I have found it is A LOT easier to DISCOVER JOY if you are looking for it! This summer, let’s go on a #JoyHunt

But let all who take refuge in You be glad, Let them ever sing for joy; And may You shelter them, That those who love Your name may exult in You. (Psalm 3:11)

I created this Radiant Joy Praise sheet so those going through Discovering Joy in Philippians: A Creative Bible Study Experience — or anyone who wants more joy in their lives, can keep track of the goodness of God and the #JOYMoments He gives.

Post it on your refrigerator and let the JOY radiat from your heart as you capture God’s goodness and grace~!

 

Pam Farrel is the bestselling author of Discovering Joy in Philippians: A Creative Bible Study Experience and Discovering Hope in the Psalms, She makes her home on a live-aboard boat slipped in So Ca. Connect to Pam and see more of her bible teaching on the Bill and Pam Farrel Facebook page.

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Words matter. Proverbs 15:4 says that words can heal, but they can also break a person’s spirit. Who hasn’t experienced both of these? I sure have! And in my latest novel, Katelyn’s Choice, my protagonist, Katelyn, does too.

Thankfully, Katelyn has some faithful mentors who speak into her life and nudge her to change. Do you? Do you have those who are free to challenge your words, encourage you to speak truth and life, and nudge you to change when you need to? If you don’t, I’d like to encourage you to find that friend who is closer than a brother, one who can help you to tame your tongue and bring God glory through your words.

So many of us struggle with gossip, frivolous chatter, and unwholesome talk, especially with the world of social media screaming at us. James 3:5 says that the tongue is just “a small part of the body but it makes great boasts.” Then he compares it to a spark that creates a forest fire. Proverbs 18:21 says the tongue has “the power of life and death.”

With this in mind, my novel, Katelyn’s Choice, explores this principle. Here’s a little about the story:

Katelyn Kavanagh’s mother dreamed her daughter would one day escape the oppressive environment of their Upstate New York farm for service in the enchanting Thousand Islands, home to Gilded Age millionaires. But when her wish comes true, Katelyn finds herself in the service of none other than the famous George Pullman, and the transition proves anything but easy.

Thomas O’Neill, brother of her best friend, is all grown up and also working on Pullman Island. Despite Thomas’ efforts to help the irresistible Katelyn adjust to the intricacies of her new world, she just can’t seem to tame her gossiping tongue—even when the information she’s privy to could endanger her job, the 1872 re-election of Pullman guest President Ulysses S. Grant, and the love of the man of her dreams.

And boy, did Katelyn get herself into some terrible predicaments because of her prattling tongue.

In and of ourselves, we are utterly unable to tame our tongue.

Only the Lord can help us, but will Katelyn—will you—turn to Him for help? I know I need to regularly, and I suspect I’m not alone.

Susan G. Mathis is vice president of Christian Authors Network and a multi-published author of stories set in the beautiful Thousand Islands, her childhood stomping ground in Upstate New York. Katelyn’s Choice,The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy, and Christmas Charity will transport you to a time and place few have visited. Susan makes her home in Colorado Springs, enjoys traveling globally with her husband, Dale, and relishes time with her four adorable granddaughters. Find out more at www.SusanGMathis.com.

 

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“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

Poignant words from the heart of Jesus, who would soon lay down his life for his friends.

The words hold deep meaning for families who’ve lost loved ones in battle. They hold deep meaning for all of us who live in America, land of the free, home of the brave.

We’re grateful for those who spilled blood on foreign soil, sacrificing their lives—the cost of freedom.

Most of us will never find ourselves in treacherous war zones dodging enemy fire and literally laying down our lives. But we have opportunities each day to lay down our life for people we love.

Today offers a chance to give ourselves sacrificially—even when we don’t feel like it or don’t want to be inconvenienced.

This kind of laying-down-my-life is a hard thing because it’s totally opposed to the flesh. The flesh hates sacrificial giving—the selfish self must be denied. The flesh asks, “What do I get?” One committed to following Jesus in the laid-down life asks, “What can I give?”

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brother” (1 John 3:16).

Supernatural love. Superior love. Sacrificial love. Laying-down-my-life love. Christ-followers cannot give less.

“Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone desires to be My disciple, let him deny himself [disregard, lose sight of, and forget himself and his own interests] and take up his cross and follow Me [cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying also]’” (Matthew 16:24 Amplified).

(Scriptures from NIV unless noted.)

Dianne Barker is a speaker, radio host, and author of 11 books, including the best-selling Twice Pardoned and award-winning I Don’t Chase the Garbage Truck Down the Street in My Bathrobe Anymore! Organizing for the Maximum Life. She’s secretary and blog coordinator for Christian Authors Network and a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. www.diannebarker.com.

 

 

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A Tap Says Notice me! While sitting at my kitchen table, I often feel a tap on my arm. Looking down, I find my white kitty touching me with his paw. Sometimes he lets out a pitiful mew as his blue eyes gaze with longing.

Sir Edmond usually wants me to feed him, but sometimes he’s pleading for his morning brush-down. Or he might initiate a game. He hovers around me as I do household chores, and he curls up nearby when I sit down to write.

I think he’s discovered I’m his best source for food, comfort, and play. I hear people say cats aren’t affectionate, but I know better.

In much the same way, people get confused about God. Perhaps they see him as an angry judge who lies in wait for them to sin, or someone so distant he doesn’t care. However, I crave his love, grace, and mercy.

“But as for me, the nearness of God is my good, I have made the Lord God my refuge” (Psalm 73: 28 NAS).

My days flow more smoothly when I stay close to the Father. Just like my kitty, I often “tap” my Father when I need love, wisdom, or an eternal perspective.

 

 

Cynthia L Simmons and her husband reside in Atlanta. A Bible teacher and former home-school mother, she writes a column for Leading Hearts Magazine. She served as past president of Christian Authors Guild, directs Atlanta Christian Writing Conference, and hosts Heart of the Matter Radio. Her author website is www.clsimmons.com.

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I enjoyed crafting magnets with encouraging sayings to give as game prizes at my weight-loss club. But the ones that said “Hello, Beautiful!” sat on the eight-foot table like unadopted pound puppies. What is wrong with these people, Lord? I muttered. Why don’t they like themselves?

But when I looked at my own fridge, I noticed the lack of a “Hello, Beautiful!” magnet. I couldn’t take a dose of my own encouragement. Perhaps we’re afraid to come across as arrogant. Or perhaps it’s because our society equates beauty with outward appearance only.

Even though God made us in his image (Genesis 1:26), we’ve believed the lie that unless our bodies are perfect, we’re less than attractive or valuable. We’re quick to tell our friends how great they look or how special they make us feel. But we can’t say it to ourselves.

I decided to help those around me—and myself—get a glimpse of the beauty God put inside us. I started handing out genuine compliments right and left. I told the cashier at a restaurant I appreciated her cheerful attitude. I thanked the nurse at my mom’s assisted-living facility for her dedication. I wrote a note of gratitude to my easygoing co-worker. I made a habit to look for ways to say, “You are beautiful—I see God in you.”

Every time I shone a light on someone’s inner loveliness, I felt better about myself. Helping my neighbors see their value made me more aware of how God sees me: one of “his chosen people” (I Peter 2:9 ERV). I even made another magnet that said “Hello, Beautiful!” and put it on my own fridge.

(Adapted from Hello, Beautiful: Finally Love Yourself Just as You Are)

Jeanette Levellie, a spunky redheaded pastor’s wife, is the author of five books and hundreds of published articles. She is the wife of one, mother of two, grandmother of three, and waitress of two (cats). Find her mirthful musings at www.jeanettelevellie.com.

 

 

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