Gems From Pastor Jim 4/23/2024

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by Jim Hughes

Narrated by Artificial Intelligence – Andrew,

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CrossPs. 115:1 Not to us, O LORD, but to you goes all the glory for your unfailing love and faithfulness.

We are not as careful as we should be about accepting the praise and adoration of others. We like the attention and sometimes let it go to our heads. We get the idea that we deserve it. We accept praise because of our hard work and talents. We somehow get the idea we are worthy of the attention lavished on us. We soak it up and before you know it, we become arrogant and proud of who we are and what we have done.

We are sinners by nature and it is the natural thing for us to do. It takes determination and a right relationship with God for us to resist the temptation. We must constantly be reminded of the fact that only God deserves the praise, honor, and glory others try to bestow on us. We dare not forget that who we are and what we become is all because of God’s mercy and grace. It is God who enables us to become who we are. God alone deserves the credit.

If our heart is right with God, we will want to give him the glory for all things. We will understand that it is because of Gods’ unfailing love and faithfulness towards us that we are who we are. We will understand that we deserve nothing from God but His wrath, but instead He has given us His mercy and favor.

If our heart is right with God, we will be careful to not hoard the praise of others. Instead, we will give it to the Lord who alone deserves it. We will not take ourselves seriously. We will always understand who we are before Him. We will always strive to please and honor Him in all things. We will understand that whatever we may be able to become or achieve is because of God’s gracious work in us. And, we will understand that all of it can be taken away from us in a moment if we let sin creep in and take away from the Lord the glory due his holy name.

About the Author:

 

Jim HughesSpending 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 Weekly Devotional: Faith’s Checkbook: Power to Raise 4/22/2024

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by C. H. Spurgeon,

Narrated by Artificial Inteligence, Andrew,

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The Lord openeth the eyes of the blind: the Lord raiseth them that are bowed down. (Psalm l46:8),

Am I bowed down? Then let me urge this word of grace before the Lord. It is His way, His custom, His promise, His delight, to raise up them that are bowed down. Is it a sense of sin and a consequent depression of spirit which distresses me? Then the work of Jesus is, in this case, made and provided to raise me up into rest. O Lord, raise me, for Thy mercy’s sake!

Is it a sad bereavement or a great fall in circumstances? Here again the Comforter has undertaken to console. What a mercy for us that one Person of the sacred Trinity should become the Comforter! This work will be well done since such a glorious One has made it His peculiar care.

Some are so bowed down that only Jesus can loose them from their infirmity, but He can, and He will, do it. He can raise us up to health, to hope, to happiness. He has often done so under former trials, and He is the same Savior and will repeat His deeds of lovingkindness. We who are today bowed down and sorrowful shalt yet be set on high, and those who now mock at us shall be greatly ashamed. What an honor to be raised up by the Lord! It is worthwhile to be bowed down that we may experience His upraising power.

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A Story Seven Years in the Making 4/19/2024

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by Staci Stallings

Narrated by Artificial Intelligence – Kayla

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In retrospect, maybe I shouldn’t have named the book “A Work in Progress.”  Maybe that was my first clue of how long this particular book would take to write.

The planting of the seed happened over a message board many years ago.  Remember message boards?  Long before Facebook, you posted something on them, then other people responded, and you had a nice little conversation about a certain topic.  Well, I started posting about this show that I really liked on TV at the time. Another young lady was posting as well, and we got into this big (but good-natured) argument about which guy on the show was our favorite.

She liked one of the guys that I would never in a million years have ever thought about dating. In the midst of this conversation, I wrote two different books featuring the guy I liked from the show.  Then she emailed one day (after the message boards had shut down and we had remained friends despite our different tastes in guys) and said she thought I should write one about the guy she liked.

That sparked a long conversation with myself about why anyone would like this guy.  Strangely, the more I asked the question, the more I realized how much he had to offer the right girl.  I realized there were things about him that no one probably knew because although part of him was the comedy guy often claiming the center of attention, there was a lot about the other sides of who he really was that got looked over and even sometimes trampled upon.

So I started this story “A Work in Progress” about Rebecca Avery, a college student who would never be one of the popular kids.  She watches them, envies them, and hates them.  Then one day she literally runs into Eric Barnett in one of the all-time classic scenes I have ever been given the honor of writing.  In fact, one of my problems over the seven years it took to write this one was that each time I pulled it up, I thought I just had to start reading it from the beginning to know where I was again.

I read that first scene countless times and it never got old.  Each time I read through it, I would think, “Wow, this is really, really good.  Why haven’t I finished this yet?”  Then I would get to the last page I had written and start writing more.  Five pages, ten, sometimes even 20 or 30.  But time and again, I got stopped either by life or by being like that dog on “Up” going, “Squirrel!” before chasing off in another direction after another great story idea.

The pieces of this one came VERY slowly, but I’m so glad they did.  Here’s why.  When I started this book, I was one person.  By the time  I finished it, I had literally become someone very different.  I started it wanting to be this successful, bestselling author.  I read every book on marketing and did my level best to become the success I thought God required me to be.  (“Performance Christians, please raise your hands!”  I would’ve had to raise both of mine.)

However, somewhere between 31-years-old and 38-years-old, God–the real God–finally got a hold of my life and showed me that it wasn’t about my performance.  It wasn’t about anything I had ever done or could ever do.  My worth was set by Him.  Period.  As a child of the God of the Universe, I was already a success.  I didn’t have to prove anything to anybody.  I could be me and not apology or rationalize or justify that to anyone.  And, oh, the freedom and relief that flowed from finally understanding that!

Strangely enough, that’s exactly what Rebecca learns in the book.  She finally realizes that life is less about gaining friends to be popular and more about letting people into your soft spots.  Yes, sometimes that hurts.  Sometimes it hurts really, really badly.  But that’s the only way to really live.  It’s the only way to truly be friends.  Otherwise, you’re just acquaintances who just happen to know one another’s phone number, address, and favorite food.

As for Eric, I finally did learn to have almost as much admiration for him as my friend did.  She was right–he is a very cool guy when you give him a chance.

Oh, and you’ll be glad to know that the second and third books in The Faith Series didn’t take nearly so long to write as this one.  In fact, they were finished within nine months of “A Work in Progress” being finished.  It was like seven years of learning all came pouring out of me.  Lessons about how to be a friend and how to let yourself be open enough to let others in.  Lessons about not judging others for their denomination and looking instead at their hearts.  Lessons about being true to yourself and standing in the gap for one another.

Those seven years turned out to be worth every second they took to get here.  The truth is, I’m still “A Work in Progress” as I think we all are.  The more we remember that and stop trying to be perfect–and stop requiring each other to be perfect–the more wonderful life gets because it’s only then that we actually learn to live rather than breaking our necks trying to impress everyone else who are breaking their own necks trying to impress us!

A Work in Progress

About the Author:

Staci StallingsA stay-at-home mom with a husband, three kids and a writing addiction on the side, Staci Stallings has numerous titles for readers to choose from. Not content to stay in one genre and write it to death, Staci’s stories run the gamut from young adult to adult, from motivational and inspirational to full-out Christian and back again. Every title is a new adventure! That’s what keeps Staci writing and you reading. Although she lives in Amarillo, Texas and her main career right now is her family, Staci touches the lives of people across the globe with her various Internet and writing endeavors.

 

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CrossReads Book Spotlight: The Lost City of Light 4/18/2024

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CrossReads Book Spotlight

CrossReads Book Spotlight

The Lost City of Light

(The Noland Kids Adventure Series Book 2)

by Mike Curtis

The Lost City of Light

A lost city. An ancient legend. And a mysterious kidnapping.

Join the Noland kids in this intense, page-turning, Hardy Boys meets Indiana Jones, faith-based mystery/adventure.

The parents of twelve-year-old Lens Kabambi have gone missing in their search for a lost city. The Noland kids, Caleb, David, and Lizzy, now eight years older since their last adventure, suspend their missions trip in the Congo to help find them. After discovering clues in his parents’ study, Lens and the Nolands go on a search through the mountains of the Congo. But dangers lurk around every corner and the quest seems doomed from the start.

With incredible odds stacked against them and an unexpected enemy endangering their search, the Noland kids must uncover the dusty clues to this ancient city and discover its long-lost light in order to rescue Lens’ parents… and themselves!

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CrossReads Short Takes: Silver Rain & Priscilla 4/17/2024

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CrossReads Short Takes

Silver Rain

A Young Adult Contemporary Christian Romance

by Staci Stallings

Silver Rain

Leigh Chandler’s life has been turned upside down. Her father’s unexpected death and her mother’s spiral into a dark depression left her with few options that weren’t filled with sorrow, fear, and grief. No longer wanting the burden of her daughter, Leigh’s mother sends her all the way across the country to live with her aunt. No sooner has she arrived in California than she finds herself following a cousin she hardly knows to college in Texas. Can life get anymore complicated? Leigh is about to find out.

A stand-alone Contemporary Christian Romance novel, Silver Rain takes readers on a journey of self-discovery, loss, and healing. One young woman’s journey teaches that life sometimes has a strange way of working out for the good even in the midst of overwhelming pain and sorrow. It’s a journey you won’t soon forget.

 

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Priscilla
Runaway Brides Of The West
Book 4
by Paulette D. Marshall
Priscilla
After Priscilla’s father passed away, her brother decided to arrange her marriage for her. He informs her of the upcoming wedding. Priscilla is not happy with her brother’s choice of husband. She tries to go through with the wedding. She makes it down the aisle but the next thing she knows is that she is running. Why did she run? Will Curtis let her go? Where will she go? How will she live? Will Curtis follow her and try to get her back? Will she find happiness or despair?
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Faith’s Checkbook:Enemies at Peace 4/16/2024

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Faith's Checkbook

by C. H. Spurgeon

Narrated by Artificial Intelligence

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When a man’s ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him. (Proverbs 16:7)

I must see that my ways please the Lord. Even then I shall have enemies; and, perhaps, all the more certainly because I endeavor to do that which is right. But what a promise this is! The Lord will make the wrath of man to praise Him and abate it so that it shall not distress me.

He can constrain an enemy to desist from harming me, even though he has a mind to do so. This He did with Laban, who pursued Jacob but did not dare to touch him. Or He can subdue the wrath of the enemy and make him friendly, as He did with Esau, who met Jacob in a brotherly manner, though Jacob had dreaded that he would smite him and his family with the sword. The Lord can also convert a furious adversary into a brother in Christ and a fellow worker, as He did with Saul of Tarsus. Oh, that He would do this in every case where a persecuting spirit appears!

Happy is the man whose enemies are made to be to him what the lions were to Daniel in the den, quiet and companionable! When I meet death, who is called the last enemy, I pray that I may be at peace. Only let my great care be to please the Lord in all things. Oh, for faith and holiness; for these are a pleasure unto the Most High!

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CrossReads Devotional: Gems From Pastor Jim 4/15/2024

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by Jim Hughes

Narrated by Artificial Intelligence – Andrew

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CrossPs. 111:2,3 How amazing are the deeds of the LORD! All who delight in him should ponder them. Everything he does reveals his glory and majesty. His righteousness never fails.

Have you stopped lately to consider what the Lord has done in your life, in the world? I often read the Old Testament and it is full of God’s dealings with man. We discover there many things about God as He contends with sinful man. We discover how merciful God is with a people who continuously reject Him. We discover how God always gives man a way out of his sinfulness. We discover how unbelievably patient God is and the depth of His love for a wayward people. It is amazing when you stop to think about how a holy God could be so gracious, forgiving, kind and loving to a people who just don’t seem to care much about Him.

When we stop and look at our own lives, we discover much of the same things going on. We now have the help of Christ to keep us right with God, but we often struggle to live the life we profess to have. God’s expectations for us are the same; He commands us to be a holy people. He has given us Jesus and the Holy Spirit to help make us holy. We, just like those who have gone before us, struggle with holy living. Yet, God never abandons us because we struggle. He constantly is at work in our lives to help us. He guides us, teaches us, convicts us, and empowers us. We are loved by God beyond our ability to comprehend.

Everything the Lord does is a display of His glory and majesty. He is incomparable. His glory and majesty fill the heavens and the earth. He made all that is and sustains it. We who take delight in His presence are His crowning glory and majesty. Everything He does in and through us are a testimony of how great our God is.

His righteousness never fails. His righteousness is sufficient! When we live in Christ, our righteousness, we lack nothing. We are all we need to be to make it to heaven. In Christ alone we are made acceptable to God. There is nothing we can do to make ourselves more fit for heaven. All who live in Christ will be in heaven some day. We cannot add to or take away from what Jesus did for us at Calvary.

About the Author:

 

Jim HughesSpending 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.

Inspirational Image of the Day

 

Monday30

========================================
This site contains Third Party Advertising, using online behavioral tracking technology. Some of the links in the post above are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we believe will add value to our readers.
========================================
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Musings on the Characters in Cowboy 4/12/2024

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by Staci Stallings

Narrated by Artificial Intelligence

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Having lived with the characters in Cowboy for many years now, it fascinates me how much they still teach me and others who read the book and want to talk about it with me.

Ashton Raines is the hero, and I think he kind of epitomizes where we all *think* we want to be–on top, successful, adored by many, hated by none.  He’s got the world at his feet.  As the reigning King of Country Music, Ashton appears to have everything he’s ever wanted and most of what everybody else dreams of having.

But the thing is it becomes obvious very quickly that Ashton is anything but happy.  In fact, there’s a large part of him that really hates his life and what he’s become.  Not because he’s become someone bad, but somewhere along the way on the road to super stardom, he lost himself.

Whether we’re a superstar or not, I think many of us can relate to waking up one day, looking in the mirror and having no idea how we got here.  It’s like we pursue life and our dreams, and then one day we’re living this life we don’t even recognize.  Maybe we’ve got kids and a husband or we’re in a job we always thought we wanted, and we look around and it’s weird because we don’t even really recognize who we are anymore.

In the story, Ashton uses his fame to hide from his pain.  At least that was the idea.  His wife has died of cancer, and it nearly ripped him apart.  His plan to escape the pain is to pour himself into a whirlwind tour.  The problem is pain isn’t healed by escaping it, and the faster he runs, the more miserable he gets until one night, he simply can’t take it anymore.  After a concert, his manager comes up with a brilliant idea to help Ashton forget, and it snaps Ashton’s will to keep up the charade of the tour.  He gets in a rented car and drives, not knowing or caring if he’ll ever come back.

Beth McCasland is the sweetest spirit you would ever want to meet.  She’s seen her share of heartache when her husband passed away in a terrible accident.  Now she’s left to raise her young daughter alone, and she shoulders that burden with grace and dignity.

The thing I like most about Beth is she is so simple.  She sees someone hurting, and she’s determined to help.  Maybe she can only offer a meal and an ear to listen, but she is willing to do that.  The thing that breaks my heart about Beth is I think true of a lot of us who care.  When we go all-in to help someone, keeping a “safe distance” for our heart’s sake doesn’t always work.  And it’s so hard to really care and not get emotionally involved, especially if that person is someone we genuinely connect with on a deep level.

How do you care and let go, and care and let go, and care and let go?  It’s like getting your heart smashed over and over again, but what’s the other option?  Not caring?

I think the depth of her love is really a reflection of how God is with us.  He’s always standing there with open arms, willing to take us in and comfort us and be there for us, and somehow, He loves us enough to let us go again with no real guarantee that we’ll come back.  It’s such an incredibly vulnerable place to be.  For me, that was one of the hardest things about watching Beth go through the things that happen in the story, watching her suffer because of her great love.

I’ve had people describe Cowboy as Cinderella in reverse, which is rather interesting to me because in one sense, Ashton is the Prince on the white… okay, tour bus.  But many readers have said they really felt Beth is the one to rescue him from the pit, which is also true.  I don’t know. Maybe sometimes in a relationship we’re equal parts the one saving and the one being saved.  I certainly think that’s true of this story.

The truth is I love these two characters.  They’re like old friends now, and I love this story.  Every time I read it, it makes me want to fall in love all over again!

Cowboy

About the Author:

Staci StallingsA stay-at-home mom with a husband, three kids and a writing addiction on the side, Staci Stallings has numerous titles for readers to choose from. Not content to stay in one genre and write it to death, Staci’s stories run the gamut from young adult to adult, from motivational and inspirational to full-out Christian and back again. Every title is a new adventure! That’s what keeps Staci writing and you reading. Although she lives in Amarillo, Texas and her main career right now is her family, Staci touches the lives of people across the globe with her various Internet and writing endeavors.

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CrossReads Book Spotlight: Zoe 4/11/2024

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CrossReads Book Spotlight

Zoe

Prairie Roses Collection Book 36

by Janice Cole Hopkins

Zoe

Mrs. Barkley talked Zoe into traveling the Santa Fe Trail to tutor her children, but Zoe had no idea it would be such an adventure, that a handsome Army officer would provide an escort, or that she would take an instant dislike to him. However, between apologies, new friends, teaching, kidnappings, Indians, and Santa Fe itself, there’s plenty of excitement.

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CrossReads Short Takes: Scott and Jo vs. The Pirates! & The Bride Wore Coveralls 4/10/2024

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CrossReads Short Takes

Scott and Jo vs. The Pirates!

(My Cousin the Atheist Book 1)

by Jeri Massi

Scott and Jo vs. The Pirates!

Jo Nicholas is ready for a great summer: new baby sister, new bicycle, and new adventures now that she is in junior high school. And then her cousin Scott arrives. He loves electronics, math, and science. Jo suspects that he just might be a robot. But when he announces that he is atheist, he gets everybody’s attention!

Meanwhile, information from her father’s research company is disappearing. Scott launches his own investigation, and Jo comes right behind him. The two of them form an explosive team as they confront an international team of tech pirates!

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The Bride Wore Coveralls

(Racing Book 1)

by Debra Ullrick

The Bride Wore Coveralls

A Clean Contemporary Christian Romance
Can bitter rivals come to love each other? Fighting deep prejudice against her femininity, her choice of vehicle, and even her heritage, Camara Cole is determined to win the mud-bog racing championship this year. Her biggest competition seems also to be her worst enemy. Chase Lamar has been racing mud-boggers as long as Camara, and he grudgingly admits she’s the best driver-mechanic he knows. Their rivalry has been long and bitter. But Chase is a new Christian. As he begins to change, he finds his relationship with Camara changing, too. When Camara’s vehicle is sabatoged, she naturally blames Chase, despite a growing attraction. Chase must prove his innocence, but evidence points his way. When the smoke clears and the truth is known, will each be able to extend forgiveness, maybe even love?

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