Friday, February 28, 2014

I DON'T WANT TO SUCCEED: A DIFFERENT SLANT ON SUCCESS

I Dont Want to Succeed

By Jessica Everingham

I am pouring everything I’ve got into my writing career. I eat, breathe and sleep words. Between novel manuscripts, articles and blogging, this unpaid job is taking up my spare time, creativity, energy and money.
But I don’t want to succeed.
Wondering why?


Jessica Everingham


I think Isaiah explains it pretty well.

Why spend money on what is not bread,
And your labour on what does not satisfy?
Isaiah 55:2a NIV

I dont just want a successful writing career, because I know that bread is going be about as filling as smoke if I eat it. Believe me, I know. Ive tasted the bitter tang before. I feel that emptiness, that sense of never being satisfied, every time I let my eyes get pulled away from Jesus.
And Im not the only one. King Solomon had desire - and the means - to try whatever he wanted on earth. So he did. And this is what he said:

I denied myself nothing my eyes desired;
I refused my heart no pleasure
Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done
And what I had toiled to achieve,
Everything was meaningless.
Ecclesiastes 2:10-11 NIV

Based on Solomons life, I have to question why anybody would want a successful career, the spouse of their dreams or financial security if it comes at a cost to Gods #1 place in your life. Because without Him, everything is meaningless.

Its not that I wouldnt like to sell millions of books. I want to, I assure you.
But that’s not my end goal. It is not my purpose. Far from it.
God created me and saved me; my entire existence is dependant on and thanks to God. When I remember that, I wonder at how I can ever let my passion for writing distract me from the One who loves my soul like no one else can.

Listen, listen to me and eat what is good,
And your soul will delight in the richest of fare.
Give ear and come to me;
Hear me, that your soul may live.
Isaiah 55:2b-3a NIV

I may never sell a book. I may never fall in love. I may never do all the things I have dreamed of doing. Its a terrifying thought.
But I have the richest of fare. My soul will live. My soul will thrive.
So if success pulls me away from the One who made me, loves me and has His own purposes for me, I dont want it.
I have something better.

*

Jessica Everingham is a journalist, blogger, youth leader, boarding school mistress and aspiring author. She is passionate about writing articles, short stories and novels that peel back our subconscious attitudes and reveal God’s truth. She is busy editing the manuscript of her first novel, Open Your Eyes, and is beginning work on her second book. Follow her on Twitter (@JessEveringham), Facebook (www.facebook.com/jessicaeveringhamwriting) or subscribe to her blog (www.consumedbyhimblog.wordpress.com).







Monday, February 24, 2014

ADVENTURES WITH VINNIE: A DOG WITH A HEART FULL OF LOVE AND LOYALTY


From Ada Brownell: This blog post comes from the prolific Christian author of Great Lakes Romances, Donna Winters. It's different from what usually appears on this blog, but God created animals and they are awesome creatures.  It doesn't hurt us once in a while to feel the wonder of who we are and the amazing things with which our Lord surrounds us. Hope you enjoy this! Donna has designated earning from this book to go to animal shelters.


By Donna Winters

Did you know that dogs could have been domesticated as long as 33,000 years ago? Archaeologists had placed the domestication of dogs at about 15,000 years ago until recent discoveries of older canine skulls with more blunted features and smaller teeth than the wolf.

From my earlier readings about the domestication of wolves for canine companions, I was aware that canines served as protectors and hunters for their cave-man humans, in exchange for food and shelter. It now appears that these canines were also valued as companions. Perhaps this much longer-term relationship can account for the strong bond of love and affection that so often develops between canines and their human companions.

For those of us who are not scientists studying this topic, we “know” that when we incorporate a dog into our family life, giving it not only the necessities of food and shelter, but also the emotional support of affection and love, that our dogs “love” us in return. But can this be measured and documented?

According to U.K. veterinarian Bruce Fogle, studies have shown that, “when dogs are in physical contact with their owners, their brains release the ‘pleasure chemical’ dopamine in exactly the same way as our human brains do when we feel happy and relaxed.” Comforting to know, but we didn’t need scientists to tell us what we already witness in our canine family members—contentedness and relaxation when in the company of their humans. Conversely, we recognize the distress and longing when we leave them behind for a shopping excursion.

If love can be compared with, or partially defined as loyalty, many outstanding stories of loyal canines have surfaced over the years. There was Hachiko, an Akita who waited for his master every day for ten years, even though the man died at work.

In Wales, Graham Nuttall and his border collie Ruswarp were an inseparable pair. The fourteen-year-old dog accompanied his human on a hike in the Welsh Mountains in January of 1990. Eleven weeks later, another hiker found Nuttall's body, and a cold and starving Ruswarp standing guard.

Omar Rivera, a blind computer technician working on the 71st floor of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, credits his leader dog, Dorado, with saving his life. At first, Omar released Dorado’s lead and told him to go with the crowd of people heading downstairs. A few minutes later, Dorado returned. He and a co-worker helped Rivera to escape to ground level. Shortly after they exited the building, it collapsed.

Jake Baysinger’s body and his (live) companion dog were found by a rancher six weeks after Jake had gone missing in the Pawnee National Grassland. His German shepherd dog, Cash, had evidently survived by eating small animals, and had kept coyotes away from his master's body.

These are only a few of the stories of loving, loyal dogs that touch my heart. You may have a story from your own experience. I do, and I’ve shared it in my newest book, Adventures with Vinnie, the story of a shelter dog we had.

Vinnie was handsome, affectionate, and in need of a forever home. And we were in need of another rescue dog. From his first day to his last, the only predictable thing about Vinnie was his unpredictability. Loving and loyal, an escape artist to rival Houdini, and a genuinely comical fellow, his antics will make you laugh, give you a fright (but only for a moment), and melt your heart. With Vinnie, there’s never a dull moment!

My earnings from this book go to animal shelters. The Kindle version is available for 99 cents. The paperback is $9 on Amazon. Both formats include 12 color photos of Vinnie and his family.


Donna Winters lives with her husband and two rescued canines in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. She has nineteen books in print including fifteen historical romances, one historical novel, one contemporary romance, and two nonfiction titles. Learn more about her and her books at www.GreatLakesRomances.com.



Friday, February 21, 2014

Award-winning historical novel, Rebekah's Treasure. What do you treasure?

Hunting for Treasure
by Sylvia Bambola

The world is busy looking for treasure. I was a treasure seeker myself, once. Oh, I don’t mean the kind that long-ago pirates with parrots on their shoulders packed in heavy metal chests then buried in uncharted islands. I’m talking about the treasure people seek to make them feel safe and secure; to make them feel valued, significant and important; the treasure they seek to fill the void that only God can fill. Things like financial security, material possessions, pleasure, comfort, success, fame, a good reputation, happy homes and marriages, peace . . . well, you fill in the blank.

Obviously many of these things aren’t bad in themselves and in fact actually desirable and commendable. Who doesn’t want a happy home and marriage, for instance?  But the trouble with treasure is this: “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Luke 12:34) So if your heart is filled only with all your “wants” chances are you will become disappointed and perhaps even become embittered.


Being adopted, one of the greatest “treasures” I sought was to be married and have a happy, loving family. I did meet and marry a wonderful man. So far so good. A few years later we were ready to have children. But when our first child, Vincent, was born with Down Syndrome and then died many months later, my world was rocked. That which I held most dear was suddenly taken away. “What was life all about, anyway?” I asked.  It suddenly made no sense. But oh, how our loving God uses moments like this! In the vacuum, in the midst of my searching and seeking and studying various religions, I found Him! Standing right there beside me all along, patiently waiting for me to seek the greatest treasure of all.  And that changed everything. 2 Corinthians 4:7 tells us that “we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” How wonderful this is! It’s the “treasure” that’s capable of filling every void if only we allow God to do it.

I wish I could tell you that after I came to know Jesus personally life became a fulfillment of all my dreams, but I can’t. Like everyone else on planet earth, I’ve had my share of trials and tribulation. But here’s the difference. When your treasure truly is the Lord, even the losses and hardships of life are bearable, and what’s more they have the awesome power to conform us into something beautiful—the very image of Christ, though not as fast and as complete as I’d like. I’m smiling here, because aren’t we all like clay between the Potter’s hands? And though our progress may be slow we can be encouraged because God promises in Philippians 1:6 that “he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” So He’s never going to give up on us. Never! For my part I’m so glad He’s still working on me!

This whole concept of treasure is one of the reasons I wrote Rebekah’s Treasure. It, too, is a story about treasure. And though the story is set in 70 A.D. the heroine, Rebekah must face many of the challenges we face today in our violent, chaotic world. And in the end, like all of us, she and other characters in the novel must decide where their treasure lies. And make no mistake, this is not always easy. In fact it’s often a hard fought battle with the question always being: Will we seek God’s way or our own? Fame comes and goes. Finances can be shaken and depleted. A good reputation can be lost, even undeservedly. Pleasure is fleeting. And we can lose those we love. But the treasure of God’s presence in our lives, His peace, His joy remains as long as we abide in Him.

But here’s the kicker. Not only is God our treasure, but we are His treasure as well! Think about that. The very God who created the universe views us as His treasure. Once we understand that, there’s nothing we won’t be able to face in life.

May God become the true treasure He is in each of our lives.

About Sylvia Bambola:
Sylvia Bambola was born in Romania but lived her early years in Germany, a Germany still reeling from the devastation of World War II. At age seven she relocated with her adopted military family and saw the Statue of Liberty and America for the first time. But the memory of those years in Germany lingered and was the inspiration behind her novel, Refiner’s Fire, which won a Silver Angel Award, and was a Christy Finalist.

Life as an “army brat” gave her the opportunity to live in several states, including Hawaii. Then came nursing school in New York after which she married and began a family. Raising two children and being the wife of a corporate executive made for a busy life. So did working in marketing for a telecommunications company, then a medical software company.

Her first novel, A Vessel of Honor, written under the pen name of Margaret Miller, garnered a Small Press Editor’s Choice Award and was seriously considered for production as a television movie.

Bambola is the author of six published novels, lives in sunny Florida and has two grown children. She’s been a guest speaker at Women’s Aglow and various church functions, is a Bible study teacher at her church, loves gardening and is learning to play the guitar.


Links:

Twitter: @sylviabambola

Book Cover:

Rebekah’s Treasure Blurb:

FIRST PLACE WINNER FOR ADULT FICTION IN THE FLORIDA STATE ASSOCIATION NATIONAL LEAGUE OF AMERICAN PEN WOMEN
Forced to flee war-torn Jerusalem in 70 A.D., Rebekah and her husband, Ethan, each take something of value:  Rebekah, the cup of the Last Supper; Ethan, a copper scroll detailing the whereabouts of a vast Temple treasure. Ahead, separation and danger face them as each tries to survive. But it’s not only external forces that could keep them apart forever but internal ones as they struggle to discover where their true treasure lies.

Links to Rebekah’s Treasure:







Tuesday, February 18, 2014

IS THERE SUCH A THING AS CHRISTIAN FANTASY?

Christian Fantasy: A Life-Saving Genre

By Angie Brashear


Definitions of literary genres can be…well, complex. Even tricky. Attempts to define Christian fantasy vary, though I’ve spent little time fretting over an official definition. I mean, Christian fiction typically illustrates a Christian world view within its plot, characters, or both. And the fantasy genre commonly uses myths and legends as a primary plot element, theme, or setting. So, in my opinion, Christian fantasy embodies fantastical elements in an internally consistent setting all the while reflecting aspects of the Christian world view.
But the debate (at least for some) surrounds who writes Christian fantasy. Writers who are Christians, writers who claim to be Christians, or writers who believe Christianity is a fantasy to begin with? It’s not a debate I choose to enter, for the truth lies outside the discussion: the genre influences nonbelievers. My path to salvation began with a classic fantasy, told to me in the midst of my secular world.

When I was in the fifth grade, my teacher read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis aloud to my class. In doing so, she opened my eyes to adventure and possibilities, all the while helping me escape a world of darkness for a short time. At its conclusion, I wondered, Is God real? He couldn’t be, right? For if He existed, innocent young girls wouldn’t suffer the wrath of drunken addicts, or the torment of abandonment.

I continued to speculate. Each time God placed believers in my path—a high school teacher, a college friend, and a college coach—my fascination with the possibility grew stronger until the truth stunned me like a slap to the face. God indeed lives in the form of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. He rescues. He saves. And He waited for me. Then He embraced me. It all started with a little seed, planted in the empty heart of the girl I once was. A love for reading expanded to a love for writing. A desire to know God became a desire to serve Him, to reach nonbelievers.

And Never Let Go was born. 


In all things, I’m grateful to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for embracing a lost, lonely girl. That He died for me…there is no greater gift. My prayer is that I’ll never let go of His truth.

Back Cover Blurb:
Captured by the Rendow Clan, who seek to slaughter those with faith in the Maker, Laila Pennedy awaits death. Moments before her execution, she is rescued from the gallows by Lars Landre and his dragon. Marked as The Chosen by his blue eyes, Lars is destined to lead the Faithful out of persecution.

Lars guides Laila on a harrowing race across The Woodlands to Tuveil, where the Faithful are preparing to fight a rebellion. But the secret location of the village is betrayed and the Rendow Clan’s army will soon be at the gates. Faced with this impeding peril, Laila trains for battle, but the struggles in her mind and heart may be as overwhelming as the war to come. Will she prove herself an asset or is she condemned to forever be a burden to those she loves?

Pre-order Never Let Go here.

Author Bio:
When Angie Brashear isn’t working or taking care of her family, she writes. Usually at night after her kids fall asleep. She’s an avid reader and runner, both of which perplex her husband. Saved in her early twenties, Angie is grateful for the Lord’s presence in all aspects of her life. She is originally from Rockland, Maine and currently resides in Cameron, Texas with her husband and three children.





Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine's Day: The Greatest love known to humankind in action

When God made the world, he made seeds and eggs so everything could reproduce after its kind. A most marvelous thing is contained in seeds and eggs -- life.
            Life was given to us by God in love. That’s why we address Him as Father. Yes, he uses an earthly mother and father to get is here, but he designed us and loved us even before we were born.
            He loved you on the first day were conceived and were the size of a small dot. Then your first cell divided into two, the two into four, and continued to double.  And God saw it, and loved you.
            You traveled through a tube to your mother’s womb and in about 72 hours, you were safely attached inside her tummy.
            By 15 days, fed and given oxygen through the umbilical cord, your heart began to form and your eyes develop. In five more days, the brain, spinal cord and your nervous system were taking form.  By the time you lived 24 days, your heart began to beat.  And God loved you.
            Your skeleton was formed by 42 days, and by 8 weeks; you looked like a baby.  About two months into your life, you could suck your thumb. By 12 weeks, you could make faces, smile, kick, curl your toes, and turn your head.
            Your ears heard at six months through your mommy’s tummy and by seven months, you recognized your mother’s voice and opened and closed your eyes.
            At eight months you had gained so much weight you didn’t have much space to move around, and by nine months, you were ready to be born, the special person you are, because there is no one exactly like you.[1]
God loved you when you took your first breath and screamed at the doctors, nurses and your parents.
In Isaiah 44:2, we’re told the Lord formed us in the womb, just as God designed Adam with His own hands.  Jeremiah tells us, “Before God formed us in the womb, He knew us.”  Jeremiah adds, “Before we are born God had a plan for our life” (Jeremiah 1:5).
            God used a genetic blueprint to design your traits and what your body is like.  Because of God’s design, you inherited a set of genes from your mother and a set from your father. This genetic blueprint designed by God gave you a “prewired” brain, [2] which we call “instinct.”
The pre-wired brain helps you move, tells your cells how to function; and helps you know when you’re hungry.
            Your genes determine the color of your hair, whether you’ll have freckles, how tall or short you may be and what your nose looks like.
            There are 23 pairs of chromosomes in most cells of your body. These 46 top managers hold your DNA. When tested, DNA shows you are different from almost any other person on earth. Many crimes are solved using DNA.
            Whether you were a girl or a boy depends on one of the chromosomes being an X or Y.
            Look at yourself.  No, you can’t see your chromosomes or your genes, but you can see you are a wonderful working machine. You see the love of God when you look at your body.
           But the greatest testimony to the love of our Heavenly Father is summed by this scripture: "For God so loved the world that he gave his only son that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:16). Jesus coming to earth as a baby, living among us, healing the sick, raising the dead, and then dying on the cross and walking out of the tomb alive, ascending into heaven, and sitting at the right hand of the Father to hear and answer prayer, all are true because of the greatest love humankind has ever known.

            How do you feel knowing how much God loves you?  What does this mean to you?  What will you do about it?


©Ada Brownell February 2014


[1]Your First Nine Months, Good News Publishers, Wheaton, Ill. 60187
[2]Understanding Human Behavior, James V. McConnell, 1980, Hold, Rinehart and Winston

Thursday, February 13, 2014

BAD/GOOD THINGS: WILL GOD GIVE YOU MORE THAN YOU CAN HANDLE?

Playing the Blame Game (Devotion)

By Ginger Solomon

When bad things happen, we all want someone to blame. It’s a natural reaction. It’s been happening since the beginning of time. In Genesis, Adam had the audacity to blame God for “the woman you gave me,” then Eve blamed their sin on the serpent (Gen. 3:12-13).
Whether it’s sin or death or some other disaster, we want answers. We want an explanation. We ask, “Why is this happening to me?” Many times we blame God for the situation.
There’s a saying that’s been going around for a while, “God will not give you more than you can handle.” I beg to differ. If He were to only give us what we could handle, then we wouldn’t need Him.
In Luke, it is recorded that Jesus confronted the chief priests and scribes with the parable of the vinedressers. (Luke 20:9-19). When he finished the parable, he added a little Scripture. Verses 17 and 18(NKJV), “Then He looked at them and said, ‘What then is this that is written: “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone”? Whoever falls on that stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder.’”
For years, I have pondered this verse. Many might find it discouraging, but I do not. Why? Because I have realized that if I fall on Jesus, who is the cornerstone, I might be broken. It will probably hurt. BUT God, with grace and mercy, sent Jesus to heal the broken. (Isaiah 61:1, Luke 4:18)
We all go through trials and tribulations. In fact, the Bible promises that we will. It also promises that God will never leave us or forsake us (Heb. 13:5), and that He would always be with us (Matt. 28:20).
In my debut novel, One Choice, my heroine, Cahri steps away from God when her parents are killed on the mission field. For years, she lives “going through the motions” of being a Christian, but in her heart she knows how far she’s wandered from God. BUT God does not give up on her. Throughout the story, we see His loving hand on her life — guiding, protecting, providing.
God is faithful (Deut. 7:9, 1 Cor. 1:9) and He does not turn away from us even when we move away from Him. He prods at us gently – through nature, memories, friends, and so many other ways. He loves us and wants us to return to Him.
When bad things happen we must learn that blaming is not going to make us feel better. Only God’s presence can sooth our tattered and wounded souls.
Have you played the blame game with God? He doesn’t mind your questions, or your anger, but He always wants you to come to Him for your comfort. There is no better place to be than on the lap of Abba (Daddy, God) when life throws us more than we can handle.


Short bio:
Ginger Solomon is a Christian, a wife, a mother to seven, and a writer—in that order (mostly). When not homeschooling her youngest five, doing laundry or fixing dinner, she writes or reads romance of any genre. She’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, president of her local writing group, and writes regularly for three blogs.

Long bio:
Ginger Solomon is a Christian, a wife, a mother to seven, and a writer — in that order (mostly). When not homeschooling her youngest five, doing laundry or fixing dinner, she writes or reads romance of any genre, some sci-fi/fantasy, and some suspense. She’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, president of her local writing group, and writes regularly for three blogs. In addition to all that, she loves animals, horses especially, likes to do needlework (knitting, crocheting, and sometimes cross-stitch), and loves to sing in the choir at church.

My Links:


One Choice blurb:

Cahri Michaels is American by birth, but Belikarian by choice. Being selected to participate in the Bridal March forces her to give up the independent life she’s created for herself. She’s not ready to be anyone’s wife, much less to a man she doesn’t know.

Prince Josiah Vallis despises the centuries old tradition—the Bridal March—that is forcing him to choose a wife from fifty women. Why does it matter that he’s twenty-five and still single?

When Cahri and Josiah meet, sparks fly. Will it ignite a godly love that can see them through or will they be burned, never to be the same?


One Choice links:


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

VALENTINE'S DAY -- WHO CAN FIND A WIFE OF NOBLE CHARACTER?



Our daughter, Carolyn, and her husband, Michael Coney at their wedding in 1983. Carolyn went to heaven in 1990 after a short battle with cancer. She wasn't perfect, but she was a special woman, and many testified to that.

A special woman

By Ada Nicholson Brownell

God gave Solomon a special Gift of Wisdom, but the king didn’t seem too smart where women were concerned. God permitted men to have more than one wife in Old Testament days, so Solomon married 700 women and had 300 concubines, many of them foreign gals God forbid Israelites to marry.
Apparently Solomon couldn’t find the one woman—the one jewel—the girl that would be his one and only until death. But Solomon did have supernatural wisdom that told him the qualities of the ideal wife, although the king didn’t have enough sense to find a good woman and cleave only to her himself. He couldn’t seem to apply wisdom to his own life.
Yet, I respect Solomon’s wise counsel and he wrote many things I use as goals. But I’ve never reached the perfect woman he describes.
Here’s what he penned, followed by what I think he and the Lord are saying to me.
Solomon wrote in Proverbs 31:
“A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.” [She is beautiful inside because of her godly lifestyle, her love, devotion and faithfulness.]
 “Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.” [She earns her husband’s loving respect.]
 “She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands. She is like the merchant ships bringing her food from afar. She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls.” [She is a good mother and compassionate.]
 “She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. She sees that her trading is profitable and her lamp does not go out at night. In her hand she holds the distaff[1]and grasps the spindle with her fingers.” [She has a business of her own, yet keeps up with the work at home.]
 “She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. [She is charitable.]
Solomon said, “When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet (a type of woolen cloth). [She looks out for everyone in her house.]
 “She makes coverings for her bed.” [She’s probably romantic.]
Solomon said, “She is clothed in fine linen and purple.” [She has good taste in clothes and desires to look her best.]
 “Her husband is respected at the city gate where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.” [She chose a husband with good character. Because she manages the household well and loves him, her husband is highly esteemed.
If she had lived in New Testament days she would have obeyed the counsel in Ephesians 5: 32-33 to “respect her husband.” Solomon also wrote in Proverbs 14:1, “The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.” [I don’t want to tear down my home with my words.]
 “She is clothed with strength and dignity; She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. [This gal is no dummy; she studies and teaches others.]
 “She can laugh at the days to come.” [She has a sense of humor.]
“Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her. ‘Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.’” [The whole family adores her and they voice appreciation.]
 “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.” [She knows loving God, her family and others is more important than anything. She finds satisfaction and reward.]






[1] A staff that holds unspun flax, wool or other raw materials.

Monday, February 10, 2014

MYSTERIES OF MENTAL ILLNESS AND DEMON POSSESSION

  
   

By Ada Brownell

“You know these people are out to get us,” the young patient said, his eyes squinting and glaring with anger. “They let us swim in their pool, and give us games to play, but we need to be careful. Did you know they have a graveyard on the grounds?”
As a reporter who worked the medical beat for the local newspaper, I rode with a public relations guide, guards, and a group of mentally ill youth on the grounds of the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo.
 “Is that so?” I said.
He nodded and continued sharing his delusional thoughts as the driver delivered the load of disturbed kids to the pool.
I met and interviewed a number of mentally ill folks in the seven years I spent on that beat. In addition, I picked the brains of the amazing people who work with these patients. Some of those kept in the institution were dangerous killers.
Not all murderers were on the forensics unit which housed criminals who had been ruled “not guilty by reason of insanity.” There was one kid on the juvenile unit rumored to have killed his parents. A woman on the general adult unit killed her children. Another woman beat a guard nearly to death with the metal turn handle from a window.
Yet, most patients were more a danger to themselves than to others. One teenager cut her arms trying to get rid the wickedness in her. In addition to the stitched new cuts, scars showed tracks of agony—from  her wrists to her shoulders. I saw a middle-aged woman with the same problem.
At the turn of the last century, these types of people were thought to be demon possessed.  When knowledge of the brain expanded, doctors at psychiatric institutions, often called insane asylums or lunatic asylums, began to diagnose the causes of mental disease. Often perfectly sane people were housed with the severely disturbed.
The 1899-1900  Board of Lunacy Commissioners reported among those admitted with obvious mental disorders were a number with epilepsy, Down’s Syndrome (labeled idiocy then), paralysis, kleptomania (a compulsion to steal,) sexual paranoia, alcoholic paranoia, religious excitement, ill health, intemperance.
I asked nurses who worked with the patients today if they thought some of their patients, admitted because they were a danger to themselves or others, were demon possessed.
“The patient who escaped recently who had murdered someone in Denver and stabbed him about 70 times, seems to qualify,” one said.
After escaping, the gal was free only about a week, then was caught and returned.
“She goes into a rage if she requests a movie and the store doesn’t have it,” the nurse said. “You never know what will set her off.”
I was told no matter what treatment used, nothing helped some of the patients.
A psychiatrist who had recently become a Christian said, “It’s difficult to tell whether a person is mentally ill or demon possessed. I do my best to counsel them, then I pray for them all. God knows what they need.”
I learned mental illness is a disease like diabetes—it’s often caused by an imbalance of chemicals in the brain. Even a brain tumor or injury can cause adverse changes in behavior. So mental illness is a physical problem.
In contrast, demon possession is a spiritual problem and I think Satan takes over the part of brain reserved for God. From what we read in the New Testament and hear from missionaries who encounter it, demons need to be cast out.
I don’t believe a born-again Christian who lives in obedience to God can be demon possessed, because scripture says “greater is he who is in us than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4).
The goal is to stay close to Jesus, watch what we put into our minds, and shun even the appearance of evil. We’re told, “Submit yourself to God. Resist the devil and he’ll flee from you (James 4:7).
May that thought give you joy when you hear stories about demon possession. Also remember not everything attributed to demons actually was done by Satan.
©Copyright Ada Brownell Oct. 31, 2013








Saturday, February 8, 2014

Why has the United States been blessed with liberty?


God’s mercy brought America through hard times
By Ada Brownell
A phone call from our daughter. “Better turn on the news.”
 A click, and I sank into a recliner. Flames shot from the World Trade Center and people jumped out windows. Then a large aircraft plowed into the remaining twin tower, exploding top floors and setting the remainder of the crumbling skyscraper on fire. A short time later, a plane made a direct hit on our Pentagon, and another headed for the White House.
We were at war. Our soldiers still fight the tentacles of terrorism trying to strangle the last breath of freedom from our nation and the world.
What a joy liberty has been in the decades I’ve lived! No bombs lighting the sky in the distance or jarring my bed at night. During my childhood I trembled during World War II when the town siren screamed, “Blackout.” But sirens stopped, our homeland was safe despite carnage at Pearl Harbor, and Americans lived free.
 Yes, war bruised our nation. I remember my sister’s scream when she received the call revealing her fiancĂ© was killed in World War II. We feared Russia during the cold war, and during the Bay of Pigs crisis we wondered if atomic bombs would level our nation before morning. We’re still burying our young killed on battlefields abroad.
Throughout history, America went to its knees for God’s help. They cried out to the Lord during the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Mexican-Indian War, Civil War, Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War, the War on Terror in Afghanistan and Iraq; and interventions in Granada, Panama, Bosnia. I’m thankful for those who fought, gave their lives or were maimed.
Liberty prevails, and I believe it’s partly due to our Judeo-Christian heritage that teaches loving God and others.
 Another reason we have been blessed is our nation’s support of Israel.  "And I will bless those that bless you and curse the one who curses you,” God said of Israel (Genesis 12:1-3). Zechariah 2:8 speaks about God rising against the nations that plundered Israel – “for whoever touches you touches the apple of my eye." 
If we turn from God, it even affects the environment: “There is no faithfulness, no love, no acknowledgment of God in the land. There is only cursing, lying and murder, stealing and adultery…. Because of this the land mourns, and all who live in it waste away, the beasts of the field and the birds of the air and the fish of the sea are dying” (Hosea 4:1-3).
And the promise for obedience: “Then all the nations will call you blessed for yours will be a delightful land,” says the Lord Almighty (Malachi 3:6-12).
Even with continued war and our nation divided by different agendas, we are free and blessed. The church still prays for our leaders and our country, and I thank God for His mercy and ask for more.
Ada Brownell, a free lance writer and author of four books, is a retired reporter for The Pueblo Chieftain. Her blog: http://www.inkfromanearthenvessel.blogspot.com


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Ministry: God's Call Not for the Fainthearted



God’s call is not for the fainthearted, whether to a mission field, an unpopular stand or a particular task. When God calls, expect difficulty and hardship. Expect to shed some blood, sweat and tears.
That’s not something we in twenty-first century America like to hear. We’re used to convenience and leisure and instant gratification. But as I read through the Bible, I see God calling his people to specific tasks that require hard work and sacrifice. For example, Noah was called by God to build an ark that would save his family as well as the animals God had chosen. How long did he have to work on building the ark? Scholars believe it was probably around sixty years. That’s sixty years of gathering materials, measuring, cutting, fitting, pounding, sealing. Hard work. Sweat. Is there anything you’d be willing to spend sixty years working on?
The Israelites fought many battles in their conquest of the Promised Land. We don’t read the details about every battle in the Biblical accounts, but this was war in all its bloody, gory, frightening, painfulness. And these messy battles continued through the period of the judges, King Saul, King David and beyond. God called them to the task, but it wasn’t easy. Most likely, some of the Israelite warriors gave their lives answering God’s call. Families were left without husbands and fathers and brothers and sons. Blood and tears. What are we willing to sacrifice for God’s call?
The prophets were often required to sacrifice their reputation and their safety in order to demonstrate God’s word to his wayward people. Jeremiah spent time sinking in the mud of a cistern, alone without food to strengthen him or sunshine to warm him. Isaiah was told to walk around naked for 3 years. And of course, Hosea’s heart broke over and over again as his wife played the harlot with other lovers. Rejection. Embarrassment. Are we willing to suffer personal shame for God’s call?
Even in the New Testament, people who believed Jesus was the Messiah were thrown out of the synagogues, persecuted by both Jews and Romans. Nearly all the apostles were killed because they felt called to follow the Lord. Paul even lists the times he was flogged, shipwrecked, stoned, etc. Followers of the Most High God didn’t expect to have it easy or convenient. They weren’t interested in a leisurely approach, and understood well that their reward would come later.
As a writer, I have answered God’s call but sometimes feel discouraged because the going is hard. The ideas aren’t flowing. The words won’t come. Maybe I’ve misunderstood what God wanted. I thought if He called me to write, He’d make it easy for me to accomplish. Oh, no. God’s call is an offer to stretch beyond our own resources, our own abilities. That’s hard. That can be discouraging. That involves long hours of lonely work. But, if that’s where you are, you’re in good company, and in good hands!
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified or discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
Answer God’s call on your life, but be ready to work to accomplish it.



Mary L. Hamilton is the author of Hear No Evil, Book 1 in the Rustic Knoll Bible Camp series for tweens. She grew up at a camp much like the setting for her book. When not writing, Mary enjoys knitting, reading and being outdoors, though not all at the same time. She and her husband live near Houston, TX within range of their three grown children.

Connect with Mary:
Twitter:@mhamilton122

Hear No Evil available through Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/kl5bovo
            Or Barnes & Noble: http://tinyurl.com/kw2xmtr






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Saturday, February 1, 2014

Beauty and Success: How to Look and Be Your Best


 
By Ada Brownell

For some reason, humans follow other people like sheep following other sheep, even if they have no idea where they’re going.
Sheep will blindly, habitually, stupidly follow one another along the same little trails until they become ruts that erode into gigantic gullies, says Phillip Keller, a shepherd and Christian author.[1]
Keller says, “Instead of being one of the crowd, I am willing to be singled out, set apart from the gang. Most of us, like sheep, are pretty gregarious. We want to belong. We don’t want to be different in a big way, though we may wish to be different in minor details that appeal to our selfish egos.”
Yet,  it is the person who dares to be different who changes the world for the better.
One area where we usually don't want to be different is in the way we dress and style our hair. Yet, being unique in our appearance has value. How we dress demonstrates who we are. Whether we are fastidious, a perfectionist, modest, shy, too lazy to work on our appearance, trying to attract attention, or in rebellion, might show in what we wear on our bodies.
For sure if we keep our hair clean, brushed, and styled; our clothing clean, wrinkle-free, and well fit; and use colors and styles that complement our age, complexion, hair color, and body shape, it says we care about the details of life.
Appearance also sometimes demonstrates whether you are a leader or a follower.
IMAGINE YOUR UNIQUENESS
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.
My mom told me the most beautiful thing I can wear is a smile. But even a smile won’t cover an ugly attitude, hatred, envy, anger, lies, greed, jealousy, and rebellion.
Guys and gals who have the courage to be the person God wants them to be inside and out, despite what everyone else is doing, will earn respect. If you don’t believe that, think about a young individual you look up to because of who they are. Listen to how guys and girls treat and talk about people you know who aren’t respected.
IMAGINE SETTING TRENDS
People who dress modestly and tastefully—still staying in style—will create peer pressure. More than one person will want to be just like them. But the most attractive assets we can have are love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, meekness, faithfulness and self control, the fruits of the Holy Spirit mentioned in the Bible in Galatians 5:22.
King Solomon, who had seven hundred wives, since having more than one wife was acceptable in Old Testament days, wrote, “Charm is deceptive. And beauty if fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised” (Proverbs 31:20NIV).
-Adapted and exerpted from Ada Brownell's book, IMAGINE THE FUTURE YOU, a motivational Bible Study. http://www.amazon.com/dp/1489558284




[1] Phillip Keller, A Shepherd Looks at the Good Shepherd and His Sheep (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan), 65.