A Friend Forever

file0001602209938[1]“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.”     John 15:13-15  (these are the words of Jesus)

Do you have a life-long friend? Maybe it is someone from your neighborhood when you were growing up or a friendship that began in school and is still going strong. This special person is someone you can tell your secrets to. You know he/she will always stand by you and be there if you need them.

What about putting your life on the line for a friend? We see this happening in war where a soldier will risk his life running into the battle to save a fellow soldier who is down. Another example is when a person donates a kidney to someone else. That person has no clue if their remaining kidney will stay healthy, but they don’t care.

We may not all have friends who are that close to us here on earth, but there is someone who was willing to die for us. In fact, he did suffer a very painful death so we could live. That person is Jesus Christ. He was willing to be crucified on a cross and pay the price for our sins so we won’t have to.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”    Romans 6:23

If we accept Christ as our Savior believing He died for us and then conquered death by rising again He will call us friends. Imagine being friends with Jesus Christ. He longs to have that relationship with each of us. We can be assured of a friend who will do anything for us, even die in our place.

Are you friends with Jesus? He is a friend forever.

 

Dear Jesus, I want to experience a growing friendship with You. I ask You to enter my heart and my life as Lord and Savior. I believe You paid the ultimate price for my sin and then rose again to freely give me eternal life. Thank you.     Amen

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Our Own Style/Our Voice

IM000756.JPGI, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand, which is the distinguishing mark in all my letters, this is how I write.”   2 Thessalonians 3:17

Paul had a style of writing which was all his own. He probably had someone transcribe the letters, but he ended them with a greeting that he wrote with his own hand. That way the people knew the letters really came from him. We usually can recognize Paul’s writing because he uses a lot of long, run-on sentences. That was his style.

We choose our favorite authors by their style of writing. Each author has a distinct way of putting words on paper. We call this “their voice”. Your favorite author might have a unique way of setting up scenes, a different way of describing things, or writes witty dialog. Every writer has to find his/her own voice, own style of writing.

The above photo was taken at a writers’ conference I attended last year. We were each to pick the shell that represented us. Each shell is different, Each writer is different.

Those of us writers who have not found their voice yet need to study the style of other writers. We are not going to copy their style verbatim, but by exploring different ways of writing we will begin blending various styles and eventually our unique voices will appear.

You’ll know when you’ve found your voice. Your writing will flow. You’ll feel comfortable with how you write. People will begin recognizing your writing without looking at the byline.

Will you be an intellectual writer? Will your writing be full of humor or mystery? Will you keep things simple or go into great detail? Only you will know what style of writing works for you.

Like Paul, we too can develop that distinguishing mark in all our writing. It takes time and practice, but the individual voice for each of us will come.

As you are struggling to find your particular style take it to God. Ask Him to help you sort through the various ways of writing and make clear to you what your voice should be.

Dear Lord in Heaven, As I am working on distinguishing my style from all the others give me the confidence and perspective to zero in on what is right for me. Please make me aware of my voice when I stumble upon it and then help me to develop it into my writing for Your glory.     In Jesus’ Name, Amen

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The Light in My Life

IM000232.JPGYou are my lamp, O Lord; the Lord turns my darkness into light.   2 Samuel 22:29

A thunderstorm rages outside. The power goes out and you’re surrounded by total darkness. You need some light. Luckily you find your way to where your flashlight is stored. You turn it on and there’s light, not a lot, but at least enough so you can see where you’re going while waiting for the power to be restored.

It’s scary to be suddenly dropped into complete darkness. We rely on lamps, candles, and flashlights to provide light. Evil lurks in the dark. We avoid dark alleys. It’s not recommended to walk alone at night.

There are other types of darkness such as depression, addiction, and loneliness. No amount of flashlights or candles can break through that darkness. But there is relief available.

We live in a dark world, full of evil and ruled by the prince of darkness. On our own we cannot break through the dark. When we feel the darkness closing in there is only one source of light which can penetrate the darkness – Jesus Christ. The prophet Samuel tells us the Lord is our lamp. Jesus proclaimed He is the light of the world.

There is nothing more powerful than the light of Jesus to get us through dark times.

When you begin to feel the darkness surround you, before it completely envelopes you, call on Jesus. He can shine a light ahead of you. You may still have to go through a tunnel for a time, but there’s always a light waiting for you at the end. Jesus will not leave you floundering in the dark alone. If you reach out to Him He will take hold of your hand and guide you through. The direction you are to go will be illuminated. Trust Him. His light will shine through any darkness.

Dear Jesus, as I go through difficult times, those dark days, help me to see Your light guiding me along. I do not want to be consumed by the darkness. Let Your light shine brightly.  Amen

 

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False Gods

IM000716.JPGBlessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods.    Psalm 40:4

We are surrounded and bombarded daily by things which could easily become false gods for us. Money, material possessions, social status, and powerful friends can suck us in if we let them become the center of our life’s ambition.

For a writer fame and greed can become our gods if we let them. We need to examine why we want to be writers. If the efforts we put into our writing are only in hopes of obtaining prestige ad money we will be disappointed. Very few writers reach a high level of fame and wealth. These false gods will quickly lead us astray and in the process, we will lose the joy of writing for writing’s sake.

Instead of thinking about how much money we might receive or which popular publications would possibly print our stories/articles, we should think about what is the best way through our writing to pursue the purpose God gave us. Our efforts should be focused on pleasing God and trusting Him as to how He will use what we write.

For some of us fame and fortune may come and that’s great. However, that should not be our target. Our reward will be in the inner satisfaction of knowing we are trusting in the Lord and following His direction, even if we never see a dime for our work. Our writing can plant seeds to bring people to Christ and can provide encouragement and support to people we may never meet.

There is only one true God. He is to be our only God. Everything we do is to be to His glory, not for our personal gain. If we follow this purpose we will receive a reward from Him beyond what we can imagine. Some of that reward may come while we are still on this earth, but most of it will be received when we reach our heavenly home.

Are you letting false gods get in the way of the true purpose for your writing?

 

Dear Lord, So many things in this world tempt me to “worship” them such as money and fame. Help me to put things in proper perspective and have serving You as my #1 priority. May my writing be pleasing to You and be a fulfillment of Your plan for my life.      In Jesus’ Name,  Amen.

 

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Writing Is Not Always Easy

IM000762.JPGBut you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.  2Timothy 4:5

These are the words the Apostle Paul gave to Timothy. In the verses prior to this one, Paul tells Timothy that he will face opposition and some people aren’t going to listen to him because they want to follow their own desires. Then Paul encourages Timothy with the verse above.

Living a Christian life is not always easy. There are people who think we’re crazy. Some think faith in God is a crutch for the weak. Others don’t understand why we’re not partying all the time and fulfilling all our desires no matter what other people think. They just don’t understand we can be happy and have fulfilled desires without doing all the worldly things they think are so important.

As Christian writers we are evangelists just like Paul and Timothy. We evangelize through the printed word instead of the spoken word. Relaying God’s message through writing is just as difficult at times. Some of our writing reach open minds and we know it through sales of our stories and by the number of comments or new followers we get through social media.

Other times our words fall on closed minds. These people want nothing to do with what we want to share with them. All we can do is hope that maybe a tiny seed gets planted that someday will grow. However, at the moment we can feel very discouraged.

Some of our stories, especially memoires, can be very difficult to write. Old wounds are re-opened and the original pain is felt all over again. Yet, we know God wants us to get these events and emotions in print because there are people out there who need to read them and know they’re not alone.

Being a messenger for God is no easy task. Prophets and evangelists in Biblical times knew it and modern day deliverers of God’s word experience it. We, too, as writers of God’s message must keep pushing onward. Regardless of the setbacks, obstacles, and rejections we encounter we cannot stop what we’ve been called to do. Like Paul instructed Timothy, we are to keep our heads, endure whatever comes our way, and carry out our duty as evangelists, always remembering the Holy Spirit is with us all the way.

 

Dear God, There are times it’s too difficult for me to write, either because I’m discouraged or the material is just too tough to put down on paper. Help me through these times. Bring back to my mind the words of Paul to Timothy as an encouragement to keep going. I want to be Your messenger, Lord.       In Jesus’ Name,   Amen

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Speaks With Authority

1499479_10201232898052063_242722957_nThe Lord will cause men to hear His majestic voice and will make them see His arm coming down with raging anger and consuming fire, with cloudburst, thunderstorm, and hail.    Isaiah 30:30

People with authority are around us daily. Our bosses at work, the government, police officers, our parents and teachers all have authority. They’re people we are to obey or at least give their advice strong consideration.

However, the ultimate authority is God. When He speaks people better listen. In the Bible there are numerous times when God spoke to people. If they listened and obeyed great things happened. If they chose not to heed His voice there were dire consequences.

God still speaks to us today if we are open to hearing Him. He speaks when we have that gut feeling there is something we should or shouldn’t do. His voice will come through other people who are more attuned to hear Him than we are. Sometimes a strong thought comes to mind almost like hearing an actual voice. (I’m not talking about audible hallucinations)

Let me give you a personal example of that last way we can hear God. I’ve been single for over twenty years. A few years ago I started thinking I’d like to have a man in my life again. I wasted a lot of money on match-making sites with no results. One day I just opened myself to God asking Him to lead me to the right man. A voice (thought) came in my mind loud and clear – “Jesus is the only man you need.” I’ve never forgotten that moment and I’m no longer fretting about finding a man. By listening to God’s voice I’ve become very content with my life as it is.

There will come a time that everyone will hear God’s voice loud and clear as stated in today’s verse. When the Lord returns there will be no doubt who’s speaking and who has the authority.

Is God trying to tell you something now? Are you ignoring His voice? God has authority over all situations and when He speaks you and I need to listen.

 

Dear God, Help me to be open to what You want to say to me. I want to hear You, but I don’t always let that happen. Guide me to be in tune to Your leading through my gut feelings, through advice from people I trust, and by actually “hearing” Your voice through my thoughts. Then I ask that You will please help me to obey what I hear. You are the authority over my life.

                                                   In Jesus’ Name,   Amen

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The Trail – Book Review

978-1-4143-9112-0In the book “The Trail – A Tale About Discovering God’s Will” author Ed Underwood describes eight principles found in Scripture to help build a relationship with God and discern His Will. The format is a fictional story of a young couple who are trying to decide if they should stay where they are in a neighborhood and church they love or move to another state for the husband’s job. Friends persuade them to spend a few days in the wilderness with an old man before they make their decision. Each principle is introduced as events unfold during their trek.

This book is eye-opening for all Christians, but especially for those who seem to have difficulty discerning God’s will for their lives. It is easy to read and packed full of practical advice. Once you start reading you won’t want to put it down.

(Tyndale House Publishing provided a copy of this book for review purposes)

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I’ll Do It Later

IM000033.JPGWhoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap.   Ecclesiastes 11:4

Doesn’t the fireplace in the picture look inviting? I’d love to sit in a comfortable chair in front of that fire and not have a care in the world. Maybe just sit and daydream with a cup of coffee.  PROCRASTINATION

Staring out the window, playing Facebook, absent-mindedly watching TV are forms of procrastination if we have work which needs to be done. If we keep looking at the clouds we’ll never get anything accomplished.

Charles Stanley, in his devotional book Enter His Gates, has this to say about procrastination: “Procrastination can cause us to miss out on God’s best for our lives. When we fail to confront an issue or a situation we fail to develop godly, positive character desired by God. By hesitating we delay God’s blessings.”

I never thought of procrastination as delaying God’s blessings. We have no idea what those blessings might be, but do we want to miss out on them?

Do you have a deadline to meet soon? Is there a book or article waiting to be written? Don’t let procrastination get the upper hand.

We can give up some TV time, some facebook/Twitter time and send it writing instead. Even if it’s only a half hour let’s do it. We might be surprised how productive we’ll become and what blessings God will send our way.

 

Dear Lord, Please keep the temptation to procrastinate away from me. Fill me with the motivation to write. I need to get my priorities straight and I know that will happen with Your help. In Jesus’ name,  Amen.

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Our Champion

SpidermanIt will be a sign and witness to the Lord Almighty in the land of Egypt. When they cry out to the Lord because of their oppression, He will send them a savior and defender, and He will rescue them.”   Isaiah 19:20

Comic book heroes have been around for decades. Then came the TV shows of warriors against evil such as Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, and Batman. Now there are also several movies depicting these champions – Superman, Captain America, Spiderman, etc.

Of course, none of these people are real. They were created out of someone’s imagination to give us hope that just maybe there could really be somebody with super powers who could save civilization from evil. Be honest, how many of us didn’t dream of being able to fly, stop speeding bullets, or drive the Batmobile. It’s all make-believe. These characters give us brief moments of relief from what is real.

Fantasies are fun for a time but then we’re hit again with reality. Is this all we have to get us through life? NO! There is a champion who is genuine, who is fighting battles right by our side – the Lord Almighty, Jesus Christ.

Even though we continue to struggle against the evil in our world, Jesus has already won the war. Satan has been defeated. He just hasn’t realized and accepted that fact yet. Therefore, we still are fighting battles with evil forces, but we are not in combat alone. Our champion, Jesus Christ, defends us every step of the way. He is our true rescuer. Whenever we call on His name He leads a powerful army into battle against the armies of Satan. Just like the heroes of our imagination who are always victorious, Jesus Christ in reality is victorious.

Seeing fake heroes defeat the bad guys is fun to watch, but they are not going to save us. Jesus is the real deal. All our faith and trust can be put in Him. In return He is faithful to us. He will never stop defending and rescuing us until the day He returns. At that time Satan, along with his armies, will be destroyed forever.

Do you wish you had a champion fighting for you? You do, if you have accepted Jesus into your life as your Lord and Savior. What are you waiting for? If you are ready to have a true Champion fighting by your side please pray the prayer below.

 

Dear Giver and Defender of life, I need a champion. I can’t fight these battles alone. Lord Jesus, please enter my heart and soul as my Savior. Help me to depend on You to rescue me.  In Your precious name, Amen.

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Yet I Will Rejoice

IM000067.JPGThough the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.    Habakkuk 3:17-18

Though I received another rejection for my article, though I can’t find an agent, though the editor says I have a lot of rewriting to do, though I’m having a tough time getting my thoughts down on paper, though the publisher is not interested in my book proposal, YET I will rejoice in the Lord.

Being a writer definitely has its negative side. Fear of rejection, actual rejections, writer’s block are experienced by all writers. We cannot avoid these things happening. Yet, the passion to write is still strong. God puts these negative aspects in our lives to build character, stamina, and courage to keep going. He wants us to write, but He also wants us to grow while on the journey. Don’t dwell on the negative. Learn from it.

Rejoice that God has given you the ability to write, Rejoice that there is a potential publisher who will love your writing. Rejoice in the act of writing, itself. Rejoice in the new insights you gain or the memories you retrieve as you write. Rejoice that God has given you another day to experience His glory.

Focus on the positives of being a writer. Let the joy of writing engulf you. Then no matter what happens you will be able to say, “Yet, I will rejoice.”

Dear Almighty God, It can be so discouraging to receive one rejection after another. Please help me to keep my focus on the positives of being a writer. Let me continue to experience joy in this passion You have given me. Most importantly, don’t let me forget to rejoice in You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

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