Likes and Followers

courtesy pixabayLikes and followers. How important are they? In our world of around the clock social media, where buttons exist to like and follow just about anything, it seems our world believes likes and followers are very important.

In the world of publishing I have been told by editors that although they love my work, they won’t consider taking it forward to publication unless I can show X amount of followers across multiple social media sites and platforms. Likes and followers are important to them.

Apparently King David thought likes and followers were important as well. So much so,  he authorized the commander of his troops, Joab, to take a census of all the Israelites in the land from Beersheba to Dan.

David wanted to know how large his domain was. He wanted to know how many Israelites he ruled. Who knows what motivated the king to order the census? All we know from reading 1 Chronicles 21 is the census did not end well.

Joab, didn’t think the census was such a good idea. Although there were times God ordered a census, this was not one of those times. David’s desired census put the emphasis on David’s greatest. Not on God’s. It put David’s confidence in the number of men available for his army. Not in God.

Despite Joab’s protests, the king’s word stood. A census was taken. God was not pleased.

As a result of God’s displeasure over the census, God offered David three options. David was to choose which of the three punishments God would carry out against the Israelites.

Now then, dear David, decide how the LORD is to extract justice for your desire to count likes and followers.

Three years of famine. Three months of being swept away before your enemies with their swords overtaking you. Three days of the sword of the LORD ravaging every part of Israel.

Not much of a choice the way I see it.

What about you? Which would you choose?

David chose three days of the sword of the LORD ravaging every part of Israel.

So the LORD sent a plague on Israel. Seventy thousand men of Israel fell dead. As the angel of the LORD was poised to destroy Jerusalem, God was grieved because of the calamity. He told the angel, “Enough! Withdraw your hand.”

David saw the angel of the LORD standing between heaven and earth, sword drawn, extended over Jerusalem, and fell facedown. David told God he was the one who sinned and did wrong by ordering the census. He asked God to spare the people and punish David instead.

A prophet told David to build an altar to the LORD. David did. There he offered a burnt sacrifice which the LORD lit. Then God told the angel to put his sword back into its sheath.

My favorite verse in this passage relates to David buying the threshing floor where he built the altar. “I will not sacrifice to the LORD something that costs me nothing.” You can find it in verses 18-26.

So. Likes and followers. How important are they? Jesus told his disciples to follow him and he would make them fishers of men (and women). Guess that’s the only kind of follower we need to be concerned with.

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.

Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel. So David said to Joab and the commanders of the troops, “Go and count the Israelites from Beersheba to Dan. Then report back to me so that I may know how many there are.” 1 Chronicles 21:1-2

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

I wish you well.

Sandy

Please sign up to receive posts every Tuesday and Thursday. Thanks!

Cry Out to God in Your Distress

Have there been times in your life when you needed to cry out to God in your distress?

In my life there have been plenty of times I’ve cried out to God in distress. I imagine you may be able to say the same. Perhaps those times occurred during this past year. Perhaps they occurred at some other time.

The prophet Samuel’s mother Hannah cried out to God in her distress. As Hannah prayed in the Lord’s temple, her lips moved but no words came out. Because of that, her actions were misinterpreted by Eli the priest. The priest wasn’t kind, either. In fact, he accused the poor distraught woman of being drunk in the Lord’s house.

Romans 8:26-27 tells us the Spirit comes to help us, weak as we are. For we do not know how we ought to pray. The Spirit himself pleads with God for us in groans that words cannot express. And God, who sees into our hearts, knows what the thought of the Spirit is, because the Spirit pleads with God on behalf of his people and in accordance with his will.

I think when Hannah prayed that day, the Spirit interceded for her in groans words  could not express.

Although the priest got it all wrong and accused Hannah, God saw straight to her heart. God knew Hannah’s pain. He knew the injustice she endured at the hand of her husband’s other wife. God also knew he would grant Hannah’s request for a son. God  gave her Samuel.

Our actions may be misunderstood by others. They may misinterpret our distress. Conversely, we may misunderstand others actions and misinterpret their distress.

But the wonderful thing about all this is although others may misinterpret or condemn, God’s Spirit intercedes on our behalf. The Spirit takes our painful groans to the Father’s throne.

God sees the motives behind our actions. He hears when we cry out to him in our distress. He looks at us with grace. Not condemnation.

Like Hannah, we can take comfort in that fact.

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.

One time, after they had finished their meal in the house of the Lord at Shiloh, Hannah got up. She was deeply distressed, and she cried bitterly as she prayed to the Lord. Meanwhile, Eli the priest was sitting in his place by the door.  Hannah continued to pray to the Lord for a long time, and Eli watched her lips. She was praying silently; her lips were moving, but she made no sound. So Eli thought that she was drunk, and he said to her, “Stop making a drunken show of yourself. Stop your drinking and sober up!” “No, I’m not drunk, sir,” she answered. “I haven’t been drinking! I am desperate, and I have been praying, pouring out my troubles to the Lord. Don’t think I am a worthless woman. I have been praying like this because I’m so miserable.” 1 Samuel 1:10, 12-16 (GNT)

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

I wish you well.

Sandy

Please sign up to receive posts every Tuesday and Thursday. Thanks!

A Cowboy For Keeps Book Review

Set in Colorado Territory in 1862, A Cowboy for Keeps by Jody Hedlund tells the story of Greta Nilsson, a mail order bride who cares for her sickly younger sister, and rancher Wyatt McQuaid. After Greta arrives in Fairplay, Colorado, she must adjust her plans. Penniless following her stagecoach robbery, and learning her intended husband is dead, she is left with no few options. When her intended’s friend, Wyatt McQuaid, proposes marriage, Greta agrees.

A Cowboy for Keeps has heroes and villains, moments of hope and times of despair, characters to root for and those to despise. Sprinkled throughout the book are Scripture references to guide Greta and Wyatt on their journey of decision-making.

Although I enjoyed the dialog between Wyatt and Greta as their relationship developed, which gave a glimpse into who they were, the repetitious internal self-doubt and introspection often pulled me out of the story.

A Cowboy for Keeps is a book for those who enjoy Christian historical fiction marriage of convenience tales.

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 January Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

Please enter your email address on the form located on the right sidebar to sign up to receive posts every Tuesday and Thursday. Thanks.

Love Covers Over All Wrongs

My experience when dealing with the pain and hurts others inflict on us has been to hold onto the pain. Turn it over and over in my mind where it has the opportunity to pull the scab off the wound and re-inflict pain all over again.

Definitely not the best way to deal with such things.

The Bible tells us love covers all wrongs. And, of course, that’s true. The problem I see is we often refuse to allow love to cover all wrongs. We might let it cover some wrongs, but hold onto those we feel don’t deserve to be covered with love’s forgiveness.

Am I the only one who does this? I think not.

With that said, I’d like to share a devotion I recently read in Streams in the Desert.

At midnight I found myself completely unable to sleep. Waves of cruel injustice were sweeping over me, and the covering of love seemed to have been unknowingly removed from my heart. In great agony I cried to God for the power to obey his admonition, ‘Love covers over all wrongs.’

From here the writer explains God’s Spirit began to work the power into her that ultimately brought about forgetfulness.

She mentally dug a grave until the hole was very deep. She lowered the offense that wounded her into the grave. Quickly she shoveled the soil over it. Then she covered the hole with green sod, planted beautiful white roses and forget-me-nots on top, and Briskly walked away.

The wound that seemed so deadly was healed without a scar. God’s love covered the hurt. The pain. The wound. Completely.

So here’s what I receive from this devotion. Perhaps you receive the same. Perhaps you receive something different.

When we cry out to God for help, his Spirit will work in us if we let him. He will bring us peace. When we insist on carrying wounds and refuse his help, peace will elude us.

It’s easier to truly forgive when we rely on God’s help. We might think we’ve forgiven, but quickly realize otherwise when the great deceiver, Satan, dredges up our past hurts.

I love the writer’s description of digging a grave – a very deep grave – to throw our wound into.

The offended did not stand over the open grave rehearsing the hurt. She QUICKLY shoveled dirt over the offense.

Then she planted something beautiful over the grave. She thought on what is lovely, noble, honorable, and of good report. She thought on the things of God.

With that done, she BRISKLY walked away. She didn’t loiter or spend time wondering if forgiving was the right thing to do. She didn’t jab her shovel back into the ground and exhume the hurt. Nope. She walked away.

As she left the wound in the grave, God’s love covered the hurt, and she was completely healed.

There was a scar on yonder mountainside,

Gashed out where once the cruel storm had trod;

A barren, desolate chasm, reaching wide

Across the soft green sod.

But years crept by beneath the purple pines,

And veiled the scar with grass and moss once more,

And left it fairer now with flowers and vines

Than it had been before.

There was a wound once in a gentle heart,

From which life’s sweetness seemed to ebb and die;

And love’s confiding changed to bitter smart,

While slow, sad years went by.

Yet as they passed, unseen an angel stole

And laid a balm of healing on the pain,

Till love grew purer in the heart made whole,

And peace came back again.

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.

Hate stirs up trouble, but love forgives all offenses. Proverbs 10:12 (GNT)

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

I wish you well.

Sandy

Please enter your email address on the form located on the right sidebar to sign up to receive posts every Tuesday and Thursday. Thanks!

Tidewater Bride Book Review

Tidewater Bride by Laura Frantz has us rooting for Selah Hopewell and Xander Renick as they navigate their world of English settlers and Powhatan Naturals amidst tobacco farms, treachery, loss, and love in James Towne, Virginia Colony in 1634.

Well researched historical details give readers a glimpse into what it was like to live in this time and place. While the use of archaic words lent realism and flavor to the book, it also sent me looking up the meaning of fortnight.

Although I looked forward to scenes where Selah and Xander interacted, I occasionally questioned the inclusion of other scenes and the relevance of certain characters to the story. There were times the actions of younger characters did not seem to fit their ages, and times the story felt amiss. The ending, to me, was abrupt.

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

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

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

I wish you well.

Sandy

Please enter your email address on the form located on the right sidebar to sign up to receive posts every Tuesday and Thursday. Thanks.

Pause for Poetry-Forgive Me, Lord

Welcome to Pause for Poetry featuring a poem, Forgive Me, Lord, written by my writer-friend, Frances Gregory Pasch.

When the earth with its temptations

Tries to get my life off track,

And I spend time doing worldly things

And sometimes turn my back…

Forgive me.

When I try to work things my own way

Instead of trusting you,

When I think I have the answers

Yet they seldom see me through…

Forgive me.

When I wrestle with anxiety

And get uptight inside,

And continually rely on me

and bathe myself in pride…

Forgive me.

Help me, Lord, to lean on You,

Provide the strength I need,

For in Your power and Your grace,

I know I can succeed.

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.

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.

I wish you well.

Sandy

Please enter your email address on the form located on the right sidebar to sign up to receive posts every Tuesday and Thursday. Thanks!

The Vocal Ten

courtesy pixabayThe vocal ten.

Ten men among twelve.

Ten men who feared the unknown more than they trusted the known.

Ten men whose actions forced a nation to wander in a desert wasteland for forty years, when the journey could have taken mere days.

Ten men whose fear fueled a rebellion against God.

Many of us are familiar with the story of the twelve Hebrew spies who went on a reconnaissance mission into the land of Canaan. A land God promised they would take. Moses sent the spies on a forty day mission to scout out the land. He wasn’t checking to see if the land could be taken. God already told him it could be taken. The spies’ mission was to scope out the land and come back with a report so plans for conquest could be drawn up.

Even though the vocal ten saw a bountiful land, they focused on the giants instead. The skeptical, fearful vocal ten forgot God is bigger than any giant we might face. They came back convinced, despite God’s promise, the land could not be conquered.

Caleb and Joshua, the other two spies sent on the recon mission, wanted to enter the land at once. Yes. There were giants, but these two argued the land could be conquered because God would go before them. Just as he had ever since they left Egypt.

Because of their lack of faith and fear, the ten convinced the rest of the million or so Hebrew travelers with them their efforts to take the land were futile. They spread fear throughout the camp.

Not only did their words and thoughts fuel their own fears, they stoked the fears of the rest of the people. They riled the crowd up to an illogical frenzy based on a fear-bred lack of faith.

Then the whole community began weeping aloud, and they cried all night. Their voices rose in a great chorus of protest against Moses and Aaron. “If only we had died in Egypt, or even here in the wilderness!” they complained. “Why is the Lord taking us to this country only to have us die in battle? Our wives and our little ones will be carried off as plunder! Wouldn’t it be better for us to return to Egypt?” (Numbers 14:1-9)

Just as was the case of the vocal ten who shouted over Caleb and Joshua, and whose fear won the people over to their way of thinking – much to their eventual detriment when we remember Caleb and Joshua were the only original people in the exodus from Egypt God allowed to finally enter the Promised Land forty years later –  our words matter.

Our words have consequences.

Our words can heal or cause division.

Our words can fuel fear of fuel faith.

And most importantly, our words show where we put our trust.

Instead of being like the vocal ten, and using our words to fuel fear and distrust, how about we use our words to fuel others’ faith in the Word of the Immutable Unchanging Promise Keeper God?

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.

But Caleb tried to quiet the people as they stood before Moses. “Let’s go at once to take the land,” he said. “We can certainly conquer it!”

But the other men who had explored the land with him disagreed. “We can’t go up against them! They are stronger than we are!” So they spread this bad report about the land among the Israelites: “The land we traveled through and explored will devour anyone who goes to live there. All the people we saw were huge.We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak. Next to them we felt like grasshoppers, and that’s what they thought, too!” Numbers 13:30-33 (NLT)

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

I wish you well.

Sandy

God Doesn’t Show Favoritism

courtesy pixabayAlthough the Bible tells us God doesn’t show favoritism, and neither should we, I wonder. Are there times in our lives where we have shown favoritism?

I’m guessing the answer is yes. In those times when we’ve behaved in such a way, would we have to admit by doing so, we pushed someone further away from God by our actions than we moved them closer to him?

Sadly, I know that to be true for me.

One particular episode comes to mind. I can’t say for sure how old I was at the time. Probably somewhere in early high school. It was summer. As my girlfriends and I came from Sunday school into the church sanctuary, I noticed a girl I recognized from school.

We weren’t friends, or anything. We’d only seen each other in the halls. Or maybe we had a class together. She was kind of on the periphery. Not really involved in the things I was involved with. Still, when she recognized me her face lit up as she said hello.

She was by herself, which I thought odd and brave at the same time. What teenage girl goes to a new church by herself? When she approached, I knew I couldn’t just pretend I didn’t see her.

And here’s the thing. The thought to pretend I didn’t see her should have never entered my mind. I should have been eager to go say hello and invite her to sit with me. But I wasn’t.

The first thing she told me was, “I got baptized last week at Ocean City during a beach service. The preacher told me I should come to this church when I got home.”

My first thought was, way cool getting baptized in the ocean. My second thought was, only hippies get baptized in the ocean.

See the problem?

Like Peter, I had per-conceived thoughts and ideas – prejudices – about what was clean and unclean. What was right and not right. What saved a person and what didn’t.

So very very wrong.

God doesn’t put these kind of human parameters on who can be saved and who can’t. God doesn’t show favoritism. God treats everyone on the same basis. We are all sinners in need of a Savior, and Jesus is the answer.

I wish my friends and I had behaved more Christ-like. We were polite. We invited her to sit with us that day, but really didn’t invite her into our circle. She may have returned once or twice more. After that, I never saw her again. Who could blame her?

Why should she want to come back to a group of hypocritical girls who sang about loving Jesus, yet never exhibited the love of Jesus?

Girls who long ago accepted Christ as their Savior yet didn’t know how to share in the excitement and enthusiasm of a newly saved life.

How very very sad.

Retelling this to you all makes me feel like I failed this girl in so many ways. But you know what? Thanks be to God, my witness, or lack of, was not the only exposure she had to the love of Christ.

Someone on a beach in eastern Maryland during the 1970s loved God and loved people enough to preach the message of the Good News of Jesus Christ to a group of beach goers. That group included a high school girl who accepted Jesus as her Savior.

I pray God brought her to a group of people who showed her the true love of Jesus. A group of believers who accepted her as a child of God. Believers who know for certain God doesn’t show favoritism even when we do.

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.

 Peter said, “Now I know for certain that God doesn’t show favoritism with people but treats everyone on the same basis. It makes no difference what race of people one belongs to. If they show deep reverence for God, and are committed to doing what’s right, they are acceptable before him. Acts 10:34-35 (TPT)

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

I wish you well.

Sandy

Please sign up to receive posts every Tuesday and Thursday. Thanks!

Gluten-free Ham and Corn Fritters Recipe

This gluten-free Ham and Corn Fritters recipe is a tasty way to use some of that leftover holiday ham we might find ourselves wondering what we’ll do with it.

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup cooked ham, diced
  • 1 cup pineapple (diced fresh, OR canned tidbits) drained
  • 1 cup cooked corn, drained
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 cup gluten-free flour
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil

Whisk eggs in a large bowl.

Add all remaining ingredients except the olive oil. Mix well.

Form mixture into 10, 3-inch patties. Add a bit more flour if mixture does not hold together.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil to medium and cook fritters until golden brown, about 1-2 minutes per side.

Remove cooked fritters to a plate lined with paper towels to drain oil.

Enjoy!

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

I wish you well.

Sandy

Please enter your email address on the form located on the right sidebar to sign up to receive posts every Tuesday and Thursday. Thanks!

A Timeless Prayer

Five days ago we closed out 2020. As we look toward 2021, I leave you with a timeless prayer written decades ago. This prayer comes from a clipping in a paper my father received for years from his Masonic Lodge. I found this among other clippings in his  nightstand when he died in 1980, three months after he turned 62.

I don’t know the author of this prayer, but I hope you will find his thoughts worth considering.

Let me do my work each day, and if the darkened hours of despair overcome me, may I not forget the strength that comforted me in the desolation of other times. May I still remember the bright hours that found me walking over the silent hills of my childhood, or dreaming on the margin of the quiet river, when a light glowed within me and I promised my early God to have courage amid the tempest of the changing years. Spare me from the bitterness and sharp passions of unguarded moments.

May I not forget that poverty and riches are of the spirit. Though the world know me not, may my thoughts and actions be such as shall keep me friendly with my self. Lift my eyes from the earth and let me forget the uses of the stars. Forbid that I should judge others lest I condemn myself.

Let me me not follow the clamor of the world, but walk humbly in my path. Give me a few friends who will love me for what I am, and keep ever burning before my vagrant footsteps, the kindly light of hope. And though age and infirmity overtake me, and I come not in sight of the castle of my dreams, teach me to be thankful for life, and for time’s olden memories, that are good and sweet, and may the evening twilight find me gentle still.

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.

I am crying aloud to You, O True God,  for I long to know Your answer. Hear me, O God. Hear my plea. Hear my prayer for help. Psalm 17:6 (VOICE)

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

I wish you well.

Sandy