Friday, August 31, 2012

Little Sins or Big Sins?

Recently, on my peaceful 238 square mile island, a beautiful 17yr old girl was brutally murdered. She was in the prime of her life, just having received the results of her CXC examinations, the most important thing in the life of an island teen. Life had just begun for her, and just like that, it was cut off.

Several people on the island would like to see the perpetrator hang and many would do it themselves if given the chance. I'm so mad at him, I would probably join the angry mob too. However, lately, I've done some thinking. Murder is definitely a horrible crime and the person who murdered this young girl must definitely come to justice, but what about the rest of us? As Christians, we know that all sin is equal in the eyes of God. Murder may seem bigger, but at the end of the day, the liar will receive the same level of punishment.

All sin makes us sinners, and all sin cuts us off from our holy God. No matter how "big" our sin, we cannot commune with God unless we have been cleansed. So what does that mean for those of us who are not murderers? It means that we are just as guilty. Our sins are not lesser and if we do not repent of them, we will NOT receive eternal life.

We could spend the rest of our lives going to church, but if we don't get rid of the little things that keep popping up in our lives, like the lies, the gossip, the petty stealing (of your bosses time and copy paper), we'll end up in the same place as the horrific murderer. A bit sobering isn't it. The bible reminds us that if we hate our brother we are basically the same as a murderer.

ALL sin leads to death because it disqualifies us from living with God, regardless of how great or small it seems. Don't minimize "little" sins or overrate "big" sins. Your "little white lie" is the same as the act of a rapist or a murderer in God's eyes. All sin separates us from God, but they can ALL be forgiven.

So today, even as I mourn for the tragedy that has befallen this young lady, I'm sobered by the fact that for hating the murderer, I'm no better than him. For stealing the copy paper in the office, I'm no better than him. For lying my way out of an unwanted date, I'm no better than him. We all need redemption, no matter how little the sin appears in our eyes.

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God's glorious standard. Romans 3:23 (NLT)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Bringing Glory to the Father

A surefire way to bring glory to God is by obeying his commandments. John 15:10 tells us that when we obey God's commandments we remain in his love.

We heard people saying over and over that most Christians don't behave like true Christians. There's also the debate in the Christian community about what is right and what isn't, mostly from a doctrinal standpoint but the bible clearly states what the requirements are for being a true disciple of Christ. The answer is simple, "when you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples."

So what does it mean then to produce fruit. Christ in his time here on earth likened us to branches stemming from a vine (himself). This means that we are part of him. He is the source of our nourishment. He provides us with everything we need to be productive; to produce fruit. Galatians 5:22 tells us that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. As a child growing up I always thought that these were plural, however in every version of the bible I've ever read the word fruit is singular. That means that every aspect of that fruit MUST be part of our lives. In other words, if something is missing then our fruit bearing is not complete. That's not to say that you have failed as a Christian, but it means that you still have something to strive for and something to work on.

So back to our original scripture. "When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my father. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father's commandments and remain in his love." John 15:8,10

Go out today and follow Christ's commands, be productive and produce fruit!

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

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Stop Worrying

Every once in a while God does a super effective job of reminding me that I don't follow my own advice. Some time ago I wrote a devotional called Worry. The book of Proverbs is very correct when it states that worry weighs a person down. So why am I still worrying?

The answer is simple, I'm a compulsive worrier. Yet, I'm a child of God so why am I worrying? In Phillipians 4:6 we are admonished that we should be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanks-giving present your requests to God. So why are there so many Christians who are compulsive worriers like me.

We believe in a God for whom doing the impossible is like taking out the trash, it's normal and it's routine. He doesn't have to work hard to fix anything, he just does it. What irks us humans, is the fact that he does it in his own time. I know for sure that I'd like my problems solved by the end of the day but God knows the right time to do everything. He doesn't take our problems away just because we worry about them. Neither does he expect us to sit there all day worrying about them either. What He does expect is that we'll turn everything over to him and then be comforted in the fact that the creator of the universe has got our backs.

1 Peter 5:7 says to give all your worries and cares to God for he cares about you. ALL your worries and cares, not some. Sometimes I wonder if worry does not stem out of a lack of trust. We can say we trust God at face value and we may even trust him with a few little things, but I've found that when big things happen I tend to try to fix my problems on my own. Unconsciously, I behave like I don't trust God to handle my big things. Even though I pray and ask for his help, when I leave the foot of the cross, I take my burdens back with me.

Now, I know I'm not the only person who does that! So today, my little bit of encouragement is really just a reminder. STOP WORRYING! You've already prayed about the situation. You've already asked God for his help. He's already promised to sort things out for you, so please stop worrying. Stop losing sleep. Stop fussing, fretting and thinking till your hair falls out. Trust God to sort your situation out and sit back and watch him work.

Yeah, trust me, I know that it's easier said than done, I live it every day. Sometimes you just have to remind yourself. So right about now, we're going to do a practical exercise.

  1. Grab a few pieces of paper and a marker. 
  2. Pick up your bible and your favorite concordance or topical bible (the internet may be a better tool for this step)
  3. Search for every scripture verse you can find related to the word worry. 
  4. Highlight every promise God has made to us about taking care of our situations
  5. Write them down on your scraps of paper
  6. Every night, stick a new scrap of paper up on your mirror with a different scripture verse. That way, every morning whilst you prepare for work, you'll be reminded that God has got it under control! 
Be blessed and stop worrying! 

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

Friday, August 17, 2012

Fun Friday Giveaway - Growth Lessons

Fun Friday kicks off Weekend Giveaway #4

This weekend one paperback copy of Growth Lessons by Naty Matos is up for grabs.

Growth Lessons is an inspirational devotional with the blueprint for the everyday Christian Living. It's a journey through the scriptures of how to face normal every day situations that we can take for granted and how to submit them to the will of God.

This book is a must read for the new believer to understand the practical concepts of the Christian Lifestyle. It’s also a must read for the seasoned believer to affirm their faith through those details that seem unimportant but matter the most in the journey with God.

To enter, please do one of the following: 
  1. Answer the trivia question (25 points)
  2. Tweet about the giveaway (10 points)
  3. Follow Naty Matos on Twitter (5 points)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, August 13, 2012

Is it harder for a Christian to find a mate?

It's Discussion Monday! 

We have come to the end of our Finding Romeo discussions. Next week's discussion will be something unrelated to the book. I do hope that you have found these discussions enlightening and they have helped you understand the book a bit better.

Is it harder for a Christian to find a mate?

If you visit any Christian church you will often find many single people in the congregation and most of them will be single women. So why is it then that perfectly good respectable women are sitting in church pews waiting for years before they find a mate? Sometimes they never even get married.

In Finding Romeo, Daynia's best friend Ashley makes the observation that it is harder for a Christian to find a mate. What do you think?

My thinking on the subject is this:

  1. Population dynamics makes it that way. In general there are more women on the planet than men but in church the ratio is seriously skewed. Look around, there are hardly any men in the pews!
  2. Christians are a lot pickier about who their husbands/wives should be and rightfully so. In order to walk in the will of God for your life, it is important to have the right person by your side. The wrong person can cause you to abort our destiny. These are things that a Christian has running through the backs of their mind constantly. 
  3. Not every person we see in church every Sunday is genuine! Part of the issue is that in church there are wolves hiding in sheep's clothing. From the outside a person may look like a good God-fearing man/woman, however, the minute you begin to date them, you realize it's a whole other story. 
So do you agree that it's harder for a Christian to find a mate or do you think that the opposite is the case?

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

Friday, August 10, 2012

Fun Friday Giveaway - Yearnings of the Heart

It's Giveaway Weekend

Yearnings of the Heart, a collection of inspirational poetry by a poet native to the tiny island of Saint Vincent is up for grabs! 

'Yearnings of the Heart' is a collection of poems gleaned from a heart that has endured and overcome several challenges in life.

Reviewed by Rich Follett for Readers Favorite:
"Laurell L.M. Wright's "Yearnings of the Heart" is an ebullient collection of prayers, testimonials, psalms and affirmations of the wondrous power of Christ's redeeming love. Through many scenarios, witnessed in diverse voices, readers will find both comfort and inspiration for any milepost on their journey toward finding and keeping Christian faith. The range of this collection runs from utter despair to profound joy and everything in between - the full diapason of human emotions expressed in a personable, easy to understand style that often feels like the caring presence of a true friend."

This weekend's giveaway is super easyAll you have to do is tell us if you like inspirational poetry or not and what you like about it. That condition is optional so you can also enter without commenting. (But we'd really like you to!)  All residents of the Continental USA, Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines are eligible to enter.

So come on, win yourself a Paperback copy of Yearnings of the Heart by joining the raffle below. (To enter the draw you have the option of using facebook or your email address to log in. This is only for contacting you after you have won the prize and will not be used for any marketing purposes.)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Feeling like a Misfit?

The world's  values are often the opposite of God's values. This can often cause Christians to feel like misfits.

Many people don't want their lives exposed to God's light because they are afraid of what will be revealed. They don't want to be changed. Don't be surprised when these same people are threatened by your desire to obey God and do what is right, because they are afraid that the light in you may expose some of the darkness in their own lives.

It is our job to be the light, but don't be surprised when you are persecuted for doing just that. Christ wasn't popular is his day and neither will you be. Not when you are a constant reminder of the change that other people know that they have to make in their own lives but don't.

Every time we make a decision to be different, we are treated like misfits. "Oh come on, its just one glass. You won't get drunk." Or, "it's just one party." Or "he's a cute guy, why on earth do you only have to date Christians?" By the time their arguments are done, you feel the need to give in and do what goes against your own conscience.

Today, I'm here to remind you that you ARE a misfit. As Christians, we are called to be different. We are not supposed to fit into the mould that has been created by the world. Our lifestyles SHOULD be different and we are supposed to stick out like a sore thumb! That's what shining out light means. We are to be so different that people will notice immediately and glorify our father for the chances/differences they see in our lives.  Every time you say no to something God would not approve of you are actually showing that you are stronger than most people. It takes a lot of strength and determination to do what you know is right. It is often easier to go with the crowd and do the wrong thing.

So, if you're struggling with peer pressure (yes, adults go through peer pressure too, not just teens) be reminded that God has got enough strength for the both of you. Be reminded also that when you choose to be different you are choosing to swim against the tide. Though that may be difficult, by the end of your swim you muscles will have grown stronger and the next time you need to do it, it will be even easier. Stay focused and remember that this battle is Spiritual and not physical.  Every time you are faced with temptation it's your real enemy setting you up to fail.

So go out today and be different. Be a misfit and trust God to take you through. Be strong because by making a decision to serve God, you have already proven that you are strong!

You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.
 In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father. Matthew 5:14-16

Monday, August 6, 2012

Practical ways to wait till marriage to have sex

It's Discussion Monday again and today the issue we're discussion from Finding Romeo is one that I find should be talked about a lot more in church, but in a more practical way. 

Christians have something in common with almost every religion on the planet. That is purity before marriage, i.e. ya gotta wait till ya married to have sex. In theory it sounds wonderful. If you wait till you married to have sex then you spare yourself a lot of heartbreak and unnecessary stress. Yes, you'll still get hurt, but I promise you that it's easier to deal with when you haven't had sex with the person.

So how on earth in this day and age are we expected to remain pure in a relationship? We're bombarded by sex everywhere we turn. It's almost expected now that when you go out with someone after a certain number of dates that you should have sex. As a matter of fact, most guys won't stick around a girl longer than a month if there's no sex. But that's outside of church right? Hmmm.... You might be surprised that some of us walk into church with that mentality. There are a lot of people walking around in church that find it very, very hard to abstain from sex until marriage.

In church, we're always taught what the word of God says, but rarely do our pastors and teachers teach us PRACTICAL ways to remain pure. I mean, what's a sista to do when she's finally on a hot date with the guy she's been eyeing in church for a whole year and he makes a move for sex? Or how does a guy who's accustomed to "hitting it" after three dates that he now has to wait years before he can touch the girl that he's in love with?

In Finding Romeo, our girl Daynia has this same predicament. She really likes Richard and he wants sex, in her head, the only way to keep him interested is to give in to sex. Richard has a similar problem. He's a new Christian and he's never had a relationship where he's supposed to wait for sex.  In a weak moment, the both fall in the trap and it takes years for them to get out. My book is fiction, but that situation is a reality.

So what's the practical advice for Christians remaining pure before marriage? A long time ago, way back when I was a teenager, a pastor visiting my church had this advice. There are three elements that can come together to make a normal, innocent date go the wrong way. These are: the right place, the right person, the right atmosphere. His advice was that you should ALWAYS avoid that combination, I sounded good to me back then, but as an adult I've found it just a little bit more complicated than that. I mean, everybody wants to be able to enjoy a movie with the significant other on the couch alone right? So here's my own advice.

  1. From day one, i.e. Date one, SET YOUR BOUNDARIES. Find out when the other person wants from you. Don't run him/her off with wedding planning but don't leave anything to chance either. Talk about your priorities and the importance of your spiritual life to you. 
  2. People tend to skip this one but this is the real world so I'll say it. Christians, please don't date someone who doesn't share your relationship with God. A person needs more than just your personal conviction to get them to stay away from your pants. If you guys share the same God, chances are it will be easier to respect each other's boundaries. 
  3. I'm gonna go back to the advice of that visiting pastor. As much as possible, avoid dangerous situations. If you're feeling particularly amorous one night, limit the time you spend in each other's company. Talk on the phone instead. A night on the couch watching a romantic comedy can be a disaster if all you could think about all day was taking your partner's clothes off! Be wise.
There's a lot more that I could offer, but this is supposed to be a discussion, so come on, tell me what you think. What's your PRACTICAL advice for the blissfully happy couple who's trying very hard to wait for marriage.

Oh and you should get your copy of Finding Romeo, here.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Fun Friday Giveaway!

Today is Fun Friday!

This Friday, we're giving away a paperback copy of From Redemption to Maturity.

From Redemption to Maturity is a collection of twenty-five devotionals that are meant to encourage, strengthen and stir the hearts of Christians towards maturity.

Many times we know exactly what the Bible says about a particular situation, but when we go through it ourselves, we find it hard to cope. This devotional touches on topics such as True Freedom, Child-like Faith, Christian Maturity, Trusting God, Waiting on God and more.

With every story, I have included my own person testimonies and experiences. I wouldn't share something with the world that I don't believe or haven't experienced myself.

The purpose of this devotional is to see Christians blossom and grow, so may you flourish with each page.

Log into the rafflecopter raffle below by using either facebook or just your name and email address. 

There are three options for entering the draw: 
1. Leave a blog comment below with your answer to the question below then come back to rafflecopter and click, "I commented." You will gain 25 points for your entry. 
2. Like my facebook page.  You will gain 10 points
3. Follow me on twitter. You will gain 5 points

Draw takes place on Friday August 3 at midnight. You can enter the draw without answering the question, but if you answer, you will gain more points! 

Today's Question: 

When was Inspired Creativity Started? 
Hint: The answer is in the blog Archive on the left! 

Thursday, August 2, 2012


Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow it gives birth to death. 
James 1:14-15 

Wow, and here I was all this time thinking that temptation came from the devil. Interesting huh, but I didn't say it. The bible did.

You know how sometimes we like to say the devil made us do something. Well, news flash, the devil can't MAKE us do anything. He knows what we like most and will throw many thoughts our way until one catches our attention, but, from there on out, it's all on us. It's true that the enemy is roaming about the place looking for people to destroy but that actual destruction depends solely on us.

Is it wrong to be tempted? Certainly not. Even Christ was tempted. Sin only happens when you yield to temptation to do something that is wrong. So who is responsible when you give into temptation or lose control? The devil? Nope... sorry to disappoint you but that's all on you too. You see, our mind is a real battlefield and as soldiers, we're expected to catch these thoughts and expel them before they lead us to do something wrong. 

The scripture verses above shocked me a little when I first read them. If temptation comes from our own desires then a lot of us have some really scary desires hidden inside of us. Our own desires lead to sinful actions. So that means that we really should learn to control ourselves. We can't control the enemy, we can't control what thoughts he sends our way but we can control how long we let those thoughts stew in our minds can't we. We can control whether we act on them or not. We can control ourselves. 

So next time you're tempted to do something, be reminded that temptation comes from our own desires. Spend time dealing with these desires. The battle is fought in our minds, if we can control that, then we can control how often we yield to temptation. 

See earlier post on the battle of the mind here. 

Other devotionals like this one can be found on this blog, however to make things easier for you, I've compiled several of them into the first of a series of devotional books called, From Redemption to Maturity. Today, the Kindle edition of From Redemption to Maturity is available for FREE. If you have a kindle, click the image below to get your FREE copy. If you don't or you prefer paperback, then join me here on Friday as I will be giving away three paperback copies in a blog raffle. Till then, be blessed.

To get the kindle book for FREE (Till Thursday August 2) click the image below. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

What does the Bible say about love?

Is love an emotion, a feeling, something you can fall in and out of at will? Does it happen by chance, or do you choose to make it happen?

The best definition I have ever heard of love came from my Pastor several years ago and it struck a chord with me. It goes like this: Love is a decision to prosper another person above yourself.

Now, that doesn't mean that if you love someone they suddenly become more important than you. However it does mean that when you love someone you begin to consider their needs and wants above your own.
1 Corinthians 13:4-5 tells us that love is patient and kind, not jealous or boastful, not proud or rude, not irritable and does not hold grudges. I don't know about you but that sounds like a decision to me.

I've always marveled at people who say "we fell in love." It's no wonder that they then "fall out of love" because love is not something that happens by chance. You have to decide to be patient with someone, you have to decide to be kind, you have to decide to not be proud or rude, you have to decide to not hold a grudge or be irritable. So if that's what the bible says love is, then we've definitely gotten it wrong.

As for falling out of love, 1 Corinthians 13: 7 says that love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful and endures EVERY circumstance. So how then do you fall out of love? Or is it really a decision to STOP being kind, and patient, and not proud, or not rude, or not hold grudges? See the difference?

Love the biblical way tells us that we decide to prosper another person. Love the way the world sees it tells us that love is an emotion. It tells us that Love is something you feel the first time you see someone, or something you fall into, or worse yet, a stirring in your pants. However, love is none of those things.

When you decide to love someone, you need to decide to love them forever. When they wrong you, you need to decide to forgive them. When they do things that seem unattractive to you, your love should propel you to want to help them back to the right path. Love doesn't run away when things get hard. Love doesn't lose hope or faith. Love endures through every circumstance.

So we see then why Christ asked us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves, because nobody who loves themselves will ever give up on themselves.

Love is a powerful thing so let's not let the world view of love taint something that is meant to be perfect. After all, God is love!

This devotional post and others like it can be found in one book (paperback or kindle) for your convenience.
To get your copy of the book, click the image below. 

Joana James - Author of Finding RomeoFrom Redemption to MaturityNightmare at Emerald High ,  Alana and Alyssa's Secret, Trusting God with your Future