The following is a devotional article which I wrote for Ambassador International this month. It was made with Christians in mind, but it can be "food for thought" for anyone.
Words in black are scripture from the King James Version of the Bible (KJV).
Words in red are Jesus' words from KJV.
By Allen Steadham
"IT IS A GOOD THING TO GIVE THANKS UNTO THE LORD, AND TO SING PRAISES UNTO THY NAME, O MOST HIGH: To shew forth thy lovingkindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness every night, upon an instrument of ten strings, and upon the psaltery; upon the harp with a solemn sound. For thou, LORD, hast made me glad through thy work: I will triumph in the works of thy hands. O LORD, how great are thy works! and thy thoughts are very deep."
- Psalms 92: 1-5 (KJV)
November is well-known in the United States for the celebration of Thanksgiving. And while times, cultures and beliefs have changed since its humble beginnings, the original sentiment behind Thanksgiving has not...and neither has God. What I want to discuss is how every day should be Thanksgiving.
I’m not talking about expanding the existing holiday. Instead, I’m focusing on the meaning behind Thanksgiving: literally giving thanks to God for all the blessings He has bestowed on us throughout the year. It is wonderful that we have a special day to bring attention to this. But as Christians, shouldn’t we offer praise and thanks to Him daily?
I know holiday months are not a jolly time for everyone. Many face loneliness and depression while others are dealing with burdens, personal trials, illnesses, and even tragedies. We may feel alone. But we can be assured that we are not alone. The Lord is with us and He knows what we are going through. He helps us, even when we can’t see it. Our Savior did not promise we would never face challenges. He said He would go through them with us.
John 14: 18-21 (KJV) - "I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him."
John 14: 25-29 (KJV) - "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I."
Even if we are not going through hardships, I believe that we can still show gratitude every day to God and His Son, Jesus Christ. Certainly, we could give thanks for our yet-spared lives and the Divine Gift of Salvation. Jesus is our solution to every problem. He has promised to be with us, no matter what we’re going through. He loves us and understands us. All we have to do is call upon Him. If we think about it, we should have plenty to praise Him about on any given day.
And yet, it is easy to get distracted. Whether it’s our schedules, our kids’ schedules, work, entertainment (including the internet, which I tend to use too much), paying bills, having a social life, politics or any number of other things, these take our attention away from what’s important: our Salvation. It is personal, individual and priceless.
Hebrews 2: 1-4 (KJV) - "Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?"
We don’t just have distractions; it’s also easy to complain. We all do it occasionally (sometimes more than occasionally). Things and people’s actions impede us from accomplishing whatever it is that we need or want to do. It’s irritating. And it’s so simple to blow off some steam by grumbling about what bugs us. But the Bible warns us against it.
1 Corinthians 10: 10-13 (KJV) - "Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it."
If we knew all the things that God, Jesus and the heavenly angels do to shield us from harm (and sometimes our own selves), we would realize that our complaints are actually a sign of being ungrateful. We should be more content with our lives. Things truly could be so much worse than they are. We serve a good and Holy God through His Son, Jesus Christ.
November may be the month which contains the holiday of Thanksgiving in America. But we have reasons to celebrate all year long.
Jordan's Arrow (Book 2 in the Jordan of Algaron series) is now available for preorder in print for $15.99 on Amazon. Ebook (kindle) edition is only $0.99. Coming February 7, 2020 from Ambassador International. Reserve your copy today!
Barnes & Noble links coming soon.
Preorder PRINT copy
Preorder EBOOK copy
Book trailer below (contains mild spoilers)
In May 2018, I wrote a blog entry called Why Do I Believe In God? This is a follow-up to what I expressed then.
Being a Christian seems to mean different things to different people. Some people see it as good and others see it as bad, for a variety of reasons.
I’m just one man. I can’t possibly represent all people who call themselves Christian. I can only share myself with you. These are my feelings and views.
As a Christian, it is my nature to care about people — all people — regardless of race, gender, age, nationality, ability, belief system, sexual orientation, financial status, immigration status and any other qualifying factors. I don’t hate anyone. That all changed when I gave my life to Christ. I wasn’t a bigot before my conversion but I did hold grudges and there were individuals whom I hated. I left all that behind, the way I abandoned cursing, lying, manipulating, drinking alcohol and abusing illegal drugs.
I don’t judge any individual. That is not my responsibility nor do I desire to do so. But I can dislike any act or behavior, whether legal or illegal, that deliberately inflicts suffering and loss on self or others. In other words, I don’t like sin.
That said, I know I’ve made plenty of mistakes over the years. I’ve unintentionally caused hurt and pain. When I’ve been made aware, I’ve tried to make amends, though I haven’t always succeeded. I’m always learning and trying to grow, both as a person and as a Christian.
Why did I write that just now? Because God didn’t make those mistakes. Jesus Christ did not make those mistakes. I did. I believe sometimes people blame God and Jesus for the shortcomings of fallible human beings. I think that's especially true for those who cause harm to others while hypocritically proclaiming their Christianity.
Jesus warned of this in Matthew 7: 13-20 (King James Version)
"Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
Matthew 7: 21-23 (King James Version)
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."
God does not change. His love is inexhaustible. He and Jesus exist outside time itself and can see and understand all things. They are not limited by people’s perceptions of them. They do not and will not fit into what people want them to be. They are who they are, regardless of who believes in Them.
So here’s why I’m proud to be a Christian. My life has dramatically changed since I accepted Christ in January 1996. My conscience was cleaned by the Holy Spirit.
I was given new purpose, hope and potential. I learned how to be a better husband, father, and person. My wife and I joined a Christian band called First Light, so I developed as a musician and singer (and so did she). The Lord altered the direction of the comics I was creating. And eventually, He sent me down the path to becoming a Christian fiction author.
I’m not ashamed of who I am and who I’ve become. I have a wonderful African-American wife. We cherish and love each other equally. We've been married since 1995 and have three children together. I have family in so many ways. I have friends all over the globe. I can write Christian fiction stories that people have started buying. It's very exciting!
I don’t have to be a millionaire to be rich. I am most content with all that I have. I am wealthy in love, peace, and joy.
I know this world is filled with an incalculable amount of sadness, heartache, bitterness, loss, and hate. People suffer every day, they are suffering right now, for so many reasons. People lose hope all the time.
But no matter what people are going through, there is an answer. Hope is out there, it can be renewed. And there can be peace, a love to see anyone through any ordeal. A love that surpasses limits and understanding. It may not stop the hurt, but it can give people strength to endure another minute, hour or day. It can offer stability where none exists.
That’s why I’m sharing this. I was compelled to write it. I know it can’t reach or please everyone; that’s impossible. But even if it helps one person in any way, then it’s worth it.
Thanks for taking the time to read this.
I know that for most of its history, Halloween has been a popular "holiday-that’s-not-an-official-holiday." It is recognized for many reasons, not least of which is children (of all ages) dressing up as whatever they desire and associating a sense of fun with varying degrees of dark, horror and even macabre themes. Little of it is meant to be taken seriously. I remember it well, as I celebrated Halloween from childhood through my late teens.
Before I proceed, I want to make it clear that I have nothing against anyone who engages in Halloween festivities. That is an individual decision and it means different things to different people. Consider the rest of what I’ve written here food for thought.
I stopped participating in Halloween when I became a Christian in 1996. I know that some believers still do celebrate the occasion; that’s their choice. However, I did not change my mind about it just because of my faith. As time has passed, I’ve come to better comprehend what Halloween accomplishes: it gives people a reason to play with something that many of them either do not truly believe in or understand -- the Spirit World.
Imagery of and costumes evoking ghosts, goblins, vampires, werewolves and murdering ghouls (whether zombies or deranged psychopaths) are fair game for a day. Far from angels, these things actually represent demons. But since people see them as fictitious, they’re harmless, right? Isn’t it just make-believe?
And what about people who dress up as superheroes, other heroic characters or some cartoon character? Is it okay to dress up as a TV/movie character that has nothing to do with horror? Where’s the harm?
If one is celebrating Halloween in any form, it is giving silent acceptance to all of Halloween, including the harmful and evil representations.
Presently, many people do not believe in spirits -- or anything they can’t identify with their five senses. That’s understandable from the society we live in. We are used to instant access to plenty of things we can experience through our mobile devices, computers or in-person.
But we all have faith. I’m not talking about religious or spiritual faith. I’m talking about believing in something. It could be family, friends, education, politics, science, entertainment, social justice or any number of other areas. One has to have faith to trust in anything. And we can’t see faith, we only experience it.
There’s literally a universe worth of things we don’t know, realize or understand yet. No matter how long we live, as individuals or as humanity itself, we will always be learning. We cannot see gravity but it’s what keeps us from floating away into the cosmos. With rare exceptions, we can’t see the wind; we can only see its effects.
All that said, I will state that we live in a dual universe: one physical and one spiritual - both inhabiting the same reality. We are alive both biologically and because we have living souls. When we are conceived, our bodies are biologically created and our souls enter in to occupy them. When we die, our bodies cease to function and our souls leave them.
Likewise, as we walk this Earth, we see people, animals, vegetation, land, water, sky and all things constructed. But occupying the same space are other things, spiritual in nature. There are angels and demons, incredible wonders and unspeakable terrors. Most of it is beyond our ability to comprehend. Still, it exists.
As a teen, I walked between both worlds in ignorance. It’s something I’m not ready to expound on, as such matters are not easily shared. Most would probably find it unbelievable. But it occurred. I’m grateful that the Lord Himself had mercy on me. He allowed me to break free of that ordeal. Someday, I will properly write or speak of it.
Today, I see Halloween as linked with all the darkness and wickedness I left behind. I truly believe that most people don’t see the fullness of what they’re associating with in Halloween. They think it’s harmless fun. I saw its true face and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.
By 1996, the Lord led me down a path to Salvation. My own changed life is a witness to God’s power. As an adult, I have seen and experienced miracles.
There is no comparison between the Dark and the Light. The Dark can seem attractive. It has things to offer and there’s a power behind it. But the Light has already conquered it. There is hope and peace in God’s perfect light through His Son, Jesus Christ.
No matter how you feel about the opinions I’ve expressed here, I thank you for reading this.
Below is to my interview on The Authors Show podcast. During these fifteen minutes, I discussed MINDFIRE and my perspective as an author.
So, my first book signing went well! It happened on Saturday, August 31, 2019 at the Barnes & Noble at the Arboretum in North Austin, Texas.
My wife and I answered questions about both Mindfire and Jordan's World. We sold numerous copies of each book and I signed them. We were there for about four hours. The customers and store staff were wonderful. We had a great time and it was an awesome learning experience.
I look forward to doing more of these in the future!
I don't have a release date on the second book in the Jordan of Algoran series but I should know something soon. In the meantime, here is the cover to Jordan's Arrow!
About the author
Allen Steadham is a nondenominational Christian, happily interracially married since 1995. Father of two sons and a daughter. He and his wife have been in the same Christian band since 1997. He plays electric bass, she plays strings, they both sing. It's all good.
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