Monday, January 26, 2015

Joy in suffering!

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,  knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.  But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. James 1:2-4

I know many many people who are suffering right now. Many of my friends, my online buddies, my readers, and my own family members. So, it was quite fitting that a guest pastor preached on the verse above on Sunday.  I think many of us (including myself who have been down with the flu for a week now) have trouble feeling the "love" the joy in the middle of our trials. Often times we cry out to God. "Why? Why me? What are you doing? I thought you loved me!"  

Then well-meaning Christians come along with the verse above or other truthful Scriptures which say that God will work it all out for our good and we must trust Him. All of that is true!! But, honestly, who wants to hear that when you're suffering?  If I had met James (the author of the Scripture above) during one of the hardest times in my life and he said that to me, I might have punched him in the face. :-)   I'm being honest. Hey, I didn't ask for my faith to be tested! I didn't ask for patience!

No, but the problem is that when you signed up to follow Jesus, you gave your life away. You are no longer your own, but God's, and your chief purpose here on earth now is to bring God glory! Wait, I didn't know that, you might say. I became a Christian so I could go to heaven. Nobody mentioned this suffering stuff, this losing my life stuff.

“Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.
He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life."

In our westernized self-centered gospel, we tend to overlook those verses, but Jesus very plainly said to count the cost of following Him, because it would cost you. 

And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it— lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him Luke 14

Man, what a cheerful post!  Well, let me end on a very encouraging note, some great Scriptures for Overcomers. Who are overcomers?  Those followers of Jesus who don't give up, who persevere, who stand fast in the faith. Here's what God promises (all found in Revelation)

  • I will grant you to eat from the tree of life
  • I will give you the crown of life
  • He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death
  • To he who overcomes and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations
  • He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blog out his name from the Book of Life
  • Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world
  • To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no on knows except him who receives it
  • He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God
  • To him who overcomes, I will grant to sit with Me on My throne 

I don't know about you, but that sounds pretty good to me!
So, if you're going through a tough time, count it joy that you are privileged to suffer as Jesus also suffered when He was here on earth, and allow God to work His will in your life. Because let's face it, we are all here for a very short time, and we have no idea the joys, the wonders, the peace and life and love and majesty that awaits us in the next life.


Friday, January 23, 2015

Friday Frenzy

 Happy Friday!!  The winner of Brentwood's Ward by Michelle Griep from last Friday's contest is:
Pam K!   Thank you all for entering and commenting.

I'm sick. I caught a terrible cold/flu. It started Monday and no matter what I did, it still hit. Now, mind you I'm a pretty healthy person. I drink Kale shakes, I eat raw, organic veggies, take vitamins, exercise, drink distilled water, etc...  so I always get mad when I get sick!

Anyway I don't have much news. I'm working on The Reckoning, Book 5 in my Pirate series. It's coming along nicely. My hope is to have it done and ready for editing by May, maybe April. Then edited and formatting and up on Amazon by June or July. We shall see. I'm excited about this story, and I hope to have a little teaser for you soon.

On another note, my daughter wrote her first book and just recently published it on Amazon! It's a YA Paranormal Romance directed at teens and young adults. I've read it and loved it. It does contain mild language, but otherwise, there's no sex or violence. Already she has 7 5-star reviews! I'm so proud of her. She's worked really really hard, and done all of this while working full time and caring for a new baby. :-)   So, here's a little bit about the book.

Get swept away in this YA Paranormal Romance! Jada's senior year in high school is nothing like she expected. A tumultuous romance with a mysterious new guy at school, betrayal by her best friend, and the discovery of a wicked family history, all serve to teach her that there is a fine line between good and evil. But when Jada receives supernatural powers on her eighteenth birthday, which side will she choose?

Jada Bell’s first day of senior year starts the same as her last three years of high school: uneventful. That is until two mysterious brothers, Nathan and Seth Aron, walk into her history class. Jada is instantly attracted to Nathan and it seems he returns the feeling. But the more time she spends with him, the more she realizes he’s hiding something sinister, and the brothers didn’t transfer to Bishop Union High by chance.

As Jada’s eighteenth birthday approaches, strange things start to happen at home. Objects move on their own and her mom seems to have superhuman strength. Little does she know, all these strange events are linked together, and she and Nathan have a dark connection that has spanned generations.

Buy from Amazon

Writing Tip!

What do do when you don't feel like writing and everything you write sounds like crap.  WRITE! Don't be fooled by the movies where they show writers in their bathrobes with coffee in hand, sitting at their desk and typing on their computers where the words wax eloquently from their minds through their fingertips and onto the page. NOT.  That rarely happens. Most of the time, no matter how hard I try to get in the mood of the scene, no matter what I write, it sounds like Jack and Jill went up the Hill. Most days the words are not flowing at all. So what do you do? Write them anyway. The main thing in the creative process is to get the story out of your mind and onto the page, no matter how clumsy it sounds. That's what editing is for. I would never allow anyone to read my first draft! I'm sure they would wonder how I ever got published!  So just write write write... and you may also find that by not worrying so much about the words and structure, you may get some real nuggets of beauty in there, that you never expected!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Is God a Bully?

Whenever I get into a discussion with a non-believer about the goodness and grace of God, if they know anything about the Bible, they will often point out to me the horrible things God did in the Old Testament. How he opened up the ground and swallowed thousands of disobedient people whole, how he incinerated on the spot two priests who were burning incense to Him just for doing it wrong, how He killed a man for trying to keep the Ark of the Covenant from falling off a wagon, how he authorized that people caught in adultery or homosexuality be stoned to death.   Even our own president has said that if you adhere to what the Bible says, then it's an abomination to eat shellfish!

All of that is true. All of that is right there in the Scripture.  Also in the Scripture, God declares that He is the same, yesterday, today, and forever.  But, you might say, we live now in the age of Grace! But even Jesus said that He came to fulfill the law not put an end to it. Hmmm. So, what gives?

Recently, after watching on the news that some poor woman had been stoned to death in Saudi Arabia for adultery, I asked God about this. Isn't that what His law says to do as well?  And immediately, He put in my mind the scene in the Gospels where all the teachers of the law brought a woman to Jesus who had just been caught in the act of adultery. Of course they were trying to trick Him to see if He would follow the law. If He didn't they would discredit Him, probably haul Him to prison. If He did, then Jesus's followers would turn away from Him because He'd been preaching about God's forgiveness and grace.

Well, as you know, Jesus outsmarted them and told them that whoever was without sin to cast the first stone, and they soon all left. But did Jesus then turn to the woman and condemn her or chastise her? No, He extended grace and forgiveness and told her to not do it again.  Did His actions nullify the law?

What I learned from this was that God's law is still valid and true. He still hates sin as much as He ever did. But instead of meting it out in the here and now, He sent His son to take the punishment we all deserve.  Now, each of us has X amount of years to accept the Sacrifice of Jesus. If we die without having done so, then we will be punished to the full extent of the law.

If anything, the brutality of the Old Testament gives all of us a glimpse into the horrors of sin and how a Holy God is forced to deal with it. None of us can ever fathom how holy and good and pure He is. If we were to come anywhere near Him (without benefit of Christ's sacrifice for us) we would be incinerated on the spot. Not by Him, but simply by our wretched selves being so close to something so good. Yet, God loves us so much, He wants to have a relationship with us. Before Christ, He could only do that through a priesthood and tons of sacrifices that covered sin. Why did He punish sin so severely?  Because sin is like yeast, it infects the entire loaf of bread. He had to stop it before it grew and infected all of the people.

I don't think we realize in this age of grace, how fortunate we really are. If I had lived before Christ,  I would have been stoned to death. And I would have deserved it. I don't know about you, but I often take for granted this incredible grace extended to all of us now, and the horrific sacrifice Jesus took on my behalf.

Is God a bully? No. God is love. The next time you read the Old Testament and are shocked by some of the passages, remember that He sent His only Son to take all those punishments due to us so we could become His Righteousness and live with Him forever. If anything, those stories should bring us to our knees in thanksgiving and praise!


Friday, January 16, 2015

Author Michelle Griep discusses Coffeehouses and her new Regency, Brentwood's Ward! Giveaway!

Please welcome a VERY SPECIAL guest today, my good friend and outstanding author, Michelle Griep!! Some of you may remember Michelle because I'm always touting her praises. She's definitely at the top of my list of favorite authors.  And guess what? She has a new release out this month! It's a regency/detective/romance/mystery/incredible story that you won't want to miss!!  

But first, Michelle has some interesting information on CoffeeHouses and History! 

Coffeehouses: Nothing New Under the Sun

Guest post by Michelle Griep

“You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy coffee. And that’s pretty close.”

Hipsters may think they’re trendy by hanging out at the local coffee house, but nursing a cup of java while discussing the politics of the day has been around a long, long time. In England, this dates back to the seventeenth century. Surprise! Who’d have thought those proper tea-drinking Brits even knew what coffee was?

Here are a few fun facts:

  • First coffee house opened in Oxford, 1650.
  • In the 17th and 18th century, there were more coffee houses in London than today.
  • A mug o’ joe cost a penny, which was a great price because you also gained an education. It was said that a man could “pick up more useful knowledge than by applying himself to his books for a whole month.” Hence the nickname: Penny Universities.
  • English coffee houses started the custom of tipping servers. Patrons who wanted good service and better seating would put some money into a tin labeled “To Insure Prompt Service (TIPS).

 In my Regency era historical, BRENTWOOD’S WARD, I highlight the coffee house phenomenon by setting a scene at The Chapter Coffee House. Women of the times didn’t usually frequent such establishments, but this historical venue is a little different. It was a known haunt of booksellers, writers, and literature hounds. Even Charlotte Brontë visited on occasion.

And just in case you’re wondering if historical coffee would taste the same as today’s brews, here’s a recipe so you can try it yourself:

Coffee ~ A Regency Recipe

Put 2 oz. of fresh-ground quality coffee into a coffeepot. If you must take your coffee extremely strong, use 3 oz. Then pour 8 coffee-cups worth of boiling water atop. Let it rest for 6 minutes. Then add in 2 or 3 isinglass-chips and pour one large spoonful of boiling water on top. Set the pot by the fire to keep it hot for 10 more minutes, and you will have coffee of a supreme transparency.

Serve with fine cream and either fine sugar as well, or pounded sugar-candy.

Whether you love coffee, or love to hate coffee, there’s no denying its deeply imbedded in societies all around the world, present and past. And if you’re looking for a great read to go along with your mug o’ joe, here’s a blurb for BRENTWOOD’S WARD . . .

Place an unpolished lawman named Nicholas Brentwood as guardian over a spoiled, pompous beauty named Emily Payne and what do you get? More trouble than Brentwood bargains for. She is determined to find a husband this season. He just wants the large fee her father will pay him to help his ailing sister. After a series of dire mishaps, both their desires are thwarted, but each discovers that no matter what, God is in charge.

Available in paperback, ebook, and audiobook formats at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other fine booksellers.



About the Author

Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. She seeks to
glorify God in all that she writes—except for that graffiti phase she went through as a teenager.

She resides in the frozen tundra of Minnesota, where she teaches history and writing classes for a local high school co-op. An Anglophile at heart, she runs away to England every chance she gets, under the guise of research. Really, though, she’s eating excessive amounts of scones.

Follow her adventures at her blog WRITER OFF THE LEASH or visit, and don’t forget the usual haunts of Pinterest, Facebook or Twitter.

Isn't she adorable?  

Anyway, Michelle is willing to give away a copy of Brentwood's Ward to one lucky winner! (Ebook anywhere and paperback only in the US)  So please leave a comment for Michelle with your email address and I'll draw a winner next Friday. 


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

What are you reflecting?

So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. 

2 Corinthians 3:18 NLT


Monday, January 12, 2015

The trouble with Worry

I'm a chronic worrier, from a long line of notorious worriers. Several family members are currently or have been on anti-anxiety medications  and/or have consumed copious amounts of alcohol to help keep themselves calm. Are some people more prone to anxiety and worry? Absolutely. Over the years I've come to believe that it relates to the amount of passion, emotion and creativity someone has. Which explains why so many great artists have serious emotional problems. Why that is, I don't know. Why would God create someone more prone to worry than someone else, I have no idea. But then again we all have our weaknesses, right? I don't have an addictive personality so I have no trouble in that area, whereas I know many people who do.  I also know many people who are relatively calm most of the time, who don't worry overmuch, and who just don't get us worriers. My husband is one of them.

I can't count the number of times, he's said to me, "Stop worrying". Oh sure. Let me get right on that.  I wish to God I had a worry switch on me somewhere that I could just flip and stop worrying about something, but alas, I came with no such extra equipment.

For those of you, like me, who are worriers, you know how debilitating it can be, how horribly it can affect your life. I even went to the doctor once for an EKG because my chest was so tight from worry.  Of course, it doesn't help me very much when other Christians tell me that worrying is a sin. Yes, I know it's a sin. Thank you. That's very helpful. Now, I'm not only worried, I'm riddled with guilt.

Recently, I've discovered something, a very simple something, that has truly helped me with my worry. Now, bear with me because it's going to sound so simplistic and obvious that you'll be tempted to click away. It is the following three facts:

God is good.Yes, you say, of course, I know that. What does that have to do with worry?  But do you really know how good He is? He's not good like we think of good.  He isn't just a "nice guy".  God's loving-kindness extends to the heavens, His faithfulness reaches to the skies, His mercies are new each morning. He is slow to anger and does not give us what we deserve. He is patient and  full of compassion. He cannot lie. He will not turn away any who come to Him. He will never leave you. He is preparing a home for you in heaven. He delights over you and sings over you. He adopted you into His family, even after your sin murdered His Son. His thoughts of you are like the sand on the seashore. He joys in blessing you. His love never dies or diminishes, no matter what you do. God is for you and not against you.  (Try to let that all sink in. Read it over and over until it does)

The second thing that really helped me with worry is that

God is all-powerful.  There is nothing He cannot do. There is no one that He cannot save. He is the Creator of all things and through His Son, all things are held together. He can create a universe with just one thought.  Surely He can handle your problems

And lastly, and more importantly,

God loves you.  If you're a parent, you have a small inkling of the love of God, but even our love for our children pales in comparison with God's love for us. He adores us, He cherishes us, He sacrificed all so we could be with Him.

So, what if I told you that there's this person who is really good, has all power to do whatever he wants AND he loves you, would you worry about whatever it is you're worried about? Wouldn't you run to this person and tell him what you need, what your concerns are?  And when he said "I'll take care of it" wouldn't you relax and rest in that??  Why then do we mistrust God so much? He has promised to answer our prayers. He has promised to provide for our needs. He has promised to save us.

But, some people say, I prayed and prayed and my sister still has cancer, my husband left me,  and I lost my job. Where was God if He is so good and He loves me? And my answer is, God is good, all powerful, and He loves you. God doesn't change nor does His love for you change. He cannot do you harm, so whatever is happening to you, is for the good. It may not seem like it, you may not understand it, but God wants you to trust Him. Your trust in Him, in His character and goodness mean the world to Him. He values it above all else. Just search the Scripture for what happened to those who believed in His goodness and those who doubted it and complained.

I'm not trying to downplay the struggles any of you are going through. I know some of you face some real hard challenges. All I'm saying is, if you can truly get these three ideas firmly rooted in your spirit and start really believing that whatever happens, it will come about out of God's love for you, then you'll start worrying less and have more peace, and as you submit to God's will, you may even find a little joy along the way.  It has really worked for me.!

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time,  casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. 1 Peter 5: 6-7