Sunday, April 20, 2014

He Is Risen!


“I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive forever and ever!” (Revelation 1:18)

       Whenever the Easter holiday draws near, I often reflect on this passage of scripture more than any other that speaks of Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross and His miraculous resurrection. Certainly there are other wonderful, riveting passages such as in the gospels that chronicle his death, burial, and resurrection, and in the Old Testament prophecies.
       These poignant words of Christ in Revelation 1:18, however, give me special comfort, because He emphatically declares that He is the Living One. He is alive today and forevermore through His spirit living inside of me, in other believers, and in the world at large. He is seated at the right hand of the Father in Heaven, and He is coming back a second time to take all who know and love him to their promised heavenly home.
       Because of Jesus’ shed blood and death on the cross, my sins are forgiven. And because He rose from the dead, I have everlasting life. I love the fact He is alive, working in my life, working in the lives of other believers, and working powerfully in the world.
       After a busy workweek, with much on my mind, I'm so glad I was able to focus on my Lord this morning with my husband during church services. We were able to reflect on what He’s done for us, on how much He loves us, and on the promises we have in Him because He is alive
      Our Pastor preached on the fact that we don't have to fear death if we have trusted in Christ for our salvation because when we die we will spend eternity in heaven with Him. Christ has freed us from the fear of death. "Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death — that is, the devil — and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death" (Hebrews 2:14-15).
      I pray that you and your family have enjoyed this holiday weekend giving praise to the Lord for his sacrificial death and glorious resurrection. Because he rose, we too will rise again to live forever with Him. Amen!

Prayer: Lord, may I set aside all of my worries to focus only on you, to focus on the blood you shed for the forgiveness of my sins, to focus on your sacrificial death, and your resurrection that ensures my life eternal. In Your Name I pray, amen.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Protected by God's Angels


“He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge … for He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.” (Psalm 91:4,11-12)

No one will argue that when the snow falls, it can make the landscape look beautiful—even breathtaking. In God’s great wisdom, He created the snow to water the earth so that it would yield seed for the sower and bread for the eater. And in His great creativity, not one snowflake looks alike. Each one has its own unique design and pattern.

When the snowstorms hit, as they have in the midwest and northeast lately, the snow can create hazardous road conditions for motorists. A couple of weeks ago during a major snow storm that threatened to dump up to 16 inches in the northeast by night fall, I drove to work early in the morning against my better judgment to beat the snow and get as much work done as possible before leaving the office early.

On my way home between 3 and 3:30 pm, I decided to take the highway, figuring it would be safer since the highways are plowed sooner and more thoroughly than the back roads. I was within 1 mile of my exit, when I saw about three or four cars spinning out of control and banging into one another. (They were about six car lengths in front of me.) Suddenly, my car skidded to the left—right off the highway from the right lane all the way across to the left lane and into a large grassy area.

As I was skidding even in the grassy area, I turned my steering wheel into the skid—to the left and to the right—to prevent my car from doing a 360. My car slid sideways and forward before my car came to a stop. My heart beat quickly in my chest as I realized I didn’t hit any cars; I didn’t hit a guardrail because there wasn’t one to hit, and I didn’t hit any trees.

I prayed to God for help, and thanked him that I was OK as I turned my head to the right and saw that I was now six car lengths in front of the cars that were still spinning out of control and banging into one another. Because there were hardly any cars on the highway, I easily got back onto the highway and drove to my exit, which was now a ½ mile away. I made it home safely and in awe of the way the Lord spared me from hitting those cars. God sure answers prayers, because that morning of the snowstorm I prayed for His protection over me and that He would command His angels to protect me on the road.

This morning another snowstorm hit. I got up at 5:30 am in an attempt to get ready for work. But because I wasn’t feeling well and another snowstorm was on the way I felt the Lord telling me to stay home. And that I did. Thank you Lord for speaking to me and for your power in my life!

** Photo taken this morning with the Nikon D5300: shutter speed 1/250 sec; ISO 400; focal length 45 mm; lens 18-140 mm; matrix metering mode.

** Please visit my new photography blog at Judith Riddle Photography. Visit my gallery of photos and leave me messages on my blog. I'd love to hear from you!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Lance Armstrong's Downfall

“Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18). “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom” (Proverbs 11:2). “A man’s pride brings him low, but the humble in spirit will retain honor” (Proverbs 29:23). “Before his downfall, a man’s heart is proud, but humility comes before honor” (Proverbs 18:12).
   
     By now you’ve heard the story: Lance Armstrong, one of Americas greatest athletes of all time, did use performance-enhancing drugs throughout the majority of his cycling career and to win all seven Tour de France races.

Win at all Costs
     He went through great lengths to obtain and take those drugs and hide the fact he took them. And he threatened, bullied, and attacked anyone who accused him of doping. He lied, cheated, and sued people and organizations to keep his illegal activities secret. But as we all know, his dirty dealings caught up with him. He was stripped of all seven of his Tour de France titles. All of his sponsors cut him loose, and Livestrong, the foundation he created to support and inspire cancer victims and survivors urged him to step down as chairman, which was the hardest blow of them all.

Compelled to Confess
     When I first heard the news, I wasn’t overwhelmingly surprised, but I was curious to learn the details about the federal investigation into his doping activities and the investigation launched by the US Anti-doping Association, which strategically backed him into a corner and gave him no choice but to come clean and tell the truth.      
     I was a fan of Lance Armstrong. I didn’t watch the Tour de France races or follow his career closely, but I always rooted for him from the sidelines. Like millions of people, I believed him when he said he didn’t use performance-enhancing drugs, and I had wished everyone would just stop accusing him.

Signs of Softening
     I watched his interview with Oprah Winfrey. I saw a man whose hardened, calloused heart was finally beginning to soften, an extremely prideful heart starting to show signs of humility. He admitted his wrongdoing and realized how much heartache and pain he caused so many people, including his children and mother. He almost broke down and cried when he talked about having to break the news to his children and how much of a negative impact the news had on his mother.
     I felt somewhat sorry for him, but as I watched the interview and learned about all he had done with such malice and evil intent, I thought about what the Word of God says about pride, sin, sowing and reaping, and what happens when your life is built on sand and not on the Rock. Lance’s life fell with a great crash. His pride led to his destruction, his fall, his disgrace, and it has brought him very low. But God is merciful. God gives grace to the humble; with humility comes wisdom and honor; God dwells with the humble; and He revives the heart and the spirit of the lowly.

Hopes of Meeting the Savior  
     My prayer for Lance is that he would learn a life-changing lesson from this experience, and learn that there is a God who loves him and is willing to forgive him if he takes the ultimate step of humility: giving his life to Christ. Only then will he be restored and given new life with true meaning and purpose.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Vacation Blessings

“Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in His ways. You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours. Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your sons will be like olive shoots around your table. Thus is the man blessed who fears the Lord.” (Psalm 128:1-4)

       The adage “God is watching over you” is truly an understatement.
       This past week my husband, son, and I enjoyed a vacation, a college experience, and a celebration of my son’s early acceptance into Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP).
       My son (a soon-to-be high school senior) enjoyed a weeklong stay at Lycoming College in Williamsport, Pa., where he attended a business leadership conference. He learned about all aspects of business and how a company works in today’s economy. He roomed with a high school buddy of his in a dorm, met new friends, and learned firsthand what it would be like to live away from home at college. Just this morning my son said, “I can’t wait to go to college. I’m so excited!”
       While he was away, my husband and I enjoyed our own getaway. We drove to Virginia, where we soaked in the sun on the beach and at the pool, and wined and dined each evening at Catch31, one of the most popular fine-dining restaurants along the Virginia Beach shoreline. The live entertainment wasn’t so great this year as it was two years ago so we didn’t hang around to listen to the bands. 
       I took loads of pictures of our road trip to and from Virginia, while at the beach and the pool. I even took some video. I wish we could’ve stayed in Virginia longer than just four days, but we had to go home to prepare for our trip to Indiana. We took a different route to IUP this time, which was shorter and more direct. We attended what’s called Early Decision Day, where you take a tour of the school and learn that day whether or not you’re child has been accepted. After the 90-minute tour and a complimentary lunch, we picked up a letter at the admissions office. We were all thrilled to learn he was accepted! The school is absolutely beautiful, everything from the campus grounds and office buildings to the library, fitness center, and dorm rooms. It all makes me wish I were young again so I could attend this school and get my college education. But the Lord quickly reminded me that I enjoyed my opportunity to go away to college years ago and that this is my son’s turn. And what a blessing it is.
       Our vacation was hard-won. I prayed earnestly for it in light of the fact this is the busiest time of the year as editor of my company’s nutrition magazine. Due to the workload, I didn’t think I’d get the chance to take a vacation this summer. But God answered my prayers by providing me with extra help to make my vacation possible. And God gave me the wisdom to prioritize my work to get it all done. I owe it all to Him who sits high and lifted up, to the one who sits on the throne. Without Him, none of this would’ve been possible.
       I encourage everyone who might be in a tight situation, a seemingly impossible circumstance to find promises in scripture that relate to what you’re going through, claim them as yours, and pray through them first before taking action. That way, you give God the chance to go before you and prepare the hearts and minds of those with whom you need to communicate. The Lord worked in a mighty way for my family and me, and I’ll be forever grateful. Thank you Jesus for your faithfulness and unfailing love. Amen!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Prayer and Fasting With Diabetes

"Declare a holy fast; call a sacred assembly. Summon the elders and all who live in the land to the house of the Lord your God, and cry out to the Lord." (Joel 1:14) 
       In the July issue of Today's Dietitian, we published an article titled Prayer and Fasting With Diabetes. If you're a person of faith who has diabetes or know someone of faith with the disease, this article is a must-read. 
       The American Diabetes Association reports that more than 23 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes. Seventy-nine million have prediabetes, a condition characterized by elevated blood sugar levels, which place them at high risk for developing the disease later in life. And each year, there are now 1.5 million people newly diagnosed with diabetes. African Americans are disproportionately affected by this disease and suffer more complications, such as blindness, kidney failure, neuropathy, and heart disease, than other races. 
       Given these statistics, you can surmise there are many people of faith with diabetes who set aside time to commune with God while abstaining from food, drink, or both. But the question is can they fast safely without putting their health at risk? 
       In this article, we discuss that fasting is practiced by the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim faiths and how these practices differ from one another. We review how fasting can impact the health of those with diabetes and provide strategies for fasting safely. Please let me know your thoughts about the article. If you have diabetes or know someone who has the disease and fasts safely, I'd like to hear about your  experiences and theirs. I hope you enjoy the article as much as I did in assigning and editing it.


* Linking up with Spiritual Sundays here.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Those Who Will Not Enter the Kingdom


Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor practicing homosexuals nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

In my bible study group last week, we focused on several passages that discussed the work of the Holy Spirit. Of all the passages we read, this one gripped me the most. It begins by listing the habitual sins of those who will not inherit or, in other words, enter the Kingdom of God. If any one has ever had a question about what God considers sin and who won’t enter heaven when they die, this verse, among others, plainly provides the answers.

The passage, written by the apostle Paul to the Christians in Corinth, begins by saying the sexually immoral won’t enter heaven: That’s anyone who’s not married and is having casual sex. Idolaters are people who worship anyone or anything that takes first place in their lives other than God, such as work, family, kids, the pleasures of life, money, drugs, alcohol, themselves, false gods, etc.

Adulterers are those who have sex with someone else outside of their marriage. Then the passage mentions male prostitutes and homosexuals, those who are in sexual relationships with people of the same sex (men or women). The Lord mentions thieves, the greedy, drunkards, slanderers (people who regularly say vicious and false statements about others), and swindlers (individuals who often obtain money or property fraudulently—hence the phrase “ill-gotten gains”).

Then, Paul writes “And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” This part of the verse is most comforting, because just as the Christians in Corinth received Christ when they were still practicing these sins and were then washed clean by the Holy Spirit, so was I. The Corinthian Christians were not without sin before they received Christ, and neither was I. But once they came to Christ the Holy Spirit washed them clean. They were now holy (sanctified) and forgiven (justified) of all these sins. And once they were washed clean, they stopped practicing these sins to live a life that honors the Lord. That’s what the powerful work of the Holy Spirit does in our lives the moment we place our faith in Christ for our eternal salvation. The Holy Spirit washes us clean from all our sins, makes us holy, and gives us the power and desire to turn from sin.

May we pray for our friends and family members who don’t know Christ and who are habitually practicing the sins mentioned in this passage without remorse, which will prevent them from inheriting (entering) the Kingdom of God. There was a time when I was not qualified to enter the Kingdom, but because of God’s grace and mercy, I was able to respond to His call to salvation and have now crossed over from death to life. May we bless and praise His Holy Name.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Placing Your Teenagers in God's Hands


Indiana University of Pennsylvania

“Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

About seven to eight months ago, I began praying about my 16-year-old son’s college search. I’ve been asking God to lead and guide my husband, son, and I to the best college suited for him as we compared and visited schools. We had a rocky beginning as we debated what schools we wanted our son to attend and where and what we could afford.

As we each did our research, our differences soon faded, and we began to see things eye to eye. The first school we visited, which I believe was God’s leading, was Indiana University of Pennsylvania—IUP for short. The visit entailed a 6-hour road trip and an overnight stay at a hotel, but it was well worth it. We were greeted with a wonderful presentation about the university in an auditorium, a comprehensive campus tour of the buildings and business school (my son’s future major), and a free lunch in one of the many campus cafeterias. IUP rolled out the red carpet for visiting parents and prospective students, and we enjoyed every minute of it. All of us really liked the school and its academics. We were very pleased.

Westchester University
Next, we visited Westchester University, but we weren’t too thrilled about the school. The campus wasn't as nice as IUP's; the tour was rushed; and we didn’t get to see the business school, which I later learned doesn’t have state-of-the-art facilities like IUP does. 

Today my husband, son, and I took a spontaneous, two-hour car ride to Bloomsburg University. There were no campus tours scheduled, but we wanted to see the campus anyway because we were curious about the school. The campus was really nice, and from what I’ve read they have a wonderful business school with state-of-the-art facilities.

In July, IUP has four early-decision days scheduled for prospective students. We decided to register for one of those days and revisit the school. When we arrive, we’ll drop off our son’s transcripts, SAT scores, and letters of recommendation at the admissions office, enjoy another presentation, campus tour, and free lunch, and return to the admissions office to see if our son has been accepted. That’s right, we’ll know the committee’s decision that same day. I’m looking forward to this visit. I’m praying my son will get accepted. If he does, he’ll receive a great education in a rural environment at a great school that has so much to offer.

Bloomsburg University
What I’ve learned from this experience is that God’s hand has been leading and guiding us every step of the way. And He will continue to do so until He places our son in the right college he’s supposed to be in. It’s all in His hands. All we have to do is enjoy the ride.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, may you continue to direct our search for the perfect college best suited for our son. May you place him where he ought to be. And when you do, may you help him study hard, get good grades, graduate with honors, and find a job that he’ll enjoy. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Is My Blogging Season Over?


“That I may [continue to] publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy wondrous works.” (Psalm 26:7) [Emphasis Added]

For those of you who’ve followed my devotional writing and photography blogs for the past year or so have probably noticed that I haven’t been blogging lately. My last blog post on Walking With God was February 18. My last post on my photo blog was January 21. From the looks of things, it doesn’t seem as though I’ve lost any followers, but I know that once you develop a following and then suddenly stop posting regularly your readers will either stop following you or stop looking forward to visiting your blog to read your posts. Your blog loses its wow factor if it ever had it, and soon no one will visit you.

Miss You Guys
I’m saddened by the fact I haven’t been able to blog regularly like I used to and visit your blogs and leave comments. I miss the online interaction.

When I began my devotional writing blog, it seemed as though God was speaking to me often because I had so much to say and share. Devotionals were just flowing in and through me. It’s not that God has stopped speaking to me or working in my life, but I just haven’t felt compelled to publicly write about what He’s been up to due to the personal nature of my circumstances.

Been Busy
The other reason is that I’ve been extremely busy with work. I’m working harder now than ever, and I just don’t have the time to write online devotionals like I used to. I also have an online portfolio with a blog that I update monthly. I post blogs about the health and nutrition articles I edit every month. Click on Judy’s Online Portfolio and see what I’ve been up to.

Before I started my new job that I prayed for fervently for more than two years, I started my devotional writing and photo blog as a creative outlet I desperately needed at the time. I was in a job that was devoid of creativity, and the Lord encouraged me to keep my writing skills sharp by writing devotionals. He also coaxed me to begin a photo blog to post photos of His creation. These blogs did wonders for me, and many of you told me that they encouraged you as well.

My prayer is that I will be able to begin blogging again, posting photos, visiting your blogs, and recapture my following. Please visit me periodically, as I may have a new blog post to share. Until then, I’ll see you around in cyberspace. Thanks so much for visiting and leaving your comments.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Farewell to Whitney


“Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered — how fleeting my life is. You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand. My entire lifetime is just a moment to you; at best, each of us is but a breath.” (Psalm 39:4-5 / NLT).

       Like millions around the world, I watched Whitney Houston’s funeral service. We all said goodbye to a beautiful legendary singer who died way too young—way too soon.

Notable Attendees
       Her homegoing service was wonderful, tastefully done. News reports said about 1,500 invited guests attended. Many well-known family members, singers, pastors, actors, and screenwriters were present, such as Dionne Warwick, Tyler Perry, Kevin Costner, TD Jakes and his wife, music industry executive Clive Davis, Oprah Winfrey and Gale King, R. Kelly, Alicia Keyes, Stevie Wonder, Rev. Jesse Jackson, gospel singers Bebe and Cece Winans, Marvin Winans, Rev. Kim Burrell, and Donny McClurkin, among others. They all said incredible things about Whitney and paid tribute to her in Holy-Spirit-filled song. They truly honored and blessed her.
       Tyler Perry preached his heart out, telling attendees that nothing could have separated Whitney “from the love of God” (Romans 8:38-39). He said “God’s grace carried Whitney throughout her life and even carried her home.” Perry also said Whitney “loved the Lord.”

Songs and Words of Tribute 
     Bebe and Cece Winans, Marvin Winans, Alicia Keyes, R. Kelly, Stevie Wonder, Donnie McClurkin, and Kim Burrell all sang beautiful, emotion-filled songs to and about Whitney. Kevin Costner and Clive Davis gave moving speeches about their experiences knowing Whitney as a first-time actress and fledgling singer. They raved about how beautiful she was as a person and how beautiful her voice was when she sang. “You wait for a beautiful face like that and a voice like that for a lifetime,” Clive Davis said. “And when you find it in one person it takes your breath away. I loved her very much.”
     One of the most memorable moments was the speech of her bodyguard Ray Watson who declared he, too, was a Christian. He said he was with Whitney almost every day, and she would carry her bible with her wherever she went. He said “her bible was torn up” from her reading it each day. Whitney had passages underlined and highlighted, he said. And if she thought she’d forgotten it, she would look through her bags and belongings until she found it. 
     Whitney’s homegoing was a testament to the love, power, and faithfulness of the Lord. Despite how Whitney died, the Lord was glorified through her life and homegoing service. I learned quite a bit about Whitney since her sudden passing. I always suspected she was saved because she would mention Jesus, her faith, and prayer in her television interviews. What I learned was that Whitney knew and surrounded herself with many Christian music artists who know and love God. She was a close friend of Kim Burrell and the Winans. Marvin Winans gave the eulogy, emphasizing the importance of seeking “first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33), “living lives pleasing to God” (Colossians 1:10), and getting to know Him by inviting Him into every aspect of our lives. Whitney wasn’t without prayer partners and a constant prayer covering from those who knew and loved her. This gives me great comfort. But I wrestle with questions about the ultimate victory in her life that probably no one can answer.

Unanswered Questions
     Why wasn’t Whitney totally set free from her addictions? Whitney knew and loved the Lord and surrounded herself with others who knew and loved Him as well. Whitney prayed daily and joined others in prayer for her life. So why didn’t God set her free? I’ve heard many stories of people who were set free immediately from drug and alcohol addictions when they went to the Lord. So why couldn’t this have been the case for Whitney? Why weren’t those prayers answered? Why wasn't she completely delivered? I just don’t understand. This grieves my heart. 
       The Word of God says nothing is too hard for the Lord (Jeremiah 32:27). And “if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him” (1 John 5:14-15). So why did Whitney’s life end this way? Why?
     The comfort I have is knowing that she's with God in her heavenly home. She’s at rest, at peace. And one day we’ll see her again.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, please strengthen Whitney’s mother and daughter Bobby Kristina and all of her extended family members and friends who loved her during this difficult time. Draw them closer to you and enable them to get to know you better, in Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Jesus The Great Light

"The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine." (Isaiah 9:2)
     Is the light of Christ shining from within you this Christmas holiday season? Are those walking in darkness seeing the light of our Savior burning bright within your heart?
     The Christmas season is always a great time to share the love of Christ with others who don't know Him by feeding and clothing the homeless, giving toys to children who wouldn't otherwise have them, and sharing the gospel.
     Christmas is also a wonderful time to reflect not only on the birth of Jesus, but on who Jesus is, what He has done, and what He is doing in our lives right now. He's the Wonderful Counselor, Might God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. He's loving us, blessing us, working within us, and working everything together for our good as we love Him. He's shining His light upon us to lead, guide, and direct our way. He's a lamp unto our feet and a light for our path. Jesus said "Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life" (John 8:12).
     So as we look at the lights on our Christmas trees, and the lights wrapped around our bushes and shrubs in front of our homes, let us be reminded that Jesus is the light who came into the world to save us from our sins, and celebrate His birth now and into the new year. I hope you all had a wonderful, blessed Christmas in the Lord. Merry Christmas!

* This post is linked to Spiritual Sundays here.
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