the importance of honesty

honestyI read an article recently about how phone scammers are trying a new tactic on unsuspecting victims. They are calling and telling the person who answers that their friend/family member has been in a serious accident. Of course, when the person hears this, panic arises. During this vulnerable moment, the spammer makes his move. He tells the person that he needs money for this friend/family member who has been injured.

Many will see the scam for what it is, but sadly, many will also fall for this deception.

This is wrong on so many levels: cruelty, callousness, hatefulness, and insensitivity to name a few.

It’s also dishonest.

Dishonest in that it’s a lie – the person’s friend/family didn’t really have an accident. The spammer doesn’t even know anyone related to the person whom he called.

Dishonest in that if the spammer does succeed in retrieving a bank account number/credit card number/ cash amount wired, they are doing it under false pretenses. Such action will likely destroy the victim’s credit in the way of identity theft and loss of life savings.

The above was an extreme example. But what about everyday dishonesty?

Dishonesty about another person, sometimes otherwise known as gossip (for additional info, see The Importance of Avoiding the Gossip Trap);

Dishonesty in attempting to escape consequences for behavior (“Wow, Officer, my speedometer said I was going 35, not 55”; or, “No, You’re Honor. I had no idea I stole someone’s wallet”).

gavel

Dishonesty when completing a job resume;

Dishonesty to avoid conflict;

Dishonesty when participating in sports;

sports

Dishonesty about money earned on taxes;

Dishonesty about calling into work sick when you’re really not;

Dishonesty during a doctor’s appointment – or at the dentist (well, yes, of course, I floss after each meal!).

dentist chair

And on it goes.

So what’s the big deal about dishonesty, and why should it matter?

Here’s what the Bible has to say about it:

Do not lie to one another… ~ Colossians 3:9

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.~ Exodus 20:16

Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord…~ Proverbs 12:22

Proverbs 10 9

Even though it can be difficult at times, we need to, with the help of the Holy Spirit, seek to walk in integrity and honesty.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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the big day is here!

When an author pens a novel or a novella, it can seem like an eternity before the book is released. But there is much work to be done behind the scenes during that time frame…

underground railroad picture

Finish writing the book;

Get a sneak-peak at the cover artwork (one of the most exciting things!);

Receive edits and make any changes;

Read through the final copy for any last-minute corrections;

Stalk the UPS man waiting to receive author copies (another super-exciting event!); and,

Celebrate the day the book is released to the masses (the most exciting!)

underground railroad arrives!

Just a couple of days ago, my novella Freedom’s Flight, became a reality. Included in the fabulous new Barbour Collection, The Underground Railroad Brides Collection, I was joined by eight other authors, as we told stories of those seeking to escape slavery and those assisting them on their way to freedom.

One of the things from a reader point-of-view that I love most about Barbour Collections is that the novellas are short enough to devour in a sitting – even if your time is limited.

From an author point-of-view, I love the camaraderie between authors, as we seek to pen novellas that will combine to make an anthology that readers will savor and desire to read again and again. And most importantly, produce a product that glorifies God. For that is the ultimate purpose for any Christian writer.

Check out the official book trailer:

Here is a tidbit about the stories and their authors that you’ll find in this collection:

Emma Underground by Barbara Tifft Blakey 
Schenectady, New York—1851
Emma Trebor desires to reconcile with her husband, but he is hiding something from her. How could she know the investigator she hires is secretly a bounty hunter and her husband is his target?

Follow the Christmas Star by Ramona K. Cecil
Madison, Indiana—1850
Deeply involved in the abolitionist movement, Edith Applegate struggles to reconcile her desire to help bring people out of bondage and her growing affection for a former Southern slave owner.

Under the Sails of Love by Lynn A. Coleman
Savannah, Georgia—1860
Charlotte Kimbrel, a Southern Belle, has been smuggling slaves. Captain Zachery Browne’s ship sails slaves to freedom. Hostilities between the states are developing. Will Charlotte successfully travel the Underground Railroad by sea?

The Bakery Bride by Cecelia Dowdy
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania—1859
Grieving over her beau’s unjustified death, Ruth—a recently manumitted slave who is illiterate—assists her upper-class boss as an abolitionist. Can she heal from the pain of slavery and learn to love again?

Place of Refuge by Patty Smith Hall
Abbeville, South Carolina—1857
Underground conductor Hudson Wallace is surprised when Jorgine Emerson asks him to transport her slaves to freedom, but is it a trap? Can Jorgine’s deep conviction win Hudson over?

Free to Love by Terri J. Haynes
East Towson, Maryland—1850
Winnie is hiding a secret—Hiram, a fugitive. Their lives cross at an Underground Railroad station. Can they overcome danger and find freedom in love?

The Winter Quilt by Debby Lee
Newport, Indiana—1840
Relocated to an unfamiliar town, Coral Martin yearns for stability. Carpenter Josiah Williamson helps her find meaning working on the Underground Railroad. Will their love survive when forces threaten to tear them apart forever?

The Song of Hearts Set Free by Darlene Panzera
Jersey City, New Jersey—1851
Budding abolitionist, Annie Morrison, discovers the man she’s fallen in love with may be a slave catcher in disguise.

Freedom’s Flight by Penny Zeller
Tennessee—1850s
When she discovers the handsome Reverend Matthias Sorenson assisting runaway slaves, can Annalise Van Houten convince him to allow her to help? Or will mistrust prove fatal for all involved?

If this novel sounds like an awesome read…it is!

The Underground Railroad Brides Collection is available at your favorite local bookstore, Christian Book Distributors, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.

 

 

 

the ultimate Christian playlist for a total body workout

Ultimate Running

From warmups to cardio to cool-downs to stretches and everything in between, check  out these motivational songs (in no particular order) to add to your playlist for a total workout:

Warmup:

Upside Down – Jonny Diaz

Finding Who We Are – Kutless

Never Let You Down – Hawk Nelson

Messengers – Lecrae feat. For King and Country

Right Now – About a Mile

Eyes Up – Building 429

I Want to Know You – Sonic Flood

Break the World – Nine Lashes


Cardio:

The One I’m Running To – 7eventh Time Down

Running – Natalie Villa

Born to Live – About a Mile

Start Over – The Afters

Outta My Mind – Anthem Lights

Rise – Ashes Remain

Marvelous Light – Christy Nockels

Set it on Fire – Citizen Way

The Comeback – Danny Gokey

Secret Weapon – Disciple

Thank God for Something – Hawk Nelson

Press On (CB Ultra Remix) – Mandisa

Dear X (You Don’t Own Me) – Disciple

The List – Matthew West

Amen – Matthew West

Where I Belong – Nine Lashes

Money – Manic Drive

Vertical -1 Girl Nation

We are Brave – Shawn McDonald

Ready or Not – Britt Nicole (featuring Lecrae)

One Shot – Hawk Nelson

Give My Life Away – Big Daddy Weave

Say it Loud – Sanctus Real

Ready Set Go – Royal Tailor

Transformed – Shonlock feat. TobyMac

Unstoppable – TobyMac

Shake – MercyMe

Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us – Sidewalk Prophets

Hold Me Down – Storyside:B

What a Friend – Matt Maher

Don’t Wait – Addison Road

Outcast – Kerrie Roberts

The River – Jordan Feliz

Fishers of Men – Newsboys

Tear it Up- Kutless


Cooldown:

Warrior (remix) – Hannah Kerr

All of Me – Ashes Remain

Beside Me – Cameron James

Found – Seventh Day Slumber


Stretches:

Worn – Tenth Avenue North

From the Inside Out – Seventh Day Slumber

Never Once – One Sonic Society

Leaving 99- Audio Adrenaline


If you still have a craving for more workout songs, check out The Top 50 Christian Workout Songs.

What are your favorite workout songs?

 

 

 

the importance of influence

influence

A new believer in the congregation mentions to a friend: “Our pastor watches that movie, so it must be all right to watch.”

Overheard in the workplace: “I may not agree with my boss on the way he treats those under him, but I’m learning from him that sometimes it doesn’t pay to be nice.”

A young boy mentions: “Dad never wears his seat belt. Why should I?”

Overheard at church: “In our Bible study class, a member mentioned enjoying reading a book that teaches beliefs contrary to the Bible. If she’s fine with it, so am I.”

A teenager in the hallway between classes: “My friends were talking today about  a cool fad they want to try. I think I might try it too. Who cares if people say it’s dangerous?”

A new believer mentioning something she’s noticed: “The piano player for our church gossips constantly about others. Maybe I don’t need to take the command not to gossip seriously either.”

Overheard by a player on a sports team: “I’ve never been one to cheat, but since the coach says it’s ok, why not do it since winning is important?”

football coach

And on it goes…

Influence. We all influence someone. If we are a parent, we have a critical impact on our children. They are watching us constantly, and whether we choose to believe it or not, they will mimic what we do. Our actions are powerful.

If we are a supervisor, our leadership has great clout over those whom we supervise, whether for the positive or negative.

A pastor is perhaps one of the most influential among a wide scope of people. His congregation and those in the community constantly look to him for guidance and the way they should live their lives.

Friends make a huge impact on the lives of each other for the good and bad. That’s why it’s so important to be mindful of  the friendships we keep.

Movie stars, music artists, authors, teachers, and coaches are also influential.

Those of us who are seemingly “common” and not in any real leadership role still have influence over people. We all influence someone. Everything we do has an impact on someone. People around us are watching.

What does the Bible say about our influence and leadership over others?

2 Timothy 2 15

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness~ James 3:1

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. ~ Philippians 2:3

Galatians 6 9

Whatever is trustworthy… because whatever we watch or think comes out and whatever comes out is being viewed and watched by others, so it’s a domino effect.

We all sin – that’s why we need a Savior. We all are capable of misusing our influence over others.

Instead, we should take our influence seriously and seek to protect and guard those in our sphere of influence.

Who is influential in your life?

 


the importance of kindness

kindness

The elderly man in front of my daughters and me at the grocery store appeared a bit panicked. “I forgot the papaya my wife asked me to buy,” he said.

“Would you like to go get it and I’ll hold your place?” I asked.

“I’ll just pay for this stuff and go back through the line.”

I took a glance at the long line behind us. If the man wanted to get home before his perishables perished, his plan wouldn’t work.

“Why don’t you go get the papaya? We’ll wait for you.” I hoped I hadn’t alienated anyone by being the spokeswoman for all grocery shoppers in Line 4. No one seemed perturbed.

“Ok,” he said, and dashed off toward the produce department.

Moments later he returned and profusely thanked all of us in Line 4.

Such a small act of kindness meant so much.

Kindness. The Lord tells us to treat others as we’d like to be treated. So, how can we show kindness to others the way the Lord commands us? And why is it important?

1.We don’t know what another person is going through or what they may be facing at this very moment. We never know if a stranger just lost a loved one, is struggling to pay their bills, lost their job, is struggling with chronic illness, and the list goes on… An ounce of kindness can make their day brighter.

What storm

2. Kindness doesn’t have to be big. Each morning, our family prays for someone to bless that day. God’s answers have come in all sizes…sometimes we find ourselves in lengthy service projects, other times, it’s a seemingly miniscule “assignment.” Either way, those kindnesses matter to the recipient and, more importantly, to God.

Colossians 3 23

3. We are examples for our children. Who better than parents to show their children by example what it means to treat someone with kindness? Even when we don’t realize it, they are watching us – and mirroring our actions.

4. What if your kindness isn’t returned? One of my daughters’ friends (I’ll call her Misty) smiled at a man in the library the other day. A simple act of kindness, right? The man asked her what she wanted. Misty told him she was just trying to be polite and friendly. He sneered at her and said, “Well, I wish you wouldn’t.” Although caught off guard by the man’s comment, Misty responded in kindness.

Tough when people deflect our kindness, but, like Misty did, we must keep on treating them the way Jesus would.

Ephesians 4 32a

What are some ways you show kindness to others?

 

 

the importance of avoiding the gossip trap

gossip trap

Gossip. If we’re honest, we’ve all either done it or have been tempted to do it.

But it’s ok, right? After all, it’s just a few “harmless” words shared with another.

That’s not the way God sees it. As a matter of fact, gossip and slander are more serious than we may have previously imagined. Several verses in the Bible command us to steer clear of this misuse of the tongue:

Proverbs 6 16-19

Wow! If you want a lot of bang for the buck, this is your verse. Of the seven things that are an abomination to God, three of them are tied to gossip. Gossip can and does cause strife among people. It can, and often does, become an embellished outpouring of words that can quickly turn into lies.

If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless ~ James 1:26. When we seek to use our tongue to spread “information” about others, we show the true condition of our hearts. For those watching, this is anything but an effective witness for Christ.

Whoever slanders his neighbor secretly I will destroy ~ Psalm 101:5. God is serious about what He thinks about slander and the slanderer.

…Whoever utters slander is a fool ~ Proverbs 10:18.

Ever been betrayed by a close friend through gossip? Gossip ruins friendships.

Proverbs 16 28

Gossip isn’t something that just affects others superficially or minimally. It is something that affects others to their “inmost parts.” It’s hurtful and painful. The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts. ~ Proverbs 18:8.

Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with a simple babbler ~ Proverbs 20:19. This is one of my favorites on the topic because it lays it out like it is…we aren’t to even associate with a “babbler.” How many times have we found ourselves listening to someone sharing gossip?

Perhaps this verse says it best: You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with a wicked man to be a malicious witness ~ Exodus 23:1.

Finally, James 3:9-10 is perhaps one of the most humbling verses on the topic. With the same mouth, we both bless and curse people.

James 3 9-10

Beware of these gossip traps and seek, with the Lord’s help, to avoid them:

1. “Guess what I just heard…” these five words are usually a precursor to juicy information about someone. Information that can destroy a reputation, harm someone and/or their family, and even ruin a life.

2. “We really need to pray for ______. She’s…” Gossip can come disguised as a prayer request. But God knows our hearts – better than we know them. He knows if we are truly concerned about someone, or if we’re sharing with itching ears the latest “news” about someone, declaring in our judgmental attitude, that they need prayer.

3. She deserves my slander after what she did to me. Revenge. A topic for another time; however, super pertinent for this post as well. Sometimes people spread lies as a form of retaliation. When someone has hurt you, let that be their issue, not yours, as you seek the Lord’s assistance in forgiving them. Don’t become just as sinful as they are by seeking retribution with the sharing of spiteful words.

4. Churches can become Gossip Clubs. Unfortunately, churches, especially small ones, as well as Bible studies, can become clubs where gossip freely flows. Gossip shouldn’t be something we engage in period, and especially not in God’s house or at a function where we are learning about Him.

Gossip and slander are such an issue in today’s world that some homeowner’s insurance policies have “slander coverage.”

So, what if you are on the receiving end of gossip? Not an easy place to be. I’ll never forget the day we discovered someone was sharing hateful untruths about our family. The one good thing to come out of it was that it humbled me in knowing that was something I didn’t want to do to someone else. In a later post, I’ll discuss how to handle it when you are the subject of a gossiping tongue.

 

 

 

Exciting Book News!

When she discovers the handsome Reverend Matthias Sorenson assisting runaway slaves, can Annalise Van Houten convince him to allow her to help? Or will mistrust prove fatal for all involved?

Underground Railroad promo

I am super excited to announce that my latest novella Freedom’s Flight is set to be released June 1! I join eight other fabulous authors in Barbour’s latest novella collection: The Underground Railroad Brides Collection.

And good news! It’s already available for pre-order at Amazon, Christian Book Distributors, Barnes & Noble, and your local bookstore.

I love Barbour novella collections because they include so many different voices all with a common theme. The Underground Railroad Collection is no different. All set prior to the Civil War, heroes and heroines come together to help this within the bonds of slavery.

Check out the official trailer for The Underground Railroad Brides Collection here.