Archive for December, 2011

Sent on Special Assignment by Staci Stallings

It’s appropriate that when I asked Staci Stallings to write a guest post for my blog she sent me an article about being on special assignment. Staci has definitely been on assignment with me! In the last three weeks she has guided me through the maze of social marketing, teaching me how to master Twitter, Excel spreadsheets, and blogs.

She is the owner of Spirit Light Publishing and the author of over 30! books, not including Bible studies. I can’t explain how she finds the time to do everything and still coach, and cheer on, someone like me. I’m sure she would laugh and say that God never sends out an agent without empowering them to do the job. He does it all anyway. 🙂

 

 

I love reading The Message Bible.  I don’t know if that means my brain doesn’t wrap around the words in “regular” Bibles or what, but I can read The Message and come away in two minutes with more inspiration and uplift than two hours with a normal Bible.

Oh, don’t get me wrong.  I love certain translations of certain verses, and some I even have memorized that way.  But the Message puts it in terms I just “get” without any mental gymnastics as to what it’s saying.

For example, the Apostle Paul begins many of his letters with a variation on this phrase, “I, Paul, sent on a special assignment to give the Message of Jesus to the world…”

I love that!  Don’t you?

“Sent on special assignment.”

What would it be like to truly believe that you were in that place of feeling like God had sent YOU on a special assignment?  How would your life be different?  Would you treat it with more diligence, more vigilance?  What if you proclaimed to someone that you had been sent to them on special assignment from God?

How would your spouse (for example) react to that proclamation?  Your kids?  Your co-workers?  Your friends?  Would you have the guts to tell them that?  Or do you even believe it?

I believe every Christian is exactly like Paul.  We are all sent here on special assignments from God to bring Christ into our world.  Through His Holy Spirit, God empowered each of us to use our gifts and talents to further the Kingdom.

But too many of us shun our gifts, hide our talents, and drown ourselves in busyness–believing there is no way that we’re special like Paul.  What do we have to say?  What do we have to give?  Nothing, we believe, and so we follow that up by giving and doing nothing.  We hear another in spiritual struggle and quietly step away because we don’t know what to do, we don’t know what to say.  And in that moment, God, Who could have spoken through you, loses a channel of His love, a means of speaking His Love and Mercy and Grace into this hurting person’s life.

So why do we run?  Why don’t we step into the special assignments Jesus sends us on?

1) Disbelief and fear.  Topping the list have to be these two.  We are afraid what others might think of us.  We are afraid we will say the wrong thing and make things worse.  We are afraid we will say something, and it won’t turn out well.  So we say and do nothing at all.

2)  No time.  We have all fallen hard into the trap of busyness.  We are so busy, we can’t take the phone call from someone who needs to talk something through.  We can’t sit with our kids and listen to their struggles.  We have no time for friends or family.

3)  No resources.  I think some of us fall into the trap of thinking that money or things will solve the problems of the heart, and since we don’t have the resources to help, we choose not to help at all.  But one of the things I have learned from one of my writing groups on line is how very important and sacred just listening and praying for someone are.  Countless times members have come on asking for prayers for everything from a spouse being unemployed to some simple something that’s been lost.  No prayer request is too big.  None is too small.  If it’s important to you, it’s important to the group.  No physical resources trade hands, but spiritually we are there for one another.

4)  What will they think?  Oh, how many times did this one stop me from following through on a special assignment.  I was in the moment.  I knew what God was telling me to say, but my courage left when the thought came, “I can’t say that!  What will they think of me?”  Satan loves to use that one because it tears both people down simultaneously.  I finally found a way over that hurdle.  I would simply say, “Okay, I’m weird, but…”  That way I got my fear that they would think I was nuts on the table.  I was honest about it, and that put Satan in his place real quick.

So what special assignment from God have you been sent on?  Believe me, it’s not random.  It is one of the assignments you were sent here for.  If you think you can’t, have the faith of a mustard seed and ask God to help you.  He will.  After all, He’s the One Who knew enough to send you!

 

The Modern Parable by Karen Baney

Author Karen Baney

When my friend, Matt Patterson, mentioned promotional group he had joined, I smiled and nodded. Author’s are always talking about some big promotion they’re doing which turns out to be… um, not so. But I signed up because Matt wouldn’t leave me alone.

Then the starting gun sounded!

I have learned more in the last three weeks than I can say. Meeting Karen Baney, and all the authors on her book launch, has changed my life, and I know this is only the beginning. Definitely a God thing.

You can purchase her new novel, Nickels, on December 13-15 for only 99cents, along with 9 other awesome books, which will also be offered at the same price. A NO BRAINER! 😉

 

 

And now here’s Karen’s post on The Modern Parable:    

 

    

 

Flip through any of the gospels and you’ll quickly find that Jesus used parables to help us understand aspects of God the Father, His love, His kingdom, and His will.  Stories like the parable of the tenants, the prodigal son, or the rich man, stick in your mind long after you’ve read them.

I believe God is still speaking through parables, only sometimes we label them differently.  Sometimes we call them novels, or Christian fiction, or even spiritual growth books.

Have you had a time when you’ve read one of these types of works and it churned in your mind for days or months?  I have.  When I read Messages by John Hileman, I wondered if God really does speak clearly in tangible ways.   Would He, could He really speak to me in a way that would leave no doubt that it was the Creator of Universe talking to little old me?

Then a few months after reading this work of fiction, I had the opportunity to meet Jonathan Dillon in person.  He spoke about how God still speaks to us today.  The thought that had been sparked by a novel, grew to a small flame.  Perhaps God would speak to me tangibly, if I would stop and listen.  After Jonathan Dillon finished speaking, he gave me a copy of his book, A God Who Speaks.  I spent the next month working through this workbook, seeing with my own eyes that God does still speak.  Then I heard His voice.  Something changed in me.

See, as an author, I often have a sense that the stories I write are more than just stories.  I don’t always consciously build in a certain principle or aspect of God in those stories.  Yet, I pray over every book I write.  And, as each book is finished, I send it off with this prayer:  God, use these words to touch the hearts of those you want to hear.  Whatever it is you want them to learn, let them learn it.  Let them know you more through these words.

I will never know all of the hearts that He’s changed through the words He’s given me.  Every now and then He grants me a small glimpse through an email or a letter from a fan.  It doesn’t matter.  I will write what He gives me until He gives me no more words.  Then I’ll send them off to the world and let Him do what He wants with them.

Yes, God still speaks.  Sometimes he does it through a burning bush.  Sometimes it is through the words of Jesus.  Sometimes it is through the words of an author who seeks to do His will.

 

 

Karen Baney, in addition to writing Christian historical fiction and contemporary novels, works as a Software Engineer.  Spending over twenty years as an avid fan of both genres, Karen loves writing stories set in Arizona.

Her faith plays an important role both in her life and in her writing.  She is active in various Bible studies throughout the year.  Karen and her husband make their home in Gilbert, Arizona, with their two dogs.  She also holds a Masters of Business Administration from Arizona State University.

 

Meet Larry Armstrong

Being a part of Karen Baney’s book launch and  the Women’s Literary Cafe has enabled me to meet some wonderful people.

Among them is Larry Armstrong, whose book, Patience: Harvesting the Spirit’s Fruit, is being offered free when you buy 3 of the books on the event. Which I don’t know why you would only buy three since you can get eleven great books for ten dollars, including Karen’s new book, Nickels! But hey, people do strange things. Anyway, back to Larry… as a pastor for many years, he’s come to understand a thing or two about patience. I’m happy to introduce all my readers to him here.

Tell us who you are, where you’re from, and little bit about yourself.  

Larry Armstrong


 

I hale from Erie, Pennsylvania, but grew up bouncing back and forth from Ohio to Pennsylvania with a short stint in Boston. My step-father was a truck driver, and we followed the work. I spent my high school and college years in western Pennsylvania, attending Grove City College. I married my first wife, Doris, a couple of years after high school. After college, we moved back to the Boston area, and I attended Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. I entered the ministry and served the Presbyterian denomination for thirty-five years. Doris and I had three children together. She died in 2001, when our children were all adults.

 

I later met and married Elizabeth, who brought me an adult step-son. She and I lived in Pittsburgh then we returned to her hometown, Latrobe, Pennsylvania, where we live now. I retired from the pastorate in July 2011, but I keep busy speaking, writing, and selling books on the internet through FaithProbe.com.

 

When did you get interested in writing?

 

I’ve always loved books. Growing up, I read almost everything, but especially loved science fiction and history. I wrote a novel when I was a teenager, and a literary agent was interested in it. He wanted $300 to put it in “proper literary form,” as he called it, but I didn’t have that kind of money. So it was never published. The manuscript got lost when my family moved. But writing has always been an interest. I wanted to become a newspaper reporter who wrote novels, sort of a second Hemingway. God, however, called me into the ministry.

 

While working as a minister I did a lot of writing, mostly a weekly sermon. I have almost 1800 of them. But I also wrote newsletters and newspaper articles. I wrote a short story that was published in a Sunday school take-home paper and a few devotionals. In 1979, I had a book on the prophet Micah published, but the publisher went out of business a few years later. I became busy raising a family, pastoring churches, and working on Presbytery committees. So my writing drifted into the background.

 

As retirement drew near, I started to ask, “What will you do in retirement?” I decided to return to writing.

Can you recall a time when you applied the material in your book to a situation in your life?

Certainly! It’s been happening throughout this year. When our beloved dog Annie, a gentle and quiet Shelty, died two summers ago, we waited six months then got a new dog. Finnegan is a mixed breed, with at least two terrier types in his background. He lives up to his name. He’s full of energy, fiesty, and loves to play hard. He also loves to chew everything. He’s turned one year old recently, so he’s still a puppy.
For Christmas last year, my wife received a copy of her favorite poet’s work, Ogden Nash’s limericks. She left it on the bed, and Finnegan found it. He proceeded to chew the covers off! Also, my brand new part of bedroom slippers lost their linings. Our sofa had a corner chewed out of it. We found item after item chewed by little puppy teeth, and no toy has lasted more than a few days.
  Needless to say, we had to practice great patience, and trust in the Lord, that Finnegan would learn not to eat everything he sees. Gradually, he’s stopped most of the chewing. I’ve worn the slippers quite well without the lining, and my wife can read her coverless book!

The Happiness Consultant by Naty Matos

Not too long ago I was at an event; each of the servers had a t-shirt describing their function. One of the T-shirts really caught my attention; it read “Happiness Consultant.

I wondered what this guy did, but wasn’t brave enough to ask.

I think in the day to day we forget that instead of pursuing happiness we should be pursuing joy. That’s the big difference between a life in the world and a life in Christ. The world offers for us happiness, apparently even hires people to tell us how to achieve it.

You may wonder what the difference between happiness and joy is. Happiness is a temporary state of well-being, where we feel satisfied or motivated for a period of time, but it’s not sustainable. If the conditions providing the feeling of elation change, so does the state of happiness. Joy is the knowledge and conviction that everything is fine. You’re trusting in God to make everything work for your good, and you trust He’s doing that even when things don’t look positive. Joy doesn’t depend on circumstances; it depends on God.

Before hiring a happiness consultant let me give you a money saving secret. The Word of God will provide you with Joy – yes, the permanent one – instead of just happiness. Once the Word of God is in you, all you have to do is be still and allow the Holy Spirit to speak to your soul. Regardless of what your eyes see you will have that joy.

As I said before, I didn’t ask the happiness consultant many details about his job, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that he charges by the hour. A bible, which contains the Word of God, is far less expensive. I’ve seen some for even a dollar. If you’re reading this, it means that you have access to the internet; therefore you don’t even have to invest a dime. There are websites like www.biblegateway.com and www.bible.com where you can read the bible online for free. If you have a phone with access to the internet, there’s an app called YouVersion that has the bible for free for you to carry with you.  The application includes almost every version available to mankind. Salvation and joy are free, Jesus already paid the price.

So why settle for that which is temporary when you can have what is eternal?

“The joy of the LORD is your strength.”

Nehemiah 8:10

Join Naty Matos and 9 of her author friends at Women’s Literary Cafe’s Christian Book Launch, December 13-15. Ten authors will discount their eBooks to just 99 cents. Buy 3 get 1 FREE!

http://www.womensliterarycafe.com/content/december-2011-book-launches

About Naty Matos

Naty Matos was born in the city of New York, from Puerto Rican descendant parents. She grew up in the beautiful Island of Puerto Rico and now lives in the city of Atlanta.

She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Clinical Psychology with a Minor in Mass Media Communications and a Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling.

Naty writes Christian fiction and non-fiction. She’s the author of the live changing devotional Growth Lessons. She maintains a blog on Christian Living Topics at www.therisingmuse.com

Growth Lessons on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Growth-Lessons-ebook/dp/B005WZ1BGK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1321557564&sr=8-1

Naty Matos on Twitter @natycmatos

Naty Matos on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/Naty-Matos/172298772847562