June 16, 2019

Hope Beats Fear by Nina Faye Morey

Long ago God spoke in many different ways to our fathers
through the prophets, in visions, dreams, and even face to face,
telling them little by little about his plans.
~ Hebrews 1:1 TLB

“Hope Beats Fear” is the title of an article I wrote about my personal struggle coping with cancer that was published in the February 2014 issue of the Canadian Messenger. The goal of this monthly magazine was to help readers with their daily Christian living. This article was one of several articles and short stories that I was fortunate to have published in this magazine.

When I first received my devastating cancer diagnosis, I felt a deep sense of fear. My reason for sharing my story with others facing this kind of fear was to speak to them about the comfort I experienced when I placed myself in God’s hands and refused to let my fear evaporate my hope and erode my faith. Therefore, it was extremely gratifying when I received this comment from the magazine’s associate editor: “…one of the most uplifting articles I have ever read.”

For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word,
but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, 
in the sight of God we speak in Christ.
~ 2 Corinthians 2:17 ESV

God made me a writer. As a Christian, I believe He has called me to use my gift with words to serve Him and minister to others. God intends me to use my creativity not only as a means of self-expression, but also as a way to speak to others about Him and His Word, so they might come to know Him and develop a relationship with Him. He wants me to bear witness to the marvelous things He has done and is doing in my life. Like the fishermen He called to be His apostles, God calls ordinary people like me to share our stories and our faith as a form of Christian ministry.

Declare his glory among the nations,
His marvelous works among all the peoples!
~ Psalm 96:3

In today’s high-tech world, God has opened up countless opportunities to witness to people around the globe. We no longer have to rely on someone else to publish our words. For a while now, the Holy Spirit has been urging me to write and self-publish my work in books and ebooks, in online newsletters and magazines, and on my own and others’ blogs or websites. Consequently, I’ve been researching how to set up my own blog/website, commenting more on other’s blogs, and considering joining social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. But I’ve wavered due to my fears about having an online voice. Internet trolls love to tear down others rather than lift them up. I need to keep reminding myself that my focus is to share God’s love, not to receive “likes” on Facebook.

Therefore encourage one another
and build each other up,
just as you are doing.
~ 1 Thessalonians 5:11

So, once again, I must place myself in God’s hands and refuse to let my fear
override my hope. God knows there is plenty of trouble and suffering in this world (John 16:33), so He calls on us to encourage one another daily (Hebrews 3:13). I don’t need a theological degree to witness for Christ. The gospel message is simple: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). I only need to pray for the Holy Spirit to speak to me; to guide me to the right words and scriptures at the right time. Therefore, I’ll continue to use my gift to the best of my ability and rely on God to take care of the rest.

Images: Pixabay

June 15, 2019

Call of the Heart by Tracy Krauss

Long ago God spoke in many different ways to our fathers through the prophets, in visions, dreams, and even face to face, telling them little by little about his plans. (Hebrews 1:1, TLB)

I love this month's prompt and quite honestly had many different thoughts about how I could write on this theme. I sincerely believe that God has called some of us to write, and include myself in this group. Does this mean it is easy? Never! Sometimes (quite often, in fact) I feel as though I am 'writing against the grain'. Firstly, I believe God can use fiction to affect the lives of believers and non-believers alike and prefer writing it, although I have also written some non-fiction. I've written several posts on this topic including one called The Power of Fiction. 

As well, my novels seem to fall into what some might call the 'edgy' camp. My tagline, "Fiction on the edge without crossing the line" sums up what readers can expect. I do not purposely use vulgarity or gratuitous elements, but my stories are not always squeaky clean. I've had feedback from both those who appreciate the authenticity of my work and those who are uncomfortable with certain topics or character behaviour. I have come to terms with it. I will probably never have the large fanbase that some Christian novels do such as 'Amish' stories or sweet romances, but I believe that there is a place for my work. Reader feedback tells me this and so I persevere in writing what I feel God has called me to write.
Beyond the call to write, the verse used as a prompt this month really caught my attention for another reason. Many have already heard the story of the vision God gave me while I was waiting for open heart surgery two years ago. I was in St Paul's Hospital in Vancouver waiting for an angiogram and saw a very clear picture of my heart with four words emblazened on it. The words were: FEAR, DOUBT, ANXIETY, and PRIDE. I admit that I do not know whether this was in a dream, a vision while I was awake, or whether it was drug induced since I was on a lot of medication. However, it impressed me so much that I drew a picture of it in my journal. 

After my angiogram, I was given a picture of my heart showing four blocked arteries. The blocked arteries coincided exactly with the ones in my vision! I felt God saying that the physical by-pass I was about to go through also had spiritual application. Since then I have purposed to renounce all fear, doubt, anxiety and pride, for they have been by-passed in my life. 

I have been encouraged and inspired by other people's posts this month. Even when I feel discouraged about my writing, I need only think back to the many times that God has proven Himself. He has called me to write for Him and has by-passed all fear, doubt, anxiety and pride in my writing journey as well as in my life as a whole, including serving as InScribe's current president. 

June 13, 2019

When God Lifts Me Up by Wendy L. Macdonald

I’ve noticed there’s a particular time when God speaks to me about my writing and lifts me up. The rest of the time I need to show up and trust that my efforts will be used for a Higher Purpose. Being an inspirational writer parallels the faith walk in many ways. We need to trust that during the lean times (when time to write leans near nil), God still multiplies what we offer to feed those He has in mind.

Often, in the process, we—the writers—are the ones who are fed first.

I’m a needy writer. I regularly hunger for affirmation from God. It’s not a daily need. I can write for weeks before the desperation sets in. But when a bottoming out of my writing sprints occur, I sit on the side of the racetrack, stare at my untied running shoes, and wonder if I should bother tying them up again.

 I think things like:

No one needs what I have to say.
I’m not worthy to write worthwhile words.
I might as well go back to my former hobbies and forget about writing for others.
My journal is enough to satisfy my cravings to write (Insert laughing emoji here.).

Then, I tie my laces up and head down the track because I’ve done enough laps to know that if God thinks I need encouragement, He’ll send it. If He doesn’t send it, then maybe I am supposed to hang up my writing shoes.

The last time my writerly enthusiasm bottomed out, an email arrived with a contract for me to sign regarding something that had previously been shortlisted for an inspirational magazine. Once again, God spoke to me about my writing:

 Keep running.

As I read the devotional that had been contracted, I was ministered to just as I had been when I wrote it. It was about being content with our little corner of the world—being content with where God has planted us to grow (or write).

And this reminds me of something the apostle Paul wrote:

I am not saying this because I am in need,
 for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.
 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.
 I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation,
 whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
 I can do all this through him who gives me strength. 
Philippians 4:13 NIV

I'm nosy-to-know:
How does God lift you up when your writer’s heart is down? 

Blessings ~ Wendy Mac

June 11, 2019

Affirmations by Carol Harrison

 Ideas zip around my mind but the right words, to release the thoughts into the world of readers, do not always flow fast enough. At other times the blank page or screen taunts me and the enemy accuses me being a fraud with words like, "Who do you think you are to try and write, let alone publish anything?" The negative voice echos and threatens to stop all writing.

 But God's still, small voice whispers hope into my mind and heart and reminds me he has a purpose for me. He knows the struggle to use the abilities he gives and how I need encouragement as I take those words and ideas  to birth pieces of writing. God sends positive feedback when I am feeling down and discouraged. These positive words become affirmations, encouraging me to continue on the path of obedience.

The piece of my writing which has the biggest impact on many lives is my book, Amee's Story. This memoir chronicles our journey with our youngest daughter who had a stroke at birth. Doctor's gave our comatose baby a five percent chance to live. According to every specialist who ever worked with her, everything she can do is medically impossible. This book is a story of God stepping into her life and ours. Faith fills the pages.

I never wanted to write this book. I felt unqualified to do so. Even though I wondered how God might use my feeble attempts, he asked me to be faithful and obey. God had plans for this story to be sharedin a way beyond anything I could imagine. He has shown me a bit of the impact my faithfulness in writing this story has had on the lives of others but I believe it is only a small glimpse.
People have shared how reading this book encouraged them in their own tough time of life. One person told me, "I don't have your faith but you made me think." I pray her thoughts will turn to God in a real and personal way.

Parents of young children with special needs, some church goers and others not, have been touched by our story and told us it gave them hope for the future. Others talk about 'ah ha' moments they experienced while reading the story.

Amee's Story has gone into places I could not go. Copies have been shared around the globe, with people who would never darken the door of a church or let me quote Scripture to them. It gives more of the story than I am able to share in a brief conversation or even as a speaker at some function.

I have also received affirmation on other short pieces of my writing, telling me a devotional or short story was just what the person needed to hear at that moment in their lives. Each time I hear this, I praise God, for it is only through Him that my words can touch people.

A gentleman emailed me about a short story I wrote which had been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul. He thought it would be a powerful encouragement to his wife but she could not read English. He translated it into his own language so she could read it as often as she felt she needed.

These positive messages, received at different times in the last ten years, remind me that God calls me to listen to his voice and act on the nudges and ideas he gives me. I must be a good steward of the storytelling gift he has given. The ideas racing around my mind must find their way on to paper or a blank computer screen but they must not stay there in captivity either. I must engage in learning more about this craft of writing and do the hard work of editing. Then I need to share the stories with others. Sometimes this means they will be published. At other times God has directed me to give a piece of writing to one specific person to encourage them. Giving God all my fears and insecurities about allowing others to read the words I write is an act of obedience and service to God.

Ephesian 3: 20, 21 (NIV) encourages me to trust God for the words to write and the impact it has on people who read it.
 "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen."

By God's grace, affirmations come at a time when God knows I need to hear them, see them or read them to give me a tiny glimpse into his purposes for my writing. I pray He always gets the glory.

As a speaker, published author and storyteller, Carol Harrison is passionate about mentoring people of all ages and abilities to help them find their voice and reach their fullest potential. She shares from her heart, telling stories from real life experiences and God’s Word to encourage people and help them find a glimmer of hope no matter what the circumstances. She believes we need to continuously grow in our walk with God and lives out her storytelling passion by speaking at women’s events and retreats, Bible Camps as well as school assemblies and church events. Carol is a wife, mother of four adult children and grandmother to twelve. She makes her home is Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.

June 10, 2019

The Path of Life by Sharon Espeseth

Hank and Sharon on vacation 2013


My husband continues to have health concerns and has been feeling poorly of late. Right now, time for writing seems short and distraction seems long. One blog from four years ago loosely fits the prompt.

To answer some of the June prompt, I find that my daily Bible readings and study, good books, good friends, the writings of my InScribe colleagues and my prayers speak to me in regard to writing and to life. 

Here are a few phrases from Psalm 16, a prayer by David, that speak to me of writing, faith, and “The Path of Life.”

* The Lord is my portion and cup.
* I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
* In the night also my heart instructs me.
* I (try to) keep the Lord always before me.
* You show me the path of life.
* In your presence there is fullness of joy.
* In your right hand are pleasures for evermore.
(New Revised Standard Version)

I highly recommend this Psalm in its entirety.

Eureka Moments by Sharon Espeseth (March 10, 2015)
Maybe I became a writer when my story, "The Man Who Loved Auctions," was published. Maybe it was when I gave Dad the small Western People magazine. Or it may have been when Mom phoned to say, "Dad knows this story is about him and that you wrote it. He carries the story around with him. He unfolds and folds it and then puts it in his pocket." My gift of writing had connected with him in his advanced state of Alzheimer's. I only wished I had written it sooner.

Of course, my family, friends, and relatives, especially my parents, could be prejudiced about my writing. Did I mention I got paid for this story?

Then there was Janice, a business owner in our small town, who grabbed me and hugged me enthusiastically on Main Street. She was excited because I had a story published in the Edmonton 
Bear Hug on Main Street
 (Imagine!)about how great it is to live in a small town, especially one like ours. "As soon as I read it," she said, "I ran down to John's Men's Wear to let John read it."

I had taught three of Janice's kids, so that's pretty close to home, but the Edmonton Journal paid
for their columns in those days.

I kept on writing in my dog-eared, coffee-stained notebooks. My words weren't yet worthy of acid-free ink or acid-free journals. Big, thick notebooks, aka scribblers, were filling up with recipes, to-do lists, garden diagrams, anecdotes of our genius children, shopping lists, and the occasional thought. Did I mention prayers? Time to write was in those prayers. Life had its stumbling blocks, and I wrote about them too.

My sister held the burn-them-when-I'm-gone order. Heaven forbid that anyone should know what actually went on in my head.

My story, "A Holy Night to Remember" was published in Chicken Soup for The Canadian Soul. This  seemed like another step toward becoming a writer. Congratulation calls and letters ensued. I too was excited about that and the fact that I also got paid for the story.

I didn't quit my day job of teaching.

To believe in myself as a writer in those days, I needed reassurance that I did have something to say and that I could say it well enough to resonate with readers beyond the concentric circles that cradled me. I needed God's help on this one. Sure enough, I started receiving phone call or letters from people I knew, even from people I didn't know, telling me how I had connected with them.

That was the sign I needed to know I was a writer. Eureka!

Fortunately, my "fan mail" still fit in our mailbox; I didn't need a secretary nor a full time accountant. My head didn't swell beyond recognition,  but I came to realize these unexpected contacts as a sign that my "messages in a bottle" could bring joy, hope, comfort, peace, or anything else God put in my heart to share with others. God  has said that his word will not return to him empty.

I may never know how my words have affected my readers, nor do I need to know. I do, nevertheless know how my writing has affected me. My writing has given me solace and comfort when I am discouraged. It has helped me regain and maintain my mental stability after, and during, clinical depression. My writing has helped me see the beauty, love, joy, and humour I encounter on a daily basis. Writing has helped me see who God is and how he loves me. It has helped me know and love myself as well as my neighbour.

I pray that through my writing, I will influence my small part of the world to be a more tolerant, loving, and peaceful place. I also may inform others of the Good News we are commissioned by Christ to share.

G. K. Chesterton says, "Our confidence lies in our message and not in ourselves." Eureka! And it isn’t all about the money either.

June 06, 2019

When God Spoke To Me Through A Kiss by Bob Jones

It was a kiss I didn’t see coming and one I’ll never forget.

God entrusted me with loving and leading human beings as a pastor. Becoming a pastor was not my childhood dream or something to which I aspired. By nature, I'm a loner. My gravitational pull is to paper. Paper is safe. God’s call was to people and for that I’m forever grateful. Pastoral ministry chiselled me into the person I am today.

A pastor’s most endearing connections are with people in crisis. People going through a divorce, facing debilitating distress, suddenly bereaved, or given a terminal diagnosis. We cry together, struggle together, pray together, mourn together, heal together and remember together.

People are also the prime source of my own crises. Pastors are synonymous with shepherds, and congregants with sheep. When sheep go astray good shepherds pay the price.

A trusted pastor working with trusted leaders is the core of a church’s credibility and stability. Sometimes a pastor is the last to know when a trusted leader goes astray. Worse still is the manipulation of privileged information to undermine trust in a pastor. A Judas kiss, I discovered, is painful.

I process pain through writing. My journals are filled with disappointments, frustration, and hurt that only God knows. Writing is healing. It’s the beginning of forgiveness. Writing They Call Me Pastor was my emotive expression of betrayal - heart to head to journal. Once my heart was on paper an impression came I could not shake. It was an inner voice that sounded like the chief Shepherd. “Do you think what you wrote would be helpful to pastors and to the people they pastor? You should share this.”

Writing is one thing. Publishing is quite another. Publishing requires vulnerability. Brene Brown says, “Vulnerability is courage.” I like courage so I formatted my words and hit the publish button. The post got some traction.

They Call Me Pastor received the most number of comments on my blog, the highest engagement of any post and was re-published in Equip, a national leadership magazine.

I wrote:

When my leadership,
spiritual insight,

are no longer adequate for their,

and a close friend/co-worker/congregant
chooses to no longer be an ally,

I have to say,
and then,
“Grace and peace to you.”

…and continue to focus on and nurture the people still in my care.

I'd like to say that I have learned not to let such experiences of loss affect me, but I haven’t.

I’ve concluded that pain is the price of caring and vulnerability.

Jesus understood that.

After all,

who was it that experienced the first, “Judas Kiss?”

Pastors and congregants were quick to comment. “Reading this as a pastor, it gives such encouragement to persevere through the struggles and to celebrate through times of growth and joy.” My friend Frank printed off the post and shares it with each of his first year pastoral students, informing them “this is a pastor’s heart.”

The best writing, like the best ministry, is birthed out of suffering, honesty and vulnerability.

I am a recovering perfectionist who collects Coca-Cola memorabilia and drinks iced tea. My walls are adorned with our sons’ framed football jerseys, and my bookshelves, with soul food. I write to grow hope, inspire people to be real, forge an authentic faith in Jesus, and discover their life purpose.

Please follow my writing at REVwords

June 04, 2019

Dreaming of Things to Come by Susan Barclay

Getting on the fast-track
As I faced this month's writing challenge, initiated by me, I wondered what I had in mind at the time of suggesting it. Anything? Anything at all? Has God spoken to me about my writing or used it to speak to others about Him in a meaningful way? Is He speaking to me now?

If you count my contributions on Inscribe Writers Online, I have received positive feedback fairly often. Thank you for letting me know when a piece I've written speaks to your heart; it's greatly encouraging!

For this post, though, it's the present I latch onto: "...perhaps He is speaking to you now."

He is speaking to me now indeed. Whether it's about the writing or something else, I'm not 100% sure. What I am certain of is that it pertains to my work and that He is calling me to a new thing. This doesn't mean that I'm to stop what I'm currently doing, that I'm to resign my position at the library or step away from my writing commitments or forget about submitting manuscripts, poems, etc. It does mean that I need to pay attention, to look for doors that might be opening, to listen to the comments of others who may be dropping heavenly hints, to hear what God is saying to me through His Word, and to be in prayer, seeking His direction.

One way He has spoken to me recently is through a dream. While I won't go into its details, and I know that it may sound weird to some, a friend who is gifted in interpretation shared that God is entrusting me with something of great value and is putting me on the fast-track somewhere. Through the dream He says that He hears my heart and it matches His for this particular thing. He is present with me, even if I can't see Him. The dream is about something to come but also has a warning: this is the time to get ready, to prepare. A life-changing moment is coming. He will advise me what to do, and it will be done through Him, supernaturally.

If life has been "interesting" this past year (to say the least), it seems that the wow factor may just be ramping up. My desire is to be in the centre of God's will and to say yes to whatever He has for me. I trust that is the desire of your heart for your life as well. May God bless each of us as we respond in obedience and follow where He leads.

Susan Barclay maintains a website at www.susan-barclay.blogspot.com and has practically given up on blogging there.

June 03, 2019

My Writing Process to Peace by Lynn J Simpson

My faith blog speaks to others about God, who He is and what His word teaches. But I am the one that is ministered to through my own writing process. He uses the moments He gives me to research more of Him in His word, learn more about who He is, and how He calls me to live. Although my goal is to share nature’s beauty and God’s word, it feels like I receive more than give. And that can feel selfish, this writing of devotionals when it turns inward, toward me. Honestly, I’m still learning how to navigate that selfish feeling. 

Let’s take today for example. Just prior to writing this post, I was spraying Dr. Doom foam into the ant hills in my lawn. And I began to think about the acronym for ANTS—Automatic Negative Thoughts. I’d had a restless evening the night before from a racing mind of negative thoughts. I took a break from spraying the annoying critters to text the following  to a Christian sister. 

"I’m Dr. Dooming my ants and made me think that wouldn’t it be great to have a Dr. Doom for my ANTS? Squirt of foam and poof—they’re caught and smothered. Then thought…do have a Sword to kill them. God’s word dooms them to death with the truth. And eventually will get complete victory over the ‘queen’ causing all the havoc. Just a Sunday thought to share. :)"

As I wrote that text, my mind was already onto formulating a devotional post on the subject of ANTS and all that God’s given us to combat those negative critters that can invade our minds. Later my research led me to the following scripture verses.

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 ESV

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, Ephesians 6:17 ESV

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9 ESV 

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8

For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, 2 Corinthians 10:4-5

And finally, but not any less than all the others, the one that tugged my heart to be the centre of the devotional I am still to write. 

When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul. Psalm 94:19 ESV

You cheer my soul. You care. And knowing that truth brings my mind the peace it needs.

Today, no matter if writing for yourself or others, may God's consolation be cheer for your soul.