Thursday, August 6, 2020

Clenched Hands

And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth (Luke 12:15).

Many of you have probably heard the story of the greedy little monkey. There're different versions with different containers and foods, but basically, it goes like this: 
A little money became hungry and went looking for something to eat. He found some peanuts stored in a clay pot with a narrow neck. He reached in and got a big handful, but with a big fistful of nuts, he wasn't able to pull his hand back out. Refusing to let go of his bounty, he was caught and caged for the rest of his life.

Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7).

Of course, the moral of the story is to not be greedy -- not to hang onto possessions too tightly. God gives us many blessings, and He intends for us to share. He wants us to be a giving people -- caring, generous, and kind. The more selfish we are, the less we please Him. In addition, when someone is selfish, that person is seldom satisfied. There never comes a point when selfish, greedy people feel like they have enough. They yearn, scheme, and worry but are never content.

He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity (Ecclesiastes 5:10).

When our hands are clenched into tight fists, we aren't able to receive God's blessings as easily either. Too often, people strive for worldly possessions, hold on to them, and miss out on the ones that really matter. Instead of full fists, let's have open hands and open hearts that are ready to give to others and receive God's special blessings with joy.

Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again (Luke 6:38).

Monday, August 3, 2020

National Watermelon Day 

August 3rd is National Watermelon Day and a great time for that great summer treat. Although today they're enjoyed throughout the world, the watermelon originated in Southern Africa. There's long been a controversy over whether the watermelon is a fruit, a berry, or a vegetable. Aside from the scientific definition and category, most people consider them a fruit.

Watermelons were in the Nile Valley before the time of Christ, and watermelon seeds were found in King Tutankhamen’s tomb. By the 7th century, watermelons had made their way to India and then China. Moorish invaders carried them to Southern Europe, and from there they traveled to the other European regions. Explorers and colonists introduced them to the New World. In fact, with the push for colonization in the 16 and 1700’s, the plant spread over most of the world. Only those places where the climate was too cold for them to grow didn't cultivate them.

Over the years, botanists have propagated many varieties – over 2,000 of them. The largest watermelon ever recorded came from a Carolina Cross plant which produces the traditional red center, green rind, and outer shell. This one weighed 351 pounds.

Nutritionists didn’t use to think watermelon had many nutrients. However, new research is proving this wrong. In fact, some sources put them on the list of “the world’s healthiest foods.” Besides vitamin C, they’re loaded with antioxidants, flavonoids, citrulline, and lycopene. These elements are important to cardiovascular and perhaps bone health, as well as the prevention of certain kinds of cancer. The riper the watermelon, the more of these beneficial substances it contains.

Watermelons like warmer climates and thrive best in daytime temperatures around 80 degrees. They can tolerate hotter climates better than colder ones. Growers in cold climates need to start the seeds indoors to make up for a shorter growing season. Most varieties take from 70 to 90 days to mature.

The center of the watermelon isn't the only edible part. Watermelon juice can be mixed with other fruit juices or made into wine. Their seeds can be dried and roasted or ground into flour. People also eat the rinds, which can be stewed or stir-fried and served as a vegetable. In the South, it’s also common to make watermelon rind pickles. Here is my favorite recipe for them:

Watermelon Rind Pickles

Take about a half a peck of watermelon rind. Peel off the hard outer covering and any pink flesh so that only white and light green rind is left. Cut into about one-inch chunks. Dissolve 3 tablespoons of picking lime in 2 quarts water and add rind. Add a little more water if needed to cover. Let set for 2 hours. Drain, rinse, and cover with cold water. Cook until just tender. Drain. Tie 1 tablespoon whole cloves, 2 pieces ginger root, and 3 sticks of cinnamon in a thin cloth. Add juice from 1 lemon, 1 quart water, 1 quart white vinegar, and 8 cups sugar. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add watermelon rind and simmer until rind has a clear look. (Add a little water if syrup becomes too thick before rind is done.) Remove spices (add 1 – 2 drops of green food coloring if desired) and pack into quart jars leaving 1/4-inch space from the top. Cap with lids and rings and process 10 minutes in a hot water bath. Makes about 7 quarts.



Thursday, July 30, 2020

Faith: Real or Counterfeit

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven (Matthew 7:21).

In one of his sermons, Warren Wiersbe talked about dead or counterfeit faith. He said, "Even in the early church, there were those who claimed they had saving faith, yet did not possess salvation" (Warren Wiersbe, Be Mature, kindle loc. 934). These people may say the right things, pray beautiful prayers, give great testimonies, and quote appropriate Bible verses, but their heart isn't in it. They can talk the talk but they don't walk the walk. Many of them don't intentionally deceive. They just don't understand what the Christian life is all about. As Paul said, "They profess that they know God, but in works they deny him" (Titus 1:16). And, Satan, the great deceiver, loves to convince us that a counterfeit faith is the real thing.

Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone (James 2:17).

A good illustration of this is the parable Jesus told of the Good Samaritan (see Luke 10:25-37). The priest and the Levite were supposed to be men of God. They'd had religious training and could teach and defend their faith. Yet, when they had the opportunity to put that faith into action, they walked away from the man in need. They didn't understand that faith is built on love and demands evidence.

Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these, my brethren, ye have done it unto me (Matthew 25:40).

       The person with dead faith has only an intellectual experience. In his mind,
       he knows the doctrine of salvation, but he has never submitted himself to
       God and trusted Christ for salvation. He knows the right words, but he does
       not back up his words with his works (Warren Wiersbe, Be Mature, kindle
       loc. 959-981).
An intellectual faith alone is of little consequence; it matters little. No one can really come close to Christ and not be changed. Salvation is accepting His sacrifice on the cross on our behalf, allowing Him to become the Lord of our lives, and wanting Him to change us. A Christian life is one of service, not to gain anything, but because we have and want to share the love of Christ. Such a life should be satisfying and bring joy.

Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting" (Psalm 139:23-24).

Monday, July 27, 2020

Hosting Special Book or Author Events Online

Book parties, author takeovers, and guest hosting offer authors special opportunities to promote their books, reach a new audience, and garner new fans. However, successful ones take special thought and careful planning. Here are some tips and thoughts for you to consider.

Although one of your goals is to promote your book(s), you should not solely focus on advertising. You need to engage your audience. Ask provocative questions that participants will want to answer. Try to avoid those questions that have been overused and come up with fresh ideas. Provide games or puzzles when appropriate. You want to make this a fun time. It's good to center your posts around a theme that goes with your main book whenever possible. Have attractive posts with pictures ready ahead of time and labeled in the order you want to post them.

Videos are helpful, but amateurish, hastily thrown together ones can do more harm than good. Don't try to be overdramatic for it will come across as silly or ridiculous. If you can't get one of you talking that looks professional, make one that uses your books, scenes, and words with appropriate music in the background. It doesn't need to be long. Succinct and to the point is better. Still posts are fine, too. And don't forget to announce your event ahead of time to encourage interest.

If you need to choose a timeslot, midmorning gets more traffic but also be aware of the different time zones if you are posting on Facebook or a similar site. Even if you aren't hosting all day, try to stay as long as you can or be available because you will keep getting questions and comments even after your allotted time. 

If you haven't done this type of event before, it might be wise to start with a small one to gain some experience. The more you do, the more you will see what works and what doesn't. Have fun with it and let your enthusiasm show. However, don't fake it. Be natural and let the audience see the real you. That's what will draw a following.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020


Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him (1 John 2:15)

Where is your home? Pliny the Elder is credited with saying, "Home is where your heart is?" Where is your heart? Is it in this world or with God? Do you live to accumulate things, or is your life dedicated to following the Lord? Who or what holds most of your heart and your time? Which one is reflected in the choices you make and the way you live your life?   

For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come (Hebrews 13:14)

Jim Reeves said that this world is not our home, we're just passing through in one of his songs. Billy Graham agreed with this because said he was never going to die; he was just going to change addresses. We need to understand these concepts and order our lives accordingly.

Set your affection on things above, not on things of the earth (Colossians 3:2).

Our life on this earth is temporary, fleeting. Our eternal life is forever, and we'll be spending it in one of two places. That's what makes this so critical. If God doesn't hold your heart, then the world does, and if the world has it, Satan has it. Pray about it.

Monday, July 20, 2020

Ten Books with All Five-Star Reviews

I've been blessed with many avid readers and fans. They give me verbal encouragement and acclamations all the time, but I have difficulty getting them to leave reviews. And I don't give away free books to get extra reviews. To me, that seems to be a bit underhanded or lacking in integrity.

However, although most of my books don't have a ton of reviews, I have ten with all of their Amazon reviews having five stars, and this is the highest possible rating. In addition, all of my books have better than a four-star rating. I feel blessed and humbled. Here are those with all five-star reviews:

It All Started at the Masquerade
With Summer's Songs
On the Road to Jericho
Deceitful Matters
Roslyn's Rescue
Off the Streets
Without a Dream
From the Top of the Mountain to the Bottom of the Sea


Thursday, July 16, 2020

Serving by Surrendering

But woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone (Luke11:42).

Some of the Israelites, especially many of the Pharisees, attended the synagogue, tithed, and made animal sacrifices to take care of their sins. They prayed lengthy prayers and tried to follow the law. They thought they were good with God, but they didn't love, obey, surrender, or trust. They didn't give Him their whole hearts.

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven (Matthew 7:21).

Many Christians today do much the same thing. They attend church, put money in the offering plate, and think they have done their duty. They consider themselves good with God and heaven-bound, but they have never truly given their hearts to Christ or surrendered to His lordship. Their lives do not stand as a strong testimony or an encouragement for others to join the Christian faith.

A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit! Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire (Matthew 7:18-19).

What kind of fruit are you bearing? Are most of your efforts for yourself and what you want to do or for the Lord and what He wants you to do? Do you love the Lord with all your heart, soul, and mind; and do you love others as yourself? May we truly grow in the Lord and become who He wants us to be. We serve best by surrendering.