October 30, 2009

LOL by Kimberley Payne

Laughing Out Loud

My list of favourite authors keeps growing as I open myself to read across genres in both fiction and non-fiction. However, my all-time favourites remain those who can make me laugh out loud including Erma Bombeck, Phil Callaway, Stephen Leacock and John Mortimer.

In an attempt to emulate these greats, I’ve added such how-to books as Comedy Writing Secrets – the best-selling book on how to think funny, write funny, act funny, and get paid for it by Mel Helitzer with Mark Shatz, and How to Write Funny –Add humor to every kind of writing edited by John B. Kachuba.

But, as I suspected, writing humour is more difficult than I had hoped. My novel is a contemporary story about a separated mother dealing with her daughter’s recent disclosed secret. The tone is serious and contemplative. The subject is dark and ugly. Because of this it was difficult to add in laughter.

I reworked my protagonist so her thoughts reflected a sense of humour. I tried to add humour in my descriptions of characters (She looked like a tackle box), and in unlikely places like church signs (Don’t let worries kill you. Let the church help)

It’s a tough job to add humour to a serious story. You can read my novel Tooth for Tooth online and let me know if I succeeded in my attempts.

Kimberley Payne

October 26, 2009


"You know, God doesn't know anything more now than He did before He created the world," I commented to my husband Eilif as we were driving home one day. While Eilif took a few moments to ponder that statement I continued, "And when this world, as we know it now, comes to an end God will know no more than He does now."

"Did you come up with that deduction just now?" he asked.

"No, I read it somewhere a few days ago," I told him, "And I've been mulling it over in my mind ever since."

The more I pondered that thought the more evident the conclusion became. Because everything operates on the principle of cause and effect, we can assume there is a cause behind all matter. The Power that flung the stars in space has to be greater than anything it created. For the galaxies to be brought into existence would have required a plan of infinite knowledge and wisdom. That Force, therefore, would not only have to be all-powerful, but would also possess a personality with all-knowledge and all-wisdom.

A Being that already knows everything could not learn anything new. Such a Being would have to be God.

To be God He would have to possess all godlike attributes. Holiness, love, justice, truth, goodness, fairness, faithfulness, mercy, consistency, and compassion would constitute his personality. Above that, He would have the ability to be everywhere present, as well as holding all knowledge and power. This being the case, we can only conclude that God is changeless.

For God to improve would be impossible for He is already perfect. To become less than He is would likewise be impossible. He would then no longer be God. God cannot change from within and nothing can change Him from without because His power is supreme.

Because God knows all things He can learn nothing. Being eternal, God existed when there was nothing else. He knew before He brought anything else into existence what He was going to do, how he would do it, and how it would all end. He sees the past, present, and future at the same time. With Him there is no past tense or future tense. He is not the God that once was or the God who will be, for He is always in the present. The God who created all things and kept the galaxies in their orbits throughout the ages is the same God who still holds all His creation in His hands. He is the Great I AM.

In contrast, our life span is extremely limited. The Apostle Peter wrote 2,000 years ago:

All flesh is like grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass.
The grass withers, and its flower falls away (I Peter 1:24 New King James Version)

Grass dries up, blossoms lose their petals; so our time on earth and any fame or fortune we attain is soon gone. But God continues.
In the Bible the Psalmist King David describes God this way:

You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in mercy to all those
Who call upon You... There is none like You, O Lord; Nor are there any works
Like Your works... For You are great, and do wondrous things; You alone are God
(Psalm 86:5,8,10 NKJV).

In the confusion of constant fluctuation, in a society where change for change sake has become a god in itself, how good to know that there is One Constant Factor in the equation of life.
Moses, the man who led God's people in ancient times, addressed God in this way:

Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and The world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God (Psalm 90:2 NKJV).

Another Psalm says:
Know that the LORD, He is God; it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good;
His mercy is everlasting And His truth endures to all generations (Psalm 100:3,5 NKJV).

The unchanging God is always present with us and knows us individually. He is the God who loves us.

October 23, 2009

How is Your Faith?

Sometimes along the Christian Journey all kinds of negative thoughts and turmoil may interfere with walking in peace and harmony with the Master.
There are ways to determine whether or not the view of the narrow road is still visible and known. Study the following questions and test for yourself to see if you’re lined up with God’s expectations in living a fruitful Christian life.

When you are standing among a crowd does your light still shine?
Do you still possess the joy of the Lord?
Do you feel that you are somehow distanced between you and your God?
Is His message of love still in your heart?
Have you experienced God’s forgiveness?
Are you still able to openly declare that you belong to Jesus?
Do you secretly pass judgement on fellow Christians?
Do you miss His loving touch? His presence near you?
Do you possess the fruits of the Spirit?
How is your prayer life? Have you been neglecting to meet with God?

Be honest. It may be difficult to admit that we are not up to His standards even when legitimate circumstances interfere with our relationship with God. God still knows those who are His. Despite our shortcomings and weaknesses in any of these 10 thought provoking questions, God still waits for us to come alongside Him. He will still pull up that chair and sit beside us when we come to Him in faith. When we fail Him, we must remember that he will not forsake us. When we praise Him we must remember how we please Him.

If we don’t lose heart during the discouraged moments then we have overcome the same temptations that Jesus Himself suffered. How do we then keep forging ahead? Just remember when we fall back, come back! Don’t even entertain the idea of falling back and staying back. Jesus didn’t remain in the garden when He was perhaps at His weakest moment. He prayed to the Father and proceeded to follow His Father’s Will; yes, even death on a cross. Each of God’s children has the opportunity to pray and continue in the journey. That’s where peace is! That’s where joy is! That’s where we belong; in the everlasting arms of the Father!

“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”
(I Corinthians 10:13NIV)

Keep strong in the Lord! He will light your path along the journey!

Jan Keats

October 16, 2009

Cleaning House (part 1) - Nesdoly

It all began the afternoon Arlene decided to file a few bills during the commercials in “American Justice.” When she couldn’t squeeze the water bill into the “Utilities” folder, she pulled the folder out. But with the bill inside, it wouldn’t fit back into the drawer.

She’d have to do something about this – maybe take out the Ts to Zs and transfer them to the second drawer, or pack the overflow files into a cardboard file box.
When she opened the other drawers, they too were full to bursting. And where was there room for a box? The floor and desk were already littered with stacks of papers, flyers, catalogues, phone books and slovenly mounds of Reader’s Digests and Guideposts. Jars of pens, paper clips, and other office supplies filled up the bookshelves, and a row of flashlights guarded the set of encyclopedias. Things were double-parked everywhere. The time had come for serious action. Besides, tackling this glut of paper would fill up the lonely hours. So that afternoon she turned off the TV,  cleared a spot on the desk, and began weeding papers from the top drawer.
She had never done anything like this before.  Record-keeping had always been Dave’s department. Now, she found, it was a tricky business. Did one need all these car receipts from the 60s, the statement showing one had paid one’s life insurance in 1982, and documents detailing Dave’s projected pension income year by year – especially now he was six months gone?

To complicate her decisions, she kept hearing his voice: “The minute it’s gone, you’ll need it,” and “The taxman cometh.”  Cometh for what?  To do an audit? She was sure many of these folders hadn’t been consulted in years. And wasn’t there some law the taxman could only go back in your records five years, or seven?

There was another thing. Jesus’ command to the rich young ruler had always fascinated her: “Go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast and come ... follow me.”  Having the freedom to follow God with nothing to tie you down sounded impractical, yet exciting. She’d often felt the weight of the things they’d collected – especially when those things filled every available space. Here was her chance to escape just a little from the grip of “whatsoever thou hast” and experience a taste of the risk she heard in Jesus’ command. She decided to be ruthless in her culling.
She missed the six o’clock news and “Wheel of Fortune” to finish the drawer. When she was done all that remained in it were nearly empty folders, sagging like flab on a once-obese person. The sight of the plump yellow recycle bag made her feel good.
So good, in fact, the next day found her at the desk again missing “Judge Judy” to work on the second drawer, and the third, and the fourth. By then a recklessness had come over her. She decided to carry on through the rest of this room, the kitchen, indeed the whole house!
The job took a month. It became such an obsession she forgot all about turning on “Oprah” and lost track of what was happening on “Coronation Street.” When she closed her eyes at night she saw jars, plastic tubs, old clothes, shoes, books, magazines and bags and bags and bags.

But finally the day came when she had tidied the last closet. She resolved to finish the job by giving the house a final and thorough cleaning.
When she opened her cleaning supplies cabinet, though, she hardly recognized her meager supply caddy – but that’s right, she’d thrown out most of her solutions and powders in favor of the magic micro-cloth that was all the rage.

She went to put on her cleaning music – an old CD her kids had discarded a generation ago – but couldn’t find it anywhere either. Different music would have to suffice today. On channel twenty four she found Diane Bish playing a Bach concert and soon pipe organ Preludes, Fugues, and Toccatas were echoing through the house as she dusted, scrubbed, and polished.

When at last she stood to admire her efforts (favoring her aching knees as she’d had to wash the floor by hand because the mop too had disappeared), she had to admit, though the immaculate house did look as stark as the day after taking down Christmas decorations, it was wonderful – swept clean and put in order.
The next day she was turning on her computer to pay her overdue bills when the phone rang. It was a man from the trust company. He had an urgent question about Dave’s will.
“Just a minute,” she answered. She went to the file cabinet, opened the drawer, pulled out the folder marked “Wills” – but it was empty.
“Give me your number please, and I’ll get back to you,” she said to the trust company man and hung up, shaken. Had she perhaps been a tad too thorough? Oh well, there was bound to be a copy in their safety deposit box in the bank.
To get into that, though, she needed the combination. Good thing she knew where it was.
Or where it used to be. For she couldn’t find the combination or her internet log-in number for the bank, as it appeared she’d also trashed the book containing both of them. Dave’s old warnings began replaying in her head and her sense of satisfaction was replaced with misgiving. What had she done?

To be concluded ...

Web: http://violetnesdoly.com
Blog: promptings
Poetry portfolio: Violet Nesdoly / poems
Daily devotions for kids: Bible Drive-Thru
Twitter: @vnesdoly

October 12, 2009

Experiencing Joy in the Home

2 Timothy 2: 14-26

What makes a happy home? It is a home where Jesus and His love is known. It is a home where the fruits of the Spirit are observable and evident. The dwelling place ought to shine for God’s glory so that everyone can see the good works that God has chosen for us to do.

What about the home of the mind, body and soul? In order for our homes to be happy we need a pure heart, a pure mind, body and soul. Our personal closets need to be purified to be a worker approved by God. The Bible tells us to “pursue righteousness, faith and love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” (2 Timothy 2:22)

God expects his workers to be cleansed. “All who cleanse themselves will become special utensils, dedicated and useful to the owner of the house, ready for every good work.” (2 Timothy 2:21) The Scriptures tell us that in order to prepare ourselves for good work, we are to be clean, dedicated, useful and ready. Then we will become special utensils.

God’s word also tells us that not all workers are alike. “In a large house there are utensils not only of gold or silver but also of wood and clay, some for special use and some for ordinary.” (2Timothy 2:20) God does not expect us to work beyond our capabilities, however. There is a different work for every different utensil. And we know that each utensil is special.

1 Corinthians 12:8-10, lists our different gifts. Some are given gifts of wisdom, knowledge, healing, prophecy and discernment. God understands and knows our talents but there is one gift that we all possess and that is the gift of love. We are told in 1 Corinthians 13, whatever the gifts we are given, if we try to use them without love we are nothing. “If we have faith but do not have love, we are nothing. Love bears all things, believes all things, and endures all things.”

Let us be good workers approved by God by using the gifts we have. Verse 15 says: “Do your best to present yourselves to God as one approved by him, a worker who has no need to be ashamed rightly explaining the word of truth.” Do all to the glory of God! Amen!

Thought: Are you content with the gift or gifts that God has given to you, whether great or small?

Jan Keats

Expectant Living -- Janet Sketchley

The Message describes Joseph of Arimathea as “one who lived expectantly, on the lookout for the kingdom of God.” (Mark 15:43, MSG)

What does it mean to live expectantly? Joseph wasn’t expecting his will, he was waiting and watching for the kingdom of God—for God’s rule to be restored.

He wasn’t mired down in daily life thinking that was all there was. Instead, he probably examined what went on, looking to see God working.

Father, help me not get so bogged down in the now that I lose the bigger picture of Your Kingdom. Help me live alert, give me eyes to see and a heart to understand. Help me live expecting You to be at work—because You are. Protect me from false expectations, and help me to expect only You.

© Janet Sketchley, 2009
For devotionals, reviews and conversation, stop by Janet Sketchley's blog, God with Us: Finding Joy.

October 07, 2009

Without Excuse but not Without Remedy, by Elsie Montgomery

In response to those who justify their lifestyle by pointing to the animal kingdom, and to those who shout “it’s not natural” in condemnation of that lifestyle, may I remind both that neither human nature nor the animal kingdom is what their Creator intended.

Appealing to “nature” to incriminate a homosexual lifestyle does not work. If “nature” is the norm, then it would be acceptable for women to eat their lovers, or parents to feast on their children. In nature, one species can kill another because it is part of the food chain, and both genders can be unfaithful to their mates. Even stealing is fine — if you are a magpie!

Our standard for morality has lost all moorings. It used to be Scripture and our conscience, but Scripture rightly explains how sin ruins everything. We cannot even discern right from wrong, never mind agree where to find out which is which.

Human nature has gone far from what God intended, yet Romans 8 says the “entire creation groans waiting for the redemption” of humanity. That’s why we cannot use “nature” as the norm. Sin ruined nature too, putting it under the “curse of sin.”

Sin wrecks everything. God made people in His likeness (Genesis 1 & 2) but sin marred that likeness. God made a world He called “good” but sin continues to mar that world and affects everything in it.

God describes sin several ways. One is “breaking His laws.” Another is “falling short of His glory.” At the root is an attitude: “everyone has turned to his own way.” This sad state of selfish independence from God and His laws is reflected by commerce’s greed, Hollywood’s vanity, society’s divorce rate, and the lies children tell on a playground. If we reflect any goodness at all, it is because our Maker’s image occasionally glimmers through.

Going back to nature, Scripture says all creation is not as God originally created it. For instance, animals and people did not eat each other in Eden; God provided plants for their food. It was only after sin entered the world that violence entered the food chain.

Some folks acknowledge this and become vegetarians, yet this does not fix or reverse the effects of sin. In fact, God says “all foods are acceptable if received with thanksgiving.” No matter what we eat, we still sin.

Some use nature to justify their sin. “Birds and bees do it . . .  and some animals display lustful tendencies, so that makes it natural . . .  therefore I can do what I want.”

A determination to go our own way looks for someone or something going the same way, a line of thinking that demonstrates how sin affects our judgment.

Others reason that sin is natural in that “I am who I am . . .  I was born this way.” The same could be said of many alcoholics, yet they are not allowed such an excuse.

The reality is that all of us are “born that way.” We came into the world with a tendency to sin. No child has to be taught selfishness. We could offer our excuses to God, but He anticipated this and planned a counter offer before the world began. Jesus gave it when He said, “You must be born again,” offering us a spiritual rebirth, a new nature, and forgiveness to wash away the marred mess of sin.

People often refuse God’s offer by saying things like “religion is responsible for wars” or “the church is full of hypocrites” but these arguments miss the target; the real problem is not religion or the church but sin. Sin is why people fight, including Christians. Sin is why people pretend to be something they are not, also including Christians. War and hypocrisy is not the fault of religion or the church; sin makes liars lie and cheaters cheat, and ruins the godly life God intended.

As if our sin is not enough, when we realize we are guilty we harden our hearts, and refuse to take responsibility. Instead, we rationalize. The New Testament calls it “futility” and says “they are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.”

Blindness to the things of God happens to anyone who refuses or neglects to hold to biblical thoughts, even Christians. Without reading the Book, no one can know how the Lord wants us to live. We might recognize sin in others and get upset about it, but if we are not paying close attention to sin in our own lives, our judgments will fall short of how God wants to deal with sin in both ourselves and that other person.

We too easily forget that in the mind of God, my sin is no less than your sin because both have the same effect: our sin separates us from Him (and each other). God deeply longs to mend that rift so we can fellowship with each other and with Him. He wants to bless us, to reverse the curse of sin.

We cannot make that happen but we can open the door for it by refusing to rationalize our sin and admit to God that we have fallen far short of His intention for us. At that point we can begin making progress toward recovery, not because we can use plants and animals to prove we are right, or because we have a twelve-step program, but because we have a God who is able to make us whole.

(I wrote this years ago in response to the excuses that were current at the time. The writing could be much softer, yet could not be any more true!)