Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Preparing for the New Year

1113574_toward_2009Reflection seems to be a common state this time of year. As the New Year approaches, we look back on the past year and wonder what the new one will bring. Over the last few years God has led me to take this last week of December and the first week of January to spend time focused on what He wants to accomplish in the next year. I encourage you to do the same so that you can enter 2009 prepared and ready to join God in his plan.

These are the areas I focus on:

  1. Me. What adjustments do I need to make in my life in the areas of Bible study, service, prayer and fasting, and obedience to what God is calling me to do. As a writer, this is a constant struggle to stay on track and keep my words serving Him, which makes his guidance so valuable a reference point when I veer off track.

  2. My husband. Besides my constant prayers for his salvation, I ask God specifically for ways I can and should be praying for my husband throughout the new year. Interestingly enough, this has changed each year in regards to my husband’s future salvation and my growing belief that God will soon bring this to pass. For example, last year God told me to change my prayers from asking to thanking God for putting my husband’s salvation into place and to claim it.

  3. My children. My constant prayer for them is always protection and a deepening faith, but I also want to be sensitive to what God is doing in their lives. Along with my own concerns, I ask God to show what areas I need to cover in prayer for the upcoming year. This also gives me insight to what the year will hold for them.

  4. Extended family. Who in your family needs special prayers for the coming year? This is a good time to make a list (not too long or you’ll be overwhelmed) of those who don’t believe, are struggling in their lives, or are ill.

  5. Friends. How can I be praying and uplifting the special people in my life? Praying for them keeps me closer to them as well.

  6. Missionary. Do you have a cause or missionary you support? Put it down and make a commitment to pray for them. (Include your pastor here too!)

  7. World. Is there an area God is calling you to pray for on a larger scope? I will say this is the first year I’ve felt led to pray for a president, but I’m committed to praying for President Elect Obama.

Finally, write it all down. I assign a day of the week to each area (Monday for my immediate family, Tuesdays for extended family, etc.) Give each day a page and list who and what you’re praying for. Then leave space to write in updates during the year. This will help you reassess the following year as well.

Also jot down any promises God gives you in these areas so that you can go back and read them when you find yourself discouraged or off track. You’ll be amazed how much strength you can draw from these reminders that God is personally involved in every aspect of our lives.

I hope this helps you bring in the New Year with new hope and determination to serve our amazing God by serving others. Sometimes our circumstances leave us little time to do more than pray, but what greater gift can we give those we love and honor in the coming year?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Homeless Mom and Daughter Need Help

One of the members (Brandilyn Collins) of my local writing group found out one of her readers has been unfairly evicted from their home. This mom and daughter are now living in their car. And it's cold here right now, colder than I can recall in the last six years we've lived in San Jose.

This vivacious sixteen year old is also blogging about her mom and their saga here. You can read Brandilyn's updates here, while we search for a way to get this mom and daughter into warm beds for the night. The daughter, Katy, has also shared a PO Box if you would like to send financial support to get them through this time. Her mom, Liz, has a potential job interview but that's not until mid January.

Please keep Katy and Liz in your prayers. It's wonderful to see the body of Christ rallying around these two dear people. With God, we can do anything.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Mercy vs. Sacrifice

"But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
— Matthew 9:13

This verse captured me yesterday. The study notes in my Bible talk about Jesus desiring us to be merciful, but I didn't see this verse that way.

When he says, "I desire mercy, not sacrifice," I believe its also shows the transfer of salvation from our hands to his. The Jews knew sacrifice well. From their time in Egypt and passed down through the generations since, animal sacrifices were their path to forgiveness. Yet even then it wasn't the perfect solution God desired. (See also 1 Sam. 15:22, Psalm 51:16, Prov. 21:3)

I believe Jesus is also saying here that the time of man's role in forgiveness was futile and had come to an end. Jesus had come as prophesied, and now his mercy would step in. In these five words, the source and method of our forgiveness shifted from our hands to his, literally and symbolically with the nails in his hands.

Just some thoughts for reflection...

Monday, December 08, 2008

My Favorite Time of Year

I love fall. I live for fall. Fall is my favorite time of year. We don't get a lot of visible changes in the SF Bay area, but I love some of the trees on the street near where we live. As an artist, these color changes just delight me to no end. I took a few pictures today on nice walk with our poochy, Shasta.

Faithful dog Shasta always has her nose in full gear.

I call these city deer. All show and no go. They definitely "illuminate" the night life.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Dark Pursuit by Brandilyn Collins

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Dark Pursuit

Zondervan (December 1, 2008)


Brandilyn Collins


Brandilyn Collins is known for her trademark Seatbelt Suspense®. She is currently working on her 20th book. For chances to win free copies of her work, join her Fan Club on Facebook. Here’s what Brandilyn has to say about why she wrote Dark Pursuit:

In John Milton’s Paradise Lost Satan’s followers, kicked out of heaven, boast about storming the gates and reclaiming their territory. Beelzebub scoffs at their boasting as merely “hatching vain empires” and suggests a different revengeful scheme: seduce mankind away from God. So Satan visits the Garden of Eden to teach humans the very thing he and his cohorts have learned to be futile—the dark pursuit of hatching their own vain empires instead of following God. He presented man with this “gift” of death, disguised as life. And man fell for it.

Upon this theme of man’s fall and spiritual blindness, I created the characters and events in Dark Pursuit. The story clips along at a fast pace, with much symbolism running underneath.

Dark Pursuit—A twisting story of murder, betrayal, and eternal choices

Novelist Darell Brooke lived for his title as King of Suspense—until an auto accident left him unable to concentrate. Two years later, reclusive and bitter, he wants one thing: to plot a new novel and regain his reputation.

Kaitlan Sering, his twenty-two-year-old granddaughter, once lived for drugs. After she stole from Darell, he cut her off. Now she’s rebuilding her life. But in Kaitlan’s town two women have been murdered, and she’s about to discover a third. She’s even more shocked to realize the culprit—her boyfriend, Craig, the police chief’s son.

Desperate, Kaitlan flees to her estranged grandfather. For over forty years, Darell Brooke has lived suspense. Surely he’ll devise a plan to trap the cunning Craig.

But can Darell’s muddled mind do it? And—if he tries—with what motivation? For Kaitlan’s plight may be the stunning answer to the elusive plot he seeks...

Read the first chapter of Dark Pursuit, HERE.

Smudge says to leave a comment to win a copy of Dark Pursuit. If you haven't read Brandilyn's books before, now's a good time to start! This story promises to be one of her best!