Tag Archives: Sidney Struss

FAITH – Seventy Times Seven and Forgiveness at Christmas (Matthew 2:10-11)

The Gift of Forgiveness Taught to Me from the Reverend Ada Slaton Bonds of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church


Christmas is that very special time during the year when we celebrate with so many throughout the world the birth of our Savior.

We begin this festive time of year dreading all the stress that accompanies our shopping for hours in the malls…people and traffic everywhere. Then, we come home and wrap presents for hours. Why? We do all this out of love for our family members and friends.

Growing up the grandson of the first ordained woman in the Louisiana Presbytery, Reverend Ada Caston Slaton Bonds, I found Christmas Eve to be a fun time. I would go to Old Bethany outside Coushatta, Louisiana and my brothers and I, along with our cousins, would dress up as Mary and Joseph, the shepherds, three wise men, angels, and yes, my older brother always got the part of the donkey. It was a memorable time in my life as we would all focus on the real reason for the season, the birth of our Savior and Redeemer.

The next morning, we would wake up outside Mansfield, Louisiana and scurry around the Christmas tree to see which gifts were there. There was great excitement, laughter, joy, and happiness as smiles beamed across our faces from ear to ear.

You know, this time of the year on December 12th is when my Mother, Dorothy, was taken to heaven. She was the last daughter born to the Reverend Ada Caston Slaton Bonds. I cannot help but think of her and my grandmother during this time of year.

As I think of the presents my wife and I give and receive at Christmas, my memories and thoughts reflect on the gifts associated with Jesus Christ, our Savior. These gifts are reflected in Matthew 2:10-11, “Whey they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.”

The receiving and giving of gifts during this time of year reminds me of the gifts to Christ on the occasion of His birth.

I watched this year, as I have in so many years in the past, most stores beginning to capitalize two and even three months before the Christmas season…the commercialization of Christmas. It is oftentimes unfortunate that Christ is left out of Christmas.

Let’s go back and look at the Christmas season in a spiritual sense. The greatest gift that we have received from our Heavenly Father is the gift that he gave us when he sent His son, Jesus Christ. His sacred atonement was his highest act of FORGIVENESS.

I still remember when my Mom was informed she had terminal cancer. The doctor gave her not more than sixty days to live. I saw a gift given before it was too late, the gift of forgiveness in a grudge she and her sister had carried against each other for over ten years. She walked into the hospital room, sat next to my Mom’s bed and asked for forgiveness for not speaking with each other for ten years!

I think of times like this during the Christmas season and only think of the gifts we should be giving…those that last forever and ever…and they don’t cost one penny or need any of that expensive wrapping paper and bows. What are those gifts you ask?

Gifts of our heart, our gift of understanding and listening, our gifts of charity, gifts of patience, gifts of our friendship, gifts of our caring, gifts of forgiving a grudge that lasted for years and years. Furthermore, one other gift…the gift of our forgiveness for those who have hurt us or one of our loved ones.

These are great gifts, don’t you think. Ever since writing my grandmother’s inspirational story about finding forgiveness (FAITH – Seventy Times Seven), I have learned so much from numerous scriptures researched during the writing of this novel. James 1:17 says, “Every good gift and every gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”

I was with friends at dinner in Georgetown, Texas the other evening and we discussed “forgiveness.” My good friend had a perfect answer for the discussion. “When we forgive others, it frees us to choose how we will live our own lives.

What better time is there to give the gift of forgiveness to one who has wronged us than at Christmas time? Healing a family…what better time is there to heal a family with forgiveness than at Christmas time?

Still, two years later after the writing of this novel, I struggle with forgiveness. I have come to grips that forgiving someone who has hurt us deeply is probably one of the hardest things I will ever do. The freedom that you will feel in doing so  will be worth all the pain and effort it took to do. This forgiveness only comes with the help of our Lord.

I have completed my 10th novel scheduled for release on December 12th (The Flaming Blue Sword) and assure you I could never have found the words or strength to reach such a milestone without the Lord beside me each step of the way.

This is my Christmas message to you at this time of year! Take the time to give to those who may have offended you or hurt you in any way your gift of FORGIVENESS.  May we also look for the gift of forgiveness from those whom we may have hurt or offended. As we all do this, relationships will mend themselves, families will heal…miracles will happen!

May we all feel comfort and peace this Christmas season.


faith cover page for pubit dot com barnes and noble




The Bible, Not the Carbine and Bayonet, Was the Weapon of Choice at the Beginning of the Civil War…and Still Is Today!

book 2 front page for createspace dot com

Only two weeks away and the second novel in the 150th Anniversary Series of the Lincoln Assassination hits the bookshelves. Electronic and paperback versions of Book 2: The Lincoln Assassination – The Pursuit and Capture of John Wilkes Booth and the Trial of David Herold is available for pre-release and will be officially released June 29, 2015. It is now available for pre-purchase.

All six novels are complete and will be released every two months. During this time, I, as the author, have struggled with how the Bible was used during the mid-1800’s. It is too often invoked in today’s political battles, as well, just like it was in the 1850’s and 1860’s…150 years ago!

I struggled from beginning to end when writing an earlier novel, Faith – Seventy Times Seven, with one simple word, FORGIVENESS. I found and studied numerous scriptures in the Bible that support the reasons why we forgive someone, but still faithfully search for forgiveness.

In various public speaking engagements I have made regarding slavery and the Civil War, my novels and the research associated with them, gave me the opportunity to reexamine crucial events and the North and South beliefs from new angles. It is overwhelming, and confusing at the same time, how the scriptures in the Bible were used before, during and after the Civil War.

I found numerous ministers who supported slavery in the South. One of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church ministers, the same church in which Reverend Ada Caston Slaton Bonds, the first ordained woman in the State of Louisiana preached, asked who could question the Word of God when it says, “…slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling” from Ephesians 6:5. Or, from Titus 2:9, “…tell slaves to be submissive to their masters and to give satisfaction in every respect.” No doubt, Christians who want to preserve slavery had the words of the Bible to back them up!

The North had its scriptures to do away with Slavery. As just seen, the South had its scriptures to support slavery. This six-book set of the 150th Anniversary Series of Lincoln’s Assassination let’s the main character, Abraham Lincoln, add his two-bits worth: “My concern is not whether God is on our side, but my greatest concern is to be on God’s side!”

So, today, excited over the release of my second novel, Lincoln’s quotation mentioned above still rings in my head, “Are we on God’s side or not?” More to follow as the release party in Georgetown, Texas prepares for release of Book 2!