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Who Are You Thankful To?

~~ Romans1:21 (NIV) ~~  For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.


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In my small group we’re currently doing a study about being “fishers of men.”  One of our homework assignments was to write a thank you letter to the person we feel is responsible for leading us to Jesus.  Have you ever thought about it before, who you would write such a letter to, and what you would say?  It really made me stop think.  I mean, I grew up believing in Jesus.  I don’t know a life without that belief.  Yet at the same time, I didn’t know that there was such a thing as having a relationship with Him.  I was lead to the truth about God and Jesus during a series of counseling sessions with one of my pastors.  I had several big “light bulb” moments during this time.  The end result was I began a relationship with God, I forgave those in my past that needed forgiving, I repented, and I was put in a position to move ahead toward a path leading to God.  Here’s the letter that I wrote to Pastor:

Dear Pastor:

How do I begin to say thank you to the person who led me out of the darkness and into a world filled with light?  Don’t get me wrong... I don’t want to ignore the people who came before you; my parents, grandparents who taught me that there was a man named Jesus who died on a cross for me.  But that’s where it ended.  It was a wonderful story from a book.  I didn’t feel any more connected to God or Jesus then I did with any other historical character.  I didn’t know I could be.  It’s amazing how people live in the darkness their whole lives and don’t even know it.  Stepping out of that darkness to see the Truth in Jesus makes the whole world different.  It made me different.  When I was in a position to see finally myself, I couldn’t help but want to change.  I didn’t like what I saw. 

You taught me about church family, how to get closer to God and grow a relationship, and how to step out of my comfort zone.  You led me through abuse, forgiveness, and emotional breakdowns.  You taught me that I am indeed loved and lovable.  You even helped me learn to develop friendships with other women.  Most of all you showed me Jesus when you acted like Him in the face of my sins.

Though it seems so very insufficient, I just want to say “Thank you” for allowing God to use you to change me and my dark world.

Carley
I challenge you to write a letter to the person who led you to Christ.  You don’t necessarily have to mail it.  However, writing it would be a great exercise.

Let’s Pray
 ~~ Dear God ~~  All-knowing and loving Father, way to often I am living in the darkness and don't even try to get out.  Thank You for loving me no matter what.  Help me to know You better with each passing day, and to glorify You with everything that I do.  I want to thank You for everything You give me and do for me, but I especially want to thank You for never giving up on me. Help my heart and mind to never be foolish so that I don't ever have to go back to the darkened world.  In Jesus name, AMEN

Now It’s Your Turn 
Thoughts?  Questions?  Want to share your story?  Ask for prayer?  Please consider sharing in the comments section; even if the link you clicked to get here was on another site(If you’re on the homepage, click on the post headline, and scroll down to find the comments section.)


Salvaged: A Love Story

Title 
Salvaged: A Love Story 

Based on a Book by 
Stefne Miller 

My Review 

Based on the book Salvaged by Stefne Miller, this series of web-episodes, about 5 minutes each, is a teenage love story.  Sixteen year old Attie, a year previous, was the sole survivor of an automobile accident where she lost her mother and best friend, Melody.  This summer, she’s home from school and staying with Melody’s family.  Every night she has nightmares about the accident.  Getting her through the pain and survivors-guilt is Reilly, Melanie’s brother; and Jesus who appears to her as a thirtyish jeans-and- t-shirt-clad man only she can see. 


In a private viewing of the first six episodes, I saw that the two hormone-filled teens are getting closer to each other with every passing day.  Filled with great soundtracks, great acting talent, and a slowly unfolding message of love and Christ, I believe this series will be a huge success.  Every Wednesday a new episode will be released on YouTube.  I can hardly wait for next Wednesday.  

My Overall Rating
Author Interview

How did the Salvaged web series come about?
I was working with Director, Paul Morrell on a movie adaptation of my third novel, Collision. We had just completed the screenplay and were about to move in to the next phase, when I told him about an idea I had for Salvaged. I'd always believed that it would make a great teen drama series - either on television, straight to DVD or web streaming. He loved the idea and was interested in doing it. Within days, a friend that I mentioned it to, offered to pay to have a pilot/proof of concept reel developed. Less than a month later, I was in LA holding a casting call. Two weeks later, a cast and crew of 25 were in a rented house, shooting for five days. We decided to take the pilot episode and also release it as a web series so that we could introduce people to the story, characters and our quality of work. We believe that this can only help both the Salvaged and Collision projects.

What is the big goal?
The big picture goal is that a network or distributor would pick up the series. I've already written the scripts for eight 45 minute episodes or what could easily be turned in to a mini-series.

Who are you hoping to reach with this series?
Salvaged, the web series is based on my first novel by the same name. It is a young adult Christian fiction novel that was able to transcend the lines of Christian fiction and also move into the secular market. Salvaged was first picked up in the mainstream young adult fiction blogging world and the reviews and ratings landed me on the Goodreads.com Reader's Choice Awards finalist list for Debut Author of 2010. I am hoping that Salvaged will continue to reach out into various audiences and present them with a powerful story that has the ability to impact lives - no matter the way in which they receive it (book, web series, tv show, etc).

When does the series come out?
There are six episodes. The first was released on September 25th. The remaining episodes will release every Wednesday at 8 am (CST) through October 30th.

Where can viewers find the episodes?
Salvaged has it's own YouTube channel at: youtube.com/salvagedseries. The episodes will stay on the Salvaged YouTube channel for viewers to watch far into the future.

Where can we find out more about the series and the book?
You can also learn more about the series on the official Salvaged web site at salvagedseries.com. You can read an except of the first chapter of Salvaged, the book, at my web site, stefnemiller.com, or purchase a copy online or at your local bookstores.

What are more ways we can get involved in the Salvaged Series blog tour? 
  • Post a comment on the Facebook page for this book tour - CLICK HERE
  • Join the Salvaged Series Blog Tour & watch new episodes - CLICK TO TWEET
  • Watch the weekly episodes on the Salvaged YouTube channel ... Post comments and give thumbs up - CLICK HERE

This blog tour is hosted by Christian Speakers Services. 

Thoughts?  Questions?  Want to share your story?  Ask for prayer? Please share in the comments section.
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The Purpose of Jealousy

~ 1Samuel 18:8-9 (NKJ) ~ Then Saul was very angry, and the saying displeased him; and he said, “They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed only thousands. Now what more can he have but the kingdom?” So Saul eyed David from that day forward.





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In one of my regular bible study groups we are studying the life of David.  After he killed Goliath there was a celebration in the streets.  People were so happy with David’s success in everything he did they chanted a song saying “Saul has slain his thousands, and David tens of thousands.” (1 Samuel 18:7).   After this incident Saul’s love for David changed to jealousy.  Instead of being happy that his successes were included, Saul became envious of David for having, what he saw, as more success.  As part of our study we watched a movie about David’s life.  The question came up during our discussion time afterward “How often are we jealous in a situation where there is no need for jealousy?”

What are You Jealous About?
There’s likely something that tugs at your heart with feelings of jealousy toward someone or something.  For me, it’s (hands down) people with kids, marriages; and material things like houses, cars, money.  I’m single (divorced) with no children (outside of pets) and I’ve always had a difficult time dealing with it.  So much that I avoid as much as possible things like baby and bridal showers, and weddings.  I even avoid reading books, articles, or blogs about kids or marriages.  I don’t give my opinions on anything related to marriage or parenting during conversations.

Our Thinking is Flawed
Our focus is wrong when we think like this.  I’m putting these things ahead of Jesus.  Being a Christian is a very difficult life style.  I have to learn to follow Jesus without interference.  We’re told in the tenth commandment that we are not to covet anything that belongs to our neighbour (Exodus 20:17).  Longing for these things before I’m ready to deal with them is wrong.  It means I’m putting the wrong things first in my heart.  Not only that but sometimes the grass is not really as green on the other side of the fence as it appears to be to us at the time.  You know that old saying “Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it.”

Jesus Outshines All the Rest
My life is nowhere near going the way I planned it... but it’s going exactly the way God planned it.  Blessings will come in due time... in HIS time.  Meanwhile, jealousy is a wasted emotion, not to mention a sin.  Saul didn’t have a good reason to be jealous of David, and neither do we have a reason to be jealous of others.  Put Jesus first in your heart and those other things will seem minor.

Let’s Pray
 ~~ Dear God ~~  You are all-knowing.  You’ve told us in your Word that You know the blessings that You have planned for us.  So often I forget that.  I look at the blessings others have and I am envious.  Thank You for the blessings that are in store for my future.  Please help me to always put Jesus in my heart first.  I don’t want anything to stand in the way of me getting closer to Him .  In Jesus name, AMEN.

Now It’s Your Turn
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Collecting Rewards Options

~~ John5:8 (NIV) ~~  Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.”





We live in a world where we are rewarded every day for everything from shopping in the right store, to traveling, to cheating on one’s spouse.  Did you see that late night television advertisement by a business that provides the service of helping you cheat on your partner!? *Insert shaking your head in disbelief here*

Woo Hoo!  Easy Rewards Points!
Did you notice that all these programs require some sort of easy action on our parts?  Shopping ‘Dollars’, Gas Points, Air Miles; whatever the program there are free goods that come with the rewards.   Or are they... free, that is?  Don’t forget that we have to hand out our hard earned dollars to get those prizes.

Rewards are Never Free
I was at my regular Thursday night bible study when the pastor told us a story about a man he knew who prayed for God to not let him get drunk anymore.  The problem was he kept on going to the bar and drinking; because he liked it.  This man didn’t want to put in his share of the work to get the results he claimed he wanted.

Then, I read an article by my friend, and author, Brenda Wood  called Instructions from A to C, which said:
I often wonder about this verse. Jesus said to him, Get up! Pick up your bed (sleeping pad) and walk! (John 5:8, AMP) This guy just doesn’t get it! Jesus has to tell him to (a) get up, (b) pick up his bed and (c) to walk.

Let’s ask ourselves this question today. Am I waiting for direction, even when I know what I am supposed to do? In case you forgot… (a) get up, (b) pick up your bed and (c) walk.
"Eighty percent of success is showing up."--Woody Allen
God Wants to Bless You
I realized I have been doing the same thing.  I’ve wanted blessings from God without doing my part.  I want a husband, money, and other things.  I’ve gained back some of the weight I lost in the last year or so.  I want to lose weight again, and didn’t want to get back into the SparkPeople healthy living program.  I even tried Green Coffee diet pills (the latest fad)!  As I should have expected, they didn’t work.  If I want the benefits, I have to do the work!  Getting back into healthy eating and exercise is what it takes if I want to be thin and healthy.  God wants to bless us, but we have to do our part.  He gave us free will for a reason.  He can hand us blessings but we have to want to reach out and take them.  He won’t clobber you over the head and make you take His gifts.  Jesus died for our sins, but unless you decide you believe it and want the gift, it won’t do you any good.  I couldn’t help but wonder... where else in my life have I wanted to reap the rewards without putting in my share of the work?

Let’s Pray
 ~~ Dear God ~~  You are so loving and giving.  So often I forget how loving You are.  Thank You for all the blessings that You have given me, and have in store for me.  Please help me to remember that I have to do my share of the work, and reach out to You with a loving heart if I want the rewards.  In Jesus name, AMEN.

Now It’s Your Turn
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How Do You Know if Inspiration is from God?

~~ 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV) ~~  All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.



Photo by Carley Cooper.  All Rights Reserved.
I had a conversation with someone one day about the bible.  This person believes in Jesus, but she doesn’t read the bible.  Her reasoning was that it was written by man, therefore you can’t trust it.  I assured her that though it was written by people every word is inspired by God.  She wasn't convinced. 

Coincidence?  I Think Not!
I know that the Bible is from God because His Word tells us so.  But I’ve had this confirmed to me this week.  The other day I wrote about being in a dry spell and wondered if it was Writer’sBlock or Spiritual Block?  I feel that my problem is the latter which is the result of me not spending enough time in the Word.  This was confirmed to me when a friend forwarded a devotional to me that said the same thing.  A devotional, called It Just Comes, which I didn’t even subscribe to, (and written by an author that is from the same city as I am) showed up in my email confirming my message right after I published my own post.

If you’re a long time subscriber of one of my blogs you’ll remember that I’ve talked before about how the words just flow from me.  When I’m done I have a great message that has meaning, symbolism, and it flows well with good format.  Often, these messages come when I haven’t even been thinking about the subject at hand.  Where does all this come from if not from God?

The same was true for my book, Cocoa with Jesus.  I wrote about my life and educated the readers about the issues at hand without a second thought.  There was so many memories that I had forgotten or blocked out of my mind and yet they all ended up in words on my computer screen in front of me.  I wrote and included chapters that I didn’t even plan on writing.  Other chapters that I wanted to include got cut from the final draft.

Inspiration Comes from God
I know my work comes from God because there’s no other explanation for how it just comes to me.  I know it comes from God because I can feel Him using and talking to me.  

Sometimes, when I don’t know what to write about, God will say to me “Just start writing.”

I’ve even said to Him “Write what?  I have no words in my mind to type.”

Again, He’ll say to me “just start writing.”  So I do.

Suddenly I’m typing words that were certainly not in my mind at that moment.  God uses me to send a message to others.  I’m honored, happy, excited, and very blessed that He chose me to be the vessel to which these particular messages get to those who need to hear or read them.

Today’s devotional as I write it right now is a case in point.  I woke up feeling groggy after a long night of weird dreams.  Yet before I could even get dressed or eat breakfast, I found myself sitting at my laptop typing out these words.  Where else could it come from but from God?

The Bible is from God
If God can use me, and others, to write messages then I know He used the authors of the bible to write the scriptures.  The Bible comes from God.  It is HIS word, not the words of the authors that fill its pages.  Trust it, believe it, fill your heart and mind with it.  Your life will be changed forever.

Let’s Pray
 ~~ Dear God ~~  You are so gracious, merciful, and loving.  So often I don’t take the time to listen to You or read Your Word as often as I should.  Thank you for your patience with me.  Please help me to engross myself in Your Word daily, so that I can be inspired to spread the gospel.  In Jesus name, AMEN.

Now It’s Your Turn
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Writers Block or Spiritual Block?

~~ 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV) ~~  All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.





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I’m still here peeps.  I haven’t forgotten about you, my wonderful audience.  I’ve had some say they’ve missed my posts.  I haven’t written in a while, not even in my journal.  I’m tempted to say that I’ve been too busy.  Well, I have but I don’t see that as much of an excuse not to write.  I’ve moved recently.  That takes up quite a bit of time and energy.  I’m also tempted to say that it is writers block.  Truthfully, I feel stuck but I’m not sure that it’s a lack in the flow of words from my brain to my finger tips.  It’s something spiritual that I can’t put my finger on. 

So What’s the Problem? 
All I know is that I’m in between ‘seasons’ in my life.  I’ve come through the last one which contained a lot of heartache and Bipolar episodes.  It also contained a great deal of blessings.  Now, it’s done and it’s time for the next chapter and I’m not feeling the direction I need from God.  Another truth that hits me in making that statement is that it’s much more likely that I’m not listening to Him.  

If it sounds like I’m rambling that’s because I am.  I’ve finished my book, Cocoa with Jesus, and I’m waiting to hear about the results of the contest that I’ve entered my manuscript into.  No doubt during the publishing process there will be more rewrites needed, but that’s not happening just yet.  

I’ve had my mind recently on a problem with someone from my past.  For several years there’s a ‘friend’ that hates me.  I have no idea why.  It happened suddenly.  Part of me thinks that it’s none of my business what she thinks of me.  It’s not like we were ever close.  We lived half way across the country from each other for many years, and as such we were not part of each other’s lives.  Suddenly after years of no contact she cuts me off her Facebook list.  Now we live in the same city and she won’t even look at me during social functions let alone talk to me.  Part of me feels like God is telling me to let it go.  The other part of me is so curious about what’s going on that I think about it a lot.  

Read Your Bible Daily: It’s a Good Thing
I also know that God has been telling me to get into His Word to find the comfort and answers that I’m looking for.  I haven’t.  Why not?  I’m not sure.  Is this why I’m feeling so disconnected... because I’ve drifted from my routine of reading the Bible daily?  I’m thinking that there must be a connection.  

He Will Not Lead You Astray
Early this morning when I was awake and couldn’t sleep at 4:00 AM, I felt God say to me to read “Psalm 2 3 5”.  What I saw in my mind’s eye was Psalm Two Hundred and Thirty Five; which, of course, doesn’t exist.  So I started thinking.  Psalm 2 verse 35!  I grabbed my bible and looked it up.  Again, there is no such verse.  Psalm 23 verse 5?  Yes, it exists but it didn’t speak to me in this instance.  Psalm 35 two times?  Nope.  I was ready to give up.   I told God that I didn’t understand the message.  

He said “Psalm 2 verses 3 to 5”.

“Oooooooh!”, I said.  I hadn’t thought of that option.

So I read it.  The words that jumped off the page to me were “...break their chains...” .  My first thought was that I should let go of whatever it is that my ‘friend’ hates me for and forgive her.  Break the chains that have a hold on me in this situation.  Then, I read a devotional message in my morning email on my phone that encouraged the reader to Take the Plunge into reading God’s Word.

The answers to my problems are with God.  His Word has the answers and won’t lead me astray.  He will use this, as everything, without waste.  

Let’s Pray 
~~ Dear God ~~  You are so loving, kind, generous, faithful, and gracious.  Sometimes I start to stray off the path toward you.  Thank You that You love us so perfectly that you never give up on us.  Please help us to have a passion for Your Word daily that never tires or dies.  In Jesus name, AMEN.

Now It’s Your Turn 
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