October 30, 2013

The Alchemist - Susan Barclay

Almost two years ago I established a book club with a couple of neighbours. Since that time, the group has grown to include four of us on our street plus three friends of mine. We read both fiction and non-fiction and rotate the selection among the seven of us. If you choose the book, you host the meeting that month.

We've certainly all read books we'd never have picked up otherwise. Sometimes we've enjoyed them, sometimes not. Some titles have provoked more discussion than others, and we haven't always agreed on whether or not we liked a particular book.

This month's novel is The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. According to Good Reads, I'm 62% of the way through it as I write this post. Two of the book club members are also Good Reads members who have completed the book and given it a 5-star rating. A former co-worker on Good Reads couldn't finish it and accorded it one star. 

What does this have to do with faith? Well, for starters, the title of the book indicates that its content has something to do with alchemy. Dictionary.com defines alchemy as 
  1. a form of chemistry and speculative philosophy practiced in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance and concerned principally with discovering methods for transmuting baser metals into gold and with finding a universal solvent and an elixir of life.
  2. any magical power or process of transmuting a common substance, usually of little value, into a substance of great value. 
Wikipedia explains  
Alchemy is an influential philosophical tradition whose practitioners have, from antiquity, claimed it to be the precursor to profound powers. The defining objectives of alchemy are varied, but historically have typically included one or more of the following goals: the creation of the fabled philosopher's stone; the ability to transform base metals into the noble metals (gold or silver); and development of an elixir of life, which would confer youth and longevity. Alchemy is recognized as a protoscience that contributed to the development of modern chemistry and medicine. Alchemists developed a framework of theory, terminology, experimental process and basic laboratory techniques that are still recognizable today. But alchemy differs significantly from modern science in its inclusion of Hermetic principles and practices related to mythology, magic, religion, and spirituality.
 Indeed, The Alchemist carries huge spiritual overtones and strikes me as very New Age, as the author brings in references to Christianity, Islam, and eastern mysticism. In a 2008 article in The Telegraph, we learn that while Coelho's mother was a devout Catholic, and he himself has 'returned to the fold', he has been inducted into a secretive group known as the 'Order of the Ram', and in the 1960s devoured the works of well-known occultist, Aleister Crowley, even presiding over some black masses.

As a committed Christian, I find this book difficult to read because of its false teachings, and I'm sure it will be challenging to discuss in a group where not everyone shares my beliefs and values. If you think of it in advance of November 15th (the date of our next meeting), will you pray that our conversation would be edifying, that the Holy Spirit would even now be preparing hearts, and that the Truth would prevail? I'd appreciate it very much.

____________


For more of Susan Barclay's writing, please visit her website at www.susan-barclay.ca
 

October 28, 2013

What The Reformation Did For Christianity - Bruce Atchison


It seems that almost everybody forgets the significance of the revolution which Martin Luther started on October 31, 1519 with his ninety-five theses. Ask any churchgoer about what the last day of October means and that person will most likely say, "Halloween." I feel this is a pity since the Reformation gave us Christians so much.

First of all, the Reformation gave the Bible back to the congregation. The heads of the Catholic church feared that a flood of iniquity would be unleashed if each person could interpret Scripture themselves. While it has spawned hundreds of denominations and sects, having the Bible in the hands of the people restored the gospel and placed Scripture in its rightful place as the yardstick of truth.

It also showed the people what a cash cow indulgences were. Christians indwelt with the Holy Spirit are supposed to be dead to sin. Therefore, they shouldn't be buying permission to practice it.

The Reformation likewise  broke up the monopoly which the church had on spiritual leadership. Instead of being dominated by traditions and fiats from Rome, Christians were free to appoint their own pastors and teachers. They could also pray directly to their Lord and Saviour instead of to the saints. Sins could be confessed directly to God as well.

This new freedom didn't come without a price. History records hundreds of years of bloody Catholic-Protestant wars and campaigns of slander. Additionally, the level of detestation of sacrimentalism has become so severe in some quarters that churches neglect Holy Communion and believer's baptism. Worse yet, cults have sprung up to lead naive believers astray and indoctrinate them with blasphemous lies. Though Martin Luther was warned by clerics that this would happen, he saw the greater good of people being saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.

As we near the five-hundredth anniversary of the Reformation, let's remember how it freed people from superstition and works-righteousness slavery. Let's enjoy our freedom in Christ and do good works from our salvation, not for it. Thanks to the Reformation, Bibles are no longer chained to pulpits and written in a language that had gone out of use for hundreds of years.


Bruce Atchison is a legally-blind freelance writer as well as the author of How I Was Razed, Deliverance from Jericho, and When a Man Loves a Rabbit. He lives in a small Alberta hamlet with his house rabbit, Deborah.

October 25, 2013

4 Steps to Managing Crisis - Bobbi Junior

Chronic crisis takes a toll. Be it one unrelenting circumstance, or a few overlapping issues, emotions begin to reign. Turmoil feels normal.  Supports may drop away as friends and family lose sight of our ongoing struggle.

During my first experience with a lengthy crisis I existed in a state of hypervigilance for almost two years. Helpless to control my circumstance, I did little that was thoughtful or planned. I felt like a victim. This mindset only served to increase my struggle. It was not a happy time for me or those around me.

A few years after the first circumstance stabilized, the good Lord allowed me a second opportunity. Could I manage chronic crisis in a different way? This time I sought some purposeful strategies. Gradually, four daily steps emerged.

1. Make a list of what's working. (This reminded me that progress was occurring. During times of crisis, it's easy to miss that fact.)
2. List all the issues hanging over my head. (A long list!)
3. Highlight those which are in my control. (A much shorter list.)
4. Of those highlighted, identify the priorities for that day, based on:
  • What has to be addressed?
  • What do I have the energy to address?
  • Is this a day I can take a break from managing the crisis?
That's it. At the end of four steps I had a plan of action for the day. One day. This day. Nothing more.

Remaining items were noted, so as not to be forgotten. They usually waited for another day, and miraculously, many dropped off the list of their own accord with no effort on my part.

Now it became a battle of the mind. Paul laid out the strategy when he said, We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”  2 Corinthians 10:5

I began to take every  random thought captive, separate it from clinging emotions, and decide if it was worthy of attention or not. Most of the time, it wasn't.

At first, it wasn't easy. Emotions wanted control. I had to constantly remind myself that panic does not change the situation. Worry doesn't cause others to manage their part. Fretting doesn't solve a situation not yet positioned for resolution.

With practice, I've learned I can be at peace in the midst of chronic crisis. I can rest in between addressing needs. I can enjoy life while I wait for the situation to resolve or stabilize. As the Beatles once wrote, "It's getting better all the time..."



What strategies do you use to manage crisis?


In 2011 Bobbi’s mother's progression into dementia could no longer be ignored. One day Mom demanded, "Someone needs to write about this!" In response, Bobbi began to explore her mother’s journey and her own struggles as a caregiver. Her learnings are documented on her blog at www.bobbijunior.com, and in a memoir, The Reluctant Caregiver



October 24, 2013

Self Promotion - Should I or Shouldn't I? by Lynn Dove

Since becoming a published author in 2009, I have learned that to get my books noticed I MUST get them into the public eye.  To do that, I use social networking (Facebook, Twitter, Google and more) to attain a world-wide audience.  That said, I still cringe a little every time I have to "blow my own horn" about my books and my writing ability.

Every author will tell you that self-promotion is a major key to a good book-marketing strategy.  Readers buy books that are well reviewed and are highly visible in the marketplace.  They also buy books if they know an author (or think they know an author), and the best way to get that kind of notice is to gain some kind of a following online.  Writing a blog for me has become serious business.  It is hard work but it showcases my writing ability and it allows the reader to step into my world and become my "friend".  For me, it is a great way to personally interact with potential readers of my books.

Still, although I know self-promotion is an imperative strategy for good marketing, as a Christian author this kind of conduct can go against the call to be humble in all circumstances.  "Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you."  James 4:10; " Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you."  1 Peter 5:6; "But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6 are only a few verses that admonish and instruct followers of Christ about remaining humble. 

How can you be humble and still self-promote?  Give all the glory to God. 

I was recently interviewed after my books received recognition for winning an international book award contest.  During the conversation with the reporter I made a point of saying that any praise and honour must go to God first, Who gifted me with my writing ability.  I thank Him for the honour of allowing me to write in the first place.  Praising God for directing my steps throughout my writing career, I know that if it were not for Him opening doors for me and directing me to people who have mentored and encouraged me, I would not have these writing opportunities before me now.



Lynn Dove calls herself a Christ-follower, a wife, a mom, a grandmother, a teacher and a writer (in that order). She is the author of award winning books: The Wounded Trilogy. Her blog, Journey Thoughts won a Canadian Christian Writing Award - 2011. She has also had essays published in "Mother of Pearl: Luminous Lessons and Iridescent Faith" and "Chicken Soup for the Soul - Parenthood" (March 2013),  Devotional Stories for Wives: 101 Daily Devotions to Comfort, Encourage, and Inspire You (Sept. 2013) O Canada The Wonders of Winter: 101 Stories about Bad Weather, Good Times, and Great Sports (Nov. 2013) and Miracles Happen: 101 Inspirational Stories about Hope, Answered Prayers, and Divine Intervention (Feb. 14).  She was most recently awarded Literary Classics International Book Awards - Seal of Approval and Silver Medal in Young Adult Faith-based fiction for her book Love the Wounded.  Readers may connect with Lynn on Facebook, Twitter and on her blogs: Journey Thoughts and Word Salt or on her website: www.shootthewounded.org

October 23, 2013

A Summer To Remember - by Terrie Lynne

Our daughter walking in the Redwoods
 This summer my husband, daughter and I took a road trip and drove through the states of Washington, Oregon and into the Northern tip of California. It was such an enjoyable time together. One of our destinations during the trip was to see some of the Redwood Forest. Although our daughter is a young lady in her early twenties, she just loved the experience of walking through the woods amongst those gargantuan trees. She said she felt like a child all over again walking in the Enchanted Forest!
Another experience we enjoyed was driving along the famous Highway 101 coastline. It was morning when we arrived at an oceanside view point and the morning misty fog was just lifting. I have to say that no pictures, movies or recorded sounds of the ocean waves could possibly prepare or compare with what I experienced when I saw and felt the ocean for the first time. It was there that all three of us felt like children all over again.

 
oceanside viewpoint at Brookings,Oregon
The moment I got out of the car I didn't just see the ocean, I felt it. The power of the rolling waves as they came crashing in commanded my respect. I stood in awe as I gazed out over the sparkling blue water that seemed to go on and on. It was a moment I will never forget. I was seeing one of Gods amazing creations!

My husband, daughter and I walked down the hillside and along the beach, dipping our hands and feet into the fresh, clear water. I honestly could have stayed there all day. I didn't want to leave. For me, it was like a spiritual experience in many ways for this was an opportunity, an invitation, a God moment. A moment that He, my family and I had waited all this time to experience together.
Our walk along the beach
It reminds me that it's those "God moments" that our Heavenly Father wants His children to experience so we can appreciate the reality of Him, His power and might. He is the Almighty and Everlasting God and He wants us to love and respect Him. Yet by His Spirit He walks gently along side us and wants a personal relationship with us. I believe He wants us to see ourselves as He sees us, with love and compassion, mercy and grace. He is so much bigger than us and our problems, yet so willing to come and dwell amongst us in everyday life. He Lives! Amen, let it be so!


If you enjoyed this article and would like to read other postings go to: Where The Healing Begins

Photos compliments of our family photo album.

October 22, 2013

A Girl With A Pearl Earring Lives Here by Dayna E. Mazzuca



We're pleased to have Dayna Mazzuca, one of our InScribe members from British Columbia, join us as our Guest Blogger today.



I’ve yet to meet a writer who didn’t also have an appreciation for visual art. Maybe that’s because the two have a lot to say to each other. When you add in the all-important layer of faith, the cross-overs are endless. I noticed this the other day…

There is a small painting on my refrigerator door. It’s a copy of the famous work by Jan Vermeer called Girl with a Pearl Earring. The original oil on canvas resides in The Hauge, Netherlands. My small painting is a copy of a copy, magnetized and worth less than ten dollars at the local bookstore. Still, I adore the picture of a young girl, with her blue headdress, gold jacket and tear-shaped pearl earring.

One day, after paying the bills and getting the kids their lunch, I wondered what it would be like to have a houseful of original artwork. I imagined the Girl with a Pearl Earring hanging above the sofa in the living room. I envisioned an original dancer by Degas in my daughter’s room and a sketch of a flying machine by Michelangelo in my son’s bedroom. I would love one of Caravaggio’s paintings, perhaps the Calling of Matthew, with its emphasis on the compelling look of Christ. In the painting Christ reaches out an arched finger to Matthew, the tax collector who is sitting at a table, hunched over the piles of coin he is busy counting. It is as if Christ’s call to come follow him extends past our immediate concerns, offering eternal reward in their place.

I began to daydream... A bungalow full of priceless paintings would attract a lot of visitors. We would have to install security systems, regulate visiting hours and install carpets. A whole cottage industry would follow.

The daydream didn’t last long. I made my sandwich and closed the fridge door, only glancing at the Girl with a Pearl Earring. But the glittering thought made an impression. After all, isn’t a humble home transformed into a world-class art gallery a lot like an ordinary life made brilliant by the life of Christ within?

Isn’t faith that is real and alive better than art that is flat and inanimate? Doesn’t God take the basic stuff of our lives, our circumstances and dreams and turn them into something precious and holy in his sight? Isn’t God the master artist?

The difference is that works of this world need to be guarded, insured and cared for, while the incredible life of Christ within us is meant to be shared and enjoyed by all. It is meant to be contemplated not only by the critic, or the serious student, but by everyone. The life of Christ is an invitation to come, taste and see the difference that God can make in anyone’s life. To see God’s work in us on display, right where we live.

As writers, we have the insights of an artist—but as faith-filled artists, we also get to enjoy the joys of knowing beauty lived from the inside out.



October 21, 2013

Love Perfected - Sulo Moorthy

1 Corinthians 13, the Love chapter

Apostle Paul had given us what true love looks like. Each of us have a vague picture of love, mainly from the romantic novels we've read or the movies we've watched on the screen. But true love weighs much heavier than what is cheaply portrayed on Hollywood movies and novels.

Let's read Paul's version of love and check it out whether our understanding of love come anywhere closer to it. According to Paul,

"Love is patient and kind, never jealous or envious, never boastful or proud, never selfish or rude. Love does not demand its own way. It is not irritable or touchy. It does not hold grudges and will hardly even notice when others do you wrong. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."(1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

Such a definition sounds beautiful and gives a deeper meaning. But, at the same time, it makes us guilty too for falling short of displaying such love, especially towards those whom we encounter on a daily basis- spouse, children, parents, siblings, coworkers, neighbors. It is within the four walls of our house, such love is challenged and put to test more often.

Love expressed in words and gifts do look good and make some impact to brighten the mood and solidify relationships. But buried hurts and deep wounds wouldn't be erased by bouquet of roses or glittering diamonds.

Being kind and patient doesn't cost us dollars, yet we choose to do the opposite.We find it difficult to put Paul's version of love into practice because "I", "Me, " and "Mine" intervene and overtake our thoughts and action most of the times. But prayer and meditation on this chapter on love could make us to practice love instead of talking about it or longing to express such love.

What a happy and wholesome family and community we could establish on earth if we could live by this scripture! Lately I have started meditating on it so that I could put it into practice easily. Would you like to join me for support?


October 17, 2013

Writing The Real Thing by Bryan Norford

How do I put this kindly?

There is superficiality in Christian circles that dismays me. I doubt it’s deliberate, just a time squeeze for many, and more subtly, a surreptitious accommodation to secular values that seem to be more reasonable, kinder and even more logical, than the old values espoused by Christianity.

A plethora of books and articles reveal a rising self interest in what I term “Christian self-help” writing. Not that this is wrong in itself, but at some point it develops the image of a Christianity that is primarily there to provide a life free of adversity.

A cursory overview of the past shows that this is not so in practice; persecution and martyrdom of Christians is a major feature of Christian history. On the other hand, cultures that have embraced Christianity have frequently prospered. Western civilization is an obvious example.


So here is the dilemma. Where do we draw the line between the biblical demand for self-denial and the healing of personal human difficulties that the Bible also offers? Perhaps better: what is the starting point of serious Christian commitment that can resolve it?

I like to adapt a popular call of President Kennedy to the American nation. “Ask not what God can do for you, but what you can do for God.” If there is one thing that characterises the Christian call, it is Christ’s empowering so “you will be my witnesses . . . to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

The prayer Jesus taught us reflects what should be our first desire: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:9-10). If we sincerely pray this, it becomes our first mandate—whatever the cost.

Christianity is a paradox, well illustrated by Christ: “Whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:39). If there is comfort from Christ, it is an outcome of commitment to Him. We may not avoid the dark valleys but we pass though them with Him.

Thus, my writing must follow that claim. It’s too easy to bring comfort from Christ and avoid the commitment to Him that is the precursor. I desire to invite my readers into a life that has direction and purpose in Christ, and there are no short cuts.


October 15, 2013

Just Keep Walking and Let God Do the Rest - Tracy Krauss

Sometimes we don’t realize God is doing anything until much later. Thankfully, it's not our job to know the future. Our job is to be obedient and let God handle the rest. 

Back in the nineties, my husband and I ran the Youth Group at our church. I think back to some of the stuff we did with them and I cringe. Some of our activities weren’t that spiritual and we basically blundered along just doing the best we knew how. Several years later, we were at a conference for pastors in Banff. We were surprised to meet up with a young man who had been in our youth group almost ten years earlier. He came from a particularly troubled background, and we doubted at the time that he was even getting anything out of YG. However, there he was at the conference, thanking us. He said our unconditional acceptance was what brought him to Christ and ultimately led him into ministry.

I know you’ve had experiences like this, too. Often it’s the seemingly unimportant things that have the biggest impact. All our planning cannot take the place of God appointed opportunities.

It’s a philosophy I use in my capacity as a writer. I have no idea who may pick up one of my books and be touched by something I’ve written. I’ve been privileged to hear feedback from readers expressing gratitude when a certain element of one of my stories impacted them. However, we won’t always know the outcome of every deed we’ve done or word we’ve spoken. Unlike my first example about the young man from our youth group, we may never know all the people we have influenced in this life, be it for harm or for good.

Reflection:

Have you had an experience where someone has unexpectedly expressed their gratitude for an act of kindness or other service?


This is a short excerpt from a devotional I am preparing for publication called 
LIFE IS A HIGHWAY: Advice and Reflections On Navigating the Road of Life

Tracy Krauss works as a secondary school teacher of Drama, Art and English in Tumbler Ridge, BC. In her 'spare' time she writes romantic suspense novels and stage plays. Visit her website or her blog for more. 


October 11, 2013

Jesus Loves Me, This I Know - Connie Inglis


For the past year and a half I have been reading through the Bible. I know. I know. You're probably thinking, Wow, it sure is taking her a long time.  But I am reading with specific focus and God has used it as an inspiration in my poetry. 

One of my favourite characters in the Old Testament is Elijah, mostly because he is so human and yet used by God so mightily. And one of my favourite stories is found in I Kings 19 where Elijah flees for his life out of fear. Yet, God doesn't rebuke him. Instead, in love and tenderness, He feeds him and then speaks to him, NOT in the wind or the earthquake or the fire but in a still, small and ever-so-gentle voice. Oh, how God loved Elijah.

With that same tenderness and gentleness, He loves me too. He loves you too. He loves ALL of mankind too.

I am almost done reading the whole Bible and have come to a greater understanding of the Author--an Author who is our perfect example of how to thread themes throughout not just one book but 66 books. One theme begs to be heard: GOD LOVES HUMANITY. He desires that we shout it from the rooftops, that we sing it from the stages, that we write it in our books. 

So, brave writer, be encouraged today. Jesus loves you, whether you are afraid or at peace. He loves you. He loves us all.

Here is my poem written as an ode to Elijah:

Windstorm. Earthquake. Fire.
Cease. Stillness becomes power.
Empty I crumble,
humbled by Your strength. Presence.
Gently You whisper my name. 

 

October 10, 2013

Time: A Vanishing Dream? by Sharon Espeseth

How difficult it is for our finite minds to comprehend how short life on earth really is, especially compared to the infinite years eternity offers! Recently, I saw an object lesson on this contrast. A deacon at Holy Trinity Catholic Church west of Edmonton took out a spool of cord from a shelf under the pulpit. Holding one end of the cord, The Deacon gave the spool to a young altar server. As instructed, the girl walked backwards as far as she could, unwinding the string as she went.

The Deacon then pinched about a centimetre of the cord he was holding to give us an inkling of how short life on earth is compared to eternal life. Admitting limitations in showing correct proportions, the speaker did, however, make his point, and it has stayed with me. Life on earth, even for our long-living elders is short. We occasionally need this message, so we are conscious about walking wisely on this earth in preparation for the life that is to come.

The gospel that Sunday was the parable Jesus told about the rich man who lived luxuriously while the poor man, Lazarus, lay at his gate longing for even the crumbs fallen from the rich man's table. One lived in comfort while the other suffered misery. When the two men passed from this life, their comfort levels were completely reversed. Getting Abraham's attention, the rich man begged for a mere drop of water to be delivered by Lazarus. Abraham pointed out that no one could cross the great chasm dividing their respective dwellings.

Throughout The Sermon on the Mount, recorded in Matthew, Chapter 5 to 7, Jesus tells us how to live our faith. He reminds us to store up treasures in heaven rather than on earth. He asks, "Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?" Although we don't need to worry about how short life is, we do need to be aware that life on earth is finite and that we will be accountable for what we do with our time while we're here.

In the back of an old hymnal, my dad had noted an old Swedish song. While reflecting on The Deacon's sermon and Scripture passages along this line, I thought of a song written in 1874 by C. A. Stenholm. Here's the first verse.


"Time is as swift as a vanishing dream,
Year after year rolls away.
Life rushes on like a fast flowing stream,
Short are the hours of its day."

I think Dad was about my age when he would have written the title in Swedish at the back of the 1950 edition of this hymnal. Though Dad has passed, I can see him in my mind's eye solemnly singing this song. If I adjust my memory's lens, I can see my Grandpa Augustson pondering the  words while singing in Swedish.                                                                                                      
"Be careful, then, how you live," Paul tells the Ephesians, "not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is."

No matter what our age, we need to know our days are numbered and God has work for us to do. Let's be thankful that today, and every day, is a day God has made for us.

I will close with the following prayer from Psalm 71, which is generally attributed to David.

"Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, 
till I declare your power to the next generation,
your might to all who are to come."




Clock Sky Image by Luigi Diamanti for FreeDigitalPhotos.net





October 09, 2013

Paul's Encouraging Letter to Shirley - Shirley S. Tye

I’ve received the wonderful news about your faith in our Lord Jesus and your love for others who also share in the rich inheritance God has provided for us through His Son. I praise God for this and continually thank Him for you. You are God’s treasure because of Christ. You are no longer a stranger, as you were before, but a fellow citizen with the saints; an heir in His glorious kingdom.

I pray that God will graciously give you wisdom and understanding of who Christ really is and all that He has done for you. I also pray that you might have even a glimpse of the future He has called you to share. I pray that you may have some understanding of just how incredibly great God’s power is toward you and all His children. It’s that same power that raised Christ from the dead and seated Him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in heaven.

Jesus sits far above all principalities, power, and dominions in this age and in the age to come. God has put all things under Jesus’ feet and has made Him ruler over the entire universe and Head of the Church which is His body.

You, my dear, are precious in His eyes and an important part of Him. I pray you may be strengthened by His Spirit, grounded in faith and may you feel Christ’s amazing love for you filling you completely. Remember to always speak and conduct yourself in a worthy manner doing the work He has called you to with gentleness, tolerance, patience, and love. Remember to guard against all evil; protect yourself with the whole armour of God and leave no gap through which the devil might slither into your life.

Peace, grace, and love be with you, for you are God’s beloved child.

Your brother-in-Christ - Paul.


Based on the Epistle of the Apostle Paul to the Ephesians.

October 06, 2013

Confessions of a Wimpy Marketer by Glynis M. Belec

  These past few days have caused me to reflect much on my writing career. I recently wrote a post on my own personal blog called Sick of Me http://glynis-myjourney.blogspot.ca/ ] on the emotional aspects of marketing. I've had some great responses to it; some private chastisements and plenty of food for thought.

      The whole gist of my post was basically one of marketing despair from a Christian perspective. I have been writing professionally for a long time so over the years I have definitely discovered that marketing is not for wimps.

     I don't really consider myself a wimp, though (there isn't much that this old gray mare won't tackle) but since my new book was recently (self) published, I've realized that in order to get my books out there, I need to build up some marketing muscle.

I'm by no means - chicken. I have no problem talking to people and giving them my package and a free book, but I have to admit that I have been struggling with the idea that humility and marketing don't jive for the Christian writer.

     Maybe I am out in left field here. Maybe I am just making excuses because marketing is hard work. Maybe I would just as soon have people magically beating down my door begging to buy my book so I can get on with pouring my voice and spirit onto paper.

     I think of the definition of marketing: a critical business function involving the process of communicating the value of products or services,to customers for the purpose of selling the product or service. 

Then I think of the many scriptures on humility:

Psalms 25:9 
He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.

1 Peter 5:5b 
“…God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”


Mark 10:45 
For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

1 Kings 21:29 
“Have you seen how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself before me, I will not bring the disaster in his days

Luke 1:43 
And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?

2 Chronicles 12:12 
And when he humbled himself the wrath of the LORD turned from him, so as not to make a complete destruction.

Job 22:29 
For when they are humbled you say, ‘It is because of pride’; but he saves the lowly.

Psalms 18:27 
For you save a humble people, but the haughty eyes you bring down.

Psalms 149: 4 
For the LORD takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation.

Proverbs 11:2 
When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.

     Then I wonder if it is possible to be doing God's work with humility if I have to get out there and promote myself, my book, my ability to speak, my this...my that. 

     Of course I know the importance of contacting people and finding creative ways to tell how great my work is. That's where I struggle, though. I know I can write. I know I can sink my teeth into something, have a plan, write something and it can turn out half decent. It's never perfect but I am not afraid to try. I love speaking to audiences and telling them my story in hopes that they can be helped or encouraged or find something to laugh about. 

     So maybe what I should do is seek out scripture to balance my marketing emotions. Let's give it a try:

God wants me to write my story: 

*Oh that my words were written with an iron pen on a granite tablet so my story could be read forever. Job 19:23–24

I write honestly from my heart, seeking to make the truth known. Job 33:3

Let my concepts and writings be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer. — Psalm 19:14

While waiting for the Lord, write. Be strong and take heart, and keep writing for the Lord. —
Psalm 27:14

My heart overflows with a captivating theme, for my voice is the pen of a skillful writer.Psalm 45:1

God’s word is a lamp that lights my writing journey. Psalm 119:105

If God is our helper when we write, the stories we build cannot be in vain. Psalm 127:1

Writers rejoice when they can reach their audience with the right words at the right time. Proverbs 15:23

Writing sprinkled with humor is wonderful medicine, for pleasant words are like honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Proverbs 16:24

Commit your writing to the Lord, and your message will touch people’s hearts. Proverbs 16:3

Writers would like to chart their entire journey to success, but God wants them to take the next right step. — Proverbs 16:9

Without guidance, writers will fail, so blessed are those who carefully follow publishing guidelines. Proverbs 30:18

Write your message in an article or a book so it may be an everlasting witness. Isaiah 30:8

The Lord says, “I know the great things I have in mind for your writing—plans for you to succeed, not fail—so anticipate the future with eager expectation. — Jeremiah 29:11

Publish the pieces you have written, so people can read them.Ezekiel 37:20

Write for your children so they can tell their children, so your stories may live from generation to generation.Joel 1:3

The Lord is good, a wonderful retreat when we suffer from writer’s block. He recognizes those who seek him for guidance.Nahum 1:7

Use plainly spoken words so people can easily read my message and run to tell others. — Habakkuk 2:2

Like city lights on a hill that cannot be hidden, let your writing shine so people may read your words and glorify God in Heaven. — Matthew 5:14, 16

Writers in the Kingdom of Heaven bring forth treasured stories that are familiar yet refreshingly new.Matthew 13:52

Those who have sacrificed possessions, relationships, and pleasures so they can write stories about Christ working in their lives will receive a much greater benefit, as well as eternal life. — Matthew 19:29

For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, so writers who believe in him and share their stories will not die but will lead others to eternal life. John 3:16

Like a mighty river, words will flow from the mouth of those who believe in Christ. John 7:38

Rejections, unreturned calls, and ignored book proposals will all work for good for writers who love God and seek to communicate a message that pleases him.Romans 8:28


Don’t let the world around you dictate how you write, but let God change the way you think. Then your stories will be what he wants—good, well pleasing, and complete.Romans 12:2

If I write with human excellence and angelic might without truly caring about my audience, my message is little more than a noisy gong or clanging cymbal. 1 Corinthians 13:1

I can write anything if Christ will give me the ability and stamina.Philippians 4:13

Don’t let people despise you as a novice, but be a faith example by seeking excellence in your writing. 1 Timothy 4:12


      As I read through these and check out each scripture, it really does become wonderfully, alarmingly reassuring that God has a mighty plan for His children to write stories and get the word out. Maybe having a marketing plan isn't about puffing up self; it's all about focussing on the story that God wants me to tell. Hmmm...I like that.

     As far as the emotional part of marketing, I will probably never get my head fully around the
'selling myself' talk, but if I can put it into perspective and focus on
 whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy because it is done for God's glory, then maybe marketing my story is a really good thing and wimping out is not an option. 




*(Special thanks to the North Texas Christian Writers for letting me share some of these scripture ideas. 

October 03, 2013

Are You Stretching Your Faith? - Janis Cox



I do morning stretches for about 15 minutes every morning. My back depends on this. As I stretch I pray for each member of my family.

Physical fitness is important but spiritual fitness is more important.

How can I become spiritually fit? Here are five ways that I think will help anyone to stretch their faith.

1.  Prayer:


In acknowledging God by talking and listening to Him, we bridge that gap between us. So remember to open the door and have a conversation.

2. Read your Bible:


I remember when I couldn't understand the Bible at all. It read like a foreign language. A friend suggested that I ask God to reveal His Word to me. So the next time I opened my Bible I prayed, "Help me Lord to understand Your Word". And He did.

I would suggest starting with the Gospel of John. Then read through the Psalms. I always stop to highlight what is getting my attention in that moment. Then you can think about that throughout the day.


3. Memorize a passage of Scripture:


 I know that for some of us we think that our memorizing days are over. However once again if you ask God He will give you the ability to memorize. Pick a Scripture that is the most meaningful to you. Write it down. Put it by your computer. Carry it with you. But keep repeating it. Then you will have it bound around your neck and written on the tablet of your heart (Proverbs 3:3)

4. Join a Bible Study: 


Working alongside friends helps us to affirm our faith. Questions that need answers can be found. Each study bring us further along in our faith.

5. Appreciate every moment of the day:


 Live each moment. Go outside. Help a friend. Stop to chat. Follow God's leading.

What are other way we can become spiritually fit? Which do find easiest? Which is the hardest?


Janis Cox

Janis Cox - Author and Illustrator
Janis, a retired school teacher and small business owner, found a new passion in writing in her retirement. A writer since 2003, Janis co-ordinates a group blog called Under the Cover of Prayer. She is also a contributor to a group blog called Family and Faith Matters.

Janis is the author of the award winning children’s book, Tadeo Turtle, published by Word Alive Press. She is the author and watercolour illustrator. For more information visit Janis on her website He Cares for You. She is a member of The Word Guild and Inscribe Writers Fellowship.