The Time Is Now. Are You Ashamed of the Gospel?

4-5-15 new cross at church“I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes; first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.”    Romans 1:16

The Apostle Paul said these words and he put them into practice. He spoke publicly of grace and salvation through Jesus Christ in towns full of pagan worshipers. Many times he was persecuted for what he said, but that never stopped him. Even while a prisoner in Rome, near the end of his life, he openly spoke of his belief in the saving power of grace.

Look at our country today. I am seeing too many signs of the devil winning battles. There are millions of Christians in the United States. Where are they? We should be shouting about Jesus Christ and standing up against the evil which appears to be taking over. Yet, we are not even whispering about Christ’s power and might, His love and mercy.

Are we shamed of the gospel? It sure looks that way. Christians seem to be cowering in the corner instead of standing on the mountaintop. Growing up in the 50’s Christianity was the norm. We went to church. We prayed in school. We memorized Scripture. God was prominent in our daily lives. What changed?

Christians became complaisant, too easy-going. We’ve lost the gumption to speak out. Our founding fathers fought and died to make the USA a country founded on Christian values. Now those values are being turned inside out and Christians are just sitting back and letting it happen.

Why is this country falling apart? Because we’ve turned away from God. The US was a powerful nation. Other countries looked to us for stability and might. Not anymore. Sept. 11 should have been a wake-up call. It was for a short time. However, the momentum wore off and faith in God faded again into the background.

Are we, as Christians, going to continue to be ashamed of the gospel, sitting comfortably in our chairs doing nothing, or are we going to stand up for the gospel as Paul did?

One way to be heard is through the elections of our government officials. This country needs men and women in office who are strong Christians and are not afraid to fight for Christian values. For over 200 years the United States was known as a Christian nation and it can be again.

Can you think of ways, either big or small, where you can stand for Jesus Christ? I’d love to hear about them. Now is the time for Christians to unite and be heard. Then we can say, along with Paul, “I am not ashamed of the gospel.”

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What Is The Primary Reward For Writing?

IM000729.JPG“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord, as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”    Colossians 3:23-24

When I was hit with the passion to write the first thing that popped into my head was, “I wonder if I can make some money doing this?”  I never thought of making a career out of writing. I just wanted to have a little supplemental income for when I retire from my full-time job. (And that still may happen someday, but it’s no longer the main reason I keep writing).

I’ve had a devotional published in a magazine and I wrote five devotionals for a prayer guide at my church. I have this blog and my facebook page (Devotions By Lorraine) which goes out to Twitter, LinkedIn and godinterest (the Christian version of pinterest). None of these have resulted in a monetary payment. Yet I have found that if I ever receive money for my writing that would be an added bonus. The primary reward I’m receiving now is the number of people I’m reaching for God and the joy I get from writing.

It’s exciting each time I post something to get a notification that somebody new is following me on one of the social media sites. I receive comments occasionally from people I don’t know telling me that what I wrote touched them in some way. A couple times I received comments from Satanists which opened a door for further evangelism.

When I write I am writing with all my heart. I know now, which I didn’t know when I began this journey, that God is using me as a messenger. It is very humbling to know that God chose me to do this. As long as I remember that, I will remember I am serving Him and not writing for material gain.

If you are filled with the passion to be a Christian writer know that God chose you to do what you’re doing. He hand-picked you to reach a particular group of people based on what you feel led to write about.

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with getting paid for our writing. I’m saying don’t let money be the reason you write. Write to the glory of God, serving Him in whatever direction He leads you. Keep that focus and you will receive rewards from the Lord you never dreamed of.

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Senior Citizens, Take Notice!

1412505368lfqxaIn the Old Testament we learn about Caleb. At the age of 40 he was one of the twelve spies who entered the Promised Land to scope it out. Upon their return only Caleb and Joshua said the Israelites could take over the land as long as they had faith that God would help them drive out the inhabitants. The Israelites chose to listen to the other ten spies who said there was no way they could take over the land.

Forty-five years later Joshua and Caleb were the only ones of the original group to enter the Promised Land. Once the people were conquered the lands were divided among the Israelites. Caleb wanted the hill country, the land of the Anakites (giants). He said that with the Lord helping him he’ll drive out the Anakites. And at age 85 he did just that.

Isaiah 46:4 says, “Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”

Through the story of Caleb and the verse in Isaiah we are being told that no matter what our age we can face the challenges before us as long as we rely on God’s help. We retire from our professions, but we should not retire from doing work for God’s kingdom. When we enter our “golden years” there is a lot we can still do. If we are writers, keep writing. If we are still driving we can help take others to medical appointments or shopping. There are many volunteer opportunities for retired people. If nothing else we can be prayer warriors.

Old age should not be an excuse to stop fulfilling a role in God’s work. Are you retired or near retirement? Have you thought about what you will do in your later years? With God’s help you can continue to face challenges and overcome them. With the Lord by your side you can forge ahead as an important part of His plan for The Kingdom.

As long as you are breathing God has work for you to do. He will sustain you. Is your faith in God strong enough to face the challenges of continuing to work for Him no matter how old you become?

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Silence

05-09-13 4What is silence and do we give ourselves the opportunity to truly experience it?

According to a Thesaurus other words for silence are: calm, dead air, hush, lull, muteness, quiet, speechlessness, stillness.

I like to sit quietly, emptying my mind of any concerns, responsibilities, thoughts. I just listen. The Basset Hound lying on the couch, cuddled up to me, gently breathing as she sleeps. The ticking of the clock across the room. Birds chirping outside with an occasional car driving by.

I stare out the window watching trees sway in the breeze. The neighborhood is peaceful. I sip my morning coffee, soaking in the tranquility of the moment. No TV. No cell phone. No social media. Just silence.

Sometimes as I’m surrounded by silence I pray. What an excellent time to be close to God. Then I remember the verse from Psalms 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.” I talk to Him, sometimes with eyes open staring out the window, sometimes with closed eyes. God feels so near in the silence.

Why don’t we allow ourselves these times of silence more often? Our lives become so busy we forget to be still. We think we have to keep moving because we have so much that needs to be done. I’m just as guilty of this as everyone else. I rarely take the time at home for silence. As I’m writing this I’m at my daughter’s home, dog sitting, while she and her family are away for a few days. I have time to do nothing, but sit quietly. There’s no household chores to be done. I don’t have to rush off to work. No responsibilities except to take care of a loving Basset Hound.

Quiet times are rejuvenating. Our bodies and minds need this down time even if it’s only for 10 minutes. Can’t we find just 10 minutes a day to be by ourselves and clear our minds of everything except God? Just those few precious moments of emptying our minds of all anxiety and focusing on God can do wonders for our stress levels. Sometimes spend it speaking to Him. Other times just listen and let Him speak.

Silence. We all need times of silence for our physical and emotional well-being. MAKE TIME TO BE SILENT.

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In A slump

file0001051260198Those of you who follow this blog probably noticed I have not posted anything for three weeks. I was sick for one week and didn’t feel like doing anything. The other two weeks I have not felt like writing. I am in a slump.

I enjoy writing the devotionals, but lately I feel I am just writing the same thing over and over. A few weeks ago I wrote a short story (which I will have my writers’ group critique soon). I had fun writing it, however, since then there’s been nothing. I want to write. I don’t know what to write.

I have been praying about it. I think I want to continue trying my hand at short stories for a while, but I feel guilty not writing the devotionals. I’ve been asking God for some direction. My gut is telling me to pursue the new and different avenue. I am in a slump.

Am I letting God down if I stop writing devotionals for now? I don’t want to write them just for the sake of writing them. If my heart is not in it at this time I don’t want to put out mediocre work. Doing that would not be glorifying God.

I am writing in my journal everyday, but even that is showing the negative feelings I’ve been having lately. I am in a slump. I want out of this slump. I know I will be rejuvenated when I attend a couple writers’ conferences in the fall, but I don’t want to wait that long. In the meantime, I will continue asking for God’s leading. I also need to open my eyes to become more aware of topic ideas that are probably screaming out to me, but I’m not seeing them.

I know there are other writers out there who have gone through a slump. I would love to hear what you did to get out of it. Any comments/suggestions will be welcomed.

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The One Thing That Remains Constant

IM000676.JPG“Those who know Your name will trust in You, for You, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek You.”   Psalm 9:10

Most professions/companies have to follow State and Federal regulations of some sort. The various processes to meet these regulations constantly change. We just get used to one way of doing things, then we’re told we need to do it a different way. Sometimes it gets frustrating and annoying, but it’s always a challenge.

Even the seasons aren’t constant. We know we’ll have the four different seasons, but there’s no consistency how each season will be like from year to year. For example, the winter of 2013-14 we had record snowfall amounts and lots of ice. Other years we’ve had some mild winters.

If you take a good look at things there is nothing in our human existence that always remains the same. Situations change. Emotions change. Life changes.

However, there is one thing that never changes and that’s God and His love for us. No matter how much we change, no matter how much we mess things up God loves us. He doesn’t love us more if we’re good and less if we are bad. His love is constant.

Our job is to put all our trust in Him. When we do that He is not going to violate or reject that trust. He will honor it and respond to it by never leaving us. We can be sure of His help in times of trouble and He’ll be there to share our joys and triumphs.

Human rules and regulations change all the time. God’s rules have never changed and will never change. We don’t have to worry that a command from Him today will be something different tomorrow.

It is so reassuring to know there’s something in our lives that will NEVER change. We can count on God being present every second of every day.

Are you experiencing the constant love of God? If not, do you want to? Just put your trust in Him who can do all things. You will then begin to feel the inner peace and strength only He can give and you will know He will never desert you.

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Write For Yourself

07-19-13“The words of the Teacher, son of David, King in Jerusalem: ‘Meaningless! Meaningless!’, says the Teachers. ‘Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.’ ”   Ecclesiastes 1:1-2

It is thought that Solomon was the author of Ecclesiastes. He’s looking back on his life trying to make sense of it He puts his thoughts in writing. In today’s train of thought we’d look at this kind of writing as being therapeutic.

Whether we’ve lived thought traumatic experiences or just lived life in general, putting our personal thoughts on paper helps to release emotions or just gives us something that years from now we can read to look back on our lives.

As writers we get so busy writing our novels, short stories, and articles for others we forget to take time to write just for ourselves. Do you routinely write in a journal or diary? If not, why not? We all have feelings and thoughts we need to work through from time to time. We have events we want to remember. What better way is there to work through these emotions or recall special times than through writing. Writing in a journal or diary is personal. It’s a outlet for everything that is bottled up inside.

Putting aside writing for others and spending a little time writing for ourselves can relieve stress. It allows us to focus precious time on us. We spend time writing material we want others to read. Take some time today and every day to write for yourself as well.

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No Fishing Allowed

014God tells us through Isaiah to, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.”  Isaiah 43:18

We are all sinners ever since the Fall of Adam and Eve in the garden. No matter how hard we try we cannot be perfect. We are going to continue to sin. Once we come to Jesus Christ and accept him as Lord and Savior we begin a new life. We are not to keep looking back at the sins we’ve committed in the past. I know that’s difficult. I’ve looked back and asked myself, “If I had done a particular thing differently would the outcome have been better?”  or “I wish I hadn’t done that and I want to have a do-over.”  We can’t change the past and God doesn’t want us to waste precious time dwelling on the past.

Instead God says, “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”  Isaiah 43:25

If God is not going to remember our sins why should we keep them in the forefront of our thoughts. In our new life with Jesus we are to focus on trying our hardest not to repeat those sins. We are to live as Jesus wants us to live by following His example to the best of our abilities.

I love this quote from Corrie TenBoom, “Jesus takes your sin – past, present, and future – dumps it in the ocean and puts up a sign that reads, ‘NO FISHING ALLOWED’ !”   

There is so much ahead of you in your life with Jesus. Follow Corrie TenBoom’s advice. Don’t drag up sins from the past. When you sin in the present and future go to Jesus and ask for His forgiveness. He will forgive you and remember your sin no more. If He isn’t going to dwell on your sins why should you?

Satan is the one who wants us to replay those sins over and over in our minds. God does not want us to be miserable. He wants us to learn from what we’ve done ad move on to live a better life. Don’t keep dragging the past up to the surface. Leave it in the depths where it belongs. Instead put your energy and focus on the present and future you have with Jesus, and live a new life rich in His love, mercy, and grace.

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Are We Bold?

001“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always to the very end of the earth.”   Matthew 28:19-20

Jesus spoke these final words to His disciples as He ascended into heaven. These words are known as The Great Commission. Jesus didn’t say these words just to His disciples. He is saying them to all Christians everywhere, throughout all time. His final command then and now is for His followers to spread The Word.

Those disciples had to be bold to travel into pagan territories and preach about the living God. Missionaries today are courageous as they enter countries where people know nothing about Jesus Christ.

Many people carry out The Great Commission through speaking. I’m not one of them. My preferred way of getting His Word out is through writing. We profess to be Christian writers, but how bold are we in our writing to reach people for Christ? Are we doing all we can to get our writing out to a far-reaching audience? Or are we sitting back in our comfort zones telling ourselves we’re doing good enough?

David Bryant, in his book In The Gap, wrote: “When my activities don’t link me to the reaching of the earth’s unreached people, I’ve succumbed to pea-sized Christianity.”

Writers – we need to get God’s message out there to the masses. We must do our part to obey The Great Commission given to us by Jesus, Himself. Do you want to experience pea-sized Christianity or are you bold enough to get out there and cultivate Christianity to the fullest? God has given us the means to do His work through our writing. It’s time for us to use our gift to the full extent of our abilities to carry out His command.

ARE YOU READY TO BE BOLD?

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Perseverance

53“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.”  Hebrews 12:1

In NASCAR the drivers drive each race with the hope of winning, but more than that, they want to do the best they can and finish the race. If they get caught up in an accident or blow a tire the pit crew and garage crew persevere to get that car back out onto the track and the driver perseveres to keep going.

In our everyday lives we hit obstacles while running the race of doing what we are supposed to do. Satan wants to hinder us, to throw us off track. However, we are surrounded with help through the Holy Spirit and through people whom He puts in our paths along the way. We are told to persevere, keep running the race, don’t let things stop us from doing what’s right.

God has marked out a race for Christian writers, too. It is our job to finish that race. We may not finish on top – getting big money, movie deals, and best sellers – but we need to finish. What we must do, no matter what obstacles Satan puts in front of us, is keep writing. God is using us to get His Word out to the masses. Maybe only a handful of people read our stuff, that’s still a few more people learning about God and Jesus Christ.

Perseverance must be our friend. Whenever, those negative thoughts get in our heads telling us we can’t write or no one will read it anyway, push them out. Whenever we get lazy about spending time writing we need to sit our butts in that chair and write. Whenever we receive those rejection letters we are to accept the challenge and rewrite.

Writers – persevere and we will run that race God has placed before us and we will finish to His glory.

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