How Strong is Our Signal?

transistor radioIn the 1960s I had a very cool transistor radio. Oh, yeah. I surely did. It even had an earphone you could plug in. Yep. Only problem was the unreliable signal strength.

During the summer I took that radio with me everyday to the pool. My girlfriends and I spread out our towels, slathered ourselves with Coppertone oil, faced the sun, and listened to WINX AM 1600 radio, at the top of the dial, broadcast live from Rockville, Maryland. I even had a WINX Winker button that entitled me to win prizes if I called the station whenever the DJ announced my name over the air.

One day a friend at school asked what I won after my WINX Winker number was called the previous night around midnight. There was one slight problem. Who stays up 24-hours-a-day to listen for their number to be called? Surely not this seventh grader. The station was pretty sneaky, if you ask me.

At the time, WINX’s radio signal was rather weak. During the daytime, you had to position the radio just right, with the antenna stretched out at the proper angle, to receive the signal. If a cloud passed over, you weren’t going to hear your favorite song, that’s for sure.

In thinking about the weak, semi-reliable radio signal, and the interference that got in the way, I thought about the reliability of the strength of our connection to God. Our radio signal, if you will. And I wondered, how strong is our signal.

Is the signal God sends us getting through, or are we hiding behind something like Adam and Eve did in the Garden after they sinned?

Do we allow others to weaken our connection to God? Do we allow them get in the way of our service to him?

Do we keep ourselves so busy with stuff we don’t have time to hear Jesus’ voice over the noise of our lives?

Just as it sent shouts of “OH. NO.” raging through me whenever my radio lost the signal with WINX and interrupted one of my favorite songs, shouldn’t we shout, “OH. NO.” whenever we drift from God, put up walls, try to hide from his presence and in doing so, break the strength of his signal coming through?

If we expect to find the truth God has for us, we need to look for it through his word and keep our ears tuned to him. We need to make sure we don’t become deaf to his signals. We need to keep our signal strong.

Fortunately, even though God is available to hear our prayers 24-hours-a-day, we don’t need to sit around waiting for our WINX Winker number to be called to win a prize. As soon as we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, the jackpot becomes ours. Eternal life with him in heaven. Glory hallelujah! Amen?

Did you own a transistor radio? If so, how was the reception?

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What then? The people of Israel did not find what they were looking for. It was only the small group that God chose who found it; the rest grew deaf to God’s call. Romans 11:7 (GNT)

You can find my August Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Photo by Ali Yasar isgoren on Unsplash

Gluten-free Pecan Pie Muffins Recipe

gluten-free pecan pie muffinThese gluten-free pecan muffins are as easy and yummy as pecan pie, but not nearly as rich.

  • 1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • ½ cup gluten-free flour
  • ½ cup chopped pecans
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2/3 cup butter, softened (make sure the butter is soft before mixing)

Preheat oven to 350°. Line muffin cups with paper muffin liners. 

In large bowl, stir together brown sugar, flour, and pecans. 

In separate bowl, beat eggs and butter together until smooth.

Stir into dry ingredients until just combined. 

Spoon batter into muffin cups, about 2/3 full. 

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until done.

Make sure to cool completely on wire racks. This allows the paper liners to come off easier.

Enjoy!

You can find my August Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Strength to Bend a Bronze Bow

archer with bowStrength to bend a bronze bow. That’s what David says God gives in Psalm 18. In this psalm David declares God to be his rock, fortress, deliverer, shield, and salvation. David says God enables him to stand on rocky paths with feet as sure as a deer’s.

I have always loved the imagery of this psalm. Feet like deer which enable us to climb rocky paths. Strength which enables us to bend a bow of bronze.

One spring morning as Pilot and I watched mountain goats run up the side of the Rocky Mountains, rocks sliding down the hill beneath their feet, I saw first hand what it means to have feet like deer which enable us to stand on the rocky heights without falling.

After bending an ordinary bow made of hard wood to string it, I know bending a bow of bronze requires strength beyond my human ability.

David cried out to God, and God drew him out of the depths. God rescued David from his foes. He turned David’s darkness into light. Then God trained David’s arms for battle once again, giving him the strength to bend a bronze bow. 

How many times has God drawn us out of the depths and rescued us? How often has he turned our darkness into light? When God rescues, the battle isn’t over. It’s merely a pause. In that time of rest, God prepares us with strength and surefootedness to climb the next rocky path that lies ahead.

I long to have the strength to bend a bow of bronze, and the feet to climb the rocky mountains with surefootedness, don’t you? To long for the strength to handle the bronze bows and mountains of the everyday battles we face.

What was true with David is true with us. After God rescues, he isn’t finished. He gives us time to recover. As we recover, he trains and prepares us for our next battle. For surely, there will be a next battle.

What battles do you feel God is training you for, giving you the strength to bend a bronze bow to accomplish?

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It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he causes me to stand on the heights. He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You make your saving help my shield, and your right hand sustains me; your help has made me great. You provide a broad path for my feet, so that my ankles do not give way. Psalm 18:32-36

You can find my August Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Photo by Alireza Sahebi on Unsplash

Plug Into the Ultimate Power Source

laptop computer

One morning as I typed on my laptop computer, I noticed the battery was low. I noticed, but did nothing about it. I ignored the nudge to plug into the power source designed to keep the computer functioning.

A few minutes later, 11 minutes left on battery popped up. Eleven minutes? Plenty of time. No problem. I kept typing.

Before long, the Plug into power source now warning appeared.

Okay.

I rummaged for the power cord in the bag by my side. I fumbled behind me, and plugged the cord into the electrical outlet. With power flowing into the computer, I was able to continue my work.

As I typed, I pondered the comparison between the low battery warning on the lap top, and those times in our lives when we think we can keep running in our own strength.

How often have we falsely believed we do not need to plug into God’s ultimate power source as we watch our low spiritual energy warning count down to zero? If we aren’t careful, that kind of thinking can leave us depleted.

Oh, we might plug into God’s power occasionally. But only enough to get the next task done. Is that really going to keep us going for the long haul?

Perhaps we look at the 11 minutes left warning and believe we can keep running on our own, limited, battery power. Maybe we even wait until the Plug into power source now warning goes off before we reach out to God.

We can be a stubborn bunch, can we not? We believe we don’t need the ultimate power source which is accessible through prayer, the counsel of godly friends, and studying God’s word.

Sometimes, we falsely believe we can make it the last eleven minutes, last two days, last 4 weeks, last whatevers, on our own before we crash. Depleted. Exhausted. Done in.

When we plug into God’s power, we never need to worry about our spiritual battery running out.

Unlike in the movie, Flash Gordon, where Dale says, “Flash, I love you, but we’ve only got 14 hours to save the earth!” God’s power is unlimited. God is not bound by time like we are. His power is way greater than anything we could ever accomplish on our own.

Whatever it is that we are going through, with God, there is no fear of our spiritual battery running out. Don’t ignore the nudge to plug into the ultimate power source. 

How do you plug into the ultimate power source?

Leave a comment below to share your thoughts on the subject. If you think others would appreciate reading this, please share it through the social media buttons.

Is anyone crying for help? God is listening, ready to rescue you. Psalm 34:17 (The Message)

You can find my August Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Photo by Alejandro Escamilla on Unsplash

Burden Or Blessing?

birds flying at sunsetWhen God allows something difficult into our life, do we view it as a burden or blessing? As with many things in life, we might answer, it depends. But what would happen if we looked at everything God allows to reach us as a blessing, no matter what the cost? How might our perspective change?

Recently, I was diagnosed with a rotator cuff tear. Burden. After six weeks of physical therapy and an MRI, turns out it isn’t a tear. Blessing. The problem is autoimmune related. Burden. God’s in control. Blessing.

Maybe when the orthopedic doctor first told me I had a tear, I should have just skipped straight to remembering God is in control, and counted it a blessing. Maybe. But that’s not how I looked at it at the time.

As I shifted from thinking rotator cuff tear with a possible treatment plan, to yet one more autoimmune-caused ailment without one, I read a devotion in Streams in the Desert. I would like to share what J.R. Miller wrote with you. Perhaps after reading it, you will see the hard things God allows into your life as more of a blessing than a burden.

There is a fable about the way birds first got their wings. The story goes that initially they were made without them. Then God made the wings, set them down before the wingless birds, and said to them, “Take up these burdens and carry them.”

 

After hesitating a bit, the birds picked up the burdens, and set them on their shoulders to carry. For a short time the wings seemed heavy and difficult to bear. But as the birds carried the wings, folded over their heart, the wings grew attached to their bodies.

They quickly discovered how to use them and were lifted by the wings high into the air. The weights had become wings. 

J.R. Miller continued, “We look at our burdens and heavy loads, and try to run from them, but if we will carry them and tie them to our hearts, they will become wings.”

No matter how overwhelming, any burden God has lovingly placed with His own hands on our shoulders is a blessing. Frederick William Faber

How do you look at the difficult things God places in your life? Burden or blessing? I’m striving to slide my burden/blessing meter closer to the blessing end. Will you join me?

Leave a comment below to share your thoughts on the subject. If you think others would appreciate reading this, please share it through the social media buttons.

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

You can find my August Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Photo by Rohan Gupta on Unsplash

Learn to Be Silent

forest treesAs you might imagine, when I taught elementary-aged students, I spent a lot of time talking. A lot of time. Once I stepped out of the classroom, one of the biggest transitions I needed to make was to learn to be silent.

I’m not a telephone person. I don’t like spending time in long conversations on the phone. I just don’t. So the minute Pilot walked in our front door after work each weekday afternoon, I talked non-stop, asking him about the minutiae of his day.

I longed to hear another person’s voice. I needed another person to hear my voice. Through the years I’ve learned to temper that impulse, so it isn’t as bad these days.

To fill in the absence of human conversation, during my day I talked to the inanimate things around me. Of course there were the dogs. I talked to them all day long. I talked to the computer when it refused to perform as I commanded. I talked – well, more like yelled – to the crazy drivers I encountered on the road.

Hey. I’m a fiction writer. We fiction writers talk to the fictitious characters in the books we’re writing all the time. We work out scenarios by talking through them. Depending on the genre we write, the search histories on our computers could prove quite interesting.

Ask any of us. You’ll see it’s true.

But in all of this, one thing I learned is to sit in silence before God and listen to the sounds of his creation. I marvel at the fact God allows us to be a part of that  creation. Don’t you?

Creation doesn’t need to use words to display God’s glory. It doesn’t matter where we live or the time of day, creation tells a story. It tells the story of a Creator God, Elohim, who spoke the world into being. All we have to do is learn to be silent to hear it.

Creation tells of an All-Powerful, Omnipotent God who loves us enough to speak to us through his creation. If only we will pause long enough from our busy life, learn to be silent, and listen.

What are the ways you listen to God in the silence of his creation?

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The heavens are telling the glory of God; they are a marvelous display of his craftsmanship. Day and night they keep on telling about God. Without a sound or word, silent in the skies, their message reaches out to all the world. The sun lives in the heavens where God placed it and moves out across the skies as radiant as a bridegroom going to his wedding, or as joyous as an athlete looking forward to a race! The sun crosses the heavens from end to end, and nothing can hide from its heat. Psalm 19:1-6 (TLB)

You can find my July Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Photo by Sebastian Unrau on Unsplash

Lord, Make It Right

dark nightWhen life events seem confusing and beat down on us, we might cry out, Lord, make it right.

When we aren’t sure which is the best path to take, we might cry out, Lord, make it plain.

When things seem a little muddled and fuzzy, we might cry out, Lord, make what is so clear to you, clear to me.

Whenever we cry, Lord, make it right, we can be assured God is aware of what we’re going through. Sometimes we see his hand move as he works on our behalf. Other times we don’t. Whether or not we see God at work, it doesn’t change the fact he is working.

When we believe God is good, God is in control, God will never leave or forsake us, and trust in his sovereignty, we are better able to lay our needs at his feet while we wait for him to work in his way and in his timing.

This may not be an easy thing to do, but the more we do it, the easier it becomes.

How have you seen that to be true in your life?

“Being perplexed, I say,
‘Lord, make it right!
Night is as day to Thee,
Darkness as light.
I am afraid to touch
Things that involve so much;
My trembling hand may shake,
My skilless hand may break;
Thine can make no mistake.’

“Being in doubt I say,
‘Lord, make it plain;
Which is the true, safe way?
Which would be gain?
I am not wise to know,
Nor sure of foot to go;
What is so clear to Thee,
Lord, make it clear to me!’”

Streams in the Desert

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O our God, won’t you stop them? We have no way to protect ourselves against this mighty army. We don’t know what to do, but we are looking to you.

2 Chronicles 20:12 (TLB)

You can find my July Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Photo by Vincent Chin on Unsplash

Have Our Spiritual Tools Become Dull?

axe in block of woodAfter the past year we’ve had with the very real effects of COVID, I’m wondering. have our spiritual tools become dull?

Most of us avoid using dull tools to accomplish our work. If you’ve ever tried cutting a piece of wood with a rusty saw, or snipping a vine with a blunt pair of clippers you know using dull tools requires extra work and extra time. Work that could be avoided if proper care was given to the tool beforehand.

Those who cut out fabric to sew a garment usually guard their sewing shears with a vengeance. Sewing shears are not to be used to cut paper. The fastest way to blunt a pair of scissors is to cut paper with them. Or worse. Cut open a plastic bag. (Speaking to my family here.)

In the book of Ecclesiastes Solomon spoke of planning ahead. He advised keeping our axe sharpened before it became dull. Smart advice. I’ve not had much experience chopping wood with an axe, but I have thrown dull axes at wooden targets. From that experience, I can attest to how inefficient a dull axe is.

We may not own an axe or throw them at targets, but what about the spiritual areas of our life? Have we grown lax, and allowed our spiritual tools to become dull?

With the recent social distancing protocols in place, we may have slacked off in our church attendance. Virtual or otherwise. I know I did.

As things begin to return to the way they used to be, this is a great time to get with other believers and worship together.

Along with getting back in church, do we need to make the extra effort to join a Bible study group?

Studying God’s word on our own is important and necessary. However, when we discuss Scripture with others, we often gain insights we might miss when we study on our own.

If we’ve stopped reading our Bible on a regular basis, now is as good a time as any to get back in the habit.

Has our spiritual tool of prayer become dull? I am so grateful for those in my life who come alongside and pray for me. I am also grateful for people God places in my path to pray for.

Meeting together with other believers, group Bible study, and daily Scripture reading are all important spiritual tools we need to keep sharp. For me, though, praying and being prayed for is one spiritual tool I don’t ever want to let become dull.

Have our spiritual tools become dull? If so, let’s get busy sharpening them to be more effective for God’s work.

As Solomon said, it is smarter to plan ahead and keep our tools sharpened so we don’t have to work harder to use them.

What ways have you found to keep your spiritual tools from becoming dull?

Leave a comment below to share your thoughts on the subject. If you think others would appreciate reading this, please share it through the social media buttons.

If your ax is dull and you don’t sharpen it, you have to work harder to use it. It is smarter to plan ahead. Ecclesiastes 10:10 (GNT)

You can find my July Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Between the Wild Branches Book Review

between the wild branches book cover

Between the Wild Branches is another Biblical fiction novel which proves, once again, Connilyn Cossette is a master at weaving an interesting story that’s hard to put down.

Set in Ashdod, Philistia 1052 BC, Between the Wild Branches tells the story of Philistine champion fighter Lukio, and Hebrew slave to one of the king’s daughters, Shoshana. Although the two were close during their years growing up in Israel, they haven’t seen each other for ten years. When they rediscover each other, complicated matters only become more complicated.

This book is filled with a cast of intriguing characters. Some honorable. Some despicable. There is sacrifice and greed. Hatred and love.

Connilyn uses her well-researched vast knowledge of Biblical times to present an authentic world, and bring two different cultures to life. With unexpected twists and turns, Between the Wild Branches keeps the reader turning pages to the very end.

If you enjoy Biblical historical fiction at its best, then Between the Wild Branches may just be the book for you.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House for a fair and honest review, which is exactly what I gave.

Have you read this book? If so, what was your impression of it?

You can find my July Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

Pause for Poetry Only Jesus

meadow lakeOnly Jesus

by Frances Gregory Pasch

Who knows each moment how you feel?

Whose love for you is always real?

Who cares for you and guides your way?

Who holds your hand so you won’t stray?

Jesus!

Who’s there when others turn their backs?

Who helps you get your life on track?

Who always wants to be your friend?

On whom alone can you depend?

Jesus!

Who’s there for you both day and night?

Who soothes your pain and makes things right?

Who walked the road to Calvary

And gave His life, so you’d be free?

Jesus!

Who is Our Savior and Our King,

Our Counselor-Our Everything?

Only Jesus!

©Frances Gregory Pasch

Frances Gregory Pasch’s devotions and poems have been published hundreds of times in devotional booklets, magazines, and Sunday school papers since 1985. Her writing has also appeared in several dozen compilations. Frances’ latest book, Greater Than Gold is available on Amazon. Her first book, Double Vision: Seeing God in Everyday Life Through Devotions and Poetry, which was published when she was eighty years old, is also available on Amazon. Frances has been leading a women’s Christian writers group since 1991 and makes her own holiday greeting cards incorporating her poetry. She and her husband, Jim, have been married since 1958. They have five sons and nine grandchildren. Contact her at http://www.francesgregorypasch.com.