Showing posts with label Christian. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Christian. Show all posts

Saturday, March 22, 2014

You Might Be a Christian if ...

I love meeting new friends. What a special treat when they are Christians. Now, how could I tell that? Do they tell me, "I've been saved by Christ." No, that's not necessary. Then, what's the test?

By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
                     John 13:35

Recently, I was asked to speak to the Healthy Living class at First Baptist of Dallas, Texas. What a humbling experience that these people would ask me to give my testimony based on reading my book, Divine Dining. A week before the date, a Sunday school teacher called to invite me to also teach her class on discipline in general while I was visiting their church.

the door where I entered

I arrived at the big, downtown church wondering what I would encounter, but the phone calls from three different ladies encouraged me that they were warm, caring people.

They had directed me to a door where there was a fountain. One lady told me, "You won't miss it. The fountain is huge." And, she was right. Many people take photos here. I borrowed this one, since I forgot to snap one of my own while I was there. Scripture verses surround the base. Pictures of this fountain flash on the screen in the worship service while the choir and orchestra lead the congregation in song.

Two ladies waited inside the door with smiles and handshakes for my husband and me. We followed them through halls, up an elevator, and into a magnificent auditorium. Many people greeted us, some ushers, many just those coming to church like us. We took a seat near the middle where more and more greeted us and made us welcome.

A full orchestra played a majestic melody. The choir on a floor rising above the instruments began to sing. To the sides, flashed videos of the fountain and scenes around the church.

This picture was taken in our church's lobby at Christmas, 2013
Somewhere about that time, I realized Jesus was right there with me, letting me know these were Christians, just like the wonderful congregation I left behind at Heritage Church, Wichita Falls, Texas.


Pastor Ron Jeffers preached a thought-provoking sermon reminding me of the messages I get from our pastor, Ron Barnard.


Jeff Foxworthy has made a fortune by stating that "You might be a redneck if ... "

I propose that "You might be a Christian if ...
   the Spirit of Christ shines in your smile
   the beauty of Christ lights up your eyes
   the kindness of Christ shows in your actions
   the truth of Christ's witness is revealed in your words
This was 7 of the ladies that organized and made that event possible for me. I saw Christ in their devotion and kindness. Thank you, ladies.

These four things were evident in the ladies of the Billman Sunday School class and the Healthy Living class and many other at First Baptist, Dallas, on March 9, 2014. That same Spirit hovers in Heritage Church's lobby, and pews, and platform every Sunday. I pray that I would be charged with acting like Christ.

Do new people see Christ in you?

Time to check out ourselves.

Meanwhile, thank you ladies at First Baptist, Dallas, for exemplifying Christ to a scared visitor.

GIVEAWAY OFFER
 

In honor of these sweet ladies, I'm offering a giveaway of my book Divine Dining: 365 Devotions to Guide You to Healthier Weight and Abundant Wellness. All you need to do to enter the drawing is leave a comment below giving me your e-mail, so I can contact you if you're the winner. If you have trouble getting past my privacy code to leave a comment, send your comment to the e-mail: Janet.hope@att.net  I will post it for you with your name and you'll still have a chance to win. Good luck. I'll draw on Friday evening, March 28.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Art of Misdirection in Mystery Writing by Terri Main

American Christian Fiction Writers gives support and encouragement to Christian writers. I belong to ACFW and participate on a yahoo loop with other writers from all over the world. I "met" a writer with unique perspectives on this online loop. When she asked for spots where she might guest, I volunteered my "Writing with God's Hope" blog.

Mystery writers will find Terri Main's article especially helpful. Writers can use this information whether we write romantic suspense, science fiction, women's fiction, or YA.

Now You See It: The Art of Misdirection in Mystery Writing 
 
During my "misspent" youth, I played around with magic and illusion. I read many of the books by greats such as Walt Gibson, Doug Henning, Blackstone and others. I worked at a radio station at the time. My boss' girlfriend often waited in the office for him to pick her up. I practiced my tricks on her because she was such a perfect audience. All I had to do was capture her gaze, and I could walk a herd of elephants in front of her and she wouldn't notice.  

In magic, this is called misdirection. You point to something and make it seem very important. You instruct the audience to not take their eyes off that object. In reality, that object is usually unimportant. While the magician is showing you the Ace of Spades in his right hand, telling you how important it is, he is fetching the queen of hearts from his pocket, ready to be lifted off the top of the deck he is very visibly and expertly shuffling.  

Mystery writers need to learn the same art of misdirection in our writing. Remember, there are two cardinal sins a mystery writer can commit. Make the crime to easy to solve based on the clues given or make it impossible to solve based on the clues given. At the end of the book, the reader should say, "I never saw that coming, but I should have. All the clues were there."  

This is where misdirection comes into play. I write mysteries that take place at the end of the 21st century in upscale underground communities on the moon. In one of these I have a scene where the killer, a bookstore owner, is chatting with my sleuth about books while cutting through a tape with a laser powered box cutter. He makes a casual comment about the tape melting on the lens of the cutter. Then he starts flirting with my sleuth and talking about their mutual interest in books. In fact, at this point, it looks like I'm building up a love story between them.  

But 40 chapters later when a witness to the original murder shows up dead with a laser wound through her heart and a tiny bit of sticky residue, my sleuth knows exactly who did the deed, even though most of my readers have forgotten all about the box cutter. After all, I introduced many bits of exotic new technologies like tablet computers, screenless holoprojection and while you wait book printing and binding machines. Yes, it's hard to keep ahead of the science today.  

The key is to try to make something seem very important which is not and make something that is important seem trivial. In this same book, the victim is found with a bloody head and a teachers award beside the body. The sleuths assume that the choice of the award was symbolic because a better weapon, a bronze tiger, was closer. In fact, it turns out the one assaulting the teacher was an art dealer and couldn't bring himself to use a work of art for his crime. Meanwhile several chapters were spent looking for someone who wanted a symbolic weapon.  

And it turns out the assault didn't even kill him. He died from a poison that had been administered over a long period of time. The casual comments the victim made earlier in the book indicated he was feeling rundown, but just thought he was coming down with the flu. I made the bashed in head and the choice of weapon very important and the victim's flu-like symptoms forgettable. I pointed to one while bringing in another.  

So, the lesson is for mystery writers like magicians get people to look at what's in your right hand, while you plant the real clues with your left.  
 
Terri Main shared this bio.

I am a retired college professor. I live in California's Central Valley where it gets hot in summer. I hate summer. Currently, I'm writing full time. I don't think of myself as retired as much as the college is paying me to write my novels and Bible studies. I've been published in just about every venue. Fiction, nonfiction, radio drama, live drama, video documentaries, novels and book length nonfiction. I've been traditionally published in magazine and book format, and I'm currently engaged in Indie writing publishing my own stuff and loving it. 

I live a fairly quiet life. I'm a life long single and live with my five cats. So, I'm keeping alive the cultural archetype of the Retired Old Maid School Teacher with Cats. 

I write science fiction...more

Thank you, Terri, for giving us such good information. Now, we'll all be watching for the slight of hand in fiction.

Terry Main has given us many books. I've pictured a couple of them from Amazon. You can purchase these or others at
 http://www.amazon.com/Terri-L-Main/e/B009MDS5A8

Anyone for magic?

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Intense Feelings about Halloween

Halloween provokes intense emotion among Christians.

Some prefer ignoring it as a holiday altogether saying it's a night for demons and witches.

Others poo-poo that idea and continue with their trick or treating and dressing up in silly costumes as a way of Christians just having fun.

To my way of thinking, the first plan is too legalistic. We can't earn our salvation. We can never be good enough. No amount of works, no amount of giving up things, no amount of doing good can replace God's grace. He provides freely for our salvation. We need only accept His gift.

The second plan, I agree with to a point. Christians can be happier than anyone because God takes away our guilt. Why should only non-Christians have fun on Halloween day, or whatever we choose to call the night? My actions should be qualified by the time-old question, "What would Jesus do?"

Jesus went to a wedding, had dinner with his followers, and celebrated Passover with his disciples. I believe if Halloween had been celebrated during that time in Israel, Jesus would've used it to give a parable to steer his companions in the right way. After all, Halloween began as a time to honor Christian saints and martyrs. As usual, the devil perverted something that started out as good. Wouldn't Jesus have wanted to set the record straight?

Shouldn't we?

This year, our church did two function we called "Light the Night." Both locations provided bounce houses, carnival booths, prizes for all, and lots of candy to "set the record straight" that Christians know how to have fun.

We're not weird.
We're not tied in knots with rules and regulations.
We desire to "light the night" with the gospel as Jesus brought light to the world with His sacrifice.

I know this is a controversial topic. Since we just passed another Halloween, Oct. 31 night, and each of we Christians followed our own consciences, I truly want to know your opinions.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

FALL

Fall fascinates me. The intrigue of trees dressed in their green summer duds changing into clothes of multi-colored glory sparks my creativity.

I think this is a sassafras tree..

On Tuesday, Oct. 15, fall finally made an appearance in Texas. My hubby and I found fall first, though, when we traveled to Eureka Springs, Ark. on Oct. 10. Such beauty ...

"How far until the highway?" Charles would ask.

I would pick up the map, then lay it down again. "I can't check now, I'm looking at trees."

Charles laughs.

"Look at that one," I say.

"Gorgeous."

"Oh, and lookee, All along there, the red is brilliant."
Overlooking Eureka Spring and Crescent Hotel

We cruise on the Belle of the Ozarks, a 75 minute excursion along the shoreline of Beaver Lake. Our guide gives us the names of many of the trees that captivate us.

Our guide took our windblown picture on the boat.

 In early October, the black gum trees turn dark red, some almost purple. Sassafras trees don orange foliage. Hickory trees prefer yellow leaves. Sumac lines the shoreline and many of the roads with small red bushes. Virginia Creeper winds branches of both green and even brown, dead trees with scarlet.

"But, watch out for the red cover," our guide cautions us. "Poison ivy also decorates trees with red vines of three leaf clusters, while Virginia Creeper has 5 leaves."

As a writer, blogger, Christian, and all around curious individual, I look for a lesson in everything.

Trees are in many stages of turning colors. Some were totally yellow or orange with no green left. Some were half and half, or covered with three or four colors. Many trees retained their luscious greenery with the exception of one branch of orange, or red.

How like that we are in our Christian walk. Many of us are well into the process. Our minds and hearts turn naturally to God in most circumstances. Some of us call on God as the last resort. New Christians may ask Jesus to come into their hearts and start their Christian walk, while still clinging mostly to their old life out of habit.

Do we more mature Christians offer understanding, guidance, and a little patience to those who've only started to travel the path?

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Little Is Much

But me, I have little to offer
Though I follow the Lord's command
But even little can be much
When put into Jesus' hand.    

Jesus changes things. In His hands, small insignificant seeds of obedience flourish and a small amount of bread feeds thousands.    
 

 
God magnifies little changes in anything we do. When I viewed my two-hundred-fifty pound body, losing enough weight seemed like a colossal feat.

I reached the point where I admitted my powerlessness and turned the problem to the Lord. In His hands, it's amazing what can be accompished. Change what you can, and wait for God to move.

God is the author of growing small things into big and big things into small. Look at the seeds we plant that become mighty crops. God points out the smallest seed of all as His example.


Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out?

And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain. Remove hinder to yonder place; and it shall remove, and nothing shall be impossible unto you.
                           Matthew 17:19-20

    My positive thinking (believing I can do it) is as a mustard seed in the hands of the Lord.
Thought to remember:

Food is not the cure for your pain.

Freedom, not bondage, is what we seek.
 
I asked my Divine Dining class this week what changes they'd made since we started the class to help them live a healthier life. Here's a few of the answers.
    1. I start my day with prayer.
    2. I've stopped eating after dinner except for maybe a fruit.
    3. I'm eating smaller portions and more vegetables.
    4. I think I'm more conscious of how important it is to God.
WHave you made small changes? What others can you start? Has God helped you accomplish something big? Let me hear from you.
 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Worth It All - a true story

Years ago, a fourteen year old girl impacted my life for all time. At age eighteen myself and three hundred miles from home, I struggled with confusion, depression, and anger.

When I graduated from high school the previous spring, I lost my tight control over my destiny. During our senior year, my boyfriend, Charles, had presented me with an engagement ring. Everything was perfect. I pushed Jesus to the background. Love blossomed. What did I need with prayer? When my boyfriend left me the day after graduation, bitterness crept over my heart and squeezed.

At the Christian college I’d selected so I could move away from home, God sent me a special roommate. Belinda lived close to the Lord.

Scampering across our tiny room, Belinda edged closer to me. “I’ve found this wonderful church ten miles away. Will you come Sunday?”

I shook my head. “I have enough chapel services to attend during the week. I don’t need preaching on weekends, too.”

“For me. Please,” she pleaded.

“No.” Her down-turned look pricked my conscience.

Before Charles went into the navy, he’d again pledged undying love, but I’d heard nothing for weeks. I studied my lessons, went with friends into town for fun, and watched for the mail.

Belinda remained kind and patient through all my emotional outbursts. My cheeks burned when I came in and found her praying for me.

Charles came home on leave. He was rude and apathetic. When he left again, I tore up his picture, threw my engagement ring in a drawer, and fell across my bed in a torrent of tears.

Belinda’s cool hand brushed the bangs off my forehead. “God loves you. You’ll be okay.”

One weekend, my parents visited and brought my car. I was free. No longer would I be dependent on anyone who could drive. I determined to forget Charles, but the more I tried, the more depressed I became.

On one trip I drove into the nearby big city by myself. An urge almost overwhelmed me to turn my car into oncoming traffic on a busy highway. I pulled into the median trying to summon courage to go all the way. My breathing labored. Sweat broke out across my upper lip. My hands trembled.

I sat there with traffic buzzing on both sides. My car died and then stalled. I sat, stared, and wept. When calm returned to my mind and my hands, the car started, and I pulled into my lane and drove down the highway.

The next morning, the chaplain preached on 1 Peter 4:2 NIV “As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.” The message on seeking God’s will in all things hit me like the cars would have, if I’d given into my feeling the day before. Thank God, He stopped me from that compelling desire.

With hot cheeks, I slid down in my seat hoping I would disappear, and no one would know how close I came to suicide. My life had no rudder. Hiding my face, I hurried to my room. “Charles has ruined my life. I can’t think anymore,” I screamed to the wall.

Overhearing my remarks, Belinda came in behind me and closed the door. More accusation than I’d ever heard come out of her mouth seeped into her tone. “You ruined your life by running away from God instead of to Him.” She looked at me. “Come to church with me Sunday.”

I went. The work the Holy Spirit had started in the chapel service continued as I listened to the sermon. More than anything, I remembered the closing song. A young girl sang Esther Kerr Rusthoi’s song “When We See Christ.” The singer’s voice, more mature than her years, resounded across the small sanctuary.

My roommate and I attended that church the next Sunday. The pastor quoted Acts 3:6 NIV “….Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you…..” By the time he finished the verse, I wanted to rededicate my life to God, and when the sermon ended, I ran to the altar.

As the service closed, the young lady sang the same song. Tears burst from me at the line “It will be worth it all when we see Jesus.”

For several Sundays, the girl missed church. When she returned, she sang her usual song.

I hastened to reach her afterward. “I love your voice. That song blesses me.”

A sweet smile put roses in her cheeks despite the yellowish-black skin across her cheek. A cut above one eye gave her a lopsided look. “Thank you. I love coming to church and singing.”

“What happened to your eye?”


She blushed. Her hand swept as if to hide it. “It’s nothing.”

As I left, an older woman caught up with Belinda and me. “I couldn’t help but hear you ask about the singer’s face. She testified when she was saved.” The woman lowered her voice. “Her father drinks and beats her every time she comes to church.”

My body shivered as if dumped in cold water. “She’s so young, but so strong.”

“Only fourteen.” The woman excused herself and left.

I studied the girl. Her face shone despite the discoloration, and I thought of God’s strength working in her despite hideous trials.

I attended that church for three months. Jesus used that fourteen year old girl’s song to reinforce my commitment to Him. Though I switched colleges, married Charles, and never again saw the girl, I can’t sing that song without remembering God’s call to me through her.

I pray that she’s still singing for the Lord and touching lives somewhere.