Heat It Up

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

Among the many wonderful things about the YMCA at Estes Park, Colorado where the Colorado Christian Writers Conference is held are the fireplaces in the Assembly Hall between Ruesch Auditorium and Long’s Peak Lodge. I love love love them.

The first year we were at the Y after the fireplaces were installed, it snowed about six inches overnight. It continued snowing throughout the week. Beautiful!

The blaze which ignited within those stone structures each day and night was indeed a glorious, welcomed sight.

This year, however, although it did rain and hail there was no snow. To see the unlit fireplaces was disappointing. Especially when I knew what they could do.

Instead of the cheery, welcoming blaze I’d grown used to, the fireplaces were cold and dark.

It may seem a bit bizarre to talk about fires and fireplaces the first week of  June for those of us seeing temperatures in the 90s, but I’m thinking…how many times are we like those unlit fireplaces?

The expectation is we’ll be burning bright for Jesus. Instead we are cold, dreary and disappointing.

That is, until our spark is lit and we roar to life.

Then BOOM.

We’re on fire. Alight and blazing for the LORD. The way we were created to be.

So what keeps us from staying lit, I wonder? Is it a lack of fuel? Lack of courage? Lack of desire or preparation?

After spending time in the Colorado Rockies amid God’s glorious grandeur, I realize I am guilty of letting my flame grow dim far too many times.

Does that ever happen to you?

My desire is to be on fire for Jesus and accomplish the great things he wants me to accomplish, but too many times I allow circumstances to get in the way and dim the flames.

I want God to set my soul on fire.

Blazing.

Restored.

Renewed.

I don’t want to be a disappointing cold fireplace.

What about you? How’s your fire burning?

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

 But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value. 1 Corinthians 3:13 (NLT)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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If you were alive in the 70s, possibly you sang the song, “It Only Takes a Spark“. Great song, although a bit plodding. Brings back lots of memories, but that’s not the song I’ve chosen to leave you with today. I’m featuring a song that’s a bit more upbeat with an equally good message.

One of my articles will appear on Inspire a Fire today. Please stop by and read it.

Feel Like a Smashed Tomato?

By Sandy Kirby Quandt

Besides writing his Code of Silence novels and newly released Super Husband, Super Dad, my writer-friend, Tim Shoemaker, wrote a book entitled, Smashed Tomatoes, Bottle Rockets and Other Outdoor Devotionals You Can Do With Your Kids.

Several years ago, at the Colorado Christian Writers Conference, Tim gave a devotional talk based on smashed tomatoes.

Now, you need to understand, Tim doesn’t just speak his devotions. He demonstrates them, as well. Dry ice and hot dogs? Toilet paper and leaf blower?

So…if he is speaking about smashed tomatoes, you can bet there will be some ripe tomatoes that meet up with a mallet of some sort. 🙂

I’m going to loosely interpret Tim’s devotional in this post. It won’t be word for word, so you should check out his wonderful books to hear straight from him!

Tim compares our lives to smashed tomatoes. He points out that even though God is in control and has a plan for our lives, we mess up sometimes. That’s when we might feel like a smashed tomato.

Not good for a whole lot.

But even when we do mess up, God isn’t finished with us. He doesn’t throw us away like…well…a smashed tomato.

During his devotion, Tim challenged us to think of the different things we could make out of smashed tomatoes.

People mentioned salsa, tomato sauce, tomato juice…I’m sure you can come up with your own list of delicious things created from a few smashed tomatoes.

Those things require the tomatoes be rearranged. Broken. Re-purposed. Changed. Transformed.

You getting a picture here?

Tim pointed out that things such as salsa, don’t come ready-made. Lots of things had to fit into place before those ripe tomatoes become the salsa on our chips.

Same with our lives. In God’s hands, our smashed tomatoes can become something good.

Speaking as Sandy here, when we get smacked with the mallet of life, and our dreams are crushed, we make decisions we should never have made, our bodies are broken or our strength is almost gone, we would do well to reconsider our situation. We need to never lose sight of the fact God’s still in the middle of our muddle.

Despite what we may believe, in his loving, gracious eyes, to God we are worthy.

If we let him, Jesus can take the broken pieces and rearrange them. He can re-purpose them.

If we let him, Jesus can take our mess and make something useful out of it.

If we let him, he can transform us into someone he can use to complete his work here on this earth.

Feeling like a smashed tomato? Might I make a suggestion? Hand the pieces over to Jesus.

What are your thoughts on the subject?

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10 (NIV)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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One of my devotions will appear on Christian Devotions June 10, 2014. Please stop by.

Don’t Keep the Love of God to Ourselves

By Sandy Kirby Quandt

In an earlier post, I mentioned how our hummingbirds were not willing to share. They chase each other away from the feeder. Seems one of our squirrels has the same problem. While there is enough food to go around, this particular squirrel hisses and snarls at any squirrel who happens to mosey into the backyard.

Like I said in the hummingbird post, Christians may be guilty of trying to keep our nectar, the love God has given us, to ourselves. We may be guilty of being selective as to with whom we are willing to share the Gospel. Exclusive as to whom we allow into our circle. Guilty of being what Rob Cook, one of the speakers at the Colorado Christian Writers Conference I recently attended, calls Zombie Churches. You know, they look alive on the outside, but are dead on the inside.

Rob CookDuring his keynote speech Rob mentioned many soul-searching thoughts. I’ll list a few of them here. R signifies the gist of what Rob said. S signifies my thoughts in response.

R – Jesus hung out with sinners. We don’t want them in our churches. S – Hello? Aren’t we all sinners saved by the grace of a loving God, and the sacrifice of Christ? Who are we to keep anyone away?

R – Jesus loved his enemies. We boycott ours. S – How can we reach out to our enemies with the love of God, if we’re always picking fights with them?

R – Jesus commanded his followers to make disciples. We make church goers. S – Hmmm…which one are we?

R – Jesus said we would be known for what we’re for. We’re know for what we stand against. S– Think about it…if you asked, which would someone outside your church be able to tell you. What you stand for, or stand against?

Rob challenges us not to worry with figuring out WWJD — What Would Jesus Do? Instead Rob asks us to DWJD — Do What Jesus Did. S — That means we need to read and study the Bible to find out.

Bing imagesRob gave an illustration…suppose you are drowning and see a lifeboat. You struggle to pull yourself into the boat. As you get ready to climb inside, you notice it is filled with vipers and haters. What would you do? Probably throw yourself into the water and take your chances right back in the middle of all the stuff you’ve been trying to escape. Safe haven? Hardly.

 

What about our churches? Are they filled with vipers and haters? Closer to home, what about us? Viper? Hater?

Instead of telling someone they are not wanted inside our churches because of the way they look, where they’re from, number of tattoos or piercings, how about we throw open the doors, get out into the streets, welcome one and all, and show the love the Father has shown us.

What are your thoughts on the subject?

Later, Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. But when the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with such scum?”

When Jesus heard this, he said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.” Then he added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices. For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.” Matthew 9:10-13 (NLT)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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One of my devotions will appear on Christian Devotions June 10, 2014. Please stop by.

Different Yet The Same

By Sandy Kirby Quandt

While at the Colorado Christian Writers Conference, I participated in a fiction writing intensive clinic given by Kim Woodhouse, Tracie Peterson, and her husband, Jim. Among our group of learners were contemporary and historical authors. The historical time periods covered were Norman/Saxon Europe, the American Civil War of the 1860s, America during the 1930s, Germany during World War ll, and my historical young adult novel set in 1918 at the end of WWl.

One contemporary work was a romance. The other, an action drama.

As you can see…we each wrote from a different perspective, or Point of View. While our styles and stories are not the same, one thing we had in common was our desire to improve our writing.

We could have concentrated on our differences and not gotten very far, or we could concentrate on what we had in common. Learning the craft. Our choice. We chose to concentrate on what we had in common.

And this led me to thinking…

When I taught elementary school, there was an activity I did with my class at the beginning of the year. I called it Train Wreck.

We formed a circle with our chairs.

Minus one.

To start the game, one person stood in the center of the circle. The goal was to tell something about yourself that others in the group might have in common.

When the person in the center of the circle mentioned their thing, those who shared it, scrambled to find a new chair. Whoever was left without a chair, took his or her place in the center.

And the game began again.

Some of my students liked to stay in the center of the circle. To accomplish this, they named some obscure thing that no one else could possibly have in common. Like…I have a cat named Obediah.

Others in the center would name something that included more people. Like…I’m in Mrs. Quandt’s fourth grade class.

As you can imagine, it was much more fun when more people were included in the scramble.

I believe some of us may be like my students who enjoyed standing in the center of the circle. We like to think we are the center of attention. We like to have a monopoly on who we include in our “scramble” and who we exclude. We like to think we are superior.

Instead of saying something like, “I’m a child of the one true God, covered by the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ, sinner saved by grace”, which includes everyone who claims Jesus as LORD and King, we say something like, “I belong to such-and-such church on the corner of so-and-so in the town of this-and-that. I attend the first service, sit on the back row, left side, on the end.” The more exclusive, we falsely believe, the more favored.

Do you believe that’s the way God looks at his children?

I believe Jesus includes all of us who claim him as our LORD, no matter where we live, or what story he is writing in our lives. Historical or contemporary. Romance or drama. Buggies or Bonnets.

What are your thoughts on the subject?

So you guys, go all ova da world an teach all da diffren peopos, so dey can learn bout me an come my guys. Baptize dem, an dey goin come tight wit my Fadda, an me his Boy, an Godʼs Good an Spesho Spirit. Teach um how fo do everyting dat I wen tell you guys fo do. An you know wat? I goin stick wit you guys all da way, till da world goin pau.”

Matthew 28:19-20 Hawai’i Pidgin (HWP)

Confused? Try this version…

So go and make followers of all people in the world. Baptize them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach them to obey everything that I have taught you, and I will be with you always, even until the end of this age.” Matthew 28:19-20 (NCV)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Ever Been Envious?

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As I was thinking about the comparisons I often make between other people and myself, instead of holding God’s truth as my standard of measurement, I received my June Prayer

Patricia Raybon

Patricia Raybon

and Praise Newsletter from author, Patricia Raybon. I met Patricia several years ago, when she was a presenter at the Colorado Christian Writers Conference. After reading my friend’s newsletter, I contacted Patricia. While we discussed the issue of envy, Patricia reminded me of something I would like to share with any of you who may be envious of others, or who compare yourself to someone else. Patricia said, Each person is unique. God has planted different things in each of us.

Patricia gave me permission to share the words from her newsletter with you. I would encourage you to go to Patricia’s website and sign up for her newsletters.

Do you compare yourself to others? Or even sometimes feel envy? It’s not just a modern problem. This rap version of Psalm 73 captures the feeling as if it were written today. “For I envied the proud when I saw them prosper.”  It’s a striking lament about life’s unfairness and the bitter feelings that can result. In the end, however, the psalmist finds the solution: “Whom have I in heaven but you?” he declares to God.  “I desire you more than anything on earth.”

Knitting_needles1Just as no two snowflakes are alike, no two people are alike. God knit each of us together in our mother’s womb to be individuals. We are woven and spun according to His master plan. The Creator God put in us what He wanted to put in. And left out what He wanted to leave out. A Righteous Almighty God allows the rain to fall on the just, and the unjust.

Instead of wishing we were something we are not, or could do something we cannot, let’s be content. Let’s celebrate our uniqueness. Let’s be grateful for what we do have, and grateful for what we can do.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject.

I wish you well.

Sandy

PS

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