Will You Chicken IN?

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From our Publisher’s Desk

  I believe we can all agree that the past two months have not gone as any of us anticipated this year would. It feels as though there is no escape from the constant battering of news, safety updates, and personal social distancing requirements. The good news is that as believers in Christ, we do have an escape, a refuge from the storms of life, and a constant peace in times of trial. God is our strength and salvation, so we do not have to fear the unknown. He has a plan to work all things for good in our lives, even things that the enemy tries to use to come against us.
  Life has become much simpler. There has been much more time spent with family and/or resting. We have been forced to slow down and change our pace. But instead of looking at our current circumstances as devastating, we should take the extra time we have been given to focus on what is truly important in life: building strong relationships with family, friends, and those around us, encouraging them in their walk with Christ, and for those who do not have a relationship with Him, to continually point them to God and to show His love. Let us use this time to better ourselves and grow spiritually.
JJ Gutierrez talks about building a life of faith instead of fear in her book entitled Chickening IN. She examines how things around us may be scary, due to the unknown, but if we have a relationship with God, we can have a courageous faith.
Although, we may be living in unpredictable and uncontrollable times, we can defeat feelings of fear, doubt, and anxiety by reconstructing them into faith in God and His promises, by stepping into the calling that God has placed on each of our lives, and by not backing down or chickening out.

***

   “The Bible is full of examples of people who acted upon God’s word in faith. They couldn’t see the end result, but without action they were sure not to arrive at the destination. This is the key difference between the stuck and the unstuck, being trapped in a broken, discouraged life or being transformed into a new life of healing, joy, and wholeness. The key is action.”

“During times of fear, self-preservation, and retreat, we often need someone to speak encouragement into our lives – a friend, mentor, or coach – someone to wake us up, to shake us up. That’s exactly what Mordecai did for Queen Esther when he spoke these wise and powerful words, “What’s more, who can say but that you have been elevated to the palace for just such a time as this” (Esther 4:14)? This is the most well-known verse in the book of Esther and for good reason. Esther was in a position of influence unlike anyone else. Her identity as a Jew had been concealed. She was beautiful and found favor with the king. She had learned the customs of the palace and understood how to behave in her new culture. What appeared to be many coincidences was actually God’s providence for the Jewish people – Esther was positioned for this moment.
Have you ever experienced being positioned well and you knew it was your time to execute? It was as if God prepared you all along through your past, your resources, and your relationships lining up, and what seemed disconnected was coming together for a single purpose.”

“Taking risks, living with courage, and following God will most likely lead to unfamiliar roads. There are many kinds of unknown roads. Think of them not just as physical places, but mental, emotional, and spiritual places you’ve never been. Most often they will steer us to climb steep mountains, cross desert plains, sail uncharted oceans, or soar to new heights. If we are willing to travel these unknown roads, we will be challenged by our fears and doubts, and we may be temped to turn back. However, if we refuse to give in to the fear bully, we might discover something new and amazing about ourselves, God, and life.”

“Over and over God invites us to have courageous faith. In fact, there are more than 300 Bible verses commanding us to fear not, don’t be afraid, or to have courage. Christine Caine says in her book Undaunted, “He knew that we would be afraid, that we would doubt. That’s why He tells us again and again in the Bible, ‘Fear not.’” Maybe that’s why God dedicates a chunk of Scripture to encouraging us to be brave – He knew we would need reassurance and support not just once, but on an ongoing basis. However, in order be strengthened by God’s Word, we have to know it. We must study and learn the Scriptures to become the courageous and fearless women [and men] we desire to be.”

***

These past two months have been extremely trying for everyone regardless of age, ethnicity, or status. We have all experienced many of the same feelings and emotions. We have fought back fear of the unknown, worry of what tomorrow will hold in store, and the crushing disappointment of a lost job, trip, etc. But we can all stand to learn a powerful lesson from JJ Gutierrez’s book, Chickening IN. We can still have faith in God and His Sovereign plan for us. We can still be obedient to Matthew 6:34 when it tells us, “Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” And most of all, we can be courageous in our walk with God and grow in His likeness during these times by being obedient to Him. We can’t let fear hold us back from living to the full potential for which God has created and called us. Now, more than ever, is the time to step out of fear and into a courageous faith. We need to start Chickening IN.

To learn more about JJ and Chickening IN, visit HERE.

Have you ever wondered?

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Have you ever wondered what it might have been like when Jesus walked on the Earth as a man amongst men? In the following two historical novels, S.A. Jewell and Andrew Stone both take a fictional approach to answering that question.

Of Friends and Followers follows the life of Miriam, a widow in Judea, who has only one hope for survival: she must go to Capernaum and live as a beggar. On her way to the city, she is viciously attacked and left for dead. A leper, an unlikely and dangerous hero, saves her life but Miriam’s journey has only begun.S.A. Jewell
Miriam’s resilience and faith are tested again and again. Meeting unlikely friends along the way, Miriam’s path winds from Capernaum to the Sea of Galilee to Jerusalem. As she searches for friends and security, she eventually meets a man named Jesus of Nazareth. By His miracles and teaching, Miriam and her friends finally find something to believe in. Can they overcome the doubt and treachery that lurks in Jerusalem?

Realistic friendships, love interests, conflict, and bonding friendships await in Of Friends and Followers.

Learn more HERE.

 

Son of the Father is a modern storytelling of Barabbas, the man released in the hours leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion.
Long before his life is traded for Jesus’, Barabbas’ family is ruined, a consequence of his own rage. Consumed with guilt he resolves to put things right, but this seems an impossible task. Huge debts, a man bent on revenge, theft, and murder hang above his head.
Son of the FatherAs Barabbas struggles to atone and restore his family’s honor and to bring himself out of poverty, he meets the new religious teacher. Barabbas can’t bring himself to trust this wandering preacher even though his family follows Him, until Barabbas’ life is spared, costing more than he thought possible.
In this thought-provoking and gripping novel by debut author Andrew Stone, readers will discover a much deeper meaning as the lives of Barabbas and Jesus intertwine between the pages and weave a story of love and sacrifice.

Learn more HERE.

These new releases are no joke

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Every month at Ambassador International brings brilliant and exciting new releases. This month we have new biographies and memoris and Christian inspiration. Ambassador International is proud to present to you our new releases which are no joke! These books are now available at your favorite book retailers.

 

From death camp survivor to rescuer of the unborn, Eva Edl is a true hero of the faith, whose story of following God in the darkest of circumstances will lead you to fight for the rights of the “least of these.”

Barely escaping with her life from the Nazi regime during World War II, Eva emigrated to America, where she took up the battle cry for another group of people who could not speak for themselves—the unborn.

In She Looks Like My Little Girl, follow Eva’s amazing journey of a love that conquers all.

Learn more HERE.

 

 

 

Prodigal tells the compelling story of a young man that decides to go away from the Church and the Lord in his early adult years. Follow Daniel on a journey into his own pit of despair. Many Christians today follow the same path of Daniel: we all know someone who has found themselves on the wrong path. Perhaps that person is ourselves. Prodigal serves as a message of warning, but also a message of hope and forgiveness. Redemption is for everyone: there is always rest to be found in the loving embrace of our Heavenly Father.

Learn more HERE.

 

 

 

 

In today’s society, healing and doctors’ visits are centered around a “self” and “me” attitude. As Christians, in spite of an illness or condition, we should approach medical care with a Christian attitude. Dr. Jim Halla shows readers how to be a God-pleasing patient and how to have a mindset that centers on God.

Learn more HERE.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In today’s world of instant communication, any problems with cellular service or Wi-Fi access can be a major disruption to one’s day. But there is one kind of communication that is always reliable and never disrupts: prayer. In Prayer: The Most Reliable Wireless Communication, Rev. John Clark Mayden, Jr. compares today’s technology to communicating with God. This book will show you the importance of keeping the “air waves” clear to connecting with the God Who cares more about you than any other connection you’ll ever make.

Learn more HERE.

It’s Time to Breathe. . .

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From our Publisher’s Desk

As we move into March, many of us are already feeling the weight of business and the rush of life pulling us in a million different directions. It can be hard to find the time in our busy schedules to slow down, be still, and just breathe and rest in God’s presence.
On this St. Patrick’s Day, it is important for us not to get caught up in the festivities of the day, and instead to think about what the day actually represents. Instead of focusing on wearing green or not being pinched, we should take a moment to get away from the noise around us, take a breather, and spend some time alone with God. The real St. Patrick would emphasize the importance of us maintaining our spiritual health in order to be spiritual leaders and make disciples for Christ. How can we show and reflect who Christ is in our own lives if we don’t take time out of each day to spend with Him and learn more about who He is?
A Whisper in the Woods    Martin Wiles emphasizes the importance of stepping into quiet escapes with God in his book A Whisper in the Woods: Quiet Escapes in a Noisy World. This book provides weekly devotionals that can transport readers out of the noisy world around them and into the quiet escape of a beautiful forest with tall trees where the voice of God is more clearly heard throughout nature. In his book, Martin provides tools that help readers hear God’s words of comfort as they face the mountains and the valleys that this life often and unavoidably brings. Throughout A Whisper in the Woods: Quiet Escapes in a Noisy World, Martin lays out ways to take a step back, adjust our focus, and spend some quiet time resting in God’s presence.

***

     “The psalmist was a morning person. He had no alarm clock to awaken him, but he rose early and took his requests to the Lord.
While God doesn’t dictate morning as the time we must come to Him, He does have a lot to say through those who followed Him about the advantages of coming to Him in the morning. Jesus Himself did.
Our minds are fresher in the morning. I may still be sleepy, but the clutter of the day hasn’t cluttered my mind yet. Some function better at night, but the advantages of the morning are weighty. Quiet reigns, which allows me to focus.
When I approach God in the morning, the day is before me. I’ve not made any mistakes or decisions yet. The potential, however, is there. What day doesn’t involve decisions, temptations, or potential mistakes? Coming to God in the morning allows me to petition Him for guidance, strength, and wisdom.

Regardless of what time I come before God, coming consistently is important. Just as regular communication with others stabilizes friendships, so spending time each day with God cements our relationship with Him.
Morning by morning – or whenever is good for you – spend time with God.”

***

     “Since life has many paths – represented by the numerous decisions I have to make – knowing the right one is essential. Otherwise, I might find myself in unnecessary debt, broken relationships, jail, or any other number of unpleasant situations.Martin Wiles
Taking the right path is possible when I consult the guidebook. God calls it His Word. We call it the Bible. Any direction I need is found there. Life progresses, scientist discover, and technology advances, but the principles of God’s Word never get outdated. They are good for all time.
Prayer keeps me on the right path. Through prayer, I petition God to give me full understanding of His Word, to help me know how to apply it to daily situations, and to guide others in the same path I’m traveling. Prayer helps the guidebook come alive in daily life.
Communing with other believers is also wise. Passing other hikers who were coming from the direction we were going assured us we were traveling tin the right direction – even if we had not seen any blazes. There is strength and comfort in numbers.
Don’t guess about whether or not you’re on the right path. You can know.
Prayer: Father, lead us along the right paths in life so we’ll end up where You want us to be.”

***

     Instead of getting caught up in the world’s celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, take a moment to remember the real St. Patrick, take time out of your busy day to sit down, take a breath, stop worrying, and rest in God’s presence and purpose. Let Him refresh you and make you more like Him. And in doing so, let God use you (just as He used St. Patrick) to share His word and make Him known.

To learn more about Martin and A Whisper in the Woods, visit HERE.

Choosing Love

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From our Publisher’s Desk

As the new year continues to unfold, it brings with it a very special holiday. Whether single, dating, or married, Valentine’s Day can be a very special day for everyone. It is a day where we can show the loved ones in our life (whether that be family members or a significant other) just how much they mean to us and how much we care. Not only that, but we can also remember how much our heavenly Father loves us and wants what is best for us. It is important that in any relationship (no matter what stage it is at) that we keep God first.

Lindsey Holder explores how to keep God at the center of life while dating in her book, Waiting While Dating. Although dating can be a challenge in today’s culture, Lindsey focuses on the questions we should be asking as we take steps towards that special person and grow deeper in our relationship them. Some of these questions include how much time should be spent together, should we serve in the same area at church, and what do social media boundaries look like?
“[God] is not to be argued with, half listened to, or disputed against. You do not doubt God’s direction. There is no option of partially obeying the Lord without bearing the consequences of shame and separation. Partial faithfulness is non-existent. It is one way to believe God’s Word, and it is another to obey it. It is one way to believe God’s Word and another to admit what you are actually doing.”
“In today’s culture, we plan and prepare for our future with education, training, and working diligently to be successful in our business ventures and career. We thirst for knowledge, crave to be the best, and chip at it every day to be the guru in our field. But in relationships, we tend to fail ourselves so easily. We allow our hearts to be carefree, not planning for our heart’s future, for our emotional health, or for the memories we make. We easily connect, giving so much of ourselves before it is time and without truly understanding who we are giving that to and without having received an ordained commitment of marriage in return. Why are the most precious gifts given so freely?”
“It’s easy to read and be clear on paper prior to reality. To get to know someone requires you to share gradually to establish if indeed they are that marriage partner. What questions do you ask your potential partner and when? What boundaries do you set? At what point in the relationship do you bring Christ into it? What is over the limit and appropriate?
As you study His Word, you will find God provides you all of the wisdom you need to find the qualities and characteristics of a marriage partner. But He expects you to study His Word, obey His Word, and have a faithful heart in the interim.”
“God’s Word is God’s protection. Your free will is not free, as every choice has its consequences. It is up to you to decide whether you want positive or negative ones. However, those set boundaries may be different for every couple. May this book help you along your way to finding your partner with holiness, faithfulness, and obedience, with God’s word at the center.”

For those who have passed the dating stage, Randy Blankenship, Sr. in his book, The Mystery and the Masterpiece, discusses what a Biblical portrait of marriage should look like. There are many who are no longer dating and have moved into the next stage of life: marriage. But do we understand the message that marriage was designed to teach us? Randy shows this message throughout the pages of The Mystery and the Masterpiece.
“Marriage is the picture God painted to portray and reveal the kind of relationship He desires to have with mankind. He painted this picture in the beginning, and this has been His intent from the start.
I have heard many teach about marriage. I have read many books on marriage. The vast majority of them miss the main point of God’s purpose for marriage. It seems to me, in most teachings today, the main purpose of marriage and human sexual behavior is completely absent.”
“The first brushstroke in God’s great portrait of marriage begins with man being made in the image of God. Our marriages are intended to be an illustration of the relationship God wants with us! He made us in His image. We are to show forth His picture.”
“I have used terms like portrait, picture, and masterpiece to illustrate what I believe to be this central truth: that Christ will be eternally married to His people and our earthly marriages are intended to be the greatest illustration of that truth.”
“As followers of Christ, sometimes we try so hard at getting other people to also follow Christ. We make all kinds of efforts – that’s not bad. Marriage is work too. We should work at our marriages – but if it is only work, it’s not a happy marriage.
If we will simply allow Jesus to come into us – if we will experience the joy of Him coming into us, new life will automatically happen. It can’t not happen!”
“Marriage is God’s masterpiece. It is His great piece of artwork designed to show the relationships that He wants to have with us. It can only be what the Master Painter painted. It should be cherished and highly valued as He intended. It should be our desire to live that out before the world in our relationships.”

As we celebrate Valentine’s Day this year, let us remember to keep God at the center of our relationships, strive to serve Him and His plan, and to follow His purpose in both dating and marriage.

The Heart Changer Winner of Silver Award

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Illumination Book Awards recognizes The Heart Changer by Jarm Del Boccio in its Seventh Annual Illumination Book Awards {2020} as silver award medalist in the juvenile/young adult fiction category.

Feeling sorry for the children in the Bible who had no name and no back story but important roles, debut author Jarm Del Boccio tried to answer these questions for inquisitive minds while also sparking a love for Scripture in her  middle grade fiction The Heart Changer (Ambassador International, April 26, 2019, $12.99).

In The Heart Changer, Miriam has been wrenched from the only home she has ever known. But that’s mild compared to being taken and employed by the wife of her captor. How can she possibly live in this strange household and be content? Not even this Hebrew girl could guess the far reaching influence of her presence.The Heart Changer

This middle grade biblical fiction addresses the angst and homesickness a young refugee experiences in a foreign land where all seems lost.

The Illumination Book Awards, hosted by Jenkins Group, are designed to honor and bring increased recognition to the year’s best new titles written and published with a Christian worldview.

Learn more about The Heart Changer and Jarm Del Boccio HERE.

Five Things: Allen Steadham

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Learn more about your favorite Ambassador authors with our “Five Things” series. Author Allen Steadham is the author of Christian speculative fiction novels. Here are Allen’s five things:

My wife and I are interracial. Angel is African-American and I’m Caucasian. We have two adult sons and a younger daughter.

My wife and I have been in a Christian band called “First Light” since 1997. First Light plays both contemporary Christian and traditional Gospel styles, cover tunes as well as originals. We perform songs in other languages, including Spanish and Hebrew. Angel and I were asked to join the band by its leader, who is a guitarist, singer and songwriter for many of our original songs. First Light has been like a second family to us. We are also one of two interracial married couples in the band.Allen Steadham

From 1997 to 2015, I ran a not-for-profit organization called the International Size Acceptance Association (ISAA). I created ISAA with the help of some very dedicated people. The organization’s purpose was to educate the public about size/weight-related issues (self-esteem, positive body imagery, fitness at any size and how to make healthy food choices) and to alert the public about weight-based discrimination. ISAA even created a holiday called “International Size Acceptance Day” and had it proclaimed by the City of Atlanta, Georgia on April 25, 1998 and 1999 and in Austin, Texas in 2003. ISAA educated the public through its website, email lists, an e-zine and two different podcast shows between 2002 and 2010. And though ISAA was non-political and not overtly religious, I did run the organization as a Christian man. The Lord put that cause on my heart and helped me run the organization. With His help, ISAA reached people all over the globe and offered kindness and hope. I shut down ISAA in 2015 for two reasons: the internet had changed with the rise of various social media, so people became less inclined to rally to a cause; and my own health had begun to suffer (not weight-related), eventually requiring surgery. I am doing well now and continue a more subtle message of size acceptance even now in my books.Allen Steadham

I began writing and drawing my own comics by hand at age ten (in 1980). Specifically, I created a superhero team comic called “The AR-MEN.” I continued creating those stories for twenty years, even scanning those pages and putting them on the internet as early as 1994. Many characters and certain story elements from the AR-MEN comics were adapted into what became my debut novel “Mindfire” with Ambassador International. In 2003, my wife helped me co-write an original Christian webcomic called “Due East,” which we continued until 2009. “Due East” won two webcomic awards in 2008: Best Spiritual Comic and Most Profound Comic.

I am a Star Trek nerd. I grew up loving the stories and characters in the Original Series and watched all of the movies and series that followed. Between 2005 and 2016, I only read Star Trek novels. And in 2009, I had the opportunity to interview Leonard Nimoy for one of ISAA’s podcasts. I do not do cosplay.

Learn more about Allen Steadham and Jordan’s Arrow, book two of the Jordan of Algoran series, by visiting www.allensteadham.com.

New Year’s Resolutions: A Letter from Our Publisher

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Every year millions of people make resolutions of changes they would like to make in their lifestyle with a “New Year’s Resolution.” Some common changes people want to make are becoming more active, getting into shape, and getting back on track spiritually. In fact, many of us can probably say that we have followed this trend and made a resolution at some point in our life that matches up with one of these three changes. Many of us can probably also say that we have fallen short when it came time to keep the resolution we made. Change can be hard when it means we have to step outside of our comfort zone in order to accomplish a task that we previously couldn’t.

Kelly Wypych talks about stepping outside of your comfort zone and pushing through difficult changes and challenges in life within her book Ten Iron Principles: Persevering Through Difficult Situations. She tells her story of becoming an endurance racer, and how, through God’s grace and mercy, she came to salvation through a triathlon. As she became stronger physically, she found that she was also becoming stronger spiritually. By making changes to her lifestyle and old routines, she found her Kingdom purpose. We can learn about the power of perseverance from Kelly’s experience and words of wisdom.

“Many parallels existed in my life between the quest for physical endurance and my trek to salvation. During this unbelievable life voyage, I completed the race and accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. He became real to me. As I inched nearer and nearer to race day, I grew closer and closer to God.”Ten Iron Principles

“My achievement definitely did not result from my inner strength because I demonstrated incredible weakness. God wanted to settle His love unequivocally in my heart and mind. I am not alone; I never have been. God carried me to the finish. He showed me my life is powered by God.”

“Nothing is wasted. [God] uses whatever sufferings occur in our lives to mold us, teaching us the necessary lessons, so we may change our behaviors. This growth enables us to become the sons and daughters God needs us to be. He knows you, too.”

“My words of advice? If He calls you, go. Bring all you’ve got. But don’t take it from me; remember Jesus’ words in Matthew 14:27, ‘Take courage! It is I. don’t be afraid’ (NIV).”

“The road to the Ironman proved to me that change is a process and occurs even when I take a few steps backwards. Chipping away requires dedication and persistence, especially when the road is long, and the outcome is unknown.”Ironman

Iron Principle #1 – You Are Not the Driver
“The biggest self-perpetuated delusion of my life (and possibly your life, too) is I retain control of it…As much as we sometimes wish we were in control, think we are in control, or even try to be in control, God holds the reins.”

Iron Principle #2 – Show Up
“Showing up is one of the hardest things for people to do and one of my greatest frustrations in relationships…Things are tough? Show up. Don’t give up. Do not give in. Keep participating to the fullest in your life and in the steps God has shown you for your recovery and inevitable victory in Him. Do not fall short of your pledged commitment. But if you do: smile, shake it off, and start again. Forgiveness is always available.”

Iron Principle #3 – Rounding the Bend
“Perseverance produces power. But take heart. You will make it through this time and “round the bend.” I call it “rounding the bend” because of the way I visualize it. Think of a learning curve depicted on a graph. The line on the graph steeply rises and then begins to arc as it plateaus and levels out. I imagine myself as a stick figure or cartoon running up the curve as if on a mountain. My little stick figure self struggles and sweats, huffing and puffing up the steep climb. Then, like magic, I go over the curve and things get easier, and I get faster because the trajectory flattens.”

Iron Principles #4 – Buoy to Buoy
“In my first open water swim, I heard a coach nearby ask his athletes how far they had to swim. After mumbled responses, he told them they only had to “Swim to the next buoy.” I stood transfixed thinking what an amazing philosophy this was. Sometimes looking ahead to a big goal can be disarming and overwhelming. Keep the big goal or the finish line always in in the back of your mind but remember to focus on the next upcoming goal or ‘buoy.’”

Iron Principle #5 – The Skittle Philosophy
“In the Beach to Battleship iron-distance triathlon, I altered my nutrition strategy from sports products to Skittles and Sweet Tarts because I could not stomach the nutrition products any longer. The Skittles tell the twisted tale of how we all need to be adaptable. Not all things will go according to plan, and you need to roll with the punches. Create the plan and follow it step by step, rounding the bend, and aiming for the next buoy.”

Iron Principle #6 – Run the Mile You Are In
“No matter how long the race, you can run only one mile at a time; you can run only the mile you are in…While keeping your eye on the prize, do not forget today is all you have. Try to ensure every day you are doing something, however small, to push you closer to your goal, to your “finish line” even if it means resting. Make the most of every effort and avoid getting so caught up in the finish line that you miss the journey.”

Iron Principle #7 – Use Whatever You’re Doing as a Time for Worship
“In whatever you attempt, remember God blesses you with the necessary gifts to be able to attack your goal. Be thankful and show your gratefulness through your efforts… You can easily incorporate prayer into your job, relationships, or into the dark times.”

Iron Principle #8 – Some Days Just Suck
“A few big misconceptions are that successful people never fail, they never experience pain or doubt, and they have it all together. No, they don’t… You will fail now and again when trying to reach your goals. Failure happens, but do not dwell on it. Get back up and dust yourself off… If the day beats you up, go to sleep and remember tomorrow is another day.”

Iron Principle #9 – CFM (Continuous Forward Motion)
“No matter how far, no matter how big the goal, no matter how insurmountable the task, if you keep moving forward, regardless of speed, you will get to the finish line. Whether with big strides or baby steps, keep moving forward.”

Iron Principle #10 – We Win
“It is easy to get engrossed in our problems and trials and how they affect us. It is easy to get stuck in the pain and hurt. But, try to keep a part of yourself focused on the eternal reward even if only a teeny, tiny bit. You may not understand or see the outcome of your situation, your struggle, or your life, however, if you are saved, you know how your soul turns out. You realize the result of the final fight. Jesus wins. He triumphs in victory. The battle was fought and won two thousand years ago on a cross. Jesus defeated Satan and death. Boo-yah.

Try to remember this. Try to keep the hope of spending eternity in heaven with the Lord in your mind’s eye! Amazing! Keeping salvation at the forefront helps us to remember the right choices are not always the easy choices, and it gives us the strength to move in the proper direction. Focusing on our deliverance helps us to stand up when we feel more like sitting. It guides us to remain in His strength when we feel weak.”

As you head into your new year, take Kelly’s advice and her Ten Iron Principles to heart. Don’t become overwhelmed by the length of the coming year, the amount of work required to reach your goals, or the many daunting tasks you may have to accomplish. But instead, try to take it day by day, one task at a time, hour by hour, or even minute by minute. Remember the words of Ecclesiastes 9:11, “The race is not given to the swift nor the strong but he who endures until the end.”

A Fresh Approach to New Year’s Resolutions

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A Fresh Approach to New Year’s Resolutions
by JJ Gutierrez

One of the most common traditions to kick off the beginning of a New Year is to create a resolution. A resolution is simply a personal decision to do or not do something.  It is an act of the will that often fails somewhere between January 1st and January 31st. Many New Year’s Resolutions include losing weight, eating healthier, saving money, making career changes, or spending more time with God.

I’ve never been a big fan of New Year’s Resolutions because they lacked success which usually left me feeling like a failure. Most likely it was due to my inability to “will” myself into accomplishing them. However, there is enormous value in re-evaluating life, setting goals and re-prioritizing at the start of each year. It’s a natural time of reflection and one I embrace fully.

Several years ago I decided to abolish this age-old custom that didn’t produce much fruit and replace it with something new. I decided to take a fresh approach that would actually help and not hinder my desire to follow God and achieve goals in the new year. This will be my fourth year practicing this new tradition and it has become one of my favorite end-of-the-year activities.

Creating a personal motto is my new annual tradition. I couldn’t be more excited to share this with you because it actually works! And it’s easy to make one of your own.

A motto is a short and very specific phrase that can easily be remembered and repeated.  It’s used to convey a message with few words. It is a quick, go-to phrase that becomes an over-arching theme.  Mottos are widely used for groups and organizations to draw attention to a cause, but a personal motto is for the individual.  It is useful for self-encouragement, a personal pep talk or to change bad thoughts into positive thoughts. Mottos supply courage and strength, and most importantly they can direct our attention back to God and remind us of our goals and priorities.

In my years of creating a motto, all of my sayings stemmed from an area of personal growth- a much needed character improvement or an attitude transformation that supported the work God was doing in my heart. By focusing on character and attitude development instead of willing myself to accomplish a New Year’s Resolution, I have found success. The self-will is weak and prone to temptation, but a motto can weave truth into our hearts all year long, producing lasting change.

Recently my husband, daughter and I moved to a brand new city.  We left behind family, friends, established networks, Bible studies and well-known routines.  Our new surroundings are unfamiliar and different. Nothing looks or feels the same and the temptation to want to replicate the old, familiar way of life is strong, but God has directed our path to something new. This year’s motto is in response to this recent change and I am excited by the perspective it will provide all year long.

My 2020 motto is Finding a New Normal. Each time life feels out of place or I am tempted to look back on what was I will whisper to myself, “I am finding a new normal.” Within these few words lies the power to renew my mind and redirect my thoughts back to truth. Instead of giving into feelings of awkwardness, loneliness or fear I am able to embrace the new path God is paving. It’s a reminder that feeling out of place is only temporary and that God is equipping me for the road ahead. I am also reminded of Noah after the flood, Abraham after leaving his country, and Paul after the road to Damascus…they too had to find their new normal.

If you’ve found little success with New Year’s Resolutions, then maybe it’s time to try a personal motto.  Always start with prayer.  Asking God for insight and direction is critical. He knows our heart better than we do (Psalm 139:1, Psalm 33:15) and we can trust Him (Psalm 9:10, Psalm 33:4).  Be open to areas of character growth, attitude adjustments or ongoing struggles. Focus on what is within your control. Many things are beyond our ability to govern so leave those out of your motto…you can’t do anything about them anyway. Scripture can be very useful for mottos too.  If you cannot think of one, adopting a Bible verse is a great place to start!

To learn more about JJ Gutierrez and her book Chickening IN: From Fear to Courageous Faith releasing March 24, 2020 visit HERE.