Vanessa’s Character Picks September 16, 2014

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Already Forgiven

“My brother’s in the hospital and needs prayer.” Julie called the prayer hotline at her church while tears poured from her broken heart. “His car rolled, and he’s in a coma. The doctors don’t give him much hope, but he’s only nineteen years old, and he doesn’t know the Lord.” A sob cut off anything else she might have said.

With the assurance of the congregation’s prayers for her brother ringing in her ears, Julie hung up and sank to the sofa as she dissolved into tears. Prayer was the only weapon she had to fight for her brother’s life. He wasn’t ready to die.

How many kids did she know who had died the last few years in car accidents? She thought of one after another. Friends of her brother, even their pastor’s daughter had been joy riding with friends when a semi-truck sideswiped their car. Kids she’d known from working at the daycare when she was in high school. They’d been mere children then, but they were scarcely more than that when they died. Would that be her brother’s fate?

A knock at the door brought her to her feet. She wiped her eyes on her shirttail and opened the door to find her best friend. “Oh, Kendra, hi come on in.”

“I heard about Trevor. Is there anything I can do?” Kendra lifted her arms, and Julie stepped into a warm embrace.

She choked past a new onslaught of tears. “Pray. What else is there?”

“But prayer is enough.” Kendra pulled away and sat on the chair next to the sofa. “Sit down and tell me what happened. I’ve been hearing all sorts of things. Is it true he was running from the police when his car went out of control?”

Julie nodded, ashamed to admit her brother’s guilt.

“I’m so sorry.” Compassion shone from Kendra’s eyes. “Have you called the prayer chain?”

Again Julie nodded. “But will God hear our prayers when Trevor was doing wrong? Kendra, he’d been drinking. He might have killed someone else!”

“Of course, God will hear!” Kendra patted the Bible on Julie’s coffee table. “Remember what this says? ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.’ Most people stop there, but I love the seventeenth verse of St. John three just as much. ‘For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.’ Think about that for a moment.”

“Do you mean God may turn this around for Trevor’s salvation?” Hope sprang within Julie’s breast.

“Yes, and I believe that should be our prayer. Of course, we’ll pray for his healing, but let’s pray that God will also get hold of his heart and bring peace to his soul. Trevor’s a good person when he isn’t under the influence, but only God can give him what he’s searching for in all the wrong places.”

Faith sprang up to chase away the cloud of despair within Julie’s mind and heart. Of course God wanted to heal Trevor and to bring him to the salvation Jesus had already provided. She reached toward her friend. “Thank you, Kendra. Will you pray with me now?”

“Yes.” Kendra took Julie’s hand and bowed her head. “Father God, we come before You in faith believing that what You’ve already given will be Trevor’s. Healing of his body and the salvation of his soul are available if he will but accept and believe. Strengthen our faith as we put our trust in You and . . .”

After their prayer, Julie asked Kendra to go to the hospital with her. A month later, Trevor left the hospital to face the consequences of his lifestyle. He didn’t immediately step onto the straight and narrow path of salvation, but he now shuns alcohol and drugs and is slowly getting his life cleaned up. Julie is still praying for his salvation and believes he will soon make a commitment to live for the Lord.

1-1-Mama's Bible

When someone walks the broad path of destruction, the way becomes darker with each step away from the light of Christ. Darkness reaches out to cover not only him but also those who love him. If we rely on our understanding without consulting the One who knows the way, we become lost and tangled in temptations that drag us down. Ephesians 4:18 says, ‘Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.’

Don’t be like so many who allow ignorance of what is right and good to lead them into a life as dark as if they were truly blind. Always pray for those who have yet to accept Christ’s love and forgiveness. He’s already given it to everyone. We only have to believe and commit to His best for us.

 

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Vanessa’s Character Picks September 14, 2014

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A New Website for Readers Looking for Great Christian Fiction

Today, I’d like to tell you about a new website for readers of Christian fiction looking for a reasonably priced ebook read on an ever-broadening range of storylines—IndieChristianFictionSearch.Blogspot.com. “Ickfuss” (ICFS) to its friends.

Archive by release year

What is Indie Christian Fiction Search? It is THE site to find the latest releases of Christian fiction, written from the heart.

As many of you who read this blog know, there is a new revolution in fiction publishing—novels written by independent authors. We often talk about how this revolution has impacted the author, giving her more control in her finished product and freedom to write what is on her heart as opposed to what the executives say is the trend of the day. However, we forget to mention what this means to the reader. It means many things.

First, because the story is not chosen by a select few in an office building ruled by marketing executives, the range of stories written will be greater with a more expansive breadth of author voice. Where fiction had been confined by a limited choice of time periods, regions and settings, stories can now be told about any one, doing anything, anywhere in the world—even outer space.

This is a good thing.

Second, for this reason, an author will have the chance to write what he or she is called to write, from a perspective that comes deep within his or her experience. Authors are always told, “Write what you know.” And then they are told, “Write what sells.” The latter will get them contracts. The former will be a story that is written from the heart. Readers now have a larger access to the former.

The third benefit of the Indie Revolution to the reader is the price. This is great news for those of us who consume books like water. As independent authors find more and more great editors and cover designers on their own (see our author resource page for examples) and there is no publisher taking a bulk of the cut, the independent author can pass the savings on to you. Readers can find gMagazine--edreat ebook stories for less than $5 and many for 99 cents and even free.

So where does a reader find all this great stuff? On Indie Christian Fiction Search (ICFS), of course. It’s not a site that only displays books by authors who’ve paid to be on it. It’s not a site that lists a few books per day. It’s a site that displays all books listed on its home page, can sort them by genre, and has a robust search system which allows the reader to scroll through several blurbs selected by the reader’s search criteria, without having to apply multiple clicks. Not even Amazon can do that!

 

Not only is it user-friendly, the view can be customized to suit each reader’s preference. Just go to the “How to Use This Site” page and you will see.

We also hope that as the site grows, readers will engage by commenting on books posted there, giving their opinions on what books inspire them. This is most important today, because in this new publishing age, the READER is the gatekeeper instead of the executive.

That’s right, I mean YOU!

So go to it and let us know what you think.

Also, if you are an indie Christian fiction author, feel free to peruse the guidelines and see if this site is right for your work. We’d love to have you. The more, the merrier!!!

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Vanessa’s Character Picks September 11, 2014

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Vanessa’s Character Picks September 9, 2014

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Vanessa’s Character Picks September 7, 2014

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Is There An Afterlife?

Is There An Afterlife

Paul ponders this subject in 1 Corinthians 15. He’s talking to those who claim there is no afterlife and explains the answer is contingent on Jesus and His resurrection.

 

Verses 16-20 say: “For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.”

 

This sounds like a bleak conclusion. But let’s read on. “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.”

 

To that I can only say hallelujah and agree with the Psalmist. “You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory.” Psalm 73:24.

 

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Vanessa’s Character Picks September 4, 2014

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My Secret Room

Anna ushered her best friend through the new house. “We closed last Friday. It’s all ours now.”

“Congratulations. It’s beautiful, Anna. So clean and neat.” Janie laughed. “I’ll bet you scrubbed every inch before you let me in the door.”

Anna grinned at how close to the truth her friend was. She brushed her fingers across the gleaming oak shelf and led the way down the hall. “Two of the bedrooms are across the hall from each other with the master at the end.”

As the women went into each bedroom, Janie opened the closet doors and peeked inside. “I’m impressed. This is so organized. Nothing is out of place. Is everything in your life so orderly? So open for inspection?”

Janie’s words smote Anna in a way she was sure her friend hadn’t intended. “You’ve known me long enough to know better.” She laughed to cover the unease in her soul. “Surely, no one is always open for inspection. I mean no one’s house.”

Anna hurried to the master bedroom. “If I should keep any room in my house locked, it would be this one.” She stood in front of the door leading to the master bath with her arms outstretched. “I suggest we don’t look in here.”

“Ah ha!” Janie’s eyes sparkled with a gleam of interest. “So this is your secret room. The one room in your life where no one can be trusted to peek. I’m so relieved, Anna. I’d hate to think you are perfect.”

The bitter quarrel with Kyle that morning flashed through Anna’s mind. He’d left the bathroom in a mess after his shower. She’d been cleaning up after him for twelve years and never flew into a rage as she’d done today. Could she blame her anger on stress because there’d be no time to pick up before Janie’s visit? Probably not. For years she’d excused her temper, hiding it from others but taking minor annoyances out on the one person who cared for her the most.

“I’m far from perfect, Janie.” Anna twirled around and threw the door to the messy bathroom open. “I have imperfections even worse than this room. Take a gander at my husband’s towel on the floor, his dirty clothing tossed in the corner and know that I’ll have that cleaned up before the day’s over so he can do the same thing tomorrow morning. It isn’t such a big deal. He was running late today because he took time to gather trash and take it out to the bin before getting ready for work.” Anna’s voice caught. “He knew how important your visit today was to me so he took his time to help.”

Janie placed a hand on Anna’s arm. “Why don’t you tell me what’s worse than a little clutter you haven’t gotten to yet?”

“My temper.” Anna bowed her head whispering the confession.

“Temper?” Janie laughed. “What temper?”

Anna walked away from the bathroom and sat on her bed, clutching her hands in her lap. “It’s a secret sin. One I keep locked away in a little room in the corner of my heart, not unlike that bathroom I didn’t want you to see. I hold hurts and resentments in that locked room until Kyle does or says something that sets me off. Then I explode at him—the one I love most next to Jesus. I’m so ashamed. Will you pray with me?”

“Of course.” Janie sat on the bed next to Anna and took her hand. “I have a feeling you’re ready to sweep that room clear and turn the key over to the Lord where it belongs.” She bowed her head. “Let’s pray.”

Anna was able to open her secret locked room that day and turn the key over to Jesus. Not everyone has anger issues but we have other rooms we keep locked deep inside hoping no one will ever see the mess. “I’ll clean that out of my life someday,” we say. But when? If we hand the key to Jesus, He will help us sweep the corners clean and fill our open room with His love and blessings, allowing His presence to overflow to others. Only then will we have true peace and joy.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Psalms 51:10

 

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