Thursday, June 30, 2011

Fiery trials? Time to rejoice!

Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you,

as though some strange thing happened to you (1 Peter 4:12, NKJV).

In the past few weeks I’ve heard from people who are at the end of their rope, beaten down with trials and suffering that seem to have no end. They feel they cannot endure another minute and even find themselves questioning God and His faithfulness.

In the above verse, Peter was trying to help us see that as believers, trials are not the exception but rather the norm. We belong to Christ, who was beaten, tortured, and killed; should we truly expect any less?

But we do, don’t we? Particularly if we live in a country or culture or time when Christians aren’t openly persecuted. But that doesn’t mean we won’t be tried in other ways, indeed to the point of exhaustion, where we question if we can go on another day—another minute.

Christians throughout the centuries and even today in many countries understand these fiery trials only too well. One Chinese Christian, who had suffered beyond human endurance and therefore had learned to depend on God when all else was lost, said this:

“Where there is no cross, there is no crown. This lesson cannot be learned from books, and men do not usually taste this sweetness. This rich life does not exist in a comfortable environment. If the spices are not refined to become oil, the fragrance of the perfume cannot flow forth; if the grapes are not crushed in the vat, they will not become wine.”

Feeling crushed lately? You are not alone. Not only do other Christians truly “feel your pain” because they too are in the refining process, but Jesus Christ Himself endured the crushing so the fragrance of new life could burst forth in us.

Take courage in the verse that follows the one above: “rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy” (1 Peter 4:13, NKJV). God is faithful. Your sufferings are not in vain. Your tears do not fall unnoticed. He will bring you to the place of exceeding joy.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A challenge from my friend and co-author John Meacham

Divine Revelation: A Call from Christ to Join the Armies of Heaven

Since these early days of Peter and Paul, the church has been directed by its anticipation of Jesus’ second coming and maintained by its preparation of His followers to meet Jesus face-to-face in heaven. In light of these church traditions, I ask every Peter and every Paul who call themselves true prophets of Christ: Is your congregation ready for Jesus’ second coming?

And to every Mary Magdalene and every John who call themselves Christians, I ask: Are you ready to meet Jesus face-to-face in Heaven?

Excerpted from page 113

Wow! Divine Revelation: A Call from Christ to Join the Armies of Heaven is an eye opening journey. It speaks to the ordinary person and shows that God loves everyone, even ME! This book really called me to a closer relationship with Jesus Christ. Ruth Baker, Church Member

In John’s new book, Divine Revelation: A Call from Christ to Join the Armies of Heaven, I felt called to take a fresh look at my life and how Jesus must be our focus. Everyone who reads this book should prepare to be challenged and maybe even discover their own Dazzling Light. Ray LaCroix, Worship Leader

Divine Revelation: A Call from Christ to Join the Armies of Heaven puts into writing how true my comparison of John is to the Apostle Paul. A man of God, who is totally on fire for Jesus Christ! And after reading this book, I am inspired to work harder as a true disciple-witness for Jesus Christ. Elaine Pocalyko, Elder

Order you copy now from Tate Publishing:

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Importance of Finishing Well...

…but now you also must complete the doing of it;

that as there was a readiness to desire it, so there also may be a completion out of what you have (2 Corinthians 8:11, NKJV).

I lost two friends this week.

Actually, that’s not true. They’re not lost at all. In fact, they have simply gone on to heaven ahead of me. One was swimming in a pool at a hotel in Kauai, where he was vacationing with his beloved wife; the other lost her battle with cancer, as her husband and grown children watched and prayed at her bedside. Both were valiant warriors and committed servants of Christ; both are now rejoicing in their Savior’s presence.

Their passing into eternity brought the above scripture to the forefront of my thoughts. Jim and Jacque didn’t just “start well” or have an occasional victorious day as believers. These two godly people remained faithful from the beginning of their walk with the Lord—and they finished well, completing what they started in a way that honored the One they claimed to follow.

The Apostle Paul did the same. As he approached the end of his life, he confidently declared, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7, NKJV). And he certainly didn’t do so because he had an easy life! As trials, tests, and tribulations—some of which seem to have no end in sight—continue to assault us in an attempt to derail us and cause us to question God’s faithfulness, may we stay focused on finishing well so that when we too have “graduated” to heaven, others will say of us that we “fought the good fight…finished the race…kept the faith.”

Monday, June 20, 2011

June is "Bride Month"--Check it out!

Mona Hodgson has gracious given us an interview with Ida Sinclair, the main character in Too Rich for a Bride. Settle in for a minute and get to know Ida, won't you? I promise, you'll be glad you did!

Ida Sinclair: The Star of Too Rich for a Bride

By Mona Hodgson


Who are you?

I am the big sister, the oldest daughter, the responsible one. I’m the one who makes things happen for other people. Isn’t this what the first-born does?

What do you want?

I want to make things happen for myself. I want to be a successful businesswoman, respected for my abilities and my hard work.

You expect to do that in a mining town out West?

You think it’s wrong for me to seek success in the world of business, to earn my own money?

No, but it’s certainly not going to be easy. I only wanted to clarify your intentions for your fans.

My fans?

Yes, the Sinclair sisters—each of you--have a following of readers who care about you and your journey. What has your life been like since your mother died?

The moon was high when I heard my father crying. I rushed into the hallway outside my parents’ bed chamber. Dr. Haufbauer stood there rocking back and forth, shaking his head and puffing his pipe. Ever since then, I’ve felt responsible for my father’s well-being and my sisters’ care. Now it’s time for me to follow my dream.

Have you left any room for romance in your plans? Do you believe in love?

Although I would like to eventually find love and wed, I’m not searching for a man. Right now romance would be a distraction I can’t afford. If I ever do decide to pursue love and marriage, it’ll be after I’ve found success in business.

What about your father’s wishes that you and your sisters find a man in Cripple Creek, Colorado who can provide for you?

Father isn’t in Cripple Creek. He’s busy working in Paris. Besides, I’m not one of the daughters he was worried about. He knows I can take care of myself. Soon, I’ll prove it to him.

What has your life been like since your father moved to Paris?

Focused and lonely. I take my business courses in the mornings and work in the school’s office in the afternoons. Aunt Alma’s house is comfortable, but cluttered. Vivian has a beau, but you don’t want to get me started on him. Anyway, between Vivian’s schooling and her fascination with Gregory, she’s too busy for much more than a Sunday checkers game with her big sister.

What one word would you use to describe the following people?

Kat – wordsmith

Nell – homemaker

Vivian – Vivacious

Father – Steady

Aunt Alma - Entertaining

What word would you use to describe yourself?


What word would your sisters use to describe you?


What word would your father use to describe you?


How would you describe your relationship with God?

It’s more a battle for control, than a relationship.

Ida, now that you’ve been in Cripple Creek for a while, has your perspective changed any? One, you should know, you wrote the book. Two, my story says it all, and I don’t want to spoil the read for the Sinclair sister fans.

Wasn't that fun? Find out more about the brides in Mona's new series at her website:

Thursday, June 16, 2011

"Armed and Dangerous"!

…and the sword of the Spirit,

which is the word of God (Ephesians, 6:17, NKJV).

Have you ever noticed that of all the spiritual weapons listed in Ephesians 6, the Word of God is the only one that actually serves as both an offensive and defensive weapon? Defensive weapons are certainly necessary because we know the enemy of our souls continually prowls around “like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). But as believers who belong to the victorious Savior who already defeated death, we don’t have to wait for the enemy to bring the fight to us. We can assault the very “gates of hell” (which Matthew 16:18 says will not prevail against the Church), and we will win. But how do we do that? With the Word of God, the Sword of the Spirit.

I learned how important this was the first time I became involved in jail ministry and discovered that, unlike when I went behind bars with a ministry team, as an individual visiting a specific inmate, I could not bring my Bible in with me. So how was I supposed to minister to that inmate? The Lord reminded me at that very moment that I had read and studied and memorized Scripture for years, and I carried that powerful weapon with me wherever I went. And that, my friends, made me “armed and dangerous”!

I hope that you too have realized the importance of taking the fight to the very gates of hell, armed with the Word of God in your heart. It is all we ever need to prevail against the enemy of our soul—and to help deliver others from his deadly grip.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

ACFW President Shares Some Writing Advice...

Faith in an Inspirational Story

By Margaret Daley

When you write an inspirational story, you have to add an extra element to your stories. I think of it as adding the spice to a food dish. The faith element can add a depth to your story that a lot of other secular ones don’t have. So all you have to do is add a few prayers, mention God a few times and you have it made. NOT!

Adding a faith element is much more complicated than that. As any aspect of a story, you must make it seem an effortless and seamless part of the story. When you deal with aspects like a character’s goals, motivation or conflicts, they must be woven into the fabric of your plot to the point you can’t take them out or the story will fall apart and not make sense. The same is true for the faith element in an inspirational romance.

So where do you begin interweaving faith into your story? You begin with your characters--your protagonists. If you want to have an integrated faith journey in your story, it must come from your character’s development. Faith, as in your life, is an intricate part of your character’s life whether it is the journey toward learning the power of the Lord or reaffirming the Lord. You take my faith away, you take an important part of me away. The same goes for your character’s faith in an inspirational romance. So when you’re developing your characters at the beginning, you need to remember that. Faith, or the lack of it, will be just as much a part of your characterization as their goals, motivation and conflicts. If it isn’t then you need to go back to the drawing board and work on

that part of your characterization because the spiritual growth will stem from that.

Faith along with a character’s goals and motivation come from his background. You need to explore both your protagonist’s faith or lack of, then make it an integral part of the story by intertwining it in your characters’ goals and motivation. By doing that it will naturally become a part of your characters’ conflicts. I usually have one character believe in Christ while the other either doesn’t or has turned away for some reason that will need to be explored in my story and dealt with. Sometimes I have both characters believe, but during the course of the book something happens to shake the faith of one or both.

This is the case in my Love Inspired Suspense called Vanished. J.T. Logan is a sheriff whose daughter is kidnapped. He has a strong faith in the Lord, a faith that helped him kick his drinking habit. But when his daughter is taken, that faith is shaken. The heroine is there to help him shore up his belief and to help him use it to get through the ordeal. Both are Christians, but in this story the journey is different. It’s a story about how two people turn to their faith to strengthen themselves when they need to be strong. They lean on the Lord for that strength. Without it J.T. would have fallen apart when his family needed him the most. He would have started drinking again.

To be an intricate part of your story faith must be interwoven with at least one of the character’s goals, motivation or conflicts (more is better). For example, in Heart of the Amazon, Kate decides that God led her to Slader to show him the way to the Lord. That became a goal for her in the story. Or in Light in the Storm, Sam was a minister who had lost his faith. His goal when he came to Sweetwater Lake was to either get his faith back or to walk away from the Lord forever. In The Cinderella Plan, Anne was a nonbeliever and Caleb was a youth minister. He could never see himself getting romantically involved with a nonbeliever, so when he became friends with Anne and was attracted to her, he faced a dilemma. His faith became an internal conflict for Caleb. Could he walk away from a nonbeliever when he was falling in love with her? In the book I just finished writing Once Upon a Family, Peter is motivated to show Laura that if she puts her trust in God then anything is possible. She has lost her ability to trust a man or her own judgment, and he’s falling in love with her.

From these examples you can see when building your character’s background, you need to make decisions about his faith. Does he believe? Has he ever believed? Why doesn’t he believe? What makes him turn to God for help? What made him turn away from the Lord? When did he give himself to Christ? How does he practice his faith? Does he have doubts about his faith? Why? What kind of temptations has he dealt with? These and more are questions that you need to answer before you begin writing. They are questions you need to answer as you are developing your plot because the faith element should be a part of your plot.

In Tidings of Joy, Chance can’t move on in his life without dealing with his past. Chance went to prison for killing his wife and daughter and served several years for a crime he didn’t commit. Finally the real killer was caught. Chance reaffirms his faith in Christ and uses that to come to terms with the man who murdered his wife and daughter.

This story wouldn’t have really worked without Chance being able to put his past behind him. His past was like chains weighing him down until he could do nothing.

One of the things we must be careful about is being too preachy. You don’t need to hit the reader with a 2 by 4 to get your point across. This is where you want to show your characters living their faith in a natural way. They need help, they pray to God for help. They are wrestling with a problem and they ask the Lord for guidance. Something good happens, they thank God. They live their faith. This can speaks volumes to a reader and cannot be stressed enough. A note here, however. That does not mean your characters are perfect. Christ is the only one who walked this earth who was perfect. You need to show a Christian struggling with his human flaws. How does his faith help him when he falters? What about temptation? It’s natural to be tempted and have to make a choice whether to give in to the temptation or to stand firm. My hero in Vanished buys a bottle of liquor and contemplates taking his first drink in five years in his hour of need. In the end it’s his faith in the Lord that keeps him from taking that drink. That enables him to go on and solve the kidnapping case. What I love about Christian fiction is showing how we can use our faith to overcome our shortcomings and make us a better person. Exploring the flaws and temptations add depth to your character.

So how do you show the character’s spiritual growth? One way is through internal thoughts. This can be in the form of a prayer, a struggle where he/she comes to grip with a problem, especially one that involves the character’s faith.

Another way to show a character’s faith journey is through conversation. When you get to know another, you will talk about things that mean a lot to you. Or you will talk about a problem you are having. This can lead to a discussion about the Lord and how He can affect your life. This is often between the hero and heroine, but it doesn’t always have to be. It can be two friends sharing a moment or a concern. The protagonist turning to a mentor can be another way. It can be a parent and child. The key is to integrate the Lord’s power, wisdom and love into the story. Using them to resolve the conflicts in the book makes the faith an integral part of the plot, so that if you removed it, the story wouldn’t work. It would lose its richness that make our books so unique and touching. Our stories are a celebration of the Lord. Our books are a celebration of the power of His love.

I believe the key here is to weave in the faith element in a realistic, natural way. Look at your own faith journey to guide you. There is a little bit of me in every book I write. I think we are the blessed ones because we are able to use our faith to strengthen our characters, enrich our stories and add depth to our heroes and heroines.

To summarize an inspirational romance must deal with the faith journeys of its hero and heroine and occasionally a secondary character. Each character can be in a different place in that journey, often at odds over where they stand in their relationship with the Lord. That doesn’t always have to be the case, though. A writer can show how the hero and heroine’s faith helps and guides them through their problems, through the doubts that assail a character when he deals with a conflict that test his faith. The faith element should be intertwined with a character’s goals, motivation and/or conflicts. When coming up with your hero and heroine, don’t forget to think through and develop their faith and how it will affect your story and interactions with the other characters as well as each other. You can show the faith journey in your story through conversations and internal thoughts. But be careful not to be too preachy. Make it a natural and realistic part of the character’s life.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Are you ready to be "Finally Free"?

If you are suffering from depression there is Hope

Millions suffer under the weight of depression. Many are losing hope and wonder if the pain and despair will ever end. They want answers. They long to be set free; but, most do not know where to turn to find help.

Patty Mason knows the pain and devastation of depression. Yet, in the midst of that depression, she found a way out. Finally Free is Patty’s personal testimony. How she became Finally Free, breaking the bonds of depression without drugs. Through her heartfelt conviction and passion, Patty earnestly shares her story, offering hope in the midst of depression.

Finally Free: Breaking the Bonds of Depression without Drugs seeks to help the reader to:

*Find hope and freedom from emotional bondage

*Let go of a painful past and move forward

*Get to the root of depression pain

*Recognize that your pain has purpose

Patty Mason is an award-winning author, speaker, and the founder of Liberty in Christ Ministries. She has been teaching, mentoring and inspiring women of all ages through her writings and her talks. Patty has reached audiences all over the world through Sisters on Assignment, Christian.TV, Salem Communications Network Channel Light Source, and as a co-host on WLGT Blog Radio Live.

To find out more about Patty and/or to order Finally Free, go to

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Where are You, God?

June 9, 2011

“In the world you will have tribulation;

but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33, NKJV).

How many times have you heard professing Christians in the midst of trials ask, “Where is God?” Perhaps you’ve even said those words yourself. Even if we haven’t actually spoken them, we’ve probably all thought them at times—at least for an instant. But deep down we know the answer, don’t we? God is still on the Throne, faithful as always, never leaving or forsaking us.

So why do we react as if He had abandoned us when disaster strikes? Jesus didn’t say we MIGHT have tribulation in the world; He assured us that we WOULD have it. But what else did He say? “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” His faithful promise to us is that there is no trial or tribulation or disaster that can steal our assurance of salvation, our promise of eternal life with Him. The One who overcame the world when He burst forth from the grave now holds us in His nail-scarred hands. We belong to Him, and He is in complete control, even when we feel overwhelmed by our circumstances.

Pastor Peter Paul of Bangalore, India, understands that. A dedicated follower of Christ, this courageous pastor dared to hand out New Testaments to Muslim children. The result? His house and all his belongings were destroyed, and his family is now homeless. When the police showed up, they arrested Peter Paul instead of his attackers, charging him with “disturbing communal harmony” by distributing Christian books to Muslim young people. He was put in prison, but that didn’t stop him. He preached to fellow inmates and won many to Christ.

What does Pastor Peter Paul have to say about all this? “Persecution is not an accident. It is the expectation.”

This humble pastor believes the words of Jesus. He understands that in the world he will have tribulation; he also rejoices in the midst of that tribulation because he knows he belongs to the One who has “overcome the world.”

And so do we, dear friends, so let’s rejoice together!

Friday, June 3, 2011

What does your "bucket list" say about you?

Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside,

redeeming the time (Colossians 4:5, NKJV).

“Bucket List” was a popular movie, and the term is now commonly recognized as containing the things people would like to do before they die. It’s actually an interesting concept because you can tell a lot about where a person is spiritually by what they have on their personal bucket list.

I’m certainly not surprised by unbelievers who include things on their list like “take a trip to Fiji” or “buy a Mercedes” or “scale Mt. Everest.” After all, this world is all an unbeliever has. But Christians know otherwise. As self-proclaimed followers of Christ, we are to walk in the footsteps of the One who said He came to serve, not to be served. Our bucket list illustrates our level of understanding of Christ’s servanthood.

For instance, if I were to receive a terminal diagnosis from my doctor today, what would my reaction be? Would I say, “I want to go back to Hawaii one more time” or “I want to take a cruise before I’m too sick to enjoy it”? Nothing wrong with either of those desires, but they would certainly show that I still think life is all about me. After walking with the Lord for nearly fifty years, I would hope I’ve matured a bit beyond that and would instead say, “Father, how do You want me to spend my last days on earth? How can I best serve You?”

Even though I haven’t received a terminal diagnosis from a doctor, I do know that God has numbered my days and will call me home when my time here is finished. Therefore, I’m going to make this personal today and ask the Lord to help me put together a bucket list of what would please Him. I encourage you to do the same. I believe it will help us all to better redeem the time we have left.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Margaret Daley's Latest Release

ACFW President Margaret Daley has yet another release to add to her repertoire. Protecting Her Own is an exciting read! Here's a brief summary:

Nothing short of her dad’s stroke could bring professional bodyguard Cara Madison back to Virginia. But her homecoming turns explosive with a pipe bomb package addressed to her father. Cara knows two things for sure. First, someone’s after either her father or her…or both. And second, this job is too big to handle on her own. Unexpected help comes from Virginia state police detective Connor Fitzgerald. Years ago she’d walked away from him…and love. Now, despite their unresolved feelings, they must join forces—and settle their scarred differences.

Margaret Daley ( is an award winning, multi-published author in the romance genre. One of her romantic suspense books, Hearts on the Line, won the American Christian Fiction Writers’ Book of the Year Contest. Recently she has won the Golden Quill Contest, FHL’s Inspirational Readers’ Choice Contest, Winter Rose Contest, Holt Medallion and the Barclay Gold Contest. She wrote for various secular publishers before the Lord led her to the Christian romance market. She currently writes inspirational romance and romantic suspense books for the Steeple Hill Love Inspired lines, romantic suspense for Abingdon Press and historical romance for Summerside Press. She has sold seventy-five books to date.

Margaret is currently the President for American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), an organization of over 2200 members. She was one of the founding members of the first ACFW local chapter, WIN in Oklahoma. She has taught numerous classes for online groups, ACFW and RWA chapters. She enjoys mentoring other authors.

Find out more about Margaret and order her latest release at!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Got an Attitude Problem? Attitude-inize!!!

Now here's a book I liked so much that I wrote the foreword for it!

Seriously, when author Jan Coates--the queen of positive attitude!--says she has "10 Secrets to a Positive You," she's not kidding. Check out the video for this great book:

And then go to and order a copy--or a couple of them! This is the perfect book to read/study with a friend, so do your friend a favor and get her one too. You'll both be glad you did!

On the cover of CFOM!

I'm on the June cover with the feature article in Christian Fiction Online Magazine this month. Check it out, will you? Here's the link: