Shall We Gather at the River?

Plannig a mission trip takes weeks of preparation. My sweet friend, Nan Jones, kindly accepted my invitation to post on my blog this week. Thank you, Nan, for blessing me with the much needed time and blessing my readers with your words of encoragement.

Shall We Gather at the River?
by Nan Jones

Photo by Sally Matheny
he mountain air gave us goosebumps. It was chilly for the first day of June. Overcast skies and occasional mist decided an even chillier river. As the water tumbled over river rock and brushed against grassy banks, the chill couldn't dampen the hearts of the people gathered for the baptism.
 Tom* was nearing the end of his life. It had been a hard life - one that he tried to erase with alcohol, but to no avail. He'd always had a good heart. Tom was a good man, but when my husband asked him if he knew he would awake in heaven when death came, Tom answered no. A debilitating stroke a few months earlier had given him pause. These were things he had been considering. He knew about Jesus. He believed Jesus was the Son of God, but Tom had never asked Jesus to be his Savior. There had never been a personal relationship with Almighty God.

Tom prayed with my husband. With glistening eyes He acknowledged his need for a Savior and entered the family of God. Tom has been faithful since that day.

On Sunday afternoon the people of God gathered at the river. Two men assisted Tom on the gently sloping bank. His steps are disjointed because of the stroke. His balance is impeded. Tom faced enormous amounts of fear to step into the river with his crippled body, but his desire to know God and honor Him overcame all apprehension. Tom wanted all that God had for him.

Imagine the pure beauty of this moment. This precious man, crippled, physically supported by others, stood shivering in the cold water. His eyes turned heavenward. With slurred speech he spoke an affirmation of faith. Slowly, carefully he was lowered into the river. As he rose from the liquid grace, any remaining veil fell from his eyes allowing him to see the Lord in the fullness of His love and acceptance - acceptance that Tom had searched for all of his life.

He once was blind, but now he could see.


"And Ananias went his way and entered the house;

and laying his hands on him he said,

'Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus,

who appeared to you on the road as you came,

has sent me that you may receive your sight

and be filled with the Holy Spirit.'

Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales,

and he received his sight at once;

and he arose and was baptized."

~ Acts 9:17-18

*Name changed

Tweetables to Encourage Others

A mountain river baptism reveals much more. @NanJonesAuthor shares a powerful testimony. (Click to Tweet)

Rising from the liquid grace, any remaining veil fell from his eyes. (Click to Tweet)

If you received Morning Glory via email and you love good ol' Southern Gospel, you'll want to visit the Morning Glory page. I'm featuring the Perry Sisters singing "I Just Want to Thank You Lord."

Nan Jones is an author/speaker who uses the words of her heart to assist fellow Christians in discovering the Presence of God in their darkest hour. Her devotional blog, Morning Glory, has become a place of community for Christians to find encouragement in God’s Word and comfort in His Presence. Nan’s devotions have produced a far-reaching impact across the nation and globe due to her online presence. She has been published in three anthologies: Ultimate Christian Living, Diamonds in the Light: Exceptional Women Showcasing Their Gifts, and God's Word for God's People: 2013 Daily Devotional. She has also been published in the online inspirational sites Christian Devotions, and Inspire a Fire, and has been featured as a guest blogger on several sites. She is thrilled to announce her debut book, "The Perils of a Pastor's Wife" which is slated to be released in early 2015 by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. When Nan is not writing, she enjoys leading prayer retreats, bible studies or sharing God’s love as keynote speaker for special events. She is becoming known by her brand: "Even so, I walk in the Presence of the Lord." You many visit Nan at her website: www.NanJones.com or her blog, Morning Glory: http://morningglorylights.blogspot.com/. For personal communication you may email Nan at nan@jubilantlight.com.


3 Ways to Help Dad Become the Spiritual Leader of the Home

by Sally Matheny

     Many women long for their husbands to spiritually lead their families. Although they are Christians, some men struggle in this area. Perhaps they are new Christians, or did not have a Christian father role model.     
     Whatever the reason, moms should not assume the full responsibility of spiritual training the children. What are moms to do, then? Here are three ways to help Dad become the spiritual leader of the home.

Dub Him as the Bedtime Chieftain
     If you have young children, ask your husband if he’ll be in charge of reading one or two stories to the children each night. Someone who is uncomfortable talking about spiritual matters may be quite at ease with reading books. Buy or borrow age-appropriate books depicting truths from the Bible. These are often found inexpensively at dollar stores, thrift stores, and yard sales. Even libraries carry them. Just make sure they do not contradict God's Word.

     As your children grow, gradually move to Christian devotion books and children’s Bibles with meatier content. Choose books that are easily understood. 
     The earlier you start this bedtime tradition the better. The books will spur conversations about God and your children will treasure this special time with Dad.

Promote Popcorn Prayers
     Perhaps your husband isn’t comfortable praying aloud. At meal times, why not suggest a popcorn prayer. This is a great way to involve the whole family. Each person will say one word or sentence. It may begin by each person thanking God for one thing. After each member has “popped” up and prayed, another topic may begin such as asking for God’s help with a certain matter. Over time, family members grow more comfortable with praying and prayers flow more freely. 

Direct Them to Dad’s Counsel
     Family dynamics vary. Sometimes children seek out Mom more than Dad on things close to their hearts—whether it’s fears, disappointments, or loves. It’s an honor when children trust their moms with their deepest thoughts. It’s good to have those special times; however, those are also great opportunities for you to direct them to Dad’s counsel. 

     Mom, look for occasions when you can point your child towards his father for guidance. Even if you know an appropriate response, perhaps say something like, “I know how much this meant to you. Something similar happened to your dad once. Let’s go talk to him and see what he says.”  
     Or, counsel your child if the need is immediate, but later share with your husband what took place. Suggest he talk with the child and vice versa. Provide opportunities for your husband to encourage the children.
     Will he get it right every time? No. Like everything else, spiritual leadership improves with practice.
     One of the best things a wife can do for her husband is to pray for him. Show respect and appreciation as he learns from God and grows into his role. Cheer your husband on to be strong and courageous as he pursues God’s will.

As a bonus, here are two websites listing helpful books for dads on Christian parenting:
      Two websites with lists of helpful books for dads on Christian parenting are
and Christianfathers.com  http://www.christianfathers.com/.
     Also, Focus on the Family has a blog for dads by dads:

      It's your turn. How do you encourage your husband as the spiritual leader of your family?


Preparing for Graduation—Start Early!

by Sally Matheny

Preparing for Graduation
Graduation time is here. Congratulations and gifts are in order. Giving money is practical but, I also like to include a book. 

I know. I know. Unless the graduate is an avid reader, they may not read it. But as people mature they come to understand the power and wisdom words impart. Perhaps one day the graduate will realize the book’s value.     

Nonetheless, I went to the store to look for the perfect book. To find the best selection, I should have started earlier, not a few weeks before graduation.

A few gift books for graduates still line the shelves. To be honest, many appear boring. 

However, I notice a little, red book by Harry H. Harrison, Jr. The title sounds intriguing.

“1001 Things Every Teen Should Know Before They Leave Home (Or Else They’ll Come Back).”


Blessings in the Slow Lane

by Sally Matheny

In Search of the Quickest Route?
Are you a lane-hopper—zigzagging around others in search of the quickest route to your destination? Whether it’s on the highway or in the cashier aisles at Wal-Mart, you’re the man with a plan or a woman on a mission.

     Punctual and focus-minded are admirable traits but don’t miss the blessings in the slow lane. As nice as it is, this is not a post about stopping and smelling the roses.

     However, many of us are like the Mad-Hatter from Alice in Wonderland,  scurrying about from one objective to the next. We’re either dangerously overloaded with commitments or we’re borderline OCD with our color-coded organizational charts (which, by the way, have budgeted ample time for travel into the daily schedule).
     Life is merrily racing along until—BAM!
     An injury, illness, job loss—whatever it is, has suddenly shoved you

all the way
Slow Lane Got You Down?





     No one likes to be sidelined. There’s too much to do and too many places to go. We aggressively seek solutions to get back on the fast track. We try to learn how to adapt and overcome. However, as life decelerates, there’s no choice but to scoot along at a reduced speed.
     Prior to attending a recent writers’ conference, my concerns were not over agents and editors, but rather mobility issues. Diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), I wondered if I’d be able to walk the hilly campus.
     After arriving, I met many others gradually and painfully making their way to classes—people in far worse condition than me. Broken bones, rheumatoid arthritis, tumors, diseases, cancer.


    At last year’s conference, I remember maybe two or three people struggling physically. Why were there so many hurting people there this year?
     One morning on my way to class, I did my usual side step down the stairs and made my way across campus. The fast ones already planted themselves in the best seats. Even my new, slow-moving friends weren’t on my usual path. Nonetheless, sharing the warm sunshine with the chirping birds made the stroll pleasant.
     Then, I saw the roses. Beautiful reddish pink roses—the shade that looks great on toenails but not on lips kind of red. Why had I not seen them before? I had walked this path at least four times already and had not spotted them stretching over a fence. Most were in full bloom, facing the path, beckoning me to notice what they had to offer.
     Bear with me, I told you this was not a “stop and smell the roses” story and it isn’t. In that moment, I realized the roses had always been there, just like the injured people I had met. They were there last year, I just didn’t notice them in my rush to get to class (you know, to learn how to become a better writer for God) or in my hurry to do good things.
     My Mary-Martha moment of revelation, by the roses, didn’t bring me to a total halt. Yet, along with my calculated gait, my journey that week grew more focused.

     Purposeful conversations took place. Radiant beauty burst forth instantly in some and in others it gently unfolded. Promises of prayer and encouraging words were exchanged like birthday gifts. Blessings overflowed.
     God is working in all the lanes of life, my friend. Occasionally, when we’re sputtering along, we find encouragement among our fellow slow lane travelers.
     And, just like CRPS, not all injuries are visible. Quite likely, the one cutting in front of you, or that irritating tail-gater, is possibly the one enslaved with the most pain.      
     It’s not so much about stopping to smell the roses for our own benefit. But rather regarding their beautiful presence with the same attention and care as our Creator.

     Whatever we think is impeding our progress, God can miraculously transform into delightful delays.

     What about you? What blessings have you discovered in the slow lane?