Thursday, July 30, 2015

Finding God's Presence ~ Does God Have Secrets?

by Nan Jones   @NanJonesAuthor

Guest blogger, Debra Coleman Jeter   @DebColemanJeter

What an intriguing question: does God have secrets? I love that my guest, Debra Jeter poses this question, because yes, I believe God does have secrets that He shares only with those who walk with Him. I believe you'll enjoy Debra's thought process and maybe she'll get you thinking as well. I know she stirred my pot. It's my prayer that Debra's ponderings will draw you closer to the One who loves you.

Welcome Debra!

Have you ever wondered why Jesus spoke so often in parables? It occurred to me recently that it’s a lot like the advice writers hear about how important it is to show rather than tell. Long before computers and copiers, or even printing presses, people told stories to draw their audience in. Jesus was a master at this. In most of his parables, we identify with a character, whether it’s the prodigal son or his elder brother (Luke 15: 11-32), the bridesmaids who run out of oil or the ones who don’t (Matthew 25: 1-13).

In my family, we would often discuss a sermon after leaving the church building. Sometimes your mind goes blank for a few minutes and you think, “What was that about today?” Often the thing that brings it back is a story or a joke the preacher shared to make a point. The stories tend to stick with us longer than the rest, and they bring home the message behind the story.

There are times in our lives when we cannot help questioning why God allows the struggles, the pain, the suffering we see around us and sometimes experience ourselves. Occasionally we hear a story from someone who found Christ only after hitting rock bottom, and we think, “Aha! I see why God did that.”

But so often we simply cannot see the reason behind the things that happen in this world. If we compare our lives to a novel, the comparison falls flat. For one thing, as human beings, we are far more complex and full of contradictions than any of the characters in our favorite works of fiction. For another, we do not see the whole picture; the last chapters are not written in this lifetime. The Author who created us is infinitely wiser, infinitely more compassionate, but also infinitely more mysterious than our favorite novelist.

In Matthew 13:10-11, the disciples asked Jesus pointblank, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?”

Jesus told them, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them.”

In my life and those of my loved ones, I long for perfect clarity. I want to understand completely; and when I cannot, my faith sometimes falters.

We read in Matthew 13:13-14, that Jesus’ use of parables fulfilled Old Testament prophecy:  “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.” I can’t claim to understand God’s plan fully, but I take comfort in what is probably my favorite scripture, 1st Corinthians 13:12-13:  “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”

“And now these three remain:  faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

A Tweetable to Encourage Others

Does God have secrets? Guest @DebraColemanJeter via @NanJonesAuthor shares great insight. (Click to Tweet)

Meet Debra:

A Vanderbilt University professor, Debra Coleman Jeter has published fiction and nonfiction in popular magazines, including Working Woman, New Woman, Self, Home Life, Savvy, Christian Woman, and American Baby. Her story, “Recovery,” won first prize in a Christian Woman short story competition, and her nonfiction book “Pshaw, It’s Me Grandson”: Tales of a Young Actor was a finalist in the 2007 USA Book News Awards. She is a co-writer of the screenplay for Jess + Moss, a feature film which premiered in 2011 at the Sundance Film Festival, and captured several international awards. She lives in Clarksville, Tennessee, with her husband.

Connect with Debra:

Website and Blog:

Debra Jeter’s debut novel, The Ticket, is now available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other outlets. Check out the book trailer at:

The Ticket

Tray Dunaway longs to be part of the popular set at school, but she's growing too fast and her clothes no longer fit right. When she wears Gram's hand-sewn clothes to school, the kids make fun of her tall, boney appearance. Tray's luck improves when Pee Wee Johnson, a down-and-out friend of her father's, buys two lottery tickets and gives one to Mr. Dunaway as a thank-you for driving him to Hazard, Illinois. When her father's ticket turns out to be the winner, Johnson demands his cut of the proceeds, but Tray's dad refuses. What seems like a stroke of good fortune suddenly becomes a disturbing turn of events as Johnson threatens to cause problems for the family and Tray.

You may purchase The Ticket at Amazon

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Finding God's Presence ~ Is This What Peace Looks Like?

by Nan Jones   @NanJonesAuthor


A doe ambles to the river's edge, morning mist rising in a cloud of soft haze. The golden light of dawn streams through the trees like shards of broken glass.

Is this what peace looks like?

The river glides by, its surface smooth as silk. Amber reflections of the sunrise skip across its canvas chasing the shadows awakening in the morning light.

Could this be the peace we're searching for?

A young woman stood before me, her countenance dim. Burdens of the heart weighed her shoulders into a defeated slump. Her ebony eyes cast a downward gaze, void of hope, holding tears at bay.

Her eyes met mine.

Without saying a word I took her hands and pulled her into my embrace. Then I began to pray:

Father, I bring my sister before You and ask that You anoint her with Your perfect peace, the peace that makes no sense in the middle of our circumstances. Make a way for her where there seems to be no way. Open her eyes to see you working in her midst. Open her ears to hear Your words of instruction. Flood her mind with thoughts of Your goodness...

Tears began to flow, washing away her despair.

Her shoulders relaxed and leaned into my embrace as the Spirit of God calmed her restless heart and hope glistened from her ebony eyes.

Jesus said, "Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." 
~ John 14:27.

This is the picture of peace.


A Tweetable to Encourage Others

What does peace look like? @NanJonesAuthor offers a glimpse. (Click to Tweet)

Please celebrate my first book with me!

The Perils of a Pastor's Wife will guide you through the calamities of life and restore your confidence in God's purpose and plan for your life and ministry. Through its pages, the woman of God will realize that somewhere, somehow, someone knows and understands.

The Perils of a Pastor's Wife is available for purchase on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Where is God? Sunday Glimpses

by Nan Jones   @NanJonesAuthor

Father, Your grace still amazes me. Always has. Always will. How can we understand Your love? How do we understand Your outpouring of favor in our lives? Yes, bad things happen to good people, but You, O Lord, remain faithful in the midst of the struggle. You remain constant, never swerving with Your love and grace. Thank You. 

Thank You for opening my eyes to see You when my world falls apart. Thank You for giving me the understanding that it is the nature of our fallen world for bad things to happen - bad things have nothing to do with You. In Your sovereignty You allow people to make choices. You will allow tribulation to fall upon Your child, but only because You have a greater good in mind - something our finite minds can't comprehend. 

I'm learning that we must walk closely with You to understand Your heart. We are physical beings living in a physical world, but You are eternal. You are concerned about our eternity which has no end. Our lives here on earth are but a snap of Your fingers, and yes, we are affected by the sin that has brought pain and disease and unbearable hardships, but Your mercy and grace are right there with us to comfort, to provide, to carry us through - if we will only look for You. Your desire is to prepare us for eternity and a rich fellowship with You forever.

Forgive us for accusing You of abandonment. Forgive us for railing accusations at You for allowing pain into our "pristine" lives. Awaken our hearts to understand the eternal Truth of Your Presence and of Your eternal purposes in all things that pertain to us. Please give us a glimpse of eternity with You far, far away from the pain here on earth, for that is when we will truly have life.

You are an awesome God, full of wonder and might. We love You Lord.

A Tweetable to Encourage Others

Where is God when bad things happen? @NanJonesAuthor offers a glimpse. (Click to Tweet)

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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Finding God's Presence ~ A Life of Service

by Nan Jones   @NanJonesAuthor

Guest Blogger, Rose Chandler Johnson  @rechanjo

You're in for a treat today as I share my friend, Rose Chandler Johnson with you. Like most of us, Rose has lived through some difficult moments in her walk of faith. But in those difficult places she has found the Lord to be faithful. Today she is sharing a page from her devotional, God, Me, and Sweet Iced Tea. Sit back and relax a moment and allow the Lord to quench your soul with refreshment from His word. Rose joins me in praying for you, our readers, as we ask the Lord to give you strength for the journey. 

Welcome Rose!

For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. Matthew 16:25 NIV

Well I remember the time, some twenty or so years ago, when my little children revolved around me like the planets circle the sun. I felt like I was holding them all in place, but God was holding us all.  He was ever present.

One especially exhausting day, as I was changing a diaper and hurriedly juggling many tasks, I said aloud in exasperation, “I don’t have a life!” 

Without hesitation, in an instant, the Lord responded emphatically to my words.  In my spirit, I heard, “No, you don’t have a life.  Didn’t I tell you that whoever will save his life shall lose it, and whoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it?” 

These words came directly to me, personal and real—interjected into my train of thought by a voice of authority. 

At that moment, I knew the Lord had spoken to me.  I realized I was doing exactly what the Lord wanted me to do; I was taking care of the needs of my family.  My service to them was not an obligation, but a holy calling, a vocation to serve the needs of those in my care. 

Jesus became a “servant to all” taking on the “form of a servant” in his earthly life.  His service was love in action.  His selfless love, for our redemption and God’s glory, is a model for all believers.  It is with this same spirit of service that we can dedicate our lives to His service.  By so doing, we are strengthened to give of ourselves to others, in our families and beyond, as we go about our everyday lives. 

Suggested readings: Matthew 16:24-26; Matthew 25:31-46; 1 Cor. 9:19; Philippians 2:7-8.

Journal Considerations:
Can you think of times when your service to others causes you frustration? Self-pity?
What encouraging words would you like to hear at those times?
In your own words, describe what Paul means in 1 Corinthians 9:19.

Prayer:  Dear God, I want to be at your service, doing whatever it is that you have called me to do this day.  Strengthen me to serve.  Give me the love I need to put into my actions.  Show me the tasks you have called me to do, that I may live my life for Your glory.

Today’s Sweet Tea Moment:  What would Jesus do?

Prayer Focus:  Those who devote their lives to God’s service by serving others.

A Tweetable to Encourage Others


Meet Rose:

Rose Chandler Johnson’s devotional journal, God, Me, and Sweet Iced Tea: Experiencing God in the Midst of Everyday Moments won the Georgia Author of the Year Finalist Award in 2014. It was also awarded the Selah Finalist Award in 2014. Rose enjoys writing for her blog, Write Moments with God and engaging with her readers, who have inspired her to write another devotional, presently a work in progress.  Rose is a native Georgian, and has lived in a suburb of Augusta for the last thirty years. She was a French and English teacher for twenty years. Currently she works as an outreach specialist for a public library. In addition to reading and writing, Rose enjoys baking, gardening, and spending time with her six children and their families.

God, Me, and Sweet Iced Tea

In the South, nothing is more refreshing than a glass of sweet iced tea. Nothing, that is, except experiencing God in those small, everyday
moments. God, Me, and Sweet Iced Tea is a deeply personal collection of spiritual treasures designed to help readers experience new mercies each morning. Seasoned with insight and grace, this tender
devotional points to the divine presence of God in everyday moments. Whether purchased as a personal resource or given as a heartfelt gift, God, Me, and Sweet Iced Tea will help readers develop a daily habit of turning to God in those quiet moments of reflection.

Connect with Rose:

Twitter: @rechanjo

Pinterest: Rose C. Johnson

God, Me, and Sweet Iced Tea is available for sale on Amazon, Barnes & Noble,, and through your local independent book stores in paperback. Kindle and Nook versions are also available.

Note: Did you enjoy this blog? If so, I would love for you to subscribe my entering your email in the subscribe space in the above right corner beneath my photo. I post on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays and am starting a quarterly newsletter with recipes, praise, a devotion, and special info about my ministry. It would thrill me to stay connected with you and encourage you in the difficult places.