About Me

Monday, August 28, 2017

Birthday Celebration with David Brannock

Does God Ever Speak to You in Unusual Ways?
Lord, I Wish to Speak to You
“Lord, I need to speak to you. Now!”
June 2011     Lake Junaluska, North Carolina
A swift stride set the cadence for an afternoon walk around the lake. My mental screen flickered to life. Deep disappointments and hurts played like an old movie I’d watched so often I could quote every line. While the credits rolled, I peppered God with questions like Job.
During my cross-examination, I reminded God of a few things. (As if the Lord forgets). I went to seminary convinced God’s call was to nontraditional ministry. Yet, the system disregarded my heart’s desire and threw me into its pulpit pipeline.
Then left me in congregational leadership for 17 years.
Pastoral ministry was like treading water without a life vest in the middle of a large lake. In response to the pull and tug of endless demands, I churned 55-70 hours a week. Every week.
Sometimes a friendly voice shouted from the shore, “Slow down. Take care of yourself.” But their advice didn’t alleviate the fear that if my arms and legs stopped moving, I’d sink. Which sermon, event, project, meeting, funeral, surgery, or crisis can preachers realistically skip without a whirlpool of complaints yanking them down? No generally accepted standards exist to say when a minister has done enough.
What Do You Say, Lord?
My rant continued until I neared the wooden one-lane bridge over the lake dam.  An invisible Hand turned my head toward a car moving away from me. Its tires began to thump thump thump over the planks of the bridge.
The only thing I noticed about that car was the personalized North Carolina license plate. I stopped and stared until it reached the other side.
TRUST.
Our God is an awesome God. Normally the Lord speaks to us through the Bible. But on this occasion, God orchestrated events so that particular license plate would grab my attention at precisely the right moment.
The Lord invited me to renew my commitment. TRUST.
Lord, Help Us Fulfill Our Mutual Desires
August 2017    
Cherrilynn and I celebrate our birthdays this month. When God knit you and me together in our mothers’ wombs (see Psalm 139:13), I believe our Creator tucked certain desires into our hearts. God placed in me the strong desire to write. Ever since I wrote my first “book” at age seven, I’ve enjoyed creating and sharing stories.
TRUST. A year after that walk around the North Carolina lake, God led me out of pastoral ministry to write and speak full-time. The years I spent crafting church announcements, articles, and sermons prepared me well for this new role.
TRUST. God is faithful. The Lord wants you and me to fulfill the desires He personally placed within our hearts. God’s plans for us don’t include leaving us to drown in a sea of despair.
To encourage you, may Lauren Daigle’s song “Trust in You” boost your faith today.
What unusual signs or ways has God used to speak to you?   

David Brannock is a clear writer and speaker who loves using analogies and teaching new perspectives. He previously worked as a CPA, instructor, and pastor. David’s current projects involve writing drama for stage and screen. Visit him at DavidBrannock.com.


Monday, August 21, 2017

BIRTHDAY MONTH CELEBRATION-Heather Bock

Welcome, Heather. Thank you for helping me celebrate my birthday month. Please share one of your favorite stories.

My youngest, JP, will be four on Friday. He’s no baby anymore, but he is limited in certain areas in comparison to his oldest sibling, Mr. C, who is eight and a half. Mr. C doesn’t torment him too much (not as much as he has his sister), but Mr. C has been known to wield his size as power against his little brother to tickle him or take a toy he’s afraid JP will break or lose.
The other day, JP found a fun way to turn the tables on his big brother. We have a long, skinny plastic stick, from the end of which hangs a long, skinny piece of colorful fleece, which can be whipped around to make our cat pounce or jump flips in the air if he’s feeling particularly frisky (not often anymore, now that he’s thirteen). Well, JP found this stick and decided it would be fun to run around the house after his brother with it. I’m not sure if he was hitting his brother with it or just taunting him, but Mr. C was running away, yelling–a very satisfying experience for an almost four year old boy.
As soon as I saw what was happening, I took the weapon away from my young son and put it where he couldn’t reach it (or find it again). He instantly began screaming, to Mr. C’s (and my) amusement: “I want my power back!! I want my power back!!!” He was pretending the stick was some kind of magic wand, which it kind of was, as it wondrously made his brother run.
It made me start to think. What is my power–my magical stick that I use to make my family do what I want them to do? Because when they are out of my control, anger can quickly rise, making me scream in my heart, “I want my power back!” I’ve used positive strategies as small power over my kids, like sticker charts and other reward motivators. I’ve praised them for good behavior, a less expensive prize. I’ve set up fairly consistent consequences for wrong behavior, like taking away toys or screen time or requiring them to do something undesirable. For the most part, these have been pretty healthy ways of wielding power over my children.
However, when I hear Little E, my six year old girl, spout sarcasm when she disapproves of something her brothers (or I) have done, I realize I’ve also used guilt trips, a very unhealthy but temporarily effective magic stick, as power. The ugliness of it coming from my daughter makes me see it for what it is: just a stick used as a weapon.
Others may use alternate unhealthy methods of gaining power: silent treatment, cutting words, unforgiveness, physical force, withdrawal, bribes (close to but different from incentives), threats, screaming, etc. I’m sure more exist than these. We might even be using some of these against spouses, parents, or friends. Of course, we notice them the most when they’re used against us.
I want my own Father to gently take my power stick out of my hands and place it out of reach. I think He would rather I put it in His hands myself–I know I wish JP would have done that of his own accord (as if that would ever happen). We should definitely have some healthy power over our children in well-thought-out ways, but I hope realizing we aren’t in complete control and God is, will help us surrender our unhealthy ways of gaining power.
How about you? What kinds of magic power sticks have you seen used?

Monday, August 14, 2017

CELEBRATING MY JUBILEE-GUEST POST- LAUREN CREW

Lauren, Happy Birthday! Thank you for your wisdom and insight. Let's welcome Lauren.


Cherrilynn and I share the same birthday month, so I am celebrating right along with her.  I’m approaching a pretty big birthday. I’m turning 50! If I have the typical lifespan, I’ll be dead in 31 years. 50 seemed so old.  Of course, my perspective has changed the faster this date hurdles towards me.
One thing that hasn’t changed in my almost fifty years is my insecurity. When Cherrilynn invited me to write for her blog, my mind immediately began churning the reminders that I’m new at this writing business. I’m also a teacher, and my writing is, well, teachery. It doesn’t have the music and rhythm of others. It is so easy to turn my back on fifty and embrace the insecurities of fifteen! 
At 50, I find myself teetering on the brink of a grand canyon named “God’s calling,” and these insecurities are my last foothold.
I knew my spiritual gift was teaching, and I love teaching, but I never imagined how God would use it. Then one day I felt God nudging me to Joshua 1:7-9.
Be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law…do not turn from it to the right or the left, so that you may have success wherever you go.  This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth… be careful to do according to all that is written in it… then you will have success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. (NASB)
As I read those words, I felt his spirit wash over me, and deep within I heard God whisper, “Teach my Word.” 
I’d love to tell you I immediately started a ministry that rivals Beth Moore. Instead, we moved, I completed seminary, returned to the workforce, my marriage was seriously tested, and my teenager rebelled. Through it all, I continued to teach and learn, and fulfill God’s call the best I could. Now, however, he is pushing me into areas I’ve never dreamed of, and I catch myself asking, “That God, you want me to do that? Are you sure?
How do we know we are truly hearing from God? Crazy people say, “God is speaking to me.” Before I jump, I want to confirm I’m correctly hearing from him. After all, he encourages us to sift through everything carefully. So, how can we be sure we are stepping out in faith and not pitching ourselves headfirst into an abyss of distraction or defeat? 

Feelings can be misleading, but when our feelings align with the word of God they are valid. 

 Proverbs 16:1-3 reminds us, the plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.

 It is important to weigh the prodding of our heart against God’s word.

Watch to see if God is encouraging a decision through scripture. Have you ever dwelled on a verse or scriptural teaching and it begins to appear everywhere? Cherrilynn and I were discussing the importance of shedding our inadequacies, so we can better serve God, and not minutes later this verse jumped out at me during my quiet time.  2 Corinthians 3:5-6 Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God…  And guess what topic is filling the blogosphere this week? The crippling effect of feeling inadequate!

Do you feel unqualified? Good! We share company with Joseph, Moses, Rahab, David, Jeremiah, Paul, and so many more. God does not pick the qualified he picks the unqualified, so we will completely depend on him. His power is perfected in our weakness (2 Corin. 12:9).


Is God answering prayers in ways you could never dream? In February, I attended a writer’s conference, and my only prayer was to have one appointment with someone who would be willing to help me understand this unknown world of writing. The whole weekend was a divine appointment with twelve requests for my manuscript, winning twice in a writing contest, meeting a network of incredibly helpful people, and I’ve made a few dear friends!
Have you experienced any God “coincidences?” The topic I’m writing about profoundly relates to the biblical symbolism of 50 and one particular Hebrew letter, its meaning and its related verse in the passage about which I’ve written.  I’m not one who seeks supernatural signs for God’s confirmation, but it’s hard to ignore coincidences from a God who promises to reveal himself to us.  

How has God inscribed a calling or decision across your heart? I would love to hear how he has confirmed something in your life. Please add your comment, so others will know how he speaks and confirms his words over each of us.
 He is the author and perfecter of our faith, and he is faithful to complete his work in us, but we have to hear and obey.  He’s pushing me to be shed my insecurities and step out on faith to follow his ever developing plan. 
Will you hold my hand and plunge into the canyon of our calling? Let’s be Strong and Courageous. 


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Lauren Crews is a Bible teacher, award winning Non-Fiction writer and speaker. She has been teaching women’s Bible studies and speaking at women’s events since 2000. Her passion for learning God’s word, and a love of language inspired her to write The Strength of a Woman – Insight from the Hebrew letters of Proverbs 31. You will never look at Proverbs 31 the same again!
Her hope is to inspire others to be women of strength and not allow pre-defined roles to defeat them. Lauren holds a Masters of Divinity from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. A true teacher at heart, she currently teaches 8th grade Language Arts in the public school system and serves at her church as Women’s Ministry Coordinator. Married to her very best friend for more than 25 years and mom of three fantastic young adults.

Monday, August 7, 2017

PERFECTED BY CANCER-Guest blogger Connie Wohlford


Welcome, Connie. Thank you for sharing your personal story.

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It was my honor to be asked to accept an award for my younger brother, Tommy, who died of cancer 44 years ago, at the age of 22. He was being inducted into the sports hall of fame of our high school alma mater.
As the inductee fill-in I was expected to give an acceptance speech and I’d like to share it with you to honor Tommy and the God he loved.

RHS Sports Hall of Fame 2015 − Acceptance Speech for Tommy 
                                                                       −Delivered Sept. 5, 2015

I can’t tell you how honored I am to receive this award on behalf of my brother, Tommy.  All of our family is so pleased and proud. Our parents, Rudy and Edith Edwards, would be beyond thrilled for this occasion.  

I appreciate all the intense work done by the committee to make this possible. And thank you Doug and Kenny for your introduction of Tommy. As you already heard, Tommy excelled as an athlete and accomplished much in Bobcat sports.

But I want to tell you about another side of Tommy. In fact, this side of him didn’t shine through much until he left RHS and was diagnosed with cancer.
Tommy’s dream was to play football for VA Tech and Coach Jerry Claiborne wanted Tommy on his team. But, needing to pull up his GPA, Tommy took a detour to Massanutten Military Academy and then to Ferrum Junior College, playing football at both places. 
Tommy Edwards - Radford High School - 1968
                 
But Tommy’s dream of becoming a Hokie football player never came about. He was 19 years old when doctors at Duke University Hospital diagnosed him with cancer. 
This athletic, popular, talented, handsome, and seemingly healthy young man was stopped in his tracks that day. The doctors told us that the lump beside his eye was malignant and his eye would have to be removed. To add insult to injury, they also said there was no hope of him using a prosthetic eye because some tissue and bone also need to go. Therefore he would have to wear a patch for the rest of his life.   

ll this, Tommy played football at Ferrum the next season (1972).  He did get ticked off at his coach for not putting him in the games due to pain he was having in his neck. We soon learned that cancer had damaged his vertebrae, thus causing pain.

Did God give Tommy cancer in order to stop him in his tracks?  No.
God does not put cancer on people. But God does use bad circumstances to bring about His ultimate good.
Back in the first century when Stephen was stoned to death because he was a Christian, the believers in Jerusalem scattered, and the Gospel was spread throughout the known world. God got lots of mileage out of the tragedy of Stephen—thus turning it for good.

So for Tommy, on that sunny September day, his path suddenly changed in two very powerful ways. Instead of playing college football, attending classes, and enjoying campus life, he experienced surgeries, pain, affliction, and fear. And instead of living the life of a self-indulgent college student, he turned back to the God of his childhood and the Savior he knew he could trust. 

My precious brother battled cancer for 2½ years before he went to Heaven on Good Friday of 1973.  As we attended the Easter sunrise service two days later I knew my dear brother was alive and well, and even better yet−he was with our risen Lord.

In Tommy’s situation, there was bad news and there was good news. He had cancer and died at the young age of 22−terriblenews.                                                                                 



Tommy Edwards - Ferrum Jr. College -1970
But that affliction put him on his knees at the foot of the Cross. He turned back to God and encouraged his friends to follow Christ as well. Again, as God does so well, He took a bad situation, and turned it for good, building up His Kingdom in the process.

In a newspaper article, written by Charles Fretwell, a few days after Tommy died, he wrote:

“As outstanding as his accomplishments were in High School athletics, earning many letters in three major sports as well as area wide recognition for his athletic ability, all this fades into the background compared to the last two and a half years of his life. Years in which he demonstrated to his friends, his family, and his associates what it means to be a Christian and how a Christian should react to whatever life has in store for him. As all of us who knew him well realized, he never complained. He made the burden for his family and his friends easier by his acceptance of fate.”

“The last months of his life were spent, not in self-pity nor giving in to pain but in talking to, and writing to, his friends telling them how Christ had strengthened his life and had helped him to bear up under the burdens. He urged them to look anew at their own lives and to allow Christ to be a part of their lives too. He gave to many of them a copy of his favorite book−a Bible.” 

“What have we learned from the experience and the example of this fine young man? Courage has taken on a new meaning for each of us.  …  We all face life with its uncertainties and grope for the means to deal with these uncertainties as they appear on the scene. Courage is not easy to come by nor is it easy to maintain once adversity sets in, but Tommy demonstrated that Christian courage can overcome the cruelest blow and Webster’s dictionary now has a new meaning to add under that word – Tommy Edwards.”     

SO− all the honors and accolades a person can accumulate in a lifetime are nothing in light of Eternity. But they can give a person a platform from which to proclaim the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is what Tommy did in the last days of his life.

The writer of Ecclesiastes said, God has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts.

As I said earlier, cancer knocked Tommy to his knees and he chose to land at the foot of the cross. When he looked up he saw Jesus and came face to face with Eternity.

We’ll all come face to face with Eternity one day. And I so look forward to the glorious reunion with Tommy and other loved ones who’ve chosen to follow Jesus.   
                                                           
We usually think of cancer as a curse, but cancer perfected Tommy.
It brought out the very best in him and was the catalyst that ultimately brought him to total wellness and wholeness in Eternity. 
So now, with great joy, I accept this award for Tommy.  And on behalf of our family, thank you.

---- We all go through trials of some kind from time to time. Some have cancer or other dreaded afflictions, many have debilitating financial problems, and lots of people seem to have one family crisis after another. We even know folks who have trials in all of the above areas.
Like Tommy, we can turn to Jesus in these tough times. It’s our choice. The Hebrew word for Jesus is Yeshua. I recently read that the root word for Yeshua meanssafety

We can find safety in Jesus no matter what our trial. There are lots of scary things that happen to people and today’s world has lots of scary things going on in it. No matter what befalls us, let’s look to Jesus for safety and take comfort in His words: “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). 

If you’d like, please comment on how God has helped you through adversity at some time in your life. God bless you and thanks for sharing.

Connie Wohlford, has been a Bible teacher and ministry leader in her church for many years.

Having a BS degree in education, she taught in public school for seventeen years and has taken numerous biblical studies classes and has written several Bible studies.

Connie self-publish five children’s books and a devotional, has had several articles published, edits for ministry publications and enjoys speaking for civic and church groups.

She is passionate about God and His Word, her family, and a desire to see individuals deepen their intimacy with God.

Connect with Connie:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ConnieWohlfordAuthor/
On Twitter: https://twitter.com/wohlford_connie
Connie’s Blog: http://godswordourdestiny.blogspot.com/

©Connie Wohlford 2015