Psalm 32:8

Watching for guidance and direction

Psalm 32:8

As some of you know, my parents were missionaries during my early years. This meant that we often spent time in other people’s homes with different rules and expectations. My siblings and I knew we were expected to be on our best behaviour at all times. We learned to keep our focus on our Dad. When we were asked a question, or wanted to do something, we would check his eyes. My Dad had an uncanny ability to communicate clearly without saying a word.

I think of those experiences when I read Psalm 32:8 “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.”

I’m now much older and away from the direct guidance of my earthly father. Instead, I look to my Heavenly Father for guidance and direction. I have to spend time with Him and pay attention to what He’s showing me to do.

In my work with InScribe, I often feel unqualified to lead. God continues to remind me that He has called me and He will equip me and guide me. This is His organization. He is the one who works in and through the executive and members to proclaim His Word. As we continue to keep our eyes on Him He will continue to counsel us with His loving eyes.

NOTE: I shared this devotional at the beginning of the recent InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship Annual General Meeting.


You must be rich: Common misconceptions about authors

Shadows and Sunshine Newsclip

Last week at a family reunion, someone asked, “Are you rich now that you’re a famous author?” I laughed and answered his questions. Since then I’ve been thinking more about the question and how I would answer if asked again.

Yes, I’m rich:

Am I making hundreds or thousands of dollars from book sales? NO

Here are some facts about authors that may surprise you:

  • Many authors lose money or barely recover what it costs them to get a book published and distributed
  • Most authors have a “day job” because they don’t make enough from their writing to live on
  • Writing a book is the “easy” part. It’s a challenge to get books published, marketed, and sold

Authors wouldn’t bother to write if money was their only objective. There are many other ways to make money that are easier, faster, and more predictable. Authors write because:

  • It’s something they have to do, almost a compulsion
  • They enjoy the process of writing – it’s therapeutic for them
  • Writing enriches the author and those who read
  • Writing is art
  • Many writers see what they do as a ministry

I’m thankful I have the opportunity to be an author, but not for the reasons many people may think. Are you suprised?


Writing so that . . .

I’m currently participating in an online Bible study from Proverbs 31 Ministries. We are studying Scripture using Wendy Blight’s book, Living So That. She explains:

“. . . our lives should not be self-centered and static; rather, they should be others-centered and active, making a difference for the kingdom of God.”

“The authors of Scripture . . . intentionally chose to use these two words to connect a truth of Scripture to a practical application of that truth. They used them to bring truth alive and make it relevant and applicable to our everyday lives.”

This month we’ve been encouraged to think about what we want our writing to make happen inside our readers. This is one of those questions where there is no right or wrong answer. Each of us as writers is unique with particular giftings from God.

  • Some are “prophets” – called to point out and correct error
  • Some are “teachers” – called to help others understand God’s truth
  • Some are “helpers” – called to come alongside others
  • Some are called to hospitality – called to make others feel comfortable

And the list goes on (See I Corinthians 12).

As I thought about my writing and how I want it to affect my readers, I realized that no matter what type of writing I’m doing, whether memoir, fiction, devotional, creative non-fiction, etc., I want my writing to evoke emotion. Readers become engaged when their emotions are involved.

I also want my writing to effect change in the reader. This change could be as simple as giving the reader a good chuckle or as complicated as shifting the reader’s world view. When I write, I want to be intentional, not haphazard. Mary DeMuth sums it up well:

“I’m on this world to write words that change people.”

I am writing, so that my readers are engaged and moved to change. These are lofty goals, but I remind myself that I’m employed by the King of Kings and empowered by the Holy Spirit. I dare not aim for anything less than the best.

What do you want your writing to do?

 

NOTE: This was first posted on the InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship blog www.inscribewritersonline.blogspot.com


Chocolate Soldiers or Soldiers of the Cross?

SONY DSCThis week Christians are celebrating the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. These events that happened thousands of years ago still have an incredible impact on our world. Jesus died so that every person who repents of his or her sin and asks for salvation is able to receive it. Jesus conquered the power of sin and death on the cross and He invites us to live for Him.

What does it mean to live for Jesus? Some people who call themselves Christians attend church on Sunday and live the rest of the week as they please. Others sacrifice health, convenience, time, and family to serve God. (Check out Jack Popjes’ post, Why is it so Hard?)

Lately I’ve been reminded that we are in a spiritual battle, which although mostly unseen, is very real. The Apostle Paul spoke very plainly about this battle in Ephesians 6:10-19:

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel,” (NIV from The Bible Gateway)

We can choose to ignore the battle, but that doesn’t make it any less real. Satan is not a funny little caricature with a pitchfork; He is a fallen angel intent on destroying God’s creation and leading as many people as possible away from truth and salvation. The Bible calls him a deceiver, the Father of Lies (John 8:44), and warns that often He comes disguised as an “angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14,15). The only way we’ll be able to stand against his attacks is by putting on God’s armor and going to war.

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C.T. Studd reprimanded people for being “Chocolate Soldiers”. Here’s part of what he said:

To the Chocolate Christian the very thought of war brings a violent attack of ague, while the call to battle always finds him with the palsy. “I really cannot move,” he says. “I only wish I could, but I can sing, and here are some of my favorite lines:

“I must be carried to the skies
On a flowery bed of ease,
Let others fight to win the prize,
Or sail thro’ bloody seas.

Mark time, Christian heroes,
Never go to war;
Stop and mind the babies
Playing on the floor.

Wash and dress and feed them
Forty times a week.
Till they’re roly poly—
Puddings so to speak.

Chorus:
Round and round the nursery
Let us ambulate,
Sugar and spice and all that’s nice
Must be on our slate.”

C. T. Studd’s complete article can be found here or you can download it as a free e-book from Project Gutenberg.

God calls each of us to fulfill unique places in His army. Some people are called to intense battles against Satan and his henchmen (demons). Others are called to minister in remote areas and translate Scripture into peoples’ heart languages or mother tongues. Yet others support God’s work by skillfully and honestly running a business and donating money to missionaries or people in need. Still others of us are called to honor God in our vocation, living godly lives and impacting people where we are. All of us can enter into the battle through prayer.

At present, God has called me to be a wife, mother, music teacher, writer, and President of InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship. A couple weeks ago Bobbi Junior, one of our executive members, wrote a post challenging us to pray for authors. She followed that up by urging us to become Word Warriors. Yesterday, I received an e-mail from Sheila Webster, another executive member. She stated:

“I feel the first thing we need is a team of at least three people that will commit to pray each day for the conferences that are upcoming.  I feel this isn’t a nicety but a necessity to have three people designated and dedicated to this task.

We are at a crucial point in the history of writing and Christianity where there is a window of opportunity to impact on a large scale the world for Christ with our words.

All leaders in higher Christian Education in Canada are pointing out to us that a larger scale persecution of Christians in Canada will be happening starting in the recent past and will escalate.”

 

Will you join me? Are you willing to count the cost and step forward as a soldier of the cross? Also, if you’re interested in supporting the work of writers who are Christians through prayer, send me an e-mail at sun dot beam3 at yahoo dot com. I’d love to hear from you.

 

 


What does it mean to be a Christian writer?

Yellow Question mark and red exclamation mark

During a recent interview I was asked: “Comment on what it means to be a ‘Christian writer’”

How would you answer this question?

Here’s my response:
A Christian writer is a person who communicates from a worldview centred on God as He is presented in the Bible. The key components of being a Christian writer, from my perspective, are excellence, integrity, and compassion.

  • No matter what topic or genre I write about, my writing should be of the highest quality. I should do my best to ensure my writing is accurate, well-researched, and free of errors (grammar and spelling).
  • As a Christian writer, my personal life should reflect what I communicate in print. I should consistently spend time reading the Bible, asking the Holy Spirit to highlight areas in my life that are not pleasing to God. Yes, I’m human and I will fail. However, I need to confess my sins, ask for forgiveness and continue to grow in my walk with God.
  • Christian writers should also “speak the truth in love.” Jesus said that people would know we are His disciples by our love.

Here are the principles I currently use as I write:

  1. Christians are the body of Christ. We each have unique gifts, functions, and callings (I Corinthians 12).  I need to know what God has called me to and be faithful to that calling.
  2. My goal should always be to write with excellence (using correct grammar, captivating descriptions, etc.) for God’s glory (Colossians 3:23). I am called to be God’s representative in how I live and write (2 Corinthians 5:19-21).
  3. I must give an answer to God for all that I do and say, including what I write (Matthew 12:35-37; Colossians 3:23). I need to be obedient to God. It is not my responsibility to judge others (Matthew 7:1).

Christian writers are called to write for varied audiences in diverse genres. We live in a broken world and are involved in a spiritual battle which is mostly unseen, but very real. Some stories may simply be for enjoyment, but we may also be asked to write about difficult, messy subjects like child abuse, demon possession, corrupt leaders, and the sex trade. No matter what we write, our aim should always be to bring honour and glory to God.

It has come to my attention that some writers who are Christians do not associate themselves with the term “Christian writer”. There are several reasons for this.

  • Some writers (who are Christians) write stories or articles that are only printed in the mainstream. Some say that these written works would not be accepted in the mainstream if people knew the authors were Christians.
  • The question has been raised: Do you call yourself a Christian mechanic or Christian plumber or Christian librarian? If we don’t tag the word Christian onto other vocational choices, why do we tag it onto our writing?
  • Some writers (who are Christians) have faced severe criticism from other Christians because of the topics or genre they choose. These writers find it less divisive to just call themselves writers.

Did I miss anything? I look forward to your comments!


God’s Calling on my life

“The Spirit of the Lord and King is on me.
The Lord has anointed me
to tell the good news to poor people.
He has sent me to comfort
those whose hearts have been broken.
He has sent me to announce freedom
for those who have been captured.
He wants me to set prisoners free
from their dark prisons.”

Isaiah 61:1 (New International Reader’s Version)

God’s calling on my life became evident to me while I was still very young. I was privileged to spend the first ten years of my life in southern Africa, where my parents were missionaries. I remember thinking it was a good thing my parents were telling these “sinful” people about God. One day I had a rude awakening. I was attending a daily vacation Bible school when I grasped my sinfulness and God’s grace. At the tender age of five I confessed my selfishness, lies, and disobedience, requesting forgiveness and empowering from my Heavenly Father.

More light was shed on God’s calling when I discovered what my names mean:

Ruth – Compassionate and Lucile – Bringer of Light

Hiker looking at map

I continued growing in my faith through my school years. My parents moved to Three Hills when I was eleven. Many godly men and women nurtured my faith. After high school, I decided to attend Prairie Bible College where I majored in Bible and minored in Christian Education. When I graduated, I was invited to stay on staff, working in the Prairie Bookroom (book store). During this time I also took my first writing course from the Institute of Children’s Literature.

Life took some twists and turns. I thought God was calling me to be a missionary in Africa, like my parents. However, that door slammed shut. Instead God lead me to marriage and presented parenting children with special needs as my mission field. Several years ago the advocacy for my children widened into advocacy for all children in the Northern Lights School Division when I was elected as a school board trustee. A few months after that I entered my first writing contest and won first place in my age category. The prize was a free conference registration for Write!Canada. At the conference, it dawned on me that God has specifically gifted me and called me to be a writer.

This week I was challenged to come up with a 5-7 word tagline which describes my writing. This is what I came up with:

“Exploring life’s adventures through writing”

God has led me to write about many different topics which fit in very diverse genres: devotionals, special needs, parenting, contemporary fiction, light romance, memoir, adoption, education, Bible study, social media.

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In the Balanced Challenge, Tricia Goyer’s question for Day 4 (today) is:

“What have you been called by God to do? Take a few minutes away from work and family to sit with your Bible and talk to God. Believe that God placed your dreams and passions in your heart. Find a verse that speaks to you about this, and post it today on your blog.”

You saw my verse at the top of this post. I look forward to hearing about God’s calling on your life in the comments below.


So many stories and so little time

Exam_tnsI’m enjoying my interactions with fellow authors and readers on Helping Hands Thirsty Thursdays. (Check out Helping Hands Press Facebook Page for more details.) Last week the publisher announced a number of new releases. As the announcements were made, I responded by saying I was adding certain books to my reading list and made the comment, “So many stories, so little time.” Several of us joked around about using a time machine to help squeeze more writing and reading time in, but joking aside, finding time for everything is a huge issue for authors. We are expected to write, read, edit, participate on social media sites, blog AND fulfill our other responsibilities in life.

Balanced coverA couple days ago I was happy to discover that Tricia Goyer has released a new book called Balanced: Finding Center as a Work-at-Home Mom. The book is now on my iPad and I’m making time to read it, a chapter a day. I appreciated Tricia’s disclaimer:

This book may not be for you if you are looking for a simple how-to manual with only schedules, outlines, and agendas. You don’t think your spiritual life impacts your work and home life. You think the whole balance issue depends on you and not on your dependence on God. . . . as someone who’s been working at home nearly all of my twenty-four years as a parent, I’ve discovered three main things: 1. What I do isn’t as important as who I am. 2. What God can do in my life and what He’s capable of doing can be two very different things—I don’t want to limit Him. 3. My outward goals are only reachable if I submit my inward soul to God.”

This is the first year I’m focusing intensely on writing. I have a LOT to learn. Here are some things I’ve discovered already:

  • I’m human and it is utterly impossible for me to do everything and do it well. Therefore, I need to chose my goals carefully.
  • It’s very easy to get side-tracked by Facebook, e-mail, and social media. Therefore, I need to limit my time on these items.
  • When I’m writing, I’m intensely focused and “living” in a different world. I find distractions very frustrating because it takes me time to come back to real life. Therefore, I have to organize my writing time so that I’m writing when my husband and children don’t need my attention.
  • Large goals overwhelm me. (I admit it, I don’t like to make goals I don’t think I can achieve!) A novel of 80-100,000 words seems unattainable. However, when I break that down into 1,000 word scenes or 2,000 word chapters I’m able to enjoy the process.
  • As a wife and mother, I don’t often have the luxury of having all day to write. However, I’ve found that it’s quite easy to fit in 1/2 hour here and there. If I’m able to write 300-500 words every morning in 1/2 hour, that brings me 1,500 – 2,500 words closer to my writing goal(s) every week.

I’m still discovering what works for me, and probably will be for years to come. Tricia Goyer puts it this way:

“The only thing we can be certain of is that as soon as we achieve a small measure of balance, something is going to overturn the applecart so all our good intentions will spill out like crabapples, becoming scattered and bruised.”

What have you discovered in your writing journey? I’d love to hear from you.


Prayer for the Oppressed

I was challenged by Shelley Faust of Proverbs 31 Ministries to write a prayer on behalf of women and children caught in the web of human trafficking. If you are concerned about the 27 million people around the world who are slaves because of other peoples’ choices, check out the A21 website.

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Father God,

I cry out to you today on behalf of the millions of women and children around the world who have been forced to become sex slaves. Father, you know that many governments turn a blind eye to human trafficking. Wake them up from their apathy. Help them to see other people as valuable. Prevent them from taking bribes which blind their eyes (Deuteronomy 16: 19) Open their eyes to justice and to the power they have to make a difference. Help them to understand the devastation human trafficking wreaks upon individuals, society, and the world.

Father, you are all-knowing. You see everything. You hear the cries of these women and girls who want to be loved and accepted, but are forced to give up their souls. Move the hearts of officials in high places. Help them to take steps to stop those who take advantage of people because they are poor (Amos 5:12).

Father, your word says that we should speak the truth to one another (Zechariah 8:16). Help government officials not to hide the truth. Help them to be honest with themselves and with those they serve. Your word says that those who judge with truth will have peace. Break the chains of silence, the bondage of bribes, and help governments to stand up for truth. Open their eyes to the needs of the oppressed and cause them to take action.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen