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Posted 3/6/15 at 7:34 AM | Wayne Nall Jr

Why Pray?

This is the first of a series of articles on devotional life. I start with a simple question:

Why pray?

If God is all powerful, omnipotent, and all knowing, what is the need for prayer anyway? Can't God do what He is going to do without us humans' puny little help?

Does prayer really make a difference anyway?

What is the purpose of prayer?

These are just some of the questions that come up when we talk about prayer. I hope to provide some answers to these questions and others in this and future articles. However, I think the first question we need to answer is the most basic one:

What is prayer?

When we think of prayer, what images do our minds conjure up? Perhaps a child kneeling by his bedside with his hands folded, praying a childlike prayer. Perhaps we might think of some (very old) nuns in their habits, again with hands folded, looking up to God with saintly expressions. We might even think of a soldier in a foxhole praying for God to save Him from the bullets whizzing overhead. FULL POST

Posted 3/3/15 at 8:54 PM | June Samuel

Giving Thanks

Giving thanks is always a bit difficult. The Lord Jesus when He was here on earth once healed ten lepers, and only one returned to give Him thanks. I do not know about you, but sometimes I do not feel like saying “thank you”. Sometimes I forget to say thank you to the person holding the door for me to step into a building.

Giving thanks always – means all of the time – no excuses, no forgetfulness, no apprehensions. It takes effort and discipline to always say thanks.

Giving thanks always for all things means everything is included. No item is left out. We are to give thanks for the things we consider good. The things we consider bad. The things we consider to be inconsequential, and the things we consider unworthy of our thankfulness. We are happy to give thanks for the good things, the good happenings in our lives. We are overjoyed to do so, and we – I know I do – let everyone around us know that we are.

Giving thanks for the things that we consider bad or negative is like swallowing a bitter pill. Sometimes we choke on the words – thank you. We see the happening, the circumstance, the event, the item as having no value for us. Why then give thanks? I know I have in the past offered a few thank yous sarcastically to ones who have offended me. FULL POST

Posted 3/1/15 at 11:43 PM | Ramona Tucker

How Volunteering Can Round Out a Child’s Education

I drove to the zoo to drop off my oldest daughter, Rachel, on her first day of volunteering. She was assigned to the petting zoo where goats and sheep awaited the eager eyes and hands of preschoolers. Rachel would feed the animals, clean up their waste, and supervise the children as they observed the animals. As a twelve-year-old, Rachel was ready and willing to assume the responsibility of a volunteer position, one of three she would hold before graduating from high school. I was thrilled, but apprehensive about her newfound challenge. Time would reveal that my concern was unfounded, for the benefit of volunteering far outweighed any liability. I believe every parent should strongly consider offering his child the opportunity to participate in community volunteer work. Here’s why.

Volunteering Matures a Child

As I watched Rachel tend to her four-hour a week summer zoo position, I noticed she was developing more maturity. No longer was she merely looking out for herself or her little sisters, but she was also looking out for a host of preschool children who were left in her charge. Furthermore, the discipline of caring for the goats and sheep caused her to care for her room at home more efficiently. Once she proved herself in the petting area, the zookeepers awarded her more responsibility by placing her in the gift shop for two hours a week. FULL POST

Posted 2/26/15 at 12:43 AM | Ramona Tucker

What Do You Take in Your Coffee?

I’ll bet I can tell you exactly what you are doing right now. (Mama, if you are somehow reading this, I only used that as a figure of speech. I am not actually betting; there is no money or marbles involved). I digress for this quick moment because as a kid if in mama’s presence I said, “I’ll bet” she always corrected me by saying, “Now son, we don’t bet.” I could always bet she would say that! She meant business too. If I left home for school in the morning with six marbles in my pocket, I had better come back home that afternoon with six marbles – the same six marbles. Well yes, she counted them – before and after.

Anyway, back to the subject at hand. I’ll bet, and I’m about 99.9% certain that I’m right, that at this very moment you are reading my column. Right? Don’t stop, there’s more. I feel fairly confident that you are not playing marbles. If you are a young person you are probably asking, “How do you play marbles? Is there an app for that game?” I’m not quite as confident about this one, but if you are reading my column in the morning newspaper, you may be having a cup of coffee. What I don’t know is what you have put in your coffee. In fact, it has happened on several occasions that I didn’t even know what I had put in my own coffee. Some of us need that morning cup of Joe to wake us up. Sometimes I have mistakenly added stuff to my coffee that jarred me awake. For instance, do you add creamer to your coffee? Have you ever thought you were pouring milk in your coffee only to discover you had added buttermilk? I don’t even like buttermilk so I certainly don’t like it in my coffee. What may be worse is when you think you’ve accidently added buttermilk to your coffee only to discover that it was in fact milk that had gone bad. Much like your driver’s license that you handed the officer after you sped through a light that you fully believed was still yellow, it had expired without you knowing it. I’ll bet I know what you’re doing now. You are checking the date on your driver’s license and sniffing your coffee. My grandson loves chocolate milk. I have also accidently discovered that chocolate milk in coffee is not bad. FULL POST

Posted 2/23/15 at 1:52 PM | Kyle Beshears

The Son's Delay

End Times is a big topic. Much ink has been spilled and breath expended on the topic of Christ's second coming. Eschatology, as it is called by theologians, provides endless fascination (and sometimes distraction) about the End. Shoot, even Nicolas Cage is cashing in on our obsession with the second coming of Jesus.

We're told this is coming soon, to be ready! "Keep awake," Jesus warns, "for you do not know in what day your Lord is coming (Mt 24:42)."

Okay, check, got it – he's coming very soon. Imminence.

Then, we're thrown a curve ball. Jesus speaks of tarrying, slowness, delay. In Mt 24, he tells a parable about how the Master was delayed in returning. In the next chapter, during the same teaching, he tells another about the delay of the bridegroom.

Imminence and delay. It's the tension that each believer finds themselves living in. On the one hand, scripture pleads for our preparedness. "Be ready, stay awake!" On the other hand, Jesus himself informed us of a delay. "The Master was delayed..." FULL POST

Posted 2/20/15 at 12:41 AM | Ramona Tucker

Why Haven't You Shown Up Yet...

One day, I got my daughter out of school earlier than her usual time.

"I was worried you weren't coming," she said as she got in the car.

"Why? I've never missed picking you up from anything, and I'm here at the time I told you I would be."

"Because, I had told you that I wanted to get out earlier than this." She answered.

I smiled and told her this was definitely a blog moment.

How many times do I pray and wonder why God doesn't show up when and how I want Him to?

I've had my moments where I've been pretty good at acting like the "God director" when I pray. I've also had my moments of frustration, while I wait for Him to answer them, when and how I wanted the prayers answered.

I know I'm not the only one to do this.

Over the last few years we've been praying for a prisoner in the mid-east to be freed and returned to America to be with his family. There are updates on him on the radio and face book. He is even in the news at times. FULL POST

Posted 2/17/15 at 12:00 AM | Ramona Tucker

A Real Life Cinderella Story

A few weeks ago, I had never heard of Malcolm Butler. Most likely you had not either but have now. In fact, you may have already heard his complete story but his story is simply too great for me to not tell. His journey is indeed a real life Cinderella story.

Malcolm Butler played in his first Super Bowl this year, in his first year as a pro football player, for the world champion New England Patriots. I got home in time to see the last 3 minutes of the game. During those final minutes Butler was the star. You might say he won the Super Bowl. Oh I know he was one of many players but his interception in his own end zone sealed the game for his team. While Butler was not named as the MVP of the game he was arguable the hero. Without his perfectly timed break on the ball and interception his team would have most likely lost.

What is most amazing about Malcolm Butler’s story is where he came from to intercept that pass. I mean more than the ground he covered on the field that night. Before Sunday night Butler was a virtually unknown, undrafted, and unproven 24 year old rookie. Last season he played for The University of West Alabama; a school most people in the nation, and even some in this state, had never heard of before Sunday. West Alabama is a small division II school located in Livingston. Not many division II players are drafted into the NFL and certainly not many from the University of West Alabama. Only 7 players from the school had made it to the NFL prior to Butler. While he was not drafted, he managed a tryout at the Patriot’s rookie minicamp. He impressed the coaches enough to be signed as a free agent. His teammates nicknamed him “Scrap” because he gave all he had on every play. His story is one of perseverance and determination. FULL POST

Posted 2/13/15 at 11:51 PM | June Samuel

Speaking To One Another

How often do you speak with your friends, family members (not living with you), and members of your church family? I hope regularly. We are so busy living our lives that some of us hardly make the time to chat with friends, family, colleagues or even our church family.

Speech is a gift from God. We should cherish our speaking and use our tongues to encourage others. Have your conversations taken a back seat to texting, facebook and twitter? I hope not. Ephesians chapter 5 tells us how to live our lives daily. V1 : Imitate God as children imitate their parents. V2: Walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, ….” Jesus is our example of what love looks like.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

One of the habits we are to adopt (v19) is “Speaking to one another in Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. Has anyone ever spoken to you in Psalms? How would that sound? I am thinking we should weave some lines or verses from the Psalms into our conversations. How do we do that? We must first know some lines or verses from the Psalms. This means we aught to be reading the Psalms regularly – everyday or several times during the week.

Speaking to one another in Psalms does not mean continually repeating a catchy phrase. A popular phrase I hear quite a bit is: “God is good.” “All the time God is good.” Yes God is good, and it is good to remind ourselves and others of this fact. A verse in Psalms continues, “He does good.” Psalm 119:68. We should not stop at that one truth. There are many more truths about God in the Psalms. In fact, God’s truth is written throughout the Bible. The Psalms are poetic and easy to remember. Two truths that come into my mind are: How excellent is God’s Name in all the earth. Psalm 8:1, 9 and “My help comes from the Lord.” Psalms 121:2 FULL POST

Posted 2/9/15 at 1:23 AM | Ramona Tucker

Imperfect Saints

God’s people as described in the Bible included adulterers, prostitutes, ineffective parents, and cowards, among other sinners. The difference between God’s people and others is that those saints in the Bible recognized their faults, repented, and called on God for help in living better lives.

They didn’t whine that their case was exceptional or that others were worse than they were. When they realized what they had done, they felt awful about it. They talked with God, asked to be forgiven, and pleaded for help to be better. The results of their sins couldn’t be erased—the person killed as a result of King David’s sin didn’t come back to life—but David’s life turned around.

God can handle our sins if we recognize them and confess them. He knows how weak we are. That’s why Jesus pictures him as a loving father who desires our good.

Many years ago, a friend of mine rented out his home in the States while assigned overseas by the U.S. military. One of the renters skipped town owing several people, including my friend for unpaid rent. FULL POST

Posted 2/6/15 at 1:25 AM | Ramona Tucker

A Stormy Night with An Uninvited Guest

Like most other nights, Billy Bob and Hank Williams called it a day around ten o’clock. No, not the Hank Williams that sang “Your Cheatin’ Heart” or the Hank Williams Jr. that sang “A Country Boy Can Survive.” This Hank Williams is a girl. She weighs about 70 pounds, walks on all fours, and howls at passing trains. That might describe any number of Billy Bob’s kith and kin but she is actually one of his dogs. Most folks would call her a Labrador Retriever but poor ole Billy Bob calls her a Laboratory Receiver. He actually knows better. He just thinks that’s funny; kind of like naming a girl dog Hank Williams.

Hank lives outside most of the time but when cold weather, or a storm, moves in so does Hank. She sleeps on a blanket that has pictures of pool balls, dart boards, and cards on it. That’s another story for another time. Her blanket lies on the floor directly beside the bed on Billy Bob’s side. She normally stays in the same spot through the entire night without ever getting up unless the weather turns bad. Like many dogs, my own included, Hank is deathly afraid of thunder. She has been known to pace and pant, whimper and whine, until the storm passes. Occasionally, she has even gotten on the bed with Billy Bob and Thelma Lou Jean. FULL POST

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