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BLOGWORDS – Monday 14 August 2017 – NEW WEEK NEW FACE – GUEST POST – JENNIFER HALLMARK

NEW WEEK NEW FACE – GUEST POST – JENNIFER HALLMARK

 

“The most important thing to me is my faith in God the father, His Son, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Second is my family and friends.”

 

 

“Jennifer and Ellen seek to bring hope and encouragement through Small Acts of Kindness on the blog and through everyday life. We hope to inspire others to be kind and thoughtful.”

Are You a Servant or a Child that Serves?

 

Many years ago, I was driving to the dentist with my daughter Mandy. I’d been studying the concept of being a child of God so I mentioned my thoughts to her along with a title, Are You a Servant or a Child that Serves?

 

She said, “Mom, it’s the same thing.”

 

I shook my head. “I thought so too. Now I know differently.”

 

Understanding the difference is probably the most important concept which led me to a closer walk with the Father. For almost 20 years, not understanding this has kept me from experiencing the closer relationship I desired with Father God.

 

We find the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32, a familiar story to Christians. It’s the story of a son who leaves home after demanding his inheritance from his father, spends it on riotous living and in his subsequent poverty, remembers his home and father.

 

“I will arise and go to my father and will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son.  Make me like one of your hired servants.’” Luke 15:18-19 NKJV

 

The son returns home and when his father sees him from afar, runs to his son for a tender reunion. The son starts to make the above speech but is cut short because the father has forgiven him and started making preparations to bless and restore him to his proper place in the family. This is an important concept; one too many of us have missed somewhere along the way.

 

The story of the prodigal, whether told in sermon, drama or song, began to have a greater impact on me than ever before and I couldn’t understand why. The story, though familiar, would reduce me to tears every time I heard it. I had given my heart to God when I was nine years old and made a stronger commitment to give Him my life when I was fourteen. Since that time, I’d tried to serve Him to the best of my ability. God spoke gently to my heart, at that time, saying I’d been a servant instead of a child that serves.

 

We read in verses 18 and 19 of Luke 15 that the prodigal son realized his sinful state. He knew he is not worthy to be a son but had hopes that he would be accepted as a servant. The father is merciful and forgiving, however, and more than eager to have his son back at the family table. God used this story to show me that even though I’d given God my heart and accepted His salvation, that He’d prepared a “table” for my blessings and restoration and I’d not accepted them. He had a place designed for me since before time began; a special place as a daughter by her father. Unlike the prodigal son, I’d not accepted my seat at the table.

 

The prodigal son, upon his return, accepted the blessings and restoration that the father offered. He didn’t go put on servant’s clothes, sleep in servant’s quarters, and work with servants all day nor did he go back to poverty and the pig pen.

 

Years ago, God spoke to me and today He wants to speak to His Church. He desires children who will take their place as beloved of the King as did those of the kings of ages long past. Children of kings in the past were still children except they were in training to someday be like their father the king. They played and had fun like other children. However, throughout their childhood, they were learning the ways of the father. They weren’t born with all the characteristics of the king; it came through a process of learning, day by day.

 

When a married couple discusses adding to their household, they usually mean children. They don’t sit down and say, “Honey, do we want children or should we just hire a maid or butler?” This might sound ridiculous, nevertheless, we tend to think this way about Father God. Before we know God, we realize at some point in our lives that we are prodigal children, living in sin and upon this realization run home to God. The Father sees us coming and runs to us, already with preparations to restore us to our place as His child.  How many of us have said, “Thanks, but no thanks, I have to serve you and live in the servant’s quarters and work until I can repay you for all the grief I have caused.”

 

The debt has been paid. Jesus paid the price on Calvary and no amount of serving will bring us any closer to God. If anything, serving can get in the way of the intimate relationship God desires to have with His children.

 

We need to learn to be accepted as children before we can seek to please God through serving. Now I’m not saying you can’t help people and the church while you are learning, if your focus is on being restored as a child. God stopped me dead in my tracks one day and told me I could go no further until I accepted my place as His child. I could no longer try and please God or others through works, instead I had to learn to receive from God first His restoration and then His blessings.

 

For example, let’s look at one thing that happened after the Civil War. Some slaves who were freed would not leave their former masters and live as free men. They were so accustomed to slavery that they stayed at the same place doing the same job with little pay. They were freer than they were before the Civil War but were not living in the freedom that had been provided for them by others who laid down their lives.

 

Can you see this parallel with us today? We’ve been saved through Jesus’ finished work on the cross. However, we’re not much freer than before because we have a slave’s mentality.

 

How can we change? First, we must accept our position of sonship with the Father, acknowledging that we are saved by what Jesus did for us on the cross. It’s not according to our own worthiness or unworthiness. It is Jesus’ righteousness. We receive our adoption whether we feel it or not and then God will start our restoration and training on how to become more like Him.

 

It is a day-to-day process, ever dying to self and our fleshly way and learning to walk in the Spirit. We learn through relationship; spending time with God, just seeking His face, worship, listening to the Word and prayer.

 

God wants children who serve. Not out of duty. More out of love and relationship. We will serve and obey God in all areas of our lives and look at God as Father instead of a slave owner. This changes everything.

 

Are you a servant or a child who serves?

 

 

Jennifer Hallmark is a writer of Southern fiction and also fantasy; a combination that keeps the creative juices flowing.

She’s published over 200 articles and interviews on the internet, short stories in several magazines, and been part of three book compilations: The Heart Seekers Series, Sweet Freedom A La Mode, and Not Alone: A Literary and Spiritual Companion for Those Confronted with Infertility and Miscarriage.

Jennifer’s website, Alabama-Inspired Fiction, and the group blog she co-founded, focus on her books, love of the South, and helping writers. She sends out a monthly newsletter, which you can subscribe to at her author page. You can visit her onFacebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Jennifer and her husband, Danny, have spent their married life in Alabama and have a basset hound, Max. Their daughter Mandy is married to Tim and they have two beautiful daughters, Ava, and Sadie, and a handsome son, Zeke. Their son, Jonathan, is married to Kristie and they have two beautiful daughters, Phoebe Jill and Rozlyn Claire, and a handsome son, Cohen .

Jennifer loves to read detective fiction from the Golden Age, watch movies like LOTR, and play with all her grandchildren. At times, she writes.

 

https://jenniferhallmark.com/

https://www.facebook.com/authorjenniferhallmark

https://twitter.com/JenHwrites

https://www.pinterest.com/jenlhallmark989/

https://writingpromptsthoughtsideas.wordpress.com

 

“Acts of kindness. One reason I like sharing what others are doing to make the world a better place is to inspire others. Everyone can do something. From helping a neighbor to donating time and/or money to community projects, you have value inside of you to share with others.”

 

#Blogwords, New Week New Fact, #NWNF, Guest Post, Jennifer Hallmark, A Child That Serves

 

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BLOGWORDS – 24 July 2017 – NEW WEEK NEW FACE – GUEST POST – DAVID RAWLINGS

NEW WEEK NEW FACE – GUEST POST – DAVID RAWLINGS

 

 

Americans, a view from a first-time visitor

 

Last year, I went to the USA for the first time and landed in Nashville. Not the first choice of US city by a travel documentary crew, but still – I love BBQ and majored in music at University, so it was a decent enough fit.

 

In the three dozen international trips I’ve made from Australia, none have been in the Americas, North, Central or South.  I’ve always jumped on a plane in Australia and turned left.  This time the pilot turned right.

 

From the moment I came through customs in LAX, the culture that had occupied my TV set for the past forty years was now living and breathing right in front of me. It was strange to hear the accents on people walking past, instead of walking through the set of a sitcom.

 

You see, as Australians we are very aware of American culture – our media is steeped in it – but we’re so far away from it that it’s somehow foreign.

 

So why head to America?  As an aspiring novelist – and finalist in the ACFW Genesis contest and OCW Cascade competition – that’s where my future marketplace is.  (If you think the opportunities for fiction are drying up in your part of the world, we’re in a severe drought in Australia.  Our nation’s bookshelves are lined with lifestyle books from reality TV stars and 21-year-old sport stars telling their life stories.)

 

That desire to break into a market on the other side of the world is what saw me walking The Broadway with new author friends from the USA (and Canada), breathing in the heady aromas of a dozen BBQs to a soundtrack of bluegrass and 70s rock covers.  And talking over coffees (some things are universal) with people from Indiana to Iowa.

 

I found some things that I appreciate about the culture – things that challenged the stereotypes that are out there. I thought it would be good to share them, particularly in a time when the US culture is appearing in the world’s media in a different light. So here’s some positivity – what did I find?

 

  • Your hospitality. Maybe it’s because I was in the south, maybe it’s because I was a visitor in a strange land. Either way, the hospitality of the US folks I met was palpable. It was genuine. It was an honest desire to make a visitor comfortable, and I appreciated it.
  • Your interest in a visitor’s speech. Y’all are entranced by my accent. Single. One. Of. You. I should have charged $20 for every time I had to say “g’day.” J
  • Your entrancement of my country. This is nice, as every single person I spoke to wanted to visit my home, enjoy my country and, in some cases, move there.  People told me proudly that they’d visited and what they had enjoyed. Nothing makes you prouder when you’re abroad than hearing that people love where you’re from.  It was also a source of amusement when you peel back the layers about what some people know.  It would appear some Americans think all Australians own a kangaroo or know Hugh Jackman (these were real conversations). And I’m sorry for trying to convince a few of you we’d converted to metric minutes and now have 100 minutes in an hour.  We don’t. Really. But this guy really does live in the trees in the park across from my house.

  • Your parochialism of the state from which you come. One thing I noticed: in introductions, almost every single person didn’t just say the city they were from. It was always “Birmingham, Alabama” or “Cincinnati, Ohio.”  To me, this was more than helping me out with your geography.  I noticed a sense of pride in your roots. I wish we did that more in Australia.
  • Your patriotism. Leaving politics out of it, I admired the fact you wear your patriotic hearts on your sleeves. This is very different to Australia, where we tend to be very self-deprecating about our own country. We love it, we’ll just never say it out loud. It was refreshing to be a culture where you do.
  • Your respect for those around you. It stood out to me just how much US culture is taught to respect others through speech. I heard “Sir” and “Ma’am” on a regular basis, which was heartwarming. Our culture – to its own detriment – has moved beyond the need for such politeness.

 

So thanks for having me America. It was nice to meet some of you and experiences some of the positives from your culture.  I look forward to being back … maybe on a book tour!

 

 

Based in Adelaide, South Australia, David Rawlings is a sports-mad father-of-three with his own copywriting business who reads everything within an arm’s reach.

 

He writes stories for those who want to dive deeper – inspirational fiction that covers everyday modern issues such as reality TV, the baggage we carry, spirituality, advertising, relationships, the media and technology.

 

His manuscripts have been recognized as finalists in the 2016 ACFW Genesis Contest and 2017 OCW Cascade Awards.

 

 

www.davidrawlings.com.au (and if you sign up to my newsletter, I’ll send you a free short story! And check out my videos while you’re there!)

www.facebook.com/DavidRawlingsAuthor

www.twitter.com/DavidJRawlings

 

 

#Blogwords, New Week New Fact, #NWNF, Guest Post, David Rawlings, Australian in America

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BLOGWORDS – 17 July 2017 – NEW WEEK NEW FACE – GUEST POST – LYNN DEAN

NEW WEEK NEW FACE – GUEST POST – LYNN DEAN

 

What it Means to be a Patriot

 

I came from a non-military family, so when I married an Air Force Officer, I was in for a bit of culture shock. For starters, I had to learn the “alphabet soup” lingo the military uses to describe just about everything. I can now tell you that FOD isn’t good around aircraft engines, that it’s good to know what your BAQ is before you PCS, and that when the ADM is TDY life is rough for the NMS, too. (Translations: Foreign Object Defects aren’t good around aircraft engines. It’s good to know what your Basic Allowance for Quarters is before you make a Permanent Change of Station move, and when the Active Duty Member is Temporary Duty life is rough for the Non-Military Spouse, too.) rem: LOL Through our experience with those who sacrifice to protect and defend the Constitution, I have gained a unique perspective on what it means to be a patriot.

I was shocked, for example, to learn that only about 0.4% of Americans make up our active duty military. That’s 4 people volunteering to pay the price for every thousand who enjoy freedom. I’m a writer, so my mind jumped to a writing comparison. This article is about 1000 words long, and 0.4% of those words would be “I came from a…” That’s not much to go on, is it?

But is it enough?

The answer might be “Obviously” or “Yes, as long as we’re not at war,” but we ARE at war. Most citizens forget that. It’s one of the luxuries of being part of the other 99.6%.

In saying that we are currently defended by only 0.4% of our citizens, it is also worth noting that 7.3% of all living Americans have served in the military at some point in their lives. Slightly over 1% of women and over 13% of men are trained defenders—”sheepdogs”—and most of them would gladly stand in the gap again if the need arose.

At its highest the military was made up of 9% of Americans during World War II. Still, less than one tenth went “over there” after we were attacked on our own soil, yet this “bravest generation” tipped the odds in favor of our European Allies. A popular song of the era promised, “We won’t come back ’til it’s over over there.” Americans kept that promise, defending the freedom of others until every enemy was vanquished.

As a child, I always pictured almost every able-bodied citizen fighting for freedom during the American Revolution. How else could the sparsely populated colonies ever have stood up to the well-trained and well-funded British Army otherwise? While it’s true that almost every freedom-minded citizen joined the militia during the first frenzied fighting, others opposed the revolution. In the end only about 6.5% of the American population participated in the Revolution of 1776 on a regular basis.

So few did so much!

What am I saying? That it’s perfectly fine for the majority of us to sit at home—fat, dumb, and happy as sheep grazing on a hillside—while a few valiant souls defend our comfortable way of life?

Not at all…but neither am I saying that we shall all perish unless the majority “wake up,” as so many pundits on both sides insist. We’ve never required the majority of our population to join the military. I find it very encouraging to observe what a few passionate souls can accomplish even though vastly outnumbered. Think of it! For every six who fought alongside George Washington for our liberty, 94 stayed home beside their cozy fires. I do wonder a bit how their consciences allowed them to sleep in comfort while other men defended their homes and families, but I know with certainty that the heartfelt efforts of a relative few are more effective than a fair-weather crowd of thousands with only lukewarm conviction. These vigilant defenders deserve our admiration and gratitude.

Does that mean those of us who are not in the military cannot be guardians of liberty? Certainly not! There are many ways to show patriotism.

We are patriots when we remember and understand what others have sacrificed and died to provide for us. They died for liberty—the God-given rights of men to direct their lives without limits set by other men. Liberty is different from license, which is the permission men grant themselves to do as they like without regard for other men and with no thought of God. License is self-centered. No one died so that we could live raucously. When I remember that people died to give me liberty, I think of the closing lines of Saving Private Ryan: “I tried to live my life the best that I could. I hope that was enough. I hope that, at least in your eyes, I’ve earned what all of you have done for me.”

We are patriots when we read and study the Constitution others have fought to protect and defend, because it is the document that defines our liberty under God. The Constitution doesn’t grant us rights. God did that. The Constitution is merely a formal recognition of the rights God gave each of us. If we don’t know what our rights are, we won’t even notice if someone takes them away. If there’s something the majority of citizens should “wake up” to, this is it. rem: emphasis mine. The Constitution with all its signatures and amendments contains less than eight thousand words, making it about the length of a short story or article you’d read in a magazine. Surprised? I was! It fits easily into a pamphlet and can be read in less than an hour. Have you read it? The way I look at it, the Bible contains the gift Jesus died to give me, and the Constitution contains the gift our forefathers died to give me. One is the foundation of  my spiritual freedom, and the other lays the foundation for my political freedom. I figure it would be a good idea to be well acquainted with both!

We don’t all necessarily have to volunteer for the military and serve on foreign fronts to be true patriots, but patriotism is much more than baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and fireworks. Patriotism is caring passionately about our history and our culture and tending to the things that matter—the things that made us great, and the things that make us good. Remember, and live deliberately.

 


 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Growing up in Texas, I dictated my first stories to my mom before I was old enough to write them down myself. She humored me, for which I am grateful, and I’ve been telling stories in one form or another ever since.

Fast forward more years than I’ll admit to. Children grown. House quiet. Finally more time to get serious about writing for publication, and what an exciting time to write!

I write about the things I know. The things I love. God, family, history, and how those things fit together.

 

https://www.amazon.com/Lynn-Dean/e/B008520VOA/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_2?qid=1499976490&sr=1-2

https://www.facebook.com/Wordsworth-PublishingLynn-Dean-161921870546466/

 

 

#Blogwords, New Week New Fact, #NWNF, Guest Post, Lynn Dean, Patriot, U. S. History

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BLOGWORDS – 10 July 2017 – NEW WEEK NEW FACE – GUEST POST – RANDALL ALLEN DUNN

NEW WEEK NEW FACE – GUEST POST – RANDALL ALLEN DUNN

 

Freedom to Hope

 

As Americans, we assume we will never lose our freedom. We take it for granted that we will always be able to find food, shelter, and air conditioning. We cannot imagine a day when we could not drive to a mall, make coffee in the morning, or watch a pre-recorded TV show. We’ve grown so used to our conveniences, it’s hard to relate to those who fought for our right to enjoy them.

 

But at some point in our lives, we suffer a loss that reminds us of how privileged we are. I experienced one the other night.

 

I drive for Uber to earn extra money, in addition to my day job. (Despite what people may think, writers with a handful of published books don’t earn much money.) I drive a silver Pontiac Bonneville with over 180,000 miles on it, that rusted through in a couple of places. But the engine runs smoothly with plenty of power. I call it “the Falcon”, because it’s “the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy” and when I punch it, it jumps to light speed.

 

But when I turned the key that Saturday night, it wouldn’t crank. The battery was completely dead. I assumed it would start, like always. Suddenly, I had no car and no way to earn the money we needed to get through the week.

 

These are the moments we realize how good we have it. When we don’t have it anymore.

 

I prayed, frustrated, knowing we needed help, and that I knew nothing about car maintenance.

 

I tried to jump start it with cables from our van. After a few attempts, I gave up. Our neighbor walked over to ask if I was trying to jump the battery, and asked to look at it. He showed me I was applying the cable to the engine’s fuse box (which looked exactly like a battery to me), because the battery for this vehicle was actually located beneath the back seat.

 

Yeah, okay. Somehow I didn’t think to check that.

 

He pulled up the seat and showed me the battery there (who knew?). Within fifteen minutes, my car was charged and ready to go. Only then did I learn, from talking with him, that he’s been an auto mechanic at a local repair shop for over 30 years.

 

So I went out driving, cautiously at first. The engine seemed fine, like always, and I felt blessed to have my car restored, and thankful for the awesome way God had provided for us. I accepted a few rides, filled up with gas, and prepared for a long, productive night.

 

After dropping off some passengers, I parked to use a restroom, then went back to start the car.

 

Nothing.

 

Dead again.

 

I waited a minute, tried it again. Over and over.

 

My wife had asked me to keep her updated on the car, so I called home to tell her. We couldn’t afford much – thus the Uber driving – and were pinching every penny. So I couldn’t call for a ride. But she couldn’t leave our kids home alone to come pick me up, and we needed them to sleep through the night for a change. It was nearing midnight, so we didn’t have anyone we could call, either.

 

As I considered making the 5 ½ mile walk home, four police cars rolled into the parking lot where my car sat, pulling over a vehicle. I asked an officer if they could give me a ride, after they were done. They couldn’t do that, but offered to let me use their charger to try to start my car. Another amazing blessing, just when I needed it! Unfortunately, after trying for ten minutes, my battery only seemed worse, not even clicking when I tried to start it.

 

I was completely stranded, for who knew how long.

 

In my novel, High Adventure: The Solomon Ring of Kilimanjaro, Jack Benjamin and his intended fiancée, Amanda Regent, feel equally stranded. Jack is a flyer, who longs to marry Amanda and travel the world in his private biplane. Amanda wants to say yes, but when Jack’s missionary parents die and the Great War breaks out, he feels he must remain in Africa to look after their abandoned mission, and Amanda stays to help.

 

As the War drags on, Jack and Amanda wonder if it will ever end. They feel trapped and surrounded by death, as they lose friends and family in battles. Meanwhile, Jack sees no future for himself, due to Amanda’s uncertainty of marrying him, and the feeling that his talents are being wasted by serving his parents’ mission instead of flying. When Amanda learns of the death of a beloved family friend, she feels like giving up. But Jack’s optimistic sister-in-law, Miriam, encourages her to hold onto hope. Hope that things will change in time. For the African continent. For the fighting forces. Even for Jack and Amanda themselves.

 

Before long, Amanda is kidnapped by an enemy German troop, losing all her remaining freedom. As a captive, she ultimately discovers true freedom. Not in having the ability to do as she pleases, but in the ability to choose how she faces her situation, even if it will result in death.

 

When we lose freedom, hope is all we can stand on. As a Christian, I feel confident – in the midst of crisis – that things will change for the better, because I know God is always watching over me and won’t abandon me. No matter how dark my situation gets.

 

While I contemplated my limited options at the gas station, my wife got on a Facebook group about local happenings, explained our situation, and asked for help. Several people criticized her request, telling her what she should have done – wake up the kids to drag them across town with her, leave them home alone, call an Uber, etc. But a couple of people said they would help, and one of them came to meet me. He even went back home for jumper cables and tried to charge my car, since I couldn’t even lock my electronic doors to keep it safe for the night. After it still failed to charge, he drove me safely home. My mother loaned us money for the tow, and a friend gave us some money for groceries.

 

As it says in A Tale of Two Cities, “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.” Our situation remained bleak. But in the midst of it, there was hope, as God brought different people together to bless us. And so we continue to struggle, as many families do. And we survive.

 

Sometimes we suffer loss. Of jobs. Homes. Friends and family. Reputation. In recent years, I’ve lost all of these things in various degrees. Yet my hope remains. Hope to rebuild. Hope to recover. Hope to restore.

 

We sometimes lose freedom to do the things we’re accustomed to doing. But when those material things are lost, we still hold onto the freedom to hope.

 

Which gives us strength to fight, pray, and live another day.

 

Hold onto hope.

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Randall Allen Dunn was raised on a steady diet of James Bond, Batman, Star Trek and Indiana Jones. He writes stories of action, adventure, and infinite possibility, as well as instructional books about writing.
 

www.RandallAllenDunn.com
facebook.com/RandallAllenDunn
twitter.com/randalladunn
amazon.com/Randall-Allen-Dunn/e/B009BQGC6U
pinterest.com/randalladunn
youtube.com/channel/UCZGeMw_uI69dXkF6mBYTHMw

 

 

#Blogwords, New Week New Fact, #NWNF, Guest Post, Randall Allen Dunn, Freedom to Hope, Den, High Adventure, The Red Rider

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BLOGWORDS – 3 July 2017 – NEW WEEK NEW FACE – GUEST POST – DEB GORMAN

NEW WEEK NEW FACE – GUEST POST – DEB GORMAN

 

 

THE WHISPERING CHURCH

Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven. – Matthew 10:28, 32–33 (NLT)

 

America—the great experiment. The American Constitution and the Bill of Rights are remarkable documents. They have their roots, however, in an even more remarkable document: Magna Carta, signed under duress in 1215 AD by King John of Britain, arguably one of the most evil kings to ever sit on any throne.

At its core, Magna Carta guaranteed individuals freedom from government tyranny. It has been described as “the greatest constitutional document of all times—the foundation of the freedom of the individual against the arbitrary authority of the despot” (Lord Denning, Danziger, and Gillingham, 2004, p. 268, Danziger, Danny; Gillingham, John (2004). 1215: The Year of Magna Carta. Hodder Paperbacks. ISBN 978-0340824757.).

Magna Carta, however, was shelved by King John almost before the ink was dry; subsequent kings alternately dusted it off and used it to gain favor or pushed it further back into obscurity—whatever suited their needs. Belief in the divine right of kings was their guiding principle, not freedom for the masses. Magna Carta went through several revisions over the years yet remains today the revered underpinning of this grand experiment called America.

Our founding fathers held Magna Carta in high esteem, using it as a backdrop and foundation for the creation of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Free speech is a core value in both documents, as in our Bill of Rights. The right to speak against our government, holding its feet to the fire so to speak, is dear to the hearts of all Americans. We pray for it, we fight for it, and we’re willing to die for it.

But a virus ravages this great land. It arrived silently, crept slowly, and infected millions over the course of many decades.

It’s unique in the virus world, unlike any other known to science. It remains unseen, even under the most powerful microscope. There are no warning signs—no marshaling of the immune system to fight it.

It has not been studied, nor catalogued by the CDC or any other medical agency. It’s not airborne or blood-borne. There are no specialists who treat people with this virus. There is no known medical cure. There are no support groups for infected people or government funds allocated to study it. No nonprofits to which you can contribute.

There is, however, an antidote, not one swallowed or injected, but infused—not a needle infusion into the body—but by the Sword into the human spirit.

It attacks one specific area of the body—the mind—but it doesn’t remain there. After attacking the mind and constructing its ramparts and strongholds there, it lays siege to another part of the body—the vocal cords—effectively blocking the voice from speaking.

This virus causes silence.

Silence as God’s holy name becomes a swear word. Silence as millions of innocent people are killed by governments in camps, in villages, on urban streets, and in doctors’ offices. Silence as men and women, boys and girls are reeducated, brainwashed into believing God didn’t create anything, that indeed there is no creator except the media, Hollywood, social engineers—arms of the federal government—working behind the scenes to remake planet earth in their images. Their voices are loud and insistent. The source of their income is my paycheck.

Silence reigns as the strongest nation on earth—blood-bought strength—debates the meaning of gender; the sanctity of human life; the right of individuals to pray in the public square or to protect their persons and their families from danger; silence as men become women, women become men; silence as marriage—that most holy, God-created ordinance—devolves into a playground relationship, to be entered into or abandoned on the flimsiest of whims.

We declare God to be no more than a flawed, mean-spirited potter, making mistakes with his creations, flinging them against the wall and beginning again, wringing his hands in frustration. Or worse, we declare him no god at all.

We pilot ourselves, our culture into an abyss, a godless wormhole of our own creation—whirling through dark space to arrive at a completely alien landscape, devoid of faith, ruled by human reason alone.

Will the Church of Jesus Christ go silently into the abyss?

Do we remember where we’re going? Do we remember that Jesus has already overcome the world, sent Satan packing, crushed death to death? What is our understanding of hell? What happens to our friends and loved ones who will spend eternity there because we have succumbed to the virus and are silent in their company?

Let us not allow truth to become a minority among believers, a thing to be handled delicately, using only government-approved words. Truth has been laundered, redefined to mean tolerance, and given a throne upon which to sit. Tolerance shouts; truth whispers.

Believers, we must find our voices again. We must be the Whispering Church no longer!

A healthy dose of obedience to God’s Word will heal our minds and our vocal cords, dismantle the strongholds, and loosen our tongues to clearly speak the pure life-giving truth that people around us so desperately need to hear.

We need not fear laughter, persecution, death; we need not fear our employers or our government. If we could but see how tiny, how powerless they are compared to the awesome power and might of Jesus Christ, we would never fear to speak the truth again.

Our nation, our people, and our world need to hear us speak and speak loudly.

 

But don’t be afraid of those who threaten you. For the time is coming when everything that is covered will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all. What I tell you now in the darkness, shout abroad when daybreak comes. What I whisper in your ear, shout from the housetops for all to hear! – Matthew 10:26–27 (NLT)

 

 


 

Deb Gorman is a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, cleverly disguised as a wife, mom, grandmom, and author. Her purpose is to regift the Word of God to believers and seekers everywhere, using the talent and imagination God gave her. Her prayer is that His Name would be praised and His glory would fill the earth!

Deb is the owner of Debo Publishing, using the literary arts of fiction, non-fiction, and creative non-fiction,  leading others to experience God’s love and grace.

Deb lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, Alan, and German Shepherd, Hoka.

 

 

 

https://plus.google.com/+DebGDeboPublishing

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#Blogwords, New Week New Fact, #NWNF, Guest Post, Deb Gorman, Matthew 10:28, 32–33, Matthew 10:26–27

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BLOGWORDS – 26 June 2017 – NEW WEEK NEW FACE – GUEST POST – VARINA DENMAN

NEW WEEK NEW FACE – GUEST POST – VARINA DENMAN

 

Does Shanty’s BE YOU Challenge Really Make a Difference?

 

I suffer from depression, but fortunately, it only hits me every few years. And usually it’s triggered by something that happens in my real world: the birth of each of my babies, a move to a new town, marriage troubles, etc. I don’t typically spiral into the dark places unless I have something that triggers the initial rotating vortex. But then? Wow, do I go into an out of control tornado!

 

It’s been more than ten years since I was in my worst “episode.” But I remember the feels like it was yesterday. Overwhelmed. Hopeless. Desperate. And oh, so negative. I felt like I was worthless, and because of that, I developed a horrible habit of negative self-talk. Let me tell you, a bad case of depression doesn’t need negativity on top of it. Whatever miracle cure I tried was thwarted by my internal thoughts. Eventually, I was able to overcome, but it took much longer than was necessary because my brain was adding fuel to the problem.

 

Of course, there is no miracle cure for depression. It just takes a LOT of work and possibly some medication. In my case, I was in therapy, I was reading lots of self-help books, I was talking to friends who had been there, and I was medicated. The combination worked, but it took a long time. Years, in fact.

 

And to tell you the truth, each of the tiny parts of my recovery seemed miniscule when I was doing them. I wanted a quick fix to make it all go away, so I would be back to my normal self. My therapist would give me assignments to do at home, but they seemed incredibly shallow, like a Band-Aid on a gaping wound. Little did I know that even Band-Aids will eventually staunch the flow of blood if you use enough of them.

 

One assignment was for me to write down all the things I’m thankful for. When I received this assignment, I’m sure I thought it was pointless. What difference could it possible make? But I did the exercise regardless. I’m a rule follower and a good student, so there’s no way I could leave a task incomplete.

 

I grudgingly snatched my spiral notebook and scribbled down each of my children’s names. So there. Assignment done. But even in my shadowy state, I knew my therapist wouldn’t want me to stop there. I added my husband, my parents, and in-laws. Then I added numerous other family members and friends. But still. Probably not what he had in mind. I looked around the room and jotted down my soft bed and pillows, then the antique furniture that had been a gift from my parents, then the kids’ artwork on the walls. I looked out the window, and realized I was appreciative, not only of the sunshine and blue skies, but also the rain the day before.

 

Next, I wrote down our back yard where the kids were playing on their playfort, and I jotted down our house which—even though it had its problems—was spectacularly snug and comfortable. We struggled with finances, but our refrigerator and pantry were always full, and we had two cars in the driveway.

 

But those were just things and stuff.

 

My family loved me. A lot. So did my friends. So I wrote down love. And once I started thinking about intangible things, I got on a roll. Forgiveness. Tolerance. Grace. Mercy. Kindness. Health (even though my mental health was in question, my and my family’s physical health was good). Spirituality. I had God in my life. I was leaning on Him … no, clinging to Him like a lifeline, and even though I couldn’t always feel His presence, I knew without a doubt, that He was there with me, holding me, and leading me back to safety.

 

I glanced down at the now full page in my spiral. The first few items had been written with a hard hand, denting the paper. Not that I was angry at my children, but I was angry at the assignment, and the depression, at the need for writing things down when I just wanted my quick fix. But after the first few items, my hand had lightened, and the writing was softer, hesitant, almost questioning whether or not the list could be real. And by the time I had reached the bottom of the page, the words were messy and scribbled, because I had been writing so quickly. There were so many things for which I could be thankful.

 

I leaned back and inhaled deeply. That’s what my therapist had been planning all along. To show me that my world was larger than my current problems, and that I would eventually dig my way out of the hole I was in, and find myself back in the sunshine. And my world of happy blessings would be waiting there for me.

 

It’s been over ten years since I wrote that list. Probably I still have it in the bottom of a closet somewhere. I’m not sure, but no matter. I remember it. Even now while I’m walking in sunshine, I think back to that exercise and many others. All the lists I made, all the miniscule exercises I completed, all the Band-Aids I stuck on my wound … they all made a difference in my recovery, and each of them healed a tiny part of me, and helped me to be less critical of myself, less negative, and far more gracious to myself and to others. And I thank God for those little assignments.

 

Varina Denman writes stories about the unique struggles women face. Her award-winning Mended Hearts series, which revolves around church hurt, is a compelling blend of women’s fiction and inspirational romance. Her latest novel, Looking Glass Lies, released in May. A native Texan, Varina lives near Fort Worth with her husband and five mostly grown children. Connect with Varina on her website or one of the social media hangouts.

 

LGL book trailer: https://youtu.be/L4K-bolCE2k

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#Blogwords, Special Feature, New Week New Fact, #NWNF, Guest Post, Varina Denman, Looking Glass Lies, #forNina, Shanty’s BE YOU Challenge

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BLOGWORDS – 2 March 2017 – NEW WEEK NEW FACE – GUEST POST – RALENE BURKE

NEW WEEK NEW FACE – GUEST POST – RALENE BURKE

 

It Takes Someone Special to be a Dad

 

The women’s Bible study at my church this summer is Missional Motherhood by Gloria Furman. It’s about women/mothers embracing their mission field, even if it’s in their own home. I think so much of that can apply to family men as well.

 

God gave men wives and told them to love her as Christ loved the church. Then He entrusted children to these couples to raise and cherish. Men are charged with providing for the family, which is all too often seen to only mean going to work so the family can pay the bills and have food to eat.

 

But it is so much more!

 

We’ve all heard the common adage, “Any man can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a dad.” (Anne Geddes) And how true that quote can be! A father is a biological parent, whether he is involved in the child’s life or not. A father may even provide for the family.

 

A dad, though, chooses to be involved, to dig in and raise a child. A dad is all about relationship.

One thing the Bible study has already pointed out is that the nurturing aspect and influence of motherhood doesn’t just apply to our children. Rather, it often spills over into other relationships in various forms. Mentoring other women and kids, teaching, offering hospitality, etc. The same thing can be said about men.

 

Dads are great teachers, wise listeners, and the more laid-back bonders. The characteristics that make dads unique can be applied in relationships outside the family. Children without a good father-figure—or dad-figure—in their lives crave that kind of acceptance and acknowledgement. Young people without guidance can flounder when it comes to charging into adulthood or family life blind.

 

We’ve all heard stories about men that find themselves making the difference in the lives of children or younger men by taking them under their wing. These people aren’t blood, but the relationships become almost as important.

 

My father is a wonderful man and an amazing dad. Even though he was a soldier in the Army while I was growing up (which meant he was gone a lot), he always made a point to be involved when he was home. He attended as many sports events and 4-H talks as he could. He was present at awards ceremonies and church functions. Some of my favorite memories, though, are Sunday afternoons on the couch, watching Star Wars and other sci-fi/fantasy movies with him.

 

I know how lucky I am. I know many people did not grow up with fathers like that. But how many had other male role models in their lives? How many found that kind of relationship with someone outside their immediate family? I know even that number is not enough.

 

This Father’s Day, let’s remember not only the wonderful dads out there, but also the amazing men who stepped up to be that kind of dad-figure in the life of a child or young adult. And let’s thank God that all these men chose to embrace their roles, blood or not. And pray for those children and young adults out there who are still in need of that kind of relationship!

 

Happy Father’s Day!

 

 

Whether she’s wielding a fantasy writer’s pen, a freelance editor’s sword, or a social media wand, Ralene Burke always has her head in some dreamer’s world. And her goal is to help everyone SHINE BEYOND! She has worked for a variety of groups, including Realm Makers, The Christian PEN, Kentucky Christian Writers Conference, and as an editor for several freelance clients. Her first novel, Bellanok, is available on Amazon!

When her head’s not in the publishing world, she is wife to a veteran and homeschooling mama to their three kids. Her Pinterest board would have you believe she is a master chef, excellent seamstress, and all around crafty diva. If she only had the time . . .

You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, or at her website.


 

 

 

#Blogwords, New Week New Fact, #NWNF, Guest Post, Ralene Burke, Bellanok

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