Category Archives: Christian Life

Serving for God’s Glory

We live in a challenging time.  Concern about coronavirus and new health issues, such as monkeypox, is high.  Inflation is skyrocketing, social issues are dividing our country, violence and drug use at rampant, and people are concerned about their futures. Yet, in the midst of all the strife and chaos, it is possible to have peace in your hearts and live a life full of purpose.

Woman gripping her hands to her head, as she tries to deal with the stress of life.
Photo by Kat Smith on Pexels.com

My sense of peace and purpose come from my relationship with Jesus Christ. As I seek Him and turn to Him in my times of trouble, the Holy Spirit fills me with “the peace that passes understanding.” (Philippians 4:7)  I, in turn, have a responsibility to share the love of Jesus Christ with those around me.

Woman at peace on a beach at sunrise.  She is lifting her hands, as if in praise for the new day.
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Jesus calls His followers to be faithful stewards of that which he has entrusted to us.  Faithful stewardship demands that I view all that I have as belonging to God.  The resources that I have been given to me by God and are to be used according to His wishes. 

Knowing how God wants to me to use those resources requires that I read God’s Word and spend time in prayer. As I do, God will reveal to me His plans and purpose for my life.  We know from God’s Word that He intends for us to share our resources with those who are less fortunate than us.  So, we give to charitable organizations, such as the Salvation Army and Samaritan’s Purse.

Today, we need to do more than make donations and let someone else take care of the poor and needy. We each must earnestly seek God and His direction.

In the book of 1 Peter 4:7-11, we read about how we can be faithful stewards.  This passage is from The Message:

“Everything in the world is about to be wrapped up, so take nothing for granted. Stay wide-awake in prayer. Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything. Be quick to give a meal to the hungry, a bed to the homeless—cheerfully. Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around so all get in on it: if words, let it be God’s words; if help, let it be God’s hearty help. That way, God’s bright presence will be evident in everything through Jesus, and he’ll get all the credit as the One mighty in everything—encores to the end of time. Oh, yes!”

People preparing boxes of food and medicine to share with those in need.
Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com

Give cheerfully and generously.  Speak God’s words.  Help in the way God directs you.

Be a faithful steward who calls attention to the Lord.  Point people to Jesus.

Only through the blood of Jesus Christ can the world find the peace we so loudly claim to desire.

And do all for the glory of God.

Celebrating Motherhood and the Creation of New Life

Tomorrow, we celebrate motherhood.  All across our nation, people will take time out of their busy schedules to recognized the sacrifice their mothers made in giving them life and in raising them.  A common denominator across people is that everyone has, or had, a mother.  Someone gave life to each of us.

Expectant mother nearing full-term
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When my husband and I decided that we ready to have children, we waiting anxiously each month for the first signs that we had conceived a baby.  It took a few months, and we were disappointed in each of those months when it became evident that I was not pregnant.  Our hearts soared with joy when a pregnancy test confirmed that a baby was on the way.

Like many expectant parents, we began immediately to consider possible names for our newly-conceived child. We went shopping for baby furniture and paraphernalia, decorated the nursery, and childproofed our home.  But the first thing we did was call our parents to announce that a new family member was on the way.  “We are having a baby,” we exclaimed with great joy.

As great as our joy was, however, it dimmed in comparison to God’s joy at the creation of a new life.  God knew about our child that moment he was conceived, and God already had a plan for his life.  Psalm 139: 13 – 16 tells us,

“For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb.
I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.
My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them.”

God knew our child upon the moment of conception.  God knew him, and God had a plan for his life.  Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  My child, and every child, was born with a God-designed destiny in mind.  My job and my husband’s job, as our child’s parents, was to raise him up to fulfill God’s plan for his life.

In recent years, technology has advanced to where scientists can detect the creation of new life the instant a sperm penetrates an egg.  At the exact moment, a zygote is formed.  The zygote is a new organism with a combination of the DNA of the two gametes (sperm and egg) that created it. That DNA contains all the genetic material form the new child. A new life is created in the moment of conception.

Another technological advance has allowed scientists to detect the emission of zinc sparks when new life is created. In his book Whisper, author Mark Batterson describes this event, “At the exact moment a sperm penetrates an egg, the egg releases billions of zinc atoms that emit light.  Sparks fly, literally!” (Mark Batterson, Whisper, Page 20, Multnomah Press)

Fireworks exploding in air
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I like to think of these zinc sparks as fireworks that God is shooting off to celebrate the creation of a new life.  The joy that Steve and I felt at the realization that we were going to be parents was akin to the explosion of fireworks.  I hope that your parents felt that same ecstasy upon learning of your impending arrival as part of their family.  Every life should be celebrated as a gift from God.

If you are a mother, I pray that your children recognize the love, time, and energy you have poured into their lives and that they celebrate you tomorrow.  I also pray that you recognize the wonderful joy and privilege of conceiving, birthing, and raising a child. Every child is a blessing, and every child has a divine purpose for his or her life.  As a mother, I pray regularly that my children and grandchildren will allow the Lord to reveal to them to His plan and that they will follow it. There is no greater joy in life than to be on the path that God has chosen for us.

Happy Mother's Day card, purple flowers, macrons, and gift
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Money Won’t Buy You More Time

As I read Psalm 49 this week, it brought to mind the lyrics of Dust in the Wind, “Now don’t hang on. Nothing last forever but the earth and sky, It slips away and all your money won’t another minute buy.”

Psalm 49: 6 – 9 expresses a similar sentiment this way, “Those who trust in their wealth
And boast in the multitude of their riches,  None of them can by any means redeem his brother, Nor give to God a ransom for him— For the redemption of their souls is costly,
And it shall cease forever that he should continue to live eternally, and not see the Pit.”

There is great truth in both the Psalm and the lyrics by Kansas. Money cannot buy us a longer life or a future in Heaven. Only faith in the blood of Jesus Christ can provide assurance of eternal life.

Photo by Jordan Benton on Pexels.com

Another stanza of Dust in the Wind goes like this, ” Same old song. Just a drop of water in an endless sea. All we do crumbles to the ground, though we refuse to see.”

If you live seeking riches, power, and pleasure, then your works will be futile and meaningless, as expressed above by Kansas or in Psalm 49:10, “Life the fool and the senseless person perish, and leave their wealth to others.” The psalm continues, “For when he dies, he shall carry nothing away; His glory shall not descend after him.” (Psalm 49:16)

If you want your life to have meaning after you are gone, you need to live a life of selflessness and trust in God. Put your faith in Jesus Christ, serve your fellow man, give money to those who are less fortunate, and spend your money as God leads you. Then you will build eternal treasure in Heaven. No, you cannot take your wealth with you, but as Randy Alcorn says, you can send it on ahead of you.

Are you living a life that pleases God and will secure you a place in Heaven? If you are not, you should make it a priority to give your heart to Jesus. Not only will you have the promise of eternal life, you will have a more fulfilling life on earth. Please click on Basics of Salvation in the tool bar above to learn how you can invite Jesus to be your Lord and Savior.

To learn more about how to honor God with your money and build treasure in Heaven, please click the Finances categories tab to find many blogs on money management, budgeting, and stewardship. My book Honoring God with Your Money is a great tool for financial money management.

Time Management, Creativity, and REM Sleep

I have a good friend, Johnnie, who has expertise in many subjects, including time management. Time management is essential for Johnnie, as she balances family time, church service, and volunteering with SCORE with the four businesses she currently owns and manages. She also manages to include exercise, prayer, and devotional time into each day.

Earlier this week, I asked Johnnie how she plans her days and if she devoted some time each day to each business or if she focused on different businesses on different days of the week. This lead to Johnnie sharing some her time management tools. In the course of the conversation, she mentioned the importance of being quiet and still for a few minutes upon waking to continue in the creative sphere of REM sleep. I had never before considered that sleep had an impact on creativity, although I read studies that demonstrated that long period of quiet are a boost to creativity.

Coffee, note pad, and flowers
Photo by Lum3n on Pexels.com

Despite this being a new concept to me, I immediately recognized the truth of Johnnie’s statement from my own experiences and those of my husband, Steve.

Steve is a civil engineer. He deals with complex issues in designing sites for buildings and subdivisions and coming up with a good solution is often challenging. He is prone to wake up in the early hours of the morning with a solution having come to his mind. It is not uncommon for him to rise at 4 or 5 am to work on a plan. I believe that these solutions arise from the creative state the brain enters during REM sleep.

Personally, I have found that I if I can stay in bed and be still for a few minutes after waking that I will have a creative spurt. Suddenly, I am inspired with ideas for the next scene for a novel I am working on or a blog post to write.

If you want to increase your creativity, I encourage you to spend some time in the morning being quiet. Let your creative mind continue to work after sleeping, and listen for the still, small voice of the Lord speaking into your life.

Some of Johnnie’s other time management tips included (1) start the day with worship–she exercises to praise music, (2) schedule a time of prayer at the beginning of each day, (3) set aside one or two days a week to be less busy and more focused on projects that require concentration and/or creativity, (4) turn off your phone and ignore email for blocks of time each day, and (5) schedule most meetings on one or two days a week.

Woman with journal and a cup of coffee
Photo by Alina Vilchenko on Pexels.com

Johnnie is the author of Legacy Moments–Transformation that goes Beyond Change. You can learn more about Johnnie and her coaching services at JohnnieLloyd.com

To learn more about how to be a faithful steward of your financial resources, please click the Finances categories tab to find many blogs on money management, budgeting, and stewardship. My book Honoring God with Your Money is a great tool for financial money management.

The Peace that Passes Understanding

My mother used to love to tell the story of how I came home from Sunday school when I was five talking about “the peas is pass is.”  She was quite puzzled and was unable to decipher what I was trying to say.  The next Sunday she asked the teacher, who explained that I was trying to say, “the peace that passes.” We had sung the song “I’ve Got the Joy, Joy, Joy” in class.

One of the lines of the song goes link this: “I’ve got the peace that passes understanding, Down in my heart, Down in my heart to stay.”

As a five-year old, I had no clue what “the peace that passes understanding” was. It is a fun catchy song that has stuck with me through the years. Over a lifetime, I have experienced many instances of this amazing peace.

The song comes from Philippians 4: 6, 7, “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (King James Version)

White dove. The dove represents the Holy Spirit, who brings peace into uor hearts.
Photo by M Sidharda on Pexels.com

The New King James Version begins “Be anxious for nothing.”  This exhortation was needed in the days of the early church as followers of Christ faced intense persecution.  They had much to fear, yet Paul admonished them to not live in fear, but to come to the throne of God with their needs and to trust God to meet those needs.

This directive is still pertinent today. We face threats and stress from many sides.  Some threats are applicable to every person who lives: financial stress, health challenges, political unrest, and economic pressures. Other threats are directed specifically at the Church. As Christians, we are under intense pressure to compromise our beliefs and our values in the name of being politically correct. Christianity has not been outlawed as it was in Paul’s day, but Christians are under attack daily.

And God is still the answer. When we bring our trials, challenges, and tribulations to the throne of God, the Holy Spirit fills us with God’s peace.  A peace that does not make any sense—that surpasses our understanding.  In those moments, we know that our lives are in God’s hands. He is walking beside us through each and every trial.

Whatever you are walking through today, do not be filled with anxiety.  Rather, bring your needs to God, with thanksgiving.  God will hear you, and He will walk this path with you.  Then you will experience the peace that the world cannot offer.

Bring your problems, your worries, and your cares to God.  “Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your cares upon Him, because He cares for you.”  I Peter 5: 6, 7

Being God’s Arms Extended

In our church, we often use the phrase “God’s arms extended.” We use this when speaking about reaching out into our community and sharing God’s love through service, ministry, and prayer.

To my knowledge, the phrase “God’s arms extended” does not appear in the Bible. However, Jesus expressed the importance of doing this in Matthew 25: 31- 46. He was teaching His disciples about things that will happen when He returns to rule over the earth.

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.” Matthew 25: 31 – 34

Jesus explains that those who offered food and drink to the hungry and thirsty, extended hospitality to the stranger, clothed those in need, cared for the sick, and visited the imprisoned are the sheep. Those who failed to extend assistance and compassion are the goats. Those who cared for others will receive eternal life, and those who did not will receive eternal damnation.

We had a missionary, Mark, speak in our church on Sunday. He shared that early in his ministry in Africa, he had not learned enough of the language to preach and teach. For a time, Mark was limited to embracing children and engaging them in sports. He began to get discouraged that he could not do more. As he prayed, Mark said something along the lines of, “All I can do is hug the children.” In his spirit, Mark clearly heard the Lord say, “Thank you.”

Mark realized that when we, as God’s people, show love to others, we allow God to show love through us. As Mark hugged the children, he was allowing God to wrap His arms around these precious little ones. Mark was literally being God’s arms extended.

What a beautiful picture! God wants to provide for the hungry, thirsty, needy, sick, and imprisoned. And, He does provide through us.

The next time you see someone in need, afraid, or discouraged, I pray that this illustration will come to mind and that you will take the opportunity to be God’s arms extended.

Please feel free to share an instance in which you knew that God was using you to be His hands extended.

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New Year’s Resolution or My One Word

We are seven days into 2022, and, if you made a New Year’s resolution, you may have already broken it or you likely will soon. Studies show that most people throw in the towel by the end of January, and 68% don’t last a full month.

My One Word is an alternative to making New Year’s Resolutions. The concept was conceived Mike Ashcraft, senior pastor of Port City Community Church in Wilmington, NC, in 2010.  Mike realized that resolutions are often focused on overcoming past failures–I resolve to lose weight gained or to get out of debt that I have accumulated. He recognized that a better approach is to focus on what God wants to do in your life.

Mike challenged his congregation and blog readers to pray about where God wants to lead them in the coming year.  What is God speaking into your life?  What does God want you to become?  How does God want to use you? What does He want you to learn?

MyOneWord.org
myoneword.org


As you pray and focus on God’s will for you, you will feel God impressing a word into your spirit. This is your One Word for the coming year.  Your Word will be unique to you and where God is leading you. 

I chose my first One Word in 2011; it was Delight.  I also chose a theme Scripture for the year that went along with my word, “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4  At that time, my husband had been unemployed for two years, with no end in sight. Yet, the Lord promised that if we delighted in Him, He would bless us. I meditated on Psalm 37:4, and God lifted my spirits and increased my faith. And, despite my husband’s continued lack of employment income, God provided for us to celebrate our 30th anniversary that spring with a cruise to Alaska. And, by the end of the year, my husband was back at work with the company that had laid him off nearly three years earlier. Praise the Lord!

Some of my other One Words have been Commitment, Intentional, Rest, and Stewardship.  My year of focusing on stewardship lead me to write a book and start a newsletter. The book and newsletter are designed to help others become responsible stewards of the financial resources God has entrusted to them.

My One Word for 2022 is Praise. I look forward to focusing my energy on praising the Lord throughout each day.  Rather than a single verse, I have selected Psalm 150 as my theme Scripture passage. I am considering choosing a new Psalm of praise for each month, or maybe every week.

I encourage you to pray about God’s desire for your focus in 2022 and to select a word that represents your focus.  To learn more about the My One Word experiment, go to myoneworld.org.

If you have questions about faithful stewardship of your financial resources, please feel free to email me at susan.ball5@aol.com or write your question in the Comment section.  Those who email me will be signed up to receive my free quarterly newsletter with money management tips, encouraging stories, and Scripture inspirations. You may also sign up for the newsletter on the Contact page of this site.

For those desiring a better understanding of Biblical principles of money management, I have written a book Honoring God with Your Money. It is available on Amazon and from Barnes and Noble.

Thankful for Blessings

“Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise.”  Psalm 100:4

As our nation celebrates Thanksgiving, I encourage each of you to pause for a few moments today to reflect on the many blessings God has bestowed upon you in the past year. Certainly, 2021 has more than its share of challenges. It would be easy to focus on the interruptions in our lives caused by covid and rising prices for food and gas. However, we all still have much for which to be thankful.

Grateful Thankful Blesses

The Bible is replete with the command to thank God for His goodness, as we read in Psalm 95: 1- 7:

Oh come, let us sing to the Lord!
Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving;
Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.
For the Lord is the great God,
And the great King above all gods.
In His hand are the deep places of the earth;
The heights of the hills are His also.
The sea is His, for He made it;
And His hands formed the dry land.

God is our creator.  He made us, and He is worth of our praise and our outpourings of thanksgiving.  “Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.” Psalm 100:3

Today and every day, we need to express our gratitude to God for giving us life, for providing a beautiful home for us to reside in this life, and for sending His Son to redeem us and make provision for us to live eternally with God in heaven.

May your heart overflow with gratitude for our wonderful Lord.

Cornucopia and Happy Thanksgiving

Thanking Those Who Provide Service


My life was made much easier during the past year and a half by those who did not have the option of working from home and social distancing.  Grocery clerks, postal workers, delivery people, truck drivers, and many other were out in the public every day so that the rest of us had access to the things we needed.  Thanksgiving is a great opportunity to thank those who sacrificed for the rest of us. 

Here’s some ideas to show appreciation:
1) Hand-written note.  Do you know that is takes only about 3 minutes to write a thoughtful, sincere thank you note?  Set aside time each week between now and Thanksgiving to write a couple of thank you notes to those who have most impacted your life during covid. If you will mail your cards, allow extra time as postal deliveries are taking longer than in the past.

2) Gift cards.  Consider purchasing gift cards for those who provide services to you regularly. Gift cards can be included with thank you notes, or you can write a quick “thank you for your service” message on the card. Of course, budget for the gift cards and stick to your budget. A sincere thank you is more important than the amount of the card.

3) Holiday tipping. Many of us tip those who provide service to us more at Christmas than at other times. This year, consider giving tips at Thanksgiving instead of, or in addition to, your Christmas tip. 

Thank you note and flowers
Photo by Giftpundits.com on Pexels.com

As you take time this Thanksgiving to meditate on God’s blessings, ask Him to bring to your mind those who have made your covid-experience more comfortable. He will guide you to remember those who will be truly blessed by your heartfelt and sincere message that you have been blessed by their hard work and sacrifice.

Pepperonis as Quarters

Pepperoni Pizzas
Photo by Polina Tankilevitch on Pexels.com

In a different phase of life, my husband and I bought a pizza franchise and opened a restaurant in the little town of Orange, VA.  Our good friend, and pizza mentor, Jerry told us that we should look at “pepperonis as quarters.”  An individual pepperoni probably costs a penny or less–I never did the math, but I got the point.  Wasting food costs me money, and small wastes add up quickly and take money out of my pocket.  Little things matter whether you are trying to make money in your business or trying to live within your means on a tight budget.

In my current job, I am a consultant in a small business development center.  I meet with people each week who would like to start businesses.  Many of these dreams will be derailed or postponed due to poor credit and/or lack of financial resources to get a business started.  Often these people have plenty of income, yet they have failed to live within their means.  Some of them have made big financial mistakes, such as buying a house that they cannot afford, but many are in trouble because they have failed to control small expenses.  They forget that lunches out and $4 cups of coffee can make a big dent in their budgets.

As a Christian, I am a steward of all that God has entrusted to me.  When someone mentions stewardship, money management is probably the first thought that comes to mind.  Stewardship, however, encompasses all phases of your life, including how you use your time and how you use your talents.  We can relate the “pepperonis as quarters”  adage to time and talents, as well as to money.  Saving a few moments here and there throughout your day can add up and allow you more time to play a game with your child, read a book for pleasure, relax with your spouse, or start a new project.  Honing your talents little by little can help you gain speed and proficiency.

I Corinthians 4:2 tells us, “Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.”  I hope that this word will encourage you to look for small ways to be a better steward of your time, talent, and money.