Mar 02

Apologizing for tests

John 6 35 CPTo my Facebook and Linked-in friends, I apologize for flooding social media. I’m struggling (again) with technology and need to keep testing potential fixes.

 

Thanks for your patience and grace as I fumble my way through.

Mar 02

Thinking

Thinking of you 1

 

And also testing out my technical expertise (and lack of) on my website.

Mar 02

FOR FAITH: John 6:35

John 6 35 CP

 

…because the hunger and thirst is for righteousness.

…which we can’t provide for ourselves.

…fortunately Jesus declares us righteous

…when we come to Him.

 

♦♦♦

 

Feel free to copy and paste this image anywhere and everywhere. Send copies to all your friends. Paste it on your refrigerator. Most of all, remember what it says and that Jesus is everything you need.

Feb 27

JUST DO IT: The First Step

nikeObedience. It’s sometimes tough. Sometimes we don’t want to do something. Sometimes we don’t think we are capable. Sometimes we just want God to take over and make it happen.

Sure, God could do it for us or to us or instead of us. But if we’re talking about obedience, then God requires something from us. Usually He requires it first.

In other words, God may give you strength, courage, skill, people, or opportunity. But first you have to step forward in faith.

 

  • Jesus healed the man’s withered hand, but first the man had to stretch it out. (Matthew 12:13; Luke 6:10)

 

  • When Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, God divided the water, but first Moses had to raise his staff and stretch out his hand over it. (Exodus 14:16)

 

  • Paul said he could do all things through Christ who strengthened him, but first he had to begin to do. (Philippians 4:13)

 

My one word focus for 2015 is Nike—as in the sports shoes—because their slogan is “just do it.” Part of “just doing it” is taking that first step. And then the next. In obedience and trust, relying on Jesus.

 

WHAT ABOUT YOU? Is there something you feel incapable of doing or are dragging your feet over? What first step might help you just do it?

Feb 23

FOR READERS: The Testimonium

testimoniumAlthough faith has to do with believing in the heart, a great thing about Christianity is the amazing amount of historical facts and archaeology that supports it. That’s the basis behind The Testimonium by Ben Lewis Smith.

Smith did a fabulous job of proposing an archaeological find that—while not proving Christ’s resurrection—lent strong historical support to the Gospel account. Smith’s historical and scientific research made the basic premise of an archaeological find feel true to life. I especially enjoyed the description of the documentation and scientific process involved in preserving archaeological finds. Smith used those descriptive moments to educate us readers but also to move the story forward and deepen our understanding of the characters involved.

Smith’s characters were well developed and their personal growth was well thought through. The reactions from various segments of the world community felt real and probable as he dealt with the question of how religious communities would react to either a confirmation or change in our understanding of the historical Jesus of Nazareth.

I reviewed this book previously here, but wanted to take the opportunity to plug it again since our book club is now reading it. Additionally, it occurred to me that the book would be an especially interesting Lenten read as we look forward to celebrating Easter.

The story moved quickly with strong writing and a page-turning plot. In all, The Testimonium was a great read. I recommended it to my book club. Today we’ll be meeting to discuss it. Can’t wait to hear what they have to say.

Have you read this book? What did you think? What did you love? What did you question? Head over to “Carol’s Book Club” (above) and leave a comment.

Feb 20

FOR FAITH: Praying Names (Linda and Donald)

Name

 

I love that names mean something. I love praying that people I know would “live” the meaning of their names.

From time to time, I post names and their meanings here and then create a prayer for folks to pray for loved ones with those names. Here are two more: Linda and Donald.

 

LINDA: beautiful

 

Dear Jesus, we pray that Linda will live the meaning of her name. Lord we recognize that all women want to be seen as great beauties by the world. We pray that Linda will recognize her spiritual beauty in your sight and understand that how you see her is of eternal value. Amen.

 

DONALD: mighty; ruler of all

 

Dear Jesus, we pray that Donald will live the meaning of his name. We pray that he will be mighty in every endeavor in which he leads. We pray that he will focus his leadership skills based on your example, Jesus. We pray also that he will love and honor you as mighty ruler of all, all the days of his life. Amen.

 

If you have a loved one you would like me to create a prayer for, please leave me a comment below.

I can also create a personalized “Prayer Plaque” that you could give as a gift for a new baby, a birthday, graduation, wedding or just because. Head over to www.HonorBoundBooks.com to find out more.

Feb 16

FOR WRITERS: Becoming Known in the World

15361048_s

 

Platform. Branding. Promotion. It’s about becoming known.

Writers hope our books bring value or at least a joyful respite to our readers. But despite buckets of sweat, gallons of coffee and trash bags of shredded revisions that went into completing our books, writing them remains the easy part of this business.

The hard part of being a writer is getting our books into the hands of readers so they can be helped or brought joy. It’s that platform, branding and promotion thing where Christian writers often stumble.

The key is in the value we bring. If what we have written has the possibility of helping even one person, then we have the responsibility to do what we can to help that one person find our book.

Jesus didn’t sit at home with a few friends and discuss religion. He traveled the cities and countryside, speaking both to the few and to the multitudes. Jesus did the work of promotion, so to speak, in order to spread the Good News. Because people needed to hear it.

Many of us Christians write as a ministry to educate, entertain or inspire others. Part of writing in obedience involves letting people know about what we have written—because people who need our books can’t be helped by them if they don’t know our books exist.

Spending time deciding what you’d like to accomplish this year to become known is the first step. Then make sure to evaluate and reassess your goals quarterly.

Maybe you have no trouble bravely sharing your projects with the world. Or maybe you need a gentle nudge. Or a big shove. Each month this year, we’ll look at ideas for becoming known. Maybe one or all of them will be a fit for you.

We come to the writing business to serve others. Part of serving includes becoming known so we can reach the people who need to be served. In other words, part of a writing involves stepping out into the world. Following the example of Jesus.

♦♦♦

(This post first appeared on InspireWriters.com. Inspire Christian Writers has been such an encouragement to me and others. Please go to the site often. Attend their monthly workshops. Consider joining. Stay encouraged!)

 

Feb 13

FOR FAITH: OZ AND I–Set Your Words on Fire

OZ AND I image copy

I was flipping my way through the upcoming daily devotionals of Oswald Chamber’s My Utmost for His Highest this morning. Oz wrote these devotionals to encourage the students at the Bible Training College he founded, to train up pastors and missionaries. This morning I came across a future devotional and had to stop and ponder its power in my life.

Generally, Oz’s devotionals cause me to sit up and pay attention, often in a painful way. In other words, Oz whacks me upside the head with a spiritual truth I need to address in my own life.

This devotional however, was a lovely encouragement to me as a writer. Oz said:

Allow God to have complete liberty in your life when you speak. Before God’s message can liberate other people, His liberation must first be real in you. Gather your material carefully, and then allow God to “set your words on fire” for His glory.

So often, when writing my Bible study books, I have felt as if I was merely sitting at the keyboard, taking spiritual dictation. After the first draft I would let the manuscript sit for a month and return to it with fresh eyes. Invariably I would remark: “Who wrote this? These revelations certainly didn’t come out of my feeble brain.”

At that point, I would begin digging into Scripture and commentary, consulting Hebrew and Greek dictionaries and spending extra time in prayer and meditation. Ultimately I would reach a point where the message God had given me to share in those books became real in me. The task then was to share that message by first setting my words on fire with my personal enthusiasm for God’s truth revealed to me.

Thanks, Oz for not giving me a head-whacking this time, but for using your message to encourage me to set my words on fire for God’s glory.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? Do you let God set your words on fire for His glory?

 

(This post is based on the devotional for March 10, in My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers.)

 

Feb 09

FOR FAITH: 1 John 3:1

1 John 3 1

 

I am feeling this Scripture today. Are you?

 

♦♦♦

 

Please feel free to copy and paste this anywhere and everywhere you like. Spread the Gospel!

Feb 06

FOR FAITH; FOR WRITERS: Stealing Sunlight

Florin Gorgan via flikr

 

I’ve told four people the same thing this year:

I saw my writing become deeper and richer when I stopped writing my own projects, asking God to bless them and started listening to His leading and writing the projects He had in mind.

Still, those projects *I* had created called to me over the years. I loved the characters, the stories, the word play, in the children’s books I wrote. I had never quite given up the desire to one day see them published, in print and in the hands of children to enjoy.

One of those beloved projects was a middle grade novel, Stealing Sunlight—the first book I sat down to intentionally create. I began the project in 2000. Fourteen years later, the still unfinished book is now older than the 12-year old characters in it.

The characters were fun. The word play was clever. The plot line interesting.

But, as a writer whose skill was growing, I recognized it wasn’t the book it needed to be to be picked up by a publishing house. It needed something more.

This morning, I was thanking God for the opportunity to write and asking forgiveness for having spent so many years creating my own projects and asking Him to bless them.

Suddenly, the skies cleared and my mind was opened to a new thought: That novel, so dear to my heart, was never meant to be a simple, secular, middle grade novel. The part that was missing—the part that God was now leading me to include—the part that would make the project deeper and the writing richer—was Jesus.

Could it be that He had been leading me to write the story all along; but that I am only now cleaning my ears out enough to hear what He was saying? Or finally having surrendered my writing to His will, He is ready to bless it and make my projects His?

Sometimes we need a giant, spiritual Q-tip to clear our ears out enough to hear. Perhaps not surprisingly, a giant Q-tip is a clever prop that is part of this beloved novel.

Many of my other languishing books may never become something ordained by Him, but this one leading is a delightful encouragement to my writing career. No longer do I want to ask Him to bless the project. My prayer now is that this project become His project and that He alone would be glorified.

Have you ever asked God to bless your own plans to later discover His plans were better? Or that your plans were actually His all along?

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