Thursday, September 3, 2015

International Enthusiasm Week

This was a new one for me. I noticed the other day that the first week of September is International Enthusiasm Week.

Enthusiasm is defined as strong warmth of feeling: keen interest: fervor or something that inspires or is pursued or regarded with ardent zeal or fervor.

In light of this definition, I asked myself what causes me to have enthusiasm. The answer came rather quickly.

When God reveals to me truths and then allows me to express them through telling a story, I get excited. I can understand when the runner in Chariots of Fire said he could feel God's pleasure as he ran. I totally get that same feeling when I'm in the writing zone.

The only way to explain this zone is to give you an example.

My newest book releases tomorrow. In the developing stages of this story God nudged my memory back to a story my dad had told me. Then I began to imagine characters put into this situation and what their backgrounds might be like. As my heroine took shape, she had experienced much loss and would naturally be angry with God. The spirit brought a scripture to mind, Romans 8:28. I wanted to bring my heroine full circle in realizing the truth of that verse.

As I began to write this story, I had that feeling of God's pleasure. In some small way, I like to think it might feel like what the writers of the Bible felt as they penned His words. Now, I am in no way equating my writing with that of Scripture. But, those writers must have felt God's pleasure as they wrote with His guidance. That's what being in the writing zone is for me. That is what brings a definite enthusiasm.

What causes you to have enthusiasm?

Monday, August 24, 2015

Top 5 Things You Don't Want to Hear from Pre-K

We have completed two and a half weeks of school and are starting on the third. This is my fourth year in the Pre-K at our local elementary school. We have twenty four-and-five-year old children, most who have never been away from Mama or home.

Our job is to teach these children the routines of school. One of the most daunting is teaching them to walk in a line. I have repeatedly described this experience as what it would be like to herd cats. I could certainly use eight to ten arms of the stretchable sort so as to coax their little bodies back into a straight line.

As I considered these past couple of weeks, I thought I would share with you my top five things that I don't want to hear from my Pre-K children. Needless to say, I've heard them all.

1. I didn't do it.

2. He made me do it.

3. Did my mama send extra clothes?

4. Why is there a big puddle in the bathroom?

5. Where did *****'s pants go?

I could add many more, but you get the picture. Never a dull moment in Pre-K! I'm sure I'll be adding to this list and to our experiences. The Good Lord sure knows how to develop patience in this teacher. Sometimes, all you can do is shake your head and chuckle.

What is your latest "don't want to hear that?"

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Does History Really Repeat Itself?

Those of you who read my blog are familiar with the fact that I read a devotional Bible that is split into sections for each day. By the end of the year, I've read the Bible through once again.

But, isn't it amazing no matter how many times I've read the scriptures through, verses and new truths still pop out?

As I read the section from the Old Testament today, I couldn't help but notice the similarities between that time and ours.

"The Spirit of God came on Azariah son of Obed. He went out to meet Asa and said to him, 'Listen to me, Asa and all Judah and Benjamin. The Lord is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you. For a long time Israel was without the true God, without a priest to teach and without the law. But in their distress they turned to the Lord, the God of Israel, and sought him, and he was found by them. In those days it was not safe to travel about, for all the inhabitants of the lands were in great turmoil. One nation was being crushed by another and one city by another, because God was troubling them with every kind of distress. But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.'" 2 Chronicles 15:1-7.

Asa in this passage is the king of Judah. He was trying to follow God and receives this message from Azariah, encouraging him in his right ways.

Notice the troubles that were upon Israel - unsafe travel, lands in great turmoil, one nation being crushed by another, and one city by another. Why did this happen? The verses before the listing shows the answer plainly - Israel was without the true God, without a priest to teach them, and without the law.

Do these troubles seem familiar? And does the cause seem all too similar to our time?

Let's face it, much of what is happening around us is the result of not following God, ignoring His teaching, and His commands. Just as the verse states above, if we forsake God, He will forsake us. God doesn't force anyone into His kingdom. Jesus might be persistent at knocking on the door of hearts, but you'll never find Him knocking it down. And where there is no God ruling, there is distress and trouble.

Let's turn to the remedy for this distress and trouble. The verses also tell us that the people turned back to God. They sought Him, and He was there.

I believe in some ways that King Asa felt a bit like a lone ranger. Other nations much larger were coming against him, but he was victorious because he called on God. I truly believe that God wanted Asa to know that he was in the right by seeking and serving Him. It didn't matter the size of the opponent, Asa would be victorious because God was on his side.

Here's where I caught some encouragement for myself and other believers. Don't we so often get defeated? We feel we are up against such large obstacles and large majorities of peoples who don't follow God. Wouldn't it just be easier to join the other side? How can we prevail in the face of such troubles?

Take heart and courage from this passage of scripture. As Christians, we have to stand strong on our beliefs, not give up, and know that we are heading toward reward.

Don't let the turmoil of this world keep you from focusing on the true God. Hear anew and afresh the words of Azariah. Reread the passage above from Second Chronicles and remember that the Lord is with you when you are with him!

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.