Watermelon Seeds!

Summertime always reminds me of watermelon! The sweet red fruit is so good on a hot day! The sugar boosts energy levels, and its electrolytes quench thirst. It would be the perfect fruit except for those black seeds!

How disgusting it is to have to keep spitting seeds out. Yuck! The joy of a perfectly good piece of fruit ruined. Trying to pick out the seeds leaves a pile of mushed up fruit. Not very appetizing.  

Our hearts are sometimes like a slice of watermelon, full of seeds. Seeds? Yes, seeds of bitterness. These seeds of bitterness have grown slowly over time. They are the result of each little hurt that you have hidden in your heart.

Maybe it’s a circumstance that has left a bitter seed. Something didn’t go as planned. You’ve been humiliated. Harsh words have been hurled. Promises have been broken. Ridicule, slights, and all those tidbits of pain you never forgave are still there, hidden out of sight.

A key word brings one to mind, and the pain is felt anew. Memories surface that cause us to lose our joy and contentment. Maybe you blame God or someone dear to you for what happened.

When something triggers the pain or the memories, our hearts feel the seeds of bitterness.  They rob us of our peace because we can’t get past the hurts. Sadly, we willingly let go of our peace.

Seeds serve a useful purpose. They produce the fruit we love so much! They are a necessary part of God’s creation process.

So we see there are two kinds of seeds:  good and bad!  Seeds reproduce to kind. If we want good fruit, we need good seeds. Seeds of bitterness only produce more bitterness.  

We need to cultivate our heart to produce good seeds. These good seeds produce the good fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23 tells the good fruits we can produce:  “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance.”

It’s difficult to overlook a hurt. It’s far easier to blame someone else for your seeds of bitterness than forgive. Life is tough. People make it tougher, so you may think they deserve your bitterness and hatred.

Did you know that those seeds of bitterness and hate can be cast out of your heart?  All you have to do is confess each thought of bitterness as sin, trusting our Lord and Savior to remove it. Let us remember Jesus took the punishment for all sin. Whatever was done to you has already been punished on the cross.

Galatians 6:1-2 teaches:  “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.”

Bitterness can keep us from forgiving those who have wronged us. When we are sorrowing over our own sin, our hearts long for forgiveness and forgetfulness from the one we wronged. We seek a restored relationship. So too must we provide that same gift to those who have wronged us if we want to free ourselves from seeds of bitterness.

We each have the responsibility of actively forgiving the one who hurt us. It’s wonderful to receive an apology! However, it’s important to release the hold this person has over you.  When you forgive, those seeds of bitterness disappear! Forgiveness leads to freedom!


Following are some fun watermelon websites:












Lessons From a Master Gardener

When I was in San Francisco I toured the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park. It was created by Makoto Hagiwara in 1894. Mr. Hagiwara was clearly a master gardener. I was awed by the cultured beauty and peace of the garden, but I particularly loved the Bonsai trees. How did they grow so perfectly shaped? I knew there must be a story behind each one, just like each of us. I found the answer in the Bible.

Through my brief study of the art of Bonsai, I learned the trees are actually regular size trees or shrubs that have been cultivated to a small size. To maintain the tree’s small size, constant  pruning must be done to control growth. Roots must be cut back so the tree will not grow beyond the size of the container. Branches are wired to shape them into the desired position. The trees require regular maintenance to keep their design intact.

When I began to read my Bible regularly, I realized a Christian is like a bonsai tree. We start out as a new believer, ignorant, eager, and desirous of becoming like our Lord and Savior. We are raw material waiting for our Lord to teach and train us, so that we may be pleasing to Him and able to do the work He calls us to do.  

Jesus explained this in John 10:10b, “…I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”

Most importantly, God wants us to bear fruit. Jesus said in John 15:1-2: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away:  and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.”

In John 15, we learn about the true vine. Who is the vine? Jesus. God, the Father, is the husbandman or gardener. The branches are Believers. In a biblical sense, we find that abiding is the result of a personal relationship with Jesus. If we are not part of the vine of Jesus, we will wither and die.

Just like the Bonsai master prunes his tree, so does the Lord prune His children. The beautiful form of the bonsai is accomplished by placing wires around the branches to bend each one gradually into the desired shape. Through God’s shaping process, the Believer is groomed to better produce fruit.

The Lord shapes us through His Word and through life experiences. He trains us to put aside the selfish and self-interested tendencies of the natural person. He reminds us that we are rooted in Him through the Holy Spirit. He keeps us, just as the Bonsai master keeps his trees.

The Bible says in Ephesians 2:10:  “for we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”

As a Believer, we are expected to obey God’s Word because we love Him. We recognize the sacrifice He paid so we might be saved from the punishment for sin. Abiding is about love, commitment to Jesus, and obedience to His commands. As we grow and develop as Believers we will be used to reach others. Our Lord created each of us for a purpose that He reveals to us in His good time.

Change in us and in a bonsai tree is gradual and oh so slow. I am thankful that my Lord is patient and kind to me, giving His life that I might have eternal life.

Written by Linda Hull


More about the Bonsai…

*Here is a link to the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco:




*If you would like more information about bonsai trees, check out this website:


*Here is a link to the United States National Arboretum’s page about The National Bonsai & Penjing Museum which features a bonsai photo gallery.


A Good Biscuit!

by Linda Hull

What brings a family together? Food! Joining loved ones around the table is a heartfelt blessing because families are God’s gift to mankind. A delicious meal is worthy of praise, for it is truly a gift of love to the family. I should know because my Grandmama was one of the best cooks in the world, notably for her buttermilk biscuits!

“Helping” Grandmama in the kitchen was a real joy back in those little girl days! Back then, just about everything was made from scratch. Cooking took more time and effort than it does in today’s world. It also provided many opportunities for talking about life.

It was a fact of life that Granddaddy had to have his biscuits every night at dinner. So making biscuits was the last menu item to make before everyone was called to dinner. That’s because Granddaddy liked his hot, with lots of butter and strawberry jam!

While the rest of the meal simmered on the old stove, Grandmama would gather her ingredients. The flour was kept loose in a pullout flour bin in what was probably an old Hoosier type cabinet, a novelty in today’s kitchen. Next she would measure out all her ingredients into the sifter. The flour, baking powder, and salt were shaken together as she turned the crank. Next she scooped out the shortening and placed it in the bowl with the dry ingredients.

Once the ingredients were assembled, she took a table fork and pressed that shortening into the flour mixture until it resembled coarse meal. Next came the buttermilk with a little cup for me to drink. Then she would scrape the mixture all up into a ball of dough, kneading it for just a little bit. Not too much or the biscuits would be tough.

After rubbing a bit of flour onto her rolling pin, she rolled that dough out to about a half inch thick. Each biscuit was cut from the dough with her biscuit cutter and placed on the cookie sheet to bake. My little bit of dough was added to the cookie sheet too, a testimony to her diligence in teaching me, and my desire to be just like Grandmama.

You know, you can learn a lot about God and His ways when you make biscuits. When I think about Grandmama’s hot biscuits, I think about Luke 6:38 (KJV): “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give unto your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.”

Biscuit making is a lot like life. You see, God knows we women are givers by nature and by design, but in order to be useful to Him, He has some work to do in our hearts. God sees us as that lump of dough that needs to be worked to make a good biscuit! He gives us everything we need to become the person He wants us to be, including the power of the Holy Spirit and His Word. He presses us down a bit to bring us into conformity with His Word. Then he shakes us up so we learn to depend on Him. He shapes us by our life experiences into women who are useful in furthering His Kingdom. He teaches us that what we give always comes back to us with more besides. When life brings discouragement, just remember God is making you into a good biscuit!




Following is my biscuit recipe roughly based on Grandmama’s old recipe.  I’ve made adjustments like using self-rising flour and using the Crisco brand shortening.




2 cups sifted self-rising flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons Crisco shortening

2/3 to 3/4 cup buttermilk


Sift together dry ingredients. Cut shortening into flour mixture with fork until it resembles coarse meal. Add liquid gradually, stirring with the fork, until the mixture sticks together. Turn out on a lightly floured clean surface. Knead gently for about 1/2 minute until it feels elastic. Flour the rolling pin. Roll out dough to 1/2″ thick. Cut dough into biscuit shapes with a biscuit cutter or a floured beverage glass. Place on un-greased baking sheet in very hot oven (450 degrees F) for 12-15 minutes.  Biscuits should be lightly browned. Serve immediately with butter and jam. Makes about 1 1/2 dozen depending on the size of the cutter.  




“Baking Powder Biscuits.” American-International Encyclopedic Cookbook. Thomas Y. Crowell Company. Copyright 1972 by Homemakers Research Institute.


Hollis Creek Revival: In the River

Written by Ellen Marie Hawkins
hollis creek revivalI was drawn to Hollis Creek Revival immediately; ten seconds into my first listen of  “Wildfire,” I knew this was a band that I wanted in my daily musical rotation.  A somewhat tamer version of Needtobreathe, they are in that same southern rock, earthy, organic vein.  This is music I can’t get enough of.  And while they sound great, even more importantly, their lyrics are treasures; morsels of truth that both comfort me and inspire me to live closer to Him.

Their press release explains that the band recorded In the River with the intent for the first half of the album to have a more modern feel while the later half to have a “more vintage, retro” sound.  Overall all, the record is cohesive, and there isn’t necessarily a fine line where they flipped a switch from one approach to the other.  At least, that wasn’t audible to my ears, anyway.  But what I did notice is the first half of the album has a general, upbeat motivational perspective, like a bird’s eye view of the world, and the second half has more of an introspective and personal feel to the songs.  It has a “hey, world, this is who we are as a band and how we feel” introduction to a “and, hey, by the way, since you are still listening, this is WHY we feel the way we do.”  It’s pretty ingenious, actually.  They’re so forthcoming, and I feel like I could be friends with these guys since we have so much in common.  I adore that transparency.

“Wildfire” is brilliant.  Both the song and the video are both so seriously good.  Anyone who has a smidgeon of wanderlust will love the song; anyone with a call to missions will understand the embers they speak of.  While understanding this earth is not our true home, God reveals himself in the sunrises and the sunsets, the majesty of a waterfall, the constancy and power of ocean waves.  He’s everywhere.  Anyone who says miracles don’t exist anymore hasn’t taken time to wonder at the complexity of butterfly’s wings, the act of breathing… But once that perspective of amazement has been adopted, it’s just so overwhelming; the desire to get out, see more, to share more, to tell others!  This song tells of that passion.

“Home” and “Violin” stand out to me as well.  They’re both slower songs, one near the beginning and one near the end of the album, but they tell stories in the great way that timeless songs often do.  “Home” is not what you might expect-it’s about being in the presence of heroes and ancestors and legends who set a precedent, and without them, your life would look completely different.  The name Hollis was the name of the lead singer’s grandfather, and this song is another bow at reverence for lineage that made an impact.  “Violin” tells the power of music and the bonds it can create.

Whether it is learning trust over time and realizing God is never late (“You’re Right on Time”), learning to let the pain go by turning burdens over to Him (“Weightless Yesterday”), or realizing God is always waiting for us to seek Him (“Like Brand New”), Hollis Creek Revival use their gifts to create an album that brings both comfort and inspiration.  The last song, the hymn “What a Day That Will Be,” reminds us of the bigger picture…getting to heaven, but all the other songs do an amazing job of encouraging us find joy in this life by remaining connected to the truth.  With that as our focus, there is no reason we should let not live our lives like a “Wildfire.”

For more information, please visit:  www.holliscreekrevival.com.


A Bottle of Love Poured on His Feet

Written by Ellen Marie Hawkins

Image from http://www.womeninthebible.net/2.3.Martha_and_Mary.htm

Image from http://www.womeninthebible.net/2.3.Martha_and_Mary.htm

Lately, I’ve been writing out my prayers.  It’s a way to make me focus more on what I need to say to God, or a way for me to unravel all those confusing thoughts or doubts or worries in my head that I tend to ignore when I pray out loud.  When I’m at a loss as to what to pray for, I read Bible passages or think about what was discussed on Sunday.  And lately, I’ve been asking what I would do if I was placed in the position of the main character.  


The honest answers haven’t been all that comforting to me.


Recently, I’ve been reflecting on the story of Mary.  As in, the one who washed Jesus’s feet with expensive perfume.  In front of the disciples.  The same week that Jesus was to be crucified.  I asked myself, would I honestly have done what she did.


Mary had a bad reputation.  She had to know that as she kneeled before Jesus, the disciples were judging her.  In my head, I would have played out the worst possible things they could say to me, and it would have kept me from doing it at all.  I am that pathetic.  I would have thought to myself, “I’ll tell Jesus how much I love him when the disciples are gone.”  


Because I am that weak.


This saddens me because my cowardice would mean a loss of witness to who knows how many people?


I also considered that Mary had just witnessed Jesus raising her dead brother Lazarus from the dead, and I asked myself, if I had seen that, would I still I have no courage?


And the answer, truthfully, remains the same.


Because, let’s be real, I know for a fact my life would look dramatically different if I hadn’t chosen to follow Jesus.  In many ways, he has raised me from the dead, although perhaps not literally, dozens and dozens of times.  I should wash his feet for that reason alone, but I probably wouldn’t, for the reasons stated above.  The fact that I know he has saved countless lives of those I love wouldn’t sway me.


I’m so ashamed.  I take it for granted that I have a savior who loves me that much.  Whereas, her gratitude overflowed.


When I was younger, I sided with Judas, who criticized her for wasting what could have been sold and given to the poor.  Jesus being Jesus knew that Judas was a thief and would ultimately betray him, puts him aside right quick.  I wonder, sometimes, what Jesus would have said to a disciple he trusted more, say perhaps, John (known as the one he loved).  But John didn’t say it because he was probably thinking he should be willing to pour out expensive perfume on Jesus, too.  He was probably wondering why he hadn’t done it first.


And I’m left to examine the reasons why I don’t have the courage to love Jesus so passionately that my worship exposes me and makes me so vulnerable.  I have no problem giving my time and my money to charities or good causes.  But I’m not so quick to do the right thing for someone if I feel I might be judged for it.  The personal reasons why surface pretty quickly, but they aren’t important.  It’s what I do about it so that I can change my response.


I found this verse, and it challenges me:


Galatians 1:10 says, “Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God.  If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.”


I meditate on that one a lot.  I have to.  I get caught up in wanting to please everyone, and I forget that just because I am called to be the light to others, not everyone is going to appreciate that light.  Not everyone will run towards it.  And that’s okay.  I still have to keep shining. I may never know the hearts I inspire by my random acts of kindness or my honest acts of worship; I simply have to have faith that God will use it more than I will know.  While I can’t see the bigger picture, I have to trust that there is one, and it is more beautiful than I can imagine.


With all that said, I want to be so close and so in tune with my love for Jesus that my fear doesn’t have a chance to register on my radar.


God didn’t call me to be Mary.  Perhaps he sees my worship, and it is enough for Him.  He made me who I am and how I am for very particular reasons.  But the bottom line is could I love Jesus more, and am I revealing that love to the best of my ability?  Do I care more about His opinion or the opinions of those around me?  


When my answers shame me, it’s time to adjust my behavior accordingly.  I’ll never be perfect, but that’s not the goal.  The goal is to give praise to the one who is perfect, even if it means offending those who don’t understand.


Written by OmoobaJesu Adetunji

brighton-birdsNickname it all you want crack, dope, doe, stuff, or just go plain and simple and call it drugs marijuana, heroin. I am pretty sure by now you get where I am going and what this is about.

I’ve always wondered why people do drugs or have other addictions or cravings at certain times. Although I never really got my curiosity quench for a while, there came times (very very few times) in my life when I actually felt confusion, fear, frustration at its utmost peak and then I kind of understood why some people get into drugs and get hooked on it. The truth is they just want peace, they want stillness in the middle of a storm; they know their problem can’t just decide to take a vacation and then fly to Hawaii and stay there, but they want oblivion and just, perfect peace. The only problem is that this so called oblivion only lasts a few minutes and the peace they get isn’t really perfect, this is what they call being high, then they come crashing back down to earth and get low again.

I got news for you… there are times when you will want to get high on something! Those times WILL come. Luckily enough for you and I, God knew this would happen so He got it all figured out. It’s right there in the bible.

ISA 26:3

You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are FIXED on you. (NLT)

… People with their minds set on You will keep completely whole… [MSG]

You will guard and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You and hopes confidently on You (the Voice)


See? Peace, not just any peace but perfect and constant peace, comes upon you when you keep your mind fixed on Jesus. When you reach the worst pits in life, you just wish all your problems would disappear and you are desperately in need of relief. Just think about Jesus and you’ll have peace like no other. Get high on Jesus. Be consumed in thoughts of Him- His love, His grace, His kindness, His words, His death, His resurrection; there’s so much to fix on!

Jesus loves you, girls, more than you’ll ever know, understand or imagine, He loves you unconditionally. No matter what you do or have done, the bible says His love never quits, His love is relentless! (I think ‘em dudes need to take love lessons from Jesus)

There… that’s something to get your mind fixed on.

Drug Addiction: When Prayer Is Not Enough

prayerThere is a dangerous conceit among believers that drug addiction is the sort of thing that only happens to unbelievers. And that it is the job of the believer to intervene in these situations with a cure or helpful advice. But this conceit fails to recognize the fact that believers are no less likely to become chemically and emotionally dependent on illicit drugs as anyone else. Due to the high rate of drug acceptance, you are just as likely to find that the one who needs counseling might be your preacher, or your mother, or your best friend. The greatest shock of all is when you discover that the person standing in need of prayer is in fact, you.

There is no need to source any particular evidence for this claim. It is unlikely that you do not know at least one good Christian who is addicted to drugs. But if you don’t, just check the listings for Christian drug rehab centers. Their attendance books are just as filled with the faithful as any church. While it is a comforting notion that only protection from, and cure of drug addiction needed is prayer, the existence of such facilities is proof that when it comes to drug addiction, even among the most faithful, prayer is usually not enough.

Not a Spiritual Defect

When addiction problems are not prevented or healed by prayer, the sufferer may become convinced that God is punishing them for a spiritual failing. Had they not offended God so severely, he would have healed them. This type of spiraling depression can only lead to even worse drug problems down the road.

I cannot offer any insight into why God has not allowed addiction issues to simply be prayed out of existence. It is just clear that he hasn’t. Dealing with addiction, whether yours or someone’s you love has to be a more hands-on process. Both the church and science is expressing agreement on the idea that drug addiction is not necessarily your fault. It is a physical, not a spiritual malaise. As such, it is no different from cancer or diabetes. Those are not just prayed out of existence either. They have to be medically treated, so, too, does drug addiction. According to therecoveryvillage.com:

In medical residential treatment, patients receive pharmaceutical therapy and medication management from doctors, nurses, medical technicians, and other licensed personnel. Medications may be prescribed to ease the discomfort of withdrawal, to prevent drug cravings, and to help patients stay on track with their recovery goals.

Drug addiction is often described as a brain disease with predictable patterns. Seeking treatment is not an admission of a spiritual defect, but a treatable, physical defect.

When It Is Your Friend

Talking about drug addiction can be a rather dry and emotionally distant exercise. But when it is someone you really care about, the subject takes on a whole new sense of urgency. That urgency often compels us to rash and costly mistakes. In that situation, here are some things you will want to do, and avoid doing:

Offer support, not counseling. Learn the difference between the two. You are a friend, not a trained, professional drug rehab counselor. It is one thing to be there for a friend, and quite another to become the source of advice and guidance in that situation. Your good intentions are not sufficient. You can point them to professional counseling. That is the best advice you can offer.

Be careful not to offer prayer as an alternative to treatment. That is not to say that you should not pray for a friend in need. Just be sure not to word a prayer in a way that leaves the impression that treatment from a medical professional is not really necessary.

Protect yourself. The greatest threat to your own sobriety is the insobriety of a close friend. We often counsel people to avoid friendships with drug addicts. Now, your good friend is a drug addict. This is now a dangerous friendship. If that friend refuses treatment, it is a friendship you will want to limit.

Until we live in a world without addiction, disease, and suffering, do not hesitate to take advantage of the proven treatments currently available.

Laughter Is God’s Gift To Us

by Evelyn Horan

laughingSometimes when we feel stress and concern from our daily experiences, we prayerfully turn to God for His understanding help. Often, we receive help from our Heavenly Father through His gift of laughter to us, as He uses our friends and family to help relieve the pressing tension that has occurred.  Then, we are able to regain our good judgment to solve our problems. At such times, lighthearted laughter and a smile or cheery comment can lighten the pressing situation.

I’m certain many of us can recall times when a friend or family member has been aware of our concern and has tried to ease the situation with a humorous approach to the difficult problem.

In sharing lighthearted laughter from their remarks, “Hang in there! You can solve the problem. It’s a piece of cake!”– “You can do it. I’m sure of it!..”  ” We’re backing you all the way,”..You’re the mighty problem-solver. Go for it!”

“Oh, sure,” we say, ” easy as falling off a log, as long as it’s not too high. Remember I’m afraid of heights!” We all laugh heartily, and that smooths out the past tensions.

With a feeling of relief, and a happy attitude, we can now look at the situation clearly,  with confidence in our ability to meet its challenges.   Because God’s gift of laughter, through caring friends and family, has helped, and now we are renewed and fresh, with clear thinking, we can approach methods to solve our problem that seemed too difficult, only moments ago.

With much relief, we turn gratefully, to a caring God whose bountiful love and understanding provide a way for His children to overcome the pressures of life that can come from stressful living in school and other places. It is easy to believe, we should happily praise our God for His goodness to us by giving us the gift of laughter to share with one another.

We joyfully sing our songs of praise, like David the Psalmist, with sincere gratitude and thankfulness, as we try to fulfill God’s desires for us.  And now, with God’s gift of laughter, shared with friends and family, we often find our problems are no longer insurmountable, and our daily struggles and concerns begin to seem minor as they become solvable.

Ginny Owens: I Know A Secret

Written by Ellen Marie Hawkins

Ginny OwensGinny has had a rough couple of years, and her trials have included battles with cancer; her mother had breast cancer, and she lost both her grandmother and a close cousin to brain cancer. It’s funny how the myth of salvation resulting in a perfect life continues to persist from both believers and nonbelievers alike. Certainly, I’m not the only one who has ever defiantly accused God of abandoning me when life crumbles around me. We all go there, I think, at some point. But the mark of maturity is realizing that the most trying hours are when we need Him more. I mean, when’s the last time you blamed your earthly bff because you got sick or there was a terrible accident or because life in general is sometimes just so difficult? Chances are, you sought her out for a shoulder to cry on, some advice, or encouragement, or simply to have someone listen. Shouldn’t we treat God the same way? Ginny’s newest album, I Know a Secret, is a gorgeous example of what happens when we do just that. There is no blame to find. Or bitterness. Only peace. And hope.

“I Know a Secret” is the album’s title and the first track of the album. The lyrics are so telling:

“In the darkest night/when I’m far from home…You wrap your love around my heart…I rest my soul in your truth/and it sets me free…fear can’t find me here…in your perfect peace.” It seems so lazy of me to place such large portion of lyrics on your plate when I see my responsibility as the one to isolate the best ones, but this entire album is like that; I find it difficult to isolate morsels when the entire meal is so rich and full of nourishment. “I Will Praise You” goes along the same vein; instead of anger, there is praise, with the best lyric being, “For the pain that has yet to heal/for the peace that is deeper still…I will praise you.” The suffering is temporary while the life with Christ is eternal, and Ginny never loses focus on that. In the song “In This Darkness,” Ginny sings, “In this darkness/you find me/and draw me to your light” and reminds us that God is always waiting, wanting, longing for our attention, and the song transitions to a hymn sung somewhat hauntingly over an old radio transmission announcing war, the lyrics “underneath me…all around me…leading onward/leading homeward” remind us that no matter what battle we are facing, we are never, ever alone.

While the secret to surviving the darkness is to turn toward Him, the secret to true joy, not just a fleeting happiness, is to live a life for Him. That might mean yearning to know Him better like in “Deeper” as she explains how little she understands as the yearning to grow is insatiable; “your love is the ocean/I’ve been on the shore..I want to know you more.” In “What My Life is For,” Ginny recognizes her journey took her from praying for God to eliminate her “first world problems” to realizing that “love is what my life is for.” “Made For More” is all about the realization that we are not to be slaves to the manacles of fear; God is bigger than our doubts and worries that often hold us back.

I found it most powerful that Ginny spends more time praising God and asking what she can do to reflect her worship than she does reveling in her tribulations. She is not in denial of them. But yet there is peace in spite of them. The album is a beautiful and powerful testimony of what a life focusing on Christ rather than ourselves looks like. My favorite track and the last one of the album, “Don’t Waste Your Life,” contains the lyrics “Don’t waste your life/wishin’/hoping/waiting for a better day/it would be a crying shame/Shine, shine your light/bigger/brighter/for the whole world to see.” It’s not about our circumstances. The secret is about our focus. And it’s not just about survival. It’s about a life lived well, just as He wants for all of us.

For more information, please visit www.ginnyowens.com for more information, and be sure to download I Know A Secret right now.

Giving to God Brings A Return Blessing

by Evelyn Horan

giving-handsMany of us have heard our pastor say that one tenth of our income, or “the tithe” belongs to God.  It is true that the amount of finances I’ve given to God has come back to me, many times.  We’re told the principal of giving is that we must give first to God to release the “flow,” so that He, in turn, can give back to us.  In other words, we give to Him first; then He can give back to us.

I  have often worked as a baby-sitter with an uncertain income.  Just when I thought there would be no offers for work, I would get a phone call, and I would have a new job. This happens many times, as I continue to “contribute my money gifts to God.”

When new work comes to me, I recognize it is God’s gift back to me.  Keeping in mind, God’s generosity to me, I know that God wants to bless us.  But first, we must be willing to give to Him, trusting in His promise to always meet our needs. Then  when we share our finances joyfully with God, we discover how He blesses us again and again when we first give to Him.