn’t eat their dinners, chicken and grapes notwithstanding, so they didn’t get their cookies. But we held the promise of delayed gratification: our dessert to come after bedtime. Everything tastes better after bedtime.

    After dinner we took a family walk around the neighborhood, down the street and around the corner to the path with the mountain view. With four wheels and a handle, our sturdy Radio Flyer had a large capacity: jackets, sunscreen, water bottles, one boy or two climbing in and out, the ever-growing collection of rocks and pine cones, and alternating rhythms of whining and laughing. We put a lot of miles on those four wheels, one evening stroll at a time.

    We arrived home once more, and after the choreographed tag team of baths (Robb handled the bubbles, soap, and shampoo while I handled the fluffy hooded towels and the jammies); after the goodnight songs, the bedtime stories, and one hearty round of “I’m thankful for” (Robb was thankful for me, I was thankful for umbrellas, Tucker was thankful for his soccer ball, and Tyler was thankful for crinkly, wrinkly eyeballs); after the prayers and kisses and glasses of water and night-lights and more water and the list of just-one-more things, they were in bed.

    I came slowly down the stairs, feeling spent and poured out, wishing I could muster more energy to stay up late and maximize the remaining quiet moments of the day.

    He unfolded his reclining chair and opened his arms. “Come here, baby girl.”

    I climbed, knees first, into his chair, then turned myself to find the spot that had taken us a while to map out, the one I’ve now known for years—the nook-and-cranny puzzle pieces that fit the two of us into a chair made for one. He groaned as I sat down on his lap, as if the bulky weight of me were too much to hold. One of his favorite jokes.

    “I really wish you wouldn’t do that when I sit on you.”

    “I was just being funny.”

    “Well, that’s not funny.”

    “You’re grumpy,” he teased.

    I craned my neck to look at him.

    “Yes, it’s possible that I am. You’ve been here for slightly more than one hour of this day, thank you very much, and I have spent the entire day navigating an obstacle course in which I am Public Enemy Number One. What you saw tonight was only one of today’s meals. At lunch today Tyler was angry because he didn’t want me to cut his spaghetti noodles. But he doesn’t know how to eat them otherwise, so then he was also angry because he was hungry. During the same meal Tucker was just as angry. I don’t really know why; it’s hard to keep track. At naptime Tucker was angry again because I wouldn’t let him jump on the bed. Simultaneously, Tyler was irate because he couldn’t wear his shoes to bed. I found both of them running across the length of the coffee table and launching themselves into my chair. Olympic training, right here.” I pointed to the coffee table, their running track.

    “Do you know something else? At one point I actually heard myself tell Tyler that I didn’t like him very much today. I told him I didn’t like him! For crying out loud, who was the adult in that situation, anyway? ‘I don’t like you,’ I said. My mom coached me through that one. She said, ‘He doesn’t understand yet. You’ll want to change that sentence by the time he’s five. For now, it bounces right off.’ Apparently her own mother used to say she was going to give her back to the Indians. So I guess it’s all relative. Still, I earned no points for Mother of the Year today. This day had angry written all over it. So, yes, perhaps I am grumpy. And by the way, you didn’t exactly keep your cool at the dinner table tonight, either.”

    He pulled my shoulder gently into the crook of his arm, softening me. He rested his scruffy chin on my head. We fit so perfectly. My voice quieted. “I’m pretty sure they will be disappointed tomorrow when they wake up to learn I am still their mom and I still live here.” With my ear against his chest, I listened to the vibrations of his voice. “Well, I’m glad you live here. You’re stuck with me. And them.” “Thank you. You’re not allowed out of this.”

    “Neither are you, baby girl.” He poked my knee for emphasis and then rested his hand on the curve of my worn, gray sweatpants. “They’re in bed now anyway. At the end of the day, they always go to bed.” “In bed” is relative. I could still hear Tucker making that silly clicking sound in his throat, which he had just discovered and was abundantly proud of. “In bed” is not asleep. But it is a step in the right direction.

    “Can we just be quiet, please?” I asked Robb, immune to the irony that I had been the one doing all the talking in that most recent tirade.

    “Can I watch baseball?”

    “Can I read my book?”

    “Yes.”

    “Deal.”

    “Dessert?”

    “Um…yes.” Isn’t that what we’ve all been waiting for?

    With dessert served in the deep ice cream bowls we found on clearance at Kohl’s, I moved back to my own chair—the oversized, comfier, more realistic place for me to sit for the duration of the night. Several chapters and innings later, it was time for the weather segment of the evening news—9:17 every night. Robb moonlighted as a closet meteorologist. He had installed two weather stations in our home, apps on his phone, and updates on his desktop. He was routinely one click away from the five-day forecast. I found this nicely helpful in my decisions about shoes and cute cardigans, since I would otherwise pay no attention to the weather until I was uncomfortable enough to notice it.

    My goodness. Sometimes we seem so old. What happened to the two who watched movies late into the night and boasted the occasional 2 a.m. run to Taco Bell? We used to have more to say to each other. Dinner conversations, chats on that walk around the neighborhood, pillow talk late at night—we always had a few more things to say. Where have those conversations gone? Are we too comfortable? Are we too familiar? Maybe we’re just too tired.

    He followed his meticulous routine of locking every door, turning off each light, then double-checking that each door was locked. Leaving him all the practical tasks, I checked on the sleeping little boys. I straightened this one’s blanket and found that one’s teddy bear. I stroked the tall one’s head; I rubbed the small one’s back. I kissed this one’s fingers, that one’s eyelids.

    I breathed a prayer over them. “God, arm them with strength. Make their way perfect.”

    Little do they know that I love nothing more than them. They are as big as I love.


    Excerpted from And Life Comes Back by Tricia Lott Williford Copyright © 2014 by Tricia Lott Williford. Excerpted by permission of WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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