Monday, January 16, 2017


THE POWER OF GRACE
By Jennifer Slattery

For years I fought God’s call, for one reason—I knew it’d lead to self-exposure. I feared someone from my less-than-glamorous past would see one of my books, happen upon my blog or an online interview, and tell the world I was a sham. I worried word would get out that this smiling, verse-spouting Christian was once a hopeless, homeless, bitter teenager.
But God was relentless, and over the years, He tugged and tugged and tugged on my heart, I realized He was calling me to something much scarier—transparency. And as I began to obey, I began to view my story, and my past, differently—as a testimony to God’s power and love. I began to see the beauty of His grace, displayed through my story.
Why did Jesus come to earth as a helpless babe, born to unknown peasants?
Why did the angels announce His birth to smelly, rough shepherds?
Why did God choose a homeless teen to write about His love and grace and the transforming power of His resurrection?
To show everyone—from the “best” to the “worst”—that His grace is meant for all.
I first learned of Christ through a lady named Dorothy, a woman who lived in a tiny, humble mobile home who opened her house to a bunch of hyper, poor, antsy kids. I don’t remember much—how often we came or what she said. But I remember she gave us popcorn and that she told me about a God who loved me so much, He died for me.
That truth penetrated so deeply, I grabbed hold of it with my entire, young being.
And then we moved. And moved again. Far from Dorothy, who never saw the fruit of her labor.
But God didn’t let that emerging flame die. Somehow, we always lived near very strong Christians. These believers invited me into their homes where they loved on me and demonstrated grace in action.
During my teen years, I began to self-destruct. eventually, I ended up on my own, crashing wherever I could with my belongings jammed in a plastic garbage bag. Soon, I lost hope for better and fell into survival mode. But although I gave up on myself, God never did. He never left me, never stopped pursuing me. And when I hit rock bottom, I fell smack into the palm of His hands.
“See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me” (Isaiah 49:16, NIV).
For the next decade, God gently, consistently, patiently showed me His love, and in doing so, showed me I was lovable. He showed me I had value. He gave me, in my hopeless state, hope and a purpose.
He hasn’t let me go since.
MEET JENNIFER

Novelist and speaker Jennifer Slattery has a passion for helping women discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ. As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, (http://whollyloved.com) she and her team put on events at partnering churches designed to help women rest in their true worth and live with maximum impact. She writes devotions for Internet CafĂ© Devotions, Christian living articles for Crosswalk.com, and edits for Firefy, a Southern fiction imprint with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. When not writing, reading, or editing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband.

Visit with Jennifer online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com and connect with her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/JenSlatte



Restoring Love:

Mitch, a contractor and house-flipper, is restoring a beautiful old house in an idyllic Midwestern neighborhood. Angela, a woman filled with regrets and recently transplanted to his area, is anything but idyllic. She's almost his worst nightmare, and she s also working on restoring something herself. As he struggles to keep his business afloat and she works to overcome mistakes of her past, these two unlikely friends soon discover they have something unexpected in common, a young mom who is fighting to give her children a better life after her husband's incarceration. While both Mitch and Angela are drawn to help this young mother survive, they also find themselves drawn to each other. Will a lifetime of regrets hold them back or unite them and bring redemption along with true love?



Buy it on:

Christian Book Distributors: http://www.christianbook.com/restoring-love-jennifer-slattery/9781625915139/pd/915132?event=ESRCN



Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/restoring-love-jennifer-slattery/1124423437?ean=9781625915139



Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Restoring-Love-Contemporary-Jennifer-Slattery/dp/1625915136



Connect with Jennifer

On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JenSlatte

Twitter: @Jenslattery

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/jenslatte/

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

 WILLYOU BE THE POTTER’S MASTERPIECE OR A GARBAGE CAN?


By Ada Brownell

“O Israel, can I not do to you as this potter has done to his clay? As the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand” (Jeremiah 18:6).

      If you don’t die young and Jesus doesn’t come back during your lifetime, you’ll probably spend about 75 percent of your life as an adult.

The decisions you make in youth help to form your adult character and mold your personality (and even your body) in ways that are difficult to change. The real “You” peels off the mask when you become an adult and who you are is revealed.
          People who do great things often look back in awe, because when they were young they had no idea how God would use them. On the other hand, I’ve met people who don’t like who they became. One old man told me he wished he could live his life over—as somebody else.

Many people assume they became the person they are because of their parents and other outside influences. Sure, what happens to us and around us affects our lives, but it is how we react to our environment that determines what kind of person we become.
          Your environment affects who you are as much as the genes that held the pattern for your nose and ears. Often environment determines whether or not you use foul language. If family, friends, and your entertainment speak filth, those words pop into your mind. But that doesn’t mean you have to say those words.

If you have been abused, that could affect the kind of person you are and might help determine what kind of parent you become. It’s a generational thing, where the sins of parents are visited into the third and fourth generation. 
 But children who have been abused are successful people, successful Christians, and good parents who don’t abuse their kids. If you know someone in your home has had sex outside of marriage, that knowledge could affect your behavior when you date. Yet, young people whose relatives committed sexual sins can go into marriage as virgins and remain faithful to their spouses for life.
It is not easy. It’s a matter of the will.
Your “will” is an integral part of who you are. Many theologians define the “soul” as the “mind, will, and emotions.” You also have a “spirit” and a “body.”
Understanding the will is simple. It’s the part of you that says, “I will do something” or “I won’t.”
But we can never be good enough to go to heaven in ourselves. That’s why Jesus came. The Bible says, “It’s not by works of righteousness we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us” (Titus 3:5). Because of His mercy, Jesus bled out so sinners could be clean and live forever (John 3:16).
Yes, we were formed with some of the same gene clay that runs through our heredity, but we can become a masterpiece or a garbage receptacle. If we allow just anything in life to influence us, we’ll probably end up a trash can. But if we submit our lives to the master potter, the Heavenly Father, He will mold and shape us into something beautiful.

Adapted from Ada Brownell’s book, Imagine the Future You, copyright 2014. Links: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1489558284 Also available in audio ITunes  http://ow.ly/TY6uO


Friday, January 6, 2017

THE POWER IN YOUR MIND




BY ADA BROWNELL 

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:2).

Have you thought about the type of things you’ve downloaded into your brain in recent years? Whether you know it or not some of it can damage your life and your future. You need a guard over your heart and mind.

Ungodly things we assimilate into our brains (even alcohol or an illegal drug) can do things to our brains we can’t fathom.

Could be like what happened to Jones, my sister Clara’s Chihuahua, a little darling dog who did tricks for Clara’s husband, Blackie. They would put glassless eyeglasses on Jonesy, as we called him, and he’d sit up, take his front paws, and act as if he were reading a newspaper. He’d play dead when Blackie pointed his finger and yelled, “Bang!”

Jonesy did all kinds of tricks and received his hamburgers “made to order” and a human-style cookie for dessert, not doggie treats.

But one day he coughed, sneezed, and gagged all through the night. He wouldn’t eat, and he continued coughing, sneezing, and gagging for several days.

My sis thought Jones was dying, and she couldn’t bear putting him to sleep. Her son was fighting a war, and he was attached to the dog, too.

“We can’t let Jonesy die!” she said.

After about a week of the dog not eating, Jonesy gagged and Clara noticed something in the back of his throat. A long blade of grass hung through his nose and down into the back of his throat and tongue. She reached in and pulled the grass out. Jonesy immediately got a drink of water and started eating and lived for several years after that.

Sometimes a tiny amount of filth or ungodliness can give us great grief.

If we are forced to read ungodly material, we can pray as we read for God’s protection against our minds, but we can go even further. We can go to the teacher or person in charge and say the book offends us and ask for a substitute. Teachers usually provide something else, especially if you come with a respectful attitude and your grades show you’re not just trying to get out of something.

I obtained a substitute book in college when Hugh Hefner’s biography was required reading. I didn’t want that stuff in my head. When I overheard another student say of the biography of the Playboy empire owner and founder, “That’s really a raunchy book!” I knew it wasn’t for me.

Humankind’s wickedness often can be traced to the mind. Broken homes; murder; theft; assault; abuse; rebellion; disobedience to parents, the law and God; disrespect for the church; a lying tongue; adultery and other sexual sins.

On the other hand, great deeds also can be traced to the way think, and most great things come to us because of our love of God and others, which begins in the mind.

Think good thoughts in 2017 and one way to do that is to spend time on your knees, in God’s Word and house, and with Christian friends.

 PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help me guard my heart and mind and fill me with wonderful ideas, new understanding of your Word, and knowledge of how to touch other people lives with positive things. Thank you, Lord. AMEN.




Monday, January 2, 2017

Invest in Mental Wealth in 2017


ada@adabrownell.com                                                                                                           586 Words

                          

By Ada Brownell

“Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls” (Matthew 11:29).
You came into this life “empty-headed.”

When we were kids, my brother used to tell me he could look into one of my ears and see out the other. Then I had an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) of my brain so I could do a firsthand story on the latest technology.
I started the newspaper article with “My brother was wrong. There is something in there.”

New brains have no information downloaded by humankind, but fantastic stored data governs neurological systems, senses, and instincts even in the womb. What God “programmed” into our brains commanded arms, legs, fingers, toes, and so forth to move even before birth. Instincts God installed in our DNA prompted us to suck, swallow, cry, hunger, and caused other parts of the body to function. Even before birth a baby can hear and recognize Mama’s voice.
Babies cry for love, care, and being cuddled, and they won’t thrive without these things.
They learn to coordinate movements and reach for things. Nevertheless, they need outside stimuli to use the potential from the brain. Children who are given no attention often don’t learn to sit, walk, or talk.

We learned our language skills by imitating. If the parents speak Chinese, the child will learn Chinese. Children communicate in whatever language is spoken in the home.
They imitate what they see and hear. Adults copy other people in some degree, too. We imitate experts on everything from sports to the way we dress, to cooking, to playing or singing music, and sometimes even how we decide what to believe.

Your head is not empty now. You learned by experience and from other people. That’s the only way we assimilate knowledge.
After we learn something, we usually can recall it spontaneously. We ride a bike without thinking about how we balance. We type, text, cook, clean, repair cars, and program computers. We balance checkbooks, do income tax, use math to buy and sell, and make chemical formulas to create medicines that save people’s lives or to invent guns, bombs, and rockets to kill them. You can store billions of information blocks in your memory.

Everything you put into your mind changes you. I am choosy about what goes into my brain. I am careful about what I read, what I watch on television, and what I do with my time. I pray for God’s wisdom and knowledge and actively reject smut, vulgar language, gossip, backbiting, and try to steer away from wrong attitudes.
We can put great downloads in our heads: God’s Word, good music, good information, a willingness to learn, work, love, help, and to make heaven our home.

If we use knowledge of good things, our character and integrity grow. Our will becomes stronger. It’s like seeing a growing baby every day. He looks the same if we see him often, but if we wait six months or a year, we see a big difference! You and others will see a change in you when you put positive things you learn into action.
When we make good decisions, our potential for doing great things increases.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, I give you my mind and my will. Pour your Spirit and your power into my life, and plant your Word into my heart. May it bear fruit in me.  Amen.

Copyright 2017 Ada Brownell 






Friday, December 30, 2016

Do Great Things in 2017


By Ada Brownell

Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things” (Jeremiah 33:3).
Recently in our Sunday school class, a missionary told how he grew up in a dysfunctional family three doors away from a church. His alcoholic father found another woman and left his family. His mom and his stepfather didn’t live righteous lives, either, but one day his mother visited the church and took her children. She accepted Jesus as Savior and the young lad did, too.

They were empty-pockets poor. The boy didn’t receive great grades in school, but suddenly he had a desire to study. He decided to go to Bible college, and there God called him to be a missionary, and he obeyed. Eventually, Jerry was able to take the Gospel to a village where the people had never heard the story of Jesus. There now are more than a hundred churches there.

Martin Luther brought the world back to the Bible and the teachings of Jesus when he began to preach salvation is by faith instead of works. Evangelists such as Charles Finney, John Wesley, Dwight L. Moody, and William Booth won thousands of people to Christ. Turning from sin changed nations for the better.

Women have even been used mightily by God. William Booth’s wife, Catherine, used to gather women, and they would go down the streets of London and other European cities with a band and bass drum, calling people to Jesus Christ. Catherine would climb on a soapbox and preach. Soon men joined them, and they literally became an “army” drawing people from prostitution, crime, drunkenness, and other sin. Catherine pointed them to the Savior, Jesus Christ, who gives deliverance, joy, and peace.

In one small town a man told another that if the women went on much longer all the publics (saloons) would have to close.  “I went to almost every bar in town the other night and found only four men in them all,” he said.[1]

The Booths and their Salvation Army continued preaching and helping the poor. The Salvation Army still reaches out to the spiritually and physically needy more than a century after the Booths’ deaths. Catherine Booth’s life touched so many, an estimated fifty thousand people attended her funeral![2]

David stood up to negative peer pressure when he fought Goliath, who kept threatening the Israelites and gloating over their cowardice. Daniel stood up in faith when he was ordered not to pray, but kept praying. The lions he had to sleep with didn’t even show their teeth. Three Hebrew children, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, were the only ones who would not bow down and worship King Nebuchadnezzar’s golden image. They were thrown into a fiery furnace, but God delivered them without even the smell of smoke on their clothes. Their act of boldness brought recognition of the one true God to Babylon, which was about fifty-five miles from where modern Baghdad is today.

If we call upon the Lord in faith and correct motives, God will still do mighty things today.

PRAYER: Lord, increase my faith so that I can reach at least one person with the gospel so he will have your gift of eternal life.





[1] Roger J. Green, Catherine Booth (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1996), 191.
[2] Ibid. 291.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Imagine a Unique You in 2017


By Ada Brownell

“You must be born again” ( John 3:7).

Some people don’t seem comfortable with their own identity. A feature in the July 2010 417 Magazine highlighted people who “starred” in Branson, Missouri, shows—but took the role of another person. Tony Roi was Elvis. Dave Ehlert played Mark Twain. Actors and singers assumed the roles of the Beatles, Dolly Parton, Patsy Cline, and other stars. They are greatly talented, but they didn’t become famous for who they are but for being able to impersonate someone else—often a dead person.
All of us, however, copy other people looks, actions, beliefs, habits, and that affects who we are and who we become, making us like impersonators.

But the real YOU shows up sometime. What will you think when you get a good look at who you are?
Like the old man who said, “I wish I could live my life over—as someone else,” you might not like your looks, character, and meaningless accomplishments.

Looks shouldn’t be the top of the list. Beauty comes in all sort of sizes and designs. Every person is uniquely attractive because we all are made in the image of God. Humankind finally figured out it’s not the color of our skin that matters, but we still don’t seem to know it’s what’s under our skin that counts.
Is love there? Compassion? Joy? Peace? Patience? Gentleness? Goodness, like good money that’s not counterfeit? Meekness? Faithfulness? Self-control? Faith? Wisdom?

Truth is, none of us are perfect but we can be “born again!”  Jesus told Nicodemus, “I say unto you unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
Nicodemus asked, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”
Jesus explained that we need to be born of the flesh and of the Spirit, and explained the miraculous occurrence in John 3:1-21.

The Bible teaches about what happens when we’re born again Ezekiel prophesied that when the Messiah came (Jesus) those who accepted Him as Savior would be changed. God told Ezekiel, “I then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my judgments and do them; and they shall be my people, and I will be their God” (Ezekiel 11:18-20).
The Apostle Paul explained it this way: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Have you been born again?

All you need to do is believe in Jesus, confess your sins to God just as you’d tell a friend, ask for forgiveness, and decide to follow Jesus and His Word. His power will change you.

PRAYER:  Lord, I need to be born again. Make me a new creature by your Spirit. Thank you for shedding your blood on the cross to wash away my sins and for your promises of new life here and for eternity. 

 Copyright 2016
-- Adapted from Ada Brownell's book, Imagine the Future You.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Embrace opportunity in 2017


By Ada Brownell

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
Sixteen-year-old Jim White rode his horse through New Mexico’s prairie in 1898, looking for cattle, when he noticed a plume of bats rise into the sky. He investigated where they came from and discovered Carlsbad Caverns.

The huge hole in the rocky hill from which the bats boiled drew Jim back a few days later. He brought a rope and tools he needed. He made a crude ladder, took his kerosene lantern, and carefully descended into the cave. The next day he returned to the caverns with a fifteen-year-old friend.
Extensive explorations began in 1901, and Jim White was there. He helped construct the first trails, stairs, and lights.

Jim had no idea that day when he mounted his horse he would discover one of the largest and most specular caverns in the world. Like Jim, we never know what opportunities will come, but often they do appear because we’re looking for them or expecting God to lead us to them. But frequently that takes time.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Even if I knew tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.”[1]

Behind every apple you eat is someone who looked into the future with hope and imagination because an apple seed takes more than ten years to produce fruit.
Today is the time to work on our tomorrows.
You don’t need a fortune teller to reveal your future. The truth is, you are the person who determines who you will be, what your life will be like, and how your hopes and dreams will be fulfilled. Today is the time to seek the Lord, grow your talents, look for opportunities, and create an action plan for your future.

Do you know what should be included in your action plan? Here are some things to think about:

1.      Harness your will and seek God’s will.  Daily spend time with God and His Word.

2.      Make valuable deposits into your mind and detoxify harmful things you’ve been taught or experienced by using scriptures that apply, and believe them.

3.      Capitalize on your talents and what you already know.

4.      Connect with someone who can help, such as someone who has succeeded in what you’d like to do.

5.      Avoid traps that can jeopardize your future.

6.      Keep track of the things you’ve learned and what you want to learn.

7.      Live one day at a time in faith, believing God is working things out for your good. Believe in yourself and things greater than yourself, and don’t get weary with the journey.

PRAYER: The Apostle Paul wrote, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Help me to believe I can fulfill great things with your help and strength.


[1] Frank Lutz, Words That Work (New York: Hyperion, 2007).

Note: The above is an abridged version of a chapter from Ada Brownell's book, Imagine the Future You
Copyright Ada Brownell 2013.



IMAGINE THE FUTURE YOU

A motivational Bible study by Ada Brownell

Ready or not, you’re going into your future.

If you continue to do what you do now, what kind of future will you have? This Bible study will help you discover evidence for faith; how to look and be your best; who can help; interesting information about dating, love and marriage; choosing a career; how to deposit good things into your brain you can spend; and how to avoid hazards that jeopardize a successful life on earth and for eternity, all mingled with true stories that can make you smile.
Review:  How I would have loved to sit at Mrs. Brownell's knee when I was a teen. This wholesome book resounds with sage, Godly advice and could be picked up again and again as needs arise. Worthwhile for parents too. Much fodder for family discussion.

            Also available in Audio. Read or listen to first chapter free! #Teens #Family #Devotions
Links: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1489558284    http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B001KJ2C06
ITunes  http://ow.ly/TY6uO