Archives for February 2013

Dirty Dishes

Dirty Dishes

Dirty Dishes

By Laura J. Marshall

 mom

 

My hands are wrinkled and dry.  I liberally smooth on the coconut lotion.  Pink elbow length gloves gracefully dangle against the edge of the sink.  I purposely forget to use them in favor of the feel of the hot sudsy water as I grasp each cup and dish.

I wash, add soap, wash some more, feel the smooth clean surface, and rinse.

The dishwasher is broken again.  We’ve gone through numerous ones in the past eight years.  With five boys, that’s to be expected.

They’re growing and changing.

Coming and going.

I add more hand cream.  The last of the soap bubbles pop and I look at the drying rack.

Our dishes.  So many days, years, moments shared over the mismatched plates and plastic cups.

Birthday dinners,

Graduation celebrations,

Special desserts,

Favorite meals,

Homemade root beer,

Loaves of bread,

Grandma’s noodles.

I add more hand cream, the coconut scent wafting on the air and marking this day.

Thank you, God, for dirty dishes.

 

 Marshall & Hitz free books

 Free book links…

A Life of Gratitude:  21 Days to Overcoming Self-Pity and Negativity by Shelley Hitz http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00A8NH6R4

 

A Mom’s Battle Cry for Rest:  Battle Cry for Rest Devotional Series by Laura J. Marshall

http://amzn.com/B00BI2HMDM

 

Find out more about the authors at:  www.LauraJMarshall.com and www.ShelleyHitz.com

 

Christian YA Romance: A Tale of Two Abes

Christian YA Romance: A Tale of Two Abes

by: Cheryl Rogers

Few are revered as much as Abraham Lincoln. His body went to 11 cities on its way to burial in Springfield. His body moved 17 times before it finally was buried under several layers of concrete. Even now, 148 years after his death, he is frequently the topic of movies and books.

Have you ever wondered what he would think about all this? As we celebrate Presidents’ Day, and remember his 204th birthday Feb. 12, we can muse a bit about that.

A short ebook, Together Again, gives our 16th president the platform. In the ebook, Lincoln — affectionately known as Honest Abe — is pretty clear: He doesn’t want to be given credit for what God did.

“ ‘It’s not like I singlehandedly put the nation back together again. I wasn’t even there anymore! I died!’ ” exclaims Lincoln, who was fatally shot on Good Friday, 1865. He died the next day.

The plot of Together Again revolves around a strange dream in which Lincoln is talking to God. Ever the statesman, Lincoln convinces God to have someone write an ebook for this generation with stories about how things really were.

A 17-year-old soon-to-be college history major, also named Abe, has the dream. When he starts school, and is assigned a term paper on an important American historical figure, he’s convinced God is calling him!

The modern Abe embarks on a study of Lincoln’s life only to discover he has more in common with Lincoln that his first name. Lincoln also had a girlfriend named Ann — he lost her to typhoid and went on to wed Mary Todd. The modern Abe had decided to ditch his girl because he’d probably marry her too early.

Together Again packs a power message about superheroes for this generation of teens,” says author Cheryl Rogers, the publisher of New Christian Books Online Magazine. “Readers learn to cherish love, but that no one should ever be a wedge between God and man.”

A former newspaper reporter, Rogers writes fiction and nonfiction for all ages to share her faith. This is her first Christian young adult romance, as well as her first story for history buffs. In honor Presidents’ Day, it’s free for a limited time at Smashwords using the coupon code XK93X. It also is available at Amazon, the New Christian Books Online Store and other online retailers for 99 cents or less.

Rogers recently launched the Bible Camp Mystery series for young adults featuring a group of 10- to 16-year-old campers who head for adventure in the Florida backwoods. The first in the series, Lost in the Woods: A Bible Camp Mystery, involves the disappearance of 13-year-old Zack in the middle of the night. Readers learn the biblical path to salvation as well as the importance of obedience and prayer.

She plans to release a workbook edition of her short story collection, Just Like Jonah Wail Tales, later this month. Just Like Jonah Wail Tales Workbook is aimed at those who teach biblical principles to 10- to 14-year-olds – that includes parents and grandparents, Sunday school teachers, youth group and Bible Club leaders. The workbook include eight short stories, two more than the original collection, plus discussion questions and related Scriptures.

******************

Cheryl Rogers publishes the New Christian Book Online Magazine, which publicizes kingdom building books with book announcements and excerpts. She writes fiction and nonfiction for all ages to share her faith.

Tales of the Kings — Jehoshaphat

Tales of the Kings — Jehoshaphat

Now I know that the Lord saves his anointed; he answers him from his holy heaven with the saving power of his right hand. Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm.

(Psalm 20:6-8 NIV)

Bible Reading: 2 Chronicles 17:1 – 20:37

Someone once said that the definition of insanity is when you repeat the same behaviors over and over again, each time expecting different results. Many of us do that. We continue the way we always have and hope that someday we will hit the mother load of fulfillment and happiness and joy. Maybe it’s time we stop repeating ourselves but instead learn from our past and change our behavior.

George Santayana was right when he said, “Those who can’t remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” To repeat the past is insanity when we desperately need different results. For that reason we have plunged into this mini-series — “The Tales of the Kings.”

God had a mission for the tiny nation of Judah, that they should be a beacon of light in the darkness, that they should point the way to a savior to all the peoples around them. God has given us the same mission, that we might learn from their successes and failures?

Today Life lessons are from King Jehoshaphat. “The Lord was with Jehoshaphat because in his early years he walked in the ways his father David had followed” (2 Chronicles 17:3 NIV).

Lesson Number One – Start strong

This is especially a lesson for young people. Get a solid start. Dive into life with a plan and go for that plan with your whole heart. Remember that direction trumps intention. It doesn’t matter how big your dream is if you don’t spend every day moving toward it. Without vision, the people perish. When you are young ask God for his dream for your life and then begin to take steps every day that will move you toward that dream.

Remember that there is a difference between having a dream and being a dreamer. The difference is “action.” Don’t forget – Direction trumps intention.

Lesson Number Two – Even if you follow the Lord you may screw up.

I’m so happy there is a lesson number two. How many times have we messed up only to have an enemy whisper in our ear that we are no longer worthy or loved.

It turns out that this king is no different. “Now Jehoshaphat had great wealth and honor, and he allied himself with Ahab by marriage” (2 Chronicles 18:1-2 NIV). Can you believe it? King Jehoshaphat, who started out so well, marries the daughter of Ahab who committed more evil in the eyes of the Lord than any of those before him. Jehoshaphat didn’t just screw-up, he screwed-up really bad.

The Bible says that bad company corrupts good character and that’s exactly what happened. It wasn’t long before Jehoshaphat’s father-in-law asked him join him and attack Ramoth Gilead. When you read the story it’s almost comical how King Jehoshaphat gets conned into forming an alliance with Ahab and going to battle. It ends in tragedy. Ahab is killed and Jehoshaphat limps home to Judah, utterly defeated.

Evil Ahab was killed but Jehoshaphat’s life was spared. Apparently, even when you screw up, God doesn’t reject you. Sometimes the godly fail and follow evil. The good news is that God doesn’t judge your character by the isolated good deed or screw-up, but by the condition of your heart.

So here is a question for you and for me. Who has your heart? Aren’t you glad that losing your temper, or losing your patience, or even losing your way for awhile doesn’t mean that God will give up on you?

Lesson Number Three – If you fail the test you’ll have to take it again.

Sometime later some men came and told Jehoshaphat, “A vast army is coming against you from Edom.” Oh, Oh! Here comes another test. Listen, friends. Life is a series of tests. God’s plan is to continually bring us tests, and as we pass each test, we move on to the next. Each test brings us closer to being someone Jesus can spend eternity with in constant fellowship. Often we don’t see life from God’s perspective. Circumstances come into our lives and we wonder… where is God and if he loves me why would he let this financial problem or this relationship problem into my life?

I picture Jehoshaphat in heaven with Jesus. They are talking about Jehoshaphat’s life. Jesus tells Jehoshaphat how he saved him from being killed in that ill-advised battle when he was allied with Ahab because he saw his heart and he knew that he loved God even though he had made some terrible decisions. I envision Jesus saying, “Jehoshaphat, I was so proud of you the way you handled that situation when the Moabites and Ammonites came to make war with you.” “I was afraid,” Jehoshaphat says, “and for a moment I was even tempted to think that I was being punished for my earlier sins.” Jesus laughs. “You know I don’t work that way. You were merely retaking a failed test, and I love how you passed it the second time. I’m so proud of you.”

Let’s look at how Jehoshaphat handled this second test:

“After this, the Moabites and Ammonites with some of the Meunites came to make war on Jehoshaphat. Some men came and told Jehoshaphat, “A vast army is coming against you from Edom, from the other side of the Sea. It is already in Hazazon Tamar” (that is, En Gedi).  Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. The people of Judah came together to seek help from the Lord; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him” (2 Chron 20:1-4 NIV).

The Apostle Peter had to take some tests over and over before he passed. He jumped out of that boat faster than you can say ‘Simon says.’ He walked on the water but then took his eyes off Jesus.  Jesus picked him out of the drink and plopped him soaking wet back in the boat. Test number one for Peter — fail. Jesus didn’t write him off when he failed; Peter just had to take the test again.

Test number two for Peter came in that garden courtyard as Peter turned the air blue with obscenities, yelling three times that he didn’t know Jesus. Test number two — fail.

Peter was pretty thick-headed. He had to take some tests over and over, just like you and I. For test number three, Peter found himself before the religious leaders who are warning him and threatening him because he had healed a man. Peter’s response to the religious leaders:

“Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: ‘Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. He is the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone. Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved’” (Acts 4:8-12 NIV). Test Passed! What happened that he failed the first two tests but passed the third test? After failed test number two, Peter went to Calvary; he met the savior, a redeemer whose relentless love would not give up on Peter and won’t give up on you or me either.

Some of us go through life taking the same spiritual test over and over again. But there is good news. When you pass the test, there is a brand new chapter with God just on the other side. When you pass the test, you are one step closer to glory. Christian, you are going to keep getting the same test until you pass it because he loves you too much to give up on you.

Jehoshaphat failed his first test. His second test A+:

“Then Jehoshaphat stood up in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem at the temple of the Lord in the front of the new courtyard and said: ‘O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you. O our God did you not drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend? They have lived in it and have built in it a sanctuary for your Name, saying, “If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us.”’” (2 Chronicles 20:5-9).

The prayer meeting turns into a worship meeting. They go out to battle, leaving their swords at home and just wear their choir robes. They go out singing “give thanks to the Lord for his love endures forever.” They face an impossible enemy and they find the crisis has been eliminated by a God who loves to come through at the last minute for his people. To pass the test is not to conquer our problems, but to stand and face them, confident that the greater the crisis the greater the miracle for them who believe.

Prayer: Lord, help us to learn the lesson from King Jehoshaphat. Help us to know that when we fail, you will never leave us or reject us, that even when we mess up and try to handle life without you, you will keep working with us until we pass the test. Lord help us to become a people that you can enjoy forever.

*~*

[easyazon-image align=”left” asin=”B0097WVXUS” locale=”us” height=”160″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/518QFzxScCL._SL160_.jpg” width=”99″] Amazon #1 bestselling author Bob Saffrin lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota with his wife Barb and their beagle Rocky. He and Barb have two children and four grandchildren. Bob loves the outdoors and has been on many backpacking trips in the rugged Boundary Waters area of Minnesota including winter camping.
Check out Bob’s book, [easyazon-link asin=”B0097WVXUS” locale=”us”]Psalms, The Sunrise of Hope[/easyazon-link]

Free

Free

Every year on Good Friday, we read the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ as the Gospel.  When I was back home, we all had little books that we would read it from.  The church where I am now doesn’t have those.  I miss them.  One of the most difficult passages of that reading when everyone had the little books was the part when Pontius Pilate thinks he’s found a way to get Jesus off the hook without declaring Him innocent himself.  Pilate remembers, “This is the time of the year that I release one prisoner to you.  So which will it be?”

When we had books, the whole congregation, with the print in big, bold letters would say together so it sounded like a roar, “Barabbas! We want Barabbas! Release Barabbas!”  To which our Pilate would reply, “What shall I do with Jesus?”  And we would all say together, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”

That was never an easy passage to get through because it puts the words they screamed into your mouth.  My mouth.  I have to say, “Crucify Him!” as I do so often when I make horrible choices that do not honor my God.  When I sin, I willingly say, “Crucify Him!”  Oh, that’s tough!  It’s hard to think about saying that, about making that choice.  It’s easier when you aren’t thinking about Jesus standing there, beaten and helpless.  But saying that reminds you, that that’s what you do in fact do when you choose “not God” in your life.

Now, there are times in my walk with God that He shows me things, and I go, “Wow, God.  That’s cool.”  And then there are times when He hits me between the eyes with a 2 x4.

This morning my husband went to the adult Sunday School class, and afterward, we were talking about the lesson they had.  He said, “Do you know what Barabbas means?”

“Uh, no.  Never really thought about it.  I just know he was a really bad guy.”

“Barabbas means… son of God.”

SAY WHAT?  Really?  My mind started that spinning little whirly-gig thing it does when it learns something new that just blows everything I thought I knew to smithereens… searching, seeking, putting pieces together as new understanding dawns.  Son of God?  Why would his name mean THAT?  He was a murderer!  He was an insurrectionist!  His name had been on the Most Wanted List for lo so many years!  Son of God?  He was hardly a son of God…

And then slowly the light begins to shine in my darkness.  I begin to understand.

“Jesus took his place,” my husband said.

Then I could see it.  Barabbas, a murderer, an insurrectionist, the worst of the worst, an enemy of the people was set free, and Jesus took his place… willingly.

As I absorbed that, more understanding dawned.  “Barabbas isn’t Barabbas.  Barabbas is ME!”  The worst of my worst.  Those places and things I hope no one ever finds out about, those places that I have hurt others and led them astray, those places I’ve willfully chosen insurrection to God’s will so I could do my own will.  And Jesus looks at me as He stands there beaten and bloody, not in judgment, but knowing He is to take my place and doing so willingly.

Oh, boy, did that get my attention!

Think of it this way, you have been extracted from your deepest, darkest, dankest cell.  Today you are to be crucified for all the things you have done, but wait… first, you are taken up to the balcony where Pilate, your judge, is seated.  Below you is a crowd, hungry for someone’s blood, and you’re pretty sure it’s yours.  But anger and hatred have already turned your heart to stone.

Fine.  They can send you to death.  You don’t care. You hate them all anyway.  Then for a moment, your gaze traces over across the way to the man standing on the other side of Pilate, if He is indeed a man.  It’s hard to tell.  His face is covered with blood and dirt.  On His head is a mesh of thorns that some cruel someone put on His head.  On His back is a cloak of purple, but through the purple you can see the red of His blood seeping through.

He looks almost dead.

Carefully, you look back to your guard and whisper, “Who is that?”

The guard doesn’t look happy, but he whispers back, “Jesus of Nazareth.”

Understanding sinks in.  You had thought by how He looked, maybe His crimes were in fact worse than yours.  But now you know.  This guy is a hero to the whole countryside.  In fact, it wasn’t even last week that you could hear the crowds from your cell block cheering for Him.

The knowledge sinks deep into your gut. You are truly doomed.  No way will they release you, not when Jesus is the other option. Then Pilate says, “Whom shall I release to you?”

And you know, this is a no-brainer for the people.  Their hero.  Or you–a guy who’s been on the Most Wanted List for a decade.  They hate you.  They love Him. Like this is even a choice.

Yep, you’re already planning what to tell the guards to make for your last meal.

But then, something strange happens.  The crowd?  What are they yelling?  “Barabbas.  We want Barabbas!”

WHAT?!  You look up.  You look around.

Imagine your surprise.  Barabbas? This can’t be happening.  You must be hallucinating. Why would they want you?  Why would they call your name to be released?  Don’t they know what you have done?

Trying to get a grasp on what’s happening, you look over at Jesus in complete confusion, and He looks at you, and for one split second, in all the world there is only you and Him.  You expect to see hate and anger in His eyes, but there is nothing like that.  Only love and acceptance… for you.  “It’s okay,” He seems to say. “Go free. I’ll take your sentence on myself.  You’re forgiven.”

The guards take off your chains even as Pilate says to the crowd, “What do you want me to do with Jesus?”

The crowd yells back, “Crucify Him!  Crucify Him!”  The anger and hatred from them is so powerful, you can feel it like great waves coming at you.  Their cries are blood-thirsty and raw.  You know that because you have felt those very feelings in your own gut.  But you do not feel them now.

Not anymore. Now all you feel is gratitude and amazement and so humble you want to cry.

As the guards lead you from the balcony, away to freedom, you look back one more time.  There He is.  Jesus. Bloody, beaten, breathing, trying not to cry as He absorbs the hatred flung at Him from all the world.  He has taken your place.  You are free.

You are free.

*~*

Staci StallingsStaci Stallings, the author of this article, is a CrossReads co-founder.  You can check out Staci’s wide selection of books including Bible Studies, Christian Romance novels and simple articles just like this one at:  http://www.stacistallings.net

Or you can check out her latest release, [easyazon-link asin=”B00BC1UNOO” locale=”us”]Eternity (The Friendship Series)[/easyazon-link][easyazon-image align=”center” asin=”B00BC1UNOO” locale=”us” height=”160″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51TrtfmsgeL._SL160_.jpg” width=”112″]

Read the first chapter of Eternity!  Click here!

Book Blast: The Missing Piece (Inspirational Love Story) by Carol McCormick

Book Blast: The Missing Piece (Inspirational Love Story) by Carol McCormick

Title: The Missing Piece (Inspirational Love Story)

By Carol McCormick

About the Book:

“Fresh dialogue, realistic characters, a powerful message,” The Romance Readers Connection

How does a man pick up the pieces when his world crashes around him? Misplaced priorities shattered his marriage. Problems almost crushed him. Love motivated him to mend the damage, once he found all the pieces.

After only a few months of marriage, Lorraine left Dylan on a wintry night after he’d spent one too many nights out with the guys. Unable to cope with the loss, Dylan escapes the painful feelings by drinking them away. This decision costs him a year-and-a-half of his life after he stops in a little mountain town and ends up in the local jail. When he’s released, he returns home in search of a job to get his life–and his wife back.

THE MISSING PIECE is not only a love story about a man who loves a woman, but is also a love story about a merciful God who loves mankind, even when he falls. The novel is an emotionally-charged journey of hope and redemption with a touch of spunk, a hint of humor, and a few twists along the way.

“Inspiring and encouraging. Anyone who desires a restoration to their spirit should read THE MISSING PIECE,” Myshelf.com

“A wonderful, heartwarming Christian romance. This is definitely a story that I recommend to all lovers of Christian romance,” Escape to Romance

Download on Kindle | Purchase Paperback

Carol McCormick
e77606749f110a7e9d9a7b.L._SX750_SY470_[1]Carol began writing years ago after reading a ten-page story her grandmother wrote about growing up in the early 1900s. It was then that she began to write down her own stories to share with her daughters someday.

Later, she began to write as a way to draw herself and other people closer to the Lord. Carol writes for Christians to encourage them in their faith. She also writes for those who are unaware of God’s grace, to show them how to connect to Him in order to experience His love and goodness. Her writing is applicable to life with its direct, yet sensitive, and oftentimes humorous messages and lessons.

Carol has been a speaker for Christian Women’s Connection (Stonecroft Ministries International) for over fifteen years. She is also an international bestselling author who has appeared on regional and Christian television programs and has been a guest on over fifty Christian and secular radio stations.

Follow Carol McCormick
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