Going on Hiatus

May 28, 2012

by:  Staci Stallings

I wanted to let you, my loyal readers, know that the blog will be on hiatus for a couple weeks.  With a retreat coming up followed immediately by VBS, I have to pare and prune somewhere, and blogs are one of the things to be put on the back burner for just a little while.

While I’m gone, feel free to get a great Staci Stallings book from http://ebookromancestories.com and enjoy a summer of reading!

 

Thank you to all of you!

 

Staci Stallings


Bearing Fruit

May 24, 2012

I wrote this one several years ago, but it is very apropos now…

BEARING FRUIT

by:  Staci Stallings

I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it, that it may bear more fruit. –John 15: 1-2

Every so often a misinterpretation corrected sends shock waves through my life. Thus it was with this Bible verse.  I had always defined “bear” as meaning to produce.  In other words, “Every branch in Me that does not produce fruit, He takes away…”  Then I began reading about how God doesn’t expect us to do things for Him, no, He wants to do things through us if we allow Christ and the Holy Spirit to take over our lives to such a degree that it is them doing the doing and not us.

Okay, but there was still this verse.  Clearly it says if I am in Him, I will produce fruit.  Right?  Well, maybe.

I give you this new insight to ponder, not so that you can accept it outright, but so that you can try it on in your life and see if it fits.

 There is a second definition of “bear” I had never considered. It is actually the first definition of the word.  Bear means to carry or to hold.

Does that make any difference in how you read this verse?  “Every branch in Me that does not hold fruit, He takes away…”  To me, holding is much different than producing.  Holding is passive.  Someone else has done all the hard work to produce it, all I have to do is be strong enough in Christ to hold the fruit He’s producing in my life!

You know, looking back, I wonder how much fruit I didn’t “hold” because I was so busy trying to “produce” fruit on my own.  I wasn’t focused on what God was doing in my life, I was focused on what I was doing for Him.  Trust me on this, the difference between the two in theory and in practice are huge!

 The funny thing is, since I’ve stopped trying to produce fruit for Him, fruit in abundance of abundance has come into my life.  In my books, in my kids, in my marriage, in our finances.  Things I used to work so hard to accomplish (which never seemed to work out) are suddenly heaped upon me in blessing after blessing. I am convinced it’s because I stopped trying to producing and started being content holding that this change has come about.

So, as I said before, consider this simple yet profound modification in the way you define “bear.”  It may well change your entire life!

*~*

Staci’s Newest Release:

Houston firefighter, Jeff Taylor is a fireman’s fireman. No situation is too dangerous to keep him sidelined if lives are on the line. However, when control freak Lisa Matheson falls for him, she quickly realizes she can’t control Jeff or the death wish he seems to have…

To Protect & Serve

The Courage Series, Book 1

To save others’ lives, they will risk their own

Buy it on Amazon Kindle

 Buy it on Barnes & Noble Nook

“To Protect and Serve will hold you prisoner to its pages until the final one is turned. Prepare to cry, laugh, wish, love and maybe even cry again as you become enveloped in the hopes and feelings of Lisa and Jeff.”

-Cindy Reiger

Get Your Copy Today!


I Need Jesus — Step 12

May 22, 2012

By:  Staci Stallings

We have reached the end of our steps today.  I thank you for reading these posts.  They have certainly been enlightening for me

Here are the first 11 Steps:

  • Step 1 – We admitted we were powerless over our addiction – that our lives had become unmanageable
  • Step 2 – Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity
  • Step 3 – Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God
  • Step 4 – Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves
  • Step 5 – Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs
  • Step 6 – Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character
  • Step 7 – Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings
  • Step 8 – Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all
  • Step 9 – Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others
  • Step 10 – Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it
  • Step 11 – Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out

And Step 12 is:

Step 12 – Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs

My daughters and I teach Sunday School.  My oldest loves sign language and doing hand motions to songs.  So I let her choose the songs we will do, and she gets to teach the kids the motions.  The last several classes she chose the Casting Crowns song, “Until the Whole World Hears.”

In that song, the lyrics say:

I wanna be Your hands and feet

I wanna live a life that leads

Until the whole world hears.

And I pray that they will see

More of You and less of me

Until the whole world hears…

I think this final step is about that process–when you have begun the road of healing and you become a beacon for others.  In AA this is to other alcoholics, and I think it starts with the classic, “Hello, my name is Bill, and I’m an alcoholic.”

Spiritually it begins when you stop thinking about yourself and your struggles and pain and begin to use what you have learned to help others.  This may be out loud by choosing to join the choir or reading.  But often it is much quieter… in the loving hug that says, “I’ve been there, and it’s going to get better.”  It’s in the conversation with a struggling friend or in the notes of encouragement you send to someone who is having a tough time of it.

Much like the AA process, what you learn at the “end” is that there is no “end.”  Life is life, and it is going to keep throwing challenges at you.  They might be big — like decisions of what to do with your life or whether to accept that new job offer.  They may be smaller like recognizing your child has had a hard day and sitting with them to talk.

But I was reminded the other day about what Andy Andrews says, “Everything you do, every single thing–big or small–makes a difference.”

It’s true.  Listening to your child makes a difference, but so does not listening to your child.  Making time to be with a friend makes a difference, so does not making time.

All of those choices point your life in a direction, and they are signposts for others as well.

So if you want to live a life that leads, learn to base that life on GOD, not on yourself.  Recognize that you need Jesus in your life.  Go through the steps, and then when you have found peace and joy that only God can give… then you can give that to others.

I will be back on Monday with new lessons I have learned while writing this series.  Thanks for following along!

Staci Stallings

*~*

Some books are entertaining. Others challenge our faith and inspire growth. And still others touch our hearts on a deeper level. Then, there are the rare books that do all of the above. Those are the great books.

Lucky by Staci Stallings is a great book. Staci has woven this love story like a fine tapestry.

Kalin and Danae are colorful, real characters. Readers will instantly connect with them and have to keep reminding themselves they are only characters. Her scenes are real, her descriptions rich and the emotions of the characters are felt within the heart of the reader. Each character faces a personal inner darkness that threatens to ambush every success in life. The darknesses mingle as the two characters meet and begin a slow journey of the heart.

As the weaver of a tapestry must use dark threads to bring out the detail and beauty of the colors in the picture, Staci uses the darkness in the lives of Kalin and Danae. A finished tapestry shows a beauty that would not exist without the black threads. And the same is true in the lives of Kalin and Danae. We travel with them as God weaves through their black to give them more than they could ever ask or imagine, something Staci calls ‘X-better.’ Staci Stallings was able to use the darkness in their lives to bring out the detail of God’s grace and the beauty of true love.

Buy for Amazon Kindle!

Buy for B&N Nook!


New Release Announcement: To Protect & Serve

May 21, 2012

Although tomorrow is the official release of my new book “To Protect & Serve,” I’m giving you, my loyal readers a sneak peek…

Houston firefighter, Jeff Taylor is a fireman’s fireman. No situation is too dangerous to keep him sidelined if lives are on the line. However, when control freak Lisa Matheson falls for him, she quickly realizes she can’t control Jeff or the death wish he seems to have…

To Protect & Serve

The Courage Series, Book 1

To save others’ lives, they will risk their own

Buy it on Amazon Kindle

 Buy it on Barnes & Noble Nook

“To Protect and Serve will hold you prisoner to its pages until the final one is turned. Prepare to cry, laugh, wish, love and maybe even cry again as you become enveloped in the hopes and feelings of Lisa and Jeff.”

-Cindy Reiger

Get Your Copy Today!


Guest Post: Where Does Faith Come From?

May 18, 2012

Today we are blessed and honord to have a thought-provoking guest post by my friend, Ada Brownell.  Please note that Ada’s book “Swallowed by LIFE” is available Free on Kindle from today through May 20th.  Here’s the link to the book:  http://amzn.to/Jnc1rW

And now…

Where Does Faith Come From

By Ada Brownell

“Faith is trusting what the eye can’t see. Eyes see the prowling lion. Faith sees Daniel’s angel. Eyes see storms. Faith sees Noah’s rainbow. Your eyes see your faults. Your faith sees your Savior. Your eyes see your guilt. Your faith sees His blood.”[i]

The above is Max Lucado’s paraphrase of  Hebrews 11:11(NIV): “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” 

But where does faith come from

        Our Creator wrapped faith in our DNA

In a CNN report by A. Chris Gajilan on April 4, 2007, Dr. Andrew Newberg, neuroscientist and author of “Why We Believe What We Believe,” reported working on ways to track how the human brain processes religion and spirituality. It’s all part of new field called neurotheology.

Newberg says the frontal lobe, the area right behind our foreheads, helps us focus our attention in prayer and meditation. The parietal lobe, located near the backs of our skulls, is the seat of our sensory information. Newberg says it’s involved in that feeling of becoming part of something greater than oneself. The limbic system, nestled deep in the center, regulates our emotions and is responsible for feelings of awe and joy.

Newberg says similar areas of the brain are affected during prayer and meditation. Newberg suggests that brain scans may provide proof that our brains are built to believe in God. He says there may be universal features of the human mind that actually make it easier for us to believe in a higher power.

I believe people search for God because of the “God-shaped void” within. If they haven’t heard the gospel or reject it, they worship the earth, an idol they know is nothing but a figure humans created, or devise their own religion—even making unbelief into doctrine.

  1. Faith arises from the need to know our Heavenly Father. Since the Lord gave humankind a choice of whether to serve Him, God prevents us from “proving” He exists and leaves that and other vacancies for our faith to fill.

In my book, Swallowed by LIFE: Mysteries of Death, Resurrection and the Eternal, I tell how medical science shows we’re more than a body, yet there is room for doubt when it comes to proving we have a soul that lives forever.  We have to believe the evidence.

  1. God has given each person a measure of faith: “For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith (Romans 12:2-4). Often people who don’t think they believe pray when they or a loved one is in danger. A cry for God’s help comes from us spontaneously sometimes in crisis.
  2. Faith comes through hearing the Word—the gospel (Romans 10:17).  Because faith is necessary to be redeemed from sin and to have our name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, God “breathed” truth into writers He chose to write His love message to humankind. It is through that love letter—the Bible—we gain knowledge of Him and why He allows us (anybody) to choose to accept it and love and obey Him.

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2Timothy 3:16).

3.         Faith results from acting on what was heard. From Romans 10NIV: “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved….How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?

4.          Faith comes through the will. We decide whether to believe God’s Word, a false religion, or atheism (everything about who we are, why we are here and where we are going takes faith.) Yet it takes a leap—a decision.

5.           Faith is created by combining belief with common-sense actions. James calls it faith and works. (James 2:22).

6.         Faith develops out of our hopes. We hope for something, but it takes faith to receive it.

7.         Faith can come as a fruit and Gift of the Holy Spirit. (Galatians 5:22, 1 Corinthians 12:9).

8.        Faith comes from combination of our will to believe, and the Holy Spirit’s revelation. The Word must be planted, watered, and then our lives bear fruit.

© Ada Brownell 2012


[i] Excerpted from Everyday Blessings, Max Lucado, “What Faith Sees,” http://www.maxlucado.com/

Ada’s Blog: http://www.inkfromanearthenvessel.blogspot.com

Swallowed by LIFE

is on FREE KINDLE

May 18-20th!

Get your copy today…

CLICK HERE!


I Need Jesus: Step 11

May 17, 2012

by:  Staci Stallings

We have now almost made it through the 12-Steps.  We have only two more to go.  First, here are the first 10:

  • Step 1 – We admitted we were powerless over our addiction – that our lives had become unmanageable
  • Step 2 – Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity
  • Step 3 – Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God
  • Step 4 – Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves
  • Step 5 – Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs
  • Step 6 – Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character
  • Step 7 – Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings
  • Step 8 – Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all
  • Step 9 – Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others
  • Step 10 – Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it

Step 11:

Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out

There is a word that has become popular in Christian circles.  The word is ‘discern.’

Now that’s probably not a bad word, persay.  But I think that it makes a relationship with God more complicated than it really has to be.

Discerning, from what I understand it from those who use it around me, is making a conscious effort to figure out what God is telling you to do in a certain situation.  So let’s say you are trying to decide, or discern, where God is telling you to go to college.

From those around me, they say things like, “Well, I’m trying to discern God’s Will” or “I’ve spent some time trying to discern what God wants me to do.”  And maybe that’s not a bad thing.  It’s certainly a step in the right direction from doing whatever we want and then asking God to bless it.

However, to me, “discern” places the responsibility on MY shoulders.  I’m supposed to somehow figure out what God wants me to do and then do it.

But what if I heard wrong?  Or what if I heard right but it doesn’t end up the way I thought it would or wanted it to?

To me, that’s where “discerning” becomes a serious trap.  Because when things don’t go the way I thought they would, am I now outside of God’s Will?

Honestly, having lived in a relationship with God for several years now, I will tell you, it’s just not that hard.

God is God, and He can get the message across to you without you tying yourself into knots trying to figure out what He wants you to do.

I go back to when my son had dyslexia.  I got very good at listening for God’s promptings and very good at simply taking THE next step He asked me to take.

What I’ve learned is, God will open doors and He will close doors, and His timing is always perfect even if it doesn’t feel perfect at the time.  So walk through the doors He opens, and when the door closes, breathe and know He has His reasons.

So on this step, rather than making this hard and a duty and “trying,” try trusting instead.  Just tell God that you’re listening and to please just clearly show you what the next step is.  Then trust that He will because… well, He will.

*~*

Death was not in his plans…

Ben Warren is footloose and fancy free, and that’s how he likes it.

Then one night the unthinkable happens.

What happens when this playboy suddenly has to grow up?

Find out in…

COMING UNDONE!

“Incredibly moving and poignant…”

Get it on Kindle TODAY Click Here!


I Need Jesus: Step 10

May 10, 2012

by:  Staci Stallings

We’ve been going through the A.A. 12-Step program to see what it can teach us about relying completely on God.  So far, we’ve done 9 steps:

  • Step 1 – We admitted we were powerless over our addiction – that our lives had become unmanageable
  • Step 2 – Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity
  • Step 3 – Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God
  • Step 4 – Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves
  • Step 5 – Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs
  • Step 6 – Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character
  • Step 7 – Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings
  • Step 8 – Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all
  • Step 9 – Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others

Today we look at Step 10:

Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it

As an English teacher, I’m not sure why these are all written in the past tense.  This is true maybe especially for this one as it is not a “once-and-done” proposition.  In fact, I think the “once-and-done” mentality is often what gets us into trouble.

We accept Jesus, and kind of feel like we can now check that box off on the Life To Do List.  What we don’t realize is a relationship with God is not once-and-done.  It’s an all-the-time-everyday process.

The other day I was talking with a good friend of mine, and he was telling me how challenging it is to walk with God.  He said, “I feel like sometimes I’m on the right side of things, and then I don’t know why but I’m back over here where I know I don’t want to be.”  I think my friend’s experience is true of many if not all of us.

In fact, I once read that Mother Teresa’s diary included several passages about her doubts on the subject of God.  You may find that hard to believe or even sacrilegious, but all I have to do is think of what she was facing each day, and I completely understand.

It’s hard to reconcile a loving God with the anguish we see and deal with each day.  It’s hard to figure why He wouldn’t just fix everything if He loves us so much.

However, I’m coming to realize that God fixing everything would teach us nothing.

It’s like a parent who bails their child out of every jam they get into.  They don’t help the child to become productive and responsible.  Instead, they work as an enabler, propping up a child at the expense of his or her future ability to cope.

Neither should a parent just cut a child loose to their own devices.  This extreme doesn’t work either.  A loving parent instead willingly helps when a child genuinely needs it and encourages a child to do whatever he or she is truly capable of doing themselves.  And these lines change nearly daily.

For example, my son recently went through learning his multiplication tables.  At first, I had to be there every minute he was studying because if I just gave him the flashcards and told him to learn them, he didn’t have a concept of HOW to do that.  So at first we walked through it together about half-a-hundred times or so.  However, by the end, he knew when he stumbled on one, to put it aside and work on memorizing that one.  That’s what a good parent does–help a child become independent.

God, too, wants us to grow and increase our love-capability.  I think that’s what this step is about.  Don’t put off apologies.  Don’t figure you’ll do a personal inventory once every six months or something.  It needs to be a continuous process, digging ever further into setting our world aright–with God’s help every step of the way.

So please don’t take this on and make it a past thing.  Make it a daily, present thing in your life.  You don’t have to focus on it, just live and when a mistake trips you up, apologize, make it right, forgive yourself, and go on with life.  That’s how you live healed, and it truly then helps you know that in your need for Jesus, He is always right there.

*~*

One man.
One woman.
One night that changes everything…

Lucky

Book 2 of The Harmony Series

Some books are entertaining. Others challenge our faith and inspire growth. And still others touch our hearts on a deeper level. Then, there are the rare books that do all of the above. Those are the great books. Lucky by Staci Stallings is a great book. Staci has woven this love story like a fine tapestry.
– Chandra Lynn Smith, http://chandrasplace.blogspot.com

Buy your copy

For Amazon Kindle

For B&N Nook

Read an excerpt!


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