Archive for the ‘Guest Post’ Category

Stand or Fight, Press or Rest

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‘To everything there is a season. A time for every purpose under heaven.’ Ecclesiastes 3:1

‘Do not answer a fool according to his folly, Lest you be like him. Answer a fool according to his folly, Lest he be wise in his own eyes.’ Proverbs 26:5

‘Be instant in season and out of season.’ 2 Timothy 4:2

 

What to do when we don’t know what to do.

Do we have a crutch or is it a yoke, do we go fast or slow, do we soak or soar, do we press or rest, do we give comfort or courage? We have so many questions, and when we are in the throes of decision we vacillate and wonder if it’s God’s voice or our own and if were to stand or fight.

Jehosaphat in 2 Chronicles 20 faced a devastating circumstance. The enemies that the Lord told him to leave alone were now coming as a mighty army against them. Jehosaphat knew they had no might to defeat so he called the people together to seek the Lord. He laid out the details before the Lord and then they waited. The word of the Lord came to them through Jehaziel. The Lord told them the battle was not theirs and they would not have to fight. BUT He told them to go out to meet the enemy. WHAT?? How do you go out to the enemy and not fight. Is that defeat? This army is greater than you – such odd directions. But what did the wise king perceive? God inhabits the praises of his people. They sent out the praisers to worship and cry out ‘Praise the Lord, For His mercy endures forever’. This was a tough situation . . . yet they are to go out praising His goodness? He wouldn’t let them get rid of this enemy before and now they’re not to fight, but praise. Yup, that’s what they did. And what happened? The Lord sent ambushes and wiped out the enemy. By the time the Israelites got there the enemy was defeated and God’s people got to take home the spoils.

So, we never fight? But what about intercession and fighting like the Jews building the wall had to do, or the armies of the Lord that often went out to fight? Hmmm!

Let’s look at a few principles we learn from 2 Chronicles 20. They sought the Lord first of all and in that crying out to the Lord, they told the Lord exactly what they saw happening. And then He spoke to them. He will speak to you. It may be a Bible verse that will rise in your spirit. It may be a phrase from a song or something someone told you. It may be a thought you’ve never had or one that you’ve thought many times. Trust it. Hear it. Obey it. It’s okay to ask the Lord to confirm it. But they were told not to fight and yet to go out and meet the enemy. But He also told them to stand and see the salvation of the Lord. Then they sent out the praisers.

So crying out to the Lord, seeking Him comes first. Then listen – perhaps you have to wait a bit or it may come quickly. Prepare next to stand and see the salvation – salvation means wholeness, healing, deliverance, provision – of the Lord. Then send out the praise for whatever direction He gives you. Let praise precede all your action.

You may be wondering how you stand and go out. Have you ever stood in the water up to your waist? It’s not hard when there is no wind or waves. But how do you stand when the waves buffet you? Well, you have to fight to maintain your stance. It takes effort to stand when life is rough around you. In Hebrews 4, He tells us to ‘labor to enter His rest’. Another seeming oxymoron. We don’t just sit down and let life roll over us and say, “Well I guess that’s the Lord’s plan.” No, you stand, you work to enter the rest, you hide the Word in your heart so you don’t sin against Him. You ‘fight’ to walk in the Spirit so you don’t fulfill the lust of the flesh.

I can hear some saying, “This is so confusing. You’re contradicting yourself.” We sometimes think that about the Lord and the Bible.

Put yourself in a position to know His word, hear His word, and live His word. Realize that His perspective is often different that ours. Ask Him how He sees the situation. Sometimes that’s all we need. Ephesians 2:6 says He ‘raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus’ – that’s great perspective.

And as you walk in this way, you’ll learn His voice and trust His voice. When I was a 5th grade teacher and taught three sections of science each day, I was troubled about fitting three or four units in before the end of the year. It might seem a small thing to some, but to me it was big – this was my job and I wanted to do everything well. As I walked one day and asked God about it, I heard Him inside ask me “What if you just did the weather unit first rather than last?” It was like a light bulb in my head. Well, that was perfect because then the unit that would be last could be shortened if time didn’t allow. Again, it may seem to some that would be a logical solution, but I couldn’t seem to figure it out. God knew and straightened out my thinking.

Sometimes your decisions are huge and matters of life and death. God will speak to you. He will give direction and confirm His purpose. I’ve found that when I’m in worship and know I’m in the Spirit, it’s a great time to check my heart for His direction. Learn to listen. Get to know His voice.

Sometimes He’ll use amusing situations to speak to you – that’s because you have a special relationship with your Lord. Our parents, our mates often let us know their answers in creative and humorous ways. The Lord Jesus, the Creator of the universe has so many creative ways to answer. This, though, isn’t asking for some strange sign that we insist on – this is asking the Lord to reveal His purpose to our hearts. His answer may seem strange to our thinking but it will line up with the Bible.

Enjoy your relationship with the Lord.

As writers, we may often struggle with direction in our writing, with editing, with marketing, with events surrounding our writing. Things tug at us, and many advise us one way or 32 other ways. It can be so daunting. Set yourself to hear from the Lord and follow Him, set yourself to stand and see His salvation in every decision, every chapter, every post, every marketing venture. Determine to go forward first with praise, realizing that He has good plans for you and He will open the doors and lead you down the right path.

God could have told the Israelites with Jehosaphat to fight the enemy. And there were times He did. Notice in 2 Chronicles 20 that He said at this time they did not need to fight, just go forward with praise. Just because one time the Lord has you go one way, doesn’t mean that His policy with you is always that method. He knows each time the direction you are to go.Blood Moon Redemption

This week, enjoy getting to know Him and letting Him lead you with praise, rest, and joy, whether you fight or stand, press or rest, answer a fool or not, give comfort or courage, go fast or slow, soak or soar in His presence. He is your God.

To learn more about Judy DuCharme and her book Blood Moon Redemption, visit HERE.

Best News Ever: Letter from the Publisher

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This month, as we observe the Easter season, let us remember our Lord and Saviour and the true reason for celebration: the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Without the sacrifice Jesus made by dying on the cross, we would have no reason to celebrate. Through His resurrected life, we have new life.

Every spring, we see the evidence of different plants coming up, sprouting, and blossoming all around us creating something that wasn’t there before. The regeneration and awakening of nature after a long winter reminds us of the sin we left behind and the new life we have been given with Christ through His victory over sin, death, and the grave.

It is for this reason that I have chosen an excerpt from Jacob Taggart’s book, Theology from the Spring. Jacob amplifies, through his expertise and analysis, the best news ever: that of Jesus Christ through his death on the cross and resurrection from the grave.

“The work of Jesus is very simply His life and death – as prophesied by prophets of old that the vicarious death of the Savior would bear the wrath of God against the sins of His people. And that is just what Jesus did. Jesus lived the perfect life we could not live, satisfied God’s perfect Law we could not satisfy, and yet suffered the sacrificial death that we should have received. In what I call ‘the Divine exchange,’ Jesus stood in our place, gorily crucified on a cross, where God the Father placed our sin and punishment upon Him, in order to transfer His perfect righteousness to us (2 Cor. 5:21). Only by this righteousness imputed, not infused, to the account of our souls, are we able to stand before God without fear of our just condemnation. Rather, we can now stand before God with the righteousness of Jesus. The genius of the atonement’s redemptive plan speaks to its Divine origin, as it provides something no other world religion can: a solution for our guilt and need for righteousness.

Fortunately, the work of Jesus did not end with His sacrificial death on a cross. Death could not defeat Him, so, as the Bible tells us, ‘Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures’ (1 Cor. 15:3b-4). After His resurrection, Jesus ascended into Heaven, seated next to the Father’s right hand, ruling and making intercession for His people. Therefore, Jesus did for us what we could not possibly do for ourselves. Such is the beauty of the Gospel. When humanity’s most natural inclination is to say, ‘Give me the rules, so I can follow them; I can work to be good enough to save myself,’ the Gospel says, ‘No, you can’t . . . but God, rich in mercy, has done it for you.’ When the world says, ‘Peace and contentment can be found if you will just validate yourself to all,’ the Gospel says, ‘Everlasting joy and comfort is yours because you no longer have to validate yourself to God, other people, or your pride.’ The Gospel is the ultimate metanarrative of humanity, bookended with contrasts: by one man, universal sin and universal guilt entered the world. But by another came infinite righteousness, so that sin may reign no more . . . ”

“This is the Gospel, the Good News that God saves sinners, doing for us what we could never do for ourselves, in spite of ourselves. It is a Gospel of contrasts – where simple meets profound, where good news meets bad news, where wrath meets love, where grace meets justice, where self-sufficiency meets self-surrender, where death meets life, and where God meets us – yet without compromising His holy character. This is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the best news you could ever hear. This is the Gospel with a Foundation you can stand on.”

May we all seek to remember the Foundation Jesus laid through His sacrifice and resurrection this Easter season.

The Real Saint Patrick 🍀

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Saint Patrick

From our Publisher

With it being St. Patrick’s Day, I thought it would be appropriate to write a little something about the man who inspired the holiday. Although there is much speculation about who St. Patrick was and what he did, there are some indisputable facts that many people do not know.

Ambassador author John Holmes describes the life of St. Patrick and explains the many trials and triumphs that St. Patrick faced throughout his life in his book, Saint Patrick: The Man and His Mission. In the opening preface of his book, he explains:

“St. Patrick is among the most famous figures in history. He is forever linked, and rightly so, with Ireland and the Irish people. Around the world innumerable places, churches, colleges and institutions carry his name and yet surprisingly few individuals have anything more than a slight knowledge or understanding of the man himself. You would be hard pressed, for example, to find anyone, even in our halls of learning, who could quote something that Patrick has said. It is true that in recent years some well researched books on Ireland’s patron saint have been published but it would appear that most of these have a limited circulation and are not widely read.

Patrick belongs to the fifth century; to times and conditions far distant from ours. Our knowledge of society in Ireland in those days is limited indeed, for virtually nothing remains of the materials needed to construct some kind of detailed history. By nature of the case it must also be admitted that there is a multitude of questions about Patrick which cannot be answered with complete confidence. There is a multitude of questions which can never be answered – at least not in this life.

We can, however, be reasonably certain about many things and there are areas where the scholars are in general agreement. The historical basis of this little book rests on such material.”

In one of the first chapters of his book, Holmes explains how it is almost impossible to give an exact date for St. Patrick’s birth due to the rarity of records during the time; however, it is widely assumed that he was born in England around 390 AD. He was born into an aristocratic and religious family. Around the age of 16, he is believed to have been captured by Irish raiders and taken across the sea to Ireland as a slave. According to legend, Patrick worked as a shepherd near Slemish Mount while in captivity. After six years of slavery, he escaped confinement, obtained his freedom, and returned home to England and his family. Little did he know (upon his return home) that one day, he would be called back to the land of his captivity to preach the gospel of salvation to the people of Ireland. Today, many remember him as the man who used the shamrock (clover) to explain the holy trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

I believe it is only fitting to share the writing of St. Patrick entitled, The Confession of Patrick, which can be found within Holmes’ book.

“I pray those who believe and fear God, whosoever deigns to look at or receive this writing which Patrick, a sinner, unlearned, has composed in Ireland, that no one should ever say that it was my ignorance if I did or showed forth anything however small according to God’s good pleasure; but let this be your conclusion and let it so be thought, that – as is the perfect truth – it was the gift of God. This is my confession before I die.”

As we enter St. Patrick’s Day this year, let us remember the love that he had for the Lord and the vision he sought to fulfill by ministering in Ireland. In closing, let us remember the words (so similar to the feelings of St. Patrick that they could have been sung by him) from the old Irish hymn, Be Thou My Vision:

High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heav’n’s Sun.
Heart of my own heart, whate’er befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

 

To learn more about Holmes and Saint Patrick: The Man and His Mission, visit HERE.

 

And learn more about some of Ambassador’s other Irish titles including:

A Little Irish Love Story

The Titanic’s Last Hero

A Shiver of Wonder

Favorite Flavors of Ireland

Flavors of Ireland

The Shamrock and Peach

Boldly Walking in the Miraculous

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Matthew J. Romano

Devotional from Matthew J. Romano, author of The Call: An Invitation to Revival and Transformation and complementary study guide, The Call: A Study Guide to Revival and Transformation

Have you ever had a miraculous encounter that changed your life? Each of us will have divine appointments in God’s presence that can potentially catapult us into a glorious destiny. Like crossroads along the journey of life they invite us down a path less traveled. They take us from the ordinary to the extraordinary, the commonplace to the miraculous. They beckon us to take action into God’s purpose and shape who we would become.
These divine appointments can come to us through many different ways and forms. To Moses, it came by a burning bush. To the apostle Paul, it came by an open vision of the risen Lord Jesus Christ. One such appointment that God had ordained for me was to speak to Smith Wigglesworth in a dream. Even though I was aware that we spoke the entirety of the night, I was only permitted by the Lord to recall the end of our discussion. I remember complimenting him for being such an awesome man of faith just as the early apostles were. But what he said in reply shocked me. He said, “Not even I lived up to my full potential in the Lord.” In other words, the Lord had greater power and authority available for him to walk in.  The message that God was giving me is that we haven’t even begun to see what God could do through us if we only believed. “…the people who know their God shall stand firm and take action” (Daniel 11:32b) ESV.
The apostle Paul prayed for the Ephesian believers that they would comprehend “the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe” (Eph 1:19) ESV. That power resides in us by the Holy Spirit but it can only be released through action! Faith is confidence in God’s promises and goodness. It acts in agreement with His written word, the Bible. Faith takes risks to accept the challenge of our divine appointments to walk boldly in the miraculous.
One way the Lord has challenged me to answer this call is to believe in Him to bring healing to others. One of the signs that accompanies the believer is that they will lay hands on the sick and they will recover (Mark 16:17-18). Often, I’ve been paralyzed by such thoughts as, “What if nothing happens? I may look foolish and discredit the name of the Lord.” What I’ve discovered is that the Lord is looking for those who will act according to His word. Jesus himself made the promise. My only responsibility is to trust in Him enough to place my hands on the sick and pray for their complete healing. He is responsible for the results. But if I don’t act, I will never see the power of the miraculous.
As I’m learning to step out in faith, I’ve seen God heal instantly, and at other times slowly, until months later the person has made a full recovery. Perhaps not all will be healed, but some will be. Let’s not allow thoughts of potential failure deter us from taking action. Wouldn’t it be foolish if we never told anyone the good news that Jesus saves because they may not believe? The fact is many will not, but some will. The gospel is still the power of God to save (Ro 1:16).
God gives miraculous power only to those who boldly act in faith.

Consider this week, how can you walk boldly in the miraculous?

To learn more about Matthew J. Romano and his books, visit HERE.

Resolving to Make the Minutes Count by Sowing God’s Word

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The Sower

This picture, called The Sower,  has hung on the publisher’s office wall throughout Ambassador International’s 40-year history.  It is taken from the Parable of Jesus where the man sows the seed of Salvation and it falls on different types of soil. Dr. Lowry, Ambassador’s founder and publisher, has always felt that this is the calling and heart behind Ambassador: to sow God’s Word and reach the world through the books that are published. Derick Bingham says it best in his book North of Shadowlands, “The potent power of the seed of the Word of God is actually, when you muse on it, eternal in its influence. So, sow it, Christian, sow it. Don’t go through your day without scattering some of it in the corners only you can reach” (Pg. 41-42).

Dr. Lowry chose this excerpt from Minutes Matter because the focus of this book is on time and what we do with it. This book helps us see how important it is to use our time here on earth to bring glory to God. Let us muse on these words as we begin this new year:

“525,600 minutes in a year. 36,792,000 minutes if you are given 70 years, and 72,048,000 minutes if you’re blessed with 80! ‘The days of our lives are seventy years; And if by reason of strength they are eighty years, Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; For it is soon cut off, and we fly away.’ -Psalm 90:10
Could you imagine at the beginning of our lives if we had the opportunity to check how many minutes we were going to live?

26,280,000 – 50 years
31,536,000 – 60 years
36,792,000 – 70 years
42,048,000 – 80 years

May I ask who wouldn’t check the 42,048,000 minute box? I mean, would anyone check less? But when you look at it as minutes, don’t all these choices seem like so many?
We must remember, however, the more days we are given, the more we will have to be accountable for over time. We all know this fact to be true, that none of us are guaranteed another minute. So why not strive to make each minute matter and every beat of our heart count? I wholeheartedly believe that as we begin to be good stewards of our days, we will be able to accomplish so much for the Lord because we are honoring Him with one of the most precious gifts we’ve all been given, time. So where do we begin?
Our days are busy, and without a plan, we will collapse at the end of each day and ask, ‘What just hit me?’
Ever been there?
I’m going to open a window to myself so that you can get a little glimpse of how I’m wired. I’ve been an organized person for most of my life, at least as long as I can remember. Being disorganized can drive me crazy. I’ve learned to live by to-do lists, and when I check something off, it makes me feel really good!
I know, kind of weird, huh? But how many of you can relate? Actually, when I do something that wasn’t on my list, I’ll sometimes write it on my list so that I can receive the pleasure of checking if off my list.
Some of you are laughing and some are relating to this. There are many benefits of being an organized person by your very nature, but the danger of needing organization in your life at every turn is that it can be hard to relax.
That is why the smartest man who ever lived, Solomon, wrote this as well:

‘Do not be overly righteous, Nor be overly wise: Why should you destroy yourself?
Do not be overly wicked, Nor be foolish: Why should you die before your time?
It is good that you grasp this, And also not remove your hand from the other;
For he who fears God will escape them all.’ Ecclesiastes 7:16-18

In another version, it says the man who ‘fears God will avoid all extremes’ (NIV).

Minutes Matter

We must keep a balance in our lives as we use our time wisely in all that we do. We must begin our days asking the Lord to help us in all areas of our lives. In the following chapters, we will look at some practical ways to stay healthy within our personal lives, our families, and our place of work, in worship, in serving, and in play. There are various areas of our lives that we will explore to make sure we are making our minutes matter in this crazy pace we try and keep called life.
In whatever we do, my prayer is that we make our lives count for something or someone.”

Excerpt taken from Minutes Matter: Making Every Beat Count by K. R. Mele, Chapter 1, Pg. 13-15. To learn more about Minutes Matter, visit HERE.

As we carry on in 2019, may we use our minutes in ways that matter!

Guest Post: Busy Firefighters Teach Fire Safety, Too!

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Fire Prevention Week

Did you know this week is Fire Prevention Week?! In honor, here is a guest post from Firefighters’ Busy Day author, Maria Bostian.

As Firefighters’ Busy Day shows us, today’s firefighters have lots of important jobs to do. Not only do they train for emergencies, respond to calls, and fight fires; they teach people how to be safe.

This week, busy firefighters all across the county are teaching people about fire safety. It is the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA), Fire Prevention Week which is a popular time for firefighters and families to talk about fire safety and escape planning. This week’s theme focuses on the importance of a quick response to a fire emergency. In home fires, deadly smoke and fire can spread in a matter of minutes. That is why it is important to develop a plan and put it in to practice. As the theme reminds us,

every second truly counts!Click To Tweet

Fire safety tips:

  • Having Two Ways Out of every room in your home may include using windows as exits. Windows? Yes, windows.
  • Make sure your family can open the windows in your home. Are they painted shut? Is heavy furniture blocking them so that someone can’t get out? If you find any hazard that prevents someone from opening their window, be sure to correct it as soon as possible.
  • Also remember that the door most often used, may not be the quickest or safety door to go out during an emergency. For example: If a fire starts in the front of the home, it may be safer to use the back door or a side door to get outside.
  • Where should you go once you get out? That place is called The Meeting Place. It should be a safe distance away from the home and should be where the firefighters can find you. It should be something permanent like a tree or a mailbox; not a car, a kiddy pool, or something else that can be moved or put away for the season.

Every Second Counts so create a plan and practice it often. At a minimum you should practice it twice a year: once during the day and another time at night.

Why don’t you make your plan and practice it this week? Think of it as your Fire Prevention Week homework! When you do, snap a photo and send it to us. Ambassador International would love to show others the steps families take to be “fire safe.” Help us saturate social media with pictures of meeting places, escape plans, two ways out, people checking their windows, etc. Together, we can remind others that EVERY SECOND COUNTS!

To learn more about firefighters and fire safety, download the free coloring sheets from Maria Bostian’s Firefighters’ Busy Day. And feel free to hop over to her blog at www.mariabostian.com for more escape planning and safety information.

The High Calling of Motherhood Blog Tour Day 1

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I was so glad that I was able to read The High Calling of Motherhood and am excited to introduce it to you today. This was a book that went straight to my heart. As “Mom” to a 7-month old son, I’m still knee deep in the midnight feedings, teething pains, sleepless nights, you-name-its, and am finding that motherhood can be hard. But alternately, I’m finding that motherhood is one of the most beautiful things I’ve faced to date. To watch my son learn and explore and to “see” things through his eyes, it’s amazing. And to add in the kisses and the smiles he reserves for mama – or the way he snuggles up in my arms and he’s content and happy. I love those moments. But sometimes, it can hard to see the beauty through the hard times and that’s exactly what The High Calling of Motherhood helped me do.

What stuck out to me most was Chimene’s discussion over Judea and Jerusalem and how we, as mothers, are supposed to focus on “our Jerusalem”—our mission field {and in this context, that’s my child}. Chimene explains it so well in the book and you should read it for yourself to get a full understanding of this concept, but in essence, Jerusalem was the home base for the disciples—even if they were to go into the world—and our home base is our family and our home. She writes, “Our primary mission field is home base, first and foremost. This is a gift and honor. We have been chosen to share Jesus with our children. We are chosen and called to preach the gospel, first making disciples in our own homes. Just think of the exponential influence this intentionality could have when our children begin making disciples of their own!” I love this concept of the ripple effect. It’s not a new concept and applies to so many areas of life, but when viewing it in light of raising my child to be a “World Changer” for Jesus, it’s such a helpful visual to have and I find it helps me have a better perspective.

Since I’m still knee deep in the baby stage, I haven’t had the chance to put much of that into practice, but I appreciate that I have this advice in mind now before heading into these prime child-rearing years and admit to highlighting a lot of points in The High Calling of Motherhood! It’s a book that I think I will reference many times over the next few years and a book I think is good for every mother to read—no matter what stage of life you’re in. There is SO much more covered in the book than what I covered in this introductory review, but I want to save some so you have a reason to read the book yourself! I’ll leave you with this, my favorite quote from the book that goes along with the previous concept: “The greatest place of influence is a mother in the home. If we can reach the mom, we can reach the family. If we can reach the family, we can change the world {emphasis mine}.”

You can pre-order your own copy of The High Calling of Motherhood at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Ambassador’s online retail store  {use code “HighCalling” entered at time of purchase for a 10% pre-order discount}.

Don’t forget to enter The High Calling of Motherhood “Winner’s Choice” blog tour giveaway. One winner will be chosen and will get to choose between a custom made “World Changer” necklace by The Giving Keys {that is being unveiled at the Passion4Moms conference} or two tickets to attend the Passion4Moms conference being held in DC, May 5-6, 2017. Enter below!

Giveaway

The High of Calling of Motherhood Blog Tour Giveaway

The High Calling of Motherhood

Love Him Anyway Blog Tour Day 1

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LHA-BlogTour

 

As the Chief Operating Office of Ambassador International, I don’t get to decide which books we publish, instead I have the joy of helping our authors and their books as they make their way through the publishing process. One of my favorite parts of my job, though, is the proofreading that I get to do. It helps me keep up with what we’re publishing.

I am honored to be opening the blog tour of Love Him Anyway by Abby Banks and to share with you my heart on this book. Here’s where I have to fully confess first. When I first started the {proof}reading of Love Him Anyway, I found myself thinking, Why are we publishing this book!?!? {Sorry, Abby.} The second thought that trailed not too far behind was, How am I supposed to get people to buy this book?!?! {Again, super sorry about that, Abby}. You should have seen me. Here I was trying to work, and instead I was a sobbing basket case. I couldn’t read through the tears pouring down my face! But as sad as I was, I had been “sucked in” to the story, and I couldn’t stop reading. Abby’s writing was so raw and real, she hooked me in. I am fairly certain I finished this proofreading in record time! And I can honestly tell you, I’m glad I did finish it and it’s a story that I now highly recommend.

I don’t want to give too many spoilers, but as you can find in the book description, Abby’s son, Wyatt, was paralyzed at 7-months old. {I am sure this book was especially hard for me to read because I’m “Mom” to a seven-month old son}. But this story isn’t just about Wyatt—it’s about the entire Banks family, and for me, it was a story about Abby, a fellow mom. As I read Love Him Anyway, I kept picturing the face of my baby and thinking, What if that had been me? What if MY son had become paralyzed? And this point here is what I’d like to focus on. What if it had been my son? Or, what if, instead of watching the livestream of a 5-month-old’s funeral from my living room {like I did yesterday}, I was the mom that had to stand there in the church, brokenhearted at my loss. I’m fortunate to still have my healthy, happy little 7-month old boy with me today, but I’m not guaranteed that, not even for the next five minutes. My boy belongs to Jesus first and foremost, and what Abby taught me through her story is to trust the Lord through the good times and the bad. It’s easy to say this from this side of the mountain, but my prayer is that if I ever face a trial like the Banks family, that I’ll respond as they did and cling to the Lord and “find hope in the hardest places.”

I was moved by Abby’s strength amidst the turmoil, and while she calls Wyatt her hero, I call her mine. She admits that their lives aren’t always easy and that she doesn’t always respond as she should, but that’s just a part of being human, and the overall theme you’ll find in Love Him Anyway is that the Banks family loves and trusts the Lord, despite of and through the trials they face.

You need to know in advance that Love Him Anyway is a hard read, especially if you’re a mom, but it’s such an encouragement and I highly recommend it—not because I’m the Chief Operating Officer of the company that published it—but because I believe you’ll get the same lesson from it that I did: Life may be hard sometimes, but God is good all the time and you can always find hope in those hard places. And sometimes, we need that reminder.

Love Him Anyway releases February 21, 2017 in paperback at all major retailers including Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Christianbook.com. You can also purchase Love Him Anyway through Ambassador International’s online store and use the coupon code “LoveHim” for a 10% discount. Lastly, you can enter to win a free signed copy below.

And if you’re local, you can join the Banks family at the Barnes and Noble at The Shops at Greenridge on March 18th from 10am-12pm for a book signing. We’d love to have you there!

Win a signed copy of Love Him Anyway!

 

No matter where you get Love Him Anyway, just make sure you have tissues handy!

 

And stay tuned for Day 2 of the blog tour at rebelbookreviews.blogspot.com.

Preparing for Thanksgiving: Five Verses to Ready Your Heart

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This is the third in a three-part series on preparing our hearts and homes for Thanksgiving. Dee Travis is the author of the new book Celebrate Life: Living to Serve God and Encourage Others as We Celebrate Life Together.

 

Psalm 100 is one of my favorite scripture to meditate on as we approach the Thanksgiving season. When I think about that first Thanksgiving I imagine the Pilgrims and Indians in 1621 gathering to thank God for a bountiful harvest.

Thanksgiving-PinterestBut long before that another group of people had set aside a time to celebrate God’s goodness. It was the children of Israel during the Feast of Booths. In the fall after crops were harvested, the people had a time of worshiping and thanking God for all He had done for them. They brought their offerings of Thanksgiving to the Lord. (Leviticus 23: 39-44)

Psalm 100 is a song of thanksgiving and praise to God that we can reflect on during this Thanksgiving.

Day 1   “Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth.” Psalm 100:1

Have you ever felt so thankful you just couldn’t keep quiet? Sometimes I just stand in awe of God’s handiwork in the things I see around me in His creation. Sometimes I just want to proclaim what an awesome God we serve! Everyone on the earth is admonished to praise His name because everyone benefits from God’s goodness! In Psalm 19:1-3 and Psalm 98:7-8 it says that all nature joins in to declare the glory of God and sing praises to His name. It is neat to imagine the rivers clapping and hills singing together for joy in praise to God.

Day 2 “Serve the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful singing.” Psalm 100:2

There is joy in serving Jesus! We can all serve Him whether we are young or old. Offer to teach a Sunday school class or volunteer to take a meal to someone or go visit someone who is in need of a friend. And sometimes the hardest thing is to do it with a happy heart. Many times we do something because we know we need to…. but our heart isn’t really in it. Having a joyful attitude comes from loving God and reading His word and spending time in prayer. With happy hearts we can use the talents God has given each one of us for serving Him not just during the holiday season but each and every day!

Day 3 “Know that the Lord Himself is God; It is He who made us and not we ourselves; we are His people the sheep of His pasture.” Psalm 100:3

God is the very one who created us. He knows us better than anyone. He know when we all overwhelmed or discouraged with so many things pulling at us in a hundred different directions during the holidays. That’s when we go to Him as His sheep and lie down in green pastures. (Psalm 23:2) Find that quiet spot and sit beside the still waters talk to God. He loves us and will restore our weary soul! He cares for us like a good shepherd and for that I am truly thankful.

Day 4 “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and bless His name. Psalm 100:4

We are so blessed in this country to be able to go to church and worship God freely. Being thankful for God’s love will show in our actions as we enter into worship and praise with others who love Him too. I love to gather together with my church family during Thanksgiving and hear testimonies of God’s goodness and faithfulness and mercy. Bless His name for all he has done for us!

Day 5 “For the Lord is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting, and His faithfulness is to all generations.” Psalm 100:5

One of my favorite sayings is “God is always good and you are always loved”. What a great truth to know that the God of this universe loves us so much He was willing to send His Son to die and take the punishment for our sins. We simply have to believe and He gives everlasting life! (John 3:16) God’s lovingkindness is everlasting! He will love us forever!! And His faithfulness is to ALL generations! God daily loads us with so many benefits. God knows our needs and watches over us and never leaves us to fend for ourselves. He cares about us and will always do what is best for us. God is so good!

 

Thanksgiving is a time of celebration and a time to turn our thoughts to God and His word and realize how very blessed we are of Him. Every day is a gift that we have been given…..so every day (not just at Thanksgiving) thank Him and praise His name!