Thursday, May 21, 2015

Spiritual Warfare - Really?

Do you believe in spiritual warfare?

I can give you a hearty yes for my answer.

My husband is a pastor, so we know about this opposition. He must deal daily with satan's push against revealing the truth from God.

Personally, I have looked forward to the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference for many months. I was eager to return and teach the classes God had led me to create just for this year's attendees. I had especially prayed for my devotional class and that God would encourage exactly the people He wanted in this class. We would be creating a devotional book for Christian writers, in hopes of encouraging them in their calling to write Christian literature.

The week before the conference I felt under attack. Many of the faculty at this conference have voiced similar experiences each year before the conference.

At first I let all of the attacks pull me down, strip my confidence, and rob my joy. Should I even attend the conference in light of the circumstances around me? When this thought ran through my mind, I became a little miffed at myself.

What was I doing? I was allowing my enemy to defeat me without a fight. And, what was it about me going to this conference that had riled satan enough to try to thwart my efforts?

"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 rulers, against authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." Ephesians 6:10-12

The verse above doesn't say, be strong. Rather, it states to be strong in the Lord. We put on His armor.

I was trying to combat this enemy with my own strength. Can I tell you, friends? We will lose every time. But, now with God's strength, we can't lose.

This life is a battle and we're sure to come out with some scrapes and bruises. But, we can take our stand against every campaign of the devil through our Lord.

So, this is a happily ever after - I prayed and went on to the conference. I now know why satan didn't want me to go. I experienced such "holy encounters" through my class attendees as well as the music and speakers. The spirit of darkness wanted to rob me of the light and truth and sweet worship and fellowship.

Have you had to battle the enemy lately? Were you armed with God's strength?








Thursday, May 7, 2015

Were You Skipped When God Gave Spiritual Gifts?

Recently I've been going through Beth Moore's lecture study on the Spirit called Breath. Something really resounded with me in the latest lecture.

Do you feel like you were skipped when God passed out spiritual gifts? Let me tell you right now that if you are a child of God, meaning you have been saved through Jesus Christ, you have been given at least one spiritual gift.

How do I know this to be true? When you were saved, God put a deposit of Himself in you called the Holy Spirit. And, we are each given a manifestation of this Spirit in us.

"There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good." 1 Corinthians 12:4-7

Notice it says that the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one. Manifest means to make evident or embodiment. There has been some sort of gift given to you to make the Spirit in you evident.

Often we might deny we have a Spiritual gift because we don't like the one we were given. Or, maybe we haven't actively discovered the gift within us.

Beth Moore says this about spiritual gifts: "Your spiritual gift was given to you but it is not for you."

This is supported in the First Corinthians scripture above. Notice it says that the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. Is this your common good? Nope. Our spiritual gifts are to be used in the Body of Christ, the church.

Starting in verse 12 of the same chapter of First Corinthians as is quoted above is the discussion of the Body of Christ. The body analogy is used to show that if one part is lacking then the whole body suffers. Thus, we are not supporting the common good of our fellow Christians.

So, I will conclude by telling you that if you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you weren't skipped over when God gave spiritual gifts. You and I are responsible for using our gifts for the good of our other brothers and sisters in Christ and they are equally responsible to us.

Do we dare ask the Spirit to fill us with the power we need to use our gifts? What could God do with a Christian who is yielded to the Spirit and using the gifts to glorify God?

I do believe that Acts 2 finds a rag-tag group of people being filled with the Spirit who went on to turn the world upside down.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Don't Let Your Godly Legacy Die

As I'm reading my daily Bible readings in my One Year Bible, I've been marking verses that stick out. One that not only stuck out but gave me pause to examine was a passage from Judges the second chapter.

About verse number eight, the text says that Joshua died at the age of 110. He is characterized as a servant of the Lord.

But a mere verse later, the situation changes.

"After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel. Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord and served the Baals." Judges 2:10-11

In another verse later in the chapter it points out that the people turned from the ways of their ancestors who had been obedient to the Lord's commands.

What just a minute! What happened here? We would like to point a finger at this generation and tell them how awful it is that they brought in false gods and ignored the commands of God. But, we can't blame them solely.

Back in Deuteronomy God impressed upon the people that they must pass on this Godly heritage. They were specifically told to teach their children in every situation. They were even encouraged to set up memorials so when the children asked about these, they were to tell about God and what He had done for them. What happened? Seems there was a breakdown some place here.

Most people who know me, know that passing on a Godly legacy is a very important thing for me. I strive to be very intentional about handing down my Christian heritage.

Being intentional is the key. Obviously it takes more than just growing up in a family that followed the Lord. It must take more than just shuffling our kids off to church every once in a while. God went as far as to tell the people to talk about His commands as you walk along the road and in your homes.

This means that our Christian heritage is lived, modeled, and specifically taught. We can't expect our children to carry on a Godly legacy if we don't show the importance. They won't just "catch" it by attending church or Sunday school.

Our children and those we have influence over must see us live out our Christian faith and prove its priority and worth.

I fear we, just as the Israelites in the Judges passage, haven't taken this task seriously. We're not thinking what is at stake. We're not just playing with some traditions. We're playing with people's lives and eternities.

Oh, friend, don't let your Godly legacy die out. Make it an intentional priority to carry on. The next generation is counting on you to show them Christ and how God would have them to live and pass on this most important legacy to the next generation. Let's not allow another generation to grow up not knowing the Lord or what He has done.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Preview of For Our Good

My Christian romantic suspense, For Our Good, is slated to release in the fall. I'm excited to share this story with my readers. This story involves romance and yet an equal amount of suspense. Something a little different for this author. But, I must admit that I really enjoyed creating the characters and scenarios in this book.

God always prompts me to include Christian themes into my writing. This book is no exception. The title, For Our Good, hints at one theme. This is taken from that familiar verse in Romans 8:28, speaking of God working for the good. The reader will also encounter a strong theme focusing on those in the last days who will feign Christianity.

I have yet to include a study at the end of one of my romance fictions, but this book will include a study. I'm hoping this will allow readers to delve further into the themes and even make application to their own lives.

Let me introduce you to one of the characters from For Our Good. Please welcome Charlotte Jarvis, otherwise known as Charlie.

Charlie - Thanks for having me on your blog. And, yes, Charlie is an interesting shortened nickname form of Charlotte. But, if you ask my friends, it just fits.

Paula - I see. Are you a tomboy then?

Charlie - You might say that. I've had to be pretty tough in my line of work as a police officer.

Paula - I'm sure you have. Let's back up. Where were you born and where are you now?

Charlie - Well, I was born in East Tennessee in the Knoxville area. Soon after my parents passed away, I moved to Florida and worked there on a special drug unit. Recently, I've been called back to my hometown to fill in for a woman who needed to leave her desk job temporarily.

Paula - Oh, how did it feel to come home? Are you staying?

Charlie - Well, I have to admit that it feels awkward. I haven't been back since my parents passed. But, this is only a temporary gig. I'll be back to Florida soon.

Paula - Any friends to catch up with?

Charlie - Um, no, not really. It is ironic that one of the police officers at the station is a guy I went to school with. His name is Jordan.

Paula - Have you done anything else other than work at the police station since arriving?

Charlie - I've just started attending church with Jordan and his family.

Paula - That's nice. I suppose you miss your church back in Florida.

Charlie - Well, I don't really have a church back there. I've visited a few.

Paula - Haven't been able to find the right one? Your parents brought you up in church, right?

Charlie - Yes, my parents were active members of a little church on the other side of town. Jordan's church is much bigger. Thanks for the interview and I hope to see you around.

If you get the feeling that Charlie is being quite elusive in sharing about herself, you would be right. Let's just say that Charlie has a big secret. You can read her full story in For Our Good. You will also see the ghosts she struggles with and her true feelings toward church and God.

Stay tuned for more information on this book and its characters.

Now for a question for you to answer in the comments. Name a book character and post a question you would like to ask that character. Please list the book name and author if you could.

I'll start. The character, Gabi, from Janice Thompson's book, The Dream Dress. Gabi, if there was nothing to stop you, what would your dream be?


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

In the Reconciling Business

In my recent Bible readings in the One-Year Bible, the parables of Jesus from Luke have been the focus in the New Testament segments. Jesus used parables, earthly stories with heavenly meaning, to convey to his audience truths. He used everyday situations and objects to help the people understand the things of the kingdom and of God.

The parable of the lost sheep in Luke 15 is a great example. We first see the set-up or the setting in which Jesus used this story. Several tax collectors and sinners had gathered around Jesus. The Pharisees and teachers of the law criticized Jesus for associating with such people.

This criticism prompts Jesus to tell his parable about the lost sheep. He uses something common that the people would be familiar with - sheep. Jesus sets the stage by saying, "Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn't he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?"

I can just picture those people relating to the scenario and nodding their heads. They had surely had this happen to them or to someone they know.

Then Jesus continues the story. He states that when that person finds that lost sheep, he is happy. He is so overjoyed that he calls his friends and neighbors and tells them to be happy with him.

Jesus delivers the point of the story by saying, "I tell you in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent."

Just to get the point across more fully, Jesus tells the parable of the lost coin and the lost son. In another part of Scripture, Jesus says that He came for the sick not the well people.

In these parables Jesus is showing the people and us that God is in the reconciling business. God loves us so much, He will search for us. God did the ultimate act of reconciliation when He sent Jesus to die for us.

Think about it. This parable of the lost sheep illustrates that God will pursue one out of the hundred. He could say, "I have most of my lambs. Ninety-nine - that's only one. No need to waste time to look for just one."

But, He doesn't say this. He basically says, "I can't stand to leave one lost. I will search until I find that little lamb and we are reconciled. I'll do whatever it takes for that one."

Dear friends, God loves you that much. He doesn't want anyone to perish, lost without reconciling.

If you haven't accepted Christ, thus being reconciled to God, consider doing that today.

If you have accepted Christ and are a part of the flock, consider again the love of your Good Shepherd. Just think - the day you were found (saved) all of heaven rejoiced! Your reconciliation to the Father just might be cause for a little praise-party and some thankfulness raised to God.

Friday, April 3, 2015

A Renewed Perspective

Just like Christmas, the Easter story can become so familiar that we miss its significance in our lives. When was the last time we fully considered what Jesus did for us on the cross?

First, we must remember that He was the Christ, the promised Messiah. Why is this important? There was no one else who could have been the perfect sacrifice to take away our sin. Only God’s Son who was without sin could pay for our sin.

But, though He was divine, He was also human. He had to become a man to set an example for us as well as prove He could relate with all our struggles. His humanity means that He felt the nails and the agony of dying through crucifixion. He was willing to endure that for our sins, our chance at forgiveness.

What about his resurrection? Jesus was dead and had paid for the sins of all. There was one more proof and one more lesson Jesus was to fulfill. What additional proof would be needed that Jesus was who He said he was than to come back to life? As He emerged from that tomb alive, He proclaimed a message, a lesson, of hope. When we accept and believe that Jesus died for our sins that we might have forgiveness, we rise to a new life and possess the hope of glory in Heaven.
I’ve used a simple illustration with children to drive home the story of Easter. I give each child a biscuit and a marshmallow. The biscuit is the tomb and the marshmallow is Jesus. By wrapping the biscuit around the marshmallow, we seal Jesus in the tomb. I usually roll them in melted butter and a sugar-cinnamon mixture and then bake. When the children open their biscuit tombs, it is hollow inside. Jesus has risen so the tomb is empty but our hearts are full because now He lives in us.
This Easter step back and get a fresh perspective on what Christ has done for you. Though the tomb is empty, our hearts are full.

Is your heart full of Jesus? 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Finalist!

Sometimes God really does just knock my socks off! What a surprise to open my email yesterday and find that my novella, The Prayer Shawl, was a finalist in The Carolyn Readers Choice Awards from North Texas Romance Writers of America.

This story is from the two-story collection in my book, Legacy and Love, from Prism Book Group.



Oh, and might I add that my biggest fan and promoter, my mama, says this is her very favorite! Thanks for the encouragement, Mom.