Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Closing the Door at WordVessel (Special Note to RSS and E-mail Subscribers)

Wow, as I sit down to write the final post for this blog, I'm on emotional overload. Closing down WordVessel is like saying a final goodbye to someone special--someone who has helped you, given you a place to turn, given you a way to share your thoughts.

I launched WordVessel back in 2008 as a way to record my adventure into the wonderful world of writing. Since then, the blog has morphed into more of a devotional site more than anything else.

But now it's time to say goodbye. I've moved my blog to my author website: http://www.CatBryant.com, where I will continue to pen devotional posts and my thoughts on life in general. Most of the previous posts will eventually be transferred to my website as well.

SPECIAL NOTE TO SUBSCRIBERS: Whether through RSS feed or Email, I want to thank all my subscribers for their support and loyalty. I have tried to export the RSS feed and Email subscribers to my other blog, but without success. I hate to lose you as a subscriber, so if you don't mind please head to my website and click on the 'Blog' tab.

In the side bar of the blog, you will find a place to sign up for blog updates via e-mail. There is also a place to sign up for my author newsletter of new releases. While blog updates will be frequent, the new release newsletter is infrequent, mainly for the purpose of informing readers of the release of a new book.

To sign up for RSS feed at my website, you can look above the header, at the far right side, or in the footer to sign up. Just click the little radio signal button. This will transfer the blog posts to the home page of your e-mail provider or whatever reader you choose to use.

So, it is with mixed feelings I bid adieu to the blog that helped launch my writing career, and close the door at WordVessel, knowing that as this door closes another opens. Like the picture above says, as one door closes another opens. Time to head for the open door.

Thank you again, dear subscribers. Hope to see you all at CatBryant.com.

Much love,

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Beginnings Bible Study - Genesis 2

(If you missed the last segment of the Beginnings Bible Study, you can find it HERE.)

Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. ~Genesis 2:1-3 (NIV)

"Completed in all their vast array" – God knocked it out of the park with both diversity and intricate design in His creation. The world is the work of a highly skilled Craftsman!

"Rested" – literally means “cessation from work,” but not in an idle, passive sense. God's work of creation was complete, so this day of rest was a celebration of sorts. He certainly didn’t rest because He was tired or needed a nap.

Food For Thought – Think of a project you’ve completed and the thoughts and feelings that evokes. (Not that anything we’ve ever done could compare to what God did in Creation, but so we can in some small way sense the purpose and meaning behind God’s day of rest.)

"Blessed…made it holy" – other days mentioned evening and morning—giving a boundary to the days—but that’s not mentioned here, giving an eternal aspect to the day of rest.

Digging Deeper – Isaiah 40:28; Psalm 121:3-4; Exodus 20:8-11; Deuteronomy 5:12-15; Isaiah 56:2-8; Hebrews 4:1, 3-4, 9-11

(NOTE: There is sooooo much information in God's Word about the Sabbath. Be on the lookout for a separate post on God's special day!)

This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, when the Lord God made the earth and the heavens. Now no shrub had yet appeared on the earth and no plant had yet sprung up, for the Lord God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no one to work the ground, but streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground. Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. ~Genesis 2:4-7 (NIV)

"Account" – record, family history, generations. (We’ll see this term used a total of ten times: Genesis 5:1; 6:9; 10:1; 11:10; 11:27; 25:12; 25:19; 36:9; 37:2.)

Note: This is a second account of creation, where the emphasis switches from an overview to God’s special relationship with man.

"LORD God" – In chapter 1, the name of God used is Elohim, a plural word indicating the Trinity, as well as God's sovereignty. Now the name Yahweh or Jehovah is used. This is the covenant, sacred, and personal name for God, and the name most closely linked to His work of redemption (Exodus 3:14-15; 6:6). It also means the self-existing One, and was considered so sacred that it wasn't spoken aloud.

"Formed" – I love this beautiful picture of the potter fashioning a work of art with His hands. The other aspects of the creation were spoken into being. Only with man did God scoop up the dirt from the ground and lovingly shape it into a living being.

"Breathed into His nostrils the breath of life" – The word Spirit literally means breath (pneuma). This is another plural term, and indicates fullness of life.

Digging Deeper – Isaiah 42:5

Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. A river watering the garden flowed from Eden; from there it was separated into four headwaters. The name of the first is the Pishon; it winds through the entire land of Havilah, where there is gold. (The gold of that land is good; aromatic resin and onyx are also there.) The name of the second river is the Gihon; it winds through the entire land of Cush. The name of the third river is the Tigris; it runs along the east side of Ashur. And the fourth river is the Euphrates. ~Genesis 2:8-14 (NIV)

Does anyone else find it fascinating that human time begins and ends in a garden?

"Eden" – means pleasure or delight. God had created Paradise. This area is believed by Bible scholars to be located in modern-day Turkey or Iraq, though it is possible that the great flood further obscured its location.

"All kinds of trees" – Notice that the trees are further described, dividing them into four distinct categories:
  • pleasing to look at
  • good for food
  • tree of life
  • tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Notice the abundant natural resources in the area of Eden – water, gold, aromatic resin, onyx-- which further demonstrates God's abundant provision for His creation. There are also four rivers mentioned – Pishon, Gihon, Tigris, Euphrates. Only the latter two are still known in modern days.

Digging Deeper – Revelation 22:1-2

The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” ~Genesis 2:15-18 (NIV)

Here we see God purposefully placing man in the garden of Eden, this place of pleasure, delight, and perfection.

Food For Thought: What was man’s purpose in the garden? What was the warning (not threat or challenge) God gave man? Why? What is death?

"Helper suitable for him" – There was no comparable counterpart or helpmeet for man.

Digging Deeper – Ephesians 2:1; Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals. But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame. ~Genesis 2:19-25 (NIV)

"See what he would name them" – If you'll think back to our study of Genesis 1, you'll remember that naming things indicates lordship and ownership. In this case, it also indicates stewardship, because God places the responsibility of flawless Paradise firmly in the hands of man.

"Deep sleep" – As strange as it may sound in a world that often denies the existence of God and rebels against Him, this is where we get our surgical practice of putting people to sleep for surgery.

Notice that the man also names the woman based on her being taken from man. The Hebrew word for man is Adam, very closely related to the Hebrew word for ground, which is Adamah.

Food For Thought: Before God instituted the church, government, the law, God instituted marriage. Leaving and cleaving are so very important. If either partner remains emotionally closer to parents than to spouse, there will be problems. I don't mean to get on a soapbox here, but I've seen marriages ruined because the biblical principle of leaving and cleaving isn't followed.

Digging Deeper – Revelation 19:7-9; Ephesians 5:25-27; Revelation 21:2; Isaiah 54:5

"naked and felt no shame" - At first glance, this phrase seems rather random, but in what lies ahead in the story, the statement will take on new meaning.

LORD God, thank You for being our personal God. Thank You that from the beginning of time, You established a very special relationship with man, a relationship that You would go to the ultimate sacrifice to protect and restore. Thank You that You came to earth to provide a way to bring us back into relationship with You in spite of our sinful nature. Thank You for providing us with a life partner, someone that is very much a part of us, and that the sanctity of marriage becomes a symbol of Jesus Christ and His bride, the church. In His name we pray, Amen.

Beginning Bible Study - Genesis 1

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Life or Death Decision: No Middle Ground

As people created in the image of and under the authority of Almighty God, we have a life or death decision to make.

God set this choice before His chosen people before they entered the Promised Land, and it is a choice still available to people today as the ultimate Promised Land of heaven draws closer.

You should know in advance: there is no middle ground, no neutrality. A non-decision is a death decision.

I know this seems like a hard line to take, but it's not my line. It's the line God laid out thousands of years ago. Choose Him and His ways and live, or actively rebel (or passively try to take the middle ground) and die. Each day draws us closer to the moment when the opportunity to choose is gone.

Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, “Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, “Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it. See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess. But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. ~Deuteronomy 30:11-20 (NIV)

If you're reading this post and want to know more about how to make a choice for life, please click the "LIFE" button in the sidebar or CLICK THIS LINK. Furthermore, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at catbry (the number 1) at yahoo dot com.

Father God, thank You for Your great love for us and for Your awesome plan to redeem us through Your Son Jesus Christ. Thank You that Your mercies are new every morning and that as long as it is "today" everyone still has time to choose You. But LORD God, make us aware of the urgency of the decision. These are troubled days, and time is running out. Teach us to number our days that we might gain a heart of wisdom. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Christian Kindle Freebies for September 9, 2013

Want a way to read all these great Christian Kindle freebies without purchasing a Kindle? Check out this post that tells you how. All the books listed here are free at the time of posting, but these free e-books change to pay status very quickly. Always check to make sure the books are free before you click to buy. Just so you know, I have not read all these books, so I can't testify to their content or scriptural accuracy (though I try to be discerning about which books I share on WordVessel). Happy reading!

The Way of Grace
by Cathy Bryant

Fiction: In pursuit of justice, in need of grace . . .

A justice-seeking perfectionist pursues her dream of a perfect life in her hometown of Miller’s Creek, Texas. Sidetracked by a desire to be a prosecuting attorney, Grace Soldano launches into uncharted waters, making herself over to please her boss and mentor.

Then a disheveled free spirit turns her perfectly ordered world upside down, challenging the concept of personal goodness. A fall from perfection leaves Grace teetering between vengeance and grace, caught in a deadly crossfire that leaves her dreams in a heap of ashes.

Can she learn to joyfully accept the life God has given her–far from perfect–but completely immersed in His grace?

Click HERE to download.

Be Committed 
by Warren Wiersbe

Nonfiction: For both Ruth and Esther, God used stressful circumstances to bring about His eternal purposes. Ruth's committment to the God of Naomi affected every generation to come, as she became an ancestor of King David and more importantly, Jesus Christ. Esther's obedience led to the preservation of her people at a moment in history when all seemed lost.

The stories of Ruth and Esther will make you contemplate: Would I trust God enough to do what they did? Go chapter by chapter through the books of Ruth and Esther to see how the lives of these two remarkable women epitomize the type of faith that glorifies God.

Click HERE to download.

A Devotional Journey Through Judges 
by Laura Krokos

Nonfiction: Practical, insightful and relatable 250 page in depth devotional study with great personal stories. Each day is short enough to be able to read and have time to process the personal application questions. It can be used in conjunction with the discussion guide (at www.TheBookofJudges.com) or as a stand alone devotional.

Click HERE to download.

The Sacrifice 
by Rev. Allen Smith

Nonfiction: The Sacrifice will take you all the way back to the creation of the earth. You will not only see how sin entered the earth, but you will also see how the One True God reacted to it. You will see how man separated himself from God, and how God put a plan into action to bring man back to Him.

You will be taken step by step through the plan God set into action. You will see how it all unfolds before your eyes, and you will realize what God did just for you.
Click HERE to download.

Hearts Adrift 
by Daisy Fields

Fiction: Winter has come to Elkhart County, Indiana, and it hasn't treated Amish farmer Abram Schrock well at all. His roof collapsed, his trusted mare Goody died, and his fiancée Mary has run away to Indianapolis. Abram is content to maintain his home and watch the endless snow, but when the community pools its money to buy Abram a new horse, what seems like a simple gift creates a tangled mess as Abram discovers an abandoned boy nearly frozen to death in his barn.

Knowing it's his Christian duty to offer charity, Abram rescues the boy, Owen. Unfortunately, while he wants to return to nursing his broken heart, Abram is forced to work together with the opinionated teacher, Katherine, to care for Owen. Will Abram find his path back to God and life, or will he break down for good? Find out in this tense tale of Amish fiction.

Click HERE to download.

by Normandie Fischer

Fiction: With her days chock full - designing jewelry for the shop she co-owns with her best friend, sailing her sharpie, and hanging out with girlfriends - Tadie Longworth barely notices she's morphing into the town's maiden aunt. When Will, a widower with a perky daughter named Jilly, limps into town in a sailboat badly in need of engine repairs, Tadie welcomes the chance to help. Her shop becomes Jilly's haven while Will hunts boat parts, and Tadie even takes the two of them sailing. It's the kind of thing she lives for, and it's a welcome distraction from the fact that her ex-boyfriend Alex, aka The Jerk of Jerks, is back in town. With his northern bride. Oh, and he's hitting on Tadie, too.

Those entanglements are more than enough, thank you very much, so it's almost a relief when a hurricane blows into town: at least the weather can match Tadie's mood. When Will and Jilly take shelter in her home, though, Tadie finds herself battling her attraction to Will. Even worse, the feeling is mutual, tempting them all with what-ifs that petrify Will, who has sworn never to fall in love again. Mired in misunderstanding, he takes advantage of the clear skies and hauls Jilly out of there and back to his broken boat so fast, Tadie's head spins.

With the man she might have loved gone, and the man she wishes gone showing up on her doorstep, Tadie finds herself like a sailboat with no wind; becalmed, she has to fight her way back against the currents to the shores of the life, and the man, she wants to have.

Click HERE to download.

Eyes Off The Waves! (And On the Storm Stiller)

Though scary events like the Cuban missile crisis, Vietnam War, and the JFK assassination occurred in my lifetime, I was just a child. My memories of these events are fuzzy at best.

So the current state of our nation and world is by far the most terrifying events I've encountered in my lifetime. With news of potential economic collapse, war with Syria, and a society hellbent on self-destruction, it is increasingly easy to give way to fear, anxiety and worry.

Brothers and sisters, keeping our eyes on Jesus is the only way to live in the peace and joy He gives. If we allow ourselves to be distracted by the stormy waves of current world events, we are allowing our number one enemy--the first and foremost terrorist--to have his way with us.

I know it's tempting to sneak a peek at the monstrous waves, but we are called to something better.

Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” ~Matthew 14:29-33 (NIV)

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. ~Hebrews 12:1-2 (NIV)

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. ~Isaiah 26:3 (ESV) 

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. ~Philippians 4:6 (NASB)

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. ~1 Peter 5:7 (NIV)

Lord Jesus, thank You that even though we live in troubled times we don't have to be troubled. You have promised to watch over us and take care of us. You still storms with words. Through You we can overcome anything. Help us to keep our focus on You, not the waves. Amen.

The Way of Grace Free September 9-13, 2013 for Kindle

It's another monthly Miller's Creek novel freebie week! During September 9-13, 2013, The Way of Grace is free for Kindle at http://www.amazon.com/Grace-Millers-Creek-Novels-ebook/dp/B009H7TIFU/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=8-1&qid=1378738012

(Don't forget that you don't have to have a Kindle to get the Kindle freebies. This post will show you how to add a Kindle app to your PC, phone, iPad, etc.)

Here's the back cover copy for The Way of Grace for your information:

In pursuit of justice, in need of grace . . .

A justice-seeking perfectionist pursues her dream of a perfect life in her hometown of Miller’s Creek, Texas. Sidetracked by a desire to be a prosecuting attorney, Grace Soldano launches into uncharted waters, making herself over to please her boss and mentor.

Then a disheveled free spirit turns her perfectly ordered world upside down, challenging the concept of personal goodness. A fall from perfection leaves Grace teetering between vengeance and grace, caught in a deadly crossfire that leaves her dreams in a heap of ashes.

Can she learn to joyfully accept the life God has given her–far from perfect–but completely immersed in His grace?

Please pass along this information to anyone you know who might be interested. I greatly appreciate it!

Much love,