Saturday, January 30, 2010

Christian Writers, Contend For the Faith!

"Beloved, ... it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that you should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered to the saints." JUDE 3

Whatever genre in which the Christian writers flourish, we have a high calling to exhort our Christian readers to contend for the faith and to bring in those yet to be found. 

It's so much easier to be a generic Christian. By that, I mean, to blend in with the world and not share our faith. However, I believe that we, as all believers, have a call to share the Good News with a lost and spiritually dying world, not to cram words down anyone's throats but to shine the light through our witness so that people will ask and we will be ready to answer.

Don't get me wrong; I'm not saying it's wrong  for a Christian writer to flourish in the secular market. When God gives you a seed to plant, He will bring the harvest in the ground where it should be planted. Let's not forget though, when the baskets are full of monetary proceeds from the sold harvest (or when they are empty), there is a spiritual harvest ready and waiting for us to come and pick. We are not called to be sheep in wolves clothing but to fit nicely in our sheepskin and to wear it with honor and humility. 

 I exhort you and me both to contend for the faith as the early disciples did. There may be a time when we won't have this freedom that we now hold dear- our freedom of speech. It is happening all around us. I received an email recently about an author who is being imprisoned for using his free speech right here in America. These instances are few and random in our country but not so elsewhere.

It doesn't costs us much in comparison to what our brothers and sisters in Asia and third world countries suffer when they preach the Gospel. Many of them give their lives; all we get receive is a little flack here and there from people. 

Jesus said, "Go into all the world and preach the Gospel, (make disciples of all nations) baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the age. Amen." Matthew 28:19-20

Christian Writer, remember who you are. Don't forget your call. Remember you have fellow sheep spread across this continent and further. Use your freedom as a Christian writer to contend for the faith and win souls whenever God gives the opportunity.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

We Are Works In Progress

Philippians 1:6

Being confident of this very thing, that He who hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.

I've been discouraged periodically about all of the dreams and goals that have yet to be realized as a writer.  Life gets in the way. I see my imperfections and struggle with self-worth. Missing the mark can make a goal-oriented person feel like a failure.

 In reflection, I have discovered that sometimes I set the mark too high. Other times, I don't work hard enough at the goals but allow distractions to deter me. I'm the stereotypical moody writer, who thinks she can publish a library one day and another day, fills the trash can with crumpled paper.  I don't want to feel like I'm not accomplishing my goals.

I asked the Lord for a Word on which to stand. He gave me the above passage. It was an immense comfort. Here's why:

I am not perfect. I fail. Failure reveals my humanity and somehow, in that state, I see the steadfastness of God. Jesus, the Perfect One, is performing a good work in me--to sanctify, to cleanse, to save, to make whole and to enable for service. He began that work in me and He will not quit working until I am perfect in Him.  When He returns to take me to Heaven and gives me a heavenly body which will no longer struggle with weakness and imperfection, then all my earthly expectations will fade and I will know what was His perfect will for my life and hopefully, hear Him say, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of thy Lord."  All the rest won't matter any more.  In order to hear that I need to finish what He called me to.

He  finishes EVERYTHING He starts and that good work in us  that only He does is a work in progress with many stops and starts. I think it's because we are sometimes like the characters in our books or stories that try to make suggestions to the Author. Our suggestions are one dimensional just as our characters can't know what each other are up to but must discover through the plot where they all fit in the story. It is the Author that keeps everything straight and makes the story turn out right. The characters think they would die in the process worrying about their struggles if the Author didn't have it under control.   How amazing is that!

With that in mind, I look at my plans. I'm only one character in the story God is writing of my life. I can't see ahead or how God is going to use every detail of the story to accomplish the plot. I think I'm just going to die of heartache or exhaustion at times when my dreams aren't working out as I'd desire.  Hearing Philippians 1:6 reminded me once again to trust the Author. He is at work on my life. I am a work in progress.So are you.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

When The Path Branches Off Like a Pile of Pretzels Intertwined...

  Life is incredibly full for me right now. I realize I have a tendency to be addicted to that "busy" and not to clear my path enough to where I can see a straight line. Instead, rather, the moment I empty it, another idea comes cropping up in front of me. There is always something begging for my attention. If I let it, life could dictate my path for me and I could be caught in a labrynth of activity and never follow the path to the hopeful end and the future that God has mapped out for me. (Jeremiah 29:11)

This year will be different. I aim to be more intentional. I'm seeking the Lord in all my ways and looking for His guidance daily in my home, ministry and career paths and for the future. I might have to stop cycling on the maze from time to time--to at least stop in the midst of it and ask for direction more than just in the beginning.

The truth is that we only have so much control over our own lives. Some of us micro-managing multi-taskers think we can conquer the world in a day but really, when it all spins in front of us, our lives could become like the cat's cradle gone askew if we don't let the Master Designer take control of it.

I love writing. I love all the pursuits life holds.I love teaching...
and visiting.... and encouraging.... and counseling and most of the time, parenting.

Somehow I need to strike a balance. Not just what I think is the right balance but what He determines is my position and station in the world.

I've been called to all these things but where the difficulty lies is in finding where they all fit together.

I've decided to stop trying to figure it all out myself. It's time to ask, seek and knock. Every day. Every hour. Every moment. I'm on a new journey to pray without ceasing. About everything. Everyone. Every day.

When I wander, as I am prone to, then I will tune in again and say,

"Speak Lord, for your servant is listening" and I will hear His voice saying,

"This is the way; walk you in it."

Show me the right path, O LORD; point out the road for me to follow. Psalm 25:4.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

2010 Cheerleader #2 for Your Christian Business

In the last post, I mentioned Faithwriters as the first cheerleader for Christian writers. Each month, I will highlight one or two more at Rather Be Writing.

Although none of the "cheerleaders" posted on this blog come dressed in pleated skirts and letter sweaters nor do they do cartwheels and wave pom-pom's in the air, they stand to provide a periodic pep-rally to encourage us to work at and market our businesses and/ or writing endeavors.

Today's pick was an "accidental" find. One of my New Year's resolutions is to study the great prayers of the Bible this year. As soon as I decided that in early December, I figured "Why wait?" I began right away. Searching the web, I found several studies to use as a guideline. Dr. Ralph Wilson's study was one of them. I've only just begun to receive his daily email studies but so far so excellent--I cannot vouch for the whole thing as far as expositional consistency and doctrinal accuracy but from what I've seen this far, I've been impressed.

As with any Bible study in which I partake, I wanted to know from which denominational viewpoint it would come. I decided to look up the author and read up. Although I didn't find any specific denominational leanings, I did note that he is a notable Christian businessman and international expert on Internet marketing. He has been identified on one site as Dr. EBiz. He seems to be an example of a very well-rounded person as he not only has a business and a ministry, he also enjoys playing the guitar and auto harp and is a Civil War history buff and a woodworker. Wow. I thought my plate was loaded!

If curiosity has the best of you, you can read about Dr. Wilson here:
Or you can check out his Bible study here (remember to use discernment and compare everything by the WORD in context):

I signed up for his marketing newsletter as well as the prayer journey newsletter. Newsletter #1 comes with SIX free e-books for your business! If you know more about him than I do, please share!

I'll try to keep you posted about the outcome and my opinions of his ideas. Although what works for one might be different than for another, I figure it can't hurt to read what brought success to a Christian businessman.

"Ponder the path of your feet and let all your ways be established." Proverbs 4:26.

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year, New Motivation

First of all, thank you to any returning readers who have faithfully stuck by me on my silent hiatus from this blog. Please accept my apologies and a resolution to write more on this blog. I can't promise a post everyday but at least once a week should be do-able. (Between my other writing responsibilities, therapeutic parenting, volunteer work with non-profits, and furthering my education, the plate gets pretty full! I'm not the only one who juggles life like this. Many more famous authors have done this and more.)
It's been QUITE a while since I posted anything on this blog since those real life events seemed to have upstaged the business end of my writing for a while. As life settles down and the new year unfolds, I have new motivation and more specific goals to get back on track. I found some inspiration today regarding writing. I suppose that a break was essential to bring me back to the love of it. I've always loved it but it seemed that my overloaded brain couldn't focus for a while. I guess that all writers and artists go through that on occasion. To commically misquote the Queen, "We are not immune."

Today, I watched a re-enacted biography of the life of Louisa May Alcott, one of my favorite authors. I relate so much to the characters in Little Women, her most well-known novel. My sisters and I used to write our own newspaper and act our plays in the living room just like her characters. That was before we read the book or watched the movie. I was most like Jo who went off on her own to write and was always trying to match mate people in my mind. I loved reading people. I just wasn't very good at keeping my nervousness from making me act silly when trying to connect with them. Of course, I didn't quite understand why people weren't enthused about me reading dictionaries in my spare time and sharing the words I discovered nor why they thought me a strange bird to borrow library records--yes, records--that featured opera like the HMS Pinnafore, foreign language lessons or radio theatre comedy from my dad's and grandparent's generations. I was an old soul for my age. (This is the inside scoop-Dr. Wordwielder and I have much in common).

I digress here. Sorry. The show about author L.M. Alcott brought out some interesting similarities between her and I and gave me a few ideas for writing that I would not have otherwise discovered. It also gave me encouragement that it is possible to do well in a writing career even with many life interruptions--if one only follows the dreams in his or her heart to write. This brings to my mind a quote I've heard my friend, JoJo, say, "I'm writing a book. I've got the page numbers all written," or something like that.

Sometimes, we have dreams and even begin on our goals but something keeps us with blank pages. It's time either to throw it out and start fresh or get to work! I'm going to do a little of both with my works in progress.

I sent a few children's stories out the other day and intend to keep doing that and sending off articles and short stories while determining which of my larger works in progress to finish first. I plan to complete at least one of them by June this year. Giving myself a deadline will help tremendously. I'm good with deadlines when it comes to writing, not so good with open-ended-unless I have a strong, clear vision about something that must be shared with the world.

That being said, I hopped on over to Faithwriters to see what new designs they came up with for their webpage. I found it much easier to navigate and read a tutorial on making the most of my membership. I've participated in some of the challenges this past year and knew that it is possible to have other articles posted on the site but didn't use the site to it's fullest potential. I did receive offers from a publisher but hope to gain more exposure for my writing by contributing more to the various aspects of what they offer. There is a critique circle, discussion boards, writing lessons and all kinds of opportunities. They're still the same offerings but they seem more user-friendly on the new page. To look at them or browse the articles there, (You might see a couple of mine in the challenge entries), visit this link.
I've posted the previous link before as a place where I receive encouragement to write. My resolution is to find more cheerleaders like this and to interact more with them, especially since the in person groups locally didn't seem to work out for my schedule.
What or who inspires you as a writer? What book, blogger, author, forum, critique circle or other resource helps you? Maybe we can share resources and cheer each other on to doing better in the business end of our writing. Feel free to leave your comments. I'd love to hear from you.