“Burning Through the Basket” by Mary C. Findley

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This morning we visited a church, and the message came from Luke 12. People by the thousands were stepping on each other to hear what Jesus had to say, but He started talking, not to the thousands, but to the disciples. In part, He said this:

“But there is nothing covered up that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known. Accordingly, whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in the inner rooms will be proclaimed upon the housetops.”

We who have Christ living in us have a light automatically shining in us. But sometimes we keep that hidden. In our typical backwards human thinking, we believe we do not have to share that light. It’s optional. We live the opposite of that other passage, one example of which is in Mark 4:21:

And He was saying to them, “A lamp is not brought to be put under a basket, is it, or under a bed? Is it not brought to be put on the lampstand?”

So if our lights are safely tucked under that basket … umm … folks, that basket is just made of reeds, or even grass. It’s flammable, and so is our bed. We can’t hide it! We can’t!

God will let His light shine. It will shine. Are you shy? Too bad, that bed and basket are gonna burn. Trying to live lifestyle evangelism and never say a word about the Eternal Word? God might catch more than the bed and the basket on fire. Look at Jeremiah 20:9:

But if I say, “I will not remember Him
Or speak anymore in His name,”
Then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire
Shut up in my bones;
And I am weary of holding it in,
And I cannot endure it.

The Sunday school lesson at the same church today had another very important message. Peter tried to deny the Lord a he warmed his hands at the enemy’s fire during Jesus’ trial in John 18. You can understand his confusion. Jesus had told them at the Last Supper to get swords. And Peter seems to have had one of the two mentioned.

When the Roman Cohort and Temple guards came to arrest Jesus, He just told them who He was and they fell to the ground. Peter thought the time to seize the earthly kingdom had come. He lopped off an enemy ear to prove he was ready. But Jesus said no, no fighting, I’ll go peacefully. Let my disciples go.

Peter was pumped full of adrenaline and still willing to follow Jesus, but when push came to shove he didn’t know what to do. The Sunday school teacher said people were asking if he was one of the disciples. Maybe he would have been surprised to find a willing audience. But he did worse than just keep silent. He denied knowing the Lord.

But don’t forget, that’s not at all where Peter’s story ends. After a few more stumbles Peter emerges from Pentecost as a fearless leader and speaker and spends the rest of his life almost flawlessly speaking the Word and serving Christ.

So, whatever you’ve done that’s hidden the Word, under the basket, under the bed, know that God will get you proclaiming his Word. The pastor urged us to understand that “it’s time to step up.” It’s time to bring those Words out of the shadows and proclaim them on the housetop. It will happen. Don’t make God wait any longer. Don’t make it burn through the basket. Let it shine. Step up. Put it on the lampstand. Do it now. It’s time.

Mary C. Findley


To see all of Mary C. Findleys’ books on Amazon click the image.

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Light the Way by Tina Webb

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Tina Webb

Flickers of dim light danced on the darkened floor revealing that the path was turning in a different direction. The tunnel was longer than expected. Her heart thumped with anxiety as she placed her hands on the wall beside her for security. Careening her neck, she tried to see around the corner but the effort proved useless. She had no choice. Staying where she was would result in starvation. Stones had fallen blocking the path from which she’d come. She must continue through the dark tunnel with only the certainty that the light revealed an opening ahead.

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I wrote this scene to portray the journey of every human being. The reality of time and existence propels us into the future. No matter how daunting and difficult, life goes forward. Although our fears beckon us to stay put in places or seasons of comfort and security, we have a divine mandate for progress. We must not sit idly allowing our souls to stagnate with the familiar. We are made to venture into the unknown.

Lewis and Clark ventured into the unknown West. Prepared as they could be and with limited knowledge of the terrain, they set off from St. Louis with a mandate from President Thomas Jefferson. Their journey was one of faith. What encourages me about the story is that they reached their destination. Faith in God’s wisdom, guidance and provision secured their success.

I remember being a junior in college. While the “world was my oyster”, I was unsure how to go about tasting it. In fact, I was terrified of the thought of life after college. However, it was not as foreboding as I thought it would be. My husband and I began having children and I found parenting relatively easy. Relatively. Being a parent and home educating met my need to nurture, but with it has come bouts of “I have no idea how to parent my child right now!” In these times, God’s kindness taps me on the shoulder and says, “Be still and know that I am God. I know you can’t do anything by yourself. I know you are helpless. But in your weakness, I am strong.”

God is strong when it comes to our unknowns. Not only is He our wisdom, guidance and provision, but He is the One who stands at the finish line with a smile on His face.

I have six children and the first graduates from college next month with a degree in English. Even though I have five more children to go, I can hear His encouragement to press on. On my blog, beforethebeginningbook.blogspot.com, I wrote a post called, “Surviving Parenting”. Parenting takes perseverance and patience. That truth inevitably makes me turn my gaze upward and think of my own journey as a child of God and my relationship to my heavenly Daddy”.This blog post has been the most popular so far.


Faith is certainty in what our physical eyes cannot see. Our Heavenly Father is the light that gives clarity as we take each step forward.

The Lord gave songwriter Calie Garrett lyrics for a song called “Light The Way”.

Your Word is a lamp to my feet, a light to my path.

Won’t You light the way, light the way, light the way.
I’ll follow You wherever You lead, wherever You go.
Won’t You light the way, light the way, light the way.

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Gems from Pastor Jim for 4/15/2014 by Jim Hughes

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Jim Hughes

Ps. 15:1.4 Who may worship in your sanctuary, LORD? Who may enter your presence on your holy hill? Those who despise persistent sinners, and honor the faithful followers of the LORD and keep their promises even when it hurts.

Those who truly want to worship the Lord must have an attitude towards persistent sinners. There must be a lack of tolerance for those who insist on living in sin. We are to love them, but have a problem with their sinful lifestyles. For the most part, we don’t have strong feelings about those who insist on living in sin. We accept them and do not make a big deal out of the life choices they make. We cannot be neutral about sin. We should be bothered over the sinful choices people make and concerned for their souls. We should never idolize those who are living in sin. Have you ever paused to pray for those who entertain you with sin?

True worshipers honor the faithful followers of the Lord. We need to support and encourage those who are following Christ faithfully. We should recognize their faith and show our appreciation when we can. We should act graciously towards them when they mess up instead of criticizing and judging them. We should come alongside of them and help them as we are able. We should trust them and give them slack in their walk with the Lord. We should pray for them. We should learn from them and seek to put into practice what we learn from them.

True worshipers keep their promises even when it hurts. Ouch! It is not unusual for us to make promises we don’t keep. Our intentions may be good, but often our execution is poor. We may even be good at keeping our promises, but when it comes to costing us something, we back off. We do not like self-sacrifice. We shy away from being hurt. Yet, a true worshiper of God knows that his word is his honor. For a follower of Christ, our words mean something. We do not make rash promises. We strive to be people of integrity and stand by the things we say.

God recognizes and honors those who honor Him by the way they view sin, treat His children, and keep their word.

C Through Marriage

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Author Interview with Tralisa McNeal

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Tralisa McNeal

Question: What do you think prepared you or qualifies you to write in your chosen genre?

Answer: Life experiences.

Question: Tell us a little about your “real” (Non-writing) life — family, job, church life. Does it give you inspiration for your writing? Does it get in the way of your writing, or are there times when you get help, from people or circumstances?

Answer: I am a divorced mother of one adult child who means the world to me. He makes me wish that I had more children because I like him. He has been an inspiration to my writing. I do not currently work outside of the home. I am a Christian. I grew up in the church. My mother was a Sunday school teacher and I was president of the Jr. Choir and both the Young Adult and Jr. Usher boards. However, my adult experiences with the church have been negative. I have found people in the church’s I have attended to be judgmental, non-trustworthy and exclusionary. It’s like you’re not free to love just as Christ did. If you love the women you must have some underlying motive like maybe you’re gay or if you love the men you want to take them to bed. Too much drama. So for now I watch church on television. I know not all Christians are the same and I know this is a direct contradiction to the Bible. There are several scriptures that allow me to know that I am supposed to attend church. However, right now my life is difficult and I need simplicity. I don’t expect a perfect church but hopefully someday I can find a church that is right for me.

Question: Tell us about things you enjoy — what you do for fun or personal satisfaction?

Answer: I enjoy reading, writing, learning about other cultures. Spending time with friends and family.

Question: Tell us about working with any people who help you create your books — Do you use Beta readers? Hire an editor or proofreader? How do you get your covers?

Answer: I do not use beta readers because I have not been able to find any who keep their promises. I have given out so many book coupons with the promises of an honest critique but very few have kept their word. I would love to have some beta readers. I hate editing but I edited my entire book. If I ever make enough money from my writing I will hire an editor in the future. I was on Authonomy at one time and received feedback from some readers but I totally changed my book after that. My cover was done by Mary Campagna Findley

Question: Have you done anything writing-related, but besides your books, that seemed to get a lot of positive response? Something that encouraged you?

Answer: I currently host two blogs. One for my book that has a featured author page where I advertise for other authors. This blog is www.lovemesane.wordpress.com. I am encouraged by this blog because I am having more and more authors who want to be featured. It’s nice watch my readership grow. I host my second blog is the home for my poetry  http://wp.me/25ozb

Question: Tell us about your newest book. Make us want to read it.

Answer: My newest book is titled Love Me Sane. It’s about one woman’s struggles to build a personal relationship with Jesus Christ after she is raped. The protagonist in Love Me Sane continues to experience abuse through self-defeating behaviors such as addiction and promiscuity.

Question: What is the “message” of your writing? (For example, is your purpose to encourage old-fashioned values, encourage romance, or do you have different purposes in different books?)

Answer: I write in different genres so the messages are different for each book. The message I want my readers to receive from Love Me Sane is that no matter what we have done in our past Jesus Christ still loves us and is there for us. His grace is never out of reach for any of us. Not all of my books are about spirituality or Christianity.

Question: Tell us one place you want to visit, or person you want to meet, and why.

Answer: I want to meet Oprah Winfrey because she is a reminder that success isn’t that far away. She offers hope to me as a black woman. I believe that if she did it I can too.

Question: Share something that’s amazing, touching, or that makes you angry.

Answer: Something that makes me angry is exploitation. I hate when people exploit others for personal benefit.

Question: What’s the worst trouble you ever had with getting a book written (plots, finding needed information, getting a cover done)?

Answer: Formatting books to download for sale is very difficult for me. This was so difficult that I don’t remember how I got through it the first time. I’ll have to learn all over again.

Question: What’s your next project? Tell us so we can’t wait for it to come out!

Answer: My next project is a sequel to Love Me Sane titled Beyond Transgressions.

Question: What are your future projects?

Answer: I am writing a children’s book about grief titled Auntie Don’t Leave without Saying Goodbye, a poetry book titled Lesson’s I’ve Learned and a fiction book that I just call a soldier’s story. I haven’t titled it yet.

Question: Are their characters/stories/scenes/etc based on anything in real life?

Answer: The protagonist in my book Love Me Sane is based on some real experiences I have had but not all that’s the reason it’s realistic fiction and not non-fiction. Auntie Don’t Leave Without Saying Goodbye is a non-fiction book about how my son deals with my sister’s death but I don’t have the illustrations for this book yet. Lesson’s I’ve Learned is a book of poetry based on my personal life experiences.

Question: What is your favorite book/character?

Answer: My favorite book is Love Me Sane. I like Stacey’s character.

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Ada Brownell

A pregnant woman sits against a loaded cover wagon, weeping. Her husband, injured in an accident, lies a little distance away in a freshly dug grave.

A man rides up on a horse, exchanges a few words of greeting and says, “Seems like we’re both in a fix. You have no husband and no place to go. I recently buried my wife and have a small child that needs care while I’m working in the fields. If we would marry, that would solve both our problems.”

Since the gal has no alternative, they marry within hours, and thus start a unique marriage that begins with no love, no intimacy, just convenience–but it evolves into one of the greatest romance stories written: Love Comes Softy by Janette Oke.

I don’t know if I’ve remembered every detail of the story correctly, but created in only about three weeks, the book sold over a million copies, became a television series, and launched a career that changed historical inspirational romance.

Janette didn’t use the plot formula of Grace Livingston Hill and even authors today where someone wealthy falls in love with a pauper, and the relationship is violently opposed.

Janette Oke dared to be original.

Originality is a precious aspect of writing. It is evident in much more than plots. It’s what makes Max Lucado’s writing so intriguing to read. Consider this from Max:

“A woman’s heart should be so hidden in God that a man has to seek Him just to find her.”

Beautiful original writing appears in the Bible. For instance, “Arrayed in holy majesty, from the womb of the dawn you will receive the dew of your youth” (Psalm 110:4NIV)

Note this 45-word God-breathed description: “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness?” (2 Peter 3:10-11NKJ).

Ways to put originality in your writing:

1. Look for a different angle. For instance, in my recent Voice of the Day in The Springfield News-Leader, I wrote about why people hate The Ten Commandments. In an op-ed piece I submitted to The Pueblo Chieftain I asked, “Why do people smoke marijuana when there are more side effects than addiction?” In both, I believe the answers were original.

2. Include factual research, illustrations, and good quotes.

3. Tune up your writing style. Turn phrases in unique ways instead of using cliches, add humor, description, fiction techniques and create suspense.

4. Use dialogue, the senses in description, write in active tense instead of narration or summarizing.

5. Use the unexpected with words, action or development.

In her book, Word Painting, Rebecca McClanahan says the best way to achieve originality is to be yourself. “When we are writing from the center of ourselves, our metaphors are organic, unforced, springing from imagination rather than fancy.”

Rebecca says children draw naturally from original sources.

I found that to be true. Recently while we were in Florida, my 5-year-old granddaughter said, “Granny, you must be really old. “Your skin is all crinkled.”

It pays to learn from these moments, even if they do cause pain.

© Copyright Ada Brownell March 2014


Twitter: @adellerella

Blog: http://inkfromanearthenvessel.blogspot.com Stick to Your Soul Encouragement

Amazon Ada Brownell author page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B001KJ2C06

BarnesandNoble.com: http://ow.ly/rFSW3

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Friendship – Four Week Mini Bible Study by Ashley Ferris

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Friendship – Four Week Mini Bible Study By Ashley Ferris

About the Book:

Let’s explore the gift of friendship- what a devoted friendship looks like, how to handle the waiting period, and how to deepen current, valued friendships.

If you are in a season where you find yourself light on friends, I want this study to be an encouragement that this season will have an expiration date.

If you are in a place where you feel you have many friends, I hope you can use this study to evaluate the depth and purpose of those friendships.

It may spur you to take risks to deepen some already beautiful friendships. It may also help you see that there are some unhealthy ties that may need to be prayed over and potentially ended.

Finally, if you have friendships that are deep, but you tend to pull away when you are confronted, I hope you will see the value that lies before you. I pray that you will endure uncomfortable conversations with deep friends (that you know have your best interests at heart) in order to grow in friendship and as a daughter of the King.

Ashlee Ferris

Connect with author Ashely Ferris here:
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We are so excited to celebrate this Kindle new release with you by hosting a giveaway! Just enter for your chance to win a Kindle copy of Friendship – Four Week Mini Bible Study and a $50 Kindle gift card!

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This giveaway is sponsored by the Becoming Press Book Launch Bloggers.

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CrossReads Book Blast With Lillian Duncan

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By Lillian Duncan

About the Book

Witness Protection Program claims they can keep anyone safe if only they follow the rules so Maria follows the rules–every rule. She’s given up everything–her friends, her family, her past, even her name to ensure her daughter has a future.

Reborn as Veronica Minor in the sleepy little town of Sunberry, Ohio, she struggles to rebuild their life amid the beauty of her flower shop. A life where her daughter can have a happy normal childhood. A life where her daughter will never know that her father was a monster.

When a child disappears, Veronica prays it has nothing to do with her past, but what if she’s wrong? Not knowing who to trust, she trusts no one…and that’s her first mistake


lil2011dLillian Duncan

Stories of faith mingled… with murder & mayhem.

Lillian is a multi-published writer who writes the type of books she loves to read—suspense with a touch of romance. Whether as an educator, a writer, or a speech pathologist, she believes in the power of words to transform lives, especially God’s Word.

To learn more about Lillian and her books, visit: www.lillianduncan.net. She also has a devotional blog at: www.PowerUpWithGod.com as well as her personal blog, Tiaras & Tennis Shoes at www.lillian-duncan.com

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We would like to send out a special THANK YOU to all of the CrossReads book blast bloggers!

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The Mayonnaise Jar by Anonymous

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When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day is not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and two cups of coffee.

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him.

When the class began, wordlessly, he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and fills it with golf balls.

He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured it into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls.

He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else.

He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous “YES”.

The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

“Now,” said the professor, as the laughter subsided, “I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things – God, family,
children, health, friends, and favorite passions. Things, that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the things that matter like your job, house, and car. The sand is everything else — the small stuff.” he said.

“If you put the sand into the jar first,” he continued, “There is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are
important to you…” he told them.

“So… pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Worship with your family. Play with your children. Take your partner out to dinner. Spend time with good friends. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the dripping tap. Take care of the golf balls first — the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.”

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented.

The professor smiled and said, “I’m glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend.”

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Anger by Allison Kohn

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Allison Kohn

Bailey left her nice little and her cat to help her missionary friend, Donna. She lived in some little rooms behind Donna’s house and went into the house every day and worked in the office.

Donna had a cat too – a very highly strung cat. The cat was lonesome and missed the presence of Donna when she went into the interior. Baily fed, patted its head and talked to it. The cat got used to having Bailey’s company and resented it when she left for the night. Eventually the cat started attacking her when she left the house. Every day the cat bit Bailey on the same spot on her ankle.

Bailey’s ankle got still and her whole leg hurt, so she went to the doctor. The doctor insisted on knowing how Baily got the bites. He said the law made it clear that any bite must be reported. Bailey explained the cat was house bound and couldn’t have rabies. She begged him not to report it, but he wouldn’t listen and the animal control officer was soon in control.

Donna returned home just in time to turn her cat over to the authorities. She was told her cat would either have to go to the animal shelter or spend the next four days at the veterinary clinic. O course she wouldn’t have had to send it to the vet if it had its shots, but Donna hadn’t got its shots so she had to board it for the next four days. The whole thing made her very angry.

Donna met Bailey when she returned to the house. Tears of anger marred her pretty face and her voice shook when she spoke. Baily knew she would be upset when the authorities approached her, but of course she wasn’t aware the cat didn’t have its shots, so Donna’s intense anger was a shock. “…and I’ll probably have to pay your doctor bill too, and what for? Just because your leg hurts. That cat is all I have! I can’t stand the sight of you.”

So instead of going to her afternoon college class, Bailey called her pastor and his wife and spent the rest of the day loading everything she owned into her pickup.

Later, parked in her pickup out at the campground where she would make her home for the next six months, Baily smiled. “Well, Lord, I got the desire of my heart. I’m living in the country. Thank you.”

“As a means of venting her anger, donna wrote and told her supporters what an awful thing Bailey had done to her. Then she had an attack of depression that resulted in some really bad decisions.

Another person’s thoughtless words and actions put our God-given defense system into action. It pumps excessive amounts of chemicals into our bloodstream to help in answer to alarm and agitation. Without constructive action our memory broods in an endless cycle. The wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

God’s remedy for anger liberates us from the destructive results of a brooding memory. We can stop fretting because of the evil that mankind does. God promises that those who commit unjust acts shall be cut down and wither away.

The wonderful liberating truth is that God is keeping the records and we can trust him to take our burden on him. He will reveal righteousness and justice a bright as the light at noonday. We are free from the responsibility of righting the wrong, punishing the guilty, proving the truth of a personal injustice, or defending our honor. We can dwell in the circumstances God places us in and cultivate faithfulness. What a delightful Lord we have!

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Keep Your Gas Tank Full! by Sherry Chamblee

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Sherry Chamblee

So we’re toodling along (yes, that’s a word in my world) down the road in the big black Tahoe. I’ve just come from a meal out with my husband and daughter on her 17th birthday. This is after a full morning of getting Granny up out of bed, fed breakfast, getting to ensemble practice before church, morning worship services, getting Granny back home, fed, and cleaned up, then out for a rare activity with *all* the kids. So yes, it’s been a busy day.

Now it’s 5 in the afternoon, we have an hour (or so) to get home, get Granny cleaned up again, put to bed, pick up a kid, get back in the car and get back to church for evening service and canvassing the neighborhoods with door hangers for Open Sunday in a couple weeks.

The problem? The Tahoe’s hungry-for-gas light had been on all day. I knew it needed gas, but I figured it could go just a little farther. I really didn’t have time, and then when I’d had time, I’d frankly forgotten to visit the gas station. We had money with us. We had had a little time earlier in the day, and like I said, we hadn’t gotten to it. So now, when crunch time came…putter, putter, stutter, stop!

The Tahoe, a big, black, fits-all-8-of-us-and-a-friend driving machine simply stopped moving. You know, it takes a ton of muscle to turn a vehicle like that when the power steering is not working, but I pulled it safely into a parking lot and sat, waiting for my father-in-law to show up with help.

Isn’t that just like me and God?

I go-go-go, thinking I can pull just one more ounce of strength before I collapse, not thinking I have time recharge at God’s ‘gas station’. Then, when the crunch is really on, I sputter to a stop, my energy depleted, my patience gone, my motivation having taken a vacation. At that time I become just like that Tahoe – utterly useless no matter how many I’m able to carry, and really hard to move to a safe location. While I wait for a recharge then, I’m stuck in a parking lot of life, shoved off to the side of the road just waiting; when all along, a refill at the gas station was waiting for me.

Unlike what keeps our cars running, God’s gas station offers free refills. All I have to do is sit down and open my Bible. Close my eyes and talk to God – let Him refresh me, fill me with His energy and His motivations.

I can keep going all day and then some when I’m using God’s power to get God’s service done. And while it seems too simple to say that it just takes reading and meditating on God’s Word, and spending some time in prayer, it really IS just that simple. Simple, and yet something we tend too often to overlook. We don’t notice how far and how fast we’re going on our own until we’re nearly ready to collapse.

Let’s not get to that point. Keep your gas tank full!

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