Category Archives: faith

What Side Are You On?

How many times have you heard… “I’m a Christian,” “I believe in Jesus,” “God speaks to me.”  But when you look closely, you see no evidence of Him.

Courtesy of Creative Commons

They profess Christ. They pray. They attend church faithfully, or not. They post Scripture memes on Facebook, and have all their Christianese down pat. Yet, somehow, they carry on as if He doesn’t exist.

They live in outright sin, but think because they were born with gifts and talents, that makes them special and gives them license to do whatever they want. No holds barred. Never once bending their knee and recognizing Jesus as Lord.

They have made a god of their own understanding.

For a couple of years, I went in a different direction. I had stopped reading my Bible and attending Church to assuage my conscience. The deeper I got, the more convicted I felt, until I came to the end of myself.

Whatever you let in, or surround yourself with, will influence you.

I had to make a choice, either I was going to do things my way or God’s way. It wasn’t about what people thought of me, it was about what God thought, and I knew what I needed to do. I needed to break away from all of those associations and influences that had me walking the opposite direction.

Bad company corrupts good morals. (1 Cor. 15:33)

Was it easy? Absolutely not, because I am back at square one. I pressed the reset button and started over again. But this time, I’m doing things God’s way.

The Bible is clear, we can’t live on both sides of the fence. Either we are serving God or the devil, there is no in between.

Some “Christians” will justify what they are doing with a million excuses, which may even sound plausible, but they are deceiving themselves.

This world is governed by the spirit of rebellion.

Ironically, the ones with all the excuses, are the first to criticize those who are actually trying to follow the Bible.

One thing is certain, they may be successful at whatever it is they are doing in the world, but there won’t be any evidence of Jesus in their life. Because they are not pursuing Him, they are chasing after their own worldly pursuits. They made their dream an idol.

Personally, I’d rather be criticized and called names, however unpleasant that is, than bear no fruit in my life.

What about you? What side are you on? 

Christianity Today

I don’t know about you, but lately, I see so much confusion within Christianity. What happened to the simplicity of the gospel? Where did it go?

Courtesy of Creative Commons

I was one of those Christians who never read their Bible, but in the past couple of years, I have been reading it diligently. To my surprise, I am slowly becoming aware of things I used to passed over, and not pay attention to.

Some Christians get offended when you speak on various pastors who preach a false gospel. They call you judgmental or negative. However, what they fail to understand is how contrary their messages are to the Bible. And yes, I’m deliberately not calling them out.

What I have analyzed is how certain groups of Christians will focus on key scriptures as their premise or basis of doctrinal belief. When they spout these particular scriptures, it does sound exactly as it’s being conveyed. However, that’s the deception. The scriptures are being taken out of context and not going along with the entire theme of the Bible. This is why I say it’s so important to read the Bible.

There was a time I bought into the lie of seeking Heaven on earth. Where everyone will be as one and in unity. Where there is unlimited grace and favor, no matter what you did. A god who supports gay marriage, adultery, murder, child pornography. Anything goes, because God is a loving God and He doesn’t condemn people to hell.

I’m sorry, but that’s not true. God loves the sinner, but hates the sin. He loves the homosexual, prostitute, pimp, drug dealer, murderer, child molester, and adulterer, but He doesn’t love their sin. He doesn’t condone any of these things that specifically go against His very nature and Word. No, He doesn’t accept it, and yes, there is a hell, and it’s real.

Christianity today is do it your way. Where grace abounds, no matter what you do. A feel-good Christianity, where they worship a Jesus who laughs all the time and slaps you on your back, and says, “ata-boy or girl”.

Yes, God is a merciful, and forgiving God. He rains on the just and unjust. (Matthew 5:45) However, He doesn’t accept everything. We shouldn’t abuse or take His grace for granted either. (Hebrews 6:6)

As Christians, we have to make a choice. Either we are all in or all out, but there is no in-between. He hates lukewarm and spews it out of his mouth. (Revelation 3:16)

What kind of Christian are you?

Another Gospel

They tell you to ignore and deny your sickness, depression, and pain. And when you pray, and nothing changes, it’s YOUR fault, because you don’t have enough faith.

Courtesy of Creative Commons

How many of you know that’s a bunch of hogwash?

For whatever reason, some people have a hard time wrapping their minds around the fact that depression and anxiety is an illness and disability. Much like someone who lost an arm or a limb.

However, there are some in Christendom who believe if you are struggling with any kind of illness or disease, it is either a result of unrepentant sin, demons, or a lack of faith. So, on top of suffering, there is the guilt, blame and shame added to the mix for good measure.

I happen to be an open minded person, but I have a real problem with this false teaching being purported as truth. I have been exposed to a lot in my life, and have learned a great deal in my search for God. The one thing I can tell you is that these so-called faith healers are fake, and if they do exhibit any so-called power to heal, you must question the origin from hence it came, because not everything “supernatural” is of God.

I am here to tell you, that if you are a Christian who struggles with any kind of illness or disability, you are not alone and are no less a Christian for it. Jesus never said we wouldn’t be sick or suffer here on earth. He said we will have to pick up our Cross and follow Him.

I read this morning in Matthew 10:18, “And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.” Hmm, did you catch that… “not worthy of me.”

Jesus said it like it is. These fresh revelations, or new insights of the Word of God that these self-proclaimed apostles and prophets tell you is not biblical doctrine, but another gospel.

Today, the Church has strayed so far away from the truth, it’s sad. They have a distorted, confused and mixed up doctrine. What makes matters worse is that Christians don’t like to read their Bible. They’d rather be spoon feed, than dig into it themselves. What they fail to realize is they are doing themselves a huge disservice.

I do believe God heals. However, I no longer believe in those who claim to be used of God to heal others. God is God. He doesn’t need intermediaries. All God desires that we pray, have faith, and follow Him, whether we get healed or not.

The Day I Deleted 3,000 Friends

From 2014 through 2015, I went from blogging and reviewing Christian genre, to crime fiction and urban literature. I enjoyed it, and in the process, learned a great deal about myself, and others.

However, once I rededicated my life to Christ in the beginning of 2016, I had to reevaluate things. What I was doing, where I was going, and mostly, what God wanted for me.

Courtesy of Creative Commons

My deleting over 3,000 “friends” wasn’t personal, it was something the Lord impressed on me to do. He wanted me to put the past behind me, and start anew. As it was, not all of my decisions were lining up with His, and something needed to change.

The Bible says, in Hosea 4:6a, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.

Life is a journey, and the road can either be smooth or tumultuous based on our decisions. Our choices have to be aligned with His for things to go right in our lives.

The devil likes to confuse us and take us on rides, to get us off course, so that we get frustrated, give up, and abort our calling. This is what happened to me. So, I had to repent, recalibrate and get my life back on track.

As an artist, I do appreciate all art forms, however, I had to reconcile with the fact that a lot of what I was reading and reviewing was no longer feasible. The books I read were well-written by some talented authors, however, the genre was no longer one I could indulge in as a follower of Christ. So I had to make a decision, I was either going to follow Him or do it my way. And trust, that doing it my way didn’t result in anything good for me.

Thus, I am returning to blogging about my faith, reviewing Christian books, and classical literature. My goal is to continue to do my best and provide you with a variety of relevant content; full of substance, meaning and depth. Thank you for traveling on this journey with me.

Ta-Ta 2016… Hello 2017!

2016… what can I say? You were like a bad marriage on steroids. Lots of downs, and not enough ups. But like any other commitment, we trudged along together through every obstacle with gritted teeth. But boy did you hit us with some doozies.

There were a lot of disappointments, shedding, and letting go of people, places, and things. Which is why, I’m not sorry to say, ta-ta, arrivederci, and good riddance!

Courtesy of Creative Commons

In 2016, I learned to surrender, obey, pray, and trust Jesus. He taught me how to stand in the midst of each relentless and incessant storm. As a result, my faith got stronger. My Comforter gave me the courage, and strength of a lioness to confront things without fear.

Through every wind and wave of adversity, He taught me not to cower or give up. I am determined to walk with Jesus every single day, every step of the way, with no turning back. Ever again.

This verse became real and personal to me,

“No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise up against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD.” (Isaiah 54:17)

When others turned against me, Jesus never did. He never left me nor forsook me. He showed me His faithfulness, and showered me with His unfailing love, grace and mercy. He truly is a good, good Father, which is why I will follow Him all the days of my life. No matter what. Even if I must walk it alone.

No, I didn’t like you very much, 2016, however, I would be remiss not to thank you for every lesson, test, trial, tribulation, storm and adversity you’ve sent my way. My circumstances may not have changed, but gratefully, I have.

Happy New Year!

A Spectacle of Glory by Joni Eareckson Tada

Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Zondervan (October 4, 2016)
ISBN-10: 0310346770
Price: $11.72
Purchase: CBD | Amazon | BN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Description

Do you ever wonder why God created you? The Bible spells it out plainly: God created you to showcase His glory—to enjoy it, display it, and demonstrate it every day to all those you encounter.

After nearly 50 years of living as a quadriplegic, and dealing with chronic pain on a daily basis, Joni has learned firsthand the importance of glorifying God through the toughest of situations. Through this devotional, Joni will help you discover how to put God’s glory on display—how to say no to complaining and say yes to daily following God down even the most difficult paths. Along the way, you will find great comfort and encouragement by focusing on the one who longs to lead and guide you every step of the way, every day.

Don’t ever think your life is too ordinary, your world too small, or your work too insignificant. All of it is a stage set for you to glorify God.

Review

Many years ago I had the pleasure of reading When God Weeps by Joni Eareckson Tada. So, when I was offered the opportunity to review her new devotional, A Spectacle of GloryI gladly accepted.

Just as her book spoke to me, so is her devotional. She writes from a deep place. Her words are rich and full of substance. There is no fluff or superficiality.

I relate to her, in that she knows what it’s like to suffer, and not get healed. She had a diving accident which left her paralyzed, and she has been a quadriplegic now for forty-nine years. She prayed that God would heal her, and went to several healing services, but was never healed. Yet, she never lost her faith, which is why she is my hero.

I read A Spectacle of Glory every morning and it ministers to me. I highly recommend it.

In conclusion, I want to thank Handlebar Publishing and Zondervan for sending me a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.

Joni Eareckson Tada is founder and CEO of Joni and Friends, an organization that accelerates Christian outreach in the disability community. Joni and Friends provides practical support and spiritual help to special needs families worldwide, and equips thousands of churches in developing disability ministry. Joni is the author of numerous bestselling books, including Joni, Diamonds in the Dust, Heaven, When God Weeps, and A Step Further, winner of the Gold Medallion Award. Joni and her husband, Ken, have been married for over 30 years. For more information on Joni and Friends, visit www.joniandfriends.org

 

 

 

Life’s Unfamiliar Terrain

I can’t believe this year is almost over. I apologize for not blogging, but this year has been full of changes. I seem to be in the process of transition and walking in unfamiliar terrain.

Courtesy of Creative Commons

You may have been wondering of my disappearance, and this is an attempt to fill you in.

From 2014 through 2015, I sort of fell away from my Christian faith. There were many reasons for it, which I won’t go into. But what I learned from the dabbling, experimenting, and indulging, is no matter who I was with, where I was, or what I was doing, God was with me.

If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.¹

At the time, I was making bad choices, which grieved the heart of God as well as the people that care about me. Unfortunately, I wasn’t thinking much about this while I was out there, painting the town, and being self-indulgent.

The lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.²

I was a faithful, fervent and zealous Christian prior to falling away. So you could just imagine the amazement to all those who knew me.

Sin is like being on a raft that gradually drifts out to sea.  One minute you are near the shore, and the next, you are in the middle of the ocean.

Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away.³

All the things I was choosing to do, weren’t the things God wanted me to do. I was refusing to die to self. I still didn’t want to surrender ALL to Jesus. It wasn’t His will be done, it was my will be done. Until everything came crashing down on January 2, 2016, and a light bulb went off. I suddenly realized what I was doing, and immediately repented.

Through it all, I learned how much God loves me, and how faithful He is. He never gave up on me, and kept pursuing me.

Today, I am grateful for all that God has done in my life. I am still in an unfamiliar terrain, a place of a transition, and in a process of restoration. But I can honestly say, that I’m at peace. Jesus saved me, rescued me, delivered me and set me free. Praise Him! No one could have done it, but Him.

If He did it for me, He can and will do it for you. He is no respecter of persons. He loves us, which is why He died for us. There is nothing you or I can do that will make Him ever stop loving us. He is a good, good Father.

¹Psalm 139:8
²1 John 2:16
³James 1:14

Don’t Go To Bed Angry: Stay Up and Fight by Deb & Ron DeArmond


Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Abingdon Press
Price: $14.99
Purchase: Amazon | CBD | BN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Description

We’ve all been there. He doesn’t understand what she’s really upset about. He thinks she blows things out of proportion. Neither of you can agree on the right course of action. In every marriage, there is conflict. And with every conflict, there is a choice for resolution. Will you ignore the issue until it seemingly goes away? Or will you work together to find peace?

In Don’t Go to Bed Angry, Deb and Ron DeArmond give you permission to fight. Marriage is worth fighting for. Conflict isn’t the problem, after all; the real issue is how we deal with the conflict. Combining a healthy dose of personal experience with relationship-affirming biblical wisdom, Deb and Ron demonstrate how communication through conflict can lead to greater insight and understanding of thoughts, feelings, and perspectives that can safeguard–and even strengthen–your relationship. Immensely practical features including worksheets, discussion questions, callouts, and prayers make this a definitive go-to resource to help you start fighting–together–for your marriage.

Click on this image to enter

Review

Wow! I have read books on marriage, and I have to say, this book takes the cake. There is so much to like about it. Seriously. You would think for a short book, it wouldn’t contain so much relevant information, but it does and then some.

The main premise of this book is how to communicate in a marriage and tools on how to resolve conflict effectively. I honestly wish this book existed before I married my husband thirteen years ago. I pretty much did everything this book advises against.

I have gotten into conversations with friends about how there isn’t a guidebook on what to do when you get married. Here you have two people coming together, from different worlds, upbringings, and communication styles. You know the saying, the “honeymoon is over?” Well, when you start living with your spouse, stuff starts coming up and if you don’t know how to fight fairly, or resolve conflict, you are going to find yourself in a very precarious situation. Don’t God To Bed Angry can help as it is a guidebook on how to do marriage successfully.

So, for any of you who are thinking of getting married or are married, I highly, and I mean HIGHLY, recommend this book. It doesn’t matter how many years you have been married, or how many problems you have had, or even if you are at the brink of divorce, you need to get this book. The information contained in this book alone, if practiced and applied, can revolutionize and save your marriage. Guaranteed.

This is by far one of the best marriage books I have read in years. I give five stars, but if I could give it more, I would. I will be referring to this book and recommending it to everyone.

In conclusion, I want to thank authors, Deb and Ron DeArmond for sharing their lives by helping me and other married couples. I also want to thank Abingdon Press for publishing this gem of a book, and last but not least, my Litfuse Publicity Group family for sending me a complimentary copy of this book to review. Thank you, it truly blessed my life.

Deb DeArmond is an author, speaker, and coach with a focus on communication, relationships, and conflict resolution. Her writing explores marriage, parenting, in-law and extended family relationships. She is the author of “Related By Chance, Family By Choice” and “I Choose You Today: 31 Choices to Make Love Last.” Deb is the founder of Living-Write, where she coaches aspiring authors. She’s monthly columnist and feature writer for Lifeway’s “Mature Living” Magazine, and has published more than 120 articles online and in print publications. Ron DeArmond has a hungry heart for the Word, and has studied the Bible for 45+ years. Ron’s call to serve men is evident in his previous ministry positions with Christian Men’s Network under Dr. Edwin Lewis Cole and Faithful Men Ministry. Ron is currently the Associate Pastor of men’s ministry at Catch the Fire/ DFW and has ministered around the world. The DeArmonds live in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

NKJV Personal Size Study Bible

Paperback: 2400 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Price: $29.99
Purchase: Amazon | CBD | BN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Description

The NKJV Study Bible, the most comprehensive study Bible available, now available in a handy personal size with words of Christ in red! The acclaimed NKJV Study Bible is the most complete study system for all who desire accurate study in God’s Word. The Second Edition includes more features to make it the best all-purpose study Bible. Using the trusted New King James Version, The NKJV Study Bible has “the mind of a scholar and the heart of a pastor.” Nelson’s skilled team of scholars has produced the system to reach for when study in God’s Word is the goal.

Features include:

  • NEW attractive new full-color page design
  • NEW stunning Bible-land photos and graphics
  • NEW in-text maps and charts
  • Full cross-references with textual notes
  • Word studies and indexes
  • Bible Times and Culture Notes
  • Book introductions, outlines, and timelines
  • Reader-friendly notes and articles ideal for extended study
  • Deluxe NKJV Concordance including proper names

Review

I happen to love Bibles, so I was curious to see what the NKJV Study Bible would offer, and was pleasantly surprised.

Other than the print being too small for my taste and it being on the bulky side, everything else about this particular bible is to my liking.

I love the color photographs showing the locations corresponding with the verses in connection with biblical history. The extensive cross referencing, exhaustive study notes, word studies and more. This bible is jam packed with helpful information, it’s amazing.

If you want to dig deeper in studying the Word of God, then the NKJV Study Bible is the one for you. I highly recommend it.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 

The Feathered Bone by Julie Cantrell


Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
ISBN-10: 0718037626
ISBN-13: 978-0718037628
Price: $15.99
Purchase: Amazon | BN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Description

“Feathers—no matter what size or shape or color—are all the same, if you think about them. They’re soft. Delicate. But the secret thing about feathers is . . . they are very strong.”

In the pre-Katrina glow of New Orleans, Amanda Salassi is anxious about chaperoning her daughter’s sixth-grade field trip to the Big Easy during Halloween. And then her worst fears come true. Her daughter’s best friend, Sarah, disappears amid the magic and revelry—gone, without a trace.

Unable to cope with her guilt, Amanda’s daughter sinks into depression. And Amanda’s husband turns destructive as he watches his family succumb to grief. Before long, Amanda’s whole world has collapsed.

Amanda knows she has to save herself before it’s too late. As she continues to search for Sarah, she embarks on a personal journey, seeking hope and purpose in the wake of so much tragedy and loss.

Set amidst the murky parishes of rural Louisiana and told through the eyes of two women who confront the darkest corners of humanity with quiet and unbreakable faith, The Feathered Bone is Julie Cantrell’s master portrait of love in a fallen world.

Review

The Feathered Bone is a fictional account on human trafficking and its aftermath. The story centers around Sarah, who was abducted on a school field trip in New Orleans on Amanda’s watch. The premise of the book surrounds Sarah’s sudden disappearance and its effect on everyone, predominantly Amanda and Ellie, who was Sarah’s best friend.

Instead of Amanda getting the help and support of her husband Carl, she received the complete opposite. The irony is Amanda was a counselor for victims of domestic violence, yet she herself was one. Carl was unable to see beyond himself and placed the blame on Amanda for anything and everything. He was abusive, and eventually left her for a younger woman, when she and their daughter Ellie needed him the most. This pushed Ellie’s depression further, until yet another tragedy ensued, leaving Amanda shattered and hopeless.

The Feathered Bone is a sad, but redemptive story about faith, hope, love and forgiveness.

Personally, I had a difficult time reading this book. One, because it was depressing and two, certain parts of it dragged for me. However, I still rated it five stars based on its original content and writing.

Julie Cantrell is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Into the Free, the 2013 Christy Award winning Book of the Year and recipient of the Mississippi Library Association’s Fiction Award. Cantrell has served as editor-in-chief of the Southern Literary Review and is a recipient of the Mississippi Arts Commission Literary Fellowship. Her second novel, When Mountains Move, won the 2014 Carol Award for Historical Fiction and, like her debut, was selected for several Top Reads lists. Visit her online at juliecantrell.wordpress.com, Facebook: juliecantrellauthor, and Twitter: JulieCantrell.

The Bishop’s Mistress by CJ Miller

Paperback: 236 pages
Publisher: Rhea Leto Media Group (September 18, 2014)
ISBN-10: 0990472736
ISBN-13: 978-0990472735
Price: $14.99
Purchase: cjmillerbooks.com | Amazon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Description

Bishop James Samuel Jr. lives the typical, flashy lifestyle of a successful Los Angeles, California bishop. He drives luxury cars, has two thriving churches, and has the reputation every minister wished to possess. The Bishop’s life appears to be scandal free. However, will his highly visible and anointed lifestyle remain intact after Patrick? Patrick is a member of the Bishop’s church, a former drug lord whose Christian virtues are tested when he discovers his wife, Kerrah, is his Bishop’s mistress. Will the Bishop and his blessed life survive the wrath of a scorned husband who is still learning to forgive?

Review

This is my first introduction to CJ Miller’s work, and I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised. As I mentioned on my video reviewThe Bishop’s Mistress is a Christian urban book. However, it’s not your atypical Christian novel. It’s different than most Christian books I’ve read and reviewed, as it’s real, gritty and relatable.

The Bishop’s Mistress is about a good looking, prominent and anointed Bishop James, who is married to a wealthy white woman by the name of Janice. He loves Janice, but falls from grace by having a steamy, and passionate affair with one of his church members; a sexy, attractive black woman by the name of Kerrah. Kerrah happens to be married to Patrick, who is a dangerous drug dealer.

Patrick finds out that Kerrah is cheating on him with the Bishop and the consequences that spiral out of his discovery will leave you in suspense.

Perhaps there are those who would not agree that someone would go to the extent as Patrick did to avenge his betrayal. However, I believe the circumstances to be realistic, if someone is angry and ruthless enough. Anything is possible and can happen when you take a chance and cheat. It’s like playing Russian Roulette with your life and soul.

I really enjoyed this book, it draws you in from the very start and continues throughout the entire book. There is a moral and message to this story, without feeling like you’re being preached at. I highly recommend it and look forward to reading more by CJ Miller.

CJ Miller was raised in Southern California and started writing at the age of ten. After graduating from Wilberforce University in 2004, he fell in love with the writing process. Miller believes writing is CPR for the soul.  He is the author of the book Grind How To Turn Your Coffee Break Into Your Big Break, a book dedicated to showing readers how to strategically utilize coffee shops and effective network to turn their dreams into reality and the novel, The Bishop’s Mistress.

CJ Miller is nationally and internationally recognized for his roles on reality television shows such as Season 1 of the ABC Networks and Tyra Banks “True Beauty”, TV Ones Donald J. Trump Presents The Ultimate Merger, and as a reoccurring personality on the Tyra Banks daytime talk show. CJ is a sought after consultant for creative ideas in the entertainment industry and book projects.

CJ is also the founder of H-Eleven 1 Innovation, a nonprofit organization which creates community enrichment programs geared towards youth. The nonprofit’s most successful program is the Phabb5 After School Book Publishing program; a turn-key book publishing program that teaches students in underserved communities to write, publish, and brand their own books. The goal of the program is to increase matriculation and reverse the trend of illiteracy in underserved communities while bridging the gap between classroom, corporations, and community.

These days you can find CJ encouraging students at Locke high school to write their stories and graduate from school. He is also the author of the new released novel, Dirty Dolls.

You can follow him on Twitter and Facebook.