(six years ago)
The rain poured in torrents and thunder rumbled outside our small brick home. A tornado watch was issued for our county. When the watch turned into a warning we knew it was time to take cover.
Descending the stairs to our basement, we realized that our “safe place” was piled full of storage boxes. With haste, we cleared everything out from underneath the stairs and took the mattress off the spare bed.
We climbed underneath the staircase, our hearts beating with worry.
“What about you, Daddy?” A little one asked. “Aren’t you coming too?”
“I’m staying out here so I can throw the mattress on top of everyone if the tornado comes our way.”
I’d always been told that a tornado sounds like a train whistle. But I didn’t believe it until I heard it for myself that stormy night. A shrill whistle, (and yes, it sounded just like a train,) erupted through the sudden stillness of the storm. Since that day, I’ve yet to hear a more eerie and frightening sound.
Six pairs of wide and frightened eyes stared at Mama for comfort. “Are we safe here?" "What if the tornado gets our house?”
After a moment of silence, a quiet voice from the corner asked, “Mama, how do I know for sure that I’m saved?”
I’ve never forgotten that question. When it was asked, I felt the breath exhale from my lungs.
I’d never even thought to doubt my own salvation, but after I heard that fearful question, I began to doubt my own. In the blink of an eye this tornado could tear through our house, and in a single moment I would be standing in front of my Creator who would determine my fate. Guilty? Or saved by the blood of the lamb?
I think it’s only natural for humans to question their salvation when faced with the possibility of death. When faced with this question, what assurance do you have that you’re saved?
When the thought first came to my mind to write this post, I almost didn’t want to do it. I don’t know why, but something told me that people wouldn’t benefit from it and that nobody would desire to read it. “You probably don’t even know enough to write a post about this.” A voice whispered.
The same day I’d decided not to write this post, I read a prayer request. It said, “please pray for my friend, she’s only 90% sure she’s saved.”
My hands stilled on the laptop as I stared without blinking at that short sentence. That did it. I was determined to write this post! So, with a lot of prayer and research (it’s hard to condense such an important topic into a short post!) I started writing.
Let’s start with Jesus’ words in Luke. He describes the difference between a Christian and an unbeliever through a parable:
“For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:43-45)
So, one way you can have assurance of your salvation, is by your fruits. Are you bearing good fruits? Are you constantly weeding out bad fruits?
“Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh.” (James 3:10-12)
We are commanded to have our speech seasoned with grace (Col. 4:6) and to edify one another and build each other up (1 Thess. 5:11). If are speech is never seasoned with grace, and if we are constantly tearing each other down, it’s time to take a good look at where we stand on the platform of salvation.
Are you sorry for your sin? Do you hate and forsake it because it’s displeasing to God? If we’re truly saved, when we sin, our spirit should grieve until repentance and restoration take place.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Cor. 5:17)
If we are saved, then we should be constantly changing and growing closer to Him daily. Who we were before we were saved, should be a stark contrast from who we are now. It’s kind of like a compelling protagonist in a story. To write a compelling protagonist, the character must have weaknesses and desires, and they need to grow and mature throughout the story. By the end of the book, you should be able to see a BIG difference in this character’s life. Who they were at the beginning, isn’t who they are now. They’ve grown, and we as Christians should grow too.
As Christians, God won’t allow us to continue down the path of sin. He won’t allow us to keep bearing bad fruit. He continues to prune us daily (John 15:2) and He will continue to prune and complete the work He has started in us until the coming of Christ. (Phil. 1:6)
We can’t be saved through our own works. At the end of time when we stand before our Creator, the question won’t be “if we knew Christ.” But rather, “did He ever know us?”
We will have a desire to be with God’s people:
In Hidden Treasures (coming soon) I talk about the importance of a relationship with God’s people:
“As Christians, we should desire to be with other likeminded believers. If we call ourselves Christians, yet don’t yearn for the fellowship of other sisters and brothers in Christ, there’s something big missing in our lives. And as my daddy says, “failure to love the church (the body of Christ, 1 Cor. 12:27) is a failure to love Christ.”
And the fellowshipping of believers doesn’t only encourage each member, but it strengthens, refreshes and proves to be a continuous accountability.
So, does all this mean that a Christian doesn't sin? No, absolutely not!
We will continue to fall into sin and various trials because we aren’t perfect, (Romans 3:10) but if we are truly saved, we won’t continue down that rut of sin for very long.
And we'll always have trials that usually aren't even related to sin or bad works. As I once heard a pastor say, "As Christians, we either just came through a trial, we're going through one now, or we're about to go through one in the near future."
God uses trials to sanctify us and grow us closer to Him.
So what are four ways that we can be assured of our salvation?
Because of this, we can take joy in what God’s Word says to us. Instead of doubting, we can live with confidence! We can have the assurance from Christ’s own Word that our salvation will never be in question. Because of Jesus’ death on the cross, old things have passed away and all things have become new! Because of His death, our sins, past, present and future, have all been forgiven!
Because He lives, we can have hope, assurance and a blessed peace that we WILL abide with Him for eternity-in a home that exceeds far beyond the spaces of our imagination.
Are you ready for the trumpet? Are you ready for the coming of Christ? If you died this one second, would you be ready to face your Creator?
Take a moment and ponder these questions in your heart.
I don’t want to get to heaven and find you missing!
Do Justly: The Call to be the Hands and Feet of Jesus in the Midst of Injustice (book review)
"There are more slaves today than any other time in history, babies are being brutally murdered in their mother’s womb, orphans are left alone and uncared for, human life is disregarded, and souls are dying without knowing Jesus. This is something many of us don’t know, or know but don’t really think about, and don’t really do anything about. But God is calling us do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly, not in our own strength, but in His. In this book, you’ll find information about the injustices, inspiration to take action, real-life stories of people, past and present, who answered God’s call upon their lives, and a list of 102 ways you can take action, starting today. No matter how unqualified you may feel, God will use you to bring justice in this dark and broken world."
This is an amazing book that covers many of our nation's horrors with clarity and grace. It's very well written and gives a person insight into the sufferings that people of this world endure day to day. With facts, personal stories, and "102 ways you can take action," this book is sure to inspire you to step up and take action against the cruelties of this age.
We think of slavery as being some sort of horror that happened only in "Bible times" but no, it's still going on today.
Statistically, "600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked (sold into slavery) across international borders every year, of which 80% are female and half are children."
We must stand against this injustice and help to rescue these woman and children and make sure they know they are priceless.
Not only that, but countless babies are being brutally murdered in what should be
the safest place on earth for an infant.
In Do Justly, you'll learn 102 ways that YOU can help take a stand against the cruelties of this world.
I wholeheartedly recommend this book!
About the author:
Savannah Jane McCrary is an aspiring writer, homeschool student, and above all, a daughter of the King of Kings. She loves her family, reading, drawing, photography, music, history, and cups of hot tea. Her passion is to follow Jesus wholeheartedly and encourage others to do the same.
“It’s said that those with "type O" blood get a mixed bag.
If you have type O, you are more likely to get ulcers — and believe it or not, to rupture your Achilles tendons. You are also at higher risk of cholera.
The good news is that people with type O blood are at a lower risk for pancreatic cancer and face a lower risk of dying from malaria than people with other blood groups; that said, if you have type O, you are twice as likely to be a mosquito magnet than those with type A blood….”
…but don’t worry, we’re not going to be talking about “type O’s” today. We’re actually going to be talking about “typos.” The funny, the horrible, and the scary. If you’re a writer, (of any sort) you know all about the horror of typos. As an author, one of the most frequent questions I hear is usually along the lines of editing. Some people don't have the money to hire a professional editor, while others hire one, but want to do some of the editing themselves.
So, without further ado:
The inevitable and unavoidable:
Every book is going to have a few typos. It’s almost impossible to catch everything. But, if your book has too many typos, it could come across as amateur to professionals, agents, and publishers. According to one traditional publisher’s opinion, they are comfortable with a book that has 3 typos in every 10,000 words. Some may be more lenient, and others more stringent. However, it’s up to us, (and our editors and proofreaders) to do our best to keep typos free from the pages of our stories.
Here are a few tips that I’ve found to be helpful:
I use Text to Speech for everything! Emails, messages, blog posts, etc... the possibilities are endless. Just type, or copy and paste your text into Microsoft Word and click the icon for Text to Speech (sometimes known as Speak Selected Text). You’ll be amazed at what your brain can miss!
Enabling the Text to Speech option in Microsoft Word:
3. Proofreaders If you live in a big family, you’ll most likely already know that your family will be your best proofreaders. They know you the best, and they will be able to give not only comments on editing, but also story line critiques as well. My family is always the first proofreaders I enlist before sending proofs off to members outside the family. Having a set of proofreaders outside your family is one of the best things an author can do! They notice things you’ve never noticed before, and if you’re blessed to have wonderful proofreaders like I do, they will have really good tips and advice as well. Of course, if you’re planning on hiring a professional editor, you might not find this step necessary. But I, myself hire a professional, and enlist the help of other proofreaders. This can also give you a chance to get reviews from your proofreaders to put in your book.
If I hadn't been using the "Text to Speech" option during the proofreading of my novels, A Higher Ransom and A Dim Reflection, you might just have read these terrible typos in among the pages!
"...the trim was painted a lovey shade of pink."
(page 32 of, A Higher Ransom)
Did you notice it?
The word "lovey" should have been "lovely."
And this is where one missing letter REALLY changed the scene!
"...he held her tongue as the bigger man shoved her back into the corner."
(page 260 of, A Dim Reflection)
Did you notice that one?
The word "he" should have been "she."
Above all, have fun!
Editing your book is hard work, but it can also be enjoyable! The tips above help me out greatly as I travel along the writing journey, and I hope they will help you out as well!
If you ever have any questions about editing, self-publishing, or just about writing in general, feel free to contact me. I love to hear from my readers!
Do you have a favorite editing hack or a funny sentence when one word made all the difference? Let me know about it in the comments!
"A growing number of people today think the Bible is filled with fairy tales and fables, but the author contends there are literally thousands of discoveries from archaeology that support the Bible as historically accurate and reliable. In this informative yet easy-to-read book, Jan Sessions shares her personal “journey of enlightenment,” including many faith building discoveries from her own research as well as eye-witness observations from her recent trip to Israel and Jordan. Fables Don’t Leave Footprints contains over 120 full-color photographs of what the author calls “footprints”—physical, outside-the-Bible evidences left behind by people, places, and events recorded in the Bible. Based on the evidence, there are more reasons than ever to believe!"
This book is amazing! It is definitely one to add to your collection. It's easy to understand and gives you a deeper insight into the Bible. It leaves you with a more appreciative attitude for the Bible as well. It shows how the Bible stories that you were told as a child, such as Noah's Ark, are not just stories but actually events in history, with real evidence too! This is definitely a must read!
What others are saying:
As a professional archaeologist, I found Ms. Sessions' book a delightful teaser. Each chapter begins with an everyday circumstance to which we can relate and then quickly transitions to focus on a biblical topic for which archaeology provides illumination. She writes with a flair and easily engages her readers (I was particularly humored by her word play about the Lachish Reliefs which show No Relief for Lachish!). Many of her conclusions are open to debate and argument--the very nature of academic pursuit--but she recognizes those areas of controversy, while obviously maintaining a very high regard for Scripture. I commend her work as a succulent appetizer for the larger feast of biblical archaeology. --Dale W. Manor, Ph.D. Professor of Archaeology and Bible, Harding University Field Director of Tel Beth-Shemesh Excavations, Israel
The old saying in archaeology is "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence." This is the motivating message in Jan Sessions' Fables Don't Leave Footprints: there is evidence, and the more we know about it the better we can assure our souls of the truth of the Bible and answer those who have not yet understood how well the Bible tells its story in the context of history. In addition, the only new information coming to us about the Bible comes to us from archaeology. Jan knows there is much to learn from archaeology, and her passion to discover is contagious and reflected on every page. This is a guidebook for all ages that demonstrates that the events, places, and persons in Scripture are real and therefore argues that our faith must be just as real. Follow these footprints; they will lead you to a greater faith! --Randall Price, Ph.D. Distinguished Research Professor Executive Director, Center for Judaic Studies Liberty University
Jan Sessions' book on Biblical archaeology exhibits lavish pictures and offers cogent narratives on ancient near-eastern artifacts. It will serve as a crash review for those knowledgeable and a genuine eye opener for those uninitiated. It will be of inestimable assistance to those who teach church classes on Biblical archaeology. I have known Jan and her family since her high school years and have always been impressed with her sincere desire to understand and explicate the Biblical record. --Thomas H. Olbricht, Ph.D. Distinguished Emeritus Professor of Religion Pepperdine University
I found "Fables Don't Leave Footprints" to be an engaging and well-written book. And the pictures are terrific! It is an excellent introduction to Biblical archaeology that will appeal to all ages. --Dr. Bryant Wood, Associates for Biblical Research
I love your book. There hasn't been anything like this since Joseph Free's book 40 years ago, and that was in black and white. Thank you for doing this - it should be a big hit. Most of the archaeology stuff out there is so technical and skeptical. I think you have something vital and incredibly useful. --"John Clayton, Director of "Does God Exist?"
About the author:
Fables Don’t Leave Footprints is a result of seven years of study under the mentorship of several well-known, professional archaeologists. Jan has been sharing this faith-building information by teaching classes for children and adults as well as through promotional booths at conferences and public speaking engagements. Jan received a degree in Social Work from Abilene Christian University in Abilene, Texas. From the age of 16, she has taught Bible classes for children, and for ten of those years served as a Children’s Minister for churches in Georgia. She has also created a children’s Bible curriculum, Faithful Bible Investigators (a.k.a. the F.B.I.), which was published in 2009, by 21st Century Christian Publishing in Nashville, Tennessee. Currently, Jan is developing a Bible teaching material called The D2 Project: Digging Deeper, as well as a Young Readers book series highlighting these same Bible-related discoveries. Her mission is to share these solid proofs for Bible truths with as many people as possible, to increase confidence in the Bible as “real history” and worthy of our trust.
The Least of These
The 4th of July is one of my favorite holidays!
I love the fireworks, the fellowship, the squeals of laughter from children running around with sparklers. But as we BBQ with friends and family and watch fireworks late into the night, let’s take a moment to remember those who have not only risked and given their lives so that we have something to celebrate, but also those who may not have a family to celebrate with. And especially those who don’t have a family, a home, or anything at all.
My plan for this post is not to be a "Scrooge" and put a big damper on the festivities. I LOVE holidays and parties! But the question I'm about to address, is a question that most people have probably thought of before.
And it's a problem that can be quiet easily resolved!
According to a recent report, over half a million people are living on the streets, in cars, in homeless shelters, or in subsidized transitional housing.
8% of those, (around 40,000) are homeless veterans.
Chances are, (especially if you live in the city) you’ve seen your fair share of homeless individuals.
You may see some of these people as you pass under bridges, while some might be walking on the side of the road. Still others, may be holding signs that say anything from, “house fire, need help,” to “single mom with two children.”
It’s hard to ignore that sight. It’s hard to walk away without doing anything to help. But even harder than that, is deciding what you can do to help.
Your first thought might be to give them money. But sometimes that’s not the best option. They can easily use the money to buy things they shouldn’t.
I know a certain individual who buys the homeless person lunch, and then shares the gospel with them while they eat. But that option won’t work for just anyone. If you’re a single woman, or a mom with children, you might need something a bit safer. That’s why (by a friend’s prompting and kind suggestion) we came up with Blessing Bags.
These kits hold enough food to feed an individual for about two or three days, and they also hold the most important food of all… a Bible.
So, you might be asking, “how much does this cost? And how can I make a Blessing Bag?”
Well, it’s easy! Each Blessing Bag costs less than $6.00 to make, and holds ingredients that can usually be found right in your own kitchen!
What you’ll need:
Assemble the items in the bag and keep it in a place that’s easy to access in your car.
And remember, you’re not only offering them food for a few days, but by including a Bible, you’re potentially feeding them for their entire life here on earth! And not only that, but you're also sharing the greatest gift of all, eternal life.
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