Wednesday, December 30, 2015

How Do You Compare to the Israelites?

In the Old Testament, God chose the Israelite nation to be His children. He protected them, fought for them, and blessed them, yet time after time, they turned away from their God. How could they be so bad?
Do you see through a glass darkly?


Then again ...
How do we measure up or compare against the Israelites' failures?


Stiff-necked – That’s what Moses calls the Israelites in his prayer.

Are we stiff-necked? I am.

 

Wants their own way – The Israelites were unsatisfied with manna and quail. They wanted the choices they had in Egypt.

Do we complain and want our own way? Do we want to eat our pie, and still lose weight?

 

Impatient – They couldn’t wait for Moses to come down from the mountain. Out of impatience, they set up a golden calf to worship instead.

      I want weight loss every week. I want a two pound loss, not a quarter of a pound. I want to lose a hundred pounds in two months. If I don't, I complain that God is no help with weight loss? Am I alone? 


 

They believed their way was best. – They took things in their own hands, fought battles their way, and lost.

Through the years, I tried everything, but I continually regained weight plus gained even more.

 

Sin in their lives – They lost the battle of Ai because of sin in the camp. When the sin was cleansed, they won.

We harbor unforgivness, resentments, anger, and dishonesty and wonder why God doesn’t give us the desires of our hearts.

 
As you begin your new year, think about your walk with Christ. Have you really submitted to Him in the realm of eating? What about other areas? Is there parts you cling to, or refuse to let go, so that God can heal it? Are you comfortable in your small arena of failure? Have you put God on the throne of your life in everything?


If a daily devotion book would help you with weight loss, consider checking out my book Divine Dining. Find it to the right of this page. Pen-L Publishing will sell it with FREE SHIPPING through January 1. http://www.pen-l.com/DivineDining.html


If you're beginning a weight loss class at your church or in your home to support each other, watch for the Divine Dining Weight Controller Curriculum  book due out soon.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas

MERRY
 
 
CHRISTMAS
 
 
FROM ME AND MY FAMILY
 
 
TO YOU AND YOURS
 
 







Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Depression at Christmas

Christmas lights twinkle. Logs burn in the fireplace. Songs cheer weary shoppers with visions of family opening their gifts. Pastors preach about the peace of God, and most of us are excited by the season, but not all.

Those who come from dysfunctional families, and the ones, who this year, lost loved ones to death, divorce, or distance vision the world without cheer. Depression runs rampant the more joy is expressed. 

To those ones today, I offer this poem, and my prayers. 


       Trampled Violets

 

     Trampled underneath

     By uncaring feet

     Bruised and crushed

     The petals scattered

     Violets in first blush

     Of bloom.

 

     Disillusioned, hurt

     By cruel words

     Stomped and torn

     The child succumbs

     To hatred of his known

     Small world.

 

     Mocked and spit upon

     By His own

     Stabbed and slapped

     His hands were pierced

     His words were spoken

     Forgive

                  Divine Dining: by Janet K. Brown

 


Many of my friends suffer depression during this time of year. Most of us have been there at some point of our lives.

Jesus is with the broken-hearted. He understands depression, betrayal, and disappointment, and He will never, never leave you.

God bless those right now who are less than joyful.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Pride and Perfectionism

Perfectionism can hinder our Christian walk. Though not an obvious obstacle like envy or anger, it still can trip us up. Deceitful in nature, it makes us believe our actions are for God but might only feed our obsession.

 
The obstacle of perfectionism comes, in some form, from pride.
 
We still strive for parent's approval.
We desire laud and compliments.
We believe no one can do it as well as we can.
We seek to control everything.
We fear failure, so we don't do anything.

How do we know the difference between striving for excellence and being tangled in perfectionism?

 
The solution is less of us, and more of God. Remember, our worth comes from Him.

 
I will praise thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are thy works, and that my soul knoweth right well.
                                             Psalm 139:4                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          
 
We fall into a comparison trap, when God loves us individually. He made us special just the way we are, not to be compared with another of his creations.
 
 
But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body as it hath pleased him.
                   1 Corinthians 12:18
 
 
 
According to Tara Johnson  in Hollow Victory: how to identify & disarm 5 landmines that make Victorious Christian Living Feel Like a Lie, before we take on any chore or ministry, we should ask ourselves this question. "Am I doing this so others will think better of me or is it because I'm trying to give my best to God."
 
 
Another of my favorite books, The Freedom of Letting Go by Donna Clark Goodrich makes these suggestions for dealing with what we consider to be a failure.
 
1. Were you simply not meeting unrealistic expectations?
2. Which doors opened or closed because you tried?
3. How is God using this to direct your life?
4. Accept yourself as you are.
 
 
 
Once, when I felt like such a failure because a class I was teaching closed for lack of interest, my daughter encouraged me by reminding me how God might use what I learned in another way, and that's what happened. The class evolved into a book.
 
From my book, Divine Dining: 365 Devotions to Guide You to Healthier Weight and Abundant Wellness.
 
We ask Jesus to take over for us. We can’t do it alone. What a relief. We can lay down the load we’ve carried for years. Jesus will pick it up and carry it for us. I’m not perfect. Now, I don’t have to act as if I were.
 
Don't let perfectionism tie you in knots and ruin your Christian witness.
 
Give yourself permission to be human.
 
 
P. S. All three self help books can be purchased on Amazon or Barnes and Noble, and make great gifts.
 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Release of Let the Sea Roar

Announcing the release of our anthology, Let the Sea Roar. I'm blessed to be the only American included with my online Australian friends. I pray the stories will encourage, inspire, and establish a stronger walk with Christ. I wish to share one of such stories now.




Inspirational stories by women for women. With twenty-eight inspirational short stories by nine authors, Let the Sea Roar explores how women cope with turning points in their lives. The fictional stories trace women’s journeys through overwhelming challenges and difficulties as they find their way to comfort, direction, and an encounter with God. These moving stories explore spiritual insights on universal themes such as grief, alcoholism, marriage breakup, domestic violence, teenage pregnancy, poverty and homelessness. The anthology portrays the human condition from a Christian world-view. Recommended for women of all ages and walks of life.

Purchase it now at: http://tinyurl.com/zoyfdka
 
 
In honor of the release and as a Christmas present for my viewers, here is one of my stories from the anthology. 
 
One Woman Makes a Difference
 
By Janet K. Brown
 
     Vicky Hopkins waited in the restaurant for the interviewer to arrive. She crossed her arms and tucked her trembling fingers into the opposite side. Why would anyone want to tell her story?  She wasn’t anything special, just a wife and mother led by God.
     The interviewer flew in with a flourish. “Thanks for talking to me.” She shook Vicky’s hand and sat across the table. “How in the world did you ever think to start a wonderful organization like Women in Need all those years ago?”
    Vicky squirmed. She gave pretense at studying the menu but instead sorted through memories. How indeed?  “I always wanted to make a difference, but I suffered from low self esteem and feelings of rejection.”
     The friend studied Vicky with questions flicking through her eyes before she formed them into words. “How did you overcome that?”
     “When I was twelve-years-old, I gave my heart to Christ.” Warmth settled on Vicky’s shoulders like a heater vent had been aimed at her.  “I couldn’t do anything without God.”
     The woman closed her menu. She must’ve made a dinner choice. “I agree with that. I’m amazed how God has led me into writing stories. When I heard about yours, I knew I wanted to tell it.”
     Both ladies gave their orders to the young man serving them.
     A dry mouth threatened to choke Vicky. She sipped her water. “Life wasn’t always kind.  A good couple adopted me as a baby in a time when the world considered the term adoptee derogatory. I wasn’t good enough for the woman who gave me birth. Cousins and schoolmates teased me. Even my new grandfather rejected me.” Never call me Grandpa. You’re not blood kin.  Vicky winced as memories flooded through her mind. A bad taste rose into her mouth, and she swallowed.
     “That had to have hurt.”
     Vicky nodded.
     The woman leaned over the table. “Tell me more about your childhood.”
     “My adopted mother’s mother lived with us. She taught me to pray.” Electricity zipped Vicky’s spine and caused an increase in heart rate. How she loved the evening prayers with Grandma, and the music. She loved the music that provided therapy for her wounded heart. Vicky had listened to southern gospel on the radio and would then sit before her upright piano and recreate the tune. “For my twelfth birthday, my parents gave me a Wurlitzer spinet piano. I still own it. At thirteen, I began to play at the family’s Pentecostal church. I loved doing that.”
     Their food arrived, and they ate.
     The woman lay down her fork. “You play so well for church. I can’t believe that came naturally without lessons.”
     “That’s what happened.” Vicky ate a couple bites before she continued. She wished she could leave out the next part of her life, but though it hurt, God led her through it. “Hunger for love brought about an early marriage. My husband was abusive. After the birth of a daughter, I determined to leave him to protect my little girl. Now, not only was I adopted, I was divorced.” Heat flamed her cheeks. “I might as well put a scarlet A across my chest.” Vicky ate a few more bites and tried to swallow the shame and debilitating fear she had faced. “Problems mounted as great as Gideon’s grasshoppers.” She quoted to the interviewer a Bible verse that spoke to her.
     And the Midianites and the Amalekites and all the children of the east lay along in the valley like grasshoppers …. Judges 7:12.
     Vicky’s voice softened, but her heart soared.  “Like Gideon in the Bible, God desired to show His power through me.”
     The woman clasped her hands under her chin. “Oh, tell me, what happened next?”
     “A wonderful Christian man entered my life. His love healed my wounds. We attended church and added another daughter to the family. Again, music saved me. When the girls were old enough to sing, the family ministered in song at church activities. That ended when our daughters left for college, but then my husband and I sang in a quartet with another couple.”
     After a moment of silence, Vicky spoke, “Next to music, I loved teaching. God brought me out of hiding behind a keyboard. I taught a Wednesday night group of girls, then Sunday school for teens and finally young adults. God stretched me. Young people gravitated to me and my husband. Our home was full of life and joy.”
     The interviewer nodded and smiled. “So how did you get from there to starting Women in Need?”
     “In days when support groups were unthought-of, I followed my heart to help other women bogged down with insecurity. God inspired me to place an ad in the local paper. It read Are you a woman in need? Is un-forgiveness destroying your life? Come and share together and be a winner.
     “And?”
    “ Twenty-two women filled a house next door to my church. It grew from there. We added people and programs”
     “Wow.” The woman stopped eating.
     “A Christian radio station referred women to us with a history of sexual abuse. My inadequacy reared its sparks of fear. Who was I to counsel people in pain? My husband encouraged me to continue to follow Christ’s leading but to seek training. I began college. Since I was older and worked schooling around a busy family life, a full time job, and two support groups, I studied ten years before I received my degree in social work. By the time I finished, I was fifty-seven.”
     She was rolling now and couldn’t wait to tell all about what God did through her.  “God’s goal for my life broadened. I wrote scripts for the church’s radio broadcast. The city newspaper published my weekly religious articles. God used my desire to ‘make a difference,’ and ministered through me to thousands. But, the devil wasn’t through trying to destroy my witness. My beloved church faltered, closed its doors, and merged with a larger congregation. My precious soul mate contracted cancer and together we faced chemo with his body growing weaker every day.”
     “Was that when you stopped doing the Women in Need groups?” The woman had finished her meal and listened with undivided attention. She waved away the young waiter. “Tell me about that.”
     “The women’s group was too big. With reports to write and grants to seek, my work ceased to be the hands-on counseling I loved. After twenty-five years, I handed over the reins to the organization. I told my husband, ‘I’ve done my do. I’ll sit back and let others play the piano and teach and write.’ However, God wasn’t finished with me.”
     “You and your husband started to the new, larger church?”
      “Yes, and soon, I was asked to teach a life recovery class. I did for three years. One day during my husband’s chemo, new problems arose. His heart stopped and scared all of us. Though he revived, I spent long hours at the hospital. While I was there, God laid it on my heart to begin a care ministry to address the needs of hurting people in the community. After my husband improved, I presented the idea to my pastor. He put the reins in my hands, and the dream became a reality.”
     Tears blurred her vision as she came to the next part of the story. “My husband of fifty-one years succumbed to his illness. For a year afterward, depression plagued me. God’s grace and again ‘the desire to make a difference’ charged me with new challenges. I returned to school and became certified in Christian counseling. Again, I used my pain and loss to minister to those who had lost loved ones through death or divorce.”
     The woman swiped tears from her eyes. “I would say this would be your epitaph.”
    From the heart of a little girl who wanted to help people to that of a widow who exemplifies love-in-action, Vicky Hopkins “makes a difference.”
                  This is based on a true story.
 
I hope my story inspires you to do more, despite setbacks. Our book brims with many such tales of victory, and it's available now just in time for Christmas delivery.
   



Saturday, December 12, 2015

Thank You, Jesus

Have you ever woke up with a praise on your lips? 

My sweetheart since I was 16.


That's what happened to me today. I think it's the fact that after two weeks of feeling badly due to bronchitis, I awoke without chest pain. Thank you, Jesus.




Flowers

When I wonder why sickness, grief, and all sorts of trauma plague us, I'm reminded always of the promise of peace. Peace and gratitude follow deliverance. Through the fog of illness, I trudge wearily on with my eyes on Christ, but at the trial's ending, I look up with awe once again.

Love Heritage Church in Wichita Falls, TX. http://www.heritageag.org/

John 16:33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Family celebrations








Read more great Bible verses on encouragement at: http://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/bible-verses-about-trials-20-scriptures-on-tribulations/#ixzz3u1vRN0mb



Mountains

                                  
hank
heaven for the 
My Lord

A wesome
N ewness of the
K ing

Praise God to my Lord.


The pictures show a few things that I'm praising God for today.



Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Does Faith Mean Waiting?

So when the traders came by, his brothers pulled Joseph out of the well and sold him to them for twenty pieces of silver, and they took him along to Egypt.
                 Genesis 37:28 Life Recovery Bible


13 years passed between these two verses, 13 years of betrayal, prison, disappointments.


Turning to Joseph, Pharaoh said to him, "Since God has revealed the meaning of the dreams to you, you are the wisest man in the country! I am hereby appointing you to be in charge of this entire project. What you say goes, throughout all the land of Egypt. I alone will outrank you."
             Genesis 41: 39-40 Life Recovery Bible  



What is faith?                                                                               
Clouds forming? I see miracles ahead. I took this picture at an RV Park in Kerrville, TX.



The Bible says that faith is "the substance of things unseen."

God felt by the heart, not by reason -  Blaise Pascal

Faith brings hope when there's no outward appearance of a reason to hope. - me

Roget's Super Thesaurus  gives these synonyms: belief, conviction, trust, confidence, certainty, sureness, credence, reliance, hope, dependence.

Webster's New World Dictionary  broadens the definition to "unquestioning belief."



The substance showing faith, as stated in the Bible, is often the act of waiting and accepting.


In the above verses, Joseph trusted God through all his trials. Though he was a mere slave, he did an excellent job for Potiphar. He exemplified God in all he did. When he was betrayed by Potiphar's wife, he accepted his fate with head held high, and his trust in God intact.

While days bled into years of prison life, Joseph rose to excellence because of his reliance, unquestioning belief, in God. Though the butler forgot his promise, Joseph continued to do his best.

Joseph waited for God's promise for thirteen years.
Joseph accepted whatever fate he was dealt.
The answer came in God's timing, not Joseph's.


I don't know about you, but my faith can be strong at the beginning of a trial. When God first promises deliverance, I believe him, but when the answer delays, I falter. What I forget is that God uses that waiting time to prepare me, to strengthen me, to help me see Him more clearly.



Days of praying for my granddaughter's healing, only to have her die, demonstrated God's supremacy.

Months of financial hardship taught me to look to God for sustenance.

Years of praying for children and grandchildren deepens my assurance that God's working.

Does faith mean waiting?

I think, a lot of times, it does.



Saturday, December 5, 2015

A Children's Christmas Book by Stephanie Burkhart

My warmest welcome today to children's author, Stephanie Burkhart. 4RV Publishing released her beautiful book called Joseph's Cradle just in time for Christmas. Scroll to the bottom of this post for my personal review.



 
Joseph and his wife, Mary, expect a baby. With all that is happening, including the government requiring a census, Joseph feels a little overwhelmed and a bit left out of the preparations for the baby. Is there something he can do?

 

 Reviews: “Artist Mathew Hughes' soft, time-friendly paintings take us back to Biblical times. This is a sweet Christmas book that could start a discussion about what a young child might like to give the Christ Child for Christmas.” – Patricia Karwatowicz

 

The Christmas story about the birth of Jesus is one of the most popular and well known stories around the world. We can only imagine how anxious Joseph and Mary were when they arrived in Bethlehem. Throughout the story, Mary carries herself with dignity and grace. Joseph is steadfast and loyal. Becoming a parent isn’t easy and both Mary and Joseph have to find their own way.

 


#1: What inspired you to write the story?

 

STEPHANIE: I wanted to write the Christmas story from the view of being expectant parents.  I wanted to show how Joseph grew into fatherhood. I think these are all aspects of life we all can identify with.

 

#2: How long did it take?

 

STEPHANIE: The story took about a day to write.  After editing, I’d say it took about a week.

 

#3: Did you pick the illustrator?

 

STEPHANIE: No, I did not.  4RV Publishing selected the illustrator.  I think Matthew Hughes did a fantastic job with the illustrations.  They have a very soft hearted feel and compliment the story well.

 

#4: What makes this book special?

 

STEPHANIE: It’s a look at the Christmas story from a different perspective.

 

#5: How long have you been writing children's books?

 

STEPHANIE: About 5 years now. My first children's book, "The Giving Meadow" was published with 4RV Publishing in 2010. It has a great message about sharing and caring for young children as well as telling about Caterpillar's transformation into a butterfly. It's perfect for Easter as it helps young children understand Jesus' story.

 

 


Stephanie Burkhart was born and raised in Manchester, New Hampshire, but now calls California her home. She currently works for LAPD as a 911 Dispatcher. Stephanie has been writing since she was five, when she crafted homemade comic books on the kitchen table. Her previous books with 4RV Publishing include: The Giving Meadow, and First Flag of New Hampshire.  Stephanie enjoys coffee, adores chocolate and is currently the Den Leader for her son's Cub Scout Den.

 

JOSEPH’S CRADLE:  is available in print from 4RV Publishing.

 

BUY LINKS:


 
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FACEBOOK:
 
https://www.facebook.com/StephanieBurkhartAuthor
 

 

GOOD READS:


 

YOU TUBE CHANNEL:

http://www.youtube.com/user/botrina?feature=mhee

 

PINTEREST:


 
A Different Perspective

By: Stephanie Burkhart

 

Have you only believed there was one way to do a task and when you learned there was another way, you were surprised? That’s happened to me a couple of times. Every time I’m always amazed. “Why didn’t I think of that?”

 

The Christmas story with Mary ad Joseph is one of the oldest, memorable stories in the world. In the Bible, Luke and Matthew share their accounts. We know Mary and Joseph traveled a good distance while Mary was about to have her baby. What an inconvenience that must have been! We discover how Mary embodies dignity and grace and we learn the depth of Joseph’s faith when he listens to the angel who visits him. Once they say ‘yes’ to God, what happens next?

 

I wanted to show another perspective of the story, one more personal and one we can all relate too. Mary and Joseph are going to be parents. The thought can be overwhelming. What must it have been like for them preparing for a baby? “Joseph’s Cradle” shows how Mary and Joseph approach parenthood. I hope you enjoy the story!

 My review:

I love the fresh perspective of Joseph's Cradle. In a day when a father's role is too often downplayed, a story from Joseph's point of view is perfect. Burkhart offers a tender tale about gifts for the Christ child, and Hughes gives delightful illustrations. I highly recommend this book for the children on your Christmas list.
 
 
Thank you for stopping by, Stephanie. Here's a question that Stephanie would like to ask you.
 
What gift would you give Jesus for Christmas?
 
 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

What is Temperance?

Temperance is a gift from God.



But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance; against such there is no law.
        Galatians 5: 22, 23 KJV

The ninth fruit (or gift) is temperance.

I don’t know about you, but when I try to list the fruits of the Spirit, I get love, joy, peace, even patience and faith. The one I forget is temperance.


In American society, where we want everything bigger and better, where we preach “doing your own thing,” or “marching to the beat of a different drummer,” where we preach tolerance for all excesses, temperance is an ugly word.

 

What is temperance?

 

Webster’s New World Dictionary gives this definition: self restraint in conduct, no indulgence of the appetite; moderation

 

Cicero is quoted as defining temperance as the moderating of one’s desires in obedience to reason.

 

Abraham Lincoln said, “The demon of intemperance ever seems to have delighted in sucking the blood of genius and generosity.”

 

      Temperance or, as we usually call it, self-control may be good, but it doesn’t come easy. We all have our weaknesses, those things in which we struggle, things that hamper our walk with God, limit our witness to others, and trip us up when we need the Lord the most.

     The problems I’ve battled most of my adult life are low self esteem, roller coaster emotions, and compulsive overeating.

     What is your weakness? What brings you failure time and again in your service to God?

 
     Is it your sharp tongue?

     Is it fear or lack of trust?

     Do you love sports so much, or shopping, or the casinos that you allow those desires to take the place of God in your life?

    Are you having trouble forgiving someone, and every time you get around them, it hits you in the face again?

    Do you fight depression?

    Does perfectionism take you down over and over?
 
     It is our self-will run riot that pushes us on…. Trying to use self-will to control a compulsion or mindset is like trying to put out a fire with gasoline.
     “When Willpower is Not Enough,” from Hazelden Publications.

####Remember temperance is a gift from God, a fruit given by the Holy Spirit. Our willpower or determination is useless without God’s control.
 
 True willpower is our willingness to rely on God.
 
Relying on God begins over again every day as if no progress had been made in the past. Pray, meditate, ask God for fruit from the Spirit, especially Number 9.