Friday, October 30, 2009

Why don't I just quit? - Nesdoly

No one has to tell writers that they're up against some pretty big obstacles these days. The latest Tsunami to hit the writing/publishing world was the news last week that some online bookstores (,, are wrestling each other down on book prices. One announces a price of no higher than 9.99. Another answers back they'll do better at 8.99. Publishers and agents are predictably in a dither and asking whither.

As a very small writer fish in this increasingly red-ink ocean, that is only the last in a series of discouragements that include:
  • Stiff competition for publication. The internet has outed millions of writers and made them mad for publication. (Go to any agent's blog and take a peek at the number of followers - if they're listed. For example: Rachelle Gardner - 1321; Nathan Bransford - 2375; Pub Rants - 1319. There are a lot of eager, hungry writers  out there.)
  • The need for writers to not only be able to write, but to build a platform, market, speak, network, twitter, facebook, yada, yada.
  • Add to that, personal pressure from realistic family members who see the bottom line and rub one's face in the fact that this writing gig has really only turned out to be an expensive hobby.
It all adds up to (yikes, I never thought I'd hear myself say it) a temptation to quit.

I found my  thoughts articulated rather eloquently the other day when I was reading Nathan Bransford's blog:

"In yesterday's discussion about writers and sensitivity, Gordon Pamplona left a comment that stuck with me:

'...a lot of times the sensitivity about the writing is a stand-in for sensitivity about something else: you spent so much time chasing this pipe dream that you lose your job, your marriage, your kids; your kids don't respect you because you didn't write Harry Potter or Twilight; you charged a lot of money on the credit card for conferences and classes with no tangible results, and now the family is eating beans and rice. For many of us, writing is an addiction, no different from alcohol or drugs or gambling. And maybe people who are angry, bitter, stressed out, or despondent should take a hard look at whether this is something they should be doing--if it's gone from a hobby to something that's ruining their lives and their relationships with others.'

As a society, we often celebrate tortured and struggling artists who finally make it big despite their obstacles, and yet we don't often examine the flip side of this, which is that the vast majority of tortured and struggling artists don't actually make it. We tend to encourage everyone to write (Person 1 tells an interesting story, Person 2 says 'Wow, you should write a book about that'), and there are very few people out there willing to tell any writer they don't have what it takes and should probably try pursuing something else with their time. I'm guilty of this as well - who am I to say whether or not someone will or won't be published?

But is this the right approach? Is writing, especially when the odds are long and the cost to a personal life is high, sometimes akin to addiction? When does it cross the line from hobby to 'habit?' And should we be encouraging everyone to write?" (from "Tell me, when is writing unhealthy?")

I ruminated on that for a while - and then the thought occurred: I didn't have the luxury of just deciding to quit. Though I must never ignore the need for balance, outright quitting is a decision that's not mine to make.  Because the reason I find myself here hasn't changed from what got me here in the first place. Jesus' teaching on the stewardship of our gifts (as expressed in His story from Luke 19) hasn't been torn out of the Bible.

If I quit simply for the reasons above, I would be like  the one-mina servant coming to the master full of stuttered excuses. "Here is the thing you gave me -- this love for words and communication, idea and story, which I have invested for a while, but which I have put back in my handkerchief because... because I've only written short pieces and not had any success with books, and because I wasn't good at marketing or establishing a platform, and because the competition for publication was fierce, and because there were so many five- and ten-mina voices out there, I just knew mine wasn't necessary..."

And He will say to me, "Out of your own mouth I will judge you, you wicked servant... For I say to you, that to everyone who has will be given; and from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him."

Thus there will be only one thing that can get me to quit -- Orders from Headquarters. Otherwise I'll be here, sowing my words, hopefully for a little profit but not above sometimes giving them away for free because that's my way of obeying my Master till He gives me another assignment or puts a different talent in my hand to invest.

Personal blog promptings
Writerly blog Line upon line
Kids' daily devotions Bible Drive-Thru
A poem portfolio

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Life's Building Blocks

Life’s Building Blocks -- Ruth Smith Meyer

Today was one of those days! No not the trouble after trouble kind. This one was packed full of blessings! Actually today made two in a row. Yesterday already made my heart sensitive to the concept, but today just clinched the theory! The people in our lives are building blocks, successively, one after the other moulding us into the unique beings we are.

Yesterday I was at a women’s meeting that brought together women from many eras in my life. Some I see frequently, some I had not seen in years. As the day progressed, I became more and more aware of the different stages in my life and the influence some of those women had on my growing, maturing and accumulation of experience and wisdom. Affirmation from several of those also made me aware that it was a two way street, and I marvelled at the thought.

This morning, as we met for worship, we were joined by several Irish women, in town for a quilt show this past week. They were new in my life, but I immediately sensed that they, too, could add to the richness of my life. I left my business card and e-mail information with them. I hope they use it so we can deepen that friendship and learn from each other. Some of us stayed at the church to eat lunch together. As we discussed our life together, my heart was filled with thankfulness and anticipation.

This evening I had two long telephone calls. One from my son – and yes, I pushed him into this world, but he has pushed me into learning many things, adding huge building blocks into who I became. His commitment to the Lord and to carring out the mission of his life as he sees it, pushes me to also stretch my limits and do my best. He inspires me to keep trying, keep faithful.

The other call came from a woman and her husband who served as hired hand to my dad when I was a teenager. Both were on the telephone. He has always felt like an older brother to me. His gentle, caring voice at all times brings me comfort and blessing. They came to this country as young adults. She often spent time with my sisters and I as her fiancé did chores. At first we communicated with some difficulty because of language barriers, but we had great fun as we searched for the words for different items. A familiarity between us grew and will always remain a precious building block in who I am today. When our call came to an end, my heart was full.

With each decade of life, the people who have touched my life becomes even more precious. I am ever more conscious of how much they have helped shape my life. I am more and more aware that we are all a part of each other. What am I adding to the lives that touch mine?

Do you think this reflective and thankful mood has anything to do with a big birthday looming less than a month away? Could be, but I can’t think of a nicer effect that birthday could have on me. I think there could even be a host of stories incubating in the whole episode.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Sleeping Giant Awakens - M. D. Meyer

I was recently at a conference in Brandon, Manitoba which featured dialogue and readings by twenty-four prominent Aboriginal authors from across Canada. Joseph Boyden, winner of a Giller (and many other awards!) was there. Renowned author, Basil Johnston honored us with a literary reading. Michael Kusugak, author of the children’s book, A Promise is a Promise spoke of how his books were based on stories his grandmother told him while their family was wintering on the ice flows in Hudson’s Bay. Many (young) people will remember reading in high school the book, In Search of April Raintree by Beatrice Mosionier. Beatrice was one of the many authors who shared their writing journey with the audience gathered at the 2nd bi-annual Ogamas Aboriginal Literary Festival.

When I was a young kid in school (many moons ago!), there was no Aboriginal literature available at all. The Native kids that I knew were well-known for their beautiful artwork but were always poor in English and writing skills. No surprise, really, since English was a second language to them. In those years, I suppose what was assumed by most was that the Aboriginal people had no great stories to tell and no great story-tellers to tell them. How far from the truth that was!

Now, finally, the sleeping giant has awoken. The pioneers of Canadian Aboriginal literature, Basil Johnston (Ojibway Heritage, 1976), Beatrice Mosionier (April Raintree, 1983) and Emma LaRocque (Defeathering the Indian, 1975) faced and overcame many challenges. Today, they are joined by a wealth of writers including humourist, Drew Hayden Taylor; journalist, Colleen Simard; poet, Marilyn Dumont; and young adult author, Jennifer Storm. No longer limited to legends and “protest literature,” Aboriginal writings are winning major literary awards for their excellence in such varied fields as critical text, gothic novels, humour and children’s literature (to name but a few).

And there are many more authors to follow. Here in Norway House, for example, I know that Aboriginal high school students are prepared for, and encouraged to pursue, a career as authors, journalists or playwrights. And I can personally attest to the fact that there are already some very good writers among them.

As Canadian Christian writers, we face some challenges – getting Canadian books into Christian bookstores, getting Christian books into mainstream bookstores and so on. We know and understand these challenges. Canadian Aboriginal writers face similar obstacles. Their books should not be relegated to “Aboriginal collections” in select University libraries. We should be seeing this incredible wealth of literature represented in all of our bookstores, libraries and schools. It is we ourselves who will be missing out if we do not open our eyes to this awakening giant. The Aboriginal writing community is growing and getting stronger every day (April Raintree annually sells over 6,000 copies worldwide). As Canadians and as Christian writers, editors, booksellers and book buyers, we need to get on board and support our fellow Canadian writers in the Aboriginal community. It is our responsibility and it is our privilege.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Ritual – Lawrence

Our little local summer Writer’s Group has just had its last meeting. It went all too fast. But now fall has arrived and all our members begin the season where we are immersed in meetings, work, and outdoor activities. Holiday activities come upon us, too—Thanksgiving, Halloween, Christmas, New Year, Valentine’s Day, and St. Patrick’s—all take up our time and attention. In the spring, we will renew our commitment to our Writer’s Group.

The last topic we had was “Ritual” for which I wrote two pieces; I would like to share them with you. One is a short prose piece; the other a poem.

“Ritual: We gather together; we light our candle; our ritual begins. We go round the circle and tell the story of our life’s happenings since last we met. This is a ritual of our own making and no less valid because of that.

Our leader gives us a topic and we write stream of consciousness for a designated time; we share our thoughts and words with each other. Critique is given and received from the offerings written at home on our last assigned subject; we wonder at all that has been written—so much synchronicity and so much diversity.

This writer’s group ritual has served us well and brought us a long way since we first began so many years ago. Faithful following of rites and ceremonies continues to bring us to maturity in our writing. Doors open before us; we move along the rite of passage, up the stairs and through the door that is ours, without fear.

We receive the honours given to us and share the glory with our companions on the way.”

Get washed, get dressed, my toiletry.
Feed the cats, feed myself, nourishment.
I feel like the child in Dylan Thomas’
A Child’s Christmas in Wales—
Get to the good part.
What is the good part?
Is it indeed Mary’s chosen portion?
What of Martha? Is her ritual not good?
She longs to be alone with God
But she has responsibilities—
They cannot be ignored and Martha’s
Part must be transformed into a prayer;
Her work be made into a prayer intent.
And yet, ah bliss, a moment in that secret place,
Door closed on all around her—
A moment of quiet with God.
Ah, that is bliss, the good part for which
The soul longs; the good part where she belongs.”

I will miss the ritual of meeting with the group but look forward to May, 2010 when we will take up our ritual once more.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Wedding - Eleanor Shepherd

I feel reflective today. On Saturday, my daughter will be getting married. It is a day I dreamed of since my husband bent over me and whispered, “It’s a girl, dear.” I vividly recall kneeling by my bed when she was just a little girl and asking the Lord even then to prepare the man who would become her husband. I had no idea at the time that he was growing up, across the ocean, in Sweden.

Elizabeth has not rushed into marriage. At her age, I had been married for ten years. She was a two year old and her brother John was seven. I had chosen to leave the work world and invest my life in my children while they were young. She has chosen to invest in the talents that God has given to her as a professional musician. Our choices were different, not better or worse, just different.

The same applies to all the details about the wedding. I chose to wear a long white gown and have four bridesmaids in dark pink, carrying gladiola picked apart and made into round bouquets. Four young men, in uniform accompanied them. She has chosen not to have bridesmaids or ushers and to wear a lovely black gown with a red sash. Our wedding was in a large church with all of the traditions of a church wedding: entrance to the music of the grand organ, hymns, Scripture reading, repetition of vows, solos, signing of the register, and walking down the aisle as husband and wife to the recessional.

Elizabeth has chosen to look after the administrative functions at the city hall with her brother and her groom, Johan’s friend as witnesses. The ceremony on Saturday will be a simple public declaration of their vows to each other and a blessing of their union by God and the community of which they are a part. Choosing to have a wedding that reflects the distinctiveness of who you are is beautiful and sacred, as we have been created with our own uniqueness.

To Elizabeth the preservation of the environment has great significance. She will not be decorating the hall with flowers the way I did. She has chosen to use objects from nature that can be brought inside and returned to nature when the day is over. That is good stewardship, in my opinion. She knows herself and knows how to incorporate into this sacred time the things that are important to her and to Johan.

I am happy that Elizabeth has chosen to take this step. In many ways, we look at the world quite differently. The world that she lives in is not the world that I live in. It is not only that she inhabits the world of music and artistic pursuits and I the world of religion, writing and non-profits. She also is from another generation. She does not have the history that I have.

Even in the years when we lived under the same roof, we were not living in the same world. I was an adult and I saw things from a grown up perspective. She was a child and an adolescent and saw things from a changing vantage point as the years progressed. As we talk about experiences from those years, we realize that our viewpoints were quite different. To think that we really know our children is absurd. To think that we really know ourselves is equally bizarre. However, as we talk to one another and share deeply those things that are important to us our horizons are broadened and we are able to appreciate the uniqueness that each of us possess.

As we celebrate with Elizabeth and Johan on Saturday, I will know a profound joy, that in spite of our differences, there are things that blend our hearts. We have both come to value the love of a man, with whom we want to spend the rest of our lives. We value the unique contribution that we bring to that relationship as women. We value the relationship we have chosen to invest in and nurture. Into each of our hearts, God has poured out the gift of love.

“And the greatest of these is love.”

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Backburner Ideas - Payne

On The Word Guild general discussion forum, Darlene Oakley posed a question, “Anybody have it happen where a great idea for a book hits and you just don't have time to write about it?”

I nearly yelled at the screen, Yes! Yes, I have no problem with generating ideas for new books. It’s the follow up that causes greatest distress.

Darlene continued, “So it festers and festers behind the jobs that pay driving you insane...luckily while it festers I'm gathering some great ideas. I think the most frustrating part so far is not that I haven't had time to write it or that it's festering and driving me bananas...but it's that for the foreseeable future I don't see opportunities to even contemplate sitting down and writing it. I write longhand first and that requires a wad of paper and a quiet atmosphere - nighttime. But my nighttime is filled with business. I know people will say that if it's important I will make time. But, I know I can't write for myself until I have provided for my family first. As it is looking right now, family first is all I have time for. *sigh* (Even my husband says it's a great idea...oh, well. Perhaps by the time I get to sit down and write it, I'll have a few more things figured out.)”

Stephanie Tombari agreed, “I know exactly how you feel. Multitasking is not my gift area, so with my day job, family, and freelance work I have little time for small personal projects, let alone a big one like a book. By not putting the ideas to paper, I get really squirrely, very frustrated, and wonder if I'll ever get to it. I've read that's the curse of a perfectionist. Writers are often perfectionists, and so we want more time that we often have to get good ideas down; little snippets of time (for novice book writers at least) don't feel like enough to really start making the big project come alive.”

So what can we do? Benjamin Collier offered this advice: “I boast at times that I have more good ideas than I know what to do with. And I'm looking seriously at the possibility that some of my ideas are not for me to write but are perhaps for a friend whose style of writing can communicate the idea better than I could. I know that before I can do them justice many of my ideas require research into certain areas I haven't yet studied. Some ideas that came to me months or years ago have evolved over time and sprouted new ideas and character concepts that would not have been in the story had I written it right away. So it's possible there is more to this book that you've yet to discover.”

Jenny Burr offered this suggestion: “Would recording your thoughts help? You could use various methods to ‘speak out or tell your ideas’ while leaving your hands free to work on your immediate freelance assignments. Then the ideas won't be lost and you can type them up later. I read a novel in which the author dictated the entire story into a tape cassette player. She was elderly and felt the need to tell the story. Later, it was transcribed by someone else.”

How do you deal with the problem of “so many ideas so little time” to write them?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Rejected and Renewed - Belec

Years ago an editor gave me some (free) wise counsel - "Cut it down by half and leave nothing out." At first, I was mortified, because a rejection letter accompanied this sage piece of advice. I didn't realize back then that a handwritten note from an editor was encouraging.

After I dabbed the tear-stained note, I glanced again at the clever words that would stick with me forever. I thought about what they really meant. Remove the fluff. Dispose of the verbosity and keep it simple smart-girl. So I did. I tried. I even sent off another manuscript to the wise editor. I heeded her advice and she repaid me in kind – I gave her a nice tight manuscript and she gave me a nice fat $350 cheque.

That was in the mid 80's. But I’ve never forgotten those wise words. Reducing wordiness has helped me in so many areas of my writing. Writing devotional material is a great way to practice writing tight. The template is there and the guidelines are unbending.

When writing picture books for children or short stories in periodicals or Sunday School take home papers, I have discovered the importance of making every single word count. My rule is – if it doesn’t impact the story – then it gets tossed. Even when I am writing books for older children, I try to make sure that I don’t overdo it with fluffy, stuffy descriptions and I try to make sure I get to the point.

I don't always get it right and I still get those dejecting rejections. But I keep on doing what I love because I have an addiction to 26 assorted letters. God has poked me in some interesting directions over the years and I know that rejections are not any dastardly plan of His created to ridicule my writing ability or lack thereof.

When I really get feeling sorry for myself, (like yesterday when I reached into my mailbox and pulled out an old familiar manilla proposal / rejection letter holder from that dear editor who seemed to really, really love my idea and seemed so eager to read my work and write up that big ol' contract...) I think of Jesus.

Jesus' words contained no fluff, no effervescent effusiveness or the like. He got right to the point without mincing words or worrying about how to please everyone. He spoke from the heart and touched hearts. Yet he faced rejection after rejection. People misunderstood Him; they thought Him a traitor, a liar, a barbarian set on disrupting religion. Eventually his rejection led Him to Golgotha where the timbers mocked and beckoned. But the Good News is He did not die in vain. Renewal came in the morning. He rose again and the rest, as they say, is His Story!

So instead of whining about that nasty, drooling manilla creature sitting in my 'get it out of the office as quickly as you can' basket, and bemoaning the fate of my previously appreciated manuscript - I will think of Jesus. I will ponder what He endured and how He gave it all for the likes of me. I will be encouraged and remember that God's plans are not always what I think they should be. And I will measure my rejection against the ultimate sacrifice that Jesus made. Then I will get back into the saddle and wait - for God.

Gap tooth creationist moron flunks superstition test - Denyse O'Leary

Even though I am not a creationist by any reasonable definition, I sometimes get pegged as the local gap tooth creationist moron. (But then I don't have gaps in my teeth either. Check unretouched photos.)

As the best gap tooth they could come up with, a local TV station interviewed me about "superstition" the other day.

The issue turned out to be superstition related to numbers. Were they hoping I'd fall in?

The skinny: Some local people want their house numbers changed because they feel the current number assignment is "unlucky."

Look, guys, numbers here are assigned on a strict directional rota. If the number bugs you so much, move.

Don't mess up the street directory for everyone else. Paramedics, fire chiefs, police chiefs, et cetera, might need a directory they can make sense of. You might be glad for that yourself one day.

Anyway, I didn't get a chance to say this on the program so I will now: No numbers are evil or unlucky. All numbers are - in my view - created by God to march in a strict series or else a discoverable* series, and that is what makes mathematics possible. And mathematics is evidence for design, not superstition.

The interview may never have aired. I tend to flub the gap-tooth creationist moron role, so interviews with me are often not aired.

* I am thinking here of numbers like pi, that just go on and on and never shut up, but you can work with them anyway.(You just decide where you want to cut the mike.)

Denyse O'Leary is co-author of The Spiritual Brain.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Freedom and Freedom - Mann

For a significant portion of time, I served as volunteer chaplain at a men’s maximum security prison. This was probably one of the most significant training opportunities that I received in my journey toward ordination. It began as a CPE (Certified Pastoral Education) course and extended into two years of ministry. Freedom was a word often used as the men talked about walking out the door and going home to be with loved ones. Although I celebrated those days with them, I began to cherish the occasions when I would hear testimonies of experiencing new freedom inside the walls. Maybe it was a change of attitude, or a discovery of a positive personality trait. Maybe it was the opportunity to share one’s story during group time or play a guitar during worship. Maybe it was a new understanding of forgiveness and reconciliation.

Is the most important test of feeling free when we are limited physically in some way? I’m always inspired by Joni Eareckson Tada’s witness of freedom as a paraplegic. Think about how handicapped people are able to overcome what others might see as limiting, or veterans who have learned how to interpret freedom as those who have risked their lives to secure it for others.

Do you ever wonder if church doctrines enhance or limit people’s freedom in their faith experience? Is there freedom in our invitations? Do we offer or accept, only to receive? Do we make it difficult to follow the Master?

Today, while cleaning out a closet, I found a verse written by Menno Simons (1539), given to me by an inmate when I left the prison. It initiated this blog.

True evangelical faith
cannot be dormant.
It clothes the naked,
It feeds the hungry,
It comforts the sorrowful,
It shelters the destitute,
It serves those that harm it,
It binds up that which is wounded,
It has become all things to all men.

There is freedom here in spite of limitations the situation may provide. There are no rules, just love in action with abundant grace.

Donna Mann
Take Time to Make Memories: A memoir
WinterGrief: A personal response to grief
Aggie’s Storms: The childhood of the first woman to be elected to Canadian parliament

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Losing . . . - Black

What set me off on a reverie at that time, I don’t recall, for there had been a flood of ‘bad news’ situations calling for prayer and encouragement. It was, however, shortly before Thanksgiving, and news of yet another person’s loss or painful reversal in life reached me. I’d attended several funeral visitations and services in a short time, and it seemed there was no end to news that some acquaintance or other confronted a fresh loss of one kind or another: loss of loved one, of job, of health, of independence, and so on. Loss ... Losing.

Losing. That word nagged and tugged while I tried to do other things.

Deciduous trees lose their old leaves to prepare for gaining new ones in a new season. Life is so much about losing. You cannot gain unless you are losing. Many people feel they are gaining something of value when they lose unwanted weight, bulk, whatever. Losing. You feel great when you get rid of a cold or flu, or when you can say your final goodbyes to a lemon of a car with its money-sucking troubles. You’ve lost and you feel as though you’ve gained.

The immortal words of Jim Elliot of a half-century ago surfaced quickly, as though not far below the surface waters of consciousness: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” Jim, young husband and father, a missionary, sealed that statement with his own blood – as did also his four companions – in an Ecuadoran jungle, speared through by those natives to whom he’d reached out to offer the gift of love and friendship in Jesus’ name.

I thought of George Beverly Shea, long-time soloist of the Billy Graham evangelistic campaign meetings, who jointly penned the now beloved words he sang hundreds of times around the world, “I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold.” He’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands, rather than men’s applause, rather than be the king of a vast domain and be held in sin's dread sway ...

I thought of our Lord’s words: “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?” (Mat. 16:26a)

I thought some more and typed several lines, then several more.... Not particularly profound, not stellar writing, and yet I needed to get them out, then needed to say them out loud. And that, I did, and I felt I had gained something of value.

Such simple lines:

Losing . . .

Sometimes it is only in losing what we’ve got we can really appreciate what we had.

Sometimes it is only in losing what we’ve got that we can find out what we never had.

Sometimes it is only in losing what we’ve got that we can reach out for what we really need.

Losing the solitude of self-confidence to find the companionship of dependency.

Losing wealth to find the richness of contentment.

Losing health to find hope and healing.

Losing safety to find help and security.

Losing freedom to find faith.

Losing liberty to find love.

Losing ... to find.

Losing ... to gain.

Peter writes a weekly inspirational column in The Watford Guide-Advocate. His book, "Parables from the Pond" ("written for children, read and enjoyed by all ages") is published by Word Alive Press. He can be contacted at and

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Power Of Faith Stories - Fox

(The following is a guest post by Grace Fox, a popular international speaker and author of four books including 10-Minute Time Outs for You and Your Kids (Harvest House Publishers). Grace can be found at . This article first appeared in Insights Canada, June 2008.)

Several years ago I phoned my widowed grandmother and asked for a special favor. “Would you please write some stories about your past?”

Grandma chuckled. “Why do you want to know about me?” she asked.

I glanced at my children as they did their homework at the kitchen table. “Because it’s important for my kids to hear stories about faith throughout our family’s generations.”

Grandma hesitated. “There are many tales to tell,” she said. “Where would I begin?”

“Tell us about your childhood and about your immigration from Russia to Canada. Write about meeting Grandpa for the first time, and about your life as a young mother struggling to survive on a farm in Saskatchewan during the dirty 30s. Tell us how you came to know Jesus as your Savior, and how God has shown you His faithfulness through the decades.”

“Well…okay,” she said, hesitating. “I’ll see what I can do.”

Two or three months passed. One day an envelope arrived bearing Grandma’s return address. I opened it and read the letter to my children after supper that evening. In broken English, Grandma told of working as a human scarecrow – shooing hungry crows from a farmer’s corn – and receiving only a crusty dinner roll as a day’s wage. She spoke of her father’s disappearance during the Revolution, and of her mother setting a lantern in the window night after night, watching in vain for his safe return. She wrote about immigrating to Canada and of working as a 12-year-old nanny and household servant for a family whose language and culture she couldn’t understand. Time passed, bringing hardship upon hardship. But through them all, God proved faithful.

Food was sometimes scarce, but her family always had enough to survive. Medical care was scarce, too, but miraculously, help arrived at critical moments.

More time passed. Kids grew up and married. Grandkids joined the family. Financial burdens eased. Life settled into a welcome plateau, but then cancer struck and claimed my grandpa’s life. Once again, God proved faithful by placing Grandma in a close-knit community, surrounded by loving friends.
My kids listened quietly to the description of their great-grandmother’s heroic journey and of God’s faithfulness to her through life’s ups and downs. They said few words but their eyes spoke volumes, and I silently prayed that God would impress these accounts indelibly upon their hearts.

Faith stories are treasures to be passed from one generation to the next. In a culture that scoffs at spiritual truth, they offer living proof that God exists and is intimately involved in the lives of those who follow Him.

Scripture acknowledges their value and encourages us to do likewise: “I will teach you hidden lessons from the past—stories we have heard and known, stories our ancestors handed down to us. We will not hide these truths from our children but will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the LORD. We will tell of his power and the mighty miracles he did…He commanded our ancestors to teach them to their children so the next generation might know them—even the children not yet born—that they in turn might teach their children, so each generation can set its hope anew on God, remembering his glorious miracles and obeying his commands.” (Psalm 78:2-7 NLT)

When our children hear stories of God’s faithfulness to their ancestors, they’ll be encouraged to trust Him, too. Lord willing, someday they’ll repeat those stories to their own children. From generation to generation, God’s name will be honored and lives will be impacted for eternity. What’s more important than that?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

When You Walk With the Lord—Or Not - den Boer

I didn’t recognize my lack of Holy Spirit awareness until the general evaluator at my speech making club pointed at that glaring reality. He showed me my sin the evening of the day I spent spinning wheels in my own strength.

Early that day I walked past my Bible fifty times rushing around cleaning up, checking email, writing down blog ideas, and running errands.

Several times I felt the nudge to pick up and read that Bible, but ignored it. Late in the afternoon—stemming from a miscommunication—my daughter and I had an out and out yelling fight.

That evening in the role of Sergeant at Arms at Steeltown Toastmasters, I held the honour of opening the meeting—setting the tone. Well, that evening I had nothing to say. I couldn’t think of a thing, except to smile and introduce the chairman.

Later in the meeting as I conducted the impromptu speeches, I still had nothing to say which meant dead air between speeches and while members voted for best speaker.

At the close of the evening, the general evaluator noted the change in me. He concluded his remarks with, “Hopefully next week we’ll have the real Marian back.”

The very next day I had a book signing over at the Family Christian Bookstore in Burlington. I asked people to pray. They did. I asked the Lord to come with me. He did.
The Lord sent people one after the other, throughout the time I was there. I was able to read excerpts from my book as one after another visitors sat on the stool beside me. I was able to find just the right story for each.

Picture taken by Lynn McCallum

My four hours flew by. We sold seven books and I made a number of new connections. The staff at the store presented me with a lovely thank-you card personally signed with a note from each.
That evening, at home I gushed gratitude all through the supper hour.

How do I know the difference between my days had to do with the Holy Spirit rather than simply with my mood? Well, because I know I ignored the Spirit on my Toastmaster day. I didn’t pick up my Bible when He nudged me. I didn’t check my heart when I spoke with my daughter.

And, the next day on my book-signing day, early in the morning, before the alarm went off, when my spirit was quiet and at rest, He called me back, “Marian, where are you?” That’s when I stopped doing my stuff in my strength.

I’m so glad I’m God’s kid.

As Azariah said to King Asa, “…the Lord is with you while you are with Him. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you [become indifferent and] forsake Him, He will forsake you.” 11 Chronicles 15:2b Amplified

Monday, October 12, 2009

Out of Darkness - Austin

I wonder sometimes at the darkness Helen Keller experienced before Anne Sullivan succeeded in breaking through the barrier with language, first with letters spelled into her hand, then actual writing as she mastered Braille. Braille itself was only 51 years old when Helen Keller was born. Combinations of six raised dots let someone who had never heard sound or seen a letter of the alphabet communicate.

I speak of Helen Keller’s darkness, but this post sat in my computer, reviewed yesterday afternoon – ready to post this morning. If I call it a senior “moment” does that excuse the fact that supper is over and the dishes done before I remembered I had not submitted my post. That’s only a 12-hour “moment.” I’ve run a chain-saw much of the day, still doing tornado cleanup. We pulled together a big crew today, 18 in total. I was up early and itching to get at it.
Chain-saw work doesn’t sound too bright for a guy who can’t see, but last time I checked I hadn’t cut a leg off. Enough with excuses. Please accept my apologies for posting this so late.

I have a writer’s imagination and can put myself into almost any situation with some ability to write convincingly. But reading seems as essential as breathing. I find myself unable to imagine not reading. There is a blank space there. My mind does not know how to bridge it.

A few not-so-subtle signs would let anyone investigating my life know that books carry a central role. Crowded bookshelves in several rooms, and a book or two on any table or other flat surface in the house is one hint. My computer room has books on the desk, books on the floor, books on shelves and books on the printer. If you checked Internet site favorites, you would find multiple title searches. If you checked volunteer activity you would learn that I have been involved in our church library for more than 26 years. And if you read my resume you would find I worked in a Bible Bookstore for more than 12 years.

BUT – reading typically expects something from the eyes. Four years of increasing struggles with vision problems had me voicing the idea of learning Braille. Then vision loss reached the point where I couldn’t continue with a job I loved.

Even if my eyesight deteriorates more, Braille will keep the wonder of reading open to me. Grade 1 Braille spells out every word. Grade 2 Braille uses contractions and is more challenging, but faster to read and more economical to publish. Neither are willing to make the jump to cyberspace without more technical know-how than I possess.

Just three weeks ago I started downloading TWG blogs, converting them to a Braille font and then transcribing them. It took three days to read of N.J. Lindquist’s athletic endeavors, and almost as long to explore the world of romance Ed Hird wrote about. A thousand or so words in three days? That sounds rather hopeless. But it is essentially a new language. I’m reading much faster now and just beginning to venture into Grade 2, the contracted form used for almost all published material. I’m not driving myself overly hard, spending half an hour to an hour most days, and really quite pleased with progress. I’m working visually, the Braille font of necessity quite large. Strangely, it is almost as easy to see raised white dots on white paper as to see standard size text in black print on white paper. I’m also trying to familiarize myself with the feel of the dots, although developing the sensitivity to distinguish them is exceptionally difficult for people who still rely mostly on eyesight.

I’m dreaming – an occupational hazard for a writer – of transcribing Hot Apple Cider into Braille. Just three weeks after beginning to learn this language, I’m not quite ready for such a project yet. But there is software available that would do most of the translation work, requiring just a careful proof-reading to be sure contractions and punctuation were accurately converted.

What a wonder language is! What a wonder that six dots could communicate anything you or I can put in print! What an incredible and priceless blessing to people with vision loss or blindness! If my eyesight gets no worse, I’ve invested a few hours and gained new knowledge. If it does get worse, I already have enough of a grasp of this medium that I could continue to make progress. There is a quiet sense of rest in that. I used to joke that I would learn Braille with my toes if that was the only way I could continue to read. I’m not sitting here with bare feet doing a tap-dance on a Braille book. But I do believe the privilege and blessing of reading would be worth it.

Friday, October 09, 2009

A Tribute To George Herbert — Martin

Born in 1593, George Herbert is a younger contemporary of Shakespeare (by about 29 years) and John Donne (by 21years). He was a member of British parliament before being ordained as an Anglican priest. In the year of his death, when he was already quite ill, he sent a manuscript of his poetry to his friend Nicholas Ferrar instructing him to have them published if he thought they might “turn to the advantage of any dejected poor soul”, but if not to burn them. Fortunately Ferrar did see their value and Herbert’s poetry collection The Temple was published shortly after his death in 1633. His poetry has been influential on such writers as Samuel Taylor Coleridge and C.S. Lewis.

I have recently spent some time meditating on the following Herbert poem:

The Elixer

Teach me, my God and King,
In all things thee to see,
And what I do in anything,
To do it as for thee:

Not rudely, as a beast,
To run into an action;
But still to make thee prepossessed,
And give it his perfection.

A man that looks on glass,
On it may stay his eye;
Or if he pleaseth, through it pass,
And then the heav’n espy.

All may of thee partake:
Nothing can be so mean,
Which with his tincture (for thy sake)
Will not grow bright and clean.

A servant with this clause
Makes drudgery divine:
Who sweeps a room, as for thy laws,
Makes that and th’ action fine.

This is the famous stone
That turneth all to gold:
For that which God doth touch and own
Cannot for less be told.

D.S. Martin is Music Critic for Christian Week. He is the award-winning author of the poetry collections Poiema (Wipf & Stock) and So The Moon Would Not Be Swallowed (Rubicon Press). They are both available at:

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Changing the World.

Marcia Lee Laycock writes from Alberta Canada. She won the Best New Canadian Christian Author Award for her novel, One Smooth Stone. Her devotionals have been widely published and her devotional book, The Spur of the Moment has just gone to second printing. Visit her website -

“If you have changed a life you have changed the world.”

My head jerked up when I heard that sentence. It was at
Inscribe’s Fall Conference and our speaker, Kathleen Gibson, was doing a great job of speaking to the hearts of all the writers there. But that one sentence really hit me.

I’d thought about changing lives before. I’ve had emails and letters and even phone calls telling me that God has done it through the words I’ve put on paper. But changing the world? Really?

Then I thought about another speaker we’d had at one of our conferences. He told us that not very far back in his family line, someone read a book and became a believer in Christ. He told us that now there are many branches to his family, many are preachers of God’s word, there are missionaries and others serving in their churches across North America. None of it would have happened but for one book.

I began to consider all the ripple effects that one book has had – not just in the lives of his family members but in all the lives they have touched.

Then I thought about the book I was given just as God was softening my heart toward him. It was a copy of Josh McDowell’s Evidence that Demands a Verdict. It was put into my hands at exactly the perfect time. It convinced my head that Jesus was who He claimed to be – the Son of God, a man who came to earth to change the world by changing each one of us.

And I was stunned into awe and gratitude for what the Holy Spirit did in my life through that book. Words are such small things. They can be simple or profound, plain or eloquent. But when God takes them and bends them to His purposes, He changes hearts with them and those hearts change the lives of others and those touch others and on and on.

Who knows how far our words will go. If you have changed a life, you have changed the world.

Yes. Really.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Thirty-six years of faithfulness in BC - HIRD

By Rev Ed Hird

In the spring of 1975, I fell head-over-heels in love with my future wife. Janice and I used to take the bus home together from UBC. I noticed that something was different. Her eyes sparkled. It turns out that she had been powerfully touched by the Holy Spirit at the previous BC Christian Ashram retreat.

That year on the bus, we discussed the person and work of the Holy Spirit. She would often let me ‘win’ the conversation. Seeing her as just a good friend, I had no idea that Janice was pursuing me. When Janice invited me to attend the Summer BC Christian Ashram retreat, I naturally said yes. Being young and impetuous, the discipline of the Christian Ashram of maintaining silence from 11pm to 8am was difficult.

Over the years, I have read all 28 books of the Christian Ashram founder Dr. E. Stanley Jones. Initially I wondered why Dr. Jones seemed to take a while to get to the point. Later I realized that like Nicky Gumbel of the Alpha Course, his focus is helping the unchurched to find Jesus at their own pace. Because Dr. Jones spent over fifty years as a missionary in India, he learned how to be gentle and respectful to other religions without compromising on the essentials of the Gospel.

Jones’ first book was called ‘Christ of the Indian Road’. In 1930 he organized the first Christian Ashram with just three people in attendance. Since then, the Christian Ashram has spread all around the world, especially in North America. The largest Christian Ashram in the world in held in Berwick, Nova Scotia with over 800 participants. The theme of every Christian Ashram is ‘Jesus is Lord!’

In Canada, we have seven Christian Ashrams from coast to coast, including BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland. There are many renewed Anglicans that take part on an interdenominational basis. My wife and I have had the privilege of either speaking at or attending four different Canadian Christian Ashrams. While all Christian Ashrams are unique, they share a common framework of Christian community and the disciplines of the Holy Spirit.

Our original speaker, The Rev David Rich, an Anglican priest from Mississippi, was forced to cancel unexpectedly, in light of an unavoidable need for a hip replacement. We were so blessed that our good friend Pastor David Carson stepped in at the last minute as our keynote speaker for the 36th Annual BC Christian Ashram retreat. David Carson’s theme was “Jesus the High Priest: The New and Living Way” from the Book of Hebrews. David is a very dynamic and insightful speaker who left us with many fresh insights into God’s Word. The joy and power of the Holy Spirit was bubbling from David the whole weekend. I have never met anyone so contagiously excited about Melchizedek, and how it relates to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. The Rev Rod Ellis of the Church of our Lord, Victoria, our Bible teacher, taught on Nehemiah. He made Nehemiah come alive, showing us how we all need to play our part in ‘rebuilding the walls’.

Throughout the entire four days, there is a 24-hour Prayer Vigil that everyone is invited to take part in for an hour at a time. This non-stop prayer focus seems to really soften our hearts to God’s Holy Spirit. The two ‘pillars’ of the Christian Ashram are the initial ‘Open Heart’ session where people are invited to share three things: “Why have I come? What do I want? What do I need?” At the end of the Ashram, we have the ‘Overflowing Heart’ session where people are invited to share what Jesus has done for them during the retreat. In their testimonies, the adults, youth and children were overflowing with love and gratitude to Christ. Many had experienced significant physical and/or emotional healings through the work of the Holy Spirit. I have never been to a Christian Ashram where people were not powerfully healed in body, mind and spirit.

As Director of the BC Christian Ashram retreat, I am so grateful for God’s sovereign hand from coast to coast, renewing and refreshing his people.

The Reverend Ed Hird, Rector,
St Simon’s Church North Vancouver
Anglican Coalition in Canada
author of ‘Battle For the Soul of Canada’
-previously published in the Autumn 2009 Anglicans for Renewal Magazine

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Listening with your mind and your heart - Lindquist

“Some people are uncoachable,” said the speaker, who was giving tips on mentoring others.

I nodded in agreement. I'd recently been thinking the same thing, and it was good to hear him affirm my thoughts.

Now, I've known for years that many people don’t want to be taught. But those aren't the ones he was referring to. He was talking about people who've actually come to you for advice and information.

The speaker said he tries very hard not to invest much time into a person who asks him a question and then doesn’t let him respond, or clearly ignores what he says, even if that person is offering to pay for his time. It's just not worth the frustration.

I totally agreed. Over the years, I’ve come across a number of people who, after coming to me for advice, clearly ignored my response. Oh, they may have let me get a few words out, but their body language and comments quickly led me to realize the question was simply an excuse for them to tell me what they thought was the right answer. I can only assume they wanted me to agree with them, and that was that. And when I didn't wholeheartedly agree, they wrote off everything I had to say. They weren't there to learn from me, but to get my affirmation for what they wanted to do, or maybe to impress me with their ideas.

It’s strange, really. I’ve never felt anyone has to ask for, accept, or act on my advice, but if they don’t even want to hear it, why waste my time by asking for it in the first place? Why not simply come and tell me what they think?

Let me give a fictitious example.

I find writers are some of the worst people for doing this. Especially new writers who have an idea (usually for a book).

So let's suppose I’ve just spoken to a crowd about some aspect of writing about your personal experiences. A person comes up and says to me, “I’m writing a book about my life. I was raised in a Christian home but I rebelled against God and my life was a mess. Then I became ill and prayed and God healed me. What do I need to do to get my book published?”

Over the years, I’ve come to realize that what most people asking this question want to hear is, “I know just the publisher for you! I’ll introduce you to the acquisitions editor, and I’m sure he'll be interested,” or “Just self-publish your book with X, and it will sell like wildfire.”

How likely is it that I’m going to say either of these things? 100% against. For starters, a good story is a dime a dozen. We all have at least one good story in us. But few of us know how to tell our story so well that others will take the time to read it, and fewer still know how to write with both creativity and excellence.

So my response is likely to contain titles of books they ought to read, joining The Word Guild, starting small with articles and stories and working up to a book, etc. Some people will listen and nod and ask great questions and go away with a few things to think about. Others will listen for a moment, but at the very first opportunity, they'll tell me they're going to go ahead and write the book their way and it will be a bestseller because God gave them the idea. Then they'll look at me as if daring me to disagree.

I used to waste my time and energy trying to help them understand the reality of the publishing industry. But eventually I learned it wasn't worth my time unless the other person was actually listening. Now, I just wish them good luck and move on to someone who actually wants my advice. It's so freeing to do that!

I used to feel that whenever I saw a need, it was up to me to try to meet that need. I always felt that I was the "responsible one." But I no longer feel that way. Maybe it has to do with getting older and realizing that my time is the most valuable thing I have, so I have to spend it very carefully.

And I also know that I have to stay coachable myself, because being uncoachable, or "having an unteachable spirit," as another person phrased it, is an all-too-common human characteristic, affecting everyone from the four-year-old who ignores her mother’s warning not to take the toy away from her baby brother, to the baseball player who won’t try his batting coach’s advice, to the doctor who won't listen to what the patient is trying to say. Any time we feel we feel we know everything we need to know about a topic, we’re in danger of becoming unteachable.

How do we avoid this?

By learning to set our own ideas aside for a time and listening with an open mind and a humble heart. We especially need to do this if we’ve asked someone for advice, if we’re talking to someone in authority over us or in a close relationship with us, or if we're with someone who might have first-hand insights into a topic we're learning.

If we assume we'll never know all there is to know about a subject, and go through life with teachable spirits, we’ll make new, amazing discoveries every day.

N. J. Lindquist is a popular inspirational speaker and the award-winning author of five coming-of-age novels for teens, two adult mysteries set in Toronto, and a regular column in Maranatha News, as well as the co-editor of Hot Apple Cider. She blogs at, offers advice for writers at, and tweets at

Monday, October 05, 2009

Are circumstances holding you hostage? - Nesdoly

Hubby and I left home around 2:00 that sunny Saturday afternoon in July. We were expecting an hour’s drive to the home of friends in West Vancouver. Our swim suits were in the trunk to take advantage of their condominium swimming pool once we got there. After the swim, we knew dinner would taste more delicious than ever.

The unusually congested freeway ramps, we reassured ourselves, were merely a sign of heavy weekend traffic. But when,15 minutes after getting onto the No. 1, we were still inching along, we began to speculate about what could be holding us up. Construction? An accident? Finally, 45 minutes into our trip and still well east of the Port Mann Bridge we did what we should have done before we set out – tuned into the traffic radio station. There was indeed an accident just west of the bridge. It was bad. Someone had been killed. The highway was closed and people were being detoured.

As we inched along the highway towards the nearest exit, then zigzagged to our destination, we stewed, murmured, complained and castigated ourselves for not turning on the radio sooner. The entire trip took three hours, no swim at the end of it, but luckily we weren't late for dinner. (That night we returned home in under 45 minutes.)

It wasn’t until the next day in church as I was mulling over our unpleasant experience that it hit me. While we were fussing over an inconvenience, some family’s world was shattering. We could have spent some of that whining and complaining time praying about the accident and the people involved.

Just such an inclination inspired the eight hostages of the Taliban imprisoned in Kabul and seemingly abandoned by all other westerners after the 9-11 attack in 2001. These six women and two men, all involved with Shelter Now International had been arrested in August (2001). Things between them and their captors were tense from the beginning. But the diplomatic evacuations and anti-western feeling after the attacks escalated when Afghanistan’s chief justice announced that he would seek the death penalty for the eight if the court found them guilty. A new despair could have set in. But despite how desperate the situation, these brave missionaries chose to believe that God was in it.

“Perhaps there was a purpose in all of this. Perhaps this was not desertion. Perhaps God had designed this exact place and time for them, that no one else could see His mystifying purpose through to the end but these eight. Being unable to depart the city meant they would be in the center of the storm and could pray for a country they loved, pray for a people they loved, pray for a work they performed that had brought so much good to so many people. No one else was better qualified to utter such passionate prayers on behalf of a nation and her people. To be present in a 'fiery furnace' when there seemed to be little hope of survival might just be ground zero of God’s infinite purpose for these eight people.” (Henry O. Arnold and Ben Pearson - Kabul24 – p. 113).

How often don’t we find ourselves in circumstances that feel all wrong? Whether we’re trapped in a freeway parking lot, or in a small town backwater looking after elderly parents, or on a bed of sickness ourselves, we too can choose to view our situation through the eyes of faith and with a sense of destiny. Like the Kabul eight, we can choose to act on the conviction that where we are is indeed the center of God’s will for us right now. Then we can spend the time praying into, over and through whatever has trapped us.

I just hope I remember to do this myself the next time traffic grinds to a crawl. Where I live, that opportunity will probably come sooner rather than later.


Personal blog promptings
Writerly blog Line upon line
Kids' daily devotions Bible Drive-Thru
And just for fun -- Murals!

Friday, October 02, 2009

Matter Matters - Carolyn Arends

This is from my newest Christianity Today column, which was recently posted on their website.

It seemed I was watching a series of dismemberments, as the infomercial's editors divorced body parts from their owners in order to direct attention to deficiencies in quality and trajectory. I was struck by how tragic it is that millions of humans—impossibly complex in neurological makeup, fantastically unique, and almost unbearably freighted with potential—walk around obsessed with perceived appendage inadequacies (or superiorities).

This is no news flash: We live in a body-obsessed culture. Materialism—the conviction that only matter can be proven to exist and that belief in transcendence is at best a fond hope, and at worst a dangerous delusion—is the spirit of our age. Ironically, it leaves us with no spirit at all, just our bodies and their appetites, unbridled and insatiable. No wonder we approach the fridge—and each other—with a predatory eye. We're just trying to survive.

I believe that the only cure is to embrace nonmaterial reality as an integral part of the universe and ourselves. The conviction that we cannot be reduced to bodies is foundational to my worldview. It has also enabled me to justify avoiding any sort of consistent physical exercise for much of my life.

My husband is a kinesthetic person; if he goes too long without activity he gets restless. I, on the other hand, can be perfectly and indefinitely happy with a book and a comfortable couch. Although I often have felt a vague sense of guilt (and, lately, gravity), I have found a way to spiritualize my inclinations. I focus on soul things (books, ideas, music, relationships), not body things (exercise, nutrition). It's always seemed to me that exercising for exercise's sake is like wasting your life constantly fine-tuning your car rather than driving it somewhere.

Then, this past year, my parents got sick. Seeing how stress on the body—both theirs and mine—affects the well-being of the soul, I began reconsidering my position on exercise.

So I promised my 11-year-old son that I would run a race with him, and I downloaded a "Learn to Run a 10k in 13 Weeks" training guide. And I started to run.

Actually, run is a strong word. I began to shuffle forward in a continuous motion. But this was no small thing. I started rising an hour earlier than normal to jog before the kids got up for school. My friends said, "Who are you, and what have you done with Carolyn?"

I've been shocked by how spiritual an activity exercise has turned out to be. When I am running I am uniquely awake and open; it's not uncommon for me to wind up crying, laughing, praying, or praising. The neighbors must find this unsettling; I find it fascinating.

I suspect that my longstanding protest against materialism has made me susceptible to another time-honored heresy: Gnosticism, the belief that matter is inherently evil. Gnostics wondered how a perfect God could be defiled in imperfect human form. Gnosticism had to be struck down repeatedly in order to reach an orthodox understanding of the Incarnation: Jesus was fully God and fully human. The Word became flesh (John 1:14).

The Incarnation shows us that matter is not all there is. But it also shows us that matter matters. Jesus came a long way to take on our molecular structure. He pointed to other kinds of existence, telling his disciples, "I have food to eat that you know nothing about" (John 4:32). But he also fully inhabited our bodily reality, so much so that many of his miracles involved food, drink, physical healing, and even resurrection. One of his final earthly acts was to cook fish on the beach for his friends.

So maybe our bodies aren't the cars that drive our souls to the altar. Maybe they are an integral part of what we lay on the altar, and are up for healing and holiness with the rest of us.

After all, Jesus called us to love God with our hearts, souls, minds, and strength. Just as his words disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed, they call the overactive to stillness and activate the overly still. They restore the soul to those who overemphasize the body, and redeem the body for those who focus only on the soul.

"The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you," says The Message translation of 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. "God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body"—even if that means shuffling forward in a continuous motion, one step at a time.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

I Will Not Come Down - Bob Scott

In Nehemiah 6:1-19, Nehemiah had almost completed the reconstruction of the walls of Jerusalem. He had had to endure ridicule and intimidation. In spite of all this, Nehemiah and his fellow workers had managed to rebuild the ruins.

Now his enemies want to draw him away so they can kill him and end the work before it is completed.

Nehemiah is quick to demonstrate where his priorities lie. "I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down." (Nehemiah 6:3 NIV)

The result of Nehemiah's faithfulness is the completion of the work in 52 days.

Here are some lessons we can learn from Nehemiah’s experience.

If you are up, don't come down. The world will try to fit you into its mold.

Paul writes: See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ." (Colossians 2:8 NIV)

If you are attempting to rise to God’s standards, do not allow yourself to be talked out of what you have determined, with God’s help, to do. Don't go down unless God tells you to in order to bring someone up. In the Bible, God always directed people when He wanted to change lives. The Holy Spirit will give you discernment.

Most important; if you were serving Him and came down, remember that God is the God of second chances. He will guide you to the goal that He has established for you.

It does not matter what we have done, as long as we go to Him with it and truly repent. That means not wanting it your way ever again. God will forgive.

Do what you must do, not what you want to do. Build for eternity.

Robert Scott is a pastor and the author of Advertising Murder, Lost Youth, and Murder Express, titles in the Jack Elton Mystery series, Published by Avalon Books, New York.

Popular Posts