Friday, July 31, 2015

THE WINDING TRAIL




Please make welcome Renee Blare, today's guest on The Writer's Journey. Read her story and be inspired. Please leave a comment and/or share on your social media by a simple share button at the end of the post. 




Christianity’s more than a word for me. 

After all, Jesus Christ’s not only my Lord and Savior, He’s my confidante…my best Friend. I trust the Lord with all my heart, and my faith sees me through life’s incredible journey.


But in reality, I don’t remember my first day in church. My earliest memories of the large Southern Baptist chapel include my mother dancing as the director of children’s choir, (yes, dancing…gasp!) and my father caressing the keys on the piano. I remember Sunday School though.


One day in particular stands out in my mind. The teacher asked a question after the lesson, and several of my friends raised their hand. Those light blue eyes swiveled my way, and I lifted mine. It was time to get wet. (Why not? Everyone else was doing it.)




Several years passed. Heartache, pain, depression…good times, too. My family relocated to Wyoming. A fresh place, a different school, another church…and new friends. Although poles apart in culture from Acadiana, the high plains and mountains of the most sparsely populated state in the Union became home for a young lady.


But something was missing. I walked the meadows and valleys…gazed at the starlit skies. And even marched the aisle to be dunked in the baptistery one more time. Nothing could fill the hole in my soul.


But then one cold night, surrounded by my Christian single friends, I waited while everyone prayed. One asked for direction. Another begged for strength. Before I could lift my programmed request to ceiling, I heard a petition that changed my life forever. It wasn’t pretty nor preachy, but rather a guttural, needy…tearful plea.

I realized in that moment that the Person my friend was talking to was REAL. And I’d never met Him.


I dropped to my knees and asked Jesus into my heart that very night. A few months later, I was baptized. Yes, I know…for the THIRD time! But I’d become a true child of God.


My trek to Christ may have been a bit convoluted, but I’ve discovered staying on the right path in life’s not much different. The trail winds here and there, and if I’m not careful, I can miss it entirely. But like that friend on that cold night so many years ago, I know Who to ask for directions.




To Soar Media Info (Book and Author)



Book Blurb:


Spring’s in the air. While the sun shines in Timber Springs, snow falls on the Snowy Range, and trouble’s brewing in the meadows. The area’s new game warden, Steve Mitchell launches his first wildlife investigation of the season, but the trouble follows him—straight to town. 

Rachel Fitzgerald’s on Spring Break. Or at least she’s trying. Between paperwork, and harassing phone calls, she may as well have stayed in her classroom. So much for relaxation. A ‘chance’ meeting with her brother’s old roommate offers her weary soul a shred of hope, but she discovers love, like life, isn’t easy.
He talks with the wisdom of the Lord but rejects the future. She wants to soar with the eagles but walks alone. And trusting God proves to be more of a challenge than ever before…

Book Excerpt:

She moved to start her engine but hesitated at the rumble near the edge of the meadow. She turned her head to check out the newcomer maneuvering the trail’s turns. The dark green machine slid to a stop behind her, the gold Game and Fish symbol flashing in the late afternoon sun.
Uneasiness stirred within her. Since this trail wasn’t used often except on weekends, she was usually alone. A game warden this far in the high country was a surprise. Game and Fish tended to keep to the more beaten paths. After all, not many people fished this early, and the hunting seasons weren’t until much later.
He removed his helmet, a lock of tousled brown hair landing on his wide forehead. With his elbow propped on the handlebars, a gloved hand brushed across his jaw. Familiar brown eyes studied her over the small windshield.
“Oh.” Her heart skipped a couple of beats, and she stumbled over her tongue. He turned around before she could form a coherent thought. Taking a deep breath, she tried again. “Steve?”
A smashed brown baseball cap materialized in his hand. After a brief squeeze of the bill, he pulled it low on his forehead. “Hey there, angel.”



Author Bio:
Renee Blare is a graduate of the University of Wyoming with a degree in pharmacy. She is the author of Beast of Stratton which was a semi-finalist for ACFW Genesis award in unpublished Christian Fiction. Renee and her family currently lives in Newcastle, Wyoming. Visit her website at reneeblare.com for more information. 

Website: Renee Blare|Christian Author Website 



Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Flavorful Church



“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men”

(Matthew 5:13NIV).



David H. Johnson describes salt as “an active element found naturally in combined form.” Salt is formed by linking two separate elements together, sometimes the unthinkable and unlikely. Common table salt is formed from the union of sodium and Chlorine, a poisonous substance that gives bleach its offensive odor. Yet once combined, the result is a substance that preserves and adds flavor.
  

When Christ called believers “the salt of the earth,"was he speaking that truth only to individuals?




Does he expect that believers will, like sodium and Chlorine, disparate yet redeemed, bind together and form a substance that blesses the world? Is Christian unity even possible?


The origins of the word community date back to the Arabic, from the word Umma, sometimes used to describe a collective nation of states. Community is also a way of life in the Israelite tradition. The word for community in Hebrew is, אוּמָה, meaning “a people.”  

 From its Judaic roots, community also infused the early church. Indeed, Christendom refers to Corpus Christianum, the Christian body…the community of all Christians. 


            But does that mean that God intends for believers to become an exclusive community, developing their own government and way of life? 

Must we live in isolation of all others in the world to preserve our mutual beliefs?

 If not, is community more than coming together for an hour on Sunday morning, singing the same songs and bowing in corporate prayer?  
   

            In Acts 2, the birth of the church came in a mighty way, with fire and passion after a unified seeking of God’s presence, an event so powerful that thousands were added to their number in a single day. The church continued to grow as believers “devoted themselves to teaching, to fellowship and to communion.” 


An amazing thing happened. As Christians bonded together, the world tasted the saltiness of their joy, love and peace.

 Not because they sold everything and lived together. The magnet was in their love for one another. No one was greater than anyone else and together they met the needs of all. They prayed together and cared for one another. 

“And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”


            While most would say that communal living was a first century phenomenon in church development, have we, the body of Christ, His bride and His possession, doused our salt with vinegar in our quest for rugged individualism and prideful promotion of our isms, buildings, suppers, programs, and ministries?

 Have we pursued uniqueness rather than unity? 

 Is this part of the reason, the world hates us and wants nothing to do with church people? 


How do we get back? By binding together with cords that cannot be brokenMade for the glory of God…Purchased by His precious Son… Born with the right to be clean…For Jesus the victory has won (From the hymn, Bind Us Together). When we focus on Whose we are, our individual egos melt, molding with our fellow believers into a new element, a community rich in flavor, a commodity to be desired.

 “…so in Christ we who are many form one body and each member belongs to all the others” (Romans 12:5 NIV).  

Friday, July 24, 2015

Commitment Phobia



“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men”
(Matthew 5:13NIV).

According to many psychiatrists, there is an alarming growth in the occurrence of a social disorder called commitment phobia, or fear of commitment. The disorder is manifested, not only in basic  human relationships, but in the workplace as well. Unable to engage in the purposes of their companies, commitment phobes become quickly bored with their jobs. They either quit, are fired, or their employers impose fewer expectations with the result of lost productivity.
Commitment phobia impacts the sufferer on the most primitive levels. Yet, the commitment phobe is difficult to spot until after the harm is done. The commitment phobe will often talk the talk, but cannot walk the walk. While on the surface, the commitment phobe hints at a future, the relationship soon crumbles because the commitment phobe cannot let go of his personal investment to further the goal of the relationship. Furthermore, if an individual cannot commit to another human being, how then can he or she commit to a cause or a group? 

Why do people fear commitment? Psychologists believe that commitment phobia is rooted in a fear of the unknown or a pervasive need to control. Deeper roots may be found in an early traumatic event such as being stuck in an elevator or disappointment in a trusted authority figure through abuse or neglect.  

But for most of us the failure to commit may be as simple as lacking the compelling emotional criteria that unites us to something larger than ourselves. One author describes commitment at its core: “You’re either in or out.” Commitment, according to Susan Sheppard requires becoming a team player. She states that the benefit can sometimes be miraculous, as in the case of the 1980 US Hockey team’s triumphant gold medal. “Commitment creates synergy…it is sort of like a seed that drops on the forest floor and becomes a brand new true.” 

Regardless of its roots, commitment phobia may be one of the most pervasive issues within the church. No wonder non-believers shy away from attending fellowships where its members are unable to team together for the common cause of Christ. Such disharmony most often is the result of spiritual commitment phobia, that inability to engage beyond what pleases the individual.

Paul writes of the very human struggle to commit to God. It is man’s nature to rebel. However, the Bible clearly indicates that our lives will be richer and fuller when we come under God’s control rather than the lusts of the flesh. 

“He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers…” (Psalm 1:3 NIV).


Commitment, like love, does not seek its own reward. It does not flaunt itself or boast. It flows out of our desire to please rather than get, propelling the believer to action rather than fear. Are you able, asks the Master? 

“Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun” (Psalm 37: 4 – 6 NIV).

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

God knows our hearts

PLEASE MAKE WELCOME CHRISTIAN AUTHOR,  CAROLE BROWN ON TODAY'S THE WRITER'S JOURNEY 

TO BE ENTERED FOR E-BOOK GIVEAWAY CONTEST...LEAVE A COMMENT ON THE BLOG




I can’t remember a time when I didn’t attend church. 

I remember walking to church in the rain one time with family--aunt, grandmother and my mother. I remember when Mom and Dad went to special services and came home different. I remember teaching Sunday School at the young age of thirteen. I remember always being set up as an example even though I wasn’t a PK (preacher’s kid). I was the “good” girl on the block, so to speak.

But only God knew my heart and that I needed his help and grace upon my life. From that time forward, I’ve loved God (although I haven’t always been “good” and was tempted to do a lot of things that affect most teens.

But in my teen years the craving stirred inside me to write. 


I’d written earlier in grade school, but it was then that the desire sprang to life. A close friend and I spent study periods writing mysteries and drama-filled, haunting poetry that we both insisted was great. J I filled page after page with plots and problems for my young characters to solve.

Life--as in marriage and children and ministry--came along and kept me busy until the day the empty nest syndrome hit me. I sensed if ever I would see that early desire blossom into beautiful flowers, I needed to begin to seriously nourish it.

And I did. I studied, joined writing groups, gained critique partners, attended conferences and writing classes, researched, contracted with an agent and wrote. And wrote. Eventually one day, I signed a book contract and soon afterwards another book was released. The next year saw a third book (With Music in Their Hearts, Book one of my WWII Spies series), and this year I will be releasing yet another (Bat Crazy, Book Two of my Denton and Alex Davies mystery series) and perhaps a second book or even a third.


Why am I writing this? Because God knows our hearts. 

He’s given us talents, and I believe with all my heart that we should use them to the best of our ability. Easy? Fun? Successful?

No. Not always. But if there’s anything I’ve learned (not saying I might not need reminded at times), it’s that God’s timing and ways are not always our ways or even in our understanding. That doesn’t matter. If we are his child, then we do as he bids and accept what he’s given. That’s our responsibility.

His are the results.





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