Gems From Pastor Jim 1/10/2020

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by Jim Hughes

crossMatt. 2:1,2 Jesus was born in the town of Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We have seen his star as it arose, and we have come to worship him.”

Consider with me today the wise men of Christmas. We can learn much about our own lives as we gaze into their role in the Christmas story.

Wise men look for Jesus. Jesus can be found. He will be found by all who sincerely seek Him. Look in the Scriptures and you will find Him. Look in creation, which is His handiwork, and you will find Him. Look at the cross of Calvary and you will find Him. Jesus did not come to a select few that they may be saved. He came that all people will behold Him and find Him. He came that all who are willing to be saved will be saved.

Wise men obey God rather than man. We live amongst a people who do not know God and have no desire to know Him. We are faced with many choices daily; do we obey God or man? The world does not like it when we boldly live for Christ. We are bound to run up against opposition. Wise men take a stand for God. They live godly lives regardless how it is received in the work or marketplace.

Wise men worship Jesus. When we live in the presence of Jesus it humbles us. Wow! God allows us to enter into His presence! What a privilege! In Christ unholy people are made holy and fit to come before Him in worship. When we live in the presence of Jesus we are moved to praise Him. How can we do anything less? Praise is always fitting in worship services. When we are in the presence of God we are awestruck. Wow!! God!!

The world worships the presents of Christmas. We worship the presence of Jesus. Let us live as wise men and bow before our Lord and King today.

Before and After the Honeymoon

About the Author:

Jim Hughes

Spending his formative years in Ft. Wayne, IN, Jim followed the love of his life to southeast Iowa where they married and have spent the majority of their lives. Jim has pastored several churches throughout his life and has worked many years in local factories to help support his family. The father of two married adult children and one son still at home, Jim is a first-time author.

C Through Marriage came into being through many years of pastoral and life experiences. The book first took on a life of its own over 20 years ago when I sought to address the much publicized moral failures of prominent leaders in the church. In the chapter on Chasity, I include the guideliness that I developed then to protect one’s self from such failures.

I am a firm believer in order to make sense out of life you have to use much common sense. We need to get back to the basics of what has worked for many, many generations. If is isn’t broke, why try to fix it? I strive to return to the basics of what really works in all my writings.

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CrossReads Book Spotlight: The Dragon’s Back Trilogy

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CrossReads Book Spotlight

CrossReads Book Spotlight

The Dragon’s Back Trilogy

1 & 2: “The Poison of Thorns” + “My Brother’s Keeper”

by Robert Dennis Wilson

The Dragon's Back Trilogy

Epic Spiritual Warfare Fantasy.
Contains “THE POISON OF THORNS: The Dragon’s Back #1” & “MY BROTHER’S KEEPER: The Dragon’s Back #2”.
Here are bards, dragons, swords, and dark villains!

Living on a land shaped like a monstrous Dragon floating on a bottomless Sea, two orphaned brothers have chosen dramatically different paths to deal with the pain caused by watching the murder of their parents.

Why were they locked away in that out-of-the way orphanage for ten long years, when they had living kin who would gladly have claimed them? Who are the sinister black-robed “Dragonmen” and what is their hidden agenda. And why are these blackrobes so interested in the two teenaged brothers that they would mobilize all of their considerable resources to possess them?

Kaleb, the eldest, has taken up thorns and sided with the black-robed Dragonmen and their gigantic Captain, Raven. Overcome by bitterness, he has vowed to exact vengeance and rescue his bother from the man he thinks is responsible for that crime, Nathan the Master Bard.

Jason, the younger sibling, is an apprentice to that same bard and has chosen to forsake the dark poison of the thorns and follow the teachings of the Great Gryphon and His Swimmer Son.

Out of their love for each other, both brothers seek with their entire beings to deliver their sibling from his chosen path. A violent conflagration of armed conflict is inevitable!

What other Christian authors are saying about “THE POISON OF THORNS, The Dragon’s Back #1”

TRACY KRAUSS, bestselling author of “Play It Again” and “The Beat Goes On” says: “Book 1… reads somewhat like a Lewis, Tolkien or even a Rowling. Full of heraldry and lore in a make believe otherworld, this novel is full of action and adventure…Anyone who likes fantasy with an unapologetic Christian worldview should enjoy it.”

ASHLEY WINTTERS [“Ashley Dawn”], author of “Shadows from the Past” and “Shadows of Suspicion” says: “This was a superbly written book. A good vs. evil that isn’t too preachy but definitely has a spiritual overtone. The imagery the author used made you actually feel like you were a part of the book. The characters were very well developed and very likeable. I rate it a 5/5. If you get the chance, you should definitely read it and I’m ready for the second one!”

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CrossReads Short Takes: Diehard Sins & Discovering TREASURE

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CrossReadsShortTakes

CrossReads Short Takes

Diehard Sins

How to Fight Wisely against Destructive Daily Habits

by Rush Witt

Diehard Sins

THIS BOOK IS ABOUT SINS. Not the ugly, notorious sins we have come to know and hate. But the little, daily sins. The snail-sized sin habits that slither undetected in the shadows and eat up our lives from the inside out.

This book is about the sins that nag us, resist our spiritual treatments, and persist beyond all our measures to contain them. The subtle sins. The respectable and acceptable sins. The resilient and relentless sins. The diehard sins.

Learn how you can enter into your struggle against destructive daily habits, understand your needs in the fight, and bring Christ and His provisions to bear upon your beliefs and desires—equipping yourself to gradually kill the unkillable.

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Discovering TREASURE

A Christian ROMANCE to Stir Magic in the Mind ~ and Music for the Soul

(Book #1 of Vision Valley series)

by Crystal Mary Lindsey

Discovering TREASURE

PARIS 1920’s. To all outward appearances, Treasure Gilroy experienced the perfect life, full of glitz and glamour. Living in a luxurious Paris apartment and traveling back and forth to London, New York, and Milan, she was the envy of many. In this story, Treasure progresses from having her heart in pieces caused by DOUBT, HURT, and CONFUSION – to encounters of Understanding with REALITY, ACCEPTANCE, and finally PEACE.

Memories of her parents leaving her with her aunt or grandparents for months at a time while disappearing together filled her young mind with separation grief.
Her aunt showed the affection she craved, yet to Treasure, there remained that gnawing unwanted feeling. The confusion of this continued as an unspoken emotion over the years.
In 1915 Treasure met young Ella Dittmar on a cold night in London, a strange and mysterious Déjà vu connection ignited between these two, keeping them together.
Now with Ella, Treasure travels back to the beautiful Australian Outback town of Glen Arbor in Vision Valley to claim an inheritance. Here all her life questions will eventually be answered, and the family secrets divulged. Never could she imagine the depth of reality to be discovered or the love she finds with an ex-World War One fighter pilot.
John 8:32 says, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

When Treasure discovered the truth and found the love of God and man, she was finally set free.

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The Point Is … Better Late Than Never

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by James Collins

“Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. James 5:16

Over the years, I have been blessed to receive many letters from readers. Many of those letters asked questions. One reader wrote, “Dear Pastor James, you are without a doubt the biggest pinhead on the planet. Who told you that you were a writer?” Signed, “Phillis Stein.” 

Another reader wrote, “James Collins, you are a narrowminded bigot. Where do you get off by saying Jesus is the only way?” Signed, “Barry Cuwder.”   

Another letter read, “We’ve been trying to reach you about your car’s extended warranty. Why don’t you reply? Signed, “Otto Matik.” 

One of my favorite letters said, “Dr. Collins, I’m sorry that I called you an idiot in my previous letter. I really thought you already knew. I could explain to you how stupid you are, but I can’t understand it for you. What university would be so moronic as to give you a doctorate?” Signed, “Rory Motion.” 

This past week, I received a letter from Ladonna (not her real name). She wrote, “Dear Pastor Collins, I write today because I am confused. Many years ago, I made accusations against another person that were just false. It created a crisis that I am ashamed of today. Should I try to make it right after all these years or should I just leave well enough alone… I don’t want to make things worse or dig up old wounds. What should I do?” 

This question is one that I have been asked often. Many Christians struggle with this issue. However, the Bible is clear that if you as a believer have wronged another believer then you need to attempt to make things right. God has given us a ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:19). 

A few years ago, a woman named Dee felt something was missing in her life. So, she started coming to my church. Eventually, she gave her life to Christ. It was my privilege to baptize her. Whenever someone gets saved, it is a miracle of God. But Dee’s salvation was truly a miracle considering she was eighty-three-years-old. Most of the time, when someone reaches that age, life has hardened them to the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

One day Dee told me about her daughter, Joy. Dee had basically abandoned Joy when she was a child. They had not spoken to each other for almost fifty years. I encouraged Dee to call her daughter and apologize. Dee said the same thing to me that Ladonna said in her letter, “I don’t want to make things worse or dig up old wounds.” I said, “Jesus Christ can heal wounds even old ones,” as I handed her the phone. She called her daughter and apologized. She shared how Jesus Christ had changed her life. As they spoke, Joy put her faith in Jesus as Savior. She became reconciled with Jesus and with her mother. Now both Dee and Joy have peace with each other and peace with God.  

The point is: When you confess and seek forgiveness from someone you have wronged, God provides opportunities for healing (James 5:16). By not seeking reconciliation, you feel sick with unforgiveness, anger, and shame. God through His Son and Spirit can heal you when you seek His help. 

Why don’t you lean on God’s strength and reach out to that person and show them the love of Christ today? 

Better late than never.

The Point Is...

James Collins

James Collins

James Collins is pastor, columnist, and author. You can write to him by email at james@thepointis.net.

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CrossReads Weekly Devotional: Understanding the Times 1/6/2020

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by Precarious Yates 

And the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and to test him they asked him to show them a sign from heaven. He answered them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. ~ Matthew 16:1-3 ESV

How are we to rightly interpret the times we live in?

For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. ~ Matthew 24:24 ESV

There are so many ideas crowding us lately. It’s so hard to find quiet, to find space to hear God for ourselves. There are conflicting views everywhere. Voices clamor, “If you don’t agree with me, you don’t love me!”

It’s hard to hear in a room full of noise. In a world full of bellicosity and infinite distraction, the ability to hear is a rare and oft overlooked treasure. 

Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? ~ Isaiah 53:1 KJV

Then there is the question of how we believe what we hear. Of all the myriad voices, which speaks truth? So many today ask, like Pilate did, “What is truth?” (John 18:38) Yet, unlike Pilate, they don’t have Truth robed in flesh standing in front of them. 

How can people recognize Him after 2000 years of opinions? And would the report of Him sound believable to modern ears?

There were few who recognized Him at His first coming. One in particular was a woman who spent time at His feet. She listened (Luke 10:39), she wrestled with her faith with Him (John 11:32), and then she did something so remarkable it seemed to take Him by surprise. He even called it beautiful and wanted her act to be talked about every time the disciples shared the gospel (see Matthew 26:10,13). Mary of Bethany’s act of anointing Jesus with her hair made at least one disciple squeamishly uncomfortable. What was it about this one gesture that made Jesus point to it as the act to preach along with His gospel?

Mary got it. She understood that Jesus would have to die. He had said this would happen and she believed it. So she anointed His body for burial. 

Just as He died and rose again, according to His word, He would also come again. 

Mary of Bethany probably had no idea what sort of death Jesus would die. Even though she had seen her brother raised from the dead, she probably had no idea if Jesus’ resurrection would be in the same manner as Lazarus. But Jesus said He would die and then rise again. 

In the same way, will we continue to believe that He will come again? We might not know the day, the hour, or the specific way His return will look, but will we believe Him and hope in His coming?

Jesus Himself told us to keep an eye out of certain things. False prophets and false christs are one sign to be aware of. Netflix has a show out about recognizing a false christ (Messiah, Netflix), but I think God wants us to keep our eyes open for even subtler clues. How do we do that?

There are positive signs of His second coming as well. “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” ~ Matthew 24:14  We could very well see the gospel preached to the ends of the earth within our lifetime. 

How will we recognize what is true from what is false? We can discern true from false if we tune into His voice. Matthew 25 talks about filling our lamps with oil. We spend time in His presence. John 10 tells us that His sheep hear His voice. We spend time in His word. 

How do we discern our times? We make time for stillness. We make time for Him. When things get too busy, that’s when you know you need more time in His presence. 

Jeremiah was told by other prophets of his time that he deeply misunderstood what business God was up to at that time. How do we make a stand for truth like Jeremiah did? We make time for Him. We continue to trust who God is despite what others may say. We continually match what we believe against God’s word. And we commit to love one another as He has loved us. 

Happy New Year and God bless you!

About the Author:

Precarious YatesPrecarious Yates has lived in 8 different states of the Union and 3 different countries, but currently lives in Texas with her husband, her daughter and their big dogs. When she’s not writing, she enjoys music, teaching, playing on jungle gyms, praying and reading. She holds a Masters in the art of making tea and coffee and a PhD in Slinky® disentangling.

Links:

Facebook Amazon Author Page

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Book Spotlight: An Agent for Camille

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by Parker J. Cole

For the past twenty years, Pinkerton agent Rounder Addison, has been living a lie, afraid that his past will find him out. The only reason why he hasn’t been caught is that he doesn’t do anything to risk exposure. When the Great Fire of Chicago forces Rounder to relocate to the Pinkerton Agency in Denver, Colorado, he comes face to face with a beautiful mulatto woman who threatens his peace of mind. He knows there’s something different about her and he’s afraid that somehow, she can unveil the secret he’s kept hidden for so long. Camille Bradford knows what it’s like to carry a secret and Rounder Addison definitely has one. He tries to avoid her at every turn. The more he avoids her, the more determined she is to find out everything about him. When two friends from Rounder’s past ask for his help, Camille knows she’ll do anything assist in solving the case and be by Rounder’s side. Even if it means telling him her dark secret. Even if it means joining him as his bride of convenience for the duration of the case in the small town of Lantern, Texas. Rounder and Camille must trust each other and work as a team in order to figure out who is stealing bodies. When danger strikes, will they trust each other long enough to save their lives and heal their hearts? Or will self-preservation lead them to destruction?

An Agent for Camille

About the Author:

Parker J. ColeParker 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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CrossReads Book Spotlight: The Nativity

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CrossReads Book Spotlight

CrossReads Book Spotlight

The Nativity

How The Story Of Christmas Can Change Your Life

by James Collins

The Nativity

Learn Something Life Changing This Christmas!
After years, sometimes even decades, of hearing the Christmas story so many times, we lose the meaning. The story of the birth of Jesus Christ as told Luke Chapter 2 is the best-known story in the Bible. Ask anyone and they can tell you about Caesar’s tax. Everyone knows about Mary and Joseph’s trip to Bethlehem. Most people can tell you that Jesus was born in a stable. We’ve heard the story thousands of times, over and over, in Christmas pageants, plays, cards, TV programs, movies, and music. To many, the story of God becoming a man – of God taking on human flesh – has become so common that the greatest miracle in history has lost its impact. That’s why The Nativity was written, to help you take a fresh look at the Christmas story – to help you see beyond the familiar and find the true Spirit of Christmas.
Turn the pages to find the answers:
•Who was the inn-keeper?
•Why is Jesus called Emmanuel?
•Did Mary and Joseph have children of their own?
•Was Jesus born on December 25th?
•What was the Tower of the Flock?
•Is Jesus coming back?

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CrossReads Short Takes: A Christmas Wedding & From a Soddy

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CrossReads Short Takes

A Christmas Wedding

A Novella

(Divine Love Story)

by Melinda Michelle

A Christmas Wedding

Tis the season for wedding bells. Brett and Alyssa have decided to tie the knot in a big way. They invite the whole gang out to spend the week leading up to Christmas on the beach. The emotional baggage their friends bring with them spills out turning the rehearsal dinner into a disastrous Christmas Eve. To make matters worse, Brett and Alyssa find themselves in a predicament that has one of them wondering if they even want to say, “I do.” When they wake up Christmas day, no one knows if there will be a Christmas wedding…

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From a Soddy

by Marlys Denholm

From a Soddy

“Where a man makes a living, a woman makes a home.” The womenfolk didn’t share in the excitement that bubbled up from Carrie’s husband, Bill, and her brother, Charlie, when the two returned from their scouting trip “Out West” – to the land called Dakota in 1906. “There’s land just waiting for farmers to make something of it,” Bill reported. His pride filled his eyes, he added, “We can have a hundred sixty acres just for living there and working it for a few years.” In Dakota the family will find a sod house with a dirt floor, no curtains on the windows, and no well in the yard! Far from the comforts of civilization, Henry, only six years old when the story begins, is amazed by the county. This is the land he had overheard his Grandmother Lang describe as filled with “wild Indians and crazy cowboys” in protest of the family’s move. Share in the account of the family’s joys and hardships as they homesteaded what was then frontier land near Lemmon, South Dakota, in the early 1900s. The true stories of Henry Miller and his siblings come to life here in the pages of From a Soddy, written by his daughter, Marlys Miller Denholm.

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Accomplishments for 2019 12/31/2019

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by ALL

Each Year-End we each are asked to write down the accomplishments that have been accomplished, with God’s help, this past year. Here are this years participants. Click on each persons picture to see their books on Amazon.

Rebekah Beene

Rebekah BeeneBeing asked to write a synopsis of this year and the accomplishments I’ve had is hard to do. Not because there have been no accomplishments, but because God has been so incredibly good to me and my sweet husband.  He preached this year for the first time since his stroke in early 2017.  That was monumental, especially since we had been given a word from God through a nurse in his hospital room – basically saying “he will live and not die, he will walk again and he will preach the word; God is not finished with him.”  We held on to that word, especially me. Finally a call came and he answered the call. It was glorious!

As for writing I am continuing what God called me to do. I write daily devotionals, 365 a year. I write via prompts for some ministries including Five Minute Friday.  And when God gives a message to speak to individuals who pass my way I speak that truth over them.  Who doesn’t need encouragement in these times? God loves you and He’s for you always is like water to a dry and thirsty heart.  As long as God speaks I will write.

Successes for the year for me have to include the opportunities to speak the Word and encourage, equip and reconcile people to God’s love.  Nothing else really matters. If people don’t know how much God loves them they will always be reticent to live fully for Him. With love comes trust and faith and hope and oh so much more!  I even drove to Louisiana by myself to speak to a women’s group.  It was out of the world! Through the speaking events of 2019 I have received so much more than I gave – new friendships, fresh fire and eternal blessings.

As a writer for My Journey of Faith ministry, I was asked to be on the board this year. What a privilege.  This ministry is moving ahead in the new decade with much fervor and they are all about Truth!  I look forward to what God will do as we seek His face for the next move.

And of course there’s always the success of making it – through trials, temptations, troubles and events that shrink hearts.  Has 2019 been so very easy? Oh no. But through our God we shall do valiantly. And I hear from Him that 2020 will be a year of clarity. Isn’t that wonderful?  Stay close to the Lord, preach His Word, speak in faith, live in the Spirit and walk into the new decade with the hope of heaven!

 

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Ruth O’Neil

Ruth OneilThis year has been exceptionally busy, in and out of my writing. I have published two additional titles in my Spiritual Insights from the Classics series: The Hound of the Baskervilles and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Also, the next novel in my What a Difference a Year Makes series is now available for pre-order. You can order digital copies of Lunch Ladies on Amazon, or send me a message to pre-order a hard copy. I am so excited about this book. It’s been six years since my last novel came out. One thing I discovered this year was that I can write a lot more than I have been. A ghostwriting job forced me to write 30,000 words in two weeks…and I did it in less. I started another new novel for NaNoWriMo. I kind of bombed out half way through due to life, but I have about 25,000 words on the next novel. Progress. Can’t wait to see what 2020 is going to bring!

 

 

 

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Sherry Chamblee

Sherry ChambleeThis year I’ve had several major changes happen in my personal life.

I’ve seen a daughter well married to a wonderful young man who we’re proud to call a son-in-law. I’ve seen a second daughter find a young man who we hope to have as a son-in-law soon.
As for my writing, I’ve been able to finish several shorts stories. I’ve had a flash fiction piece published in an online magazine, the first time anything of mine has ever been accepted for something like that. I’ve also had another short story picked to be published in an anthology which will be published in the next year or so.
I’ve also decided to boost my editing business and begin speeding up my publishing schedule next year.
I’ve accomplished getting rid of some stuff at our house that we needed to have gone too, which for me, is a big accomplishment.
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Suzanne D. Williams
Suzanne D. WilliamsThe significance of 2019 cannot be overstated in author, Suzanne D. Williams’ life. She released five single stories, finishing her “Cowboys of the Double R” series, and one set of four exclusive Christmas stories, including a double crossover. She also co-authored two historical romances with author, Laura J. Marshall, as well as putting numerous books into print. She looks forward to 2020 and what God will do through her.
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James Collins

James-Collins

I continue to be amazed at how God has been working in my life and ministry. This past year our church broke ground on a new Family Life center, my weekly newspaper column went into syndication, and two of my books were published. As with every year, my family continues to be a wonderful blessing. Daily I thank God for my wife and children. However, the greatest accomplishment in my life continues to be my relationship with the Jesus Christ. If He tarries, I look forward to seeing what the Lord is going to do in 2020.
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Mary C. Findley

Mary C. FindleyWon a Redemptive Fiction award for His Sign: The Wait Is Over

Published Mapped Out Murders, my first murder mystery, in April.

Published His Sign 2: The Ezra Solution, in September

Wrote 50,000 words for The Alexander Legacy Book Three, Beware the Bustle, (under my pen name, Sophronia Belle Lyon) in November. The word count now is just over 100,000 and I still hope to publish this by the end of the year. If not, in January.

Took Udemy courses on character drawing and HTML web design.

Began research and setup for serious audiobook and video soundtrack recording.

Produced cover designs for several authors, including an anthology called Beatitudes and Woes. This cover was noticed by publisher Steve Laube at a convention.

Had a couple of students I work with as a Special Ed Paraprofessional give me spontaneous hugs. They don’t hug just anybody.

 

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J. Carol Nemeth

Carol NemethThank you for your interest in my accomplishments in 2019. I wouldn’t have accomplished anything apart from God’s grace and mercy. He blessed me with publishing two books: Ocean of Fear, Faith in the Parks Book 3 and The Peaceful Valley Wounded Soldiers Anthology. I’ve also produced a book along with a narrator for Audible. Dedication to Love is under review by ACX. I’m simply waiting for the green light and it will go on sale. You can count that or not since it isn’t actually up for sale yet.

 

 

 

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Russell Sherrard

Russell Sherrard

I continued to administer Staci Stallings two blogs Grace and Faith 4 You http://graceandfaith4u.com/ and CrossReads http://crossreads.com/

About mid year CrossReads was merged into Grace and Faith 4 You so I now only administer Grace and Faith 4 You.

I continued to manage the CrossReads Newsletter.

I continue to manage the social media campaign on Twitter for Laura J. Marshall and Christian Book Finds https://christianbookfinds.com/latest-deals/

Several months ago Laura’s site was moved to a WordPress site which made it more robust with more features.

I still promote Author Support Services that does freelance jobs for fellow authors.

Something new this year, I started a Podcast, Ask the Author Podcast. This podcast conducts candid and insightful interviews with Christian Independent Authors.

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CrossReads Weekly Devotional: 10 Questions to Ask at the Beginning of the New Year 12/30/2019

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by Don Whitney

New Years Resolutions

Once, when the people of God had become careless in their relationship with Him, the Lord rebuked them through the Prophet Haggai. “Consider your ways!” (Haggai 1:5) he declared, urging them to reflect on some of the things happening to them, and to evaluate their slipshod spirituality in light of what God had told them.

Even those most faithful to God occasionally need to pause and think about the direction of their lives. It’s so easy to bump along from one busy week to another without ever stopping to ponder where we’re going and where we should be going.

The beginning of the new year is an ideal time to stop, look up, and get our bearings. To that end, here are some questions to ask prayerfully in the presence of God.

1. What one thing you could do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?

2. What’s the most humanly impossible thing you will ask God to do this year?

3. What’s the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your family life this year?

4. In which spiritual discipline do you most want to make progress this year, and what will you do about it?

5. What is the single biggest time-waster in your life, and what will you do about it this year?

6. What is the most helpful new way you could strengthen your church?

7. For whose salvation will you pray most fervently this year?

8. What’s the most important way you will, by God’s grace, try to make this year different from last year?

9. What one thing could you do to improve your prayer life this year?

10. What single thing that you plan to do this year will matter most in ten years? In eternity?

In addition to these ten questions, here are twenty-one more to help you “Consider your ways.” Suggestion: think on the entire list at one sitting, or answer one question each day for a month.

11. What’s the most important decision you need to make this year?

12. What area of your life most needs simplifying, and what’s one way you could simplify in that area?

13. What’s the most important need you feel burdened to meet this year?

14. What habit would you most like to establish this year?

15. Who is the person you most want to encourage this year?

16. What is your most important financial goal this year, and what is the most important step you can take toward achieving it?

17. What’s the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your work life this year?

18. What’s one new way you could be a blessing to your pastor (or to another who ministers to you) this year?

19. What’s one thing you could do this year to enrich the spiritual legacy you will leave to your children and grandchildren?

20 What book, in addition to the Bible, do you most want to read this year?

21. What one thing do you most regret about last year, and what will you do about it this year?

22. What single blessing from God do you want to seek most earnestly this year?

23. In what area of your life do you most need growth, and what will you do about it this year?

24. What’s the most important trip you want to take this year?

25. What skill do you most want to learn or improve this year?

26. To what need or ministry will you try to give an unprecedented amount this year?

27. What’s the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of the commute this year?

28, What one biblical doctrine do you most want to understand better this year, ans what will you do about it?

29. If those who know you best gave you one piece of advice, what would they say?

30. What’s the most important new item you want to buy this year?

31. In what area of your life do you most need change, and what will you do about it this year?

The value of many of these questions is not in their profundity, but in the simple fact that they bring an issue or commitment into focus. For example, just by articulating which person you most want to encourage this year is more likely to help you remember to encourage that person that if you hadn’t considered the question.

If you’ve found these questions helpful, you might want to put them someplace — in a day planner, calendar, bulletin board, etc. — where you can review them more frequently than once a year.

So let’s evaluate our lives, make plans and goals, and live this new year with biblical diligence, remembering that, “The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage” (Proverbs 21:5). But in all things let’s also remember our dependence on our King who said, “Apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:3).

Used by permission: copyright Don Whitney

Critical Issues Commentary

 

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