November 29, 2017

What Christians Tend To Get Wrong About Depression by Bob Jones

Depression is personal to me.

That statement introduced one of my most popular blog posts – “What Christians Tend To Get Wrong About Depression.”

The February 2014 post arose out of a prayer asking God to infuse my writing with content that mattered. “I need your insight and wisdom to clearly deliver hope, and especially to Christians struggling with depression.”

My cousin died by suicide. Her marriage had failed. Rejected. Despairing. She prayed with no avail from the mental torture. She succumbed to a silent, suffering in solitary until her pain ended at her own hand.

Christians tend to experience the greatest challenge dealing with mental illness because we believe people of faith can do anything with God’s help.

In pastoral counselling I encounter many who believe that a one and done kind of prayer offered in faith should deliver believers from all their afflictions. When deliverance doesn’t happen, self-condemnation piles on to already troubled souls.

Job, Elijah, Jeremiah and David are four well know Bible characters who described their lives using terms associated with depression.

These are not “poetic” descriptions of a spiritual condition. These are the desperate declarations of people at the end of their rope. Instead of a one-and-done antidote, the Bible starkly shows the dread that accompanies the ill.

I felt compelled to go out on a limb as a pastor and declare the following about God’s perspective on depression:

Spirit-filled Christians can experience depression.
Many giants of the faith faced prolonged depression.
Depression is not oppression.
Depression is not a choice.
Depression is not a character defect.
Depression is not a spiritual disorder.
Depression is not an emotional dysfunction.

Depression is the only physical illness with spiritual symptoms.

There is hope for Christians facing depression just like those facing cancer or brokenness.

If you or a loved one suffers from depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or any other mental illness, it’s NOT your fault. You need help – and asking for help is a sign of strength.

Bob is a recovering perfectionist, who collects Coca-Cola memorabilia and drinks Iced Tea. His office walls are adorned with his sons’ framed football jerseys, and his library shelves, with soul food. He writes to inspire people to be real, grow an authentic faith in Jesus, enjoy healthy relationships and discover their life purpose.

Follow his writing at Pointes Of View.

November 28, 2017

Furthering the Gospel - Bruce Atchison

What a boon modern technology is to us writers. When it works, we have powerful tools to reach out with the gospel while remaining at home.

Some folks say that social media such as Facebook and Twitter are just a waste of time and we ought only to do face-to-face evangelism. The problem is that our local circle of friends and acquaintences is limited. On social networks and blogs, we can reach out to the world from our homes.

In cases like mine where I can't drive because of my poor sight, technology helps me reach out in spite of being stranded at home.

The Apostle Paul had a similar situation when he was in prison. Some Christians might have assumed that Paul's ministry was over but here's his answer to them. Philippians 1:12 (KJV) says, "But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel;"

While we might fret about our limitations, we can still work around them. In my case, I blog and use an old Bible CD-ROM to help me write my blogs. I don't know who might read what I've written but I pray that God will bless the work of my hands. And since I've been proclaiming what the Word of God says, I've received many likes regarding my posts.

While we all have limitations, God can use those like he used Paul's frequent imprisonments to let him write much of the New Testament. May he work through your writing to further the gospel.

November 26, 2017

Confessions and Secrets - Marnie Pohlmann

I am not a morning person. My mind is usually not working well until after 9am or coffee, whichever comes first. Most mornings I do not take time for more than a rushed shower and an on-the-run breakfast bar as I head to work. No morning devotions or hour in the prayer closet for me. I do know the value of taking morning time with God and have experienced times like that, but at this point in life, mornings do not work for my health or schedule. I must find time throughout the day to connect with God on an intimate basis.

Perhaps I have not intentionally prefaced my writing with prayer because I have never considered the words I write to be "God's words" in the way some writers are sure God gave them not only the gift of writing but the specific ideas and words ending up on the page. God planted this desire to write in my heart, yes, but I still choose what, when and how to write, don’t I? I need to write, so I do. Yes, God has blessed me with a talent and creativity to express events, feelings, or ideas through the careful placement of letters onto the screen or stamping ink onto paper. I thank Him for His gift and I know He can work through me even when I am not aware.

Yet I do not specifically stop to pray about my writing.
Or maybe I do! Not a specific prayer as in
"Dear God, I am about to write this specific project, so I ask you to give me the ideas and the words. May you be glorified, and may others be blessed." 
No, I don't take time to do even that short, specific prayer.

I also do not always write words meant to show God to others. Sometimes I am just writing to describe, or to complain, or to move a story along. Certainly, not everything I write mentions God. However, all my writing does glorify God if only by my using the talent He gave to me, or by doing my best, or by learning more about writing through each project.

There are times when God does make me stop to pray for specific situations or people.
A Facebook post by a struggling friend.
Holding a stillborn boy as his dad and mom question, "why?"
Sharing a long vehicle trip on scary roads.
Reflecting on a memory that intrudes on my sleep.
God brings people to mind in unique ways - dragonflies, hummingbirds, painting supplies. And I know God also brings me to mind for others to pray for me. I collect frogs and am often told that when someone sees a frog they think of me. I ask them to not just think of me, but to pray for me.

Currently, my prayer life does not consist of a specific time and place, or even time to update a prayer journal with praises, requests, or answers to prayer.
My prayer life is more like an ongoing conversation with God.
"Lord, look at that crazy driver. Maybe you should teach him a lesson - or calm my unreasonable rage and relieve my anxiety about being on the road with him. Oh, look, there is a beautifully shaped cloud, moving across the sky like a horse pulling a chariot, and now looking like a dolphin pod leaping to say hello. Your artistry is wondrous!
... Alright, now I've made it safely to work. How about a parking space? Way out here? I'm grumbling, but okay, I suppose the extra steps will do me good, and I guess someone else needs that more convenient spot today - or every day.
... Now, as I turn on my computer to see what work tasks are the priority today, remind me of my password. Right, "UntoHim^2d8" and yes, may I do today's work for You, Lord, and care about the people I encounter in the office.
... Home now, safe but so exhausted. Give me the energy
to do what needs to be done this evening.
... Turning on the computer to pay some bills. "Gift2U+" may we handle our finances as you would have us do, knowing you supply so we can keep open hands for others.
... I have just a few minutes to get some ideas down for this month's blog on prayer. Ha-ha, yes "Pr@ypen10" and here I go."

Don't worry, those are not my real passwords, and I will change all my passwords (again) anyway after posting this. But you get the idea, right? Little reminders throughout the day to give my daily tasks to God.

I also have my version of the Armour of God posted at both my work and home computers. And on my writing computer, I have a file called "Read B4 Write" that includes my Armour of God prayer and others I have paraphrased or written. I will be including in that file some of the Scripture and quotes shared on other posts this month, to give me further encouragement. I don't always open this file before opening the project I intend to work on, but it is there for when I feel those fiery darts burning my words, and me, to ashes.

Often, as I prepare to share my writing, I do pause to ask God to help me see the words from His view. Are they true? Are they helpful? Do they fit this venue, this audience? Are they my best at this time? If needed, I edit once again, or shelve the piece to reconsider sharing the words.

My confessions.
I do not always think to pray.
I do not always pray in the way we think of prayer
or how Jesus teaches us to pray.
Yet I have faith the Spirit who lives in me will pray
on my behalf for the things I don't even understand need prayer.

My secrets.
Planting small reminders throughout my day
to direct my thoughts and actions toward God.
Recognizing the prompts of the Spirit to pause
and lift others to God.
Choosing to look for the creative beauty of the
Creator of beauty.
           Checking with God before sharing written words.

I believe, no matter how you pray,
no matter how I pray,
God is listening,
God is acting,
God is with us.

*photos courtesy of

Pray for Marnie and with Marnie
as she finds God's voice
in her writing and life.   

November 25, 2017

A time to pray by Vickie Stam

When I was a child I thought that people prayed a certain way, such as - in the morning when they woke up, before they ate their supper and before they went to bed. Three times a day, just like brushing your teeth. So that must be a good thing. Right?

It wasn't until I was in my thirties before I realized that prayer can happen at any time and in any place. Out loud or in silence. With people or alone. God wants to hear our prayers. He wants me talk to him about.... everything. He's listening 24 hours a day. 

This month's prompt had me asking myself if I've ever prayed before I write. The answer is, likely not even though I have sat down to write more than three times in one day. I've also felt the darkness wrap around me in the middle of the night while I sat in front of my computer and tapped out a string of sentences that described the many shattered pieces of my life. Still, I did not pray first.

But I am someone who has embraced praying - after I write. It's as if God and I are editing my story together. This is the time when I know that I'm going to read my first draft over and over and over. And then I will begin the brutal process of elimination. It's hard for me to write and simple walk away. Leave it for later. I have to figure out what I will leave in and what I will take out. That's the second draft. It's in that moment that I'm thirsting for God. I'm asking him for wisdom and courage to determine what stays and what goes.
I'm so glad that God hears my prayer no matter what time of day it is! Morning, noon or night. Before or after, I can lean on him to help me unravel the tangled story I write.



November 22, 2017

Prayer Anemia As I Write - Alan Anderson

The theme of this month's blog, “Praying As I Write” reminds me of my prayer anemia condition. In my reading about anemia I learned red blood cells take or transport oxygen to the body. If the red blood cell count is below normal then the body becomes anemic and that is a problem. A person becomes tired, fatigued due to lack of oxygen. Okay, enough of my attempt at science!

I realize prayer anemia is a condition I can help alleviate. I also ask the Lord to forgive me for being neglectful in prayer. Is it that I don't pray? No! Prayer is in deed part of my life. I'm just not a model of prayer other people would copy. I’m still a work under construction. At times my prayers are downright weak.

Included in the writing prompt this month is the following question. “Tell us of a time God infused your ideas and writing with His thoughts and desires?” Perhaps the following experience gives an example of this.

I may have mentioned in a previous blog post that I was once a closet writer. No one saw what I wrote. It took me years to allow other people to read my pieces. I was afraid. I couldn't figure out why God would give me such a gift yet I was scared to show it to anyone. I knew things had to change in order for me to take my writing seriously.

I have always loved to write ever since I was in elementary school. This carried over to high school, college then seminary. It was when I was in my early forties and in Bible College for the second time I was convinced I was a writer. A couple of the instructors encouraged me by suggesting that after marking my essays they noticed something about my train of thought in how I wrote. They both said that my essays went deep into the topic at hand. This was staggering to me. It had to be a "God thing." It still took me a few more years to launch into serious writing but I no longer kept my writing in the closet.

After years of writing timidity I came to a freeing realization. I can write. I can really write! I can write and there are people who appreciate what I write. This has caused me to approach the words I put on a page with caution and respect.

I know God uses my writing in ways that astound me. He does this in spite of my prayer anemia. It astounds me that I have had many encouraging comments from people who recognize I have a gift for writing.

It is in the fact that God may use my writing to help someone that motivates me to continue to write. I pray the words I write will form a community of thoughts pleasing to the One who called me to be a writer. In doing so prayer anemia will be a thing of the past!


November 21, 2017

The Tasseled Prayer Rock .... by Jocelyn Faire

Become willing to see the hand of God and accept it as a friend's offer to help you with what you are doing. Julia Cameron

I have not grown up with the concept of a prayer shawl. This past Sunday my husband and I listened to a video talk by Rob Bell and he referenced the Jewish prayer shawl. In Numbers 15:37-41 God instructs Moses on the making of a garment with blue tassels to remind the Jews of all He had done. As they spread the garments over their heads and forward stretched arms, they created their own little tent/sanctuary(prayer closet). Here they could shut out the world as they conversed with the maker of the universe. When I was growing up, we had the all heads bowed and eyes closed posture as the evangelist looked over the audience to see who wanted to go deeper with God. My twelve year old hand raised then and at several meetings over the next few years, because I was guilted into uncertainty, knowing I always fell short of the glory of God. If I could but touch the hem(tassels) of his (prayer)garment and be healed ...

Fifty years later I still have my struggles with prayer. But I have learned a few lessons along the way.
That God shows up, when we earnestly seek him. Having him alongside in whatever we are going through will be enough. Sadly at times, prayer does not change circumstances, but wonderfully it does bring about His presence, which is of far more benefit in the life long term. And we are in this for life. Throughout my grief journey, I prayed many prayers that felt as though they went unanswered. But, the one thing I do know is that I did not walk the path alone. The God of the Universe was beside me. And when I needed someone with skin on, he brought different people into my life to encourage me.
Prayer is a conversation with God. Sometimes it is an argument, and often I need to be silent and listen to what He has to say. But God has also said “Come let us reason together” and I interpret that is an invitation to sort through issues.
Sometimes I have felt guilty because I said I would pray for such and such, and I simply forgot. Later when I'm reminded of that situation, even as the crisis is past, I can still lift it up in prayer knowing that God is not on the same time frame as humans are.
God helps us with our doubt. For years the James admonition crippled my prayer life. I have struggled over and over with the words—if anyone of you doubts, don't expect anything ... this pretty much eliminated all my expectations. I could see myself tossed about on that sea of doubt. I was more an I believe, help me in my unbelief kind of person. Somewhere along the way I learned that doubt is not the opposite of faith, but certainty is. As Anne Lamott said, “Certainty is missing the point entirely. Faith includes noticing the mess, the emptiness and discomfort, and letting it be there until some light returns.”
My prayer life has had its share of doubts, but am I chastised for that? No, I am not. The real question is, where do my doubts lie? This was an Aha moment for me. My doubts lay in wondering if anything would or could change. When I realized that even though I did not have a full understanding of the situation, God did. The question for me became: Will I trust God with this situation, no matter the outcome? When I can answer Yes, I pray in faith without doubting. This is a huge difference.

Oh Lord, let my life be like the prism of ice that reflects your beauty.
May my spirit be connected to your spirit
and reflect what it has been shown.
In my life, in my words, and in my actions may your radiance shine through.
May I touch the hem of your garment from time to time ...
Keep my heart from being cold as stone, make me soft and malleable
Keep me from the distraction of comparisons, 
Knowing that you have given me uniqueness
As I lift my hand to you, keep hold of me when I do not have the strength to hold on to you.
And thank you,
You are faithful, even when I am covered with doubts.
The icicles of both pictures reminded me of tassels

Peace of mind as I
Release my control
And say
Yes to God.

"True prayer is neither a mere mental exercise nor a vocal performance. It is far deeper than that - it is spiritual transaction with the Creator of Heaven and Earth." - Charles Spurgeon
Jocelyn is the author of Who is Talking out of My Head? Grief as an out of body Experience

Perhaps if she would pray more about her writing ... she would write more? She is busy with living her life as a prayer, and has a newfound interest in prayer shawls.
Photography by Jocelyn

November 20, 2017

Breathe In, Breathe Out by Joylene M. Bailey

I can’t say I have a strategy for prayer for my writing. I am not in the habit of praying in a specific way before each writing day. But I do usually start my day with the prayer: Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.

I believe that when I am in an attitude of listening for God’s voice, for the Spirit’s nudging, then whatever I do, whether writing or doing the dishes, it is done with a heart open for God to work through me.  

Prayer is a little like breathing.
Breathe out – LORD, use my words.
Breathe in – God speaks.
Breathe out - May your love, your heart flow through me onto the page.
Breathe in – God directs, nudges, affirms.
Breathe out – Thank you for Your guidance and Your wisdom.

Yes, there are times when I do spiritual battle over a piece of writing, and then I get very specific in my prayer for that writing at that time. But the breathing kind of prayer is such that anything can happen in any moment.

It is such an unconscious thing at times that an idea will seem to come from nowhere (but of course I know God has sparked it). This was very clear when I wrote a poem for Christmas one year. I didn’t know I would be writing a poem but suddenly there was this rhythm in my head. First came the rhythm, then came the idea, then came the hard work of finding and fitting words to the rhythm and to the theme. During that whole busy week, in which I had little time to write, the rhythm and the words came stronger and stronger. It was hard work but it was work I knew I wasn’t doing alone. As I wrote, it seemed that God was right there, looking over my shoulder saying, “Uhuh, uhuh. No that word doesn’t work, try something else. Very good! That’s coming along.” He gave the rhythm. He gave the idea. I did the work, with His constant blessing. None of that would have happened if I hadn’t been in an attitude of listening for His voice.

I do often hear those other voices Glynis talks about, and I often succumb to self-condemnation. However, God’s voice is never condemning. That’s how I know it is His. I have found that if I ask God to speak and really open my heart to listen, He will lead in whatever I do.

Photo by Pixabay

Joylene writes at Scraps of Joy.

November 19, 2017

One small word at a time by Eunice Matchett

Seek the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your path. (Proverbs 3:6)

Prayer for me is a constant awareness of God in my day to day life. When I sit at my desk to write, I know he is with me. Still, it is quite normal for me to begin writing, staring at a blank screen, especially if I didn’t leave my latest project in the middle of a scene. When I quit my previous project at such a point, it is easier to get my motor running. Assignments like this, without a lightbulb moment, are very difficult. It takes discipline.

While I stare at the screen, I force my mind and heart to rest, and listen. Although I don’t verbalize my words, I invite God to direct my thoughts. Sometimes a fire erupts and thoughts tumble into my mind faster than my fingers can type them. Thought upon thought, in an orderly manner. But that is rare. Most of the time, a little spark ignites, and as I respond to that thought, another one glows, inviting me to explore it. Other times my mind remains as blank as my screen.

At this point I will reread what others have written on the subject, hoping something will awaken my slumbering brain. If nothing does, I try to change the direction from which I approach the subject. Even doing that, quite often, it is persevering, refusing to give up, squeezing out a thought, one word at a time, all the while wondering if I’m ignorant on a subject I need to write about.

But once I’m finished, and reread what I’ve written, I marvel at how those squeezed out words actually say something. I am humbled, considering how easy it would have been to quit, yet, my Heavenly Father led me down a path on my blank screen I had no idea existed.

November 18, 2017

From the Heart - Gloria Guest

It’s difficult for me to say just how prayer has affected my writing life. I can however see that my writing has definitely affected my prayer life. Prayers like;

 “Dear God, I don’t think I can handle staring at this empty page for much longer.”

“God, is there a reason you gave me this desire to write?”

 “God, when will I ever get paid again for my writing?”

And some positive prayers;

“Dear God, please let this minister to someone today.”

“Thank you God for those encouraging words from that (reader, fellow inscribe member, editor, friend, family member).”

These prayers and many more go through my heart and mind anytime I sit down to write. It’s obvious that  I’m not a ‘prayer warrior’ when it comes to my writing. I won’t deny the benefit of that, but for me personally, I prefer to approach God just right where I’m at for the most part. I try to speak from my heart throughout the day to Him, as I would anyone who spends the day with me. Being as I’m not a prolific, successful writer perhaps I need to give my method of prayer when it comes to my writing, another look. I’ve read some wonderful blogs on the subject this month, with some great suggestions.

I have always related to the Psalms. I find them ‘in the moment’, pertinent to what David was experiencing at the time. I relate to his many emergency type prayers and yes, even his prayers of anger when he calls down God’s retribution on his enemies. He is simply being real. And then he often moved into beautiful prayers of repentance and worship such as “Create in me a clean heart O God and renew a right spirit within me.” (Psalms 51:10). I can recall a time in my life that, although a Christian, I wasn’t very aware of my constant sin; of just how many times a day I sinned in my thought life or even actions and words. After a lot of growth and introspection I now admit that I sin many times a day, often before I even get out of bed! As the saying goes. So I relate to David’s many heartfelt expressed psalms of repentance and have prayer them over myself. It’s not because David was perfect or even the most spiritual man around that he was called “a man after God’s own heart” (1 Sam 13:14). It was, I believe, because he prayed from the heart.

One suggestion this month from Sharon Espeseth ,that I’ve decided to try, suggested we write our own writer’s prayer. Here is my own version of a writer’s prayer.

A Writer’s Prayer

Let my writing reflect Your truth God, and not my own,

Let it be honest and sincere, not full of religious superiority or false humility,

Help me to be real and open regardless of others approval or disapproval,

And may I always seek to know You better so that in my writing

You will increase but I will decrease.

And help me dear God, to always write,

Straight from the heart.

November 16, 2017

A Writer’s Prayer by Nina Faye Morey

“It’s your heart, not the dictionary, that gives meaning to your words.
A good person produces good deeds and words season after season…
Words are powerful; take them seriously. Words can be your salvation.
Words can also be your damnation.”

~ Matthew 12:36-37 (MSG)

When I first began studying the Bible, God led me to the verse describing the gifts of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12). In my teens, I’d discovered my talent for writing stories. But I’d never given much thought to their purpose—other than to entertain. While reading this verse, I experienced a flash of inspiration. Could I use my creativity for more than just amusing stories? Maybe I could use it to serve God. So I prayed about this revelation and sensed God urging me to share my experiences with others to bless them and glorify Him.

Despite this, I still lacked self-confidence. Did I actually have anything meaningful to say? Could my experiences benefit others? Was I truly worthy to write for the Lord? I thought about this for a long time before I acted on my inspiration. Knowing Jesus used Parables to help His followers understand His teachings, I began to study them. I discovered that He didn’t create elaborate stories. He simply used ordinary, everyday experiences. After taking a brief inventory of my life experiences, I realized I had stories that might be of value. But being an introvert, it would take some time and lots of courage to share these intense and emotional personal stories. I eventually wrote Christian stories about several of my life experiences: mental illness, emotional abuse, bullying, caring for elderly parents, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, and adoption. I’ve discovered that no matter how gloomy our situation, God always finds a way to shine some light into the darkness.

In spite of inspirational moments of creativity, it’s still difficult to discern exactly what God expects from me as a writer. But I’ve discovered a few practices that help reveal His desires. Each day when I sit down to write, I pray for God’s guidance. I also like to spend some time searching God’s Word for verses relevant to my topic. This gives me the knowledge and insight I need to be faithful and fruitful in my writing. The Holy Spirit is my trusty mentor. I sense many times that the Spirit has guided me to just the right verse or the right insight to express what’s in my heart and bring glory to God. I desire to faithfully convey God’s love and grace to my readers. I pray my words will touch their hearts, move their spirits, and encourage them to seek comfort in His Word. I’ve found my daily prayers give me confidence that God will guide and bless the work of my hands (Psalm 90:17).

When you find your faith in yourself as a Christian writer waning, here’s a prayer to help restore your confidence:

O Creator of the universe, who has set the stars in the heavens and
causes the sun to rise and set, shed the light of your wisdom into the
darkness of my mind. Fill my thoughts with the loving knowledge of you,
that I may bring your light to others. Just as you can make even babies
speak your truth, instruct my tongue and guide my pen to convey
the wonderful glory of the Gospel. Make my intellect sharp,
my memory clear, and my words eloquent, so that I may
faithfully interpret the mysteries which you have revealed.

~ “O Creator of the Universe,” St. Thomas Aquinas

Photo Credit: @2017 Nina Faye Morey

November 15, 2017

Imperfect Word Offerings - Tracy Krauss

At the halfway mark of the month, I thought I'd start with Sandi Somers' prompt on day one:

InScriber Bryan Norford once wrote on how he is driven to pray each day before writing: "Lord, my thinking and understanding is so often fallen and distorted. I desperately need your insight and wisdom, that as I write, I may clearly express your thoughts and desires.” How does Bryan’s quote resonate with you?

Honestly, I struggled with this one - not because I don't pray or believe in the power of prayer - but because I felt inadequate. My thinking and understanding are so fallen. So distorted. Like Paul, I feel like 'the chief of sinners'. I want my words to express His thoughts and desires, but I know beyond a doubt that I fall short - a lot.  
And yet I am convinced that God wants to use me as a writer. 
I'd like to say that I pray consistently before writing, but that would be a lie. I pray more often than not, and even if I don't, I think my motivation is to always write for the Lord, even if I'm writing fiction. I have started many writing projects bathed in prayer and I have started many without. Often I am compelled to pray before hand, but sometimes I forget. I'm sure that the times I've prayed have worked out the best, but then again, as Glynis and others have pointed out, God has been gracious even when I haven't been faithful. Those are the times when my prayers - after the fact - are full of thankful humility. I'm reminded that God often uses the weakest vessels for His purposes, and boy, do I feel weak at times! Too weak to be of any real use.
This, too, is distorted thinking. For when I am weak, He is strong. There is no point beating myself up for my shortcomings. He can see past my inconsistencies. He knows my heart. And in my heart, every word is an offering - even if it's an imperfect one.