Before you jump into James

We love this quick and easy overview of the book of James by Certa author Linda Knight. You can read along here or listen on Spotify here.

This New Testament book is Oh so practical in nature. It was written by James, the oldest brother of Jesus. After his conversion, he became a pillar of the Christian church in Jerusalem and was widely known. His opening lines direct this letter to the dispersed Jewish Christians who had been scattered abroad after the death of Stephen (Acts 7:54-60). James is referred to many times in the New Testament as Jesus appeared to him personally after his resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:7), was known as a pillar in the church (Galatians 2:9), was visited by Paul on various occasions, was Paul’s first choice of whom to tell upon being released from prison, (Acts 12:17), was important in the Jerusalem Council recorded in Acts 15:13, was the brother of Jude (Jude 1:1) and history records that he was martyred in A.D. 62.

His short letter of 5 Chapters is packed with practical knowledge and instruction on how to live out a life committed to Christ that is filled with faith and good works. James was a servant of Christ and desired that those following Jesus serve Him wholeheartedly. It is filled with wisdom on how to treat others, tame the tongue and submit to God. If you desire to learn to think biblically it is a great book to memorize. The truths will permeate your being and infuse godly thinking into your mind. As James would say, it leads to solid faith and good works that show our love for God as we serve Him. Here are a few of my most favorite verses that have transformed my thinking.

James 1:2-4 talks about attitude and the results of trusting all of life’s events to God.  “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

James 1: 5-6 instructs us to go to the source of all wisdom when we need answers but to do it with faith!  If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.

James 1:17 confirms the immutability of God. He also assures us that God is good in all He gives. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”

James 1:19-20 instructs us to control our anger.  Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”

James 2:1 begins his teaching on treating others with impartiality. “My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.” He concludes this chapter with words about faith and good works. “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?” (2:14)

James 3 delves into the harm and good that we can do with our tongues!  “And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. (3:6)

James 4:7-8 is one of my favorite promises as it shows us clearly the way to draw near to God. “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”

In his last chapter James talks about the whining rich, the need for patience and the importance of prayer. James 5:15-16 encourages us in our prayer life! “And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

Which of these nuggets of wisdom do you need today? Are you struggling with trials in your life and need the perspective of joy? Are you concerned that God is perhaps whimsical and will change His mind about your salvation? Are you being confronted with favoritism, gossip or want to know how to get closer to God? Are you struggling with prayer and asking yourself why pray? James is a book that can be read, meditated upon and digested slowly so that the truths contained therein will permeate your life and allow the Holy Spirit to change you from the inside out.

Be encouraged today by the practicality of James and how he makes faith in Christ applicable to our daily walk with Jesus.

Check out these resources from Linda knight:

We live in a world filled with uncertainty, stressful situations, demanding circumstances, and even challenging people. In Promises for Dynamic Living, you will discover the specific promises which God has provided for you through His Word.

200 pages | $13.99

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Fearless Living is a unique, reflective journey that leads the reader from looking at the world, circumstances, events with fear to a place of trust in God. Each day the reader is offered a passage of scripture, a reflective thought and a prayer to combat fear and build our faith.

172 pages | $13.99

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Trusting God’s Detours

When one of our authors submitted this essay, we couldn’t help but think that the word “detour” is an excellent description of COVID-19. For some, it has meant a delayed wedding date, time away from family, a decision to move or a complete change of educational choices. No matter how the pandemic has detoured or derailed your plans, we think these thoughts from Joan Crombie will encourage you…

One beastly hot July day back in the early 1970s, I remember our family of five taking a day trip from our farm in northern South Dakota to the state capital at Pierre, a 150-some mile jaunt. I do not recall the make or model of our car—only that it had no air conditioning, and that it was cherry red inside and out—a fitting color for how searing hot the vinyl seats felt on my bare ten-year-old legs in shorts.

A good portion into our trip we began to see those dreaded signs indicating road construction ahead. Before we reached any actual construction, however, we came to a large, striped sign set in the middle of the road: “Road Closed Ahead. Use Detour.” A big arrow pointed left. As we paused, my mother pulled the accordioned state map out of the glove compartment, and my dad studied it, determining that the detour would take us at least forty miles out of our way on an already long trip. He eyed the perfectly fine paved highway ahead of us. Who knows exactly what he was thinking, but there were few roadway options out in the middle of rural South Dakota, and apparently that perfectly fine paved road seemed like a worthwhile risk to take. We went around the sign.

You can probably guess what happened. We were confidently cruising along with the windows open on that picturesque, paved road for a good twenty miles before the road turned to gravel. We slowed, cranking the windows up to an inch, enduring the hot, dusty drive for another eight to ten bumpy miles—until the gravel turned into the mushy, loose stuff spread across what we realized was a newly constructed road not yet packed. But oh, we’d come so far! Surely, we’d be driving out of it soon, right? We crawled along through the mush gravel until we came to—minor key—the literal end of the road. Ahead of us was a river over which a bridge had not yet been built. The worst part was having to backtrack all that way to the original detour!

Sometimes life is like that. We’re cruising happily along, when suddenly our plans are rudely interrupted. We’re forced to make hard changes. Most of the time God’s detours are inconvenient and/or frustrating. Other times, they can be tragic and heart-wrenchingly painful, life-altering and hard to understand. Either way, God promises to be with us, and he promises that “all things work together for good to those who love him and are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) If we yield to him, God uses our trials to build our faith and to form our character to be more like him. Plus, we often forget that those roadblocks and detours protect us from dangers or hardships we may be unaware of.

In Joan’s soon-to-be-released book Loving Leah, Leah Labanora struggles to come to grips with a harsh change of plans in her life. Unable to fathom why God would allow such a humiliating situation to happen to her, Leah turns from God and becomes bitter toward those who have hurt her. But God brings her on a wide detour—straight back to him! As she embraces the hard work of forgiveness, Leah learns that her disappointment was God’s hand of protection over her life.

Loving Leah is a mystery and a love story. But more so, it’s a powerful story of healing and reconciliation! Look for it on our site in early August!

The daughter of a cattle rancher, Joan Crombie grew up in a small town on the prairies of South Dakota. In 1985 she graduated from St. Olaf College with a B.A. in English Education. She and her husband Steven Crombie have been married for thirty-five adventurous years and have raised five children—one daughter and four sons. Currently, they reside in beautiful southern Minnesota where they pastor a church. Joan is also the author of Keeping Kyla, the first book in the Healing New Hampton series.

Diagnosed with rare cancer at age 27

Maybe you’ve stumbled across this blog today because you’ve recently been diagnosed with cancer. Or perhaps someone you care about very much has just heard that dreaded diagnosis. Maybe it’s not cancer, but another chronic health condition that has stolen your joy and hope. Whatever the reason, we pray that you will find inspiration in this excerpt from Certa author Nicole Body who was diagnosed with a very rare cancer at age 27…

“Good morning,” he said to us upon entering the room. “We have received your pathology results, Nicole.”

He stood across from me and leaned up against the sink in the room with his arms folded in front of him much as he did the last time we saw him. He seemed distraught, though, which was uncharacteristic from our last visit with him.

“What did the report say?” I asked him while my voice cracked.

“The pathology shows that you have what is called sarcoma cancer,” he began.

“It is cancer?” I asked him as I felt my body go numb.

With his head tilted down toward the floor, he shifted his eyes up toward me and slowly nodded.

“What is that?” Wes asked, insistently shifting to the edge of his chair. “I’ve never even heard of that.”

“It’s very rare,” he said. “Fewer than one percent of people are diagnosed with it. It was described to me as ‘angry,’ ‘aggressive,’ and ‘high grade.’ I’m so sorry to have to be the one to tell you this news.”

It began feeling as if the walls of the room were closing in and the oxygen was being sucked out. I panted a few times and without even realizing it, I had stood up.

“I just need a moment to breathe in the hallway if that’s okay,” I said motioning my hand toward the door.

“Absolutely,” Dr. Barnes replied. “Please take your time.”

“Aggressive,” “angry,” and “high grade” are how he described it. That’s pretty horrifying. Less than one percent of all cancer diagnoses? Well, now it makes sense why the radiologist and my doctors have never seen anything like it.

How am I not crying right now? Maybe the shock has absorbed my tears. Maybe since this is technically the second time in a month for me to be “diagnosed with cancer” I don’t believe him. Maybe it’s because I can’t even remember the name of the cancer he just told me I have! I have a million thoughts and a myriad of questions. Since Dr. Barnes didn’t take all of the tumor out in my surgery, this means that the cancer is still inside me. What’s going to happen next?

I immediately stopped and thought about the scripture Wes had read to me before my surgery. I was thankful to have my phone so I could pull it up and read it.

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.

2 Corinthians 4:8-9

I took a few deep breaths and leaned up against the wall as I noticed someone walking to a room past me. I glanced back at the verses and felt calm enough to go back inside to meet Wes.

“Well, it looks like you’ll need another surgery,” he began in a solemn tone.

“Who do we need to see?” I blurted out in desperation. “Where do we need to go? I’ll do anything.”

“Sarcoma cancer is very rare and there are few oncologists in the country who specialize in it,” he explained. “But there is a place I know could help you.”

“Where?” Wes asked with vigor.

“There are three major cancer centers in the United States that I can think of that would be helpful for your case,” he said to us. “There is one specifically in Houston called the MD Anderson Cancer Center. Is it possible that you could make that work?”

“Houston?” I repeated as a question while I covered my mouth with my hand. “In light of recent events, I believe we can make that work. I just need to make a quick phone call to my parents, since they just moved there about a month ago.”

Wes held my hand and shook his head while smiling. We were continually encountering opposition, but each time it had been met with something that brought us hope. The scripture that Wes had read to me reigned true. Even though I was afflicted, I was not crushed. Amidst feeling perplexed, I was not driven to despair. I may have felt struck down, but I was far from being destroyed.

I squeezed Wes’ hand, nodded back at him, and called my parents. Even in life’s scariest moments, God was still working in the midst of it all.

Why do I ever doubt him?

This excerpt is from Nicole’s new release When Love Broke Through, which chronicles her journey and survival story.

Nicole Body is an author, speaker, and creator of the faith-based cancer blog She currently works as the Communications Director for WoodsEdge Community Church.

Her life verse is John 16:33 and is in the heart of everything she writes and speaks about. Nicole is dearly devoted to her husband, Wes. They love ballroom dancing, traveling, and all things Disney with hopes of visiting every Disney park in the world one day. 

When Love Broke Through is the compelling story of discovering that love is a force to be reckoned with in all seasons of life. Authentic, genuine, and uplifting, this book shares the true story of God’s faithfulness and finding hope when it seems to be lost. This is a must-read for anyone who is in need of their faith to be ignited, courage to be summoned, and a reminder that love can break through.

224 pages | $14.99 | Buy it here