Category Archives: Inspiratioal

Celebration Church ~ 20th anniversary

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The main entrance to Celebration Church’s Arena Location

 

Sunday I drove to my church, Celebration Church in Jacksonville. It has four locations in Jacksonville, one in Zimbabwe, and one in Paris. I attend at the arena in the Baymeadows area of Jacksonville. I was in a state of anticipation, as we will be celebrating the church’s  20th anniversary the entire month of November.

On the way to church, I prayed there would be not one pretzel stuffed with spinach and cheese left in the cafe. I got on line, with resolve to purchase only a large coffee. When I got up to the counter there was one spinach and cheese pretzel left. This is absolute proof that the old adage is true, the devil does indeed go to church. [LOL] I took a deep breath, prayed through and got the coffee. Whew!

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What profoundly hit me in Senior Pastor Stovall Weems preaching Sunday was that the church was holy ground, but not just church property (which certainly is sacred space), but, the body of Christ, we are also holy ground. The Kingdom of God on earth is holy ground. I had a revelation in a new and profound way what “kingdom” meant in Biblical terminology, history, culture. I came away with a new understanding of how I am a citizen of the that holy kingdom right here on earth.

I had a deeply insightful revelation of myself as a child of the King. Now, even in the earthly realm, a king can have many children. Solomon did. Many kings of old did. My heavenly Father has billions of children and I am one of them. I’m a daughter of the King. I’m in His family. I am family to the King and this just tickles me and I’ve never felt that before. I have the right to sit at His table…and He’s got a big table. This became more real to me than it ever has before, and it was such an enriching, uplifting, and fun experience.

Pastor Stovall went through a list of things that are holy ground, that perhaps we don’t have enough reverence for. I can’t give you his exact list, but here is my list: communion, water baptism, Christian schools and colleges, Christian radio and TV stations, and yes, yes Christian homes.  My home and the homes of all saints are holy ground and to be treated as such. At the end of the service, Pastor Stovall blessed everyone’s home. This was particularly meaningful to me as I just moved into a new condo. When Pastor Stovall gave the blessing, I felt as if the King was in the sanctuary…His Holy Spirit was…and that my home was indeed blessed, thoroughly blessed.

Celebration Church

 

 


Why Christian Evangelicals Bless and Honor the Jewish Feasts and Biblical Culture

 

Rosh

Rosh Hashanah

 

  1. Most evangelical Christians have an appreciation of the Jewish Feasts and many of us study them, especially charismatic Christians. This is a little known fact outside of evangelical circles. We also honor Jewish biblical culture and history. The most basic reason for evangelicals having an understanding of the Hebrew feast days is simply because they’re in the Bible, in the Old Testament. Christians adhere to two testaments, the Old and the New. If God put the Jewish feasts in The Book, they’re important to us. Evangelical Christians are a biblical people.
Hanukkah

Hannukkah

  1. The Gregorian calendar is not God’s calendar. The Hebrew calendar is. The Hebrew calendar is marked by the Jewish feasts, as set out in the Bible. If evangelicals want to have an understanding of how God marks time, and most do, we must have a basic understanding of the Hebrew calendar. Evangelicals are a people of The Book.

That said, Christians have peace with and are reconciled to God through believing in the finished work of Jesus…PERIOD. Nothing else!

Genesis 12:3 ~  And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” [New American Standard Bible, NASB]

The above verse refers to Israel and the Jewish people. Most evangelicals are ardent supporters of Israel and defenders of the Jewish people. Why? Because we are Bible people, and it’s the right thing to do.

 

 


My New Condo Renovated ~ a blessing of peace

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Open concept dining/living space. The parson’s table is deceptive. It opens to seat 4 – 6.

The renovation on my new two-bedroom, oh so comfy, condo is the culmination of a back-burner dream I had while still living in Brooklyn (NYC)…that is to move to Florida and own my own place.

In many ways, it was a matter of love, faith, and grace. The Love of God. My faith, though faltering at times. God’s grace. It’s easy to see, it’s God/moi, two-to-one. Actually, it’s God to me, a gazillion to one.

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My china cabinet, where my mother’s wedding china and my set are displayed, as well as other memory bearing collectables.

I believe this was God’s plan for me, because I’m at peace…in more peace than I’ve had in years.

Yesterday was my wedding anniversary. My husband Joseph will have passed three years this December 8th. He didn’t make it to Florida, but he did make it to heaven. PTL

I take the Bible verbatim. Jesus came to earth in the flesh that we may enjoy life. He came to be a blessing and He wants us to bless others. You don’t have to be wealthy to bless others. You only have to be rich of spirit. Give what you can. I gave 98% of my husband’s clothing and personal belongings to the Salvation Army and Goodwill. It blesses me thinking maybe someone getting their life back on track is making good use of the suits he wore to work. There are so many other ways to bless others. Open the door for someone who is carrying a load, or dealing with children. Little courtesies do count. They make life easier and better for everyone…and they’re fun. Try it. You’ll like blessing others.

 

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My new, tiny galley kitchen with magnets on the refrigerator Joseph and I collected on our vacays and at places we visited.

 

 


A Harvest of Blessings by June Foster ~ a spotlight

A Harvest of BlessingsContemporary Romance

 

I’m particularly excited to spotlight June Foster’s new release, A HARVEST OF BLESSINGS,  because it presents a 50+ romance. This blog has featured many articles for 50+ readers. So, the novel is right up our alley.

*****

If there’s one thing Nadia Maguire knows, Jon Maguire robbed her of a godly marriage and left her in financial ruin. The night he was killed in an accident, guilt threatened to suffocate her. She wasn’t sorry he died.

When Nadia accidentally sits on a stranger’s lap in the graveyard where Jon is buried, she’s horrified to learn the good-looking guy with salt and pepper hair is her new boss.

Jared Abrams is a widower who longs to move on. He’s intrigued by the beautiful woman who puts God first in her life. But as their friendship grows, an unexpected obstacle separates them—his daughter Sarah. No one can replace her mother. Especially not Nadia Maguire whose son harmed her in high school.

If Nadia can’t find the funds to get her house ready to sell, she’ll have to balance two jobs with no time left to nurture a relationship with the man she loves. Will she and Jared find a Harvest of Blessings, or a season of drought?

*****

Nike:  Tell us something topical, interesting, funny, or something we would not expect about the writing of this novel.

June: I love to pattern my novels on real life when I can. Several years ago, my husband and I traveled full time in our RV. (That’s another story in itself. I loved the lifestyle.) We spent a winter in Pensacola, Florida. Since my husband is retired military, we stayed in the RV park on the naval post in Pensacola and enjoyed attending the military chapel. We met a couple about our age and went to dinner with them one Sunday. They proceeded to tell us their story. They met in the cemetery on post while both visiting their dead spouses. That idea, or course, sparked a story idea. I recently decided to incorporate the scenario in my next novel. Thus, A HARVEST OF BLESSINGS was born.

Nike:  If this novel is part of a series, tell us about the series.

June:  Yes, A HARVEST OF BLESSINGS is number 3 in my Small Town Series. The series takes place in the fictional town of Oak Mountain, Alabama, east of Huntsville. In book one, LETTING GO, a pastor loses his wife and unborn child to death and can’t find the will to pastor his church any longer. The woman who’s always loved him abandons all hope of a relationship with him. Book two, PRESCRIPTION FOR ROMANCE, is a modern day retelling of the Biblical story of the Prodigal Son. Book 4 is in the works as we speak. The same characters turn up in all four books.

Nike:  If this novel is holiday themed, or is releasing on or near a holiday tell us how you feel about that holiday.

June:  Yes, the novel carries a Thanksgiving theme. At the end of the story, the characters celebrate with a Thanksgiving feast. But that’s not to reveal the ending.

Nike: Is this novel unique/uncommon in some way. Does it deal with age 50+ romance, plus-size issues, disabilities, etc.

June:  The novel is unique in that the romance features a 50+ hero and heroine. I’ve received a lot of responses to the book since it was published. Readers say they enjoy reading romance between middle aged folks.

BIO:

June Foster

June Foster is an award-winning author who began her writing career in an RV roaming around the USA with her husband, Joe. She brags about visiting a location before it becomes the setting in her contemporary romances. June’s characters find themselves in precarious circumstances where only God can offer redemption and ultimately freedom. Find June at junefoster.com.

Purchase on Amazon:  A HARVEST OF BLESSINGS

Find June Foster

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A Generational Curse ~ plagued me all of my life

ShameMy mother and I grew into a love/hate relationship. She was a good person, don’t get me wrong. I honor her for the upstanding individual she was. Her word was her bond and she was as moral  as the day was long.

However, very early on, I perceived her attitude toward me as one of suspicion and condemnation where the opposite sex was concerned. As I grew into my teenage years, it seemed to me she was obsessive in that area. I’ve always been bemused by this, I’m absolutely sure I didn’t exhibit any behavior in my pre-teen years to warrant this type of extreme scrutiny on her part…which was when her censure began.

I wasn’t allowed to date in high school.  And it was during my high school years when I overheard my parents discussing their fear that I would get pregnant. I was extremely hurt. Why would they think that? I was socially awkward around boys. I said and did the wrong things. I’d try to fit in with them by being one of the boys and quickly found out most teenage males didn’t enjoy a girl more quick witted than themselves. And they weren’t attracted at all to a girl who was one of the guys. By my senior year, I’d begun to flirt and that got me some male attention. Still, I didn’t fall into the ‘dateable material’ category in their books…not a problem. I wasn’t allowed to date anyway. But I was allowed to attend my proms. Out of the fear that I would have no date for either one (more than fear…stark reality), I asked boys who I thought would in no way be asking any girl to the prom. And so, I did attend both proms. The Lord has gifted me with the skills of a planner and with determination. Both those talents have stood me well in life.

When I got out of high school, it was like being shot out of a cannon. I went to live with my older cousin and her husband in New York City and I got into the dating scene, which at that time was the singles bar scene. Enough said.

Later, I married a funny, great looking, and highly intelligent guy. My mother is gone and I was at her side when she passed. It’s been a number of years that I’ve forgiven her for her obsessive hounding, scrutiny, and condemnation of me as a girl.

I’m now semi-retired, a widow, and I have an ongoing, growing relationship with the Lord that is indispensable to my life. It wasn’t long ago when the Lord not only opened my hear to see where my mother was coming from lo those many years ago, He impressed upon me that I was to share this publicly…hence this blog article. Sharing this was not what I wanted to hear or do. I knew it was God, even though I might’ve wanted to play that game: is it really God asking me to do this?

I also was aware of the sad history of my third youngest aunt (one of twelve children, born to legal immigrant parents, my grandparents). This aunt got pregnant at age 19, told her older sisters, and was whisked away to a sister’s house in another state. This was so my grandparents would never know and the family wouldn’t be embarrassed in their small town. My aunt was kept hidden away during the pregnancy and must’ve felt intense shame. At any rate not long after the baby was born and given up for adoption,  she was diagnosed as schizophrenic.

Secrets do get out, and when my grandparents found out about the pregnancy, they were in extreme pain that they had a grandchild ‘out there’ somewhere they would never know. My aunt’s schizophrenia was very hard for the family to deal with. She was institutionalized in a state hospital. In the 60s when the state institutions were closed, she went to a group home. I recall visiting her as a girl at the state hospital, and then as a young adult at the group home.

What the Lord made clear to me in my heart about my mom was that her fear of me becoming pregnant came out of a generational curse brought on by the intense pain and suffering the family went through with my aunt’s out-of-wedlock pregnancy and birth and her subsequent schizophrenia. I’ve never been sure if my mom and her sisters believed the strain of this pregnancy and birth triggered the schizophrenia. And maybe it did…or maybe she was going to come down with this awful disease in her 20s at any rate. Maybe the oncoming schizophrenia caused her to make poor choices with a boy and that resulted in the pregnancy. Which came first, the chicken or the egg, the cart or the horse? I’ll never know.

What the Lord recently showed me was while I lived for many years wondering, due to my mom’s condemnation, if she truly loved me…this extreme behavior on her part came from irrational fear. She was absolutely beset by a spirit of fear in this regard. And it was also love. She wanted to protect me from what had happened to my aunt. It had never occurred to me that my mom’s crazy behavior had anything to do with love, but it did. And I hope my sharing this will help set someone free who had a condemning parent.

There is such a thing as a generational curse. It’s a very complex subject matter, not a parlor game. I’ve only touched the mere surface of this subject. If you identify in any way with this scenario, pray about it.

 


Rebecca’s Legacy by Betty Thomason Owens ~ spotlight

Rebecca's Legacy

Historical Romantic Suspense/Inspirational Fiction

Betty is such an awesome writer, you just have to check out Rebecca’s Legacy, Book 3 Legacy series.

*****

Amy Juliana Emerson might be a cultured debutante, but she’s doing her best to follow her mom’s rebellious footsteps. Her desperate attempt to escape her father’s control, however, comes at the worst possible time.

Robert Emerson has received a threat against his family in an attempt to take over his company, Sanderson Industries. To guarantee his willful daughter’s safety, he sends her to work on a produce farm run by her Aunt Rebecca. Maybe her quiet strength and unconditional love can work on Amy, keep her from becoming the prodigal daughter she seems insistent on being.

Matt Wordsworth is the man Robert calls upon to make sure his daughter stays in line. His only interest in the beautiful girl is purely part of his job. Purely. Amy considers him a fuddy-duddy which suits the situation perfectly, allowing him to stay close to her without concern for her losing her heart to him. And his own heart … well, his feelings didn’t matter. This was business.

INTERVIEW:

Nike:  Tell us something topical, interesting, funny, or something we would not expect about the writing of this novel.

Betty:  Amy Juliana Emerson was born in Amelia’s Legacy, the first book in the Legacy series. I always wanted to tell her story. When her character began to flesh out in my writing, I loved her instantly. She made me laugh. The main antagonist in Rebecca’s Legacy, Thad Greene, was supposed to be a constant thorn in Amy’s side, but something happened as I was writing his character. He ran into a snag that changed the entire plot line and shocked the author. Yes, that’s right, I was surprised. So, now you know I’m not a plotter. I contemplated an adjustment to the story, but honestly, the pivotal scene just felt right.

Nike:  If this novel is part of a series, tell us about the series.

Betty:  The Legacy series begins with Amelia’s Legacy, Nancy Sanderson’s attempt to free herself from her grandmother’s iron-fisted control. In book two, Carlotta’s Legacy, Nancy’s best friend Rebecca Lewis feels compelled to enter into marriage with a man she barely knows, a young Italian count who owns a vineyard in Umbria. The ongoing theme of the Legacy series is discovering love through family.

Nike:  Can you give us a sneak peek or preview into the next work in progress (WIP) you’re working on? When do you expect to release it?

Betty:  I’m working on the final book in the Kinsman Redeemer series. The first book, Annabelle’s Ruth, is a retelling of the Biblical story of Ruth, set in 1950s rural south. I was able to use many of my childhood memories of the setting and actual people (fictionalized, of course) who lived then. Book 2, Sutter’s Landing, continues the story. In the final book, Annabelle (the Naomi character) struggles with her feelings for a man who’s pursuing her. I’m hoping she’ll overcome her objections and accept his proposal, but we’ll see. The working title is “Annabelle’s Beau.” I hope the book will be ready for release in 2019.

Nike:  Were you good in English as a student? Did you enjoy reading and writing back then?

Betty:  English and literature were two of my favorite subjects in school. I read all the time and enjoyed a variety of subjects and authors. My senior year of high school, I was a teacher’s pet—er—aid for my English Lit class. That was when I became interested in the classics. I read books by the Bronte sisters, Dickens, and du Maurier. When it came time to read Les Misérables for class, I was horribly bored. But a couple years later after high school ended, I was even more bored, and picked it up again. Wow. I was hooked. I read it through twice and loved it. I don’t remember writing, except when it was required. The desire to write came on suddenly in my early thirties. I often quip that I started writing to keep my sanity while raising three boys. A friend read one of my early stories and encouraged me to pursue it. I took a short story writing class at the University of Louisville. The professor loved my story and urged me to continue writing.

Betty Thomason Owens

BIO:

Betty Thomason Owens is an award-winning writer of historical fiction, contemporary fiction, and fantasy-adventure. She’s an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), where she leads a critique group, and is V.P./Secretary of the Louisville area ACFW group. She’s also a speaker, a mentor assisting other writers, co-founder of a blog dedicated to inspiring writers, and serves on the planning committee for the Kentucky Christian Writers Conference.

Her writing credits include the Legacy Series, and the southern historical Kinsman Redeemer Series (Book 1, ANNABELLE’S RUTH, is a 2015 Grace Award winner, and has recently been translated into Spanish). She has two fantasy-adventure novels, THE LADY OF THE HAVEN and A GATHERING OF EAGLES, in a second edition published by Sign of the Whale BooksTM, an imprint of Olivia Kimbrell PressTM.

Betty’s website 

Purchase Rebecca’s Legacy on Amazon

 


Tipping Percentages ~ now a vehicle for shaming

tipA recent report stated millennial are the “worst tippers.” I’d heard this before and I’ve also read a large number of articles extolling raising the tipping percentage from the traditional 15% to the new 20%. The result being that some groups of people aren’t tipping at all, but they are being shamed. Even traditional 15% tippers are being shamed, which is ridiculous.

Why is tipping important? Well, how we handle money shows character. Does tipping 20% show better character than tipping 15%? Not in my opinion. However, in our culture where we all know service employees depend on tips, not tipping at all does show a lack of character. It’s common knowledge that in many cases your server might be a single mother supporting her children, or a student over-burdened with college debt.

Deuteronomy 15:7 ~ New American Standard Bible [NASB]  

If there is a poor man with you, one of your brothers, in any of your towns in your land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart, nor close your hand from your poor brother;

Younger adults starting out in their careers as well as retirees have a lower income than middle-aged adults and so ‘have always’ tended to be on the lower end of the tipping spectrum. This should not be surprising and I can’t understand why a study was needed. What I don’t like is the shaming element in reporting this study to the public. It seems, in today’s accusatory environment, many perfectly understandable things get twisted and  reported in the media in a shaming manner. Then they go viral on social media…or vice-versa. Sometimes the shaming gets to be a fevered pitch. This is so unhealthy, so unnecessary, so unproductive.

Tipping is a perfect symbol. How we tip shows how we treat others, how we value their lives. It’s  not ‘they should do something about that’ or ‘there should be a program to fix that’. Tipping comes out of our pockets. It’s personal to us. It’s what are ‘we’ doing to show we value the other person? We have some skin in the game.

Contrary to unfounded popular belief, shaming doesn’t make the shamer feel super-duper. Quite the contrary, shaming others often leaves the shamer let down and in a state of anger, which is mentally and physically damaging.

And, of course, it goes without saying, shaming is extremely damaging to the one being shamed. Interestingly enough, both the shamer and the shamed are so preoccupied with their own behavior and feelings, they have little empathy for others. There is no win here. It’s a lose-lose.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 ~ New American Standard Bible [NASB]

Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.

 

 

 


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