Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Truth on Trial


Jesus stated plainly that He had come into the world “to testify to the truth” (John 18:37). For Christians truth is not elusive. Truth is grounded on Biblical principles. Knowing the truth affects one’s concept of faith. Do you really believe the Bible is the inerrant word of God? 

“Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation” (Psalm 25:15).
Everywhere I turn people are debating the truth about everything. There seems to be no real standards on truth. We are filled to the marrow with half-lies, white-lies, half-truths, broken promises, fabrications, bold-faced lies, exaggerations, fake news, and deceptions. That’s just a few techniques we have for altering the truth. 
Maybe nothing is real anymore. We’ve thrown character, integrity, and honor out the door. Is truth following the same pattern?
Rather than strain to find truth in a lie, why not find truth that is solid, truth that cannot be altered. It’s found in the Bible. 
When Jesus came into the world, His mission was to teach the truth to men who had altered the truth, defiling the name of God, His promises, and His ten commandments or moral laws. 
When my five-year-old granddaughter got miffed at her mother for challenging her words, she fumbled, twisted around, and finally blurted out, “I make the truth!” I just happened to have my phone in my hand when the conversation started and was able to catch her in action. 

For a few minutes, it was funny. Then the reality hit me. Everyone wants to make the truth easy and palatable for them, and they don’t seem to care if it’s right for anyone else. Children are having a hard time deciphering what is truth from a shallow-lie, a pocketed-lie. Forgive me, adults are struggling with deception and subterfuge. What’s happening to us?
Truth is on trial again. It’s nothing new. Truth (Christ) was on trial with Pilot. How many stood by and watched an innocent man spat on, scourged, beaten, stripped, and hung on a cross? Are we standing by and watching while people tear God’s Word apart? 
Repeating illogical tunes and confidently elaborating on them carves lies into the very fabric of who we are. Satan would like nothing better than to blind and beguile Christians. He wants to disturb the mind, deceive the heart, and defeat those who belong to Christ. 
I want Wonder Woman’s lariat of truth to bind around our people, so when we lie it tightens and hurts. I bet after a few burn marks as evidence of our recalcitrant nature, we would stop before lying. 
I may not have a lariat of truth, but I have the truth of God’s Word. I’m going to gird on the belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, shoes of peace, shield of faith, helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit. 
Then stand firm and tall, knowing God will win the battle against the assault on His Word. Prepare for the triumphal victory, knowing God’s Word will prepare your heart, mind, and soul against cultural and worldview lies.
My prayer for you and me is a song by Micah Tyler. 
God bless you, Angela

Different
I don’t wanna hear anymore, teach me to listen.
I don’t wanna see anymore, give me a vision.
Then you could move this heart, to be set apart.
I don’t need to recognize, the man in the mirror,
And I don’t wanna trade Your plan, for something familiar.
I can’t waste a day; I can’t stay the same.
I wanna be different.
I wanna be changed.
‘Til all of me is gone,
And all that remains
Is a fire so bright
The whole world can see
That there’s something different
So come and be different.
In me.
And I don’t wanna spend my life stuck in a pattern.
And I don’t wanna gain this world but lose what matters,
And so I’m giving up, everything because
I wanna be different.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Trusting God Through Cancer: Surviving on God's Word


Cancer touches everyone whether we like it or not. Cancer is the dreaded word. No one wants to deal with it, but we need to look it straight in the eye. Who knows if the next doctor’s appointment will verify that you or your loved one has cancer.

Ed Adams has offered us a beautiful book to examine cancer up close and personal from the stories of survivors who have found their strength and encouragement from God, faith, friends, and associates. 

A few authors revealed the words we associate with cancer: scared, shocked, and hopeless, but an overwhelming number spoke about the power of hope that poured over them while they were going through diagnosis, tests, chemo, radiation, loss of jobs, etc. The reader is given an intimate look at the heart of people going through devastating times, unknown times. And yet, each proclaimed a victory!

Paula Vera stated, “I believe God uses our prayers and the prayers of others to draw us to Himself for healing, guidance, and for everything. I praise God for His salvation, for His guidance, for His sovereignty, for His abundant love and grace for me, and for the future that I can share with Him in heaven.”
  
Byron Pink offered his favorite hymn. “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame but wholly lean on Jesus’ name. On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.” And this is the wonderful message Ed Adams has compiled into real-life stories to help change our minds from cancer-hopeless to cancer-hope. 

On a personal note.

I worked in Hospice for fifteen years. This book is a sparking gem, a ray of hope. It’s an excellent book to give to those who are journeying through cancer, those who are caregivers, Hospice/home health workers, and anyone who ministers to someone with cancer. 

Don’t wonder what to say to a cancer patient or their loved ones. The authors who told their stories have offered the strength and encouragement to face difficult days and the enrichment of a newfound life in Christ. At the end of each story, each author shared their favorite Bible verse that emboldened them, reminding them of God’s love, grace, and mercy. The book offers you a template to encourage and help people realize that their illness does not define who they are, only their strength and courage in faith defines who they are.

God bless you,
Angela


Trusting God Through Cancer by Ed Adams
Amazon link to book: 

https://www.amazon.com/Trusting-God-through-Cancer-Collection/dp/1547154969/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1506454942&sr=8-1&keywords=ed+adams

Ed Adams' Facebook Author page: 

 https://www.facebook.com/praisestogodworthy/






Friday, September 22, 2017

Letting Loose


When I first began writing, I dreamed of writing for children. I wrote short stories and poems about little ones who were always getting into trouble. It helped that my protagonist lived right under my roof, my little brother. He was forever up to no good to the point I thought my poor mother would go bald from running her hands through her hair.

But writing about little brothers gets tiring. I wanted to let loose and do something no one else had ever done. My initiation into letting loose began on my 16th birthday. At that point in my life, my favorite author was Victoria Holt. Since there were no knights in shining armor or damsels in distress in my neighborhood, I decided to write about the characters around me. 
A character study is similar to stalking. At sixteen, stalking is not easy. The whole time I tried to be covert, I was stumbling over my own two feet or giving myself away by blushing. Instead of being reckless and daring, I was careless and timid. But I was determined.
At the top of our street there was a General Store. It was the perfect place to stalk. Customers strolled inside and took their time. Men chatted in groups of 2 and 3. Women lingered longest at the meat and cheese counter. I found the perfect corner to lean into and just watch. When Ms. Patty, the owner, glared at me I’d pick up a package and pretend to be reading the contents. After 30 minutes, I realized the task at hand was a lot more difficult than I had imagined. It was hard to hear what my subjects were saying and most of the time they kept turning their backs to me. 
Sighing, I decided to leave and think up another strategy to get writing material. As I turned to leave, a man three times my age with half my teeth grabbed me, pulled me through the throng of customers and pushed me past the screen door. He didn’t let loose of me until we were several feet from the building. I was terrified. He was huge!  
“You best go home now, you hear?” he yelled at me, still clutching my arm. “I ain’t lettin’ you go until you promise to quit trying to steal my aunt’s merchandise.”
I stopped flat-faced-still, looking up at him in total disbelief. “Steal? I’m not trying to steal anything.” Incredulous thoughts whirled around my brain until I realized how guilty I must have looked. “Oh, you’ve got this all wrong. I’m a writer. I’m trying to do a character study.”
“Character study?” he repeated, spitting out a wad of tobacco, “You’d best be trying to study school and not be dumb like me. Now git before I call the cops!”
I ran all the way home. It took me two days to write the whole event down . . . embellishing and letting loose on the best character study ever. Now when I even hint at having “writers block”, I remember being sixteen and pushing the limits. That’s the key to being a good writer. Letting loose.

God bless you! 
Angela

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Discovering Josue: A Servant's Heart


Colossians 3:23-24 "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving."

God asks us to serve one another (Galatians 5:13). When we serve others, we are the hands and feet of Jesus. It's humbling to think that when we help others we are doing what Christ does for us every day. Whether we realize it or not Jesus is growing and stretching us for His kingdom by the service opportunities He presents us and the life situations He maneuvers us through. Every lesson we learn are tools to help others. We serve God with the fullness of everything He has given us, the joy, and the hardships.

I just finished reading Discovering Josue. If you ever wondered what a servant's heart looks like please read this book. Having a Jesus-style servant's heart is hard. There's a cost. That's the reason most of us pull back or rethink whether we want to jump in and help others. We have to set aside time. The situation might be messy or hurtful. Finances may come into play, also emotions. This is the sticky part . . . we might have to deal with listening and refrain from disagreeing. We might have to build a relationship to get people to listen to us. More time.

God was preparing Gloria Giovanna way before Josue entered her life. On a whim to learn something new, Gloria decides to learn Spanish. She was a hairstylist and often had customers who were Spanish-speaking. It just seemed a natural progression to learn their language. Then she got into Latino dancing and the exotic flavors of Mexican food. What seemed like a huge challenge ended up fun and exciting, a reprieve from being a single mom struggling to rear three children.

God also brought a client to Gloria that needed help with a patient, an eighteen-year-old Mexican boy who was dying of bone cancer. The client was an oncologist. His heart was breaking for this young man who could not speak English and didn't seem to have any family in the States.

It's wonderful when someone tells their story and doesn't leave out the angst or questions. Gloria struggles with the oncologist's request. How in the world could she add one more thing to her overfull life? She was struggling to buy food and pay the bills. Her time was spent working in her beauty shop and taking care of three kids. She had no time or money to run around helping anyone. But God had a different plan.

Reading Discovering Josue is discovering ourselves. Do we have a servant's heart? Are we willing to pay the cost?

For Gloria the cost was getting to love someone she would have never met without God's intervention. Once Josue entered her life, there was no backing out. Next thing she knew, she was rounding up everyone she knew to enter into the glorious opportunity of discovering Josue.

"I went to visit him every spare moment and called to check on him two or three times a day."

The urgency to tell Josue's story never left her.

"I needed to get the story out of my system. I told her that I had no formal writing experience and no degree . . . but I need to talk about this. I can't just let it go. So now seven and a half years later, this story is still clinging to me every day of my life, and so here I am."

With God's help, Gloria finally published Josue's story. But it's more than his story, it's God's story pressed into Gloria's, too. The book is infectious. You will love all the characters Gloria marshals to help her with Josue. Once infused with God's desire for her to serve Josue, Gloria worked incessantly.

I hope you will read Discovering Josue. God will show you what it means to serve others.

God bless you,
Angela

Amazon link to Discovering Josue by Gloria Giovanna
http://amzn.to/2viJM9O

If you haven't picked up the September 12, 2017 issue of the magazine, First, for women, you might want to. There's an article on page 48, "Unexpected Grace: A lovely language", which compliments the work God did in Gloria Giovanna's life.

God is alive and well and working hard in the lives of His children.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The Cost of Choice


Someone asked me why I loved to write. So many words ran through my mind, but one stood out. CHOICE.

I feel a need to write about the cost of choice, to show readers strategies that lead to success or failure. 

Life choices are complicated and serious. I’m not talking about picking your favorite flavor of ice cream. I’m talking about decisions that change, transform, and destroy. 

As a writer, I paint word pictures conjuring up good and bad characters and then throw them into a myriad of life scenarios. I allow their lives to touch one another in positive and negative ways. Once their lives are entwined, what erupts is not always pretty. Evil challenges good. One person makes an irreversible decision that often whiplashes onto other characters. Sometimes the weak become strong and the strong become weak. Other times the weak sink in despair and the strong get fiercer and more determined.  

As an author, this is where my role is pivotal.

The characters begin to ponder their choices. They look at how to maneuver through and around them. Once a choice is made it is hard to withdraw it without cost or stabilize it without regret and remorse. Choice shapes the course of one’s history, setting up internal conflict, igniting dry brush into forest fires or bursting a dry meadow into lush green.

I want readers to visualize the importance and cost of their choices. 

Why am I so passionate about this? Because I’ve made some poor choices. I see others do the same thing without stopping to think about the repercussions.

“Write what disturbs you, what you fear, what you have not been willing to speak about. Be willing to be split open.” ~Natalie Goldberg

So, I write and speak about what disturbs me.

Having worked as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for abused, abandoned, and neglected children and later working with their abused mothers, I am passionate about the topic of choice. So passionate I write about real-life characters (names changed to protect the innocent) whose lives are messed up because of poor choices, and the people that come alongside them to encourage better life choices and options for difficult situations.

God has had me on a journey, facing my own demons and ministering to those whose demons have cut deep into their joy. Cries of Innocence, Cries of Grace, and Cries of Mercy (2018) demonstrate how people can rise above abuse, disappointment, and brokenness.

 I have an awesome, but sometimes daunting responsibility as an author. When I write I am given the opportunity to touch the mind, heart, and soul of the reader. 

“The printed word only has the potential for meaning, implication, response, and result. The reader is the one who must activate that potential and breathe life into words. How else could the quiet printed text become an active interplay of ideas and feelings. Reading makes things happen as we imagine what the characters are doing, and how they are going to navigate through situations and critical choices.
Reading prepares us for the unexpected. It helps us share in a common humanity, encourages us to see other’s views, and depicts a myriad of life’s experiences for us to contemplate. Reading can make us see a new world or the same world in a new way.” ~Angela Beach Silverthorne, SUNY Graduate paper The Power of Reading

Choice waits in the palm of a hand, never suspecting the muscle tension as one finger after another closes over it, obscuring the promise of security or calamity. That’s why good choices are so critical.

All it takes is one word, one action, one deed to change everything.

In the process of writing and reading, we learn strategies for making wise choices. Never underestimate the power of the written word. 

Here are three strategies I use when faced with a choice:

1.     Stop. Don’t make a hasty decision. The world will not fall apart if you wait. Psalm 27:14
 “Be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord.”

2. Pray. Don’t feel pressure to make a rash decision. Psalm 62: 5 “My soul, wait in silence for God only.”

3. Write out the options. Choose wisely. Pray over your decision. Colossians 3:15 “Let the peace that Christ gives control your thinking . . . to have peace.”

Never underestimate the cost of choice. Make wise choices. Pray. Seek God’s will.

God bless you,
Angela



Monday, August 7, 2017

Responsibility In Making Choices


Billy Graham speaks to my heart. In his devotional, Day By Day, Graham wrote about the power of choice. It seems the norm in our culture is to constantly point fingers and blame others for all their problems and everyone else’s. Sometimes I want to go into a rage over this, but that would only add to the problem. So here’s Billy Graham’s call to begin understanding that we are all part of the problem in what we do, don’t do, or say. I do believe God wants us to proclaim the liberty of owning up to your actions and stop putting blame on others. The end product of taking ownership would be liberty . . . the freeing of captives bound by the name-and-blame-it game.

Hope you enjoy Mr. Graham’s devotional.

Blessings,
Angela
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Viktor Frankl in his book, Man’s Search for Meaning, describes the reactions of two brothers with the same heredity, the same environment, in the same concentration camp under the Nazis. One became a saint and the other a swine. Frankl tells us the reason why. He said, “Each man has within him the power to choose how he will react to any given situation.” God has given us the power of choice. Some people today do not wish to accept the responsibility for their actions. They blame society. They blame the environment. They blame the schools. They blame the circumstances. We can’t blame it all on somebody else. We must accept the blame ourselves for our part. Society is made up of individuals. If we have social injustice, we’re the ones who are wrong; we’re part of it. Let’s accept our responsibility to do something about it.

Prayer For The Day: With you help, living Lord, I want to make the right decisions so that I may touch society with Your healing love.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Here I Raise My Ebenezer



Over the past year, I have been going through every closet, drawer, and room to unclutter in preparation for a move. Naturally I had to touch and read everything. It was like a walk down memory lane. Everything held meaning, and I wanted to share it with my family and friends. The process became a journey of remembrance.

When I got to my volumes of journals, there was no way I could pass them by. So, I sat down and went through every one of them. The journals became my ebenezer. Ebenezer means “stone of help.” In the Old Testament stones were piled one on top of the other as a reminder to the Israelites of God’s unfailing love and mercy.

1Samuel 7:12 states, “Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen, and called it Ebenezer saying, ‘Hitherto hath the Lord helped us’.”

Opening up my journals reinforced how good God has been to me, family and friends. How His blessings have poured over us. How in the darkest hours of life God was right there ministering to us. Most of those times I did not even realize God’s intervention, often feeling alone and helpless. Looking back and remembering how I felt then and how I see the situation now establishes God’s work in my life and shapes who I am today. It readies me for the next valley, disappointment, or loss with the knowledge of a Savior that is living and active in my life. I have no fear because He has prepared me to handle life through Him.

When we moved to VA Beach in January 2017, the Praise Team at the church we are attending kept singing a song they wrote entitled, “Ebenezer”. Every time I heard it I could see that stack of journals, all those memories of God’s love.

My intrigue in the song caused me to do a little investigation. The chorus to the contemporary song, “Ebenezer”, was based off an old hymn “Come, Thou Fount Of Every Blessing” written by Robert Robinson in 1757. Even though Robinson’s life drove him from his faith many times, he managed to help others come to Christ through the words in his song. 

Remembrance is very important; it’s a fundamental principle in the gospel. Humans unfortunately have an easier time remembering all the bad things that happen verses the good. That’s why God put things on stone, i.e., the ten commandments. Another perfect example of stones of remembrance is found in Joshua 4.

“Take yourselves twelve stones from here . . . that this may be a sign among you when your children ask in time to come, saying, ‘What are these stones?’ Then you shall let your children know, saying, ‘Israel crossed over this Jordon on dry land . . . that all the peoples of the earth may know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever’.”

God wants us to remember Him in awe and reverence. In the song, “Ebenezer” and “Come, Thou Fount Of Every Blessing”, we are asked to remember God’s hand in our life.

Come, Thou Fount Of Every Blessing (chorus, Robert Robinson, 1757)
Here I raise my ebenezer;
Hither by Thy help I’m come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home:
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wand’ring from the fold of God:
He, to save my soul from danger,
Interposed His precious blood.


Ebenezer (chorus, contemporary version)
Here I raise my ebenezer,
Hither by Thine help I come,
May it remind me of every victory
That You brought me safe thus far.
All my hope, all my hope is in Your promises.
And all my joy, all my joy is in You, Jesus.

How precious is remembering God’s promises, blessings, mercy, grace, and love in our lives.

Lord Jesus, help me to remember the power of Your holy name that I can call on at any time. In Christ’s name I pray,
Angela


Sharing from my journal. This entry was after a long year: mother dying, my husband having seizures, the loss of our 17 year old dog, and my health issues.

Dear Heavenly Father,
It is good to praise You! You are my Refuge and my Rock. You keep me safe and dry in the storm. You present Yourself in the morning sunrise, and kiss the day to rest in a sunset splendor. All my concerns have been deposited in You. God, You provide the Words to keep me in tune with Your desires for me. Oh, how I love the precious name of Jesus. Oh how I rely on the still small voice of Your Spirit, Lord. Continue to keep us under Your wing. There are times when I think we are fumbling, stumbling, and staggering under the pressure we are under. It’s like a dark cloud has sat on us. Then I see the tiniest bit of light and I know that means You are coming; so, I’m waiting. You’ll be here soon. I feel it. Until then, I will continue to glorify Your holy name. Your child, Angela