Tuesday, September 25, 2012

An interview with author Dianne Neal Matthews.

Tell us a little about your newest devotional book.
Designed for Devotion: A 365 Day Journey from Genesis to Revelation provides an overview of the entire Bible. It explains the background and factual information for each book, including the author, theme, purpose for writing, and historical setting. The book highlights the key stories and characters in the OT and gospels, and explores the basic teachings of the NT writers. Throughout the book, each day’s devotion ends with a practical application that encourages readers to apply that day’s spiritual lesson to their own journey with God.

What can readers hope to gain from reading Designed for Devotion?
Readers will gain the factual and historical information needed to understand the context of each book and how it fits in with the rest of the Bible. At the same time, they will be able to see how each story and teaching relates to their everyday lives. Designed for Devotion will help those new to Bible study grow in their understanding of God and His Word. A trip through the Bible can be a life-changing journey!

Tell us about your previous books.
The One Year On This Day (now available only in eBook format) uses holiday origins, historical events and anniversaries, and pop culture trivia to illustrate spiritual truths. The One Year Women of the Bible blends the accounts of biblical women with stories of contemporary women. In Drawing Closer to God: 365 Daily Meditations of Questions from Scripture each devotional is based on a question asked by someone in the Bible—God, Jesus, Satan, an Old Testament character, or a New Testament writer. The meditation explores the setting, ties it into a spiritual principle or practical application, and closes with either a question for readers to ask God (prayer focus) or a question to ask themselves (reflection). This one is currently sold only as an eBook, but readers can order print copies directly from me.

What projects are you working on now?
I write devotionals and articles for periodicals and websites, and sometimes contribute to compilation books such as Mornings with Jesus 2013: Daily Encouragement for Your Soul published by Guideposts. Although I’ve focused on nonfiction so far, I’m looking into trying my hand at fiction. I would love to research and write a historical novel.

Tell our readers a little about you personally?
I would like to assure readers of my books that I most definitely do not have it all together. Sometimes after writing a devotional, I feel like a hypocrite. I never want to give the impression that I don’t struggle with the issues I write about. My writing isn’t a reflection of my spiritual maturity; it’s an extension of God’s grace and the wisdom found in His Word.

How can readers connect with you online?
They can find me on Facebook, on Twitter, at LinkedIn, or they can contact me through my website. I love it when people stop by to offer feedback or to just chat.
Dianne Neal Matthews is a freelance writer and the author of four daily devotional books. She enjoys speaking and teaching at writers' conferences. Dianne is a 2006 CLASS graduate and a member of Advanced Writers & Speakers, Christian Authors Network, and Toastmasters International. She loves hiking and nature-related activities, hanging out friends, doing Bible study, cooking, needlework and knitting, and of course reading. She and her husband, Richard, currently live in Salt Lake City, which is too far away from their three grown children and two adorable grandchildren.

Please leave a comment below. We'll do a drawing next week to give away a free copy of Diane's book.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Congratulation to Kathleen who won the gift basket including a copy of Parables and Word Pictures From the New Testament by
Cheri Cowell Author, Speaker, and Sidewalk Theologian

Thursday, July 19, 2012

When You Need a Miracle

When You Need a Miracle: 
How to Ask God for the Impossible

I first met Linda Evans Shepherd six years ago when I attended a retreat at which she was speaking, and I had the privilege of taking her to dinner - just the two of us. I was so pleased to find a woman who is down to earth and loves Jesus above all else. We each shared about our lives and ministries, and by the end of the evening she invited me to be a part of a group she founded The Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. We've been friends ever since.

When I received in the mail a copy of Linda's new book When You Need a Miracle: How to ask God for the Impossible I didn't know what to expect, and perhaps you have a few questions, too. From the title you might think she will try to give formula prayers you can repeat in order to talk God into getting what you want, or doing spectacular things in your life. That's not the case. More than anything, Linda gives sound biblical teaching that will draw you into a closer relationship with Christ.

Linda knows from personal experience how tragedy can impact a life, and what it is like to desperately need and want a miracle. She doesn't take this subject lightly. Discouragement, hopelessness, why our prayers aren't answered the way we desire and how to cope during those times, what it means to ask in faith, the importance of praise, and so much more is within the pages of this book.

Linda is the author of over thirty books including When You Don't Know What to Pray: How to Talk to God About Anything and When You Can't Find God: How to Ignite the Power of His Presence, and the co-author of the popular series The Potluck Club and The Potluck Catering Club. Linda is an international speaker and media personality and is the creator or RightToTheHeart.tv and appears as a frequent host of Daystar's Denver Celebration. She's the president of the nonprofit ministry Right to the Heart, which has seen over 500,000 people come to faith in Christ. She is married and has two children. http://www.sheppro.com/

Please leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Linda's new book. We'll pick a winner next week!

Monday, July 02, 2012

Time to Reevaluate

The recent Colorado fires have caused me once again to reevaluate what’s important in my life. I don’t mean relationships (that’s a given), but rather “stuff”. What “stuff” do I have in my home that I feel like I can’t live without?

Over and over, those who were evacuated from their homes said, when told they had little time to evacuate, they grabbed their photographs first. I think that’s what I would take, too. 

Before you give me too much credit, understand that I love my stuff as much as the next person. But, photos are a visual reminder of memories; a visual reminder of happy birthdays, joyful weddings, fun school days, special events. Now that we can even take pictures on our cell phones we have instant “memories” that we can share with others. My cell phone is filled with pictures of my grandchildren, and I can instantly scroll through to ooh and ah, and relive the occasions on which the photos were taken. Basically, photos are a visual reminder of relationships, aren’t they?

All this contemplation made me think about the visual reminders that are all around me of my relationship with God – my family, friends, nature, and more. What about you? What are your visual reminders of God’s love and His relationship with you? 

Please share and leave a comment. I'd like to hear what you think.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Blog contest winner

Congratulations to Tami-Jo Boynton Halliman on winning a copy of  "Joseph: Beyond the Coat of Many Colors" from last week's blog contest.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Can pride and humility co-exist?

When I heard last week that my Bible study "Joseph: Beyond the Coat of Many Colors" had won the Blue Ridge Writers Conference 2012 SELAH award for best Bible study I experienced every imaginable emotion. At first, I was confused. I was on the road coming home from Nebraska when I received an email from a friend congratulating me for the award.  I had no idea what she was referring to. I had had limited email for five days and hadn't yet received word.

Next, I was shocked and surprised. The Blue Ridge Christian Writers Conference is one of the premier writers conferences in the country and honors the best; I was next truly humbled.

But, I must admit that I am also proud of this study, and admittedly, the award. "Joseph" is more than the culmination of years of study and writing; it is the result of the Lord working in my own life since childhood. It is about how I so closely relate to Joseph's life. It is sharing from my heart how the Lord took me from my personal "pit" as a teenager with multiple broken families/marriages, twenty-one step-, half-, and adopted siblings, and many deep hurts to a life of service to Him.

This study goes way beyond the Sunday school story you heard as a child. I believe you will see Joseph as you never have before: the lonely little boy ignored by his brothers, yet coddled by his parents. You'll feel his fear in the pit; follow his caravan to Egypt; stand with him on the slave auction block. You'll experience his struggle for sexual purity, go with him to the dungeons of Egypt, rejoice in his rise to power, and weep as he forgives the hurt and betrayal of his brothers. Perhaps more than any other biblical narrative, Joseph’s life is a practical model for every day relationships. This study details each aspect of Joseph’s life and shows us how to relate it to our own temptations and struggles with envy, disappointment, betrayal, purity, power, and forgiveness.

“Joseph” is a blueprint for understanding blended families with broken and betrayed relationships. It serves as a leadership manual for churches and businesses; a handbook for employees and employers; a guidebook for resisting negative peer pressure and instituting moral purity, grace and forgiveness. Literally, it has something for everyone. It's an eight week interactive Bible study offering hope, encouragement, and practical answers to life’s problems. I would be willing to bet that Joseph's story is not just my story, but yours too.

I hope you will consider this study for your personal use or Sunday School or group Bible study. May the Lord bless you in your own "Joseph life"!

Please leave a comment with your contact info for a chance to win a copy of "Joseph". We'll be drawing a name next Monday.


Monday, June 04, 2012

Do you love a good story?

I don't know about you, but I love the stories and parables in Scripture. Today I'm happy to tell you about a new book Parables and Word Pictures from the New Testament by my friend and fellow AWSA sister (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) Cheri Cowell. She is a self-described author, speaker, and sidewalk theologian, and is passionate about discipleship and challenging the body of Christ to holiness of heart and life. Cheri’s love of story and the Holy Word shines through in her writing and teaching. In the following questions and answers Cheri tells us about her newest book Parables and Word Pictures from the New Testament, a 13-week workbook-style study of 118 parables from Jesus, Paul, and the apostles.

(Please leave a comment at the end of the blog for a chance to win a gift basket from Cheri. Your contact email must be included.)

What passion drove you as you wrote your new book?
I LOVE the Word and I love storytelling and I want others to fall in love not only with the Word but also with the concept that they can become a living parable, a living story pointing others toward the Ultimate Living Parable––Jesus Christ.

What do you hope readers will gain from your book(s)?
That the parables are not isolated stories only used for sermon illustrations, but when read together they give us a picture of how we are to live as kingdom people. Through the parables we learn how to become living parables in a world desperate to "see" God.

The title of your study is Parables & Word Pictures; just what is a “word picture?”
There are some teachings of Jesus, such as when He says, "I am the Good Shepherd who lays down His life for His sheep" that aren't technically parables but are what I call parable word pictures because the image tells the whole story.

It has been said that Jesus spoke in parables to “confuse and confound” and you say you have a “key” to making these less confusing and confounding to modern-day readers. What is this key?
It wasn't until I studied the parables as a whole that the whole message they convey became clear, so the key is a comprehensive look at the New Testament parables.

Storytelling is a big part of our culture. Everywhere you turn there is a new story; how can we use these parables to reach our neighbors and friends with their story-telling power?
For me, this is what studying the parables is all about. It is about shaping our lives after Jesus that when others "read our lives" they see Him. How we treat others, how we respond to sorrow and obstacles tells a story. When asked how and why we are able to be at peace, or turn the other cheek, we don't need a canned presentation. We simply share our story of how God's story has changed us.

The study concludes with a look at the Parable of all parables. Tell us about this because this is the heart of your study.

I remember the moment when in preparation for writing this study I understood that Jesus not only taught parables, but He was a parable––a living parable. In fact, He was the Ultimate Living Parable who lived His life as an example of what a life shaped by the truths taught in the parables should look like. Likewise, you and I have been invited to live parable-shaped lives so we, too, might become a living parable in a world begging to see God.

Thank you, Cheri! 

To order Cheri's book:

Trailer Link:

Monday, May 07, 2012

What I (re)learned at Walmart last night.

Last night I went to Walmart to pick up a few items - okay, not a "few" because who goes to Walmart and walks away with only a few items? Anyway, as I  walked across the parking lot toward the store I noticed a young man in his twenties walking out of the store with a woman I assume was his mother. She was pushing their cart with both hands while he kept one hand on the bar next to hers and leaning against her ever so slightly. She walked, he walked. She paused to check for traffic, he paused. She crossed the drive, he crossed the drive. Not once did he hesitate to follow her lead, and they moved together in perfect sync with the apparent practice of many years. As I walked toward the store and passed them in the parking lot, my suspicion that the man was blind was confirmed.

Immediately, I thought of the numerous Scripture references to God leading us such as Psalm 31:3, "For you are my rock and my fortress; Therefore, for your name's sake, lead me and guide me". He will always lead, but of course, I actually have to follow Him. So many times I feel as if I'm blind going in to a situation. Am I leaning on Him? Is my hand resting next to His so that I can follow His lead, or am I trying to "push the cart" on my own, not looking both ways, or perhaps, not looking up? Am I walking with Him in sync after years of following?

Here are a few things about following God's lead that were reinforced to me last night:

* He will protect me from harm.
* He is always trustworthy.
* He is always looking out for my best interest.
* He wants me to "lean" on Him.
* He is the leader in this dance of life; I'm to follow.
* He can see; I'm blind.
* It takes time to learn to walk in sync.
* I should never hesitate to follow God's lead.
* I can walk with confidence.

Thank you, young man, for what you taught me last night!

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

We All Married Idiots:
Three Things You Will Never Change About Your Marriage and Ten Things You Can

by Elaine W. Miller

1. Did we ALL marry idiots?

 Years ago during an argument with my husband I thought, I must have been an idiot to marry this idiot! Then I burst out laughing realizing that makes me an idiot too! Later I learned the word "idiot" is derived from the Greek word "common man." When we look to our spouses to fulfill needs that only Christ can fulfill, then husbands and wives become dissatisfied with their marriages.

2. What is the purpose of We All Married Idiots?

Too many couples give up too soon for too little reason. They enter a second marriage only to realize, Ugh, this person is an idiot too! We All Married Idiots will help couples enjoy marriage as God intended.

3. What are the three things you will never change?

The first is the idiosyncrasies. We all have peculiar habits and do little things that annoy. We'd like to change our spouse's idiosyncrasies, but honestly that is not what we promised on our wedding days.
The second is sin. We all married sinners. We all sin and sin inflicts pain. There will be times you and your spouse will hurt each other.
The third is the differences. Men and women don't think the same. We have different ways of solving problems.
We All Married Idiots teaches husbands and wives to stop concentrating on the three things they will never change and focus on the ten things they can change.

4. What is your best piece of marriage advice?

In marriage we need to examine ourselves. Funny. I've read through the Bible seven times searching for a verse that says, "Examine your spouse." It's not there. But the Bible does say "examine yourself." Another word of advice is to give up your life and your marriage to God and hold on. Don't let go. The problems you have today could be gone in five or ten years. I just don't love him or her anymore is not a reason for a divorce. Husbands and wives grow up, mature, change for the better. Keep running towards the goal God has for your marriage. Of course, if you are in an abusive situation, I advise you to flee to a safe place and receive professional Christian counseling.

5. Why did you write We All Married Idiots?

I wrote We All Married Idiots to save marriages from the pain I inflicted on myself and on Dan. I wrote to glorify God and to change that awful 50% divorce rate.
We All Married Idiots is a great tool for individual study or couples to study together.  Fifty percent of our neighbors are headed for divorce. We could change that statistic by reaching out to them with a We All Married Idiots small group. The questions at the end of each chapter are not threatening and do not require a theological degree to understand. As one reviewer said, "This is the most accessible Christian book I have ever read."

6. How can We All Married Idiots be purchased?

We All Married Idiots is available on line as a print or ebook and at your local bookstore. Autographed copies can be purchased through my website,  http://www.splashesofserenity.com/  or by contacting me at SplashesofSerenity@yahoo.com.

Monday, April 30, 2012

A Mid-year Resolution

(My dear friend and "Goal Buddy" Diane)

January is the time of year we associate with resolutions. People decide to lose weight, quit smoking, clean out the garage, get more organized, etc. I'll admit it, I'm one of those people too!

In 2011 I resolved to blog more often, and I did pretty well until the very end of the year when I had knee surgery and I got out of the habit. What is it about us that we are so easily derailed? Granted, my surgery wasn't a minor thing, but of course, then there was Christmas, and then.... The point is, I made excuses and kept saying to myself, "I'll start up again next week." So, today I'm making a mid-year resolution to start blogging again on a regular basis.

Now, I'd like to challenge you to consider a mid-year resolution or two, not wait until next January. And, here's an idea that has really helped me the past coupe of years. Three years ago my friend Diane and I  made a "goal list" and emailed them to each other. Our lists covered personal, professional, and ministry goals. We included projects that we had put off for years, organizing of specific rooms, photo albums, and so on. We included EVERYTHING we wanted to accomplish. At the end of the year we sent each other a progress report. No, we didn't reach every goal, and some continue to show up on the next year's list, but it does make us more accountable and helps to keep us focused.

Consider finding a friend that will be your "goal buddy", send each other your goals, follow up throughout the year, and make a final report next January. I guarantee you will accomplish more this year.

I'd love to hear your thoughts and suggestions!

Monday, March 05, 2012

Download your FREE copy of Linda Evans Shepherd's When You Can't Find God, How to Ignite the Power of His Presence, an inspiring book that will help you pray through any difficulty:

Amazon Kindle: http://tinyurl.com/7wg23as

B&N Nook: http://tinyurl.com/8yv8uqq
The storms of life visit us all, and at times we find ourselves ill-prepared to weather them. Where is God when everything comes crashing down? Where is he when a job is lost? When a child goes astray? When the diagnosis is cancer? Does he even care?In When You Can't Find God , Linda Evans ...