Sunday, January 24, 2016

Joshua's Mission

Please welcome my fellow author/friend Vannetta Chapman.

Thank you for allowing me to visit your blog today. I’m very excited about the release of Joshua’s Mission (2-1-16), which is book 2 in my Plain & Simple Miracles series. I’d like to share with you the “story behind the story” – or what inspired me to write this book.

Cornerstones of our faith. My husband is probably my biggest critic—which is a good thing. He keeps me on my toes, professionally speaking. He’s also very supportive in every way. One night we were talking about an upcoming proposal that was due to my publisher, and he challenged me to think of a deeper plot line—something that would touch on the cornerstones of our faith. Wow! That sent me back to the drawing board. I started wondering what makes us, as Christians, different from everyone else? Certainly our faith in Christ. But how do we show that? The answer I came up with was …

1.      We believe in miracles. I did a poll on my Facebook page. We had an outstanding response and the vast majority (close to 98%) said they do believe in miracles—not that they always happen when we pray for one, but that God does still intercede in the lives of believers. That idea gave birth to Anna’s Healing, book 1 in this series.
2.      We participate in missions. As believers, sometimes we send donations, sometimes we pray, and sometimes we actually go and participate in missions. We don’t do this for an award or because our photo might end up in the paper. We do it because God told us “I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.” He told us that when we do this to the least of those around us, we do this to Him. This commandment to care for others, led me to write Joshua’s Mission, book 2 in this series.
3.      We care for orphans. We’re also commanded to “look after orphans and widows in their distress.” In our society, it’s sometimes easy to overlook those in need and to assume that some governmental agency will take care of them. Sarah’s Orphans, book 3 in this series, addresses the plight of the orphans in our day and age, and how we can make a difference in their lives. This book releases in December of this year.

There are certainly other ways that we live out our faith. Miracles, missions, and orphans are three that stood out to me, and they certainly inspired me to write the three books in the Plain & Simple Miracles series. I hope that you will pick up a copy of Joshua’s Mission and learn about the wonderful work that churches are doing across our nation and abroad to help those in need.

Joshua Kline travels from his farm in Oklahoma to offer aid to an Englisch town on the gulf coast of Texas after a category 4 hurricane has ravaged the area. What will Joshua find when he arrives in Texas? A budding romance? A call from God? A possible healing of his relationship with his brother? Joshua’s Mission is a story of love, forgiveness, and the grace of God that carries us through even the worst situations.

Now it’s your turn. What do you consider to be a cornerstone of our faith? And would you like to see a book written about it? Or would you like to write one yourself? I’d love to hear from you.

Vannetta Chapman writes inspirational fiction full of grace. She discovered her love for the Amish while researching her grandfather’s birthplace of Albion, Pennsylvania. Her novel, Falling to Pieces, was a 2012 ACFW Carol Award winner for best mystery. Chapman was a teacher for 15 years and currently writes full time. She lives in the Texas hill country with her husband.

Vannetta is offering a free book to one commenter. Please comment or answer the Now it's your turn question or questions from above. A commenter will be randomly selected to receive a copy of Joshua's Mission.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Legacy-Leaver Loser?

Do you get overwhelmed with the day to day busyness of life? Does it crowd out what you really want to do and accomplish? I'm so right there with you.

The enemy knows what will pull me down and distract me from what God has for me. For me, that's getting caught up in the circumstances of life. I get so busy trying to get everything done that I'll push aside my Bible and quiet time. I reason that I don't have time to include that with all of the chores I must accomplish. This creates an avalanche. Without my time with God, I'm primed to be dragged into the messiness of life. I bristle at every criticism from others. I grumble and mumble.

Sometimes I will push ahead and read my Bible and have my quiet time, but I dash from that moment right back into the rat-race. I haven't really focused on what God might be trying to say to me and basking in His comfort.

A quote from Max Lucado really hit me recently. "Live out your inheritance, not your circumstance."

Wow, do I want to do that. I don't want to just bounce from circumstance to circumstance. I want to live out what God has planned for me. I don't want to become a legacy-leaver loser.

In Psalm 139 God explicitly says that He knew me intimately before I was ever placed in my mother's womb. Not only that, but He had a plan for me at that time. In Jeremiah 29:11 God says that He has a plan for me.

Now here's the clincher that my hubby pointed out in a recent sermon. God's plan for me will only come about if I am willing to follow it. God has given me the choice and free will to choose His plan or to wallow in the circumstances.

Oh, how I want to live out my inheritance and pass on that Godly legacy. It comes down to a decision that I must make daily. Am I going to just go through the motions, letting circumstances steer me? Or am I going to choose to focus on God and His plan for me? It's more than just checking off my quiet time with God and reading a certain amount in my Bible each day. I have to willfully choose to focus on that quiet time and those words from His Word. I have to decide to live out this inheritance.

Will the messiness of life and the circumstances go away if I choose to follow God's plan? Nope. But I will have a different perspective. I might even find that some of those circumstances help me to grow by seeing them as tools in God's hands.

Okay, so here goes: Lord, today I choose to focus on You and listen for Your leading. Teach me to live out my inheritance and not my circumstances. Don't let me be a legacy-leaver loser. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Do you struggle with allowing circumstances to overwhelm you? What do you do to live out your inheritance, not your circumstance?

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Stable and Prosperous? In this World?

Isn't this what we work for? To have a stable and strong foundation and to prosper or be successful? Let me tell you that the world's ways won't bring this to you.

Psalm 1:1-3
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the Lord. And in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither, and whatsoever he does shall prosper."

The world would have us to do whatever we must to be successful. We are told to step on others and gain however we can. But the first verse above states that such a person will not be blessed. Oh sure, we see those who might even scoff at God seem to be successful. But if we see these as successful, maybe our idea of prospering is skewed.

The dictionary gives two major meanings to the word prosper. The first one states: to succeed in an enterprise or activity; especially to achieve economic success. The other meaning is: to become strong and flourish. One synonym is thrive.

The first definition is what we usually think of first, however, God's definition would go more along the lines of the second meaning. The proof is in Psalm 1.

Allow me to break down verse two and three in the way I apply it to my own life.

I am to delight in the law of the Lord. To me this means that I am to take great pleasure in God's Word. I need to read it, think on it, and incorporate it into my life.

Then I'll be like a tree planted by the river of water. This makes me think of having a firm foundation and the nourishment needed for true life.

In turn I'll see fruit in its season. I'll produce the fruit that God has planned for me, not in my timing but in God's time. I'll thrive!

There are so many voices out there trying to tell us they have the steps for success. Unless their definition of being prosperous aligns with God's, their programs and get-rich-fast schemes aren't the right kind of success.

In this new year let's use God's way to be stable and prosper. We might find that we've never experienced true success or thriving until we make His ways our target.

How do you define success?