Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Afrin vs Visine

So, last week, something really funny happened to me. I only considered it funny afterwards though.

I suffer with sinus related issues and recently, I've been having trouble with my eyes. One morning last week, I woke up with a terrible burning sensation in my eyes. It was horrible and I really needed relief. I proceeded to jump out of bed and grab my bottle of Visine®  that I kept handy. I switched on the light and posed before the mirror where I held one eye open and dumped two drops of the stuff directly onto my eyeball. Then I waited for the relief.

Relief? What relief? My eye started burning even more. Now, it felt like someone had sprayed pepper directly on my eyeball. I grabbed a towel to dry up the river of tears that was flowing down my face. With one eye open and the other too hurt to even try to open, I scanned the bottle in my hand for an expiry date. That's the only way something meant to help my eyes could hurt it so badly right? Well, much to my horror, I noticed that I was not holding a bottle of Visine® in my hands, but rather, a bottle of Afrin®, a nasal spray that I use sometimes to relieve my sinus issues.

Need I say more? Well, yes, needless to say, I frantically searched for the REAL bottle of Visine® and dumped about half the contents into my eyes. Relief came.....eventually.

So what's the moral of the story? A few of my mother's clich├ęs come to mind.

1. Look before you leap - It is always necessary to take that extra look before doing anything that may have dire consequences. Had I simply looked down at the bottle in my hand, I'd have never made that mistake. A lot of times we make decisions on the spur of the moment, without really looking at the material we have to work with. Only later do you realise that you may have wasted valuable time and material and caused irreparable damage.

2. Never take anything at face value - That bottle of Afrin® is roughly the same shape and size as my bottle of Visine®, but the content is radically different. Trust me, my eye hated me for about two days. Just because something looks like what you want does not mean that it is. We can apply that to so many things but relationships stand out first in my mind. Several times we meet someone and at first they seem like such loving, gentle people. You fall head over heels in love only to find out later that you've entered a relationship with a monster. Seriously. If you'd taken some time to look beneath the surface, a lot of heart ache could have been avoided.

So yes, I've used my embarrassing and horribly painful story to help us learn a lesson.

Remember kids: Not all that glitters is Gold! Have a wonderful day! 

This devotional post and others like it can be found in one book (kindle & paperback) for your convenience.
To order your copy, click the link below.

Joana James - Author of From Redemption to Maturity,   Nightmare at Emerald High & Alana and Alyssa's Secret  

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Real Kingdom of God

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Romans 14:17

For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God's power. 1 Corinthians 4:20

One of the main reasons people ignore Christ and the gospel message is that we Christians are too busy bickering about what right and what's not. We've clouded the world view of the real subject - Christ. Our arguments of what to eat, drink, when to worship, where to worship and all of that pales in comparison to what God actually requires of us.

What God considers most important is not our lofty speeches or our doctrine or theology, it is relationship with him and righteousness - right living. We attain relationship only by seeking God. Relationship with God really is just a friendship. It's a friendship with someone you can't see physically but you know is there because He makes himself real to us daily. You build that friendship the same way you build an earthly one, talking to God daily. Not will high level speeches but simply by telling him what's in your heart. Also, like any other friendship, you can't just talk all the time, you need to listen for what the other party has to say. As your friendship grows and develops, you learn your friend and you desire to do the things that make Him happy. From that friendship comes a desire to live right and we get help to do that from the Holy Spirit.

At the end of the day, man would look at our outward position. Not necessarily what we wear or how we look, but what we have a "accomplished", the positions we held and the accolades that come with it. But, God looks at our heart. What do we desire? Are we coming to Him genuinely or are we simply seeking reprieve from a difficult situation only to return to our old ways when things are sorted out? Are we seeking to be noticed or recognised? Or are we seeking a true relationship with the One?

There is a lot of talk about the Kingdom of God these days. People choose certain aspects of it and develop a myopic view of the real thing. But, the kingdom of God really is about just one thing, Living a life of goodness and peace and joy by God's power. Right living. Relationship with God. Our heart position. Not talk, not doctrine, not our own ideologies.

My encouragement today is for you to "Seek first the kingdom of God AND it's righteousness", the rest will come. Prosperity will come, family success will come, recognition will come. But God must be first.

Joana James - Author of From Redemption to Maturity,   Nightmare at Emerald High & Alana and Alyssa's Secret  

Monday, May 21, 2012

God's Will leads to Success!

If you will obey me, you will have plenty to eat. Isaiah 1:19(NLT)

Ever wonder why many of the things you've tried to do in your lifetime have not worked? I've been there, tried many things, quit in the middle of some because I got frustrated when the results were not promising. The truth is, for  a long time, I was just doing stuff that came to mind. Young and adventurous, I never really stuck to a plan and most importantly, I never asked God what HIS plan was for my life.

You see, we all may do stuff, maybe even plan stuff out, but until it lines up with God's plan for you, it'll more than likely fail. When God created us, He had a purpose for doing so. Even though you were born out of wedlock, or even if you parents didn't plan for you, or even if you were the result of rape, God still has a plan for you. He knew about you since the beginning of time and there are certain things that He set in order for your life. Until you are walking in that divine order, you are not walking according to the purpose and destiny that He set out for you. So often, you'll find yourself trying many many things and not feeling satisfied doing any one of them, even though they seem mildly successful. That's because you're not doing what you are supposed to be doing. You haven't found your fit.

Now how is it that you find your fit really? The only way I know how is to have an "in" with the Planner Himself. He knows the plans and the only way you'll know is if He tells you. But guess what, He'll only tell you if you're his friend. Being His friend means that you must have a relationship with him. Now, this goes beyond salvation. When you become born again you are an immediate child of God an He puts his plans for you in motion, however, salvation and relationship are not the same. Relationship must be worked on. It requires constant talking, walking, holding hands and spending time together. As you build a relationship, you learn the voice of your partner. When they call, you recognise it immediately. I'll bet that if any of you married folk out there is told something about your husband/wife, based on their character, you'd know if it were a lie or not. Same thing with God. After spending time with him, learning Him, you learn to recognise the things that are not of Him and the things that don't line up with His plans for you. Amazing right?

So back to our initial scripture up there, It says, "if you obey me, you will have plenty to eat". I take that to mean that if you do as God says, you will be successful in your endeavours. Success usually leads to food on the table doesn't it?

I knew you before I formed you in your mother's womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations. Jeremiah 1:5(NLT)

Joana James - Author of From Redemption to Maturity,   Nightmare at Emerald High & Alana and Alyssa's Secret  

Friday, May 18, 2012

What will we do in Heaven? by Ada Brownell

“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in me. In my father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:1).

In my book, Swallowed by LIFE, I tell the story of Yocheved Chalodney and Sam Dobin, who were married in a village near Smolensk, Russia. Three years later, Dobin immigrated to the United States. He thought he could bring his wife, child, and baby soon. Instead, World War I broke out.

The baby was my Jewish friend, Ruth. For six years, no mail came to the Russian village. War was so close artillery fire vibrated the windows.

In the fall of 1921, the hoped-for letter from Sam arrived, and soon the family landed in New York, ready to go to Pueblo, Colorado, to a home they had never seen.

Although eight years passed before she could go, Yocheved believed her husband was preparing a wonderful place for them and he did.

When Jesus told his disciples he was going away and would prepare a place for them, Thomas said, “I don’t know how to get there” (See John 14).

“You know me,” Jesus said, “So where I go you know, and the way you know.”
A high school student asked me in my Sunday school class, “Will we play basketball in heaven? It won’t be any fun because nobody would make mistakes.”

I prayed silently for wisdom then said, “Keith, I don’t know. But I believe heaven will be so much better than what we have on earth that it’s like comparing being a child to becoming an adult. When you’re a child, you play with dolls and toy cars. But when you are an adult you have real babies and drive a real car.

      “When you were a kid, if an adult told you that you can’t play with dolls or toy cars after you get ‘big,’ you’d scream and howl and decide you don’t want to grow up. But once you do, you discard the toys, because you have a real car and a real baby.  I think that’s the way heaven will be. It will fulfill our every desire and give us so much joy what we had here will seem like child’s play.”

      The Bible tells us heaven will exceed earthly experiences. “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). But the next verse says God has revealed things about heaven to us by His Spirit.

Yocheved knew Sam, so she believed he was preparing a nice home. If we know Jesus, we are assured heaven will be wonderful.

According to scripture, in heaven we’ll see Jesus and attend “The Marriage Supper of the Lamb.” We’ll experience the Father’s love, and attend massive worship services with great rejoicing. We’ll visit heroes of the faith and recognize friends and loved ones. We’ll enjoy a custom home, probably lavish like the streets and gates.

      God will wipe away our tears and there shall be no death; nor sorrow, nor crying; no more pain, for the former things are passed away (Revelation 21:4).

What a place!
©Ada Brownell 2012 

Swallowed by Life - Free for Kindle Today! 
                                          By Ada Brownell

Do you know you are more than a physical body? Evidence shows our body is constantly dying and being renewed cell by cell and about every seven years is totally rebuilt – even our bones. We start as an egg about the size of a dust mite, yet we were the same person in the womb we are today. We may lose limbs, gain and lose weight, have vital organs removed and mechanical or transplanted parts inserted and we’re still the same person. Inside us is life, and a soul and spirit which were designed by God to live forever.

Swallowed by LIFE is subtitled “Mysteries of Death, Resurrection and the Eternal.” The book speaks about this mystery; how you know what to believe; the wonder of life with all its electrical systems; the awesome truth about cell death and regeneration; brain death, and other mysteries of the change from mortal to immortal; where we go when our body dies; resurrection; a glimpse at what we will do in heaven; God’s mercy  after man’s rebellion when He promised a Redeemer way back in Genesis to deliver us from death; and leaving a legacy here.
Questions and answers are included for study groups.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


We all suffer from it every once in a while. Some of us are not so blessed and we suffer from it perpetually. Either way, it's not good. I know several people who could be multi-millionaires by now if they didn't procrastinate so much.

I've falling victim to procrastination several times. As a matter of fact, my motivation for this post is the fact that I'm procrastinating on the completion of my latest novel right now and I need to get out of it. There are a few things that have worked for me in the past and I'll share them with you as I try to kick myself out of my slump.

1. In order to get to the end of any project, one needs motivation.
Sometimes, motivation can be tangible or it may be just the feeling of accomplishment. Find your motivation or your goal, write it down, tape it to a wall , a mirror, anything you can see daily and remind yourself of your reason for doing what you are doing.

2. Set a timeline for yourself and get organised. 
Sometimes, the reason we procrastinate is because the task seems insurmountable. Breaking it down into sub tasks helps bring perspective to the challenge making your end goal seem all the more management. With each subtask, give yourself a deadline. I like the little sticky notes that come with Windows. Everyday, I set up a new one, change the colour so that it will look new and interesting and type up a check list. As I finish each task, I strike them off using strike through text. It works wonders for my psyche and my feeling of accomplishment.

3. Clear your work area, get rid of the distractions
If you are working on a tangible project, it would help if the area you work in is as clutter free as possible. Clutter brings distractions, and that means you'll spend time straying away from what you set out to do. So, if you're working on a writing project, clear your desk, disconnect the internet for a little while and get to work.

4. Just do it! 
Quit saying, "I will do it" or "someday" and just get to work. Sometimes you just need to man up (or woman up :D) and dive in.

So get up, get off the computer and get started. There's a world out there to be conquered.

Stop the Procrastination! 

Joana James - Author of From Redemption to Maturity,   Nightmare at Emerald High & Alana and Alyssa's Secret  

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Still throwing Tantrums?

We all have wanted something that we knew wasn't good for us, or we just shouldn't have at some point in our lives. When we were kids, we begged for ice-cream when I parents said no. Later, as teenagers, we begged to be allowed to do things that our parents thought we were too young for. As adults, we often find ourselves begging God for things we shouldn't have. It seems that this is one habit we never really grow out of.

Have you ever thrown a tantrum with God? I know I have. There are things I've been begging God for, for years, yet they haven't materialized. Why? Because like a concerned parent, God knows they weren't good for me, so he never gave in to my screams and cries.

What if God decides to begin giving us everything we ask for? For example, it has been raining really heavily on the island for the last few days and I really wish it would stop so that I could get certain things done. A simple request right? Well...just a few weeks ago, the water company announced that due to a major hurricane we had about a year and a half ago, our lone dam on island is filled with silt which means that the actual levels of water in there is really low. At the time, we were experiencing a bit of a dry spell and no rainfall could have been disastrous effects on our water supply. See why God can't always give us everything we ask for? This might be a simple example, but can be applied throughout  our lives. There are several times our answer to prayer will be "wait" but often times, the answer will simply be "no - this will not be good for you".

As Christians, we need to learn to grow up a bit and accept "no" without throwing a tantrum or copping out on our relationship with God.

My challenge to you today is to examine all those outstanding prayer requests that have  you a bit miffed at God. Check their depth and consider asking God to show you his reasons for answering with a "no".

Remember also, that EVERY prayer gets answered.... but that does not mean that the answer will be "Yes". "Wait" and "No" are answers too.

Be Blessed.

Joana James - Author of From Redemption to Maturity,   Nightmare at Emerald High & Alana and Alyssa's Secret  

Friday, May 4, 2012

The Test of Praise

Fire tests the purity of silver and gold, but a person is tested by being praised. Proverbs 27:21 NLT

That single verse of scripture is truly profound. The purification process for gold or silver involves intense heat when the craftsman or jeweller melts down the precious metal in order to separate it from impurities. The heat deforms the gold/silver, turns from solid to liquid. So you'd think that the Solomon would liken our testing to that right. Intense heat and deformation. No. The true test of human character is praise.

How do you react when you begin doing well and you are praise. If you are an author like me, how would you react if your book suddenly sold a million copies. Would you become swell headed and pompous? Would you remember to be at the little church you go to every Sunday? Would you still feel the same way about feeding the poor and helping the broken? Would you change? It is something we see very often, people begging God to bless them and they wonder why He takes his time about it. It's simply because some of us cannot handle the  "praise" test that comes with it.

Praise can be a good thing. Praise tells us that what we are doing is worth being done again. It motivates us to keep going and it pushes us to get better. But, praise can be our downfall if we allow our selves to become swell headed when it increases. If you start to treat people differently or you change the things that are important to you when you receive praise, you should check your pride levels.

Most of us would not realise when we are being prideful, but the people around us can smell our pride from a mile away. A certain level of pride in ourselves and our work helps keep the quality high, but pride can easily reach dangerous levels.

As you go through each day's successes, be happy, pat yourself on the back and say, "job well done" but remember; do not to allow yourself to be done in by praise.

 Don't let praise be the test that fails your character.