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Trading Winter for Spring

Trading winter for spring . . . by guest blogger, Rev. Paul Anderson…Having spent the first 20 years or so of my life in North Central Minnesota, I had the opportunity of observing the many wonders of nature.  As a boy I had a special fascination with the changing of the seasons.  At the conclusion of the last day of school, off would come the shoes and shirts for the summer, with all its wonderful pleasures— swimming, fishing, climbing trees, to name a few.

Then, sadly, summer would end, and it was back to school.  Fall, with its leaves changing to brilliant colors, ripening pumpkins, and birds gathering in preparation for their southward migration, gave way to the nippy air of winter.

My children and grandchildren will no doubt accuse me of exaggerating, but I declare this to be true:  I remember the thermometer registering 54 degrees below zero.  And that was before this stuff about wind chill factors.  I remember the accumulation of snow reaching 36 inches in depth, and the ice on the lake being two and a half feet thick.  One year a succession of blizzards hit the month of April when school buses could not run and school had to close for weeks.  In my youthful mind I did not see how anything could survive the harshness of WINTER.

But eventually the days of early spring arrived and the sun began slowly to accomplish the seeming impossible.  Almost beyond belief LIFE began to appear in ABUNDANCE!  Blossoms burst forth everywhere.  Song birds returned, and the miracle of new life triumphed over the severity of winter.

Those of us who have lived for a while have learned that our lives have their seasons.  Along with summer’s bliss there are times when life is like winter.  We experience many deaths and losses (some small and some big).  Life can be so severe and death so final.

The disciples felt that way following the crucifixion of Jesus and a sealed tomb.  But on that first Easter morning, hopelessness and despair gave way to joy and hope!  The Risen Christ tells us “Because I live, you too shall live!”  And the life He offers is Abundant Life!

In our winter seasons we need to remember what Jesus said:  “With men things seem impossible, but with God, all things are possible.”  (Matt. 19:26)  If you are going through one of those prolonged winter seasons of life, hold on.  Spring is just around the corner!23

Legal Wrangling

LEGAL WRANGLING    By freelance writer Joyce Ellis . . . I’ve always loved legal wrangling. Growing up, watching TV shows such as Perry Mason, I quickly learned legal-battle terminology.  District attorney Hamilton Burger frequently rose to his feet and objected to questions on the basis that they were “incompetent, irrelevant, and immaterial.”

Unlike many people, I’ve jumped at my two opportunities for jury duty and, as foreperson, I’ve read the verdict for my fellow jurors. The tension of a courtroom battle and the struggle for justice have equipped me for spiritual battles.

It seemed a little thing at the time, and I was only a child. But I took something that didn’t belong to me, knowing it was wrong. The details aren’t important. I’ve come to this type of battle with other sins as well. At first I tried to rationalize it. But having already committed my life to Jesus, I became angry at myself for giving in to temptation. With God’s prompting, I confessed my sin and claimed His promise that He is “faithful and just to forgive us our sins” (1 John 1:9 nlt).

I believe that’s when the legal wrangling in the heavenly realms intensified. Over and over, my thoughts returned to what I did. How could I, a believer—even a child-believer—well-taught in the Scriptures, do such a thing? Circumstances prevented restitution, but I asked God repeatedly to forgive me and erase the painful memory.

Amazingly, the guilt haunted me into adulthood and resurfaced often as I tried to follow the Lord’s calling on my life. The Enemy, like a prosecuting attorney, accused me of being “incompetent” to serve God. The battle raged on.

Then one day, a courtroom phrase came to mind. Sometimes, when an attorney questions a witness and receives an answer, the attorney will come at the same question from another angle, trying to trip up the witness. At that point, the opposing counsel typically jumps up and says, “I object, Your Honor. Asked and answered.”

That was it—my answer for Satan, our “accuser” (Rev. 12:10).

I determined to listen no longer to Satan’s accusations.

The Bible says we all sin. We all have things in our past—maybe in our present, too—that the Enemy delights in using to accuse us and make us feel—even believe—we are “incompetent, irrelevant, and immaterial.”

But “we have an advocate [a defense attorney] with the Father,” the Apostle John reminds us, “Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 2:1–2 niv, brackets added). And I have accepted His payment for all my sins.

So Satan can accuse me all he wants in the courts of heaven, but Jesus actively advocates on my behalf and gives me the authority to say, “I object! Asked and answered.”


© 2017 Joyce K. Ellis

This blog is adapted from an article by Joyce K. Ellis, which originally appeared in Indeed magazine. Ellis is the author of more than a dozen books, including The 500 Hats of a Modern-Day Woman and Write with Excellence. She speaks for women’s events across the country and often speaks and serves with missions teams in Guatemala. Contact her at her website: Her books are available on her website and on



The Gift of Change

We are delighted to welcome back Rev. Edwin Hollen, a return guest blogger

The Gift of Change

“I will” is a great resolve when focused on a needed positive change. It is always interesting to hear the comments of some as we come near to the close of a year. Has it been the disappointment of a wrong choice in the year just lived? Or is it the hope that finally the new year will be the year of fulfilled dreams?

One thing is a lesson we all learn soon or should learn. We become the sum total of our resolves, choices made daily as well as yearly. The combining of our decisions determine our road of life and also the closing. The easiest part is to make a statement as to what we are going to do. The follow-through is probably where most fail. Endurance and focus is critical in fruition.

When I was young, I knew of a man given to heavy drinking (today he would be referred to as an alcoholic). He met his drinking buddies one day with a new decision: “I quit drinking!”

Their response: “For how long?”

“For life!” he responded. Their laughter provoked an immediate response. “I’ve done it before, I can do it again” he declared.

“For life”?

Remember follow-through is where the fulfillment of our resolve happens. One said, “Words are cheap—to make it happen is costly.” The story of the prodigal in Scripture is a great resolution story. Nowhere are we given a hint as to the time of year it was, nor does it matter. He has lived out a decision. He has now come to a daily regret and with remorse, awakening one morning, he makes a momentous decision. Hesitating, no longer suffering over the mistakes of the past, the resolve is made:

“I will arise and go,” and go he did.

The one innate gift the Creator has given us is the ability to change our thinking (harder for some than others). To resolve, to decide, to make choices is a cherished gift to a human life. God does not respond to just certain dates (like the New Year) to allow change or to a select people. “Whosoever will may Come.”

I am not in any way a promoter of those easy-on bumper stickers. Perhaps I would be one to oppose even their production, however I saw one so eye-catching and true—life-altering:

On the road of life, God allows U-turns

It is not a New Year’s thing. It is an “any day” thing with you and God. Though it is easier in younger years, change is possible in any season of life. Every life is filled with decisions. Could we find one who has made them all correctly or wisely?

Some twenty-five years ago, my wife, Phyllis, and I had just returned from ministry in the Netherlands. We visited the advanced-training center of Teen Challenge in Rehrersburg, Pennsylvania, where our youngest son, Paul, was on staff working with those whose resolves had brought them to a condition of despair. His job was to travel fulltime into schools, churches, and gatherings where those in the program of restoring could relate their stories. Their group was named U-Turn.

As I spoke that morning in a chapel service and looked out over the sea of faces making new resolves, it was the apex of the summer. It left a lingering truth in my spirit. Oh, the gift of change!

Perhaps some reading this have lived this past year or even a lifetime of regret over wrong resolves and choices. Live there no longer, in that state of disappointment and despair. U-turn yourself and turn around. Resolve with determination to “arise and go to my Father.” Relive the prodigal story! Jesus said, “Come!”