Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Praise God for His Mercy & Grace!

Mercy - compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender, an enemy,
or other person in one's power;

Grace - a manifestation of favor, especially by a superior:

I don't know about you, but when I think about God's mercy, I'm filled with praise. Nothing makes me more grateful that remembering the mess that I was and suddenly realizing that I'm not there anymore. And it's not because of anything I've ever done, it's because God loves me enough to reach into the muck, pull me out, clean me up and make something worthwhile out of me.

God's mercy is really amazing. We certainly don't deserve it. He shows it to us simply because he loves us. Early in my Christian life, I didn't understand how anybody could love me unconditionally. It didn't make sense that I'd gotten favor that I had not earned and all I had to do was accept it.

A lot of us still struggle with the concept. We know it and can explain it to others but, in reality, we have a hard time applying it to ourselves. Long after God has forgotten our mistakes, we remind ourselves of them daily. In a previous post, I spoke about the importance of walking in freedom and not beating up on ourselves for our past wrongs.

The process of Christian Maturity requires that we understand that God's love is unconditional, therefore his mercy and grace is also unconditional. God sent His Son simply because He loves us and couldn't allow us to remain dead in sin. It hurts God to see the ones He created with such love and care separated from him. So He sent us a solution, His Son.

We must be reminded though, that we shouldn't take God's mercy and grace for granted. Though we get it freely, we shouldn't mock God by returning to our sin and coming back expecting to be cleaned up again. God knows our hearts and those who return to Him genuinely will always receive mercy, but don't grieve Him by willingly going back to our sin. Besides, only those who repent genuinely, receive salvation.

So, with every waking moment, I am reminded that God is merciful to me and that he loves me and I did nothing to deserve it, so I can't help but shout out in praise. God's mercy is definitely something to praise about.


Today's Bonus: 

The devotionals on this blog have all been written based on what God has been doing in my own life as I move from the point of Redemption to Christian Maturity. Half of the time, I write them simply as therapy for myself, but God allows me to share them because there are many people who are going through the same process that I am.

To reach a wider audience, I've compiled most of this year's devotionals into a little book called: FROM REDEMPTION TO MATURITY. For Kindle owners, it's FREE for today June 26 and tomorrow June 27. If you have a kindle, grab your own copy, read it, tell others about it. But most importantly, you'll have a copy of those devotionals that touched you most that you can refer to when you need it most. If you don't have a kindle, the book is also available in paperback. 

Click the Image above to get your copy

I trust that somebody is blessed when I pour out my heart into a blog post. Stayed Blessed! I write because I love you.

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

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Walk in Freedom

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. Romans 8:1

One of the things that keep us back most as human beings is condemnation. We are afraid of being ostracized, criticized and reminded of our shortcomings by those who've known us and know about our past. But condemnation does not only come from outside influences. The worse type of condemnation can come from within. Most of us have hopes and dreams for ourselves. Most of us have set standards for ourselves. Letting our own selves down is one of the hardest issues to live with. When we don't live up to our own expectations, we tend to walk around, sometimes for the rest of our lives, beating ourselves up for our past mistakes.  Another person will forgive you a lot sooner than you can forgive yourself. 

A lot of Christians come to Christ, are forgiven and go on to live Godly lives, yet they often have that one thing hidden in the dark room of their past that they keep beating themselves over. I can speak about it, because I have done it to myself and sometimes, I'm still doing it to myself even though now, I know better. 

Condemning yourself over and over for past mistakes can keep you from going forward. It cripples you and holds you back. Because you are holding onto to your past and beating yourself up, you can never really be free. When we choose redemption, the Spirit of God gave us freedom from the power of sin that leads to death. That means we have freedom to live without the guilt that can so often weigh us down. To keep beating yourself up over past mistakes means that we are robbing yourself of the freedom of redemption. When Christ forgave you, your mistakes were erased. He saw that you were genuine about wanting change so he freed you so that you could actually achieve that change.

Don't go through life walking around with the heavy bags of your past on your shoulders when God has already taken them and thrown them away. Don't go digging through the garbage for what God has already discarded. Forgive yourself, thrown down the bags and walk with your head held high. You'll realize that after you have forgiven yourself, barely anybody else is holding your past in front your face. They have seen the genuine change in you and save for the few pig-headed folks who will always want to flash your past before you, most people are rooting for you to succeed. 

Walk in the liberty that God has given you and remind the few that God has set you free from your past mistakes. Let your past be a teacher, a guide that tells you where you shouldn't go, but never let it overcome you and weigh you down. 

I read a quote somewhere that rang true for me. I'm not sure who the author is, but it sure isn't me. 

Experience is something you only get until just after you needed it. 

Now that you have been blessed with an experience,  make it worth the trouble. Don't go back there and don't let what happened back there keep you back!

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

Thursday, June 14, 2012


Worry weighs a person down, an encouraging word cheers a person up. Proverbs 12:25

Never has a truer word been spoken. Well, maybe there has, but today, this one really sticks out at me because I know what it feels like to be so heavily weighed down by worry. There are several situations in my life ride now that give me many reasons to worry.

 Worry cripples you, it zaps your energy and leaves you almost unable to move. The dictionary definition of worry is "to torment oneself with or suffer from disturbing thoughts". Wow. Is that what we do when we worry? Think about it really. You may be faced with a challenging situation. It can cause major upheaval in your life, but there's nothing you can do about it now is there? Yet, you spend the entire day thinking about it. You get stressed out, you begin to lose your appetite or in some cases you begin to overeat. Your hair falls out, you lose sleep and you begin to develop those annoying circles under the eyes, so you worry some more. Worry is a cycle and it is very dangerous. Worry causes us to obsess about things that we really should just hand over to God, because in the first place, you can't fix it yourself. If you can't fix it yourself, why are you even trying and why are you tormenting yourself with worry about how it's going to turn out.

1 Peter 5:7 (NLT) says "Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares for you." The bible also tells us that our God cares for every living thing, including the sparrow that has fallen to the ground. The birds are provided with food and simply have to wake up and go eat. Can you imagine how much more he cares about us?

Things may not seem to be working the way that you want them to, or things may seem to really be spiralling out of control. You may have lost the sole breadwinner in your home, or you may have lost your job. There are bills to be paid, kids to feed and so much more, but God knows that, trust him to come through for you and worry a little less. Every time you feel tempted to obsess over your situation, say a little prayer, tell God how you feel, remind him of his promises. It's not like he's forgotten, but reminding him reminds you to trust him. And don't think that there's any situation that is too small for him to be concerned with, the verse says "cast ALL your worries and cares" to Him. That includes the little ones.

God's got your back, trust him.

Philippians 4:6 (NLT)
Don't worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all He has done. 

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

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Trapped - A Poem

So I haven't written poetry in quite some time and this one is a bit dark, nothing like my usual inspirational stuff, but I'll share it anyway, just cause I feel like it :)

In a room no larger than a cell
The contents, hardly more than its counterpart would hold
I sit, I yearn for more, anything more.

By dogs barking in the distance, 
Beyond the windows that may as well be barred
All Day, All Night
No rest, not for a weary soul.

The elusive glimmer of hope on the horizon
Taunts me with its brilliant light
Beckoning me forward
Knowing full well that the ball and chain 
Set firmly around my ankles restricts me. 

By angry voices outside the door
Demanding another mountain of chores
So I stay hidden, Away from the noise
Though this is my prison, my sanctuary it has become
For life beyond the door, is surely worse than this.

By the prayer I pray daily
Lord, get me out of here, 
But if it be your will, I'll stay.

By the clock that ticks loudly, taunting me
As life walks past, towards the glimmer of hope
Still on the Hill
Way over there
Away from my reach.

Copyright © 2012 Joana James  - All rights reserved. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Her Cross to Bear - Sneek Peek

I've been working on several projects seemingly all at once. My brain has somehow managed not to spin out of my head whilst I worked on them all. One of them is nearing completion though and I've decided to share a little bit of it with you.

The title is Her Cross to Bear and I pray that it will be done sometime this century. In the meantime, sink your teeth into these paragraphs.

As the weeks rolled by Daynia made good progress at healing. Her friends all stood by her, much to her surprise. Ashley held her pitiful form several times while she cried helplessly, but those occurrences were becoming less frequent and she could now functional normally at work. She found her way back into her circle of friends with ease and they made her feel like she had never left.

At church, the expected stares and whispering was almost non-existent and only occurred among the older more judgmental members who’d gone passed the age where they remembered the indiscretions of their youth. Daynia theorized that they remembered quite clearly but chose to remain in a state of total denial as they could not live with their own consciousness. Whatever their reason, their whispering didn’t bother her too much because her God did no such thing. She’d received total forgiveness again and even though she was beating herself up for making the same mistakes all over again, God didn’t hold it against her so she walked with her head held as high as her own guilt would allow.

Today, she was waiting for Ashley, her secondary rock of Gibraltar, the primary being God of course. She’d called at the ungodly hour of 6:00am on a Saturday morning shrieking about some great news that she had. So now, at 10:00am, Daynia sat at the subway restaurant at the Blue Coral Mall in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Saturday morning Castries waiting for her friend and the supposedly superb news that could only be shared face to face. 

Sorry folks, that's all you get for now. If you stick by me, I promise you'll get a complete book in the coming months. 

Have a blessed day! 

Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Battle of the Mind

I shared this with my youth group and I'm making it available here for them and for you. This is more of an informational blog than my usual conversational style blog. I sincerely hope that you find some info here that will help you win your battle in your mind.

What is the battle of the mind? 
It is the fight for control of one's thought patterns and processes.
That battle is caused by a seed, a thought that is allowed to take root and grow uncontrollably. That seed really is temptation.

What influences the mind?
 Internal Influences
- Poor Self Worth
- Living for the day/not setting goals
- Losing sight of what's most important
- Irrational Fears

External Influences
- Music
- TV
- Friends
- Parents/Family

If we look around us, we can observe several people who have lost the battle in the mind.

- An obese person who decides to eat another slice of cheesecake. Even if this person knows that their obesity could lead to serious health problems, they decided to keep eating. They have lost the battle in their mind.
- A drug addict who returns to drugs even several sessions in rehab. No matter how badly they know their addiction will affect their lives, they keep going because they have lost the battle in the minds.
- A thief who steals again after spending years in jail, over and over again. They take no thought of the negative consequences because they have lost the battle in their minds.
- A serial killer who continues to kill even though he/she knows that it is wrong. This one continues to baffle me. It takes a long battle for someone to justify murder in their minds. But stew on it long enough and even the most decent person can rationalise murder. A lost battle of the mind.
- A teenager who gives in to peer pressure and decides to have sex. Well aware of the consequences, you make the decision anyway. A lost battle of the mind.
- A teenager who give in to suicidal thoughts and decides to kill themselves. A major battle has been waged in their heads. For some reason, they believe they're not good enough, they're not pretty enough or no one loves them. The devil plants thoughts of despair and suicide in their minds and they give in. They have lost that battle of the mind.
- A teenager who decides that Christian life is not for them because they are going to get laughed at by friends. They have just lost the battle in their minds, and they have lost their souls.

Lost Battles of the mind cause: 
- Hallucinations - These are false perceptions, such as hearing, seeing or feeling something that is not there.
- Bad decision making
     - wrong choices in relationships
    - You go places that you shouldn't go
    - You do things that you shouldn't do

Have you ever had an argument with someone in your mind? The person does something to upset you in some way and before you've spoken to the person about it, you've mapped out in your head the person's reason for harming you. You've waged war in your head, gotten angry and stopped speaking to the person and they have no clue what's going on. Sometimes, they don't even realise that you are angry with them until you treat them badly. Sometimes they don't even know that they have hurt you.

If you allow yourself to spend time dwelling on a thought, eventually you will find yourself comfortable with the idea of doing the wrong things. (And that is precisely what happens to us when we make decisions that we know are bad)

There are several symptoms of a lost battle. These include:
- Feeling of defeat
- Procrastination
- Fear
- Doubt
- Unbelief
- Greed
- Lust
- Anger
- Addictions

Fear is a major symptom of a lost battle. Irrational fears cause us to be so afraid of something that can in no way harm us. It is a paralyzing fear that grips a person and makes them unable to function properly.

All irrational fears begin in the mind. The idea stews in there for some time and eventually the battle is lost.

Some irrational fears include:
- Fear of riding in an elevator
- Fear of bathing (Ambulophobia)
- Fear of noise (Acousticophobia)
- Fear of heights (Acrophobia)
- Fear of Wind (Ancraophobia)
- Fear of walking (Ambulophobia)
- Fear of men (Androphobia)
Irrational fears make sense only in the mind of the individual experiencing it. In their heads, they believe that something horrible will happen to them if they encounter the thing that they are afraid of.

So how do you win the battle?
Kill the seed before it becomes a tree. 
It is alot easier to dig up a seed than to cut down a tree. After you cut down a tree you're left with a stump. That stump has roots and if left unattended, it will grow again. You need to go through a lengthy and difficult process to uproot the stump. When you're done you're left with a whole that you must fill in. (a scar/wound)

To avoid the scar/wound, kill the seed. 

Practical tips for winning the battle

  1. Follow the rules. They are there to preserve you. Rules can be annoying but as you grow up and move forward, you'll realise that there was a reason for it. The bible says not to fornicate because of the consequences that come with it. (STDs, unwanted pregnancies, complicated lives (drama), heart break.
  2.  Replace a negative thought with a positive one.
  3.  Keep your mind purposefully occupied
  4.  Guard your gates - information comes into your mind through your ears and your eyes, choose what goes in very carefully. 

Remember - it's YOUR mind and it will do what YOU tell it to do. If the devil can control your mind, he controls you.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Philippians 4:8

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

Friday, June 1, 2012

Laziness - the Killer of Dreams

Laziness is even more dangerous than procrastination, even though they are very closely linked. A lazy person will procrastinate until nothing gets done.

I've suffered with laziness quite a few times. There are many times I just don't do certain things because I'm too darn lazy to get off my butt and do anything. Laziness is a killer of dreams. Laziness will ensure that you'll go through life doing just the bare minimum. Laziness does not innovate but rather waits to be told. Laziness thinks that someday "I will" but hopes to never have to do any real work. Laziness also deteriorates the quality of our work. We don't bother to go over what we've done a third time because we're too lazy to bother. That means that typos are left in place, stuff is left incomplete and then we complain that "nothing ever goes right" for us.

Ah, Good old laziness. Another way for the devil to ensure that you never go anywhere. As a child, my mother always used to tell me that "a lazy person does not eat." I'd like to change that to say, "A lazy person may eat, but they'll never gain any weight". You may go through life lazily and get a job, work nine to five, drive an old car and live in an old house, but a lazy person never really prospers. A lazy person never really advances. A lazy person is way too lazy to think of ways to improve not just their financial status, but themselves. They're content with never changing their bad habits, because it's just too much work.

Wow, laziness really is dangerous. Whilst writing this, I was certainly convicted to get over my laziness....I hope you were too.

Even King Solomon Agrees with me!

Lazy people are soon poor; hard workers get rich. 

Lazy people irritate their employers, like vinegar to the teeth or smoke in the eyes. 

Work hard and become a leader; be lazy and become a slave. 

Lazy people don’t even cook the game they catch, but the diligent make use of everything they find. 

Lazy people want much but get little, but those who work hard will prosper 

Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones. Learn from their ways and become wise!


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