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WRITE: Devotionals, Out of the Dust, Ready for Battle

WRITE: Devotionals, Out of the Dust, Ready for Battle

As we’ve already read in these devotionals from our new book Out of the Dust, Avis Goodhart is no stranger to spiritual warfare. And it probably won’t surprise you to learn that she encountered many such battles within the public school system.  #9: Ready for Battle  Scripture Reading: Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Eph. 6:10-17). Thought: As believers, we need to put (and keep) on the full armor of God. Excerpt, Out of the Dust: Because God led me to continue working with students even after my children were grown, I enrolled in college at age forty-two, graduated, and became a special education teacher. My time in the schools taught me more about how the enemy attacks God’s servants. At the high school, it didn’t take long for my faith to become a problem. Someone complained after I was seen carrying a Bible. “I thought this was America,” I responded. “Can’t I carry a Bible at any time?” In the six years I taught in that district, I was reported at least seven times for such suspicious activities as praying silently over my kids, putting up a “God’s in all of us” sign that one of my students had made, and displaying a manger scene. My students’ parents knew and approved of everything I did. It was those outside my classroom who wanted to cause problems. The battle became more and more obvious. God used this opposition to increase my dependence on Him. It took courage beyond my ability to walk into a classroom and teach reading when I couldn’t pronounce all the words or straighten out all the letters. At times, I froze. I had graduated with fancy papers and letters after my name, but I kept wondering if someone would take them away. About that time, I discovered...

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WRITE: Devotionals, Out of the Dust, Out of the Comfort Zone

WRITE: Devotionals, Out of the Dust, Out of the Comfort Zone

Avis Goodhart had a special reason for asking me to write her story: she’s dyslexic. What looks like a straight line of script to you moves all over the page when she sees it. Today’s devotional shares a time—one of the many times—when God took her out of her comfort zone as she taught a youth Bible study. #8: Out of the Comfort Zone  Scripture Reading: And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power (1 Corinthians 2:1-5). Thought: God’s not looking for ability, but availability. And sometimes availability involves revealing our weaknesses. Excerpt from Out of the Dust: During our time in Arkansas, I began working with the teens in our church. The more I learned, the more I taught. Probably because I had teenage children at the time, I found myself connecting with other teenagers too. I remember picking up the football players, including my son, Mark, from school on Wednesday nights for the twelve-mile drive out to our church. Mark and I had a great relationship, and on those drives he and his friends felt free to talk. They asked me questions about almost anything: sex, drugs, schooling, and life in general. So few of them had a trusted adult to talk to, and so much learning happened on Wednesday night drives in that old Cadillac. I wrote on a blackboard when I taught the youth Bible study, but at first, that scared me. I knew my dyslexia would show itself, and I expected no mercy from the kids. But my desire to teach them about Jesus helped me push past my concern. Whenever I taught, I held up the Bible and said, “God wants me to teach you what’s in this book. There are some big words in it, and I can’t pronounce them. But He’s given me a good understanding of what they mean, so when I write something on the board, I want Chad [the smartest boy in the class] to make sure I spell and pronounce it correctly.” About fifty kids attended the Bible study. Members took turns reading the Scripture passage aloud. Some of them could read well, but some of the big football players had trouble. When their turn came,...

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Write: Devotionals, Out of the Dust, I Surrender All

Write: Devotionals, Out of the Dust, I Surrender All

 Today’s Out of the Dust devotional tells about a turning point, a critical time in Avis’s life when her choice would affect eternity. Desperation can drive us to act in ways we never anticipated. But God can also use it to move us into surrender.  #7 I Surrender All Scripture Reading: Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will (Romans 12:1-2). Thought: God wants more from us than a shallow faith. He calls us to surrender all. Excerpt from Out of the Dust: After my first marriage ended due to infidelity, I tried to make a new life with my second husband, Dean. But only a few months into the marriage, it looked as though I’d made another big mistake. Our plan to put our two families together just wasn’t working. On top of that, Dean was drinking, running around with other women, and drinking some more. He asked me to move out because “You make me feel guilty.” No kidding. At first, I took the kids and went back to my own trailer home. Then we moved to Arizona, closer to more of my family. That’s where I lay that night, ready for the dating game. I sat up, shimmied my shoulders, fluffed my hair, and unfastened my top button. What’s the point of being good, anyway? I’ve been good my whole life, and look where’s it’s gotten me. Time for a new plan. Mine. I looked in the mirror. I just want to have a good time. I continued my preparations when a voice interrupted. “Go ahead. Try to make yourself happy.” What? God must have known I needed more than a voice, because the scene played out like a movie on the screen of my mind. A woman, fixing up a house for her kids and a man. The house looked beautiful, but soon the man got bored, and another came. The same scene repeated itself with another man, another house, another man, and another house. At the end, I saw the woman. Old. Wrinkled. Used-up. Worn-out. I was the woman. I knew God was offering me a choice: His way or my way; life or death. No more playing around with Christianity while keeping my options open. No more one foot in, one foot out. I spoke to God as directly as He did to me. “With my children, without my children. With...

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WRITE: Devotionals, Out of the Dust, Unshaken

WRITE: Devotionals, Out of the Dust, Unshaken

Physical illness has a way of draining our spiritual reserves. Today’s Out of the Dust devotional discusses a time when God met Avis in a time of deep physical need. #6 Unshaken Scripture Reading: I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure (Psalm 16:8). Thought: No matter what happens to us, God’s presence comforts and sustains us. Excerpt from Out of the Dust: As a young mother, I was still learning more about God. And once again, He used pain to send His message. The Lord was opening my eyes to the truth, but I still didn’t have a total commitment. I thought I could be a Christian under my own power – until something happened that took away my strength. At first, I didn’t realize I was ill. But soon I couldn’t get out of bed, and doctors diagnosed me with pernicious anemia. Vitamin B-12 shots helped, but only for a while. Tests showed I had many more white blood cells than red, and I stayed in bed for months, growing weaker and weaker. I felt so isolated. I itched all over and had unbearable pain. My eyebrows and much of my hair fell out. What’s happening? If I die, who will take care of my children? I couldn’t count on Wayne, although for now, he was trying to help. I started making deals with God, but I stayed sick. Very sick. What’s wrong? I’m a good girl. Bad things aren’t supposed to happen to me. I pleaded with God. “Lord, you know I don’t understand. And no matter what we do, I’m not getting any better.” I added my most serious words yet. “If you’re not going to heal me, take me. Tonight. Please. Just go ahead and take me. I’m ready.” At midnight, I waited. Nothing happened. When I didn’t die, I yelled. “I’m nothing,” I told the Lord. “I’m worthless! Why would you even want me? Live or die; it’s up to you.” Finally, I gave up. I couldn’t get out of bed, let alone fix my situation. In my mind, you had to do something to be worth something. And I could do nothing. That’s when the visions began. For about two weeks, every time the pain became unbearable, I saw a bubble at the foot of my bed with Jesus inside. When the pain came, so did Jesus and the powerful sense of His presence. I had felt so alone, but now, I understood: He is with me. I remembered the Bible said He has laid all our...

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WRITE: Devotionals, Out of the Dust: Don’t Waste Your Pain

WRITE: Devotionals, Out of the Dust: Don’t Waste Your Pain

During the many hours I spent interviewing Avis as I prepared to write her story, she gave me many pieces of wise advice. One of the best was this one: Don’t waste your pain. Today’s devotional from our book, Out of the Dust, explains it. #5 Don’t Waste Your Pain  Scripture Reading: Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us (Romans 5:3-5). Thought: God wants to use everything, even our pain, for our good and His glory. Excerpt, Out of the Dust: My dad, a World War II veteran, suffered from what we now know was Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Although he loved his family, his condition made our lives different than those of most kids, moving to a different town every few months. Growing up with Dad made me realize that people can’t give you what they don’t have. His illness caused him to move in and out of a fantasy. Once I understood that, I could forgive him for all the jobs and moves. He gave us what he had – love, admiration, and a sense of family unity. When I think back, I remember his pride in our smallest accomplishments. He showed off my childish pictures even to strangers as though they were great works of art. He praised all of us kids for our accomplishments and instilled within us the confidence that we could do anything if only we tried. At a young age, my brother George showed great mechanical ability. At only about eight years old, he took a lawnmower engine apart and put it back together. Dad beamed with pride. “Can you believe that boy?” Today, there isn’t an engine George can’t diagnose and repair. He even serves in a ministry at his church that helps fix cars for widows and others who need help. Too often we demand what we want from people even when they don’t have it to give. But only Jesus can fulfill all our expectations. When we love without condition, we free ourselves as well as others. When I look back on my childhood, I remember the good. I love to tell people, “Don’t waste your pain.” God hasn’t wasted a single bit of mine. Everywhere I go, I meet people who have suffered some of the same hard things I did. They trust me because they know I understand. That opens the door for me to share the same good news that helped bring me out of the dust. (Chapter 5)...

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WRITE: Devotionals, Out of the Dust: The Miracle Tire

Long before she served him overseas, God was doing miracles in Avis Goodhart’s life. Today’s devotional from our book Out of the Dust shows His power in her family’s time of desperate need.   #4 The Miracle Tire Scripture Reading: Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). Thought: God can choose to show His grace through miracles because with Him, all things are possible. Excerpt, Out of the Dust: God sometimes shows His grace through miracles. Maybe you’ve experienced that, too even if you’ve never seen a miracle tire. One night on a twisty mountain road with all our belongings piled on top of the car as usual, a tire blew. Dad bumped to the side of the road to examine the flat. “It’s bad,” he reported. “All torn up and cut.” He jacked up the car, making sure we all stayed inside. “Elsie,” he told Mom, “Don’t let the kids out. They’ll get killed.” He took the tire and trudged down the hill, his pockets empty. As he left, all of us kids cried. I don’t remember if we prayed or not, but I do remember we all had a deep concern for Dad and our ruined tire. Dad went to the first garage he saw and showed the tire to the mechanic on duty. “Can you fix it?” he asked. The man looked at the tire. “It’s all chewed up,” he said, shaking his head. “There’s nothing I can do. Why don’t you check with the garage across the street?” Dad took their advice. Again, he asked for the mechanic and showed him the flat, ready to begin his spiel. But to his surprise, the tire now looked normal. No longer destroyed, it looked solid, whole, and ready to use again. God fixed the tire while Dad walked across the street. All the mechanic had to do was put it back on the rim. Dad came back and told us the story right away. “I can’t believe it. I didn’t know what I was going to do,” he said, adding, “I didn’t have a cent. Only God could have healed that tire.” (Chapter 5)   Prayer: Lord God, thank you that you have no problem invading the natural with the supernatural. Make me aware of your provision, no matter how it comes. Do you have a question, comment, or prayer request? Feel free to share it below or email me through the link at the top of the page. I’ll respond as soon as I can.   Purchase Out of the Dust on Amazon, at Barnes & Noble, or at ANEKO Press (release date 11/1/14). Download a free Kindle...

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