CrossReads Weekly Devotional: Joy to the World 12/6/2021

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by Precarious Yates

I adore the Christmas season so much! I love how the neighborhood fills up more and more with lights and decorations! This year, we are closing on our house in the middle of December, so I am not decorating the house the way I usually do. Most years, I start decorating November 1st, much to the chagrin of my darling husband. But I deeply enjoy the sights, sounds and joys of the season.

It has become so obvious over the years how the Lord, in His great mercy and kindness, allows people so much joy and blessing during this time regardless of whether they are righteous or not. It becomes so apparent after a while that the reason Christmas is so wonderful and joyous is because it celebrates the birth of the most wonderful and joyous Person ever.

Psalm 45:7 says of Jesus,
“you have loved righteousness and hated wickedness.
Therefore God, your God, has anointed you
with the oil of gladness beyond your companions!”

Other translations say “joy”. Jesus is the most joyful Person who ever lived, and celebrating His birth brings joy even to people who don’t believe in Him, even to people who refuse to believe in Him. This is a generosity that I cannot imagine!

At his birth, the angel said,

“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for ALL the people.” (Emphasis mine) Luke 2:10.
Those who hear rumors of joy stumble into Jesus during this time and discover the joy they longed for. Maybe by ones and twos. Maybe by dozens and hundreds. But broken and hurting humans find great and exceeding joy. This is good news indeed! And this is why I love Christmas!

Merry Christmas and may God bless you and your family!

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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Making an Impact 12/3/2021

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by Staci Stallings

Most of the time I try to write these posts well in advance and get them scheduled so I don’t accidentally miss getting them up OR the day doesn’t sneak up on me so I have to write them right quick before the post is supposed to be up.  This one hasn’t worked out like that, and I was kind of getting antsy with myself about it.  I was thinking along the lines of what books I have coming up that I could write about or post about. I was thinking about what book or books I wanted to put in front of you as “my readers” or thinking maybe I should post about the New Year or something inspirational to tie-in to a book that is set around the New Year. (See, you all think these posts just “happen,” but we on the other side of the keyboard do often put a lot of thought into just what we’re going to post.)

Suddenly this evening multiple pieces of disparate information started coming together, and I finally knew exactly what I wanted to say with this post.  This is important so pay attention.

The first piece happened before the second (haha, that’s funny! Of COURSE it did!), but I didn’t put the two together until the first piece showed back up in my Facebook newsfeed again later as two posts that got me thinking along this line.

That first piece is the sad one.  Carrie Fisher died today.

Now I know, you may not be a Star Wars fan. I get it.  But MY experience with Star Wars is this:  I was 7 years old when my uncle took me to see the very first Star Wars… in the theater!  Of course, now that’s not really a big deal, but back then, for a girl from a tiny little town who had probably seen a total of five movies in a theater in her life to that point, it was a BIG DEAL.

Also, (of course), Princess Leia was my hero!  Grab those blasters!  Shoot your way out!  Don’t let the guys push you around!  Be sassy and strong!  Take charge of your own story!  Be beautiful and brave! Stand up to evil even if you don’t know how this will ever work out!

In short, she was the definition of COOL to a 7-year-old girl.

Added to that, I went to see Star Wars as a 7-year-old with a brother I adored. He was 13 at the time, and Star Wars became a touchstone of our growing up together. We went to see The Empire Strikes Back and later Return of the Jedi when I was a senior in high school… back when there were no DVD’s to “watch it again.”  You watched it ONCE, and burned it as much as you could into the fabric of your soul during your viewing. We would get out of the movie and talk and talk and talk about it.

My brother also is no longer here with us, so there’s that.

Shortly after finding out about Ms. Fisher’s death, I happened to see this video someone posted on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/deltaprotective/videos/10157890106040640/ ). Now honestly I’ve never heard of this guy, Simon Sinek, but I see exactly what he’s talking about with many of my daughter’s friends. Millennials who grew up being helicopter-parented and who are now in college or just out—facing a life they do not feel prepared to deal with.

One of the points Mr. Sinek makes is that Millennials say they want to have an “impact” on the world when they go to work. Then they get jobs that are not inspiring and do not appear to have any impact. Thus, they become bored and uninspired, just going through the motions because they do not see how what they do is even worthwhile much less having an impact.

Now I’m going to add one more piece to this puzzle (and it’s about writing Christian Romance!). I’ve recently added a new series, The Grace Series, to my growing library of books written by me. In writing this series, I’ve ditched some of the conventional wisdom of writing Christian romance. Things like “only two points of view allowed”—the first book has three points of view, and the reader doesn’t even know who the actual heroine will be until about Chapter 3.  And other things like the length of a long novel is roughly 100,000 words.  The first book in the series, Mirror Mirror, clocked in at 240,000+ words!

None of this was really MY idea or plan. I simply wrote the story God was giving me, as unconventional as it ended up being.

So far I have gotten some very nice comments on the series such as:

“When Stallings writes, she writes to where it is no longer fiction but to where the people in her novel are real. When one reads this novel it brings to light that there are actual situations and people in the world who hurt this way, feel this way, and live this way and who really needs God’s authentic non-condemning love.

“Yes, the story is revolved around Sage and Luke, but once you continued to read you are longer just concerned about those two characters but about all that surround them. Your heart is drawn to reasons why certain characters act the way they act, and you long to see them helped.

“The way Stallings invites God into her writing gives the reader a chance to see the author. What she believes and what she has learned from God in the process of writing this novel. There’s a line in the novel that says, “We give from the overflow of what God’s doing in our lives.” I truly believe that is what Stallings does when she writes her books and novels, and I am grateful for her pouring out what God is pouring into her. We are filled only to be emptied.”

To put it simply, readers write reviews saying that my books have had an “impact” on their lives.

I will not presume to speak for Ms. Fisher, but I know for me early on in my career, I did not start out with the idea that one day I would have this kind of impact.  In fact, even when I started writing this particular story (Mirror, Mirror), I did not realize the impact it might have.  I just knew it was a story I was being called to write, and I wrote it the way God showed me to. Basically, I wrote as authentically real to the characters I was given as I could.

So to you out there (Millennials or not) who want to make an impact on the world, start with being authentically YOU.  Do what you love to do. Just like that little 7-year-old that Ms. Fisher never met nor even knew existed, impacts are often made not when you set out to make them but when you throw your heart over the bar and expect the rest of you to follow. That’s how you go about making an impact, but it starts by being willing to put forth the time and effort on the front end, going into projects not really knowing, doing your best, following what God shows you and asks you to do, and putting the results in His hands.

The more I do that, with the books and with life, the more impact my life has on those around me.

To all of you, may 2022 be the year God either uses your life to impact and inspire others or gets you ready to do so!  God bless you all on this amazing journey we call “life.”

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: Buy the Book 12/2/2021

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CrossReads Book Spotlight

CrossReads Book Spotlight

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by Janice Cole HopkinsBuy the Book

Grant Spencer figures the woman sent to set things right at the publishing house is Linwood’s spy, likely sent to set him up to fail and push him out. Grant might be forced to have her here since Linwood owns the controlling interest in the company, but he didn’t have to like it. However, he hadn’t expected her to be so young or attractive, but if she thinks that will cause him to change his mind about her, she can just think again.

Meredith Reed has agreed to do an old friend a favor and see if she could put a struggling publishing company in the black, but she hadn’t expected to be met with such resistance. Grant Spencer acts more like a fire-breathing dragon than the handsome man he is. However, she is determined to treat him as she should, no matter how he treats her. She’s determined to pull the company out of the red, regardless of him, even though she has only from October to February to do so.

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CrossReads Short Takes: I Am Not The King & How To Live The Christian Life Successfully…Victoriously 12/1/2021

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CrossReads Short Takes

I am Not The King

A Personal Testimony of Growth in Jesus Christ

by Allen TaylorI am Not The King

I Am Not the King is an intense spiritual memoir told in crisp, fresh language, a story full of dark moments that lead to a greater Light.

Through family dysfunction, a verbally abusive father, and religious legalism, the author enters adulthood angry, bitter, and confused. He oscillates between his self-imposed literary hermitage and bisexual escapades until an atheist college professor challenges him to think more deeply about the meaning of life. After a life-changing “upper room” experience, he spends the next twenty-eight years wrestling with God. I Am Not the King takes the reader on a wild journey involving broken relationships, workplace challenges, disappointments with other Christians, struggles with sin and temptation, and fear and doubt.

Allen Taylor shares with transparency and uncanny openness how he discovers he is not the king of his life. His story shows how anger and resentment turn to joy and peace in the arms of the real King.

More than a memoir, I Am Not the King includes discussion questions for group leaders after each chapter.

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How To Live The Christian Life Successfully…Victoriously

A Practical Guide On Christ-Centered Victorious Living

by Sheldon D. Newton

How To Live The Christian Life Successfully

A HANDBOOK ON EFFECTIVE CHRISTIAN LIVING

Becoming a spiritually mature and victorious Christian should to be the goal of every believer. And in this handbook on victorious Kingdom living, Dr. Sheldon D. Newton takes you by the hand and leads you step by step through the scriptures & into a closer walk with God. Those who love the Lord and who are hungry and thirsty to know Him more and fulfill His will for their lives will find great delight as they discover the principles which lead to a deeper walk with Christ.. Dr. Newton shares on Christian commitment, dedication and consecration to the will of the Father, without which you’ll never fully understand or live out the purpose of God for your life.

These principles for victorious, Christ-centered living are laid out in a very practical manner, giving you the keys you need to grow in your walk with the Lord and develop in the fruit of the Spirit. Never again will living for Christ seem to be too hard to understand or apply, but you will know exactly what He requires of you and how to walk with Him. You will experience a deeper and closer relationship with Him and live a more fulfilling and satisfying life as a believer.

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The Greatest One of All 11/30/2021

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by Suzanne D. Williams

“And there on His robe and on His thigh was written His name: King of kings and Lord of lords.” (Rev 19:16 VOICE)

The nation wanted a god, so it created one. After seeing the signs and wonders of Egypt, knowing how God had spared them from death, after crossing the Red Sea on dry land and watching the destruction of the Egyptian army in its waters, after eating manna from heaven, provided daily at God’s hand, the Israelites pleaded with Aaron for gods to worship, and he complied. (Ex 32:1)

The nation wanted a king, so they begged for one. Discontented with the simple government of God, they desired a man to lead them instead. A throne. A scepter. A judge. The prophet Samuel spoke a warning against it, detailing the bondage that would follow. But uncaring, they insisted, so God anointed Saul. (1Sa 8:5)

The people wanted a prophet, a deliverer, and they pictured Him riding in surrounded by an army, able to fully defeat Rome with sword and spear. Unaware that Salvation had arrived in the birth of a child, conceived by God, born to a virgin, raised by a couple walking by faith.

He spread life, but they overlooked Him, discounted Him, crucified Him. Buried Him.

Then, after He’d been resurrected from the dead and had gone to be with the Father, they denied the event had happened. (1Co 15:12-14)

Oh, a handful of believers continued to spread the Truth, but hundreds, thousands of years later, it’d largely become folklore. “Who are these fools that call themselves ‘Christians’?” The Bible is outdated, outmoded, intolerant, out-of-sync.

The people want heroes, so they fashion them. Godlike men who defy scientific laws and redefine what it means to be “right” and “good.” Man-made creations, who sweep into impossible situations and overthrow handcrafted oppression. Books are written about them. Epic movies filmed.

When the Greatest One of All has lived and loved and served and healed and, in His death, defeated the enemy, the devil, for good. When God has given Him a name above all names, and He’s given those, who choose to follow Him, the right to use it. When this God who became Man, who became Son, who became Master is all they’d ever need. (Php 2:9)

“He was in the world, and the world was made by Him,” but the world doesn’t recognize Him.

He came to deliver them, but they look away. (Jn 1:10-11)

He “was made flesh, and dwelt among us … full of grace and truth.” (Jn 1:14) 

A humble Man, but not a weak man. A Man of wisdom and power and influence. A Man of kindness, gentleness, and forgiveness. A loving Man, the first-begotten of many. Filled with the Holy Spirit. Clothed in power.

Eternal. Savior. Messiah. King.

Cowboys and Billionaires

Cowboys, Billionaires, and other Christmas Fantasies 

Amazon – https://amzn.to/2ny4rYa  

Other Retailers – https://books2read.com/u/49N8JW

No matter the season, there’s space in the heart for these 4 exclusive Christmas romances. A cowboy finds home again, a married couple rediscovers the meaning of the holiday, a reclusive billionaire opens his heart to love, and a pair of antagonistic co-workers learn what it means to be royalty.

This set includes a double cross-over, tying the Billionaire Boys Club series to the Best-Dressed series. Only available in this compilation!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Suzanne D. WilliamsBest-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 devotionals and instructional articles for various blogs. She also does graphic design for self-publishing authors. She is co-founder of THE EDGE.

www.feelgoodromance.com 

www.suzannedwilliams.com 

Facebook – suzannedwilliamsauthor 

Twitter – @SDWAuthor. 

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CrossReads Weekly Devotional: Verse of the Day and Devotional 11/29/2021

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Verse of the Day

November 29, 2021

Scripture

Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! – Zephaniah 3:14 ESV

Devotion

I fell in love with a messenger. What can I say, I am happily married, but there is something about the way this messenger spoke that made my heart flutter—such clarity in the words, such mystery, while at the same time, so confidently precise. The message made me realize I didn’t quit understand love nor the completeness of it. Love is deeper than I could imagine.

The message came from heaven and spoke of love, redemption, special preparations, and they were all encapsulated in love.

The messenger said it was a message of love for the lost and hurting, widowed and orphaned, poor and wealthy. He said it was for all people and even included the marginalized from the society. I pondered what kind of love has its eyes so wide open that it makes it blind?

As I heard the message, I secretly wondered if this great love actually included me. Could I possibly be loved like this? A love from someone so great, they were willing to give it all. I have felt love by others, certainly in my marriage, but this love was different! This love was genuine and pure! It was so free from corruption and manipulation! I soon began to realize this love can only be experienced from a recipient’s position, meaning, I wasn’t capable of giving such a love. I understand my love has motives and conditions, but this love… this love!

This love can only come from one who is pure, spotless and free of sin. This pureness allowed the messenger to look at me and make it clear this love was, in fact, for me! Still, I was uncertain someone could love me like this. My only certainty was how confident I was that I didn’t deserve to have it. Yet, the messenger assured me it was true.

I asked the messenger how he could be so sure the message could be true for me. It was then I realized the messenger of the message was also the author of the message. That makes the Messenger the message!

As the Author of this Message, He has the authority to declare to whom the Message is for. It is for you and it is for me. Believe the God of the universe loves you. May your heart become overwhelmed in response to who and what He has done for you. Be in awe of and respond appropriately to the love of Christ for you. Be in awe of and respond appropriately to the love of Christ for you.

Consider Zephaniah 3:14: “Sing aloud, O daughter of shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem!”

How will your heart respond to the love described by the Messenger? I, like Zephaniah’s letter, will choose to rejoice and exult with all of my heart. Celebrate the love you have been gifted to receive. Celebrate that the message became the Messenger and has joined your heart for today and beyond.

By Pastor Leroy Childress, Bible League International partner, Illinois, U.S.

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Love as a Verb 11/26/2021

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by Staci Stallings

One of my most popular series is called The Courage Series (To Protect & Serve, White Knight, and For Real). The Courage Series revolves around a firefighter who becomes kind of the center-pin for a whole group of friends.  In the course of the three novels, the characters again and again face situations that call for great courage.

However, many times when we think of courage, we tend to think of dangerous situations–fires, wrecks, etc.  There are certainly enough of those portrayed in the three books, but I think by the third one (For Real) we begin to see a different kind of courage called for–the courage to love with your whole heart, to be “all in” with someone and to love no matter what.

That’s a tough one because most of us have learned the art of loving when it’s convenient, when it’s easy.  We have friends who seem great until we need something, and then they disappear.  “Fair-weather” friends.  But this series really points out that real friends aren’t just there when things are good.  Real friends are there particularly when things get rough.

When life keeps throwing curveballs meant to take you out, that’s when you need friends the most–and when you, as a friend, need to be there for others the most.  This is really hard, and it requires having a verb kind of love, not just a noun kind of love.

See, the noun kind of love is all hearts and flowers and champagne.  It’s going out to party together, celebrating, having fun.  But the verb kind of love is the part that happens after the end of the movie.  The part you have to step into when he loses his job or she loses her health.

It’s the part that society doesn’t like to focus on–the being there for someone when the chips are down and they have been stomped on by this thing called life.  It’s showing up when someone close to them has died and being willing to be there, with them, through the trials and the tears, through the heartache and the healing.  That’s the verb kind of love, and it takes immense courage.

It’s the kind of courage that The Courage Series is ultimately about.  Having the courage to live love, to be love, to give love–when it’s easy, and when doing so might just tear your heart right out.

I think the challenge of this series is first to show the reader what the verb kind of love is, what it looks like with this set of friends, and then it challenges you to live the verb kind of love.  The question is:  Do you have the courage that will take?

What Courage Looks Like

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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 Apostate Church Will Soon Be Here

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CrossReads Book Spotlight

CrossReads Book Spotlight

The Apostate Church Will Soon Be Here

by James Thomas Lee Jr

The Apostate Church Will Soon Be Here

The main purpose of this text is to explain how this world has become an apostate world during the past one hundred years and how the local church is now becoming the apostate church. There are four parts to show how all of this has been happening. Part I starts with Satan’s rebellion against the Lord in heaven. It follows his path to the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve. It shows his demonic activity with Cain, the wicked generation that led to the Great Flood, the Tower of Babel, and the cross at Calvary. After that, it shows how he tried to destroy the local church from without by persecution. In Part II and over the last one hundred years, the devil has continued trying to destroy the local church. It started with the development of unproved science theories like the Big Bang theory and the Theory of Evolution. It continued by removing everything that is biblical from the Public School System.

So the addition of the one and the removal of the other has had an overall negative effect on the world and the church. All of this is believed to be leading to the apostate church that will be in the world during the Tribulation. Part III of this text tackles the reverse side of that problem. It looks at four arguments that prove that some kind of deity exists. Then before concluding that part, it shows that that deity must be the God of the Bible. The Christian evidence for the Lord that is given in this text is convincing. Proof of that is the number of people who have believed through the years. Finally, Part IV will bring together everything from the first three parts and show how the church has already started to become the apostate church. The final chapter of this text will provide recommendations for what Christians should do during these times. The Church always has had to battle against the forces of this world. Therefore, what is happening now is really no different.

In reading this text, one might notice that some Facts and Observations are shown along the way in tables. In all, there are one hundred and twenty-five Facts and Observations listed in fifty-one tables. They have been included because they are a convenient way to track the conclusions that are being drawn in the discussions. Another thing that has been included is figures that show the different passages being referenced when and where they are being referenced. That way, the reader will not have to jump all over the place or get into or out of the scriptures to locate a particular reference. Hopefully that inclusion will also help the reader stay involved in the various discussions without having to look up references elsewhere. Finally, everything that has been done and said for this text is to bring honor and glory to the Lord. That has been the purpose of every book written by this author.

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CrossReads Short Takes: Two Flowers & Encouragement Exhortation and Miracles

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CrossReads Short Takes

Two Flowers

by Robin Cocks

Two Flowers

A boy brings joy to his grandmother by sharing his faith.

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Encouragement Exhortation and Miracles

30-Day Devotional

by Linda K. Rodante

Encouragement Exhortation and Miracles

Take thirty days to be encouraged in the goodness of God.

Taking real miracles that happened in the author’s mother’s life (and in her own), Linda Rodante offers a small book that will encourage and challenge and renew your faith. God still does miracles. Daily. He answers prayer. Daily. And he—daily—wants us to visit with him. Why? Because he loves us!

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Book Spotlight: The Butler’s Daughter: A Story of Black Gotham

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by Parker J. Cole

The Butlers Daughter

Sebro Devereaux makes no apologies for her life as a courtesan. Known for her beauty, wit, and charm, she has carved a liberating and wealthy path for herself as mistress to some of the most powerful and elite men in the city. If she is burdened by memories of a painful past, no one knows it but her.

When she encounters a mysterious, injured man with a spotty memory, she invites him into her home as he heals from his wounds and soon, he offers his strength as her protector.

Jupiter Terhune can’t remember how he wound up bleeding on the steps of his new employer, but he knows he has always been in love with her from afar. Yet, his mind doesn’t have all the pieces and flashes of some hidden terror and an urgent sense of time running out are interwoven through his murky recollections.

When secrets from her past threaten her livelihood and independence, Sebro finds herself clinging to Jupiter in an effort to find solace in the turbulent storms of her life. As he begins to remember the events that led him to her doorstep, Jupiter realizes that Sebro is in great danger… from himself.

Available as a Pre-Order

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