Sunday, January 28, 2024

God Acts Through Us By Sharon Musgrove #devotional #SundayThoughts

 God Acts Through Us

By Sharon Musgrove

 

“Stephen, brimming with God’s grace and energy, was doing wonderful things among the people, unmistakable signs that God was among them.”  Acts 6:8 MSG

 

 

The Bible is God’s story.  It is a compilation of several authors writing about varying experiences mankind has had with God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit, including instruction on how God would like to work through us.

 

One of the many books within the Bible is entitled “Acts,” or sometimes “The Acts of the Apostles.”  The unique thing about this particular book is that it possibly gives us more insight into the mysterious Holy Spirit, than most of the rest of the Bible because it reveals how people respond when being filled by God’s spirit.

 

Yet, I’m not sure it’s often viewed in this light.  The title leads us to believe that we are to watch closely the actions of the Apostles or of the miracles that occurred.  And we should pay attention to the acts of the apostles, but given the opportunity to see God in action, I’d rather my eyes be focused on how His spirit works.

 

We miss the point when we seek signs and wonders.  Acts chapter 8 describes this very thing when Simon the wizard accepted Christ.  He sought the power of miracles over the increase in God’s love for humanity. 

 

“When Simon saw that the apostles by merely laying on hands conferred the Spirit, he pulled out his money, excited, and said, “Sell me your secret! Show me how you did that! How much do you want? Name your price!” Acts 8:18-19 (MSG)

 

I’ve witnessed that desire in today’s Christian culture too, and if I’m honest, within myself at times when I’ve wanted specific giftings.

 

However, reading this book through the lens of wondering who God is and how He interacts from within us, specifically via His Holy Spirit in these passages, has helped me understand that God has always intended on doing life together with His creation.  He’s chosen way is that Love works through man.  We need God’s spirit dwelling in us to be capable of living in love and unity, as the “Acts 2 church” so impressively did.

 

An example of this was Stephen’s inspiring biography in Acts 6.  He’s described as, “a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit.”  It was God’s indwelling that made this man remarkable.  Stephen was not great on his own, but when filled with the Holy Spirit, no one could mistake that it was God working through him.

 

The book of Acts reminds Christians that it is God’s story we are enacting with our lives, and not our own.  It’s God’s glory we are to pursue.  We need not manufacture our own strengths for life because the Holy Spirit’s indwelling will enable us with energy and grace that makes evident that God is indeed among us.  Praise God for such a gift!




Author Bio:

 

Sharon has been writing and teaching biblically based curriculum, Bible studies, and devotionals since 2007.    

 

She has had the unique position of writing curriculum and teaching for two private, Christ-based, residential recovery programs. Both programs primarily served women in the homeless community.

 

Sharon has traveled multiple times to Kenya, serving on medical teams and teaching in the rural Maasai communities. She’s been privileged to speak in Leadership camps intended on encouraging and empowering the impoverished, underprivileged, and often abused young women.

 

Within these ministries, Sharon has witnessed the transformative power of loving words spoken to the broken-hearted. Sharing God’s love and witnessing its transformative power has become her passion.

 

Sharon and her husband, divide their time between Oregon and Hawaii. They have two grown children. 

 

Currently, Sharon is encouraging others via her inspirational blog, but prefers sharing face to face. Additionally, she is working towards a degree in Ministry. 

 

~*~

Connect with Sharon:

Website: Sharonmusgrove.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/Sharon-Musgrove-Untethered-102208978041060

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sharonmusgrove_untethered/

 




 


Saturday, January 27, 2024

Trust the Stars #WWII #dualtime #romance

 


Trust the Stars 

December 12, 2023

Friday, January 26, 2024

Welcome to the LaDelle & Jubilant Celebration Tour! #giveaway

 

About the Book

Book: LaDelle & Jubilant

Author: Cathy McIlvoy

Genre: Historical Fiction/Christian Fiction/Southern Fiction/Black/African American Historical Fiction

Release Date: August 14, 2023

Set in the 1930s, this Southern feel-good novel about a controlling widow and the troubled nephew she’s asked to care for invites you on a journey of faith and surrender while weaving in the amazing true-life character, George Washington Carver.

LaDelle Harris, a fiery 51-year-old widow and head librarian at the Tuskegee Institute, likes things her way: orderly and predictable. So, the last thing she wants is to take care of her 12-year-old nephew, Jubilant, for the summer— or maybe forever. But when her estranged brother, the Reverend Ashton Bartley, suffers a heart attack and she’s asked to look after his son, she can’t say no.

While LaDelle focuses on doing all she can to keep Jubilant from creating chaos in her well-ordered life, it seems Abel Fisher, the manager of the Piggly Wiggly, is taking an interest in her. Amid all that’s happening, Jubilant is bent on returning to Huntsville to be with his daddy.

Can a menopausal woman with a need for control and a troubled pre-teen boy make peace with God and each other as they struggle with their fears and issues? Some gracious neighbors and Professor George Washington Carver may be able to help.

 MARILYN'S THOUGHTS:  


“Start where you are with what you have. Make something of it and never be satisfied.” George Washington Carver


This historical read had me hooked from the start till the end. It is filled with characters that brought laughter, smiles and tears. Ladelle and Jubilant had struggles but with intervention from others their relationship grew. A lovely penned tale with the hardships African Americans faced in 1937, southern culture and expectations, family, faith and filled with the history of Tuskegee Institute and contributions of George Washington Carver. Cathy McIlvoy had a beautiful faith message interwoven with all the characters and the friendliness of neighbors. A great historical read that makes me want to read more about George Washington Carver.


I received a complimentary copy of this book from publisher and author for the book tour. I was under no obligation to write a review but have expressed my own thoughts.


Click here to get your copy!

 

About the Author

LaDelle & Jubilant is Cathy McIlvoy’s first published work of fiction and was initially inspired by her admiration for George Washington Carver. Her interest in him and Tuskegee grew as she taught her sons about this genuine man of faith. She especially wanted her two youngest, bi-racial sons to know about this scientist with his impressive accomplishments and commendable character, who looked like them.

Cathy’s desire to learn more about Professor Carver put her on a plane from California to Alabama, where she soaked up all she could and enjoyed more than one unforgettable meal of catfish, grits, and sweet tea. Her time spent on campus at Tuskegee University, including several visits to the George Washington Carver Museum located on campus, fueled ideas for LaDelle & Jubilant and continues to be a highlight in her life. Cathy was also fortunate to receive an endorsement for her book from Dana Chandler, Archivist at Tuskegee University.

Today, Cathy and her husband make their home near one of their sons in Louisville, Kentucky where she writes, and they minister to pastors, leaders, and missionaries through Standing Stone Ministry. In addition to having four grown sons, Cathy and her husband are blessed with amazing daughters-in-law, a growing brood of grandchildren, and—though calling them a blessing is a matter of debate between her and family members—two persnickety cats.

More from Cathy

“A personal relationship with the Great Creator of all things is the only foundation for the abundant life. The farther we get away from self, the greater life will be.”

-George Washington Carver.

A Note About George and My Journey With Him

Although Professor Carver doesn’t appear in LaDelle & Jubilant until chapter nine, he’s not only an important character, but the impetus for writing the book in the first place!

The truth is, I am fascinated by George Washington Carver and want everyone to know about him. Due to his accomplishments, he was often referred to as “The Wizard of Tuskegee,” “The Peanut Man,” and, my personal favorite, “The Black Leonardo.” An agricultural chemist, professor, artist and more, George was a renaissance man in many ways. Though born into slavery and sickly as a child, God had big plans for him, and George was faithful. He viewed his work as worship to the Lord and service to his community and beyond.

After doing much research about George, the South, and the history of Tuskegee University, it felt surreal to travel to Alabama and spend time where Professor Carver had lived and worked for 47 years. For several days, I soaked up all I could—the George Washington Carver Museum, Booker T. Washington’s home, called The Oaks, the stately brick buildings on campus, and the thriving agricultural area which is still used for instruction. As a middle-aged Caucasian woman, I’m sure I stood out at this historically Black university as I ate in the student cafeteria and roamed the grounds, poking my head into buildings and snapping photos.

After engaging all my senses and imagination while exploring the place George called home for most of his life, I flew back to California with a belly full of sweet tea and my mind full of fresh insight and inspiration. Years after that trip, I finally finished LaDelle & Jubilant!

I hope you are entertained and inspired by my historical, character-driven novel. I also hope it compels you to look further into the life of George Washington Carver.

Happy reading!

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, January 24

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, January 25 (Author Interview)

The Lit Lady, January 25

Lighthouse Academy Blog, January 26 (Guest Review from Marilyn Ridgway)

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, January 27

Texas Book-aholic, January 28

Locks, Hooks and Books, January 29

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, January 30

Books I’ve Read, January 31

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, February 1

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, February 2

Simple Harvest Reads, February 3 (Author Interview)

For Him and My Family, February 4

An Author’s Take, February 5

Artistic Nobody, February 6 (Author Interview)

Mary Hake, February 6

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Cathy is giving away the grand prize package of a $50 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/299bd/ladelle



Wednesday, January 24, 2024

An Interview with Jerome Gay, Author of African Heroes

 

An Interview with Jerome Gay,

Author of African Heroes

God has used all races and ethnicities in his plan of redemption right from the very beginning. It’s important to learn the history behind the spreading of the Gospel message and the men and women who often risked their lives to tell others about Jesus, but there are few resources that tell these powerful stories, especially for children. However, a new book from pastor and The Urban Perspective founder Jerome Gay Jr. does exactly that. African Heroes: Discovering Our Christian Heritage, highlights and celebrates the contributions of African theologians and martyrs.

 

Gay starts African Heroes by sharing the story of a family spending time together after church on a Sunday. Jordan and Jasmine’s dad loves history and is always telling them stories about the past. One day when their family is out on a picnic, they start asking if there were any Christians who looked like them who God had used to help the church grow. They are excited when their dad shares inspiring true stories of early Christian leaders—both men and women—from Africa who helped to grow the early church in remarkable and significant ways. 

 

Q: What inspired you to write a book about the African roots of our Christian heritage?

 

I noticed that there was a discrepancy when it came to church history. The discrepancy is that it was presented in a monolithic way. Many of the African church, influencers, philosophers, fathers, martyrs, and theologians have been presented as white, which doesn’t reflect actual church history. I wanted to create a resource where children can see themselves in redemptive history, learn about church history, and highlight and accentuate the contributions of African theologians. To be clear, the point is not black-washing scripture or history, but rather color-correcting and presenting a more accurate, unified view and appreciation of church history.

 

Q: Who are some of the heroes you introduce in the book? What are some of their accomplishments?

 

We learn about Tertullian and how he is credited with giving us the concept of the trinity. We also learn about Athanasius and how he stood firm at the council of Nicaea about the deity of Christ. Then there is Perpetua and Felicity, two African female martyrs who gave their lives for Jesus and refused to deny his kingship. There are many more, but these are just a few of the people highlighted in the book.

 

Q: Which is your favorite hero? Would you share their story with us?

 

My favorite is Augustine of Hippo. His influence has far exceeded him, and many of the concepts about theology and interpretation of Scripture have been greatly influence in impacted by this African man. His commitment to scripture, discipleship, apologetics, and learning was unprecedented. 

 

Augustine’s writings were huge in shaping people theologically during his time and even now. Augustine was a master in rhetoric and to use modern vernacular he had what many in urban communities and fans of hip hop call “bars.” He’s given us quotes such as “Unity in things necessary, liberty in things doubtful, charity in all things; with love for mankind and hatred of sin” (this is where we get the phrase “love the sinner, hate the sin” from); “Jesus Christ will be the Lord of all, or he will not be Lord at all,” and many others. Augustine is another example of the myriad of Blacks used to form theology and philosophy. As Jonathan Hill observes, “His [Augustine’s] influence over Western thought—religious and otherwise—is total; he remains inescapable even over fifteen centuries after his death.”

Q: Did you already know stories of all of the heroes in the book before you started writing, or did you learn about some of them as you set out on the project?

 

As I continued writing the book, I learned a lot more about Perpetua and Felicity, as well as Shenoute of Atripe. He was someone I had never heard of, but I was introduced to him by Dr. Vince Bantu and I was able to read and learn more about his contributions in the process. He was committed to orthodoxy and confronted the heresy of his day. Shenoute was fluent in Coptic and Greek, was a prolific writer, and led the White Monastery (white because of the color of the walls—the monks were primarily people with melanin as Shenoute was himself). He’s an example of the rich Christian history in Africa and how Africa and Africans influenced orthodoxy and shaped the Christian faith.

 

Q: All Christians should know more about church history. Why don’t we know more of these stories about early church leaders? 

 

There are a myriad of reasons as to why we don’t know, but I think the primary ones are their stories are typically taught in seminaries but not in churches. We should never take away from our focus on the Bible, but we should also look at the early church’s history beyond the first century. We need to talk about these heroes of the faith more in churches, and not negate their African heritage. I think doing this will spread the news about them and their contributions to theology, culture, and scripture interpretation.

 

Q: How important is it for children of color could see people like themselves acknowledged and celebrated, especially in the church?

 

Some people think that Christianity is a white man’s religion. This couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s understandable why some people feel this way because when it comes to most of the imagery of the biblical characters, as well as the church fathers in Christian history, there has been a whitewashing. Literally all of them have been presented as white and this is caused many to view Christianity as a monolithic faith. While those within the church and those who read scripture know that Christianity is a mosaic made of people of all different races, cultures, and ethnicities, many are unaware of this. By showing children of color black and brown theologians who have impacted Christian history, they no longer have to feel or be presented with the false notion that God has only used one race of people in his redemptive plan. 

 

James makes it clear that God does not show favoritism, and because that’s the case, He chooses and uses people of all different hues. When children see this, they will be encouraged and inspired by the people they read about.

 

Q: Each hero has an attribute given at the top of their page as well as one Bible verse that speaks to that quality. What’s the importance of including that for every hero?

 

The attributes and the scripture make it clear that these people were committed to God and his word during the time of their ministry. It’s important to note that none of them were perfect and some of them potentially strayed when it comes to their understanding, but their contributions were rooted in their faith in Christ and the application of scripture. I wanted to make sure we had scripture because these are imperfect men and women, and scripture declares that there’s a perfect guide that has redeemed all of humanity, Jesus.

 

Q: What are some other ways families can learn more about Christianity’s roots in Africa?

 

There are other resources that families can read in addition to African Heroes. I have written a book called The Whitewashing of Christianity that deals with why people think Christianity is a white man’s religion. It highlights Christianity in Africa before colonization. It also talks about the African presence in scripture and how many of the people in Jesus’s lineage are of Hamitic descent. I think people need to know that Africa, Asia, and Europe are the places covered in scripture, and we see the gospel spreading to these places on out to the world. 

 

There are other people to follow to learn more about African Christianity. Dr. Vince Bantu is a leading theologian in the space, and I highly recommend reading some of his books on the subject such as A Multitude of People. other suggested reading includes Urban Apologetics by Dr. Eric Mason and How Africa Shaped the Christian Mind and The African Memory of Mark, both by Dr. Thomas Oden.

African Heroes: Discovering Our Christian Heritage

By Jerome Gay Jr., Illustrated by John Joven

ISBN 978-1-64507-263-8

October 16, 2023 / Retail Price $16.99

Religion / Christian Education / Children & Youth

About the Author

Jerome Gay Jr. is the founding and teaching pastor of Vision Church in Raleigh, NC. He has a vision to see gospel-centered churches planted, disciples multiplied, missionaries unleashed, and theologically sound and culturally engaging leaders raised up and sent out to impact the world with The Gospel. He is also the founder and president of The Urban Perspective.

 

Gay is the author of The Whitewashing of Christianity: A Hidden Past, A Hurtful Present, and A Hopeful Future, Renewal: Grace and Redemption in the Story of RuthChurch Hurt: Holding the Church Accountable and Helping Hurt People Heal, the children’s book: African Heroes: Discovering Our Christian Heritage, and the minibook, Talking to Your Children about Race

 

Jerome and his wife, Crystal, have two children.

 

Learn more at jeromegayjr.com and follow him on Facebook (Jerome Gay Jr),    Instagram (@jeromegay), and X (@jeromegay).





Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Welcome to the Bride by Beguilement Celebration Tour! #Giveaway #historical

 

About the Book

Book: Bride by Beguilement

Author: Debbie Lynne Costello

Genre: Historical Christian Romance

Release Date: September 25, 2023

Kirsten Macleod is in a bind. Her father’s last will and testament stipulates that she must either marry, lead the plantation into a first year profit, or forfeit it to her uncle. But marriage is proving no easy option. Every suitor seems more enamored with the land than with her. Until her handsome neighbor sweeps into her stable to the rescue… of her beloved horse.

Silas Westbrook’s last year at veterinary school ends abruptly when he is called home to care for his young orphaned sisters. Troubles compound when he finds an insurmountable lien on the only home they’ve ever known, and the unscrupulous banker is calling in the loan. The neighbor’s kind-hearted and beautiful stable girl, Krissy, provides the feminine influence the girls desperately need. If only he had a future to offer her. But to save his sisters from poverty, he should set his sights on Krissy’s wealthy relative Kirsten Macleod, the elusive new heiress. Surely this hard-working and unassuming young lady and the landowner could not be one and the same?

 Marilyn's thoughts:   

I am always glad when I get caught up with the story line and feet like I am present with the characters, events and all that transpire till the end. Costello did exactly that with Bride by Beguilement. This Christian historical set in Texas brings together an heiress and a local farmer who both faced struggles and deadlines to see their parents’ last will met.

 

This tale had intrigue, mystery, realistic characters, faith and romance. I admired the strength, compassion and love for others that Kirsten and Silas had for others. Kirsten did not consider herself above others in caring for the plantation she was trying to save. Silas had a lot on his plate but wasn’t afraid of work to accomplish what needed done for his father’s farm. The twists and turns as to who was behind all the lies, thievery, violent acts of pain gave way to reading till answers were found. Costello penned a gentle yet strong faith message in this lovely tale.

 

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author for the book tour with Celebrate Lit Bloggers. I was under no obligation to write a positive review. I have expressed my own thoughts.

Click here to get your copy!

 

About the Author

Debbie Lynne Costello has enjoyed writing stories since she was eight years old. She raised her family and then embarked on her own career of writing the stories that had been begging to be told. She and her husband have four children and live in upstate South Carolina. She has worked in many capacities in her church and is currently the Children’s Director. She loves the Lord and hopes people will be uplifted and inspired by her writing. Debbie Lynne has shown and raised Shetland Sheepdogs for eighteen years and still enjoys litters now and then. In their spare time, she and her husband take pleasure in camping and riding their Arabian and Tennessee Walking horses.

More from Debbie

I’ve always believed that a great book can go unknown without a great cover. What makes me say that? You’ll never know what’s in the book if you don’t read the back cover and you’ll never read the back cover if you don’t pick up the book and you won’t pick up the book unless the cover grabs you. I loved the cover of book one. It was perfect for the story. That left me feeling a bit anxious about the cover for book two. With the hero being a veterinarian who owned a horse farm and a heroine with a sick horse, the cover needed a horse. But let me tell you, there just aren’t that many horse models out there.

Most publishers and book designers don’t allow the author to submit a photo to use. I mean that just isn’t the way it’s done—and understandably so. There is a certain quality that has to be adhered to. Can you imagine what covers would look like if we could use our phones to take our cover picture? Well…I just happen to know a very capable photographer so I took a gamble and asked the cover editor if I could submit a picture of my horse, Trigger for the cover. To my surprise, they asked for copies of the photographer’s work, which I happily supplied. The cover editor was quite impressed and okayed the idea.

So with a photographer, a beautiful young lady, some 19th century clothes, and my boy Trigger, I was part of the photo shoot, explaining how I envisioned the pose. When the pictures came back I was ecstatic! They were exactly what I was wanting. And better yet, the cover designer liked them as well!

I’m now trying to figure out how I can get Trigger to hold a book so I can take his picture with the cover. If you have any ideas, let me know! If you’d like to see more pictures of Trigger, you can see him on my FB page with my ‘through the ears of a horse’ posts.

Blog Stops

Vicky Sluiter, January 19

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, January 20

Mary Hake, January 20

She Lives to Read, January 20

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, January 21

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, January 22

lakesidelivingsite, January 23

Lighthouse Academy Blog, January 23 (Guest Review from Marilyn Ridgway)

Betti Mace, January 24

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, January 25

Holly’s Book Corner, January 25

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, January 26 (Author Interview)

Locks, Hooks and Books, January 27

Britt Reads Fiction, January 28

Texas Book-aholic, January 29

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, January 30

Simple Harvest Reads, January 31 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

For Him and My Family, February 1

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Debbie is giving away the grand prize package of an apron kitchen set (as pictured), a $50 Amazon Gift Card and a signed copy of my book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/297cf/bride-by-beguilement-celebration-tour-giveaway



While the City Sleeps (Women of Midtown)

  While the City Sleeps  (Women of Midtown)  February 13, 2024 by  Elizabeth Camden   (Author) Amid the hushed city, two hearts must navigat...