Donna...just found your blog...I absolutely love it! And I love your singing! I'm at work right now and it was just exactly what I needed to hear to help me make it through tonight! Thanks for your ministry here! - Robert

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Friday, April 18, 2014

Born to Die

The other night I heard the song by Steppenwolf, Born to Be Wild. It brought back memories of Junior High and High School - that song had legs! When it came on the radio, my friends and I turned the volume up, and da-da-da'd through the verses, and on the chorus belted out, "Born to be wi-l-d," and played air guitar or in my case, drums. Oh, were we wild.

Born to be wild. Born to -- you fill in the blank. Sometimes we watch sports and think someone like Michael Jordan was born to play basketball. As a wee child, Julie Andrews opened her mouth, and a voice with a four-octave range flowed forth. She was born to sing.

During this season, I've reflected on Jesus Christ's mission. He taught like no other. But men and women have been anointed to teach. He healed the sick, yet gave the same power to the disciples. "He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness (Matthew 10:1 niv)."

Jesus performed miracles. We read in Acts that God did extraordinary miracles through Paul.

Jesus taught, healed the sick, and performed miracles, but He was born for something much greater. He was born to die.

Mary, Joseph, the disciples, Paul. None could perform a task He alone came to earth to accomplish. I sing a song called, Mary, Did You Know. The baby Mary delivered would deliver her - and us. His blood alone atones for sin. "But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone."

As an eight-year old girl, I stood up front in church one morning, and sang a song a capella. I don't even remember the song, but I do remember the grownups hovering around me after church. "Oh, honey, you were born to sing!" "Donna, you must use your talent for the Lord." And I did for several years.

Then life - banking and babies, housework and hum-drum, overcame my song. I threw myself into my mission of motherhood. My mom made me proud by saying I was born to be a mom.

Now I write. I love it. I can't imagine not writing now. Was I born to write? To sing? To be a mother? In whatever area of ministry He leads, I pray I accomplish my mission.

One thing I know - if I shed every drop of blood in my body, I could not atone for even one person's sin. I thank Jesus Christ that He fulfilled His purpose. During the Christmas holidays, I feel a twinge of sadness because even though we celebrate His birth, I know Jesus Christ was born to die.

But hallelujah, He arose to live again. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again (II Corinthians 5:15 niv). And even though I will one day die, because of His sacrifice, I, too, will live again.

Let's praise Him and vow to fulfill the purpose God has for our lives - as scribes and singers, guitar players or poets, parents, grandparents - as Christians.
___________

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Fun Moment: I Know Jesus Loves Me

On an Easter Sunday, to introduce my husband's sermon, I sang the song “Redeemer” written by Nicole C. Mullins. One of the lines in the chorus says, “I know my redeemer lives.” Then my husband preached an Easter sermon entitled “I Know He Lives.” During his sermon, he spoke of the tremendous love of Christ.

So after church when a little girl about seven came running up to Don exclaiming, “I know Jesus loves me!” he thought she must have been paying attention to the sermon.

“I know, Honey! Jesus loves you.”

She grinned even wider, followed him a few more steps and said, “Pastor, I know Jesus loves me.”

Don turned around, patted her on the head and said, “Praise the Lord. He does!”

Finally, the little girl sighed in exasperation and said, “I KNOW 'Jesus Loves Me.' Don’t you want to hear me sing it?”

_______

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Between Sundays: Week Twenty-Three: Donna Shepherd

Between Sundays: Week Twenty-Three: Donna Shepherd: Is Fear Your Master? “ For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” —I...

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Teaching Moment: Why Jesus?

Over a century ago, there was one man who began to speak of the “virtues” of Hinduism in the United States. As the decades rolled by, more gurus came and developed huge followings. Today, interest in eastern ideas in western culture seems to be at an all time high. Is Jesus still the answer even in this climate? Find out this week on Let My People Think as Ravi Zacharias discusses his book, Why Jesus?
http://www.oneplace.com/ministries/let-my-people-think/player/why-jesus-251352.html


Inspiring Moment: More Jesus, Less Me

Monday, January 13, 2014

Devotion: Valentine's Day - Say, “I Love You” to Someone Today



“But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another.” – 1 Thessalonians 4:9

February is the month of love. A lot of people think Hallmark thought up Valentine’s Day, but few know how it really originated.

One legend says Valentine was a priest during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When his actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.

Other stories suggest Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons where they were often beaten and tortured.

According to another legend, Valentine actually sent the first 'valentine' greeting himself. While in prison, it is believed that he fell in love with a young girl -- who may have been his jailor's daughter -- who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, he wrote her a letter, which he signed 'From your Valentine,' an expression still in use today.

Since America has been at war, there is a heightened awareness of the fragility of life. If you haven’t told your spouse, your children, or your loved ones you love them, why not do it today? We don’t know what tomorrow holds or even if there will be a tomorrow and of course the Lord could return at any moment for His Church.

Even if you don’t have a sweetheart, perhaps you can think of someone who could benefit from an expression of love from you. Just think – there may be someone in your life who won’t be hugged or told someone loves him or her if you don’t take the initiative.

What about your church family? What is one of the ways we know we are in the body of Christ? I John 4:7 says, “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.”

Lastly, but most importantly, I want to tell the Savior of my soul, the Maker of my heart and the Creator of love itself that I love Him.

Say, "I love you" to someone today!

Prayer: Lord, I thank You for all those who love me, and for the privilege of loving others. Most of all, I thank You, God, for Your love, mercy, and grace shown through Jesus Christ.

Donna J. Shepherd © 2012 All rights reserved. No portion of this Website may be reproduced by Crossmap or any other website without dated written permission from Donna. - Thanks!

*First posted 2-14-06

Monday, December 16, 2013

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Today's Devotional: Lines and Longing



Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! - 2 Corinthians 9:15 niv
I’m sitting in my warm, cozy home in front of my beautifully decorated Christmas tree – one of several trees scattered throughout my house. I’m afraid I go a bit overboard with the Christmas d├ęcor. The weather outside is truly frightful, as it has snowed since the wee hours of this morning. Since I work at home, I don’t have to venture out into this mess, and for that, I’m thankful.

The meteorologists started warning us about the storm headed our way yesterday morning. Every few minutes, they proclaimed the importance of being ready. They changed the forecast from ‘winter storm watch’ to ‘warning’ as the storm organized itself and seemed bent on making this area its target.

In anticipation of this storm, I power-shopped yesterday. Scowls and angry attitudes abounded. Long lines and a short amount of time to get everything done make even the most serene person ready to snap. For every “Happy Holiday” I responded with “Merry Christmas” – my own way of bringing Christ back into the celebration. But I’m still not completely ready.

Watching the news last night, the forecasters reminded me of preachers I heard as a little girl. “The Lord is coming,” they proclaimed. “You must be ready for His return!”

I’d lie in my bed at night, peering into the darkness. Would He come tonight? Was I ready? A great sense of anticipation and a good dose of fear filled my heart as I tuned my ears for a trumpet blast.

Even now, my heart beats faster when I think of the magnificence of Jesus Christ’s return. How wonderful! How amazing!



In the craziness of shopping, baking, and planning family get-togethers, I forget sometimes that not only did Jesus come as a baby, but died as a young man, and rose as my Savior. One day, He will return for His children, and whether I’m eight or eighty, I’m a child in His eyes. His child. And I’m ready when He is to go Home. I long to be with the One who loves me so.

Now don’t get me wrong – I want to stick around for a while, doing what I can to tell others of God’s love, but I’m prepared to meet Him. Are you ready, or do you cringe at the thought of where you’ll spend eternity?

As you wrap gifts, think of a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes. When you see the Christmas lights, associate their brightness with the Light of the World. And as you stress over being ready for the holiday, ponder whether you’re ready for the Reason for the holiday – the birth, death, resurrection, and soon-coming return of Christ our King. I hope you’ve accepted the free gift from God sent to you - the gift of His Son.

I hope the snow lets up soon, too. I still have some shopping to do.

Prayer: Lord, please help me to remember why I celebrate on the 25th of December each year. I thank You for Your love. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.

*Originally posted on 12-22-04.

Friday, July 05, 2013

Scripture Moment: Be Your Best


My quote for you today: 
"Never accept acceptable. Strive for superb!" - Donna J. Shepherd

Colossians 3:23-24 -Today's New International Version (TNIV) -"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving."

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Review: Love Under the Bubble Wrap


Wow! I'm so honored when someone takes time to write a review and post it on Amazon. And when it says such nice things, my day is made! Here's a snippet of what Mary Busha said about Love Under the Bubble Wrap - a novelette:
I love the way Donna wove humor, disappointment, deep love, and even sarcasm into her story. Her characters are so real they seem to step right out of her story and intersect with the lives of her readers.
Thank you, Mary. I'm tickled pink you liked it.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Review: The Exceptional Life, The: 8 Powerful Steps to Experiencing God's Best for You by Stephen Arterburn

I've listened to New Life Live, a nationally syndicated radio and TV show, for years and know that Steven Arterburn, founder of New Life, an author, speaker, and one of the longtime hosts, has a knack for taking what could be very complicated problems and providing steps to simple solutions. The fly in the ointment is that many people do not want to give up anything to gain something better – a "new" life. 

In The Exceptional Life, The: 8 Powerful Steps to Experiencing God's Best for You, Arterburn boils down what he sees as the major problems in life to eight categories. Each chapter identifies the origins and features of a negative quality, trait, or behavior and how it impacts a person's life. Then Steven gives Bible-based advice on how to give up the negative for the positive.

Steve uses stories, both funny and sad, but always relevant, to illuminate his points. Although I enjoyed each one, sometimes I did find myself struggling to get back on track. It tickled me though, because after listening to Steve talk on the radio for several years now, I could almost hear him telling the stories. If you're not used to his conversational style of writing, though, it might not seem as endearing. I believe if you stick with him, you will find he does make his point.



Overall, this book is a thoughtful, insightful, and useful tool to help you get started on that journey to become free of negative behaviors and traits that prevent you from having a better, more positive, yes - exceptional life. As a follow up to this book, consider "Healing Is a Choice" also by Arterburn which will help you take further steps to experience God's best for you.

I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers for an honest review.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Devo: A Better Plan


Many are the plans in a person’s heart,
   but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails. - Proverbs 19:21 niv

I got up bright and early on Monday ready to start my day and my Internet wouldn't work. Scree-e-e-ch! That will put a halt to your plans, won't it? I'm not on the web much on Sundays, so I look forward to catching up with everyone first thing Monday morning.

I decided a big cup of coffee was in order before I called the cable company, and while I poured that first cup, it was like the Holy Spirit whispered to me and said, "God doesn't need the Internet to talk with you for a while."

That's right! I know that, of course, but sometimes in my haste to 'get things done,' I forget. I had a nice time talking with the Lord. An even BETTER way to start my day. No, the BEST!

And obviously, I figured out what was wrong. Well, I guess I should say - I did the first thing any computer-savvy person does - unplugged everything and restarted it, and voila! I'm back online. Maybe God had plans for me this morning, too. I'm so blessed I didn't miss our appointment! 

Image: jscreationzs / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Review: The Power of the Prophetic Blessing by John Hagee




At the beginning of "The Power of the Prophetic Blessing," Pastor John Hagee confidently asserts, "You don't need to search any further for the answers to the challenges of your life; you just need to believe that you have the potential to lead a blessed life...because you were born to be blessed!" 

Hagee starts by defining the prophetic and priestly blessings. The second section talks about the eight prophetic blessings of Jesus, and the final section teaches about releasing and receiving the blessing. 

The principles taught by Hagee are well-researched and backed up with many Scripture references. He also includes many personal anecdotes and relevant quotes from Bible teachers. If you've ever heard Pastor Hagee preach, you'll almost be able to hear his voice booming with his unique delivery from the pages of this book. I don't necessarily agree with all of Hagee's points and interpretations of scripture, though I found myself hoping that he is correct in his assertion. I do  agree with Hagee that words are powerful, and speak the Word of God over my life for prosperity and blessings, health and healing, for favor, and ask God to bless my spouse, my children, and future grandchildren. Because of the teachings in this book, I've been assured I have a biblical foundation for continuing this practice. 

Be sure to have your Bible handy as you read this book. Some of the teachings might seem controversial, but  pray and seek God's guidance as you read. 

I give this book a 3-star review. I was given this book by Worthy Publishing in exchange for my honest opinion. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Father's Day: Playing for My Father



The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father's God, and I will exalt him.
– Exodus 15:2 NIV


Luther Jack Riley, L.J. for short, was not a musical man. His wife, Mammie, grew up singing, and when they visited her family, the whole clan gathered around the piano to sing for hours. But not L.J. – he sat to the side and listened, never singing a note.

At the age of nine, Lavawan, the youngest of L.J. and Mammie’s four children, found out his dad had a plan. Even though no one in the family had ever expressed a desire to play a musical instrument, for some inexplicable reason, his father decided to buy a piano.

Lavawan waited on pins and needles for the piano to be delivered. Somehow he knew, as if by instinct, he’d be able to play it. He’d already begun calling it "my piano.”

Finally the day arrived. It rained hard that day, and the movers covered the wood with plastic sheeting. They rolled the old upright into the living room, and Lavawan’s anticipation grew as they peeled back the plastic. He had such an unusual feeling about it all. He knew before he sat down he could play that piano.

All four children took turns trying to play. One by one, they quit – except Lavawan. Every single day, he spent hours picking out notes. He had no teachers, no lessons, just a tenacious determination to learn.

L.J. worked shift work at the paper mill and often had to sleep during the day. It would be difficult for most people to sleep with a kid banging on the ivories for hours on end, but not L.J.

Lavawan’s mom pulled him aside to tell him she'd noticed something odd. "When you play the piano, your dad sleeps. When you quit, he wakes up."

One day Lavawan knelt down beside his bed and prayed a fervent prayer. “Please, God, if you’ll give me the ability to play, I’ll use it for Your glory the rest of my life.” Within a few months’ time, he could play almost every song the congregation sung at church. He became the church pianist at the age of ten.

Over the next few years, he learned to read and write music fluently. He became a concert pianist, and played for thousands of people. Thousands more sang as he played in worship services. Lillenus Publishing Company has released several books of arrangements for piano by Lavawan Riley.

He testifies, “The call on my life depended on a decision and act of my father totally independent of me. He did not know I would become a pianist and serve in the ministry all these years. I know God guided the steps of my father.”

L.J. Riley passed away a few months ago at the age of 84. Lavawan played for his father’s funeral. While he played, all he could think of was that rainy day many years ago when his daddy felt led by the Holy Spirit to buy a piano.

As he filed past the casket, Lavawan laid his left hand on his father’s lifeless right hand and prayed another fervent prayer. “God, these hands have finished their work. They toiled for years, and now they toil no more. But in my hands, there is still life, and I will use my hands to serve You the rest of my days. Thank you, God, for giving me such a father.”


******************************

Lavawan and his wife, Sheila, are dear friends. I’ve been blessed to see him in concert many times. When he plays, the Spirit of God fills the room.

I never knew L.J. Riley. When I asked Lavawan about his dad, he sent along a picture taken two years ago. He looked exactly like I imagined he would – a short, pudgy man in a ball cap with a friendly smile.

Even though we never met, I am grateful to L.J. Riley for his openness to guidance from the Lord. My desire is to be led of the Spirit the same way in every area of my life.


Prayer: Lord, I love You and give thanks for the gift of music. I praise You for my own musical ability, and pray I will be faithful to minister for Your glory. Like Lavawan, I am grateful for my earthly father, but most of all, I thank You for being my heavenly Father. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.


*Originally posted Father's Day, 2004

NEWS! Look for this story  in The Best Dad in the World - in bookstores now! (and another one in The Best Grandma in the World!)

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