Monday, July 18, 2016

He Longs to be Involved

"The Lord longs to be gracious to you; He rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for Him! O people of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious He will be when you cry for help! As soon as He hears, He will answer you." Isaiah 30:18-19 NIV

In light of the state of our world today, have we forgotten to call upon God?

When the above verse appeared on my scripture calendar, I just paused and marinated in it for a moment.

Take heart in what this verse says. Look at that first sentence. He longs to be gracious to me? He rises to show me compassion?

How much more gracious could He be that long ago when He saw into the future, He knew He must send Jesus to die for all sins. How much more compassion could He show? God loved me and you so much and wanted to provide a way to be in a relationship with Him, that He did the ultimate. He sent His Son as a sacrifice.

But you know, I truly believe that this verse is ongoing. God longs to be gracious and show compassion to us now, in our current circumstance. Just notice that next line - He is a God of justice. And I don't think that the next sentence is just accidentally put right after the justice part. We are blessed if we wait for Him.

We might look around at what happens in our world and wonder where God is. Oh, He is here and He is still a God of justice even if we feel His timing should be on our schedule. God's justice will prevail in the end, make no mistake about that.

Some might say that this verse isn't applicable because it names people who live in Jerusalem, but this is a direct reference to God's people. Who are God's people? Those who have a relationship with Him through the Lord Jesus Christ. I truly think God is saying that His people should weep no more. We should cry out to Him.

Too often I'm guilty of watching the happenings on the news or social media and then moaning about it. Or I might even wring my hands and start to worry. God says to call upon Him first. Notice the verse says that as soon as He hears, He will answer.

Will this answer be to solve the horrors we see occurring in our nation and around the world? I don't know. That's God's decision. He isn't slow, as Scripture says, in acting. He seems to be because He wants all to come to a saving knowledge of His Son Jesus.

But when we, His children, call out to Him, He will hear and answer in His way. This might be to show me compassion through a comforting peace that passes all understanding. He might show me how to help a situation. He might use me to tell another about Christ. He's God. It's His choice. But He does hear and will answer.

Read the above passage again and take heart in that your God wants to be gracious to you and show you compassion. He wants to hear your cry and answer. Cry out, precious brothers and sisters.

Does this scripture stir anything different in you? Please share with us in the comments.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

My Birthday but a Gift for You

My birthday is July 8th. But you can get a gift.

My book, The Crux of Honor, is free on Amazon July 6th through the 8th.




Let me share with you how this story came about.

The editor-in-chief at Prism Book Group put out a call to the authors through our private Facebook group for submissions to a series based on The Love Chapter. She printed out the passage and basically the different phrases were up for grabs as to be the theme for the story. I had my eye on one phrase but missed out on that one. I decided that I could come up with a story based on the section: “Love does not dishonor.”
God brought to mind my time living in Maryland near the Amish and their honorable ways. This is when my story started to take form. What if someone with Amish ties were to bring dishonor to the family? What if the supposed dishonor actually revealed long-concealed lies?
My next thought was about an unexpected pregnancy being the ultimate dishonor in the story. I recalled my time as a devotional leader at our local Pregnancy Crisis Center. Conjuring bitter feelings to portray through my characters wasn’t difficult. When God afforded me the opportunity to serve at the pregnancy center, I was definitely conflicted. These girls had become pregnant, many by accident. As a young woman I struggled with infertility and harbored ill feelings toward those who found themselves in unexpected pregnancies. But as I got to know these women and heard their stories, I realized I was wrong. What I needed to show them was God’s unconditional love, available to all.
Thus, the reader will encounter some Amish parts as well as a precious Pregnancy Crisis Center ran by loving Christian women. There are also some medical conditions that reflect research into the Amish community. Of course a romance buds within the pages of the reunion/second chance type.

My ultimate hope is that the reader will encounter an unconditional love available from God within the pages of this short romance.  

Please check out this story, and if you like it, I would be so appreciative of a short review on Amazon. 

Click here for Amazon link to book

Thursday, June 30, 2016

In My Language, Please

A group from our church just returned from Belize this last week. They ministered in an area very near the Mexican border, thus the people's language was mostly Spanish. However, most of them had quite a bit of English and communication could be accomplished.

But the language wasn't the only difference. The very lifestyle of the people was quite a bit different from what we are used to here.

I remember going to Africa on a mission trip. You had to take into consideration the culture of the people there. One of the missionaries told a story to illustrate. He said that a man came to preach from the U.S. He was being interpreted into the native language. In his introduction, the preacher expressed to the people that he was tickled pink to be with them. The interpreter, being native to Africa, had no idea what the man was talking about. He interpreted it as this man has been happy to come here but has developed some sort of rash since arriving.

We laugh about that often, but it does illustrate a very important point. When we build a relationship with someone to share about Jesus, we must take into account that person's culture. This can be true even with your next door neighbor. We can't just plow through, telling them how wrong their ways are. We need to do as Jesus and Paul did.

Jesus taught in parables. Why? He used objects and situations that the people he was speaking to were familiar with.

Paul did the same.

"Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, 'Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.'" Acts 17:22-23a

Paul doesn't barge in and begin to tell these people they are wrong. He starts out with relating to them, showing them he had paid attention to their ways and culture. Then he moves on to tell them that he wants to introduce them to this unknown God.

This is so important for me to remember. In my excitement, I can't rush ahead and spout out to unbelievers that they are wrong. No, I need to build a relationship and get to know them so I can witness to them on their level.

Not everyone had the opportunity to grow up in a Christian home like I did. I've always known who Jesus was and been taken to church and shown the priority of doing so. But the first time I had a child ask me; "Who is Jesus?" I was floored. This was right here in our own country.

There's a need for Christians to tell about Jesus, but we might need to do a little homework so we present Christ in their "language." It's worth the extra effort to bring others to a saving knowledge of Jesus.

Have you been required to get on someone else's level to tell them about Jesus?

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

What Voices Can You Trust?

As often happens, a section in my daily Bible reading stuck out. I was reading in 1 Kings 22, The king of Israel calls for the prophet of God. But he didn't really want to because he said that he didn't like that the prophet always spoke evil against him. But he should have trusted that voice because it was the one which spoke truth.

How do we know the voices we can trust? There are many screaming for our attention.

"For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths." 2 Timothy 4:3-4

The king of Israel in the story above did this very thing. He gathered around him his own prophets to speak what he wanted to hear. The only problem with that is that it wasn't the truth. What they said didn't come to fruition.

Now I don't have to tell you that we are in a time like what is described in the verses from 2 Timothy above. There are even so-called ministers who will only speak that which is palpable for their congregations. What a disservice they are doing, leading people in the wrong way.

How do we know the voices we can trust? Let me offer a few points which I use to discern godly voices from those who spout untruth.

1. Make sure the voice matches what is said in the Word of God.
"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness." 2 Timothy 3:16
God will not go against what He says in the Bible. He never changes and nor does His Word. If a voice is speaking contrary to God's Word, that voice can't be trusted.

2. Make sure the voice doesn't contradict the Spirit.
"but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God." 1 Corinthians 2:10
We have God's Spirit living within us if we are Christians, helping us to discern the truth and godly wisdom.

3. Make sure to ask for the wisdom to discern trustworthy voices.
"If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him." James 1:5
We must pray and ask God to give us wisdom to distinguish truth and those who speak it.

Precious brothers and sisters in Christ, let us not be naive, trusting voices just because they are louder or seem to be popular. Test the voices you pay attention to. We must strive to only listen to godly voices and also to speak only those things that align with God and His Word.

How do you tests the voices you hear?


Thursday, June 9, 2016

Is it really trust if we give it parameters?

Precious Readers, it has been a while since I've posted a song for my blog post. But when the message from a song won't let me alone, I have to share it.

The Oceans song by Hillsong has been playing over and over again in my mind and I've hummed the tune for days.

Specifically, the line: Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders. This has been the prevailing part to make me think.

If we give parameters to God or stipulations on what we're willing to do or how far we are willing to go, is it truly trusting? I don't think so. For us to truly claim we are trusting in God, we have to trust without borders. Why is this so difficult? Because sometimes the waves are high.

Oh, that I could follow the message of this song and truly hold out a trust in God without borders, knowing His embrace is trustworthy.

Click on the link called Oceans below. See if your trust is without borders. I'm trying.

Oceans


Friday, May 27, 2016

Don't Get Comfortable! WORK!

I'm just returning from the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. The worship and keynote speakers were all wonderful and inspiring. But why is it that I always seem to have one of those epiphanies? More like a kick into something God is trying to teach me.

Last year I had it in my head - notice I said in my head - that there were some questions I would answer for myself and my writing career. I talked to some very smart people and concluded that I was all right. Just keep doing what you're doing.

So this year I decided that I would just go and be spiritually refreshed and maybe connect with old friends and new ones and maybe teach a tidbit or two that could be usable to my class attendees and one on one appointments. Then God inspired a sweet woman I ended up sitting next to during the one on one appointments to speak right into my life and my stubbornness.

Sweet Christian brothers and sisters, I have learned that in the calling God has for me, I am never to just get comfortable and ride along. God's plans are a process that I am to work out until I stand in front of Him in Glory. Sometimes this involves pushing myself harder to a higher level than before. Yeah, it's easier to bask in past glories and coast on that level. But that's not His way.

"Be strong, all you people of the land," declares the Lord, "and work. For I am with you," declares the Lord Almighty. "This is what I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt. And My Spirit remains among you. Do not fear." Haggai 2:4-5 NIV

This verse pierced my heart. The Lord would have me to be strong but work. If God were finished with me, I would be standing in front of Him in heaven. Since I'm still here, there's still work for me to do. But I do have the promise that He is with me. God birthed the calling to write for Him in my heart and He still expects my efforts toward that calling. I can trust Him to move me to the higher level He is calling because His Spirit is in me to guide and instruct. I don't have to stay in my comfortable spot. He reminds me that I shouldn't fear. And twice He pauses to remind me of Who is talking - "declares the Lord" and "declares the Lord Almighty."

God has the blueprint for my life and even knows how what I do will influence others for Him. And I get to work for and with Him. Did you catch that? I get to work with the God of the universe.

So as I evaluate my takeaways from the conference, I'm reminded that I have to get back to work. I have to strive for excellence on a higher level because He deserves no less.

I pray my lesson may help you in some way to resist getting comfortable and work for the Lord!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

New Book You Don't Want to Miss!

Today, I'm hosting Julie Marx. Read on to discover what inspired her to write Family Lies Deadly Ties.

Welcome, Julie!


Thank for having me, Paula.

What inspired me to write Family Lies, Deadly Ties?

Family Lies Deadly Ties birthed in an unusual way. I write psychological suspense, but I’m surrounded by a circle of fantastic romancer authors in my critique group. So, I took the challenge, stepped out of my comfort zone, and plunged into the adventure of trying to make a girl meet a guy—and kiss. How hard could that be for an author driven by the thrill of suspense and not the passion of lips touching? Ha!

I had recently returned from the land of Hanalei on the island of Kauai, HI, the perfect setting for love…and terror. I created my protagonist Rylee Shepherd as a transfer from the Rocky Mountains (my stomping grounds) so she could give the reader a fresh taste of the island from a non-native point of view. She stands out as a tall and very white and studious chick with zero interest in a boyfriend.

Her unexpected love interest, Noah Logun? Let’s just say this laid back drummer is on a passionate mission, and some believe he’s a troublemaker. The citizens of Hanalei are divided on what to think of him, and Rylee gets caught in the middle. And yes, their lips do meet. And it’s good!

Family matters, and finding a place in this world is the hidden desire in the heart of both characters. My hope is that readers will experience a deeper sense of God’s adoption of us into His heart and into His family, a place of belonging, purpose, and hope. “If nothing else, I want you to know how much you are wanted.” -J.A.




A glimpse into Family Lies, Deadly Ties
Rylee Shepherd’s background is everything but enviable, and her time as a nanny in Hawaii is ticking away. God, however, is teaching her to live by grace, not by works. She overcomes false beliefs about herself and her past. The twins she nannies, who are raised on heavy doses of Disney, are hard not to fall in love with.
Her boss’s estranged son, Noah Logun, lives with his gracious pastors who are helping train him how to fight a spiritual war according to his faith in Christ. Noah desires to acquire ‘the eyes of Elisha’ (2 Kings 16) and overcome his history as a ‘loser.’
Will Rylee and Noah discover the truths that will help them win the biggest battle of their lives? Can they do this before felons Lizard and ‘Kojak’ execute their wicked plan?


Multi-published author J.A. Marx writes from Texas. Her hobbies are painting, fitness and nutrition. She has co-authored 3 Christmas novellas, The Christmas Tree Treasure Hunt, A Ruby Christmas, and Christmas Apples. Her novella Mirror, Mirror released April 2016, and her psychological suspense trilogy The Destiny Series released in 2014.

J.A. hangs out with her children and grandchildren and loves serving at Gateway Church. Above all, her desire is to see people healed and set free to live and love.



Amazon page: http://www.amazon.com/  
Pinterest (for this novel) http://bit.ly/1pB3gDx  
Buy Family Lies, Deadly Ties: http://amzn.to/1X2n2E7


 Readers, you know you must add this romantic suspense to your reading list! You won't be sorry.