Thursday, December 30, 2010

Resolution 2011

My favorite cartoon when I was a kid was Peanuts. I remember one comic strip in particular. It is January 1st, and Charlie Brown tells anyone who will listen, “The best way to keep New Year’s Resolutions is in a sealed envelope in a bottom desk drawer.

Charlie Brown knew what every person who has ever made a resolution knows. Making and keeping resolutions is a troublesome business, usually filled with failure and shame.

How have your past resolutions worked out for you? I don't even want to talk about mine. If you have made and broken resolutions on many previous New Year's days, you may feel that you might as well seal them in a bottom desk drawer and forget them. That is the experience I have had.

If there is anything to which Christians should be committed to, it is that people can change for the better and that there is every reason to hope for such a change in our lives and in the lives of others.

If you ask the average person about the resolutions they made for the New Year, they will tell you that they are going to cut down on their eating, they are going to exercise more, stop doing unhealthy things, and start doing healthy things, etc.

While these things are good, they all focus on self and rely on self. These kinds of things are in fact self-serving and look to the power of one’s self to accomplish them. Self-improvement for most people means making themselves more attractive, healthier and happier. They depend on the power of the human will to bring about the changes.

Look at how different our typical resolutions are from the words of Paul in Colossians 3:12-14. “God has chosen you and made you his holy people. He loves you. So always do these things: Show mercy to others, be kind, humble, gentle, and patient. Get along with each other, and forgive each other. If someone does wrong to you, forgive that person because the Lord forgave you. Do all these things; but most important, love each other. Love is what holds you all together in perfect unity."

Notice how Paul’s words are focused on others. If we are to use resolutions wisely, we need to turn our attention away from ourselves and toward others. We need to get the focus off of ourselves, and on to God and the strength that comes only from him. What kind of resolutions should we make?

John was called the disciple that Jesus loved. It appears that Jesus had a best friend. I want my resolution to be the words that the best friend of Jesus wrote in 1 John 4:7,8 “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love”.

I don’t know of a better resolution that you could make. If we would all make the resolution to love one another imagine how different the world would be.

My wife's cousin, Jerry Patton, spent 37 years as the second tenor of The King's Heralds Quartet, the oldest continuous gospel quartet in America.

One of my favorite songs that he sang was titled One Little Candle. The lyrics are great.

It's better to light just one little candle
Than to stumble in the dark
Better far that you light just one little candle
All you need's a tiny spark

If we'd all say a prayer that the world would be free
The wonderful dawn of the new day we'll see
And if everyone lit just one little candle
What a bright world this would be

My resolution for 2011 is to light one little candle, will you join me?

P.S. Check out Reaching Hearts 4 Kids. Reaching Hearts 4 Kids believes that every child is a precious gift to the world and that all children deserve the chance to flourish physically and mentally. Reaching Hearts 4 Kids helps to provide children in desperate need with the basic essentials necessary for them to live healthy, fulfilled lives.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Shawna K. Williams - Author

I am often intrigued by the ways that blogging has affected my life. The people that I have met and the things I have learned from blogging are amazing. Shawna K. Williams is one of those people. I first started following her blog because she lives in the same town that I do. I was searching Blogger for blogs from my hometown.

In May of this year I bought a Kindle book reader from Amazon. I absolutely love it. When I first got my Kindle I was like a kid in a candy store. So many choices - what was I going to read next.

I read on Shawna's blog, My Father's Oldsmobile, that she had just published her first novel and it was available on Kindle. I downloaded a copy of her book titled No Other.

The book was like No Other that I had ever read. It is considered Inspirational Romance, and I don't read romance novels. My taste in reading is history, autobiographies, non-fiction, religion and classics with just a little science fiction mixed in, well really only Isaac Asimov.

I enjoyed reading No Other. I found the historical small town setting interesting and the characters believable and even a bit gritty. Here is the way the book is described on Shawna's website. "In the aftermath of WWII all Jakob Wilheimer wants is to get over his pain, get on with life, and if at all possible, forgive those who've wronged his family -- including himself. But it's hard to do when there are constant reminders. One of them being his former schoolmate, now teacher, Meri Parker -- Miss Port Delamar Pearl, Mayor's daughter, Belle of the town -- Meri Parker.

After enduring the stigma and isolation associated with the internment camp, the awkwardness of going back to school should've been a cake walk. But Jakob didn't expect to find himself inexplicably drawn to Meri. Or to discover that the pain and loneliness of her life surpassed his own. She needed to be rescued from the wretched people seeking to control her life. And more than anything, he needed to be the one to save her."

As I read the book I found that I was drawn into the story and had to find out how it ended. I hadn't really expected to be so intrigued by the story and the characters. After all I don't like Romance Novels.

Once Shawna had published her first novel, she just kept publishing, and has released two more books this year. The next book was the sequel to No Other titled In All Things.

The story of Jakob and Meri moves from rural small town USA to the bright lights and glamor of Hollywood. Set in 1950's Hollywood, the couple struggle balancing success with the important things in life like love and family. When they return to their hometown for the holidays events are set in motion that help them see that there are more important things in life that fame and success - that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

The portrayal of 1950's Hollywood and the movie industry will be interesting to anyone who enjoys the old movies of that era. Shawna does a great job of capturing an era - a picture in time.

With two books published in such a short time I was surprised when yet another book was published just a few days ago. It is a story that has no relationship to the No Other / In All Things story. The book is titled Orphaned Hearts.

Orphaned Hearts is set in Western Arkansas during the Great Depression. An orphanage and a young handicapped orphan are at the center of the story. Of course there is a love story - it is a romance - but the focus of the story is the love that the two main characters have for a young orphaned boy. With a Christmas scene being pivotal to the story, it is a great Holiday read. I enjoyed the setting here in Arkansas, and the depiction of life in a small rural Arkansas town during the depression.

I have enjoyed reading each of Shawna's books and can recommend them to anyone. If you enjoy reading I hope that you check these books out. For more information check out the Shawna K. Williams website.