Monday, July 27, 2015

You've Got Something to Say!

Have you ever been sitting in church, listening to the sermon, when "bam," a statement hits you? This happens regularly for me, but there are those times when something will really stand out.

My hubby was preaching about life with no regrets and arrived at his final point, when he hit me with the statement. Here it is:

God wants to speak to the world through you.

Seems innocent enough, right? And, you might even think that I would know this about myself, since I'm a Christian writer. But, I actually feel that this was a nudge for a specific project God has been putting on my heart.

But, have you considered this about yourself? God wants to use you to communicate to the people around you, your world. What is totally fascinating to me is that He uses us in our uniqueness to speak to others about Him in our own distinctive way.

In the scheme of things, is my little voice really going to make a difference?

"Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourself fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain." 1 Cor. 15:58 NIV

The answer to whether our voices make a difference is yes. The verse above informs us that our work for the Lord is not in vain. Your unique way to "speak" to the world is not wasted.

 Are you like me, and feel so inadequate for the task?

"If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That's to prevent anyone from confusing God's incomparable power with us." 2 Cor. 4 The Message

Alone, we would be inadequate to speak to the world about God, but we have His power inside of us in the form of the Holy Spirit.

"We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us." 2 Cor. 5:20a. NIV

See? We are His ambassadors. He speaks to the world through us.

Sometimes fear can keep us from speaking when we should. We may feel unprepared or just not qualified.

"Be very careful, then, how you live - not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil." Eph. 5:15-16 NIV

"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have." 1 Peter 3:15a

We must live wisely, taking in the wisdom from God's Word. This will better prepare us to speak when needed. Our world is filled with so much evil and people living in contradiction to God's way. Because of this, we must always take advantage of speaking or acting when we are given the opportunity. We should be prepared to share why we're different than the world.

Sisters and Brothers in Christ, we have something to say to the world. Some are dying to hear it. Let's not shrink back from this responsibility but embrace it.

Compared with all the things said in the world, we have something to say that changes eternities. Speak up in your own unique way and in your own calling from the Lord. You've got something to say!  

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Do we even look different?

Recently I witnessed Christians talking about some other church members and putting them down behind their backs. Now, I won't take on a piousness or holier than thou attitude and say I have never done this. But, I'm worried when we do this kind of thing that non-Christians might overhear and decide they want nothing to do with Christianity if it means we act like this.

James 3:9-10 says "With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be."

This verse always gives me pause. The writer of James is right. I shouldn't speak against my fellow Christians and then use the same mouth to praise God. This is hypocrisy.

We are called to look and act differently than the world. We are called to be holy. That means separate, set apart.

John exhorts us to love one another with that love that comes from God. This kind of love is different than the love we see portrayed on the movie screen or on our TV. God's love is a perfect love. It was such a perfect and unconditional love that He gave up His Son, proving it.

We are called to love one another in this manner, being willing to lay our life down. This doesn't always mean giving up our lives as in being killed like Jesus. This might mean laying down our agenda. It could mean laying down our opinion. It might mean jumping in and helping instead of criticizing how another does something. It could mean standing up for someone when he or she is being talked about behind his or her back.

This type of love for our fellow Christians can be hard to do. But this is our calling from God. We are to show God's love. We often think this command is for the world - we are to love people so we can love them to God. But, much is said in God's Word about loving those who are our brothers and sisters in Christ. He must have known we were going to struggle with this.

In a day like now in which we see so much hate, Christians must show the love of the Father which He has granted and put inside of us. How much more so should we love and cherish those Christian brothers and sisters who are on this journey with us?

Let's look and act differently. Let's show love to each other and it will easily flow to those others outside the family of God.

Our church should feel like a safe place where we can learn and grow together without fear of ridicule and being talked about in a bad light. We should sense God's love flowing through us and to us.

"They will know we are Christians by our love." Do we give evidence?

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

What you can't see may help you!

Recently my Bible reading has been about some of the escapades of Elisha, the prophet.

Second Kings the sixth chapter begins yet another story of Elisha and his servant. It seems the king of Aram's plans were always known to the king of Israel. So much so that he asks his own officers who was on the side of the king of Israel, letting him in on the plans of the Arameans.

"'None of us, my lord the king,' said one of his officers, 'but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the very words you speak in your bedroom.'"

Don't you love it? The wording here just makes me chuckle. God allowed Elisha to know the most secretive plans of the king of Aram. The king orders his men to hunt down Elisha so he can capture him. The prophet is located and the king sends horses, chariots, and a strong force there by night to surround the city.

"When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots surrounded the city. 'Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?' the servant asked. 'Don't be afraid,' the prophet answered. 'Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.' And Elisha prayed, 'Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.' Then the Lord opened the servant's eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha."

Elisha's servant was so filled with fear that he was blinded to the truth. God had his own army there for his prophet.

I can't criticize Elisha's servant. I've been there so often, letting myself be overwhelmed by my fears. Feeling defeat before I've even remembered that I have God on my side.

Makes me thinks of a verse in First John the fourth chapter which says that we should remember that the One who is in us is greater than the one who is in the world.

Just because I can't see how my awful circumstance is going to work out, doesn't mean that God isn't working all around me. God is greater than anything, and He's on my side. Pretty good odds!

Are you in a tight spot and feeling defeated? Ask God to give you just a glimpse to bolster your faith. He may not show you chariots of fire, but He may grant you a peace that only God could supply.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Do you like a good cowboy romance?

Misty Beller has a winner in The Rancher Takes a Cook. You'll fall in love with her characters immediately and pull for them to make it through tough times as well as for the romance to triumph. Beller's well-written plot will keep you turning pages. Those familiar with my tastes know that I simply adore a romance involving a cowboy and his ranch. The Rancher Takes a Cook is a must for your summer reading list. 

When their South Carolina home burns to the ground, Anna Stewart’s only choice is to move with her younger brother to the wilds of a Texas ranch.
Their prospects are beginning to look better, until the rancher’s son, Jacob O’Brien, shows up with his alarmingly blue eyes to put a kink in Anna’s well-controlled plans. 

When danger escalates in the form of a band of cattle thieves with deadly intent, can Anna learn to release control to God’s capable hands…and those of the blue-eyed cowboy who’s stolen her heart?

Misty M. Beller was raised on a farm in South Carolina, so her Southern roots run deep. Growing up, her family was close, and they continue to keep that priority today. Her husband and two daughters now add another dimension to her life, keeping her both grounded and crazy.
God has placed a desire in Misty’s heart to combine her love for Christian fiction and the simpler ranch life, writing historical novels that display God’s abundant love through the twists and turns in the lives of her characters.
You can find her on her website, reader blog, marketing blog for authors, Goodreads, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest. Or check out her latest book, The Rancher Takes a Cook, released June 26, 2015, from Prism Book Group.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Not Safe in School or Church Anymore?

Some fellow Christians and I were discussing the past. We could all remember when school and church were the two safest places. But, after the shootings in both institutions, we tend to not feel safe anywhere.

What is a Christian to do? We want to lock ourselves away and play to our fears. But, God doesn't want us to give up like this. In fact, we forget about some of our greatest assets as a child of God.

1. Our God is greater than the enemy. In fact, God actually gave us the first big spoiler. In Revelation, He tells us that we win. We already know the ending and the enemy is defeated.

2. Our God is with us through whatever we go through. He promises to be with us and had it written in His Word for our constant reminder.

3. We can receive peace to endure any hardship or suffering. God's Word echoes to us to not fear 366 times. I think He meant it.

4. God's Word encourages us to stick together with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Our Father understands that we sometimes need someone in bodily form beside us.

5. Even if suffering ends in death and grief, God encourages us by letting us know that we don't have to grieve like those outside the family of God. We may mourn losses but not like those who have no hope.

6. When we suffer, we're in good company with our Savior.

7. We have the assurance that to be absent from our body means to be present with our Lord.

8. We can also have confidence in the fact that we don't have to be strong enough to face situations. The Spirit inside of us isn't called the Comforter for nothing. And, in our weakness, we are made strong through Him.

9. We have the awesome opportunity of communication with the Lord through prayer. When we just don't know what to do or say, the Spirit is there for us, interpreting.

10. We are His witnesses. The way we react or act in a situation might just speak volumes to those watching us. His children are still God's plan for reaching a dying world.

Those are just a few that came to my mind as I've been contemplating all the evil I see happen all around us. Yes, I've wanted to crawl in bed and put the covers over my head and hope it all goes away. But, God's Word warns about these last days we are living in. My dear brother and sister in Christ, it's not going to get any easier.

In light of that fact, let me as your sister in Christ spur you on through Christ Jesus our Lord. Don't throw in the towel! We have the victory!

What other assets can you think of that we have as children of God? You would be amazed at how boosted you can feel from considering these blessings.

Monday, June 8, 2015

What's new from author, Kimberly Rose Johnson?

Welcome, Kimberly. 

Tell us about the inspiration for your book, Island Refuge.

I first came up with the idea for Island Refuge while on a research trip to Leavenworth, WA. My mom and I took the train there and part of the route runs along the Puget Sound. While we were in Leavenworth we visited a bed and breakfast. Before I realized it, my brain was tinkering around with a story idea for a B and B on an island in the Puget Sound. I was in the middle of writing another series for Love Inspired Heartsong Presents when this story came to me. I couldn't get it out of my head! I let the story percolate in my mind for a few months then decided I had to write it. I set aside my other series and knocked this one out. 

My main characters both had hurts from their past and Zoe in particular had a lot of baggage she was carrying around with her. My hope is that readers will see that the Lord wants to take our baggage and carry it for us. Forgiveness is key in this story. Forgiveness of ourselves and others.

Island Refuge, Book #1 of the Wildflower Bed and Breakfast series, is another beautiful story by Kimberly Rose Johnson. She never disappoints. The story and the characters drew me in. I did not want to lay it down.
I loved the Bed & Breakfast setting! And what could be even more romantic than a B&B located on an island? Picture ferry rides across the waterway, beautiful wildflowers, adirondack chairs overlooking the water—ahhh, just the kind of place that beckons to me.
Off to a difficult start in their employer/employee relationship, Nick and Zoe soon start to see the softer side of each other. Pain and unforgiveness stand in the way of them learning to let go of the past and move into a relationship though. What will it take for them to move beyond their past? This romance is coupled with a bit of mystery that compliments the story well. Who is this person staying at the B&B, and why is she here? She obviously isn’t your usual overnight guest.
Ms Johnson writes on some tender issues such as the loss of a spouse, broken relationships, foster parenting, lost confidence, and learning to trust again beyond the pain—trusting both your heart, and the Lord to help you work through your future. Her use of both prayer and scripture reinforce the theme of the book.
A copy of this book was provided to me in exchange for my honest review. I was not asked to give a positive review.

This book sounds like a definite addition to our summer reading list!

Thanks for sharing about Island Refuge, Kimberly!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Do you like small towns?

Check out this new book from Sharon McGregor.

Fiona's Knight of Dreams

Inspiration for the story:
I grew up in a small prairie town and although I've strayed geographically, there are parts of that upbringing that will always be with me. Small town North America may be a little humdrum, as Fiona feels, but there is a sense of family and commitment to others that I've never been able to duplicate since. That's what I was trying to express when I began Fiona's Knight of Dreams-the sense of belonging. Decades later, I can walk into my hometown and feel a blanket of comfort and peace settle over me. It's Home. As Robert Frost said 'Home is the place where, when you have to go there, They have to take you in.’

 The good ladies of 1947 Timber are ready to find a wife for their new single minister.  Charles has ideas of his own when he meets Fiona, the lovely accident-prone and outspoken part-time librarian. Fiona, on the other hand, is holding out for a knight on a white charger to carry her away from her humdrum small town life. Fiona and Charles are thrown together as they begin to solve an old mystery which has turned up in a library book. Will Fiona's white knight ever show up to sweep her away? Will Charles ever run out of invitations for cream cakes and lemon slice? Fiona might just discover the sound of hoof-beats when she least expects it.

Bio- Sharon McGregor is a prairie girl who has been working her way west to escape the cold. She now lives on beautiful Vancouver Island. She hasn't escaped her roots, though, as her romances are set in small town North America. When not writing or reading, she operates a shave ice concession with her daughter and follows her grandchildren's athletic endeavours. She has a constant battle with her cat Zoey for control of her computer keyboard. Sharon loves to write romance, mystery and humor, if possible all three at the same time.


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Twitter-                  @sharonmcgr
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