Monday, March 2, 2015

God is in Charge and God is Good!

This was the message of the sermon at church yesterday and it resonated so much with me that I knew I had to share it.

Let's face it, life is a struggle at best, at worst, it can be a tragedy. The world around us is falling apart. The violence and depravity I see on TV and read about in the news makes me sick to my stomach. Terror and fear are all around us. People are losing jobs, getting sick, facing financial disaster, losing children to the world, facing cancer, etc. Children are sold into sexual slavery, people are being slaughtered. It's mind boggling.

But God is in Charge and God is good!

That's something we need to remember no matter what is going on in our own lives and in the world around us. Yet I think sometimes we lose sight of both those facts. Sometimes we may think God is in charge but we don't believe He is good. Or sometimes we still believe He's good, but we don't think He's in charge.

When Jesus was about to be arrested by a troop of Roman Soldiers, He knew what lay ahead of Him. He knew He was going to be tortured beyond what any human could endure. Not only that, He knew He would be separated from His Father and have to endure His Father's wrath that was meant for us. YET... it was Jesus who walked toward the Roman Soldiers. He didn't cower or hide in a cave somewhere. He met them head on. He walked willingly to His torturous death. He was in Charge.

Jesus therefore, knowing all things that would come upon Him, went forward and said to them, “Whom are you seeking?”
They answered Him, “Jesus of Nazareth.”
Jesus said to them, “I am He.” And Judas, who betrayed Him, also stood with them. Now when He said to them, “I am He,” they drew back and fell to the ground.
Then He asked them again, “Whom are you seeking?”
And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.”
Jesus answered, “I have told you that I am He. Therefore, if you seek Me, let these go their way,”
John 18

When Jesus said "I AM"  He was declaring Himself to be God.  (the He is added by translators)  God's name is "I AM", the name He gave to Moses from the burning bush. So when Jesus said "I AM", the power of God knocked the soldiers to the ground!  (Did you know that current estimates put the number of armed Roman Soldiers at anywhere from 200-1000 men!) I've always wondered why they got knocked to the ground. One of the reasons may have been that Jesus wanted them to know that He was God and had the power to defeat all of them with but a single word. Yet.... in the end, He went with them... willingly to the cross. 

Jesus was in charge. And He as showing them that He was in charge. 

But God is also good. One of the last things Jesus did was demand that the Romans let His disciples go.  It's amazing to me that the soldiers actually did let them go, especially after Peter sliced off one of their ears!  But it was the command of Jesus that they obeyed. God is good. Jesus was only thinking of His disciples, of their welfare, of their good, not about all that He faced.  He went willingly to His death so they could be set free!!

God is so good!!  Write these 2 things on your fridge, on a note card, stamp them on your forehead, whatever you need to do to remember them when the next problem arises. It will give you the peace and strength you need to get through anything!

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28


Friday, February 27, 2015

Medieval Romance Giveaway! Sword of Forgiveness!

Today, please welcome my good friend and fellow writer, Debbie Lynne Costello!  Debbie Lynne has a new release coming out TODAY!!! Yay!! It's a Medieval Romance (one of my favorite genres!) complete with a handsome Knight. Who could ask for more than that?  I had the privilege of reading an early copy, and I guarantee you're going to love it!

First, a little bit about Debbie Lynne



Debbie Lynne Costello has enjoyed writing stories since she was about eight years old. She raised her family and then embarked on her own career of writing the stories that had been begging to be told. She and her husband have four children and live in upstate South Carolina. She has worked in many capacities in her church and is currently the Children's Director. Debbie Lynne has shown and raised Shetland Sheepdogs for eighteen years and still enjoys litters now and then. In their spare time, she and her husband take pleasure in camping and riding their Arabian and Tennessee Walking horses.
 

 

 



Sword of Forgiveness



After the death of her cruel father, Brithwin is determined never again to live under the harsh rule of any man. Independent and resourceful, she longs to be left alone to manage her father’s estate. But she soon discovers a woman has few choices when the king decrees she is to marry Royce, the Lord of Rosencraig. As if the unwelcome marriage isn’t enough, her new husband accuses her of murdering his family, and she is faced with a challenge of either proving her innocence or facing possible execution.
    
 Royce of Hawkwood returns home after setting down a rebellion to find his family brutally murdered. When all fingers point to his betrothed and attempts are made on his life, Royce must wade through murky waters to uncover the truth. Yet Brithwin’s wise and kind nature begin to break down the walls of his heart, and he soon finds himself in a race to discover who is behind the evil plot before Brithwin is the next victim.

Order from Amazon   !!






MaryLu,
Thank you so much for allowing me to visit your blog! A great big Ahoy Mates to all your crew!  You’ll find a common theme in Sword of Forgiveness. Forgiveness as you’ve probably guessed is what both my hero and heroine struggle with, but they struggle with different types of forgiveness.
Let’s start with Brithwin. She was raised by a cruel father who enjoyed making her life miserable. Even in his death Brithwin can’t let go of what he did to her. She hates him for it. In our own lives don't we find this same thing? Someone has wronged us and the first thing we do is recoil in self-protection. It’s not easy to show mercy, and grace when someone has hurt us. Why should we be understanding when they are the ones who wronged us?

I’m sure many of you have heard this saying, unforgiveness is like drinking a bottle of poison and hoping it will kill your enemy. When we harbor unforgiveness, we relive it, we think about what we should have said or done, we think of what we’d like to do to that person, which causes conflict inside us and affects our walk with the Lord.

But the bible is quite clear on the subject. Forgiveness is a choice! The Lord’s prayer says forgive our trespassors as we forgive those who trespass against us. Colossians 3:13 tells us to bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Sometimes we have to lay the desire to stay angry at the Lord’s feet every day and choose forgiveness until it gets easier and easier to say, “that’s behind me and I’m not going to think about it anymore.”
Royce’s struggle with forgiveness was different from Brithwin’s in that Royce didn’t believe God would forgive him of his sins. He’s committed some sins that cost lives and Royce didn’t believe God could see past that. Do you know anyone like that? They don’t think God will forgive them? Well, I have to ask Royce this. Why did Christ die on the cross? To forgive our sins I think we all will agree. So if Christ’s blood washed away all our sins how can God hold it against us? Is Christ blood limited? No! So if Christ died for all our sins that no matter what your sin is God can and will forgive you if you repent with a true repentant heart.

I said there were 3 different types of forgiveness in this story you see Royce struggles with another forgiveness and that is forgiving himself. That’s a tough one. Sometimes we do something we really regret and we are so sorry for what we’ve done but no matter how sorry we are we can’t change the consequences of our actions, thus we have a hard time forgiving ourselves.

What we have to remember is that we were created by an awesome God. A God of mercy, and grace, and love, and forgiveness. And if a God who knew no sin can forgive us than who are we to say we will not forgive EVEN if it is ourselves that we must forgive? I’m just so glad we serve a Father who loves us so much that He forgives us and wants us to forgive ourselves.
So what about you? Do you struggle with any of these types of unforgiveness? What are some of the consequences you see from people who don’t forgive?

Answer one of the above questions to be entered to win a choice of paperback or ebook of my new release, Sword of Forgiveness.

MaryLu Here:  Thank you Debbie Lynne!!!   What a great story! I loved this book!   Enter your comment below, along with your email address, and I will choose a winner next Friday March 6th!


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Wednesday, February 25, 2015



For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold From those who walk uprightly  

Psalm 84:11

Monday, February 23, 2015

Longing for HIS appearing!

Henceforth, there is laid up for me the victor's crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that great day. And not only to me, but also to all those who have loved and yearned for and welcomed His return.  2 Tim 4:8 Amp.

This passage is from the Apostle Paul who told Timothy that he knew he was about to be martyred for Jesus, but that he was confident he had finished the job God had given him.  What struck me was his statement that those who are yearning for Jesus's return will receive a victor's crown.

We see this same principle in Hebrews 8
And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.

(Hmm. that certainly begs the question whether He's coming for those who aren't eagerly waiting for Him)


So my question to you is, Are you longing for Jesus to return?  I mean really longing. As in looking for Him, reading the signs and the times, watching world news and events and comparing them with what Scripture says will happen?

I meet so many believers who really have no interest in prophecy or end times. They merely shrug and say it will all work out as God plans. Or I get the excuse that it's too scary to study, or it's too confusing and they don't understand it. And then there are those people who are so attached to this world that they actually don't want Jesus to come yet. Huh?

Did you know that some theologians estimate that at least a third of the Bible is prophecy? I actually believe it's much more. Also there are more prophetic verses written about the second coming of Jesus than His first coming. Why would that be? Do you suppose God wants us to pay attention? Do you suppose He wants us to be aware when the time is close?

Jesus, Himself, rebuked the religious men of His time for not reading the signs of the times and discerning through prophecy the time of Jesus's first coming.

Hypocrites!You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times. 

God expected people to study and understand Old Testament prophecies that foretold the first coming of Christ, so they would know when He arrived. Don't you think God expects the same of Christians for the second coming?

Another excuse I often hear is: We aren't supposed to set dates. Even Jesus said He doesn't know the hour or day of His coming.  He will come like a thief in the night.

Agreed! We aren't supposed to know the DAY or HOUR. But we will know the Season. We will know whether we are close. Here the Apostle Paul's words

For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness.  1 Thess 5

Somehow people always skip over that Scripture. The truth of the matter is. We will know or have a pretty good idea the general timing of the second coming.  Should we set dates? No.  Should we pitch a tent on the Mt. of Olives and wait? No. 

So why bother to worry about it?

Knowing we are close to Jesus's return creates a sense of anticipation, of excitement that often translates into the following:

  • being more diligent in your walk with God
  • being more proactive in witnessing to friends and family and the lost
  • drawing us closer to the Lord because we know we'll see Him soon
  • comforts and encourages us when we are facing trials and struggles 
  • increases our hope that soon we will be free of our earthly problems and heartaches
  • gives us a better sense of eternity and breaks us free from the bonds that may hold us to this earth, making our suffering less important and easier to handle, and giving us courage to witness and do things for God outside our comfort zones
 
It was through prophecy that I first came to the Lord. It seems to be through prophecy that He is drawing me to watch for His soon return. I, for one, am very excited! 


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Friday, February 20, 2015

Friday Frenzy

First things first: The winner of Brentwood's Ward is Maxie!!!   Thank you all for entering. I know it meant a lot to Michelle. I encourage you to purchase a copy for yourself. It's well worth the little bit of money for hours of entertainment.








Personal News
I still have Bronchitis (Thank you for those of you who have been praying)  Apparently it is something that tends to hang onto a person for months. Sigh. Anyway, I'm functional, though coughing still hurts. 

My reason for living (Besides Jesus!)




Writing News
If all goes well, I should finish the first draft of The Reckoning today. At least I only have another two chapters to go.  Writing this book has been a total God thing. It ususally takes me a good 5 to 6 months to write a novel that is over 100,000 words. And that was before I was watching my granddaughter 2 days a week. This first draft I wrote in 3 months and it looks to be about 110,000 words. That's got to be God!

I put The Redemption on sale for Free on Kindle this week and had nearly 4000 downloads. It might still be free if Amazon hasn't switched it back, so if you want to grab it, click HERE.  Next week, I plan on putting The Red Siren on sale for 99 cents, so if you haven't read that or you know a friend who'd like it, now's the time!  Sale starts Monday.

I also have a new cover for The Falcon and the Sparrow.  The last one was really attractive and well done by a friend of mine's husband (Thank you Reuben!) but I'm trying to spruce up my old covers and make them look more romantic.  How do you like it?  




Friday Writing Tip

Characters. Having deep, great, interesting characters is most of what makes a book good. (In my opinion) Yes, you need a good plot and interesting dialogue, but let's face it without characters we want to cheer for, who cares?  I've noticed that I will stick with a boring TV show that has characters I like but one that has a fast-paced plot but with characters I don't care for, well I usually stop watching it.  So Characters are important!.

I'll continue with this topic next week, but for starters, nearly every character who is in more than one scene and has dialogue should have at least THREE distinguishing features.  And it would be great if those features told a bit about the character himself. For example.

Mrs. Hughes always wears her shirt buttoned to her neck, walks with a slight limp, and has a slight mustache.

Brad's hair is always stringy and unkempt. He snorts when he laughs, and seems to know only a few words beyond his favorite word "Dude"

Madeline touches her earlobe when she's nervous, which is often. She has eyes as thin as pencils that constantly shift around as if she's looking for an escape. Her voice sounds like the squeak of a mouse.

Do you get a clear picture of each character's personality from these descriptions? 



Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Morning Star!


I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star  

Revelation 22:16

Monday, February 16, 2015

God never changes

I've decided to change my Monday format slightly.  My two favorite subjects are writing and God, so I'm still going to write about God on Mondays and Writing on Fridays, but instead of doing Mondays as a sort of lesson or devotional, I'm going to try and make it more personal.... like how God deals with me and the things I've learned over the years from Him, and the things I'm learning now in my daily relationship with Him.  Or maybe I'll just ask a question and open up a discussion.

One of the things the Father is reinforcing with me these days is that He NEVER changes.  His character is always the same. That means that the way He feels about me is ALWAYS the same. For me that's been really hard to grasp over the years. We live in such a "performance-driven" culture among emotionally fickle people, and most of us learn early on that if we want to have value, make friends, and be successful in life, we must be beautiful, smart, or have a winning personality. Most of our childhood homes were based on performance, then our school experience was, and finally our work experience as adults. Along the way we quickly learn that most people will like us as long as we behave a certain way or do certain things. But when we disappoint them or do something they disagree with, they are gone.

Just look at the growing number of  broken marriages in our culture. "Well, she just isn't the person I married" one husband will say, or "I'm not in love with him anymore," the wife will admit. The truth is that the couple discovered their mate has flaws, they make mistakes, they are moody or smell bad sometimes or forget birthdays.... or got fat, or whatever the problem is.  So, we learn once again that we have to measure up in order to be loved.

Because of not having a father in the home, I grew up with an extra dose of insecurity and an extra desire to be loved unconditionally. That's why it is so hard for me to believe that God loves me the same all the time. He loves me as much now as He loved me when I was deep in my sin before I knew Him. He loves me when I'm sick, when I'm fat, ugly, have bad breath, lose a job, fail at a marriage, cuss, drink too much, argue with a friend. He loves me when I neglect to read my Bible, when I forget to pray. He even loves me when I drift away from Him. He loves me the same every minute of every day in every circumstance irregardless of my behavior or appearance.  And it gets even better. He loves me the SAME as He loves His only Son, Jesus.

That's been a nearly impossible thing for me to grasp over the years. I tend to beat myself up for every little sin or feel guilty when I forget to read my Bible or have a bad thought. I automatically think God is disappointed in me and turning his face away until I get my act together. But lately He's been dealing with me on this, telling me He loves me no matter what, and He'll Always love me that way and He'll never reject me.   

I firmly believe that embracing that... I mean truly believing that truth in your mind and your spirit will ultimately lead you down a path to fearless security and joy.  I'm not there yet, but I've started on the journey.


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