Where Does Faith Come From? by Ada Brownell

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“Faith is trusting what the eye can’t see. Eyes see the prowling lion. Faith sees Daniel’s angel. Eyes see storms. Faith sees Noah’s rainbow. Your eyes see your faults. Your faith sees your Savior. Your eyes see your guilt. Your faith sees His blood.”i

The above is Max Lucado’s paraphrase of Hebrews 11:11(NIV): “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”

But where does faith come from?

1. Our Creator wrapped faith in our DNA

In a CNN report by A. Chris Gajilan on April 4, 2007, Dr. Andrew Newberg, neuroscientist and author of “Why We Believe What We Believe,” reported working on ways to track how the human brain processes religion and spirituality. It’s all part of new field called neurotheology.

Newberg says the frontal lobe, the area right behind our foreheads, helps us focus our attention in prayer and meditation. The parietal lobe, located near the backs of our skulls, is the seat of our sensory information. Newberg says it’s involved in that feeling of becoming part of something greater than oneself. The limbic system, nestled deep in the center, regulates our emotions and is responsible for feelings of awe and joy.

Newberg says similar areas of the brain are affected during prayer and meditation. Newberg suggests that brain scans may provide proof that our brains are built to believe in God. He says there may be universal features of the human mind that actually make it easier for us to believe in a higher power.

I believe people search for God because of the “God-shaped void” within. If they haven’t heard the gospel or reject it, they worship the earth, an idol they know is nothing but a figure humans created, or devise their own religion—even making unbelief into doctrine.

2. Faith arises from the need to know our Heavenly Father. Since the Lord gave humankind a choice of whether to serve Him, God prevents us from “proving” He exists and leaves that and other vacancies for our faith to fill.

In my book, Swallowed by LIFE: Mysteries of Death, Resurrection and the Eternal, I tell how medical science shows we’re more than a body, yet there is room for doubt when it comes to proving we have a soul that lives forever. We have to believe the evidence.

3. God has given each person a measure of faith: “For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith (Romans 12:2-4). Often people who don’t think they believe pray when they or a loved one is in danger. A cry for God’s help comes from us spontaneously sometimes in crisis.

4. Faith comes through hearing the Word—the gospel (Romans 10:17). Because faith is necessary to be redeemed from sin and to have our name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, God “breathed” truth into writers He chose to write His love message to humankind. It is through that love letter—the Bible—we gain knowledge of Him and why He allows us (anybody) to choose to accept it and love and obey Him.

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2Timothy 3:16).

5. Faith results from acting on what was heard. From Romans 10NIV: “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved…. How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?

6. Faith comes through the will. We decide whether to believe God’s Word, a false religion, or atheism (everything about who we are, why we are here and where we are going takes faith.) Yet it takes a leap—a decision.

7. Faith is created by combining belief with common-sense actions. James calls it faith and works. (James 2:22).

8. Faith develops out of our hopes. We hope for something, but it takes faith to receive it.

9. Faith can come as a fruit and Gift of the Holy Spirit. (Galatians 5:22, 1 Corinthians 12:9).

10. Faith comes from combination of our will to believe, and the Holy Spirit’s revelation. The Word must be planted, watered, and then our lives bear fruit.

© Ada Brownell i Excerpted from Everyday Blessings, Max Lucado, “What Faith Sees,” http://www.maxlucado.com/

About the Author:

Ada Brownell

 

ADA (NICHOLSON) BROWNELL’s prolific writing career began in her teens with writing for youth magazines. She taught youth much of her life. She and her husband had five children of their own.

Nearly 300 articles of her articles and stories have appeared in 45 Christian publications, and she spent 17 years as a journalist, mostly at The Pueblo Chieftain in Colorado.

Brownell has a B.S. Degree in mass communications and a certificate of ministry from Berean School of the Bible, now Global University.

She continues to write books; articles for Christian publications, and occasional op-ed pieces for newspapers.

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Gems from Pastor Jim by Jim Hughes

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Jim Hughes

Ps. 32:6 Therefore, let all the godly confess their rebellion to you while there is time, that they may not drown in the floodwaters of judgment.

Here the godly are being singled out. Yes, the godly do sin. What happens when the godly do not confess their sins and die? They will face God with sin on their hearts. How will God handle that? Only God knows that for sure. He knows the heart motives of man and will judge fairly and rightly each of us. He knows whether or not we are truly righteous in heart. All I can tell you for sure is that no sin will be in heaven.

Today’s verse tells us that the godly will drown in the floodwaters of judgment if they don’t confess their sins. God’s judgments are like a floodwater. It sweeps away everything in its path. It is consuming power and no one can stop it. It cannot be contained and will keep flowing until it accomplishes its purpose. Anyone caught in floodwaters will more than likely drown.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way for the godly. If we will quit hiding behind our perceived righteousness and confess our sins, we will be saved. If we quit resisting God’s ways and live life by God’s Word, we will be saved. If we quit pretending that we are better than we are, we will be saved. If we are living in Christ’s righteousness and not our own, we will be saved.

In reality, the godly are not as godly as we might think we are. We are all guilty of sin, no matter how long we have been in the faith. We all have need of confession. We all need to carefully monitor our souls and submit to God’s rightful authority over us. We all need to acknowledge our need for Jesus to be our Savior and Lord.
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Let it go… by Sherry Chamblee

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(Ok, I’m sorry, I know now the song is stuck in your head.)

But seriously, let’s talk about how often we need to just ‘let it go.’

Someone offends you at church –

  • They don’t answer you when you say hello, just keep walking by, texting on their phone.
  • They didn’t shake your hand, didn’t seek you out when they knew you’d been sick the week before.
  • How about that one…you were sick the week before, and no one from church called to see where you’d been.
  • You weren’t asked to sing in the trio, or the quartet.
  • You can play the piano, but no one ever asks you to play at church, or for their special.
  • What if you teach school during the week, but they’ve never asked you to teach a Sunday school class.

These are just examples, ya know, there’s all sorts of ways and places we get offended. But in all honesty, these are minor things, not mountains, but molehills.

We’re hanging on for dear life to these offenses, knuckles turning white as we rage and scream at the offense itself. Yet, all we’d have to do to make it stop hurting us is ‘Let It Go.’ So why do we hold on to them? Why don’t we let them go?

That’s the real question. Why do we hold on to things that are hurting us? Why do we mentally rage at a person who has no idea they’ve done anything to slight us?

I know of a guy who sold a young couple a van – an old van – like 30-years-old old. This young couple wasn’t real savvy with the mechanics at the time; they were newlyweds, just starting out. So they took that old van, and they used it for their new little family. They moved with that van, they took it to work; they did what they could to keep it running. Well, after a couple years the van just decided it wasn’t going to cooperate anymore, and the young couple traded it in for something that ran a bit better.

Twenty years later, the now not-so-young couple was going to be back in the same town with that guy who sold them the van, heading for the same church for a visit, only he sends on a warning that he doesn’t want to have anything to do with them. He was angry with that young couple for getting rid of the van. He had held that grudge against them, silently, for two decades. Never did the young couple know this…they were only loosely acquainted with the guy in the first place. But somehow, this man held on to his anger so doggedly that he still was upset to the point of refusing to be in the same room with them 20 years later.

So did his offense help him? No.

Since he was offended, did that mean the young couple had done something wrong? No.

Did it mean the young couple needed to change the way they were acting? No, actually. They’d done nothing to him that was offensive.

See, sometimes we think that if we’re offended, that automatically means the other party has done something wrong to us. No. It means you’re offended. This doesn’t always mean the other person is wrong.

You might have good reason for it, but then again, you might not. Even if you do have good reason for the offense, if it’s minor, why hold on to it?

All I’m trying to say is, let the small stuff go so you can concentrate on the big stuff.

That’s what we’re here for as Christians…the big stuff.

So when you have that temptation to get offended over some thing that really doesn’t matter, remember the song, and Let It Go.

(disclaimer…offenses can and do happen everywhere, not only at church. So while it’s hard to think of it this way perhaps, remember that church families are just made up of people. They’re not perfect people, just regular people.)

Sherry Chamblee can be found online at http://www.sherrychamblee.weebly.com And on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/authorsherrychamblee

About the Author:

Sherry Chamblee

Sherry grew up in various cities around northern and central California. This gave her all sorts of stories that sat and festered in her brain, waiting to be let loose. She eventually went to college in Wisconsin, where she met her equally frenetic husband, Rich. They have six (yes, count them) children, two dogs and a cat, and currently reside in a madhouse in the southern California area. As a family, they enjoy being active in their local church. Sherry spends her time writing when not caring for Granny, the kids, the dogs, the cat and any number of strays in the neighborhood.

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Great Thirst by Mary C. Findley

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Great thirst 1 prepared final 25

This story began life in 2013 as a NaNoWriMo project. Someone challenged me to put together some of the issues we cover in our nonfiction works — History, Science, and Secular Humanism, into a contemporary fiction work. I wanted to make it an archaeological mystery. I also wanted to include public school education, but in a small town where people think they are “safe” from government control. The book will be released serially in about 100-page segments. Here’s Chapter One:

Chapter One – “Mr. Safety”

tesla 25ding

“Hey!” Keith Bradley shouted. “No cars in the bus lot, and what kind of car is that, anyway?”
Keith waved off an incredibly red and shiny thing that didn’t seem to make any noise at all as it tried to slide past him into the bus lot at Bradley Central School on Tuesday morning, the first day of the new school year.
“Oh, no! The bus lot? I feel like such a doofus.” The driver pulled over to the curb and rolled down her passenger window. “It’s a Tesla.”
She was even more incredible than the car. Her highlighted brown hair framed a face that looked about sixteen and she pulled off some designer sunglasses that didn’t look like knockoffs.
“A whatsla?” An eighth-grader, Jermaine Tufo, gawked around Keith’s shoulder.
“A Tesla?” Keith repeated. “You’re kidding me, right? As in, the most awesome electric car ever made? Are you a new student?”
“Student? Are you hitting on me, kid? I’m the new English Lit teacher. Ms. Ramin to you.”
“You? A teacher?” Jermaine asked.
Keith pushed him toward the building and pointed him in the direction of the side doors. “Cafeteria, Jermaine, until 07:50. You know the rules.”
Jermaine ambled off.
“I’m a teacher, too,” Keith said. “Keith Bradley, science. The car parking is up at the other end of the building.”
“Oh, I’m so sorry. Thanks.” Ms. Ramin pulled a tight U-turn right in front of the last arriving bus. The car buzzed away.
Yeah, buzzed, Keith repeated to himself for emphasis. A Tesla? That’s like a $100,000 car, minimum!
Keith had somehow been pegged as “Mr. Safety” since junior high, when he’d made the mistake of thinking it was a big honor to be appointed to the “Junior Safety Patrol.” Twelve years later he was the science teacher at Bradley Central. The building had been renamed in honor of his late principal grandfather. Keith still stood out in the parking lot, breathing diesel, shouting at kids to get on the right bus or get out of the way of –
“Who was that crazy woman and what was that crazy car?” Veronica James, the driver of the bus the Tesla had almost pasted itself to, hollered out to Keith.
“New teacher, Mrs. James.” Keith spread his hands out helplessly. “Ms. Ramin, English lit. The car is called a Tesla.”
“Some new Japanese thing, huh? Anyway, she ain’t settin’ a very good example for the children, drivin’ like that. And you’re the Safety Director. I hope you’re going to speak to her.”
“Yes, ma’am.” Keith saluted and Mrs. James pulled her bus into the offload circle, much to Keith’s relief. Yeah, like I’m ever going to talk to … to … that! He glanced toward the student entrance to make sure all the kids got into the building as the warning bell rang.
A squeal of tires sent Keith sprinting back toward the street. Up at the car parking lot entrance he saw a tall black van with dark windows narrowly miss the Tesla as it turned in at the upper lot. The Sprinter spurted past the school, ignoring the reduced speed limit.
What just happened? Keith stared at the vanishing tail of the Tesla. That Ramin woman might be kind of a crazy driver, but Keith could have sworn the Sprinter was trying to hit her, not avoid her. He shook his head and headed inside.
fingers dust ding
Fourth period, Keith led his ninth grade earth science class into the auditorium for the annual “Welcome to Bradley” assembly. He cringed when he saw Ms. Ramin and her class already seated in the section where his bunch was supposed to sit.
“Mr. Bradley, tenth grade is in our seats!” hissed Sonja Gray.
“I see. I see. Hush, Sonja.” Keith counted rapidly. “Just go in here.” He waved them down another row of seats, the ones the tenth grade should have taken. A dozen students felt compelled to make comments about these being the wrong rows, as hard as he tried to hush them up.
“The sign’s right there by her elbow,” grumbled Tim deLuca. “Man, I thought English teachers could read.”
He said this as he plopped down beside Keith, right in front of Ms. Ramin. She appeared to come out of a trance and looked over at the sign next to her that said, “grade nine.”
“Oh,” she exclaimed, jumping up and windmilling her arms. “Class! Everybody! We’re in the wrong seats. Get up! Get up! We need to move to – ” Her eyes flicked over to the “grade ten” sign at Keith’s elbow. “Up there. Come on!”
“Ms. Ramin, it’s okay,” Keith said. “It’s fine. Look.” He reached out with his long legs, hooked the signs with his ankles, and shuffled them until the “grade nine” one stood next to him. “Sit back down. It’s fine.”
She collapsed back into her chair, red-faced. “I lost a contact,” she confessed. “I have no idea where – ”
Keith risked a look into that little almond-shaped, almond-colored face and found some big brown eyes staring back at him from under her soft gold and chestnut bangs.
“Oh, I see it,” Keith almost shouted, forcing himself back out of the depths of those eyes and taking a breath. “It’s the right one, right? It’s back up in the top corner there.”
“Really? I can’t feel it!” She whipped out a lighted, magnifying compact and peeled back her eyelid.
Keith heard and felt rather than saw the reaction of the tenth graders. He gave them the Eyeball, a look perfected and passed down through three generations of Bradley educators, and they subsided into relative silence and motionlessness.
“Yeah, no, it’s right there – You got it!” Keith crowed. Ms. Ramin nipped the contact out of her eye, pasted it to her tongue, and popped it back in.
Every kid for six rows said, in unison, “Eeewww!” But not very loudly, and shut up instantly with the application of another “Eyeball” treatment.
“Thank you so much, Mr. Brady,” she said. “I have been trying all morning to find it. All my classes tried to help, didn’t you?”
How can that many kids all roll their eyes at the same time? Keith somehow managed to keep his expression bland.
“It’s Bradley!” muttered someone.
“What was that?” Ms. Ramin asked.
“It’s not Mr. Brady, it’s Mr. Bradley. The school is – y’know – like, named after him or somethin’,” a voice supplied.
“Oh, you’re Mr. Bradley? Everybody said at the in-service that you’re the go-to guy if anybody needs help, and they were so right!” Ms. Ramin stuck out a hand, rattling metallic bangles and displaying multiple rings –
Keith stopped looking at her arm, her fingers, her perfect little hand, and shook it. He turned back around as a voice boomed over the feedback shriek that always signaled an assembly getting underway.
“Welcome to Bradley Central!” Keith’s father, the principal, called out. “Returning students and teachers, no falling asleep. Don’t care how many times you’ve heard me give you ‘Bradley’s Best’. You still might miss something, especially this year, because we have something brand new and very special for our high school students. If you miss that very special announcement, you will miss out on an opportunity to make history.”
Make history? How’s Bradley Central ever gonna make history? Keith couldn’t help it. This tiny town, and this tiny school, would never matter to anybody. But as he looked around the auditorium, he sat up a little straighter.
A stranger prowled along the side wall. It was a blonde in a fedora, tinted glasses, and one of those “business-sexy” outfits he never expected to see in real life.
Who is she? An extra microphone had been attached to his father’s podium and a cameraman flanked her. The blonde looked bored but perked up whenever the camera angled her way.
A reporter? For the first day of school at Bradley Central? Keith realized he had better try to pay special attention to a speech he had been hearing since Kindergarten, because between Ms. Ramin and this “making history” stuff, something was definitely up.

Cuneiform_Gold_Plate_Perspolis 25

Image credits:

Cover credits: Book One: Professional man and woman images (Keith Bradley and Natalia Ramin) from iStock
“Couple-waiting” (teens in “have faith” shirts) image from Kozzi.com uploaded by Wright Artistry www.wrightartistry.com

Artifact image from http://www.fouman.com/ Iranian Historical Photo Gallery source for Darius I Persepolis Gold Plates
These plates were found by archeologists in 1938, in Persepolis, near modern day Shiraz, Iran. There were two gold plates and two silver plates in a stone box, written on in cuneiform script. The plates date to 518 – 515 BC.
Tesla Roadster (chapter header image) 13 April 2010 Author Thomas Doerfer Wikimedia Commons
Fingers with dust (section divider image) from pixabay.com user Unsplash

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When the Supernatural Invades by Tina Webb

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I wonder what the average Christian thinks of the word “supernatural”?

Student fellowship meetings at my alma mater introduced me to the word. Guest speakers took me beyond the limits of my childhood Sunday morning sermons. Experiencing the power of God daily became a worthy goal. After all, Jesus told us that we would do greater works that he did!

Salvation is the most important supernatural work. Divine healing of soul and body are wondrous supernatural works that I’ve experienced. Through them, I encountered the heart and will of God. He is for us, not against us.

In 2008, for two seconds, the supernatural invaded my life again. I was surrounded by hundreds of Christians at a Fredericksburg, Virginia conference called Awaken The Dawn. A worship leader was gently playing the piano while he shared about God’s love and faithfulness. I bowed my head and enjoyed the atmosphere of expectancy and gentle devotion to God.

All of a sudden, I looked up but I didn’t see the row in front of me. Instead I saw a human womb with two embryos in it. Then I heard a still, small voice say, “I want you to have two more children…”

I heard the rest of God’s message while in a dull stupor. My stupor was not the result of the message itself, although I would have glared at anyone that would have suggested such a ridiculous idea to me. No, my shock-filled mind sat still because I realized that in my heart, I felt complete peace and agreement.

Supernatural

You see, I had four children already and the youngest was ten. I was 38 on that day in Fredericksburg when God gave me this addendum to my already satisfied family life.

While “hearing” God’s voice may freak out some of you, I can say it was not an audible voice, but a distinct, out of the blue, invasion into my human mind and reasoning. And I repeat, the bigger miracle to me was the fact that my heart was not in protest, but in peace.

That was 2008.

Whistling Through the Graveyard

If you are a mother, be at peace! Please don’t project yourself into my story. LOL This experience was God’s plan for my family. Be at peace with the call on your family and life. Having an age range of twenty years between my oldest and youngest is a remarkable personal growth opportunity for me. Someday you will read about how parenting grew me up in my upcoming book, Ages and Stages: The Book.

Ages and Stages

God wants to invade the life of every human being on earth with his saving grace. He knocks on hearts every day. However, God doesn’t want to stop at salvation. In order for life to be on earth as it is in heaven, our lives must be invaded by the unexplainable, the wondrous, the unimaginable, the jaw-dropping display of God’s love that comes through His power and might.

Do you want it?

John 5;20 For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel.

 

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CrossReads Book Blast for Ron Leonard

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Discerncover

Discerning Truth in a World Filled with Lies
By Ron Leonard

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About the Book:

Are you tired of being lied to? Not sure you can trust anyone outside your immediate family (and you’re even keeping a close eye on them)? Do you hate it when you discover that you’ve fallen for a lie? Then you’re in the right place. This book is dedicated to the belief that the truth can be found and is worth any price. The author shares insights and anecdotes from his various adventures in spotting lies everywhere from our culture to our co-workers.
Whether the lies come to you from advertisers, journalists, politicians, economists, friends, or even the church pulpit, this book will teach you how to question and counter the avalanche of lies you experience every day.
Additional case studies are presented that tie together the various concepts in easily understood vignettes. A bonus section shares insights on truths learned from counseling with real-live individuals and couples. Key points are highlighted by personal stories from the author’s life. Available on Amazon, Kindle, and Smashwords or signed copies are available at http://www.truthorcounseling.com

LINK to KINDLE | LINK to PAPERBACK

leonard_120x170Ron Leonard
The author is a Christian therapist, MBA, and Mensa member. He has been married 25 years and has two, yes two, teenagers. After spending four years writing this book he swore not to think about writing another one for many years. Three months later, he has the rough outlines of a fiction book with two heroes, one of whom has schizophrenia.

 

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Dealing with Doubt by Suzanne D. Williams

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I’ve been listening to the voices in my head, the ones that say, “Why bother? No one cares if you publish. You might as well give up.” Or, “Look at Miss Author over there, she has tons of fans who comment all the time, but yours never say anything. You’re mediocre. No one notices if you fail. You’re just not that important.”

Voices of negativity and doubt.

More than half of writing is the writer convincing themselves they know how to write. The rest is self-assurance that what they’ve written is exactly what it should be. Being a Christian writer ups the ante. Suddenly, it’s not just good enough to write something, but we must also write something moralistic.

Then, if we get past the misgivings, if we manage to shut off the voices, it seems like a reader misunderstands our intent, and suddenly everything we knew we did right, all the i’s we dotted and t’s we crossed are maybe a bit off. It could be we missed the boat, and what if he or she is correct?

Writing is full of what-ifs, and Christian writing has way more of them because there’s that standard again. Problem is, people adjust it for themselves. What’s good to one person is outside the perimeters with another. What I write, what you write, sometimes falls flat with a person who simply didn’t understand it. Or perhaps they wrote a completely fair review, but for some reason, all those doubts surface again because it could be if you’d pulled back here or pushed further there, it would have become better, more people pleasing. It could be the voices in your head are right.

I have soft places in my skin where occasionally the dart of public opinion has made its way through. I have scars in other locations that I protect lest anything hit me there again. Both feed into the doubts that never quite leave. But here’s the thing. I can use those same doubts to make me a better writer. They fuel my faith. They cause me to look harder at myself, which in the long run might be painful, but is a very good thing. They help me hold my head up high when a book wasn’t, for that one person, what they expected it to be. They push me forward.

I wish life was full of glowing five-star reviews, but if you’re a new writer, then I’m sad to say, it isn’t. For every five-star you receive, the one you’ll remember will be the three, the two, or the one. But instead of sitting down and giving up, instead of releasing the talent God’s given you, use that energy to keep writing.

So that reader didn’t like it. So you don’t have all the fan uproar other authors seem to generate. So your author ranking, yours sale numbers, don’t glow in the night. Don’t let that stop you from writing because one thing’s for sure, as soon as you do, you definitely won’t see success.

And here’s one final word from someone who’s been at the bottom. All the money and fame in the world won’t make you happy. People’s comments won’t make you happy. Good reviews are nice and fan praise is awesome. But if you can’t find that joy within yourself first, you’ll still fail.

I never imagined when I got into this business that people could be so awful to other people. But they are and I’ve learned to go back to who I was before I became a writer – a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother, someone’s best friend. Who I am inside, who God has made me, is far more important than what John or Jane Doe have to say, and that girl, who loved books at age sixteen, more important to please.

We love him, because he first loved us. (1Jn 4:19)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Suzanne D. Williams

Best-selling author, Suzanne D. Williams, is a native Floridian, wife, mother, and photographer. She is the author of both nonfiction and fiction books. She writes a monthly column for Steves-Digicams.com on the subject of digital photography, as well as devotionals and instructional articles for various blogs. She also does graphic design for self-publishing authors. She is co-founder of THE EDGE.

To learn more about what she’s doing and check out her extensive catalog of stories, visit http://suzanne-williams-photography.blogspot.com/ or link with her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/suzannedwilliamsauthor or on Twitter at https://twitter.com/scw1217.

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Book Spotlight: Weaving Faith into Fiction by Deborah Heal

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Weaving Faith into Fiction Once Again: an inspirational novel of history, mystery & romance, is the first in my Rewinding Time Series. It’s about a young woman named Merrideth Randall, whose day job is teaching history at a small college. In her after hours, she turns to her first love, historical research. She has a tool other historians can only dream of—a computer program that rewinds time, giving her a first-hand look at the past.

Once AgainMerrideth uses the amazing program to assist her in finding the location of a long-lost pioneer fort and to meet the brave settlers who lived there in the late 1700s. Although the book is categorized as Sci-fi/time travel, it’s not a traditional time-travel tale, because Merrideth only virtually experiences people’s lives as she “rewinds time.” (I didn’t want to mess up the whole space-time continuum thingy. You’re welcome.)

Professor Merrideth Randall has lots of historical mysteries to solve in Once Again. But she is also trying to find the answers to life’s puzzling “little” questions—like why bad things happen to good people, and what kind of God do we have, anyway?

When one of the young pioneers takes the Gospel to an Indian tribe, Merrideth thinks he is brave, but foolish. She doesn’t understand why missionaries risk their lives to take their religion to people who have their own and don’t want or need someone else’s. And when she realizes the young preacher is ministering to the very tribe that had scalped his brother, she is astonished at the scope of his forgiveness.

Her colleague Brett Garrison puzzles her, too:

Brett made being a Christian sound like something more, but Merrideth couldn’t put her finger on what differed between his religion and hers… Hopefully, he would not turn out to be one of those people who had a Bible verse for every occasion. One of her freshman roommates had been like that. Emily had started in spouting verses the first day and hadn’t let up until another roommate told her to stop already with the proselytizing. By their sophomore year, Emily had gotten metaphorically slapped down enough times that she stopped quoting Bible verses altogether. Merrideth always felt a little guilty when she thought about that. Maybe she should have stuck up for Emily, but hadn’t she needed to learn not to be so pushy with her beliefs?

Merrideth has always thought she was a Christian. After all, she goes to church, contributes when the offering plate goes by, and “tries to be nice.” But with what she sees and learns, she begins to wonder whether she’s a Christian after all.

She is right to question her salvation. She is a fictional representation of the many, many Americans who have a form of Christianity, but not the substance—a believing faith in Jesus Christ. In the coming books she will continue to ponder questions that have no easy answers and meet people who cause her to think. But have no fear; one day it will all be clear to her.

3D Box SetBased on the one-star review I got last week for my earlier book Time and Again, I predict that the Rewinding Time Series is going to drive some readers nuts. I should tell you that Time and Again and the rest of the trilogy are not at all evangelistic. The theme is that God is sovereign and “all things work together for good.” I didn’t imagine anyone but an atheist would find them objectionable. And since, I personally dislike fiction in which the characters are like Merrideth’s roommate, constantly spouting Bible verses, I don’t ever do that in my books. (By the way, you can get Time and Again, the first novel of the original trilogy FREE on Amazon.)

Nevertheless, for some readers even a mere two verses (as is the case with Time and Again) are apparently just too much to be tolerated. Here’s a portion of what the reviewer said about the main character of Time and Again:

She’s CONSTANTLY quoting Bible verses. I can handle religion being woven into a story where appropriate, but this had the preachy quality and that rubbed me the wrong way.

I have to admit, I was mad when I first read her review, because what she complains about are the very things I try so hard not to do—and did not do, in my opinion. Afterwards, I thought that I should be happy, because maybe her annoyance is a sign that my book caused her to think about her soul. Maybe the one she is really annoyed with is God. Maybe He is working on her. Maybe I am doing something right.

Satan hates anything that promotes the Kingdom, and he will have even more to hate with my new Rewinding Time Series, because the salvation message is clearer and more obvious than the trilogy ever hoped to be. Actually, another title for the series could have been The Redemption of Merrideth Randall. The spiritual theme in Once Again is based on Jesus’ parable of the unforgiving servant in Matthew 18:21-35. Merrideth is shown Jesus’ command to forgive seven times seventy times lived out in the life of the young missionary.

One Way HomeThen in Only One Way Home, book 2, Merrideth runs smack dab into the politically incorrect nature of Christ’s claims to be the Way, the Truth, and the Life—and the only way home to Heaven—as she gets a firsthand view of the Cherokee Trail of Tears. I hope to release book 3, How Sweet the Sound, in late spring. Its theme verse is Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned…” Merrideth faces the fact that her sins are every bit as bad as those of the murderous river pirates she observes preying on the “innocent” pioneers.

So I have donned goggles and a helmet to meet the onslaught of gnashing teeth and angry words that I fear will be coming my way with this series. I send out each book with a prayer that the biblical principles and messages woven into the story touch the hearts of readers, not annoy them. On second thought, if the annoyance is a sign that they’re thinking hard about their own souls, then I hope readers are annoyed.

Even with the enlarged Gospel message of the Rewinding Time Series, rest assured I still stand by my Christian fiction guarantee to readers: there will still be no spouting of Bible verses, no fiery preaching, no using the Gospel as a club to bludgeon people with.

About the Author:

Deborah Heal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Connect With Me!

Website: http://www.deborahheal.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DeborahHeal

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DeborahHeal

Amazon Author Page: http://goo.gl/RdjMzh

Deborah Heal is the author of the Time and Again “History Mystery” trilogy and the Rewinding Time Series, which have been described as “Back to the Future” meets virtual reality with a dash of “Seventh Heaven” thrown in.” She was born not far from the setting of Every Hill and Mountain, and for many years she lived near the setting of Time and Again and Unclaimed Legacy. Today she lives in Monroe County, the setting of Once Again. Deborah Heal is married and has three grown children, four grandchildren, and two canine buddies Digger and Scout. She enjoys reading, gardening, and learning about southern Illinois history.

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Has Anyone Read the Bible? A Series of Thoughts About Saints and Taboo Subjects by Parker J. Cole

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In my post last month, I discussed and fielded responses to critics of my work who say my books were pseudo-Christian. From that came an idea to share my opinions on saints and how un-Christ-like they may be when it comes to ‘taboo’ subjects.

Let’s get some definitions going before I expound on this. Taboo – ‘Off-limits’, ‘Distasteful’ , ‘Forbidden’, ‘Banned’ , ‘Unmentionable’

Saints – Those who follow the teachings of historical, biblical Christ and His example on Earth

On Saints and Violence

What prompted this series of thoughts has been my experience in a couple of online Christian book review groups, which I shall leave unnamed, and how these groups view what makes a book Christian. A fellow writer submitted a request for a non-fiction book which dealt with Church history. Said writer made a statement it had violence in the book (which makes sense because you’re dealing with Church history, quite known for acts of violence) and was summarily rejected because of the violence. Definition of violence: viciousness, fierceness, aggression, fighting, brutality, bloodshed, carnage, savagery.

Has Anyone Read the Bible? Perhaps I should take this time to call the attention of the scriptures and see if there are any recorded acts of violence we should be aware of.

Genesis 4:8 “…and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.” An act of violence that ended with the first murder. Genesis 6:5: “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Not necessarily a violent act but this is certainly a breeding ground for violence.

Genesis 19:5 “And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them.” Intention to force sexual acts on the angels

There are many more acts but I chose to select only three for the sake of illustration. If we were to continue through the Bible, we’d see there are many acts of violence within its pages.

My Thoughts

Critics of God and God’s word would often point out these things in a negative light. What I find relevant is that God did not allow these acts to be whitewashed and purified. They are there to show us the depravity of human nature, the residual effects of the Fall (when sin entered the world), and how much we need Him to save us from ourselves.

Due to our sinful nature, we are prone to violence. Yes, we can be taught as children not to harm each other but one doesn’t have to be very old when we punch our siblings in the face or get into a fist fight with someone at school. Multiply this by billions of people who all have a sin nature and are prone to violence. Guess what? You’ve got a problem on your hands. The violence in the Bible shows us the root of violence is disobedience to God. Sin. In the well-known Ten Commandments, God tells what we SHOULD not do. But yet, we do these things every day. Why the conundrum? The commandments were not used as legalistic, absolute of how to behave but to show us that we can’t even keep the Ten Commandments without His help. Sin cripples us to the point where even though we know we shouldn’t do a thing we do. Violence against each other is one of them. My central point is this: if God didn’t remove the violence from His holy word, why should we not allow it in our literature?

Let me clarify: There are instances every day of meaningless, senseless violence. Our culture is saturated with it in books, TV, and movies. Some argue, that’s why a Christian book shouldn’t have ANY violence of any kind in it. How can we be an example to others if we depict violence in our literature? To that point I say this: God knew when He created us, this world would be filled with atrocious acts. Our sinful nature is simply a prelude to the horrific things we do to each other all the time. And guess what? It didn’t stop Him from creating us when we know for a fact that God should have aborted us after Adam took the first bite of the fruit. However, God loves us and instead of starting over with a new batch He sent His Son to save us. At our hands, He suffered the most extreme violence as we beat Him, pierced Him, laughed at Him, and hung Him on a tree.

When Christ rose from grave He gave us victory over sin. While we are here in this world sin is a part of our make-up so it doesn’t have to have reign in us. The glorious part is one day we will not be prone to violence any longer. He will get rid of all sin and the effects of it.

Conclusion

Does this mean all Christian literature should include violence? Not by any means! Violence when utilized in an appropriate context can be used to impart a message. One of the message may be it’s in our make-up until Christ returns. It’s a part of life we face every moment. A constant struggle we face. Instead of trying to do away with it in Christian books, thinking it’s the ‘Christ-like’ thing to do, here’s my take on it:

In a non-fictional way— recorded acts of violence show us the mistakes of the past. To give us the knowledge of what caused it and what steps can we make so that it doesn’t happen again. A good example is war. Most of us don’t want a war yet there have been times when war has been necessary. In a fictional way – it should add to the story in such a way to keep it moving, not to just gloat over how descriptive we can be with our words. I’m not talking about endless pages of hurt and harm for the sake of having it in there. If a story calls for it, make sure it’s necessary for the plot.

Violence is real. Acting as if it’s nonexistent does not make a book more Christian. Having violence in a book doesn’t make it less Christian.

Feel free to disagree with me as long as brotherly love continues.

About the Author:

Parker J. Cole

Parker J. Cole is a writer and radio show host who spends most of her time reading, knitting, writing, cooking, and concocting new ideas for stories. Her first novel, Dark Cherub, won Best of Spring Reading 2013 from eMediaCampaigns. She lives in Michigan with her husband and beloved dog Sarah.

Visit her site at http://www.ParkerJCole.com

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Gems from Pastor Jim by Jim Hughes

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Jim Hughes

Ps. 32:1-2 Oh, what joy for those whose rebellion is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight. Yes, what joy for those whose record the LORD has cleared of sin, whose lives are lived in complete honesty!

Feast on the riches of God’s grace and rejoice! God forgives those who rebel against Him when they turn from their rebellion and turn to Him. He does not turn away anyone who is willing to quit resisting Him and start walking with Him He forgives us for our rebelliousness because He loves us and desires to have a relationship with us.

God puts our sin out of His sight. I don’t know how He is able to do that. We can put our sin behind us and live in His forgiveness, but we still remember what we have done. Sometimes our past sins haunt us. We struggle with letting them go and forgiving ourselves for them. But it’s not that way with God. He washes our sins away with the shed blood of Jesus at Calvary and they are no more. God does not see our past; He sees the righteousness of Christ in us. We have no history with God; it’s always the present. All that matters to Him is Christ in us. As long as we stay in the shelter of His righteousness, we have no condemnation from God. God clears the record of the redeemed. He washes our souls and they become whiter than snow.

There is joy in the soul of those who live in complete honesty. What a blessing it is to be guided and influenced by the integrity of one’s heart. There is a desire within the redeemed to do what is right before God always. The intent of the heart is to always be true to the revealed character of God within us. The soul’s delight is living to please God, to do what honors Him. There is joy in those whose character matters to them, for Christ is actively at work in them to make them holy.
C Through Marriage
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