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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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WRITE: Devotionals, Out of the Dust: Unspeakable

When you look at Avis Goodhart’s life and ministry today, you might not guess that she, like many of the children she serves in Peru, has suffered the unspeakable. Here’s another in our continuing series of devotionals taken from Out of the Dust: Story of an Unlikely Missionary, which will release November 1. Enjoy, and don’t forget to check out the links at the end. Keep watching for other Out of the Dust devotions all month. Scripture Reading: Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge (Psalm 62:8). Thought: Even when things seem hopeless, we can cry out to God, our refuge. Excerpt, Out of the Dust: During our early years, my sister Rada and I sometimes stayed with my maternal grandfather, two aunts, and an uncle. But for me, Pop’s comfortable home brought with it the unspeakable injury of sexual abuse. Christmas this year looked different than ever before. We helped decorate the sparkling tree in the living room. Our aunts took us shopping, urging, “Don’t peek” as they smuggled in all sorts of mysterious gifts. They also began talking about us staying to live with them full-time. “When we go to court, make sure to tell the judge you want to live here,” Aunt Ruth urged. I didn’t want to hurt her, but the terrible secret locked inside me refused to go away. One night during dinner, Uncle Jim looked at me, and I knew. No one else saw, no one else noticed – but I did. I couldn’t talk about it, didn’t know what to call it or why it was wrong, but I knew. Leaving my mashed potatoes and gravy to grow cold, I jumped up and ran out the door. Leaping over the ditch, I darted into the fields behind the barn. I ran, and ran, and ran, unaware that my frantic aunts and uncle were searching for me. The whole time I ran, I kept watching for Mom and Dad to come driving down the road. I know they’ll come. They’ll make everything all right. Instead, only Aunt Alice came after what seemed like hours. She found me lying in the weeds, exhausted and hopeless. “Avis! Why would you want to run away?” she puffed. “We’re giving you and your sister such a good home. Come with me right now!” When we got back to the house, all the adults seemed so upset. And they all had questions I couldn’t answer. All except Uncle Jim. He stayed quiet while the others talked to me about “responsibility” and “gratitude” and other big words I didn’t know. I still couldn’t answer their questions. I...

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