Nothing But a Stick?

MOSES RED SEA - cropped“So the Lord said to him [Moses], ‘What is that in your hand?’  He said, ‘A rod.’  And the Lord said, ‘Cast it on the ground.’ So he cast it on the ground and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from it. Then the Lord said to Moses. ‘Reach out your hand and take it by the tail.’ And he reached out his hand and caught it, and i t became a rod in his hand.’”  Exodus 4:2-4.

At the time of this conversation, Moses had just spent 4o  years in the desert herding sheep for his father-in-law. He carried a rod, as was the custom of sheepherders. It served a number of purposes, including supporting Moses as he climbed steep areas, guiding the sheep when they tended to wander, and providing a weapon to beat off attackers. It was just an ordinary rod. A long, solid, sturdy piece of wood with nothing out of the ordinary about it.

But one day, when the Lord was ready to call Moses and anoint him for the purposes of the Kingdom, the Lord took charge of that ordinary piece of wood and converted it into a tool for His own use. As the passage of scripture above makes clear, the Lord was able to take a solid stick of wood, with no qualities of life or animation at all, and turn it into a living creature. He totally changed, not only the shape, but the whole molecular structure and chemical makeup of that wood until it became something else entirely. And then He changed that living, breathing creature back into a solid stick again.

From that moment, Moses’ rod was no longer an ordinary object. It had become a tool in the hands of the Lord, anointed to do whatever work God called on it to do. So in Exodus 7, it becomes a serpent at the feet of Pharaoh, and when the Egyptian sorcerers produce serpents from their rods, Moses’ rod (with the anointing) swallows up all the serpents of the devil’s camp.

Then in Exodus 14, we see the Lord commanding Moses to lift up his rod over the Red Sea, and when the rod is lifted up, the Lord sends a strong east wind to blow all night and divide the sea so that the entire nation walks through the sea on totally dry ground. Later, when the Israelites are thirsty and belligerent toward Moses because they can find no water (Exodus 17), the Lord instructs Moses to use that very same rod to strike a  rock, and a gusher of fresh, sweet water comes pouring forth from solid rock.

Nothing but a stick in its own right, that rod became a miracle-working tool once the Lord took charge of it and anointed it for His use. The same is true of each one of us. We may be nothing in our own right. We may even be a big mess. We may be a prime example of how to fail at everything. But when we turn ourselves over to the Lord and make ourselves and our lives available to Him for whatever He needs to do with us, we suddenly become a blessed, anointed, miracle-working tool for the Kingdom of God.

So if you’ve been sitting there feeling sorry for yourself — or feeling that you’re too big a failure to be of any use to the Lord and His kingdom — or that you’re too ordinary to be used for anything great in God’s work — just toss yourself down at His feet and let Him change you into what He wants you to be. Once you’re in His control, there’s just no limit to what you can become or the supernatural work you can do.

 

‘Slate’ – My Newest Novel is Now on Kindle

SLATE COVER # 2 - correctedEveryone calls him Slate, and you won’t want to miss knowing him. Rough around the edges, a little slack in his morals, but totally irresistible all the same.

When I started writing this my 11th novel, it was going to be Vanessa Hayes’ story. But, somehow, while I was minding my own business — just sitting at my computer keyboard — quietly putting the story together one chapter at a time — Slate took over. And I’m so glad he did. I struggled with this novel for a couple years, but once Slate came to the front of the story, it flowed the way it was always intended to do.

What’s it about? Well, several of my readers know because they followed the story with me while I posted it one chapter at a time (under a different title) on my author’s blog (The Happy Wordcrafter). And they helped it along with their comments and encouragement. But for the rest of you, here’s a short synopsis:

While in Florida looking for her brother Ken, who has disappeared, Vanessa Hayes meets Slate. Owner of Buccaneer Boat Charter Service, Slate is actually better known in the area as the local rake. Moreover, his connections with sources on the wrong side of the law prove more valuable than local law enforcement in helping Vanessa discover Ken’s fate.

But Slate’s attention isn’t fully centered on the investigation. His primary interest is in seducing Vanessa, even though she is engaged to a man back home who’s very much in love with her.

As the investigation heats up, so does Slate’s pursuit of Vanessa, causing her life-long commitment to the Lord to meet head on with temptations she never thought she’d have to face.

And in the meantime, the Lord is in pursuit of Slate. Love on several levels gets a workout in this story, and the resolution will stick with you long after you’ve read the words “The End.”

The book is now available for purchase at the Amazon Kindle Store, and because the contract with Amazon is exclusive, I won’t be able to leave the chapters on this site for free reading. But I hope some of you will hop over and check it out. Even if you read it here, if you enjoyed it, I hope you’ll buy one for someone you love.

And don’t forget. You don’t have to own a Kindle. Amazon offers a free Kindle app for any device. You can download it from the same page where you order the book.

Just follow the link and get to know Slate for yourself.

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Book 1 of Smoky Mountain Series: Only $1.99 during June

Detective SET FREE COVER - GREEN BKRD # 1Maddison Holt is a man who loves God, but after facing a tragic loss, and accepting the guilt for causing that tragedy, he finds himself doubting both God and himself. Grief, guilt, and self-condemnation are keeping him from being free to love or even receive love from the woman the Lord wants to bless him with for the rest of his life. His journey into the truth that can set him free and give him another chance to love is the story you’ll find in SET FREE TO LOVE.

But Maddison’s story is just the beginning. Because once you get Maddison and Beth on their way to a happily-ever-after, you’ll find that several of the other characters in Book # 1 wanted a book of their own as well. And so the series grows. Four books currently make up the Smoky Mountain family of novels — each with its own hero who faces a challenge that only God’s love and power can overcome. There are more to come, and, hopefully, once you read Maddison’s story, you’ll want to read them all.

SET FREE TO LOVE went on sale yesterday at the Kindle store on Amazon.com. For the rest of June, you can purchase it for only $1.99. Check it out. And if you don’t have a Kindle, no problem. Amazon has a free Kindle app for any device you use. You can download it right from the page where you order SET FREE TO LOVE.

 

 

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Give Someone ‘A Quiver Full Of Arrows’ For Christmas

QUIVER FULL COVER - GOLDChristmas is a time for families. And what better gift to give than the story of one unusual, but heart-warming family that fills the pages of A Quiver Full of Arrows — by me, of course.

Take newspaper publisher Lawson Wainright, who has a gut feeling that two sleeping bags and a can full of peanuts under his front porch just might be connected with four run-away children who have been in the news.  If he’s correct, his life as a quiet, orderly, 40-year-old bachelor just might be on the verge of being turned upside down.

Now add those four children, and a handful of other characters who will make the reader’s heart melt. Throw in a miracle or two from the hand of a loving God. And there you have a story that’s just made for Christmas giving.

It’s available in e-book on Amazon’s Kindle Store, and the price is right for giving: only $2.99.

And don’t forget, Amazon offers a free Kindle app for any device. Downloadable right on the page where you order A Quiver Full of Arrows.

Give a copy to someone you love this Christmas.

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Movin’ On Up From the Manger

Exif JPEG“Away in a manger, no crib for a bed, the little Lord Jesus lay down His sweet head.”  Everyone knows the song, and nearly everyone acquaints Christmas and Jesus Christ with that lowly  manger on the night of His birth as a human being. But, beloved, we must make sure that we do not continue to acquaint Jesus Christ with a little baby lying in a manger — helpless and dependent on mommy and daddy to feed, change, clothe, and protect Him. In fact, if we would bring pleasure to the heart of God, we would actually give very little attention to that lowly feeding trough, and we would focus our attention on where Jesus went from there. Because, in actual fact, where He went from there is exactly where we have gone. He took us with Him every step of the way.

Before His lowly birth into the human race, the person we know as Jesus Christ was the second person of the Godhead. He is described in the first chapter of the Gospel of John as “the only-begotten son” of the Father. The Greek term that is translated “only begotten son” actually means a being that never had a time of beginning. And because Jesus was part of the triune Godhead, He had existed for all time just as much as the Father and the Holy Spirit. It’s interesting to note that only before His redeeming work on earth is Jesus referred to by this term. Once He became a human being, suffered and died and rose again, He is never referred to by that particular term again. He is referred to only as the first-born from the dead, or the head of the church. Because He is no longer just God — but is now God and man together, His whole identity has changed.

But in the old covenant, while still the “only begotten son”, He was also the person of the Godhead who would reveal Himself in physical form to man whenever there was a need for that. Every time we see the old covenant fathers receiving a visit from what many Bible translations call “the angel of the Lord,” the men themselves recognized that they were actually in the presence of the Lord Himself. They all recognized that this person who was visiting them was part of the Godhead and, therefore, they addressed Him as Lord or they named the place where they had received Him in honor of having come face to face with their God. Jacob wrestled with that “angel of the Lord,” but when the battle was over, and that “angel” had blessed him with a new name and a new identity, Jacob named the place, “I have seen the face of God”

During the old covenant, those visits by the second person of the Godhead were very short and for very specific reasons, but the Word of God says that “when the time was fully come,” God sent forth His son, born of a woman. In other words, there was a set time at which that person of the Godhead would no longer fleetingly come and go to help man a little bit here and there along the way — but would come and stay as a man so that He could live the life of perfect obedience that a holy God demanded, and then he could give His life to pay for the disobedience of every other man, thereby satisfying God’s justice, His holiness, and His merciful love for His wayward creation.

So when the time was fully come, Jesus obediently got up from His throne, laid aside all the privileges of being part of the Godhead (Philippians 2: 6-7), and took on the same flesh that every other human being had to live in on this earth. Why did He do that?  In order to live a life on this earth as a human being, facing everything we face in a world cursed because of sin and terrorized by satan and his hordes of demons. Jesus had to live life as a real man — obedient to God’s covenant — anointed by the Holy Spirit with power for ministry — and He had to do it perfectly. He did it, and the Word of God says He did it for you and me.

But then He willingly allowed the Father to lay onto Him all the sin, all the rebellion, all the hatefulness that we had perpetrated — as well as all the curse for breaking God’s laws. He was beaten with stripes beyond recognition for our healing, and He hung on the cross until He had given up every ounce of His blood for our sin. The Word says He died for all, and so in God’s mind, we all died with Him. (Romans 6:3-9, Galatians 2: 20).

So let’s leave the manger and go on to the cross. We hung there in Jesus until the price was paid. But when His body came down from that cross and was put into the grave, that act too was simply one more step in the journey. It was not a stopping place. Because three days later, when God the Father was able to proclaim the price was paid and He could then justly give eternal life to the human race because of what Jesus had done on our behalf, Jesus rose from that grave. The Word says (Ephesians 2: 1-7) that God brought us up out of that grave with Jesus — in Him, to be exact. But that’s still just one step in the journey. There’s more, and it’s the most exciting part of all.

When Jesus had finished His redeeming work and was resurrected — carrying us with Him — He then moved back into Heaven — right into the throne room from which He had begun His journey. But this time, according to the Word of God, He did not enter that throne room as an individual person. He entered it as the Head of His new Body — the body of believers — who died, were buried, and were resurrected in Him. Let’s refer once more to that passage in Ephesians 2, which says clearly that God seated us– in Jesus — at His very right hand — to reign there forever.And what do we reign over? Why everything in life. Romans 5:17 says, “For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one Jesus Christ.”

So, beloved, this Christmas do not linger at the manger too long. Observe it, yes, as the symbol of the fact that the Lord of the universe willingly came to this cursed planet to accomplish God’s purpose of salvation. Move on to the cross, but do not linger there too long either. Move on to the grave and experience the glorious, exhilarating reality of having been brought up out of death into eternal life. But go on further. Go forward from the open grave to the throne. That’s where we have our reality now. We are seated in Jesus at the right hand of the Father.

And the next time you find yourself in serious trouble — in circumstances that look impossible — remember that you are not supposed to be looking at those circumstances from  a world point of view. You need to look at them from where you are actually seated.. Look down on those problems and those circumstances, and when you pray about them, don’t grovel and whine and beg. You’re praying from your position at the right hand of the God of the universe. Let His faith, his joy, and His vision be your own and take authority over those circumstances. Proclaim God’s Word to them and over them.

You’re in a royal position now because the Lord you serve and worship is no longer lying in a manger — no longer hanging on a cross — no longer lying in a grave.  He’s reigning at the right hand of the Father God — and so are  you. Making us righteous enough to take that position, beloved, is the whole reason Jesus came to the manger in Bethlehem. Putting us in our legal position on the throne at the right hand of God is what Christmas is all about.

 

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Running With Jesus

DO YOU KNOW THIS MAN -GOSPELGIFS

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Whom do you run with?  Is that terminology familiar to you? In some circles the term “running with” refers to spending one’s time frequently interacting with certain people — identifying with them — people who have similar interests and goals — the people we consider our best friends and buddies.

Sometimes the people we choose to “run with” make a huge difference in what we do with our lives, what advantages or disadvantages we fall heir to, and what other people think of us. Most people try to “run with” individuals or groups that make them feel comfortable, but occasionally someone gets courageous enough to “run with” another person because he presents a lifestyle that is challenging, exciting, or dangerous.

Personally, I like the company I “run with.” The head guy is Jesus Christ, and I’ve found that “running with” Him is  comfortable, but it is also challenging and exciting at the same time. Here’s just a small example of what life is like in that world:

Running with Jesus means giving instructions to trees and mountains and having them obey immediately.

Running with Jesus means always having plenty to eat, because we can multiply loaves and fishes any time.

Running with Jesus means always having enough money to pay my taxes or any other obligation because if there’s no money handy, I can always go fishing and get some.

Running with Jesus means telling angry storms to shut up and be quiet.

Running with Jesus means walking on the water.

Running with Jesus means telling the devil and his demons what bus to take and what stop to get off at.

Running with Jesus means loving people, feeding them when they’re hungry, and healing their hurting bodies.

Running with Jesus means forgiving others every time they mess up and giving them another chance.

Running with Jesus means praying constantly.

Running with Jesus means experiencing total peace and rest no matter what the circumstances.

Running with Jesus means having the Creator of the whole universe as my Father and knowing I am accepted and loved beyond words for eternity.

If you’re not already “running with” Jesus, why don’t you leave whatever group you are “running with” and join us. You’ll never be sorry.

 

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Children of Light

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“God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:5). “Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” (James 1:17)

If we are the children of God (1John 3:1), and our Father is the “Father of Light,” then we must be “children of light.” And if He is so full of light that there is no variation or shadow in Him, then we, too, should be free of any shadows or darkness. How can we be so? By continually keeping ourselves in His light. As we focus fully on Him and His light, we are drawn into it more and more completely, and His light itself fills us more and more thoroughly, until we are like Him, and it can be said of us: “They are children of light, and in them there is no darkness at all.”

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( I originally posted this article about a year and a half ago, but the truth of it intruded on my thoughts again today, and I thought it deserved a second airing.)

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The Most Important Novel I Ever Wrote — Now Available For E-Readers

REPAIRED COVER FOR FB FINAL - smallerSometimes people ask me which of the nine novels I’ve written so far is my favorite. And I have to answer that I feel like a parent with nine children, in that I can honestly say all of them are my favorites. They were born out of me. They are literally part of me. Every single one of them carries something of me out into the world and into the heart of every person who picks it up and reads it. And not one of them can supersede the others in my own heart.

Each one, of course has it’s own special strengths — as far as I’m concerned. (Of course, there are probably a few people out there who don’t think any of them have “strengths,” because, let’s face it: no one ever writes a book that everybody will like. It’s just a fact of life.  But not to worry: we don’t write for those people. A true writer writes for himself first — and secondly for all those people who will find great pleasure in reading his work.)

So back to my point: each book has its own set of strengths. When I look at the list of titles, I’m reminded of certain people who received help or encouragement or a good laugh when they read certain stories from that list. And I see each novel as offering its own specific gift to the readers.

However, sometimes we find ourselves writing a story that carries so much more potential for touching and changing lives than the average book does. Somehow, we just know that one particular story has an extra special gift to give the readers, and when we’ve finally written the words “The End,” we sit back and say, “Wow, this is an important book.”

That sense of importance — of special significance — came to me when I finished Repaired By Love, the third book in The Smoky Mountain Series. I truly believe this book is the most important book I’ve ever written. The reason is simple: This story has so much to say about the way of salvation and a joyous relationship with the Lord that it could easily be the only tool necessary to lead someone to make a decision to turn his heart over to Jesus Christ. I make that statement, not because I’m the author, but because I sincerely believe that the Lord Himself orchestrated that book to accomplish just that purpose.

Of course, I pray and believe the Lord to lead me in writing what He wants written in every inspirational novel I create. And the main focus in all of those novels is to help people come to know the Lord better and see that He wants to be involved in our everyday lives — helping, guiding, healing, and protecting us. I hope I’ve been faithful to Him in every book I’ve turned out. But in this one particular book, I sense a special anointing from Him to touch hearts that have never  yet opened up to Him at all. I am still in awe of how the Lord led certain people into my life and then used them to plant the seeds of so many of the characters in this book — and how He carried me along with the plot that I didn’t even have a plan for in the beginning.

When I wrote Repaired By Love, back in 2004, I said to a number of people: “If I could have written only one book in my whole life, this is the book I would want to have written.” Eleven years later — and having written five other novels since then — I still feel the same.

I hope my readers will be blessed by it as much as I have been.

Readers can find the digital Repaired By Love at the Kindle Store at a special price for the next two weeks. From today through October 16th, the novel will be on sale for only $1.99.  After that date it goes back to the same price as all the other books in the series ( 3.99).

To read an excerpt from Chapter One click HERE.

(And don’t forget, if you don’t have an e-reader, Amazon has a free app you can download in just a few minutes that will let you read all e-books right on your own computer. Just follow the link to the book page, and you’ll see the notification about the free Kindle App.)

 

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Prayers That Please God

MAN AND WOMAN PRAYINGOver the years, as a minister of the Gospel and teacher of God’s Word, I have spent countless hours studying prayer, formulating lessons on prayer, and — of course — praying. I have an entire curriculum on the subject that I use when I conduct Prayer Schools  throughout the year.  So, needless to say, I could write for hours and hours on the subject. But today I don’t want to write for hours. I want to share just one very important truth.  So here goes:

We pray for all kinds of reasons: worship, fellowship with the Lord, asking for blessings, asking for help, interceding for others. And the Lord is glad to hear from us and welcomes us as the dear children that we are. But there is one kind of prayer that pleases Him more than any others. One kind of prayer that thrills His own heart and, at the same time, opens the channel wide for His answer to get through to us. What kind of prayer always pleases the Father?

When we pray His Word, our prayers are a delight to His heart. No matter what the subject of our prayer is, when we pray the Word, we are praying in faith, because it’s His Word that has taught us His promises.  The Word tells us in Hebrews 11: 6 that without faith it is impossible to please God. So if we would please Him with our prayers, they must be prayers of faith. Not only that, but Jesus made it clear in Mark 11:22-24 — as well as multiple other scripture passages — that if we would get our prayers answered, they must be prayed in faith. Then in James, chapter one, the Lord reminds us again that if we would receive anything from the Lord, we must ask in faith — nothing wavering — and in chapter five of that same book, He says specifically that it is the “prayer of faith” that will get the sick well and get their sins forgiven.

So the prayers that please God the most are the prayers that He can answer — in other words, the prayers of faith. And He tells us clearly in Roman 10:17 that faith comes only one way — by the Word of God. No problem, no trial, and no crying/whining/begging will bring faith into our spirits. Only the Word can create faith. Why? Because only the Word shows  us the reality of those things the Lord wants to do for us. The Word tells us there is such a thing as a born again experience, and we believe it. The Word tell us that we have healing provided by the stripes of Jesus, and we believe it. The Word tells us that God puts angels around us for protection, and we believe it. The Word tells us that God will contend for our lost children, and we believe it.

The only things we can have solid faith for are the things we have God’s Word on. If we try to pray for something we don’t have God’ Word on, then we are praying without faith. We must have a Word in order to have the faith that Word creates. So the prayer in which we go before God and  present His own Word to Him, in confidence that He means what He says, are the prayers that we pray in true faith. And it is those prayers that thrill God’s heart. It’s His delight to fulfill His own Word, and it’s an even greater delight when His children honor Him by learning what His Word says and believing it enough to bring it to Him in full expectation of its fulfillment.

So let’s spend more and more and more time in His Word — until we know for sure what He has to say about every circumstance of life. Then we can take that precious Word to Him in prayers that thrill His heart — and that have a guaranteed answer.

 

 

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