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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Hatred vs Love

file00010512601983roses“Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs”  Proverbs 10:12

We see the headlines. Someone shoots and kills someone else. Instead of letting the legal system handle it, friends retaliate and shoot another person. The hatred escalates and before we know it a street war has begun.

On the flip side, we’ve also heard stories of family members visiting a prisoner who killed a loved one and telling him they forgive him. This act of love can break a criminal down and melt his heart. In turn, the way can open to tell him about Jesus and His love.

It’s not always easy to show love all the time, especially if someone has hurt us. However, that is the example Jesus gave us. Even as He was dying on the cross He said, “Father forgive them”. He never stopped loving everyone, even those who wanted to do Him harm.

Are we living up to the standard Jesus set? Sometimes it’s easy. When people are kind and respectful, showing love to us, it’s no problem showing love back. But what about the people who aren’t so loving? That’s the real test. Are we able to show them love without getting any positive response in return? We have no idea what seeds we may be planting when we display the love of Jesus to EVERYONE.

Give some thought this week about one person who is a thorn in your side, someone who rubs you the wrong way continuously. Now think about how you could show Jesus’ love toward that person and then do it. Who knows how God will use your act of love.

Sometimes hatred can be the easy road to take, but we are not to do what’s easy. We’re to do what’s right. Love is the right road. We’ll need God’s help in showing love to that negative person, but with His strength and guidance we can do it. Imagine what this world would be like if people started exhibiting love instead of hate. Let’s be the spark to get the fire going.

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Declare God’s Glory

clouds“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.”    Psalm 19:1-4

Spring is in the air. The temperature begins to rise. We take in the warmth of the sun. Spirits are lifted by the sunshine and blue skies. As the snow slowly melts away we can see God’s glory in the new life Spring brings. If we just take time to experience nature and examine the wonders around we, we can’t help but see God’s work in all its glory. Everywhere we look His glory is evident. His creation screams out His majesty.

Those of us who are Christian writers have the fantastic opportunity to declare God’s glory as well. We are part of His creation and should be shouting about His majesty through our written words. No matter in what genre we write, God should shine through.

How can this be done if we’re writing an article comparing vacuum cleaners or writing a romance novel?

God doesn’t need to be mentioned in the article or book. He can shine through by “how” we write. When comparing vacuum cleaners we need to be honest with our statements and opinions. In that romance novel we can avoid graphic language and scenes. Readers should be able to tell from our writing that we write to declare God, not just to sell books.

Of course, if there’s a way to actually mention God and/or any of His great works or principles in our writing we should do it. Our objective is to declare God and His glory one way or another. Nature proclaims His glory and we can, too.

Keep writing and as you write ask yourself this question, “Is God’s glory shining through what and how I’m writing?”. If you want to be known as a Christian writer let HIS light shine. Let’s add our voices to those all around us in creation declaring the glory and majesty of God.

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Will The Test Break Me?

file3111252718915“But He (God) knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold.”   Job 23:10

Think back to your school days. It’s exam week. All those tests to take. You studied and prayed you’d pass every one. Maybe you did pass most or all of them. But what about the tests where the results weren’t so favorable? Did the grade you received cause you to work harder to bring the score up on the next one or did you just give up?

In our daily lives we are put to the test daily: you hope you won’t run into that person at work who stresses you; the car breaks down; you get a call from the principal at your child’s school stating there is an issue that must be dealt with.

And there are larger tests: you lose your job and don’t know how the bills will get paid; your spouse wants a divorce; a loved one suddenly dies.

How do you react to these tests? My initial reaction is always panic, worry, and confusion – the typical human responses to things that mess up our normal routine. Then I have to tell myself to calm down and think things through. I pray, telling God I can’t do this on my own and asking for a clear mind and a direction in how to proceed.

God will test our faith. I believe He doesn’t do this to see how we’ll react and if we’ll lean on Him. He already knows how we’ll respond. I think He brings these tests into our lives to make US aware of our need for Him and to grow the relationship we have with Him. These difficult times in our lives can break us or make us stronger. We say we have faith in God, but how is that faith during the tough times?

How we respond determines the final result of the test. We can choose to throw in the towel and give up completely, withdrawing from life or ending life. Letting the situation break us forever is not what God wants. The other option is to look at the circumstance and accept the challenge to see how we can grow through the experience and how much we are going to put our faith in God.

Everything that happens to us, good or bad, should be a learning experience. Maybe God is trying to make you aware of areas where your faith is lacking and spark the flame for growth. Possibly you’re on a downhill spiral. God has been giving you nudges along the way to change, but you’re not getting the message, so He needs to give you a swift kick in the pants to wake you up, hoping you’ll see where you’re heading in your current life style.

We are not going to have perfect lives. There will be tests and trials to deal with. However, these times could and should be times of growth and refinement.

The next time a test comes your way are you going to crash and burn or are you going to react as Job did, saying, “When He has tested me, I will come forth as gold”? Will you accept the test as an opportunity from God to grow?

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A Time To Write/A Time to Study

clock-8“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.”   Ecclesiastes 3:1

If you continue to read the verses following the one above you’ll see that everything has its time:  “a time to live, a time to die; a time for war, a time for peace; a time to laugh, a time to cry.”   We have the four seasons which happen every year in their time. There’s a daily sunrise and sunset.

In our personal lives there’s the time we start attending school; the time we learn to drive; the time we’re old enough to vote, etc.

Writers are told over and over again we should have a time to write. To improve our writing we need to take time every day to write. However, there is something else writers should remember. Not only is there to be a time to write, there also needs to be a time to study. We need time for both.

Writers need to continue to learn from other writers. We do this by reading books on writing, by attending writers’ conferences, retreats, and workshops, by participating in writers’ groups.

God organizes time for the big things in life. We can organize how we will spend the time God gives us each day. We need to focus time on the act of writing, practicing the craft in order to improve. Don’t forget to also allow time to study, to become refreshed and rejuvenated.

Go online and search for writers’ conferences and small groups. Find some near you and try to make time to attend one or two this year. Go to your local bookstore. There are many books on writing from which to choose. No matter if you are a beginner or a published author, all writers need a time to write and a time to study.

God has given us the passion to write and He’s called us to a mission. It is up to us to do the best we can and to spend the time needed to pursue this mission, bringing glory and honor to Him.

Are you ready to set up your time to write and time to study?

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