Category : Devotion of the Week
Category : Devotion of the Week
Today’s guest blogger is nationally known cartoonist, Ron Wheeler. Ron who resides in Kansas City, Missouri, has been a cartoonist/humor illustrator since 1980, working primarily with Christian organizations. He is compelled by God to create cartoons to be a communication vehicle for spreading His Truths. Ron has created cartoons for many well known organizations including the Fellowship of Christian Athletics, Focus on the Family, Youth for Christ, the American Tract Society, Zondervan Publishing, the Kansas City Chiefs Football Team and the Kansas City Royals Baseball Club.
We are blessed to say he is also the creator of the cover art for the book, If I Only Had….Wrapping Yourself in God’s Truths During Storms of Insecurity, written by Pearls of Promise Founder Lisa Burkhardt Worley and Creative Director Catherine Weiskopf. To see Ron’s fabulous work and to know more about him, please visit his website at: http://www.cartoonworks.com. The following is Ron’s personal testimony:
I am a cartoonist by profession and began drawing cartoons from the moment I could pick up a pencil. However, it wasn’t until college that I started to become successful with it. While there, I drew a comic strip called “Ralph” for the school paper. Ralph was a hit with the students because I poked fun at a lot of things with which they could identify. People would tell me that there was a lot of truth in what I wrote. This led me on a long journey to pursue what truth really is, so I could then relate it through my comic strip.
I knew that there was a lot about life I hadn’t learned yet. So, I thought that if I experienced all life had to offer, I would understand truth. This zeal for experiencing life enabled me to enjoy many things from mountain climbing to skydiving. I thought I had it all.
After graduation, I landed a great job in a major corporation. I had a hot new sports car, and I even had more hair on my head. But there was a lot I was missing too. All that notoriety in college didn’t carry over into the real world. I found that spending time trying to experience life wasn’t gaining me friends, and I found inner contentment becoming more and more elusive. By this time, my thirst for adventure had led me into immoral areas where I didn’t belong.
Fortunately, it wasn’t long before I got fired from my job and my life fell apart. I say “fortunately” because if it hadn’t, I might not have come to grips with the fact that there is a lot about life, such as inner peace, that I can’t experience through my own strength. For the first time, I began to seek help in the church.
I was surprised to learn at church that the Bible had a lot to say to me personally. I learned that God had always loved me, but my pride and selfishness kept me from experiencing that love. I also learned that God already knew about my life of sin and sent His son, Jesus, to pay for my sins through His death. By inviting Christ into my life, I could freely come before the Lord and experience His love.
One night, this finally made sense to me. I was at the end of my rope and had no place else to turn. I had been trying to become a cartoonist in my own strength. My identity was wrapped around my abilities in this area. My pride was such that I actually thought I was a better person than others because I could draw cartoons. However, the more I tried to make it as a cartoonist, the more doors seemed to be slamming in my face. Finally, I let go of my desire to be a cartoonist. In fact, I let go of my very life itself. I just wanted to be right with God. So, I cried out to God and placed my total trust in Jesus.
The irony of all this is that the day after I accepted Christ, I got my first full-time job as a cartoonist and it was waiting for me for three months, right across the street from my apartment. After I gave my life to the Lord, He opened doors so I could be used where He wanted me. You see, He created me with the desire and the ability to be a cartoonist, and He wanted to fulfill His purposes through me. But He couldn’t use me until He had me. Once He had me, the doors began flying open for me to be used drawing cartoons as a communication vehicle for spreading God’s truths. Now, I am drawing cartoons that are published all over the world. I am fulfilled in that purpose. What is even more satisfying is that God has filled me with His peace for eternity. I had been searching for peace for so many years, (I actually thought true peace was an illusion) and now… I have it because of the personal loving relationship I have with God through Jesus Christ.
“We’re giving a prize to the person with the most disgusting thing in their purse.” Having failed to win any of the other icebreaker contests at the women’s retreat, I knew I might have this one. I dug down deep through old receipts, runaway lipsticks and loose change, and found a petrified raisin that must have been in the bottom of my bag for at least a year. I raised it up in the air with a huge grin on my face.
“What about this?” I shouted.
It was unique all right, and a winner amongst the old gum and candy bar wrappers some of the others were holding up.
Isn’t this a lot like God’s grace?
Our sin might have been hidden away for years or perhaps we’ve forgotten it, but one day our eyes are opened, God calls it out and asks us to repent. When we do, he forgives us, no questions asked.
Ephesians 2:4 says, “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.”
I’m so thankful for God’s grace, aren’t you? Where would I be without it?
Every once in a while the enemy of our faith will remind me of some of those old petrified raisins from my past, even though I’ve asked for forgiveness and told God I’m sorry. Maybe that’s happened to you.
When he does this, it’s an attempt to cause us to feel unworthy, unqualified, and undesirable so we will be mired in insecurity and not able to accomplish what God has called us to do.
Remember, grace comes equipped with a chainsaw to cut through what binds us to old sin.
Grace has no memory of the past.
Even though we’re guilty, grace stamps “not guilty” on our ticket.
Because we’ve been given the gift of grace, it’s important we pay it forward.
Who in your world needs grace today?
Have you ever had one of those bad hair days? I have them almost every day. My hair has always been my nemesis. Thick, wavy and fine, it has a mind of its own, and just the slightest wind or humidity will cause one of my locks to go AWOL.
I am always searching for the latest hair products that might smooth the frizz, and I have a tendency to stair at other people’s silky hair, wondering what their secret is.
It’s a lifelong battle to attain perfection, but I will probably not see it on this side of Heaven.
Sounds trivial, but when it comes to our hair, clothes or makeup, a lot of us are on a heated pursuit to improve the way we look.
But the truth is, God is happy with us just the way we are.
Maybe that’s why it’s such a battle to change our appearance. Maybe that’s why it takes so much time. Maybe that’s why it’s so frustrating.
I admire those women who can walk out of the house without makeup. I think they are free from the chains of perfectionism. I did it once, and ran into someone from church that strained to recognize me. It was the first and last time I left without a touch of mascara on.
I wonder what would happen if we pursued God the way we women pursue beauty?
Instead of two hours at the hair salon, we spend two hours in the Word.
Instead of the thirty minutes with the blow dryer, curlers and flat iron (daily regimen), we commit thirty minutes to prayer.
Instead of an all-day shopping trip, we set aside a day to get to know our Abba Father.
It’s a fast from superficial beauty to find something more eternally beautiful.
Did you know that God pursues us the way we pursue beauty? He is the good shepherd who goes after us when we go astray.
In Ezekiel 34:11-12, the Sovereign LORD says, “I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness.” Later in Ezekiel it says, “I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak….” (Ezekiel 34:16)
Maybe you are in clouds and darkness right now and you could care less about how you look. I’ve been there. But from experience, I can assure you the shepherd is on his way to rescue you. He alone has what you need for strength. He has the healing balm that can’t be found in department stores. He can smooth out the rough places and the fly away desires. He has the ability to clothe us all in righteousness if we ask Him.
Today I am thankful for true beauty that can’t be bought. I am grateful that this beauty pursues me and is not fleeting.
A loving shepherd.
There’s nothing more beautiful than that. (LBW)
Today’s guest blogger is Anna Marie Sheffield. Anna Marie is a wife, mother, grandmother, a retired dental hygienist and Co-director/Administrator for Deep River Ministries. She graduated, magna cum laude, from Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas, with a degree in Biology/Psychology.
Anna Marie is currently serving on the Board of Directors for the International Order of St. Luke the Physician. She is also a member of Daughters of the King, a prayer ministry within the Episcopal Church. She has been a Stephen Minister and a member of the Community of Hope.
Anna Marie loves to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and equip others to do the same. Her openness, honesty and practical wisdom have inspired others to step out in faith to serve the Lord. Together, Anna Marie and Jack teach, preach and train others to pray for those in need. Anna Marie has been given a wonderful anointing to minister. She enjoys leading women to discover the treasure they are in Christ. Visit her blog: Thirsty? Stop in for a Drink of Living Water!
Recently, my friend Nora invited me to Alamo Heights United Methodist Church, here in San Antonio, to hear nine decades of wisdom from nine lovely women. They were asked to review the prior ten years of their lives, and tell us what they knew now that they wished they had known then. It was inspiring!
I’d like to share the nuggets I came away with.
First, from the 17 year old high-school senior: God is there! (Psalm 139:7-10)
Next, from the 20-something: Seek God’s approval, not man’s! (Galatians 1:10)
Thirdly from the 30-something: God uses all our struggles for good. We can laugh without fear of the future! (Proverbs 31: 25)
Fourthly from the 40-something: Daddy God feels the same about me as I do my kids! He delights in ME! (Zephaniah 3:17)
From the 50-something: Change is coming – Don’t fear it! The one constant is your identity in Christ! Practice trusting Him in the small things. Love more, worry less! Relationships over rules! (Matthew 6:25-34)
60-something: I do not know as much as I think I do! But this I do know: God loves me, just the way I am! Be intentional with God. God will get you through it! Choose joy! (Isaiah 41:10)
70-something: Be thankful! Appreciate God’s timing, not ours! (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
80-something: Time is a valuable commodity. Have less worry, confusion, fear; these are by-products of search for Peace. Be a better listener! (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)
And from the 90+ treasure:
Give words of encouragement to others. The blessings of old age: Time with the Lord which seemed limited in earlier years, is not limited in later years. There is more time to respond to the needs of children and more time to be involved. To those who are married: Focus on husband after nest is empty. Enjoy each other. Congratulate him on his successes! Stay on the same page with family after grand-kids arrive. (Proverbs 31:10-31)
For those with daughters-in-law: Laugh with them!
For those with sons-in-law: Keep your distance! (Laughter ensued!)
For married sons: Let him be the husband first!
For those with grandchildren: Stay in touch!
And finally, “God is good, as I told Him this morning!”
More wisdom from all the women:
For married women: Don’t forget what connected you to your husband.
Prefer one another.
It’s a partnership. I am not always right!
Be open and allow each other to be who they are.
There will be peaks and valleys. Enjoy the peaks, and when you are in the valley remember there is a peak coming! (Psalm 23)
For those in High School: Find your passion. Learn the hard part: Trust in God!
I would like to add that I took the 90+ year-old’s advice and congratulated my husband on his successes. I wish you could have seen his face light up! I asked him how it made him feel. He said, “Encouraged, affirmed and confirmed. It felt good! Do it more!” LOL, I believe I will!
Thanks, Ladies!! Blessings, Anna Marie
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
God has given each of us a plan for our lives. Some plans contain big dreams. Some smaller dreams, but many times, the desires we have to be world changers come from him.
Recently, I spent two hours with a woman named Susie Jennings, listening to her story about how her call to take blankets to the homeless of downtown Dallas evolved into a mammoth annual Christmas party for the homeless. God continued to expand Susie’s call. Now she also helps less fortunate children all over the world by providing them with shoes. She also finds funding to build Christian schools for them. She didn’t know how to get it done, but God did. Today, I’ll be attending a breakfast she is holding to unveil plans for reaching the children of Israel. This woman is a modern day Mother Theresa who was obedient to follow through with the plan God gave her.
It’s OK to dream big. We should never be overwhelmed by our dreams. We just need to trust that God will give us all the details of accomplishing those dreams and that he will provide whatever is needed to accomplish them.
God knows the plans he has for us. He will steer us as we maneuver through a God-sized dream. We can never accomplish it in our own power. Just hang on as God will take us and our dreams on the ride of our lives!