Tuesday, October 29, 2019


GUEST BLOGGER

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My guest blogger today is my friend Connie Edwards Wohlford, who was an online friend and then a conference friend - or vice versa! I feel like I've known her so long that I'm not sure just how we first met! We share words in person, on social media, and in a compilation, Heart Reno. And, I just recently had the pleasure of visiting with her at the Enrich Conference, where she won the First Place writing award at the conference contest! You'll see Connie receiving her award from Katy Kauffman in the picture to the right. 

I know you'll enjoy her writing, just like I do. Please enjoy her post below and take a look at her website for more great nuggets of godly wisdom and encouragement. 

The Stones Are Alive                          

1 Peter 2:4-5

One by one they placed a stone onto the grave of Oskar Schindler. Who were these people and why were they doing this? It was a solemn moment and there were few dry eyes as we watched this take place on the big screen in movie theaters across the globe. 

Those small rocks were released from the hands of Jews who were rescued or descendants of those rescued from the torment or death of Hitler’s Third Reich. Those small rocks were saying to the departed Gentile hero, “My memory of you is solid as rock. You will never be forgotten.”

If you saw the movie, Schindler’s List, I’m sure you remember the scene.

A rock or stone can symbolize many things. It can be used destructively in a riot or as a means of execution as with Steven, an early follow of Jesus (Acts 7:54-60). In Peter’s letter to some First Century followers of Jesus he sees stones as building materials.

Rejected, but chosen … and precious. Who is Peter describing? 

He had just affirmed the recipients of his letter, saying they have “tasted that the Lord is gracious” (1 Peter 2:3b), professing that these people have partaken of the kindness of Jesus. Now he wants them, and us, to understand more deeply what it means to follow Christ. 

“Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:4-5 NKJV).

From being like a new born babe and then maturing into having the ability to put away the traits of a dark heart—that is a sinful past—(v.2), now the Christ follower becomes like a stone—a living stone—like Jesus.

Peter knew about stones. When Jesus called him out to be His disciple, He said, “You are Simon the son of Jonah. You shall be called Cephas,” which is translated, a stone (John 1:42 NKJV).  

Later, when Jesus asked of His disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter spoke up and answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:15-16). 

Jesus affirmed Peter in that moment and confirmed Peter’s revelation statement. The Lord said, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah (meaning son of Jonah), for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:17-18 NKJV).

 Peter is translated, Petros - Petra (Greek), meaning rock.

Jesus is not saying that Peter is the rock on which the church is built, but that his faith, which Peter resolutely expressed, is the foundation stone of the church Jesus is building. Jesus himself is the chief cornerstone and He is the very foundation of His church, the body of Christ. 
Peter declares Jesus the living stone on which God’s spiritual house is being built and that as we continuously come to Jesus we recognize Him as the stone that was rejected and crucified by men (Psalm 118:22). He also points out that Jesus was chosen by God and is precious to the Father.  


The imagery of a stone or rock is significant in the Bible as well as in Jewish traditions. In Matthew 7:24-29, we’re instructed to build on rock, not sand, and Jesus is referred to as the Rock of our Salvation in Psalm 89:26.

Jesus is the solid foundation stone and, like Peter, our solid rock belief in Him makes us useful as His living building blocks.

Paul wrote a beautiful metaphor of God building His church: “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:14 NKJV).    

Stone upon stone, we are living, breathing members of God’s eternal construction project. It is our honor and blessing, as Christ followers, to be living stones. We are building materials in the the spiritual house which Jesus is raising up. And not only that, we are a holy priesthood offering up spiritual sacrifices which are acceptable to God (v.4). Let’s take a look at that in my next post. 

“And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.  And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:18-19 NKJV).

Your comments are welcome; join the conversation!






Bio:
Former public-school teacher and award-winning author, Connie Wohlford is passionate to see individuals deepen their intimacy with God and develop a Biblical worldview. She has written several Bible studies, six Christian children’s books, a devotional, and has been published in Christian magazines. She also enjoys speaking for civic and church events. Connie and husband, Guy, make their home in the Virginia mountains.



Connect with Connie: https://twitter.com/wohlford_connie 
Blog: http://godswordourdestiny.blogspot.com/  

Wednesday, October 23, 2019


Sweet surprises along the writing journey
by Julie Lavender




My walk with God this week takes me on an unexpected publication journey, rather than on my usual nature walk blogpost. Most of my writing projects have followed a certain, expected path - pray, research, read, attend conferences, pray, query, wait, receive a few rejections, pray, query more, celebrate an acceptance, praise, pray, write, hit "send," wait, celebrate publication! 


But, I love it when God surprises me, reminding me that He is the author and perfecter of my faith, as well as my writings! 

Several years ago at a conference, I met Michelle Cox during one of the amazing classes she taught. Her effervescent personality, never-ending smile, joyous spirit, and heart for the Lord inspired me from the moment I met her. Her passion for God is evident in all that she says and does.

Saturday, October 12, 2019



CONSIDER THE MAYFLY



Its name is a misnomer. The diminutive insect is active more often than just the month of May. My husband and I spotted a plethora of those dainty mayflies flitting about while we were walking on an Indian summer day.

“Look quickly – they only live a day,” said my biologist husband. “Sometimes two days, at most.”

Mayflies, in the order Ephemeroptera, have one job as an adult: to mate and produce eggs to start the cycle all over again. The female lays the eggs on top of the water. As the eggs fall to the bottom of the water, the female quickly becomes fish food for surface lurkers.

Friday, October 4, 2019


GUEST BLOGGER

I "met" my guest blogger, J.D. Wininger, through our Blue Ridge Bible Study Writers group on Facebook, but I'll meet him in person soon at the Enrich Conference in just a couple of weeks. J.D. writes a wonderful blog each week at "Around the Cross Dubya," and his posts center around the ranch that he and his wife own and take care of. On his blog, he states: "As a Christian writer, my sole desire is to bring glory to God by using the gifts and talents He gave me, in his service." One of those gifts that I've noticed in our friend J.D. is the gift of encouraging. J.D. is faithful to respond to others' posts and comments with some of the most encouraging words I've ever read, words that lend spiritual insight and wisdom to the subject at hand, and words that encourage the writer with kindness and empathy. Please enjoy J.D.'s powerful post below, and then check out his website for more great posts.


Nature’s Webs
by J.D. Wininger





This morning while watering the calves, I glimpsed a grasshopper that seemed to be hanging in mid-air. Like a stop-motion video, I turned to understand what I was looking at. Sure enough, a grasshopper had jumped its way right into a web from one of my garden spiders. Here, it was suspended between the side of one of my stock trailers and its rear gate. As I watched the grasshopper struggle to free itself for about fifteen seconds, I noticed the spider on the other end of the web approaching. It quickly made its way to the prey, subduing it by injecting a toxin.


Sunday, September 29, 2019



This week, I'm veering just off the path a tad, away from my nature-centered blog, unless you consider teenagers a bunch of "wild" creations, and at times, I certainly did with my own teens and with the ones I volunteered with at my church! 

I wrote about that in a devotional that was published in The Upper Room, and I would be honored if you'd take a look at that devotional and join in on the comments on that page. 

God does take us down various paths "on our walk" with Him, and I enjoyed my time of serving Him while volunteering with the youth group for many years.

Please click here to read. 

Also, please take a look at "more from Julie Lavender" and you'll see pictures of the two grandmothers that encouraged me while "on my walk with God" as a youngster. I'd be delighted if you'd check that out, also. 

Thank you, as always, for reading. I treasure each one of you!


Friday, September 27, 2019


CONSIDER THE MILLIPEDE
by Julie Lavender


The steamy hot humid nights we’ve had lately in southeast Georgia have brought out a plethora of millipedes on my evening walks with my husband. My morning walks seem to catch those arthropods heading back to daytime shelter after nocturnal foraging for decaying leaves and other dead plant matter.


Wednesday, September 25, 2019


CONSIDER THE PAINTED LADY BUTTERFLY
by Julie Lavender






Beautiful Painted Lady butterflies caught my attention as I headed out for my morning walk with God. Flitting about the bright-colored lantana blooms, the winged insects searched for sweet nectar amongst the blossoms. Flashes of deep orange against black, with white-spot embellishments, are eye-catching and appealing as the butterflies never seem to sit still for longer than a few seconds.