Thursday, February 28, 2013

Bad Apples

I love spending time with my friends, they're crazy just like me. We play a lot, laugh a lot, and encourage each other even more. However, I've noticed a phenomenon and I'm quite sure it's true for any circle of friends, especially Christians. It is very easy for one bad feeling to flow through a whole crowd and make every one bitter. Your mother wasn't lying when she said one bad apple spoils the whole bunch. Now, I'm not calling any of my friends bad apples (ok guys, so be nice to me next time we meet), however, I've noticed that it's very easy for one person's feelings or perception of a situation to flow through the group. That can be a good thing at times, but it's also a very dangerous thing. It's kind of like going with the flow of things when you were a teenager. In a group, it becomes harder to think like an individual.

You watch news everyday and the most heinous crimes are usually performed by a group of people acting together. Take for example the infamous gang rape of the young student on the bus in India. Rape on its own is violent, but a group of men acting together make it much, much worse. I think it's because each evil heart combines to make something horrible. Each person's sick ideas competes with the last until the beast they create is too hideous to look upon.

In Christianity, it is very important to think for ones self. In a crowd, lots of emotions and feels can come up that cause you to lose focus. They mess with your faith and leave you feeling so weighed down that you may even move your eyes from God for a while. Be careful the suggestions you entertain from others. Be careful what you agree with and please, don't just go with the flow. If somebody is unhappy or disgruntled, try to assess the situation from all sides. There may very well be a piece of the puzzle that you are missing.

Most importantly, don't let the bad feelings from one or two persons in your group be transferred to you. If you are in agreement with them, check your own heart and see why. Is it genuine or are you just going with the flow.

Have a blessed day.

Joana James - Author of From Redemption to MaturityTrusting God with your Future,   Nightmare at Emerald High & Alana and Alyssa's Secret & Finding Romeo 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Dry Places

As a Christian there will be moments,  days, maybe even weeks or months where you don't quite feel like a Christian.  I call it being in a dry place.  You literally feel like the life has been sucked out of you.  You find it hard to pray and even harder to have faith. You become skeptical about everything around you and you even begin to question everything you know to be true.

It's a very scary place and a very scary prospect for any true Christian.  Are you alone? Definitely not.  When I went through it the first time, I thought I was the only one who could be so ungrateful to have experienced God and let a few challenging situations make me doubt Him,  so I hid it and I struggled with it on my own. The result of that was it lasted way longer than it should have. Later, as the years wore on, I heard friends alluding to the same things.  Their experience sounded exactly like mine.  I wasn't the only one who had tasted God, seen His greatness then fell into a slump.  I've realized now Christianity seems to have a sort of cycle.  There are moments of tremendous faith but there are also moments when you feel so discouraged it's hard to even look to God for help.  In those moments it is paramount that you recognize where you are.  That is the first step towards dealing with it.  If you don't recognize that it's a seasonal desert experience,  you will sit and be complacent and accept your lack of faith as truth.

I'm not sure why we all go through those moments, but I do know that the devil capitalizes on every second of it.  During that time, you are very vulnerable to lies, deceit and any other attack that is thrown your way. 

Always be aware of your spiritual position even when you are at a high point, it will help you recognize the low points.  Also, recognize the low points for what they are: low points. Thirdly, recognize that you do not have to stay where you are. Ask for help, call your spiritually mature friends and have them pray for you. Most importantly, look to Christ, He knows when your faith needs bolstering. I've found that He always presents a very small situation that just blows my mind (like the little bird on the wire).

The dry place doesn't have to be a bad thing. Learn from it, teach others what you've learnt but most importantly don't stay there and don't let the devil get a foothold on your mind whilst you are there.

Have a faith - filled day!

Joana James - Author of From Redemption to MaturityTrusting God with your Future,   Nightmare at Emerald High & Alana and Alyssa's Secret & Finding Romeo 

Sunday, February 24, 2013


Change can be annoying, disruptive, and just plain scary. It can also be a beautiful thing. Change can herald in a new era or destroy something great. It all depends on when and how it is done. Change is not only physical, in other words, it doesn't just happen around us or in our environment. As you go through life, you'll find that often times, changes need to be made within you. It is sometimes necessary to change the way we think, feel, react, speak etc. These are always the hardest changes to make.

As Christians, we go through various phases in our walk. We start off as babies and life is a lot easier during that time. We make mistakes, but it's expected. God coddles us a little. He pushes us forward but is a bit more lenient when we are reluctant to move. As we grow older and wiser in faith, the coddling stops. Things start to change. We are required to make changes to the way we do just about everything.

Growth almost always leads to change. We must change internally if we are to survive in the world around us that is changing. I've gone through several transitions and none of them were easy. First of all, I hate change. I like to be comfortable; chilling in my own safe haven that I've created for myself. But guess what, as long as you're comfortable, you won't grow. There's nothing pushing you to desire more. Hardship has a way of making us desperately desire God. In that desperation, we seek him earnestly and we do just about whatever it is He asks so we grow much more quickly. When life gets easier, we are much more resistant to change. Now it's ten times harder for God to get our attention. We almost refuse to transition from one stage to the next.

I'm at a point that requires transition and I'm scared. It's like I'm standing on the edge of a cliff looking down and God is behind me screaming "JUMP". I know He'll catch me if necessary, but who in their right mind wants to jump off a cliff, right? This transition period requires that I change the way I think about myself. It requires that I change the way I feel about certain things. It requires that I become numb in certain areas and more sensitive in others. It's a scary change because it involves my emotions (a subject that is always taboo for me).

I know that I'm not the only one at the edge of that cliff. A discussion with close friends yesterday revealed that God is asking that of several of us. He is asking that we jump, trusting that He'll be there to take us to whatever stage in our lives is next. Jumping off the cliff is scary, but I'm beginning to learn that if you never jump, you'll never fly. If a baby eagle refuses to jump from its nest and learn to fly, it will starve. It's mother will stop bringing it food at some point and it will die. It's the same with Christianity. God will never stop providing for us, but He will require that we go to our food at some point, instead of Him bringing it to us.

It's time to grow. It's time to accept that some things about the way we do business with God needs to change. It's time to move forward and do somethings differently. Accept the changes to our lives that God requires. Take the step and jump off the cliff. I promise, you'll learn to fly.

Joana James - Author of From Redemption to MaturityTrusting God with your Future,   Nightmare at Emerald High & Alana and Alyssa's Secret & Finding Romeo 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Land of My Birth

238 square miles of exquisite beauty
There are many like it, but none so charming
Twin peaks rising from her depths, make her unique and symbols her pride.
Proud to stand tall, among many we are one
Proud to be us, others' beauty we surpass
Proud to be Lucian, Our legacy will last! 

My island home celebrates 34 years as a sovereign state today. Our struggles have been numerous but we persevere. Saint Lucia is home to an enormous amount of talent. On only 238 square miles of beaches, rain forest and mountains, we've grown two Nobel Laureates, the most per capita in the world. Our charmed beauty makes us over and over again, the number one honeymoon destination in the world. Visitors boast of the friendly nature of our 170, 000 inhabitants, and those who migrate here find it easy to stay.

This land of my birth makes me proud to be truly Lucian. I found this tribute on You tube that bolsters my pride for this little piece of paradise!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Doing all things in Excellence - Excellence in Art

Allow me define the following words:

Excellence: The state or quality of excelling or being exceptionally good; extreme merit; superiority.
Mediocrity: of only or moderate quality; neither good nor bad; barely adequate.
(both references obtained from

Wow, which word describes you? We each would like to think that we function at a certain level of excellence, having excelled at whatever area of life we have chosen to follow. Unfortunately, laziness, procrastination and other factors have left most of us at the mediocre level, not just in our areas of talent but also with our Christian lives. Today, I'm going to deal with excellence in art.

God doesn't like mediocre. In Revelation 3:15 in reference to the Laodicean church it states: "I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other!" Wow. The word lukewarm implies a level of mediocrity. It's not hot, but it's not really cold either. Just somewhere in the middle. Have you ever had a cup of lukewarm tea? I don't know about you, but I find it disgusting. Tea tastes great as a hot beverage and just as good as cold beverage served with ice. In the middle; it's not so great. The same way we feel about cold tea is the way God feels about mediocre Christian behaviour.

Unfortunately, in many Christian churches we have begun to applaud mediocrity. We have dropped our standards and now celebrate the "just ok". The quality of what we produce is not horrible, but it's not so great either. We toe the line and our lives are just barely adequate. We use excuses like, "it's a process" to explain away our bad attitudes and ineffectiveness. We talk about being great with wishful thinking as if it's something that should happen in the distant future.

God requires excellence from us now. Today. Excellence in our art-forms  excellence on our jobs, and excellence in the way we live. We are the light of the world, i.e. we stand out. That means that the world should be able to look to us to set the standard for excellence, not the other way around. For years, the church has been lagging behind. It has gotten to the point where, when a Christian does excellently, we're surprised  "You mean a Christian wrote that?" or "A Christian painted that?" or "A Christian manages that business that is doing so well?" As Christians we are privileged children, yet we have allowed ourselves to become so comfortable with that fact that we expect our mediocre product to do well simply because we are Christians. It's an attitude of entitlement that we usually find in spoiled children. We expect our Christian brothers and sisters to support us even though our stuff isn't so great. Wow.

Would you walk into a store, examine the goods on the shelf and pick out the one that appears to do the job only half way? That's what we present to the world. Stuff that only does the job half-way, yet we complain when we don't do so great. "God, how come everybody else is selling, getting the great jobs and doing so well, yet I can't get a break." Mediocrity, that's why. It's not because we're not talented, or intelligent. It's because we approach life with the outlook of a spoiled brat, "God says it's mine, so I'm not going to do any work, I'll inherit it anyway." Yes, the earth is ours to inherit, yes the wealth of the unjust is stored up for us, yes, the cattle on a thousand hills belongs to our father. But be reminded that our father is a very just God. He gives us favour, but there are principles He has set in the earth that He will always honour.

In 2 Corinthians 9:6 it states: "Remember this - a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop."

I challenge you today to put just a little bit more effort into whatever area you have chosen to follow or serve. You may not be a writer, singer or other artiste, but you may have a job. Maybe it's not one that you like very much, but if you do it excellently, then you have a case for a promotion. Promotion will not come when we treat what we already have with a mediocre attitude. Promotion comes when we are diligent with what we have and approach it with excellence. God sees that excellence and rewards it.

Joana James - Author of From Redemption to MaturityTrusting God with your Future,   Nightmare at Emerald High & Alana and Alyssa's Secret & Finding Romeo 

Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Big Picture

As mere humans, we never really have a total picture of what's happening in our lives. Each circumstance or situation seems unique until God opens our eyes and allows us to see the real deal, the whole picture that encompasses each puzzle piece that we used to see in isolation.

In September last year, I wrote a post titled "When God's desires become yours". Back then, I asked God for a very specific thing, and He said no. I was disappointed, but I chose to trust him. Six months later, I figured out why he said no. The Big Picture.  You see the thing I wanted so badly turned out to be rather unattractive at the end of the day. Now, it repulses me. Guess what? God knew that.

We humans are pretty myopic. Fancy glitter and glamour confuses us and blinds us to the truth about the situations around us. We are ALWAYS making decisions without all the information simply because we can never, ever know everything. That's why trusting God when He says no makes so much sense. He has the big picture and He knows everything about everything. Would you rather rely on your limited information like I was doing or would you go with God's choice for you, knowing that He knows what will change in six months time.

It may be hard to accept a "no" answer from God but remember that He is the one making the informed decision, not us. I'm ecstatic now, realising that He saved me from another disastrous situation. Had I ignored Him and gone ahead on my own, I'd be nursing some severe wounds right about now just like I had to in the past. I'm pretty sure that you have had some of those situations. We humans like to be in control of our own destiny but here's a bit of a newsflash. We are NEVER in control of our own destiny. If God is not controlling it, then the devil is. Not us. We are not our own masters, no matter how much in control we think we are. If God is not guarding and guiding us, then the devil is bound to be manipulating us for his own pleasure. I don't know about you, but I'd much rather have my destiny driven by someone with my best interest at heart.

I challenge you today to accept that last "no" you received from God. I guarantee that maybe a few weeks, months or even years from now, all the pieces of the puzzle will come together and you will realise that you were being protected from your own desires. Trust God with your Future, He's the only one who knows what it really looks like.

Joana James - Author of From Redemption to MaturityTrusting God with your Future,   Nightmare at Emerald High & Alana and Alyssa's Secret & Finding Romeo 

Friday, February 15, 2013

God is on your side

I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me. Psalm 16:8 NLT

Have you ever had a bible verse stick out at you so much that you just can't get it out of your head? I read this yesterday as part of my morning devotions and even after moving on to today's devotions it's still ringing in my head.

One of the things that keeps us going is the knowledge that our God is always with us. It brought David great comfort when he needed it and it brings me comfort every day.  I always say and I will say again, my life would be totally unbearable without God. Just knowing that God has your back is enough to keep you going in a difficult situation.  Suddenly, life has meaning even when you're all alone. Suddenly, you're no longer in despair. Suddenly, an impossible situation seems possible.

Knowing that God is right beside you keeps your faith firm. It's when we forget the trouble starts and the devil likes nothing more than to help us forget.Like David, let us find comfort in knowing that God is right beside us. Let us bolster our faith and remind ourselves that we've got the only person we should really be afraid of on our side.

This is my word of encouragement to you today. Have a great day with God on your side.

Joana James - Author of From Redemption to MaturityTrusting God with your Future,   Nightmare at Emerald High & Alana and Alyssa's Secret & Finding Romeo 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

What doesn't kill us makes us stronger...

Why is life hard? More specifically, why is your life hard? Why is my life hard? Why do the same people going through all the hard stuff when others just seem to be sailing through life will blessings all around. First of all, let me just say that things aren't always as they seem. Those who seem to have it best may not even have it that good at all. But I must admit that some of us just seem to have the worst luck. Or is it really luck?

I could probably consider myself one of those people who just seem to have hardship piled on at every turn. In fact, I've developed the habit of waiting for something crappy to happen the minute something good happens to me. It's been that way my whole life. So why then do some of us have to go through all the major tough stuff? Why isn't hardship spread out across the planet evenly? Why do some of us have to have all the things that we have no control over happen to us over and over again? Why do parents get cancer, why do husbands leave, why do fiances betray us, why do we get laid off?

I wish I had the answer. In fact, I do, but I don't like it. The truth of the matter is that we live in a world tainted by sin, this means that it has been spiraling out of control. Evil exists because sin exists. It's the truth, but I don't like it. At the end of the day, life is still hard and I still have to go through it.

So what's the bright side? Is there a bright side? Well yes, there is. See, a few days ago I sat back observing a few of my friends and that's when I realised that some of them have had a pretty smooth life compared to mine. It's also when I realised that going through difficult stuff my whole life has it's merits. See, when I was robbed two weeks ago, I felt really bad for losing my laptop and all my writing, but I didn't cry or break down. I started losing faith when I realised that the police were doing diddly squat to help me, but I found it again and kept moving forward. Most people who know what happened express that they'd break down, cry and never sleep in the house again. But I didn't and I do. Why? Because as tough stuff goes, this is nothing compared to what I've already been through. I've learned to reserve my tears for the really big stuff.

See, that's my bright side. Because of all the difficult situations I've had to endure I can now go through some really big ones and still keep a genuine smile on my face. Maybe if my early days were a cake walk, I'd be sunk deep in depression right now. I don't think this is by chance though. It is often said that God doesn't give us more than we can bear. I think that He always prepares us for what we have to bear later on. Sometimes that preparation is simply making our roads a little rough, one situation at a time until we are tough enough to endure some whoppers.

I guess that's why I can still stand. My faith has been made strong and my trust in God bolstered by the fact that He has saved my butt many times. I know many people who are considered strong in faith who wouldn't last a day in my shoes. I'm definitely not hating on them, they just have a different purpose for their life. Mine is to encourage others and help them become stronger through my experiences.

So that's my why. Life is hard sometimes because we need it to be. Those of us who go through the hardest stuff and survive are stronger for it and for me, it's no cliche, it's the truth. What doesn't kill us makes us stronger....

Have a strength-filled day!

Joana James - Author of From Redemption to MaturityTrusting God with your Future,   Nightmare at Emerald High & Alana and Alyssa's Secret & Finding Romeo 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Leaning on the Everlasting Arm

Do you ever feel like you could literally just fall over from the stress of your everyday life. Life can be full of joyous moments and can be really wonderful sometimes, but there are those moments that just make you want to scream. What's worse, is that those moments enjoy happening in a cluster. They weigh down on your faith, bare down on your finances and steal your sleep. They can leave you walking pretty much like a zombie, lifeless and unable to smell the roses or see the smaller things that would usually make you happy.

At moments like that, you just want to crawl in bed and stay there. Your energy has been completely zapped and you barely have the energy or the willpower to stay standing. I'm having one of those moments, and in the midst of it, a song was deposited in my spirit. One phrase got stuck in my head; it says "leaning on the everlasting arms". Another says, "safe and secure from all alarm". When I think about it, that's probably the only reason I'm still standing; God's everlasting arms are strong enough to keep me going even when I feel like I don't even want to keep going. I've probably been leaning on those arms for a very long time and did not even realise it.

That's something about God that amazes me. A deep, intimate walk with him brings such closeness that sometimes you don't even have to actually ask for His help. Your spirit becomes so entwined with Holy Spirit that He cries out for help for you. God hears that and honours it. I often wonder how people go through difficulties outside of Christ. What do you do when you don't have a big strong God who can handle anything  to lean on? Of course, I got my answer right away; it's the reason that many people end their own lives. Some challenges are just too much to bare on your own. In fact, I'm pretty sure I would have lost my mind by now if I was trying to do this on my own.

The Bible says in 1 Peter 5:7 (NLT) Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. In a lot of Christian circles  this verse has become quite the cliche, but it's the absolute truth. God cares about our situations and our worries. They are obviously too much for us to bear on our own, so why try to carry them our selves. God knows how to solve them and He does it right each time, so let's learn to give ALL of our worries and cares to God. Let him handle things. Lean on Him, He'll never feel like you are putting too much pressure on Him. Most of our friends would buckle under the pressure of our problems, but God won't and unlike our friends, He can actually solve them.

When all your strength is gone and you feel like you just can't stand any longer, remember that you can lean on God's ever lasting arms. He's there to support you and to keep you going forward.

Be Blessed.

Joana James - Author of From Redemption to MaturityTrusting God with your Future,   Nightmare at Emerald High & Alana and Alyssa's Secret & Finding Romeo 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

How does love turn to hate?

Have you ever been in a position where you loved someone so much that you'd go to the ends of the earth to  bring a smile to their face. Well, I have and not just in the romantic sense either. I've had friends that I loved so dearly, I would continually sacrifice my own personal desires to help them out. When someone you love so much hurts you or betrays you, you can almost feel your love turning into hate.

I once had a situation where I almost instantaneously went from loving an individual to hating them. It was so easy, it scared me. I had always heard the phrase, there's a thin line between love and hate, but never realised what it meant until that precise moment.  The fact that I had done so much for this person only to have it thrown in my face made me angry. I was more angry than hurt. In my heart, I began to wish all sorts of evil things would happen to the individual. My love had turned quickly. Before then, I always wondered how people could kill their significant others. At that point, it became clear to me. Hatred is a horribly dangerous things. It starts out quietly enough but pretty soon it permeates every part of our lives. It's like an ugly tree taking root in our souls and it takes years of hard work to dig it out.

The Bible rightly tells us in 1 John 3:15 that any one who hates his brother is guilty of murder. It really is very easy to go from hating someone to killing them; like every other sin, it starts out as a thought and slowly grows in our minds until we feel compelled to perform the action. Hatred really comes from un-forgiveness and we know what the Bible says about that. My days of hating that person are far behind me and now I see them and can say hello without malice of any kind. Today though, I was again reminded of that thin line when I pondered a situation that could easily have gone the same way. Thankfully, experience brings wisdom and I now know how to handle that thin line.

Don't let hatred sink it's talons into your heart, you will have an extremely hard time digging it out. Remember that you chose to love the person who has hurt you. Let's face it, only people we love can hurt us; another person may perform the same action but it won't leave a lasting scar on your heart. Remember that love is a decision and not a feeling. You can decide to keep loving someone even after they have hurt it. It doesn't mean that you should let them keep hurting you. By all means, keep your distance if you have to, but don't nurse un-forgiveness or hatred in your heart, they aren't worth the space they take up.

Be Blessed and have a great day!

Joana James - Author of From Redemption to MaturityTrusting God with your Future,   Nightmare at Emerald High & Alana and Alyssa's Secret & Finding Romeo