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When New Year’s Resolutions Fail

So…one month down in the New Year. How are your resolutions going? Losing that weight? Getting your Bible reading on track? Exercising at least “X” times a week?

No?

You’re not alone. Upwards of 80%* of all New Year’s Resolutions fail before the 1st of February. Not that failure is good, but at least you’re not alone, right?

That probably doesn’t make you feel better, does it? It doesn’t make me feel better about the donut I had for breakfast this morning either, or the fact that I didn’t go to the gym. It really doesn’t make me feel ok about the fact that I was 19 days into January before starting my daily Bible reading plan

I’m disappointed in myself. In the win-loss struggle of life, January was a big loss in every aspect except my writing, which I managed to do every day of the month (a first for me). If I’m not careful, my weight and Bible reading will never get better, all because I’ve “lost” several times this year already.

All that failure can really weigh on a person.

Which is why Todd Molter, teaching pastor at Legacy Church, believes that my life is more about growing in my relationship with Jesus as I passionately pursue him than it is about setting and keeping resolutions or checkboxes. Yours is too, and that’s good news!

Relationships are messy, whether it’s a spouse, a child, a parent, or God. What does two steps forward and one step back look like for a Christian? What does a steady state spiritual growth look like?

For Pastor Molter, it’s more about practicing daily disciplines, such as Bible study, expanding prayer life, love of your neighbor, and others, and rejecting peripheral issues, Biblical illiteracy, etc. Focusing on the former allows me to absorb periodic defeats because I’m thinking in the bigger terms of developing my relationship with Jesus Christ.

Sure, 80% of people blow their New Year’s Resolutions before they even get into February. But what’s the big picture? What does it mean for a person’s overall health? Their family? And most importantly, their relationship with Jesus?

I’m very pleased to be working with Pastor Molter on a project that will help you in your struggle for victories without relying on them for your well-being. In truth, if you’re only out for checkmarks in the win column, your progress will disappoint you. The good news is, we’re not really going to do that with this project.

However, if you want to know how to stop worrying about wins and losses, and instead start passionately pursuing Jesus Christ, you’re in the right place. If you want to have that “aha” moment someday, where you look back and think, “Wow, that was the best prayer time I’ve ever had!” then this is the project for you.

 

We would love for you to join our mailing list for this project. Click HERE to sign up and learn more about passionately pursuing Jesus Christ. We can’t wait to connect with you!

Book Review: Blind Justice

Blind Justice* was the first Sir John Fielding novel written by American Author Bruce Alexander Cook (pen name: Bruce Alexander). The series is eleven books long, and I look forward to happily reading them all. Unfortunately, Mr. Cook is no longer with us, having died of a stroke in 2003.

The book starts with a murder, which looked like suicide, and a non-grieving widow, who is adamant that the suicide is, in fact, a murder. When the recently orphaned Jeremy Proctor mentions the lack of gunpowder residue on the victim’s hands, Sir John Fielding realizes that the widow is right. There has been a murder. What ensues is a very fun series of events that don’t reveal the answer until the very end. Very, very good plot lines, with clues added in periodically. Some of them, so well placed, that they don’t become important until the story is all tied up.

It’s not all fun and games, of course. Jeremy’s father is killed in the early pages, leaving him homeless orphan. He runs off to London to escape those who would mistreat him in his hometown. Then there is the matter of Meg, who was sexually assaulted by the murder victim when he was alive. For much of the book, I had hoped that Meg was the murderer, just so she could get her revenge. She does get it, but not in a way one might think. Finally, Sir John Fielding faces the pain of losing his wife to cancer.

I really liked all of the characters. Alexander took time to develop all of them throughout the story, giving us a reason to pull for the ones we liked, and hate the ones we didn’t. All of this done, mind you, through one POV (Jeremy Proctor). One of my favorite characters is Meg, who was treated very badly by Lord Goodhope while he was alive. I love how Bruce fixed her circumstances and let her get her revenge. Of all the characters, save Jeremy, I felt most invested in Meg and wanted her to get her revenge.

In addition to being a good mystery, the book is also a well-researched reference for the language and customs at the time, as well as medical and court procedures.

As I mentioned in the first paragraph, I look forward to getting to know Sir John Fielding and Jeremy Proctor better through the novels. It’s a series I will dabble in from time to time, like visiting old friends. I only wish the author were still around to bless us with more of his work. Easily a 4 out of 5 review.

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Book Review: Emmanuel

I liked the book, first and foremost. I think it’s a great start for a dystopian America book series where faith seems dead, humanity might just be at its worst, and nothing seems hopeful on the horizon. Even there, as the author suggests, there is hope, and that hope is in the gospel of Jesus Christ. I like that idea a lot.

The story begins with a boy named Ezekiel, or EZ, who is lives in a domed slave world in a very bad part of the broken country. We are then introduced to Reese, who isn’t related to EZ in any way but seems to play a sort of parental role. The book details Reese, who has some knowledge of Christmas and its Biblical story, as he tries to teach the story to Ezekiel.

As it is a novelette, it needed to move quickly, and it does. We meet the supporting cast early on, understand the reasons for Reese’s hesitation to believe the Christmas story (or to have hope, for that matter), and learn how the little boy helps God break down Reese’s hard heart. Really good.

I was a little confused a little at the end, when Ezekiel talks about seeing Jesus, but it’s not something that will ruin the story for anyone. Certainly didn’t ruin it for me.

While the writing is good, I must point out that it could use a little tightening. Like, just a little bit. That’s the only thing it could use though. Great plot, great characters, great story. I was happy to give it four stars.

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Book Review: Runaway Saint

Runaway Saint was a great book overall. I liked that the author didn’t force me to suspend belief in order to make the plot work (as in, the plot was plausible). I also liked that there was a happy ending, without having everything happily ever after. Finally, I liked that it was Christian fiction, but not dry or overly safe.

One issue I had with the book, and this might seem minor, but it bothered me. On page 51, the author talked about the great missionary to China, “Judson” Taylor. However, the missionary’s name was Hudson Taylor. I find it hard to believe that a publisher would have allowed a serious mistake like that, so I’m assuming that this was a typo that made it through. The “J” and the “H” are very close on the keyboard. Just to make sure I wasn’t wrong, I googled Judson Taylor and didn’t come up with anything useful, certainly not someone who was famous for being a missionary to the Chinese like Hudson Taylor was. As a student of Taylor’s (via research), I was kind of put off by this mistake and almost stopped reading the book. I’m glad I kept going though. It was a good book.

Three stars because the ending was good, but I was really unnerved by the crucial mistake in editing.

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Book Review: The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett

** spoiler alert ** Let’s start with the title. I’ll just cut to the chase and tell you that there aren’t a hundred lies, or even a hint at lies. We learn that Lizzie Lovett wasn’t as happy as she pretended to be. That’s not even a story, much less the title of a book.

It got preachy at the end. The last twenty pages or so was supposedly internal monologue with a few scenes in it, but the reality is that it was a thinly veiled sermon. I did like that the main character seemed to find love in the end. I did want that for her, just like I want it for my own daughters.

Spoiler: For Christians, I would say this book is not an option. There is a description of sex in one of the latter chapter. It’s not overly dramatic, but for believers, I believe it’s a non-starter.

Spoiler: One of the only things I really appreciated from the book was on page 340, when it talks about a list of suicidal warning signs, even though Lizzie hadn’t had any. That’s true in so many cases. We talk about what we might have missed, but the simple fact is that we often don’t see any warning signs. It sucks, but it’s also true.

The biggest takeaway, and the biggest negative, is that I kept reading the book, hoping that there would be some positivity at some point, but there just wasn’t. Even in tying up loose ends, Sedoti left me depressed. I get it, teenage angst is tough. As a human, I went through it too. Unfortunately, all I felt at the end of this book was depression. It was technically sound, so I give it 3 stars, but nothing more.

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Saving Ebenezer is Coming to Girard!

Contact Name: S. Daniel Smith

Phone: 858-309-2306

Email: dan@navychristian.org

Website: http://www.sdanielsmith.com

            FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

First Christian Church, Girard, to Host Author

Girard Native to present his Christmas Novella

 

front-2[GIRARD, KANSAS, October 22—] Sheldon Smith, Girard native and 1996 GHS graduate, will present from his Christmas novella, Saving Ebenezer: The Continuing Saga of a Man Named Scrooge, at First Christian Church, Girard, on 10 November 2019 at 2:00pm. Sheldon writes under the pen named S. Daniel Smith and wrote the holiday novella to offer hope and a Christian message during the holiday season.

Saving Ebenezer: The Continuing Saga of a Man Named Scrooge begins with Tiny Tim’s death and seeks to answer questions about tragedy, faith, and relationships as the main character, Ebenezer Scrooge, struggles with his loss. Fans of A Christmas Carol will note Smith’s use of Dickens’ writing style and his respect for the original characters.

First Christian Church of Girard, located at 119 North Summit in Girard, meets weekly at 9:30am for singing and Sunday School and 10:45am for worship. Cristine Warring serves as pastor.

Daniel Smith is an author and career Navy officer living in San Diego, CA. He has authored articles in over a dozen periodicals, both online and in print. Saving Ebenezer: The Continuing Saga of a man named Scrooge, is available at Amazon.com. More information is available at his website: www.sdanielsmith.com.

Additional information about the book is available at AMAZON and at THIS LINK.

 

Saving Ebenezer Back Cover

Sdansmith_3D-2 copySeven years after Jacob Marley and the three ghosts of Christmas changed Ebenezer’s life, Scrooge has a problem. He’s given away most of his money and brightened many lives, restored churches, and made London workhouses better for those living and working inside. If only all of that made him feel better about his life…

Doubt plagues Ebenezer. Even with all of his philanthropy, he still has questions he can’t answer. Are the scales balanced? Did he do enough good after that fateful Christmas Eve to avoid Jacob Marley’s fate? And after a very special person dies, he adds another question: Why did God let it happen?

When he falls ill himself, Ebenezer’s questions take on a new desperation. 

From the Cratchits to the workhouse fundraisers to nephew Fred, you’ll be reintroduced to several old friends, as well as a few new ones. With each visitor, Ebenezer tries to get closer to the answers to his questions. As the clock starts to run out, Ebenezer will need the words from an old friend to tip the scales in his favor.

Order the book HERE.

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