Faith as a Mustard Seed

by Carole Brownmustard-seeds free

How big is a mustard seed?

How big is your faith?

My aunt and cousin had died, and we didn’t find out about it until several weeks later. It was such a horrific and sad situation that I felt absolutely pounded by the event. Depression set in, and the enemy of my soul delighted in taking advantage of my mental and spiritual doubts. On top of that, I was struggling with misunderstandings from dear people I loved. Needless to say, my faith wavered.

  • Yes, I knew God was real.Bible free
  • Yes, I knew he answered prayer
  • Yes, I knew he loved me.

I knew these things, but I didn’t feel them. I cried and prayed. I read scripture and clasped hold on them. I sought council and encouragement from both my hubby and oldest son. I wept with discouragement over not being able to overcome the feelings that kept swarming over me.

But I held on. And on. And on. Gradually, as months passed, I felt the load easing. Healing and spiritual growth came from those extreme feelings of doubt and mstard field freehurt. God patiently and gently loved me into a height of faith I’d never experienced before. I knew that–though I never would claim to be an amazon warrior–I could be a simple and faith-filled soldier for God–if only I would keep my hand in his and hold on tight. Whatever happened in my life, God would see me through. My mustard seed faith had sprouted!

At church recently, the song leader felt led to lead us in some old fashion songs. The words spoke to my heart:person rejoicing free

  • God will Take Care of You
  • Trust and Obey
  • I Need Thee Every Hour

Oh, how true. God will take care of me if I only trust and obey…because I certainly do need him every hour of every day. 

Have you ever felt your faith wavering? How did you overcome those feelings?

Hang on, even if your faith is only mustard seed size!

The Day I Saw an Angel and Didn’t Know It

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

I was a poor nineteen year old college student on my way home from Sunday night service. I didn’t have any money, and the car was on empty. It wouldn’t have mattered if I did have money. It was after 9:00 at night, and this was the late 1970s, the time when gas shortages caused gas stations to close by 6:00 if they didn’t run out of gas. I went to church by faith praying I wouldn’t run out of gas until I got home.

The car sputtered then stopped. I sat in the car for a few moments considering my options. I didn’t have a cell phone in those days. Only rich people had car phones, and they were the size of today’s laptops. It was after dark, so walking to the nearest gas station was not something I looked forward to. Even if I did walk there, a couple of miles away, I couldn’t get gas at that hour – even if I had money.

I could have used the phone booth at the gas station to make a call. I was sure I could find a quarter in the ash tray or under the seat. But the idea of walking out there in the dark didn’t appeal to me.

Lord, what am I going to do?

It was at that moment a group of guys drove up. They were obviously drunk or high, and from the cat calls and whistles they made, I had no trouble discerning what they really were after.

“You run out of gas?” one guy slurred. “We can drive you to the station.”

“No, that’s all right,” I called from inside the closed window.

They shrugged and drove off. I let out a sigh of relief, but a few minutes later they came back.

The first guy, obviously the leader, got out of the car this time and banged on my window. “Give us some money, and will bring back some gas for you.”

“Someone’s coming to pick me up,” I lied hoping they would leave me alone. No such luck.

A couple of others were out of the car by now pounding on the window as hard as my heart was beating. “Come on. Let us in. We’re trying to help you.”

“No, thanks. I’m fine.”

They got in their car and drove away.

At this point, I was shaking. I knew they’d be back, and this time, they wouldn’t take no for an answer. Lord, please help me.

A police car pulled onto the road. I was sure this was my answer to prayer. I honked my horn and flashed my lights, but the car drove away. I couldn’t believe it. I knew the cop saw me, but he didn’t stop. I was on one side of the city line, and he was working for the other city. Still, he could have stopped. He had to know I needed his help.

A chill went through me. A weight rested on my chest, and I had to remind myself to breathe. My eyes darted along the street as I looked for a place to hide, a tree, a bush. No houses to run to for help, only businesses after hours.

The back of my throat ached.

Lord, you are my strength and salvation. You are my ever present help in time of trouble. Please, help me. I don’t know what to do.

A car drove up, and a man got out and walked up to the window. To this day, I couldn’t tell you what the man looked like, but a peace came over me. I wasn’t afraid anymore.

“Come with me, and I’ll get you some gas.” That’s all he said.

I didn’t take frivolous chances. I was careful about going with people I didn’t know, but it seemed like the most natural thing in the world to go with him. I didn’t even think about it. I got into his car.

The man drove down the street and turned on a gravel road. I examined where the road was so I could look for it later. At the end of the road was an old barn. The man went into the barn and came out carrying a five gallon gas tank, then he drove me back to my car and filled it up. I had a twenty gallon tank, and he filled it until the needle was on full. Then he drove away.

The next day, I drove to where the man had pulled off the road. My intention was to thank him, but the gravel road wasn’t there. I couldn’t find it. That’s when I realized he was an angel sent by God. The full gas tank lasted six months with me driving for miles every day.

I often wondered why God didn’t have the angel fill up my tank right there without me going with him. I think I’ve come up with two reasons. First God wanted me to know He was the one who rescued me supernaturally. Second, the car full of guys might have come back while I was gone. When they saw I wasn’t there, they drove off.

For what it’s worth, this story is true. You can come to your own conclusions about the man who filled my gas tank. I know what I believe.

 

Was George Washington a Christian?

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

Throughout history, people have known the founding father of the United States, George Washington was a man of faith. Recently his reputation as a Christian has been tarnished, not because any new documents have been discovered, but because some historians are going out of their way to prove our founding fathers did not rely upon God. It has become politically incorrect to consider George Washington as any more than a Deist, someone who believes in a distant God who doesn’t interfere with the plans of man.

This theory became popular in 1963, when Professor Paul Boller wrote a book, George Washington and Religion. Professor Boller wrote, “Broadly speaking, of course, Washington can be classified as a Deist.” But the evidence that Washington was more than a Deist is overwhelming. To debunk this theory, Peter A. Lillback wrote a biography based on fifteen years of research called George Washington’s Sacred Fire.

Here’s a few things that prove George Washington had a strong Christian faith in God:

At age thirteen, Washington transcribed and memorized 110 Rules for Young Gentlemen, written by Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits in the 1590’s. They teach man is God’s servant who lives not for self, but for others. They became a part of his character.

When Washington was twenty, he wrote prayers to say each morning and evening. On Sunday mornings he prayed, “…pardon, I beseech Thee, my sins; remove them from Thy presence, as far as the east is from the west, and accept me for the merits of Thy son, Jesus Christ…”

Captain Washington, at the age of twenty-three, was caught in a surprise ambush by the French and Indians near what is now Pittsburgh. Every British and American officer was shot but Washington even though he rode numerous times back and forth across the battlefield. He later wrote to his brother, “By the all powerful dispensations of Providence, I have been protected beyond all human probability or expectation, for I had four bullets through my coat, and two horses shot under me, yet escaped unhurt, although death was leveling my companions on every side of me.” Later, Indians testified they had singled Washington out, but their bullets had no effect on him. They were convinced an Invisible Power was protecting him.

As Commander and Chief of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, on July 2, 1776, General Washington told his troops: “The fate of unborn millions will now depend, under God, on the courage of this army. Our cruel and unrelenting enemy leaves us only the choice of brave resistance or the most abject submission. We have therefore to resolve to conquer or die.”

As Commander and Chief, he pushed for army chaplains and required church attendance among the soldiers.

Seven weeks later, British General Howe had trapped Washington and his 8,000 troops on Brooklyn Heights, ready to crush them the next morning. Washington gathered every vessel from fishing to row boats and spent all night ferrying his army across the East River. By morning many troops were still exposed to the British. This gave the British a chance to win the war. But the fog that almost always lifts from the river in the mornings, that day, stayed thick and covered Washington’s retreat until the entire army escaped.

In 1777 at Valley Forge, a dozen soldiers died a day in the freezing cold. They lacked supplies such as blankets or shoes. A Quaker named Isaac Potts reported seeing Washington on his knees in the snow praying aloud for his beloved country. He thanked God for exalting him to the head of a great nation which was fighting at fearful odds. Potts told his wife, “Till now I have thought that a Christian and a solider were characters incompatible, but if George Washington not be a man of God I am mistaken, and still more I shall be disappointed in God does not through him perform some great thing for this country.”

On May 5, 1778 Washington learned the French would join America as allies. The General told his troops, “It having pleased the Almighty Ruler of the universe to defend the cause of the United American States, and finally to raise up a powerful friend among the princes of the earth, to establish our liberty, and independence upon a lasting foundation, it becomes us to set apart a day for gratefully acknowledging the divine goodness…”

While encamped on the banks of a river, Washington was approached by Delaware Indian chiefs who desired their youth be trained in American schools. In Washington’s response, he first told them that “Congress… will look on them as on their own children.” He then commended the chiefs for their decision: You do well to wish to learn our arts and our ways of life and above all, the religion of Jesus Christ. These will make you a greater and happier people than you are. Congress will do everything they can to assist you in this wise intention.

In 1781, General Washington’s southern army defeated a detachment of British troops. Lord Cornwallis was infuriated and began pursuing the outnumbered Americans. He waited the night at the Catawba River, which the U.S. troops had crossed just two hours earlier. Miraculously, a storm arose during the night causing the river to be uncrossable for five days. Cornwallis nearly overtook Americans at the Yadkin River, but another flood arose, allowing Americans to escape.

The French navy seized control of the Chesapeake Aug. 30, 1781, driving out British ships. Washington rejoiced and besieged Cornwallis’ stronghold at Yorktown. With no ships to escape upon, Cornwallis surrendered.

Washington wrote Congress, “I take a particular pleasure in acknowledging that the interposing Hand of Heaven…has been most conspicuous and remarkable.”

During the oath of office, when Washington became president, he chose to take the oath with a Bible. As president, Washington often spoke on the importance of prayer and signed the first official Thanksgiving Day Proclamation in US history. It is clear that faith in God was very important to President Washington and that he was a Christian.

My Top Ten Verses about Trust

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

In my novel, Alice’s Notions, Alice is having a hard time figuring out who she can trust. At one point, she asks God to show her. She recognizes something we sometimes forget. We can always put our trust in God.

Trust: Confidence; a reliance or resting of the mind on the integrity, veracity, justice, friendship or other sound principle of another person.

Here are my top ten trust Bible verses.

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Psalm 18:2 The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.

Psalm 91:1-2 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.

Isaiah 26:3-4 You keep him in perfect peace 
whose mind is stayed on you,
because he trusts in you.
Trust in the Lord forever,
for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.

Jeremiah 17:7-8 Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.

Psalm 37:3-6 Commit your way to the Lord; 
trust in him, and he will act. 
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, 
and your justice as the noonday.

John 14:1 Let not your heart be troubled. You are trusting God, now trust in me. (TLB)

Psalm 56:3-4 When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?

2 Kings 18:5 He trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel, so that there was none like him among all the kings of Judah after him, nor among those who were before him.

Alice’s Notions

In this quaint mountain town, things aren’t always what they seem.

World War II widow Alice Brighton returns to the safety of her home town to open a fabric shop. She decides to start a barn quilt tour to bring business to the shop and the town, but what she doesn’t know is sinister forces are using the tour for their own nefarious reasons

Between her mysterious landlord, her German immigrant employee, her neighbors who are acting strange, and a dreamboat security expert who is trying to romance her, Alice doesn’t know who she can trust.

Should a Writer Dream Big?

Writing is a discouraging profession. We’re constantly told not to get our hopes up. Getting published is as unlikely as winning the lottery. Then if we’re fortunate enough to be published, we’re reminded that most novels sell less than 1,000 copies. If we do sell more than that, we’re admonished to not quit our day job because very few writers ever make enough to support themselves.

Christian writers have is worse. If they dare to dream big, they’re told they are pursuing worldly success instead of keeping their eyes on God.

Yet Scripture tells to believe that nothing is impossible with God. So what are we to do? We should follow the same steps anyone would follow, writer or not, when God gives them a dream.

Dream Big: Don’t put limitations on God. If you knew that after hard work and perseverance you would succeed, what dreams would you pursue? What dreams has God placed in your heart that are God sized? Every dream will be different. One person’s dream may be for one person to be touched by his writing that nobody else can reach. Another might be reaching for publication. Still another person might be looking for a career in writing that we’ll enable her to quit her day job. No dream is wrong when God is the one who put the desire there. Pray about it and make sure it’s God. But if He placed the desire there, run with it.

Psalm 37:4-5 Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.

Write Down Your Dreams & Visions: After you’ve decided what your God given desires are, write them down. Keep the list somewhere that you can refer to often like the refrigerator. Then work toward those dreams. Do your part so God can do His.

Habakkuk 2:2-3 Then the Lord answered me and said: “Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time; But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; Because it will surely come, It will not tarry.

Do Your Part: God is the One responsible for fulfilling His promises, but you need to do your part. Obey God even when it seems like you’re going in the wrong direction. Work hard to learn your craft and to write what God has given you. No matter how many rejections you get, Don’t Quit! Most agents and publishers admit successful authors aren’t the best writers, they’re the ones who never quit. Do your part, and God will open the doors.

Revelation 3:7 … When I open a door, no one can close it. And when I close a door, no one can open it.

Remember the Results are in God’s Hands: Once you’ve done all you can do, it is no longer your responsibility. Don’t strive to do what only God can do. Our hope is not in the dream God gave us. Our hope is in God. Trust in Him to guide your paths to the place He wants you to be. Whatever happens, God is more than enough.

Proverbs 3:5-6  Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Putting God in our Writing

by Carole Brownquestion-mark2 free

As an inspirational writer and author, I had to come to the decision whether I would include God in my books?

  • Should I have heavy scenes with definite doses of conviction on the sinner and salvation transformations?
  • Should I go easy with the above things and hint at or subtly include all things pertaining to God?
  • Should I stick with “clean” writing that shows improvement in my characters?

With these three choices that I narrowed down (for me), I compromised.  I chose to go with light or no mentions of God. Does that sound like I went too far “left” in my choice? Let me explain:

 In my Denton and Alex Davies series, I stick with improvements in my characters. I might mention church or meal prayers, but for the most part, I try to show a positive change in couples or people in this series. I like the subplot to focus on the love (relationship) between couples.

  • In the first book (Hog Insane), the two protagonists, who are married and avid mystery book lovers as well as amateur detectives, learned that give and take is one of the best things in a marriage. 
  • In the second book (Bat Crazy), one of the secondary characters had to realize where her loyalties really lay.
  • In the upcoming third one (Daffy’s Duck), I hope to show a distrustful relationship that has greatly improved by listening. 

Now in my WWII series, my Appleton, WV series and my debut, stand alone book, the God scenes are more real. I like to show acknowledgement that characters see the need of reaching out to God for help. These are light scenes, but there, and, hopefully, real to the reader. 

It was a slow process and one that I battled through writing my first few books, but I finally felt peace over how and how much to bring God into my books, when I decided to go with this decision.

Woman looking at large book

Woman looking at doorway in large book

Will I ever go with the more serious, strong God scenes? Probably not. And, no I’m not ashamed of my God. But I want to reach people who will put up with “some” God in my books and also encourage Christians to read and enjoy my books.

 

Will I ever go with clean, but no God mentions? Maybe. Time will tell on this one. I will definitely have to know the story will hold up for a valuable lesson to do so.

What’s your thought on bringing God into your book? Yes. or No?

Happy Reading!

A Lesson in Friendship from “Lord of the Rings”

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

In Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, Frodo Baggins, a hobbit who doesn’t consider himself important, is given the impossible task of destroying an evil ring. By the third movie, he is tired, discouraged, and overwhelmed with the temptation to keep the ring. On his own, he wouldn’t have been able to resist the temptation to give up the quest, but he didn’t give up because God gave him a friend to encourage him and keep him going. God gave him Sam.

Sam doesn’t have a large role in the book or the movie. He’s not the hero. He’s not a king or an elf. He’s only a simple hobbit who is loyal to his friend. Here’s a pivotal conversation from the movie.

Sam: [Both are overcome by exhaustion] Do you remember the Shire, Mr. Frodo? It’ll be spring soon. And the orchards will be in blossom. And the birds will be nesting in the hazel thicket. And they’ll be sowing the summer barley in the lower fields… and eating the first of the strawberries with cream. Do you remember the taste of strawberries?

Frodo: No, Sam. I can’t recall the taste of food… nor the sound of water… nor the touch of grass. I’m… naked in the dark. There’s… There’s nothing. No veil between me and the wheel of fire. I can see him… with my waking eyes.

Sam: Then let us be rid of it… once and for all. Come on, Mr. Frodo. I can’t carry it for you… but I can carry you.

Sam reminds me of the verse in Colossians 3:12-14. Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Sam is like this. He clothes himself in compassion, kindness, and humility. He puts on the love of God. I want friends like Sam. I want to be a friend like Sam. This is what being a part of the body of Christ is all about.