Category Archives: Writing

That I May Know Him

A few days ago, I posted the following on Facebook, requesting responses from my friends:

Do you regularly read content written by Christian authors (books – fiction or non-fiction, articles, blogs, etc.)? If so, what do you like about them? What don’t you like? If you do not read Christian authors, why not Can you give examples of authors you like and those you don’t?

The responses I got were not surprising to me but would perhaps be surprising to some Christian writers and publishers.

Most of those who answered the questions said yes, they did read Christian content, although not many had good things to say about Christian fiction, particularly women’s fiction because much of it tends to stereotype women into very traditional roles and thought patterns. I have found this to be true in my own reading. Several authors’ names did come up as exceptions, though.

Of the I-do-read-Christian-content responses, preferences were primarily well-researched non-fiction books and articles. Some of the authors are well-known and others more obscure. There was an almost overwhelming negative response toward the “feel good” books that play on emotions and fail to address and deal with the root of the issues. My friends who no longer read much Christian content have been disillusioned with the shallowness of what’s out there, the poor quality of the writing, or the false perceptions such material leaves with readers.

Now I’ll tell you why I have embarked on this research.

Recently, I was invited to participate in a webinar for Christian writers and bloggers. I was looking forward to it, as most of the writers’ conferences and seminars I’ve attended have not focused on Christian content. I should have skipped this one. Let’s just say that after the webinar I was not compelled to respond to the “rate us” email. There was no option to give a minus rating. It was horrible. Worse than horrible. Not once was the name of Jesus mentioned. Not once did the speakers talk about digging into the Bible for content, answers, or direction. Not once did I hear anyone say that the focus needed to be on God the Father. As a matter of fact, the “best” advice, they said, was to go to a local Christian bookstore, look around at what is offered there, and write that. Because it’s what’s popular. It’s what sells.

Are you kidding me???

Okay, I calmed down a little and then yesterday, I took myself off to a Christian bookstore – the only one within a 100 km radius that hasn’t gone out of business. As a point of reference, I am a former Christian bookstore owner and I know the pain of having to close the doors on a labour of love.

My fact-finding mission at the bookstore uncovered no surprises. The department occupying the greatest amount of floor space was giftware. Yeah, you know. All those cheesy ornaments with Bible verses on them. The next largest area was fiction, most of which looked eerily the same as my own bookstore did twelve years ago – a HUGE number of Amish romances, a good number of mysteries (also romances), and a few really good books by really good authors.

I moved on and turned the corner and my eyes widened. Rows and rows of floor-to-ceiling shelves of Women’s Interest books. Do publishers not know how bad pastel covers look en-masse? I wanted to run away screaming. While I’m certain there were some truly excellent ones in there, anyone would have been hard pressed to find them among the volumes of drivel.

(drivel – childish, silly, or meaningless talk or thinking; nonsense; twaddle)

Seriously. A good 50% of the books even had the smiling face of the author on the cover. Who are we worshipping here? And the titles! Don’t even get me started.

Here’s my point: Where is Jesus? Who is He? What is He for/to you? Why do you follow Him? How can you know Him and the power of His resurrection?

And I continually long to know the wonders of Jesus more fully and to experience the overflowing power of his resurrection working in me. Philippians 3:10 (TPT)

THIS is what we need. To know and experience the living Spirit of God moving through us, in us, around us. To understand what He is to us and for us. THIS is what it means to be alive in Christ.

Anything that does not point you to Jesus should be questioned. That goes for so-called Christian books that offer answers for every life problem – books that make you feel good about yourself and excuse you from having to actually deal with your issues without giving Jesus the liberty to work with you. I’ve read many of the books I’m generalizing about here. I know what’s in them. And for all the money I’ve spent, words I’ve read, and felt justified in my sanctimonious attitude, nothing, NOTHING worked until I let Jesus show me the areas in my life that needed work. He and I are still housecleaning in that regard.

My greatest desire is to write what the Father God puts on my heart. Not what sells the best. Not what makes readers feel good (aka fluff). Not what other people tell me I should write. I believe that when I write what God has burned in my spirit, lives will change, and He will be glorified.

My little Facebook research project is a good indication that there is an audience for authentic writers who truly hear from God and write what He says. So, if you’re one of those, GO!

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Filed under Bible, Blogging, Books, Christ, Christian, God, holy spirit, Jesus Christ, Women, Writing

Powerful Wind

SIGNS & SYMBOLS OF THE BIBLE (WIND) | JESUS WAY 4 YOU

A powerful wind blew through our area last night, leaving wide-spread power outages, downed trees, and property damage in its wake. The sound was deafening at times, like a jet airplane flying at a low altitude directly above our house. Rain poured from the sky in torrents. Visibility was non-existent.

This morning, the sun was shining as a beautiful day began. At first glance, all appeared right with the world. Yet, the evidence of the storm’s effect was there. The wind we could not see had made its presence known in things we could see.

The same thing happens with the Holy Spirit. His role is to glorify the Father and the Son, and to dwell in us – making Him unseen. But like the wind, the Holy Spirit works in unpredictable ways. Even though we can’t control or manipulate Him or make Him to do our bidding or anticipate His next move, we know He is there. We see the evidence of His presence in us and around us. We see the effects of His work in the lives of people who yield to Him.

For the Spirit-wind blows as it chooses. You can hear its sound but you don’t know where it came from or where it’s going. So it is within the hearts of those who are Spirit-born! John 3:8 (TPT)

Be still.

Allow Him to breathe His life into you. Hear His voice speaking to you, whether that be a gentle breeze or a powerful wind.

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Leaning on Our Senses

Making Sense of Your Five Senses - Ask The Scientists

We know what our senses are: sight, hearing, taste, touch, and smell. Those senses dictate our actions, to a large degree, minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day. But can we trust them? Of course, a bad odor may indicate a problem somewhere, a hot curling iron burns if we touch it, and not everything we eat has a pleasant taste. So yes, we can trust our senses to give us information about our surroundings.

However . . .

I remember a song we used to sing in Sunday School with the words, “be careful little eyes what you see, be careful little ears what you hear” (see full lyrics below). Why did the song zero in on those two things first? Because, I believe, sight and sound are the two senses where the enemy has initial access to our thoughts and subsequent actions.

This past year, I’ve been more aware of the consequences of allowing brain space to be taken up by things I should not be looking at or listening to. This is particularly true when it comes to the Covid-19 situation, political unrest, conspiracy theories, etc., and watching the world lose all sense of – well – common sense. I’ll even go so far as to say that there are even some pastors and churches out there who are contributing to the problem by ignoring God’s agenda and promoting their own during this time of vulnerability.

None of this is new. It has occurred throughout all history. But today, with our ready access to the news (if you can call it that) and wide-spread social media, our eyes and ears are being bombarded with so much trash and untruth, it’s become difficult to distinguish between what is real and what isn’t.

This is where we, the redeemed of the Lord, the Jesus followers, the believers of the whole Bible, have a responsibility.

We are responsible to ourselves, and to our friends and families, to uphold the Word of God and test everything we are seeing and hearing with that Word. We are responsible to speak the truth as God gives us utterance. We are responsible to cast down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). We are responsible to take authority over that which would attempt to pull us away from whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things (Philippians 4:8).

I urge you to resist giving place to pessimism, to negativity, to self-condemnation, to fear, to anxiety, to bad habits, to wrong beliefs and attitudes, to lies, and to complacency. These things do not come from a place of victory in Jesus Christ, and if they take root in your mind, they will steal your peace, your joy, and your hope. Eventually, they will destroy you.

Strong words, I know. That’s why it’s vital to stop leaning on your senses.

Lean on the One who is above all. See His words. Hear His voice.

O be careful little eyes what you see
O be careful little eyes what you see
For the Father up above
Is looking down in love
So, be careful little eyes what you see

O be careful little ears what you hear
O be careful little ears what you hear
For the Father up above
Is looking down in love
So, be careful little ears what you hear

O be careful little tongue what you say
O be careful little tongue what you say
For the Father up above
Is looking down in love
So, be careful little tongue what you say

O be careful little hands what you do
O be careful little hands what you do
For the Father up above
Is looking down in love
So, be careful little hands what you do

O be careful little feet where you go
O be careful little feet where you go
For the Father up above
Is looking down in love
So, be careful little feet where you go

O be careful little heart whom you trust
O be careful little heart whom you trust
For the Father up above
Is looking down in love
So, be careful little heart whom you trust

O be careful little mind what you think
O be careful little mind what you think
For the Father up above
Is looking down in love
So, be careful little mind what you think
So, be careful little mind what you think

Traditional hymn, composer unknown

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What Will You Do?

This morning I had an instructional “conversation” with my husband regarding the use of bookmarks, URLs, and deleted emails. Let’s just say I am not a patient teacher when it comes to showing others how to navigate the world of electronic communication, especially when the student does not have any desire to understand the basic mechanics.

Over the years, I have repeated this phrase hundreds of times: the computer will only do what you tell it to do. I’ve had co-workers, friends, and acquaintances lament to me that their computer is different. Their computer is frozen, messed up, stupid, corrupted, or whatever, and it happened all by itself. Uh . . . no. At least, the answer is no 99.99% of the time. There isn’t any amount of blame-laying that will change that fact. Again, the computer will only do what you tell it to do. You just have to learn the rules.

I got to thinking about how this applies to life.

We like to blame someone or something else when life doesn’t work the way we want it to work, because it couldn’t be our own fault, right? Things went wrong because someone or something else messed it up, froze our attempts, corrupted our ideas, or whatever, and it just happened. Uh . . . no. We have to learn the rules. Or in the case of us Christians, we have to learn what the rule Book says.

We have the ultimate instruction manual – the Bible – and we have God, the Father, speaking to us by His Holy Spirit. All. The. Time. But what do we do with that? We often don’t pay attention or ask for clarification or allow the words to sink into our hearts. We think we know better, but seriously, we don’t.

Like computers, we can only do what we – WE – tell ourselves to do.

Where are we getting our information? Are we listening to the right Source? Do we allow His words to root themselves in our spirits?

What will you do?

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Fog in the Valley

The view from our home’s perch on the side of a mountain is extraordinary. Except on days like today when the fog rolls in and obscures the valley below. We know there is breathtaking beauty beneath the mist – green fields and forests (yes, even in December), majestic peaks on the other side of the lowlands, and the ever-changing skies above. We just can’t see it right now.

The fog distorts our senses. Images waver, sounds are muffled, the air is close. It can feel like an alternate universe. 2020 has been that alternate universe for many of us. We peer out the window to look for the tiniest break in the clouds and wonder when we will be able to see clearly again. It seems endless. Heavy. Uncertain.

But know this: God is not uncertain. He’s GOD.

He isn’t inhibited by Covid-19 or any other problem we have. He doesn’t sway back and forth trying to make a decision. He doesn’t play favourites. And He doesn’t leave us alone. Ever.

So, when you’re trying to find a way in the fog, remember that He is there with you. Take His hand and allow Him to walk you through.

We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us! 1 Corinthians 13:12 (The Message)

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Obstacle Course

I’m fairly certain that I am not only one who feels like life is one big obstacle course. A lot of things seem to stand in the way of things I want to do, but I am beginning to realize that often my very own thoughts have been creeping through my mind, hindering my desire to move forward. Sneaky things, those thoughts. And they can present some enormous roadblocks.

It’s good to recognize and acknowledge that there will be obstacles along the way. Although I am fully aware that there are legitimate obstacles that we must overcome, it’s also good to recognize and acknowledge that we have created many obstacles by neglecting the way we think – allowing anything and everything to crowd into our heads, causing all kinds of trouble.

Remember this little piece of scripture?

So keep your thoughts continually fixed on all that is authentic and real, honorable and admirable, beautiful and respectful, pure and holy, merciful and kind. And fasten your thoughts on every glorious work of God, praising him always. (Philippians 4:8 TPT)

Forgot that one, right?

This is something I am always grappling with, given my rather vivid imagination. I know that I can very easily get sucked into a black hole of self-pity, depression, stress, and even fear when I fail to keep my thoughts continually fixed on God. For me, it has to be a conscious effort, hardwired into my brain so I’m not dependent on an unreliable wi-fi signal.

I love this verse:

We can demolish every deceptive fantasy that opposes God and break through every arrogant attitude that is raised up in defiance of the true knowledge of God. We capture, like prisoners of war, every thought and insist that it bow in obedience to the Anointed One. (2 Corinthians 10:5 TPT)

The truth is that when something is blocking your way, preventing you from moving ahead, you always have a choice. It doesn’t matter whether that obstacle is self-inflicted or an outside challenge. You can either curl up on the couch with your favourite cozy blanket and Netflix, or you can actually get up and do something about it. The choice is yours.

Take those thoughts captive and go through, climb over, go around, or dig under your obstacles.

God says you can.

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God’s Amazing Imagination

imagination

God made the two great lights—the greater light (the sun) to rule the day, and the lesser light (the moon) to rule the night; He made the [galaxies of] stars also [that is, all the amazing wonders in the heavens]. Genesis 1:16 (AMP)

I chose this particular verse in the Amplified Bible because of the colorful way it describes God’s imagination – the amazing wonders of His creation. Anyone with any of their senses intact and a brain that even remotely computes can attest to the magnificence of who, what, and where we are.

And God, the Ultimate Creator, has placed in us that same creative imagination.

Shame on those who try to stifle that imagination in children and grownups alike, blocking ideas to build wonderful things, to develop vital solutions to impossible problems, to create beautiful art, and to write incredible stories.

Like me, you’ve probably worked for employers or with groups of people who shunned your innovative thoughts in favor of the same old, same old. Maybe you’ve had teachers who ripped your art to shreds because it didn’t follow their guidelines. Perhaps you’ve stopped trying because someone(s) told you that your ideas/efforts weren’t good enough. Or you didn’t know the right people. Or you didn’t have the right experience. Or your haircut was offensive. Okay, that last one might be a bit extreme, but you get the point.

Now, listen to me. Read on.

No matter what anyone says or has said to you, remember this: Nobody – NOBODY – has the right to cut your imagination off at the knees. If you can’t use it at work because of some idiot boss or coworker (yeah, I’ve had a few of those), then find a way to let it go in another area of your life. If you’ve been told you have no imagination and you fell for it, please recognize those words for what they are – LIES. Big fat ones.

Every single person is creative. Every single person has the spark of something new, something amazing, something completely awesome. EVERYONE. That includes you.

I thank you, God, for making me so mysteriously complex! Everything you do is marvelously breathtaking. It simply amazes me to think about it! How thoroughly you know me, Lord! Psalm 139:14 (TPT)

You are mysteriously complex. A breathtaking creation of God, the Father.

Think about that.

Now go and create!

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Who Is Your Friend?

Friends

I read the following in John 15:14-15 this morning: 

“You show that you are my intimate friends when you obey all that I command you.  I have never called you ‘servants,’ because a master doesn’t confide in his servants, and servants don’t always understand what the master is doing. But I call you my most intimate friends, for I reveal to you everything that I’ve heard from my Father. (The Passion Translation)

Let that sink in for a moment. I mean, really sink in. Jesus is telling us that He calls us His most intimate friends, because He reveals everything He’s heard from the Father.

We’ve all got friends, right? Some closer than others. Some might even be intimate friends. But how many of those intimate friends fit into the category Jesus includes us? I would venture to guess that if there are any, they are very few and far between.

We have the awesome privilege of walking so closely with Jesus that He is our intimate friend. We can link arms with Him and walk lock-step together, sensing every gentle nudge, hearing every whisper He speaks, following His wise counsel, and resting in the assurance that He has us in His grasp. If you stop to think, it would be pretty hard to disobey Him and go our own way when we’re linked up with Jesus, arm in arm.

Are you getting this?

Growing a relationship with the Father through Jesus Christ doesn’t happen when you take off and do your own thing. You can’t hear His voice when you’re out there  pretending He doesn’t know what you’re up to. Come on, you know I’m right.

I don’t know about you, but I want to be as close to Jesus as I possibly can be. I want to feel Him sitting beside me when I am with family or friends, to sense Him looking over my shoulder when I am writing, to be in the car with me when I am driving somewhere. That doesn’t happen when I leave Him at the church after a Sunday service, and I don’t consider Him again until the next time I’m there.

JESUS. IS. REAL.

And He’s my Friend. He wants to be yours, too.

Whenever, though, they turn to face God as Moses did, God removes the veil and there they are—face-to-face! They suddenly recognize that God is a living, personal presence, not a piece of chiseled stone. And when God is personally present, a living Spirit, that old, constricting legislation is recognized as obsolete. We’re free of it! All of us! Nothing between us and God, our faces shining with the brightness of his face. And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him.  – 2 Corinthians 3:16-18 (MSG)

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March 8, 2019 · 9:31 AM

The Lord is My Shepherd

Image result for the lord is my shepherd

“The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack.” Psalm 23:1 (HCSB)

I am drawn to this verse in Psalm over and over, particularly as it is written in this translation.

As our Shepherd, God is leading us, taking care of us, protecting us. And when we wander off, He goes searching to find us so that we can be a part of the flock again. He makes sure that His sheep lack nothing. Nothing. 

Now before you get all in a huff about being compared to sheep, let’s understand that the focus here is the Shepherd. He is the one who is handling things. He is the one who is providing. In that provision, there is everything that would be a proper object of need or desire (don’t miss the word proper), whether that is physical or spiritual, pertaining to the body or the soul, or having reference to the present or to eternity. All of our real lack is supplied.

How completely amazing is that?

On a personal level, it means that when I am allowing God to lead me, taking care of me, and protect me – not wandering off to do my own thing – He is making sure there is absolutely nothing important that I lack. I have everything I need in Him.

Sometimes I need Him to use the hook on that shepherd’s staff of His to catch me and pull me gently back into the place where I’m supposed to be. Close to Him. And that is always, always, the best place.

When the Lord is your Shepherd, there is really nothing you lack.

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The Light

Sun in Window.jpg

My first post of 2019 will be an encouragement, I hope, and a challenge.

After the busy-ness of the Christmas season and settling back into familiar routines, these first few weeks of the new year sometimes need a little boost to keep us on track. Our church usually kicks things off with a 21-day fast, in whatever form that takes for each individual. This year, however, we’ve changed things up a bit. We’re fasting for a week and meeting together at the church for a prayer time every evening.

Wow.

And I say “wow” for several reasons. First, the turnout has been nothing short of stunning. People want to pray! Second, the Holy Spirit has been moving in His gentle way, touching deeply the hearts of those who step out of their busy schedules to be there in that room. Third, God has downloaded so much into my own spirit that I feel as though I will be sorting through those files for a good long while, basking in His love for me.

Wow.

Call them visions or whatever, but I sometimes see things in my spirit when I am praying. I have learned to pay attention when these pictures come. During the prayer times at the church this week, I’ve seen the same thing twice, but in different ways.

The first was a window, much like the one I inserted at the top of this post. There was a bright Light shining through – brighter anything could ever be. All I could think was GLORY! This is GOD’S GLORY! It was a good thing I was sitting at the time, because I would have fallen to the ground at the magnitude of what I saw.

The following evening, I saw the same Light at the very core of me. Actually IN me! The Light was spinning and growing and expanding and spreading, filling every single part of me. I knew without a doubt that the Light was Jesus, who lives in me – His GLORY! To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of gloryColossians 1:27 (NKJV)

But what does all of this mean? Glad you asked, because I asked the same thing.

Think about a dark room. A really dark room. If you light a match in a corner of that room, it’s amazing how much light there is. Just like that, the Light of Jesus penetrates the darkness, shedding Light on every situation, every problem. There are no shadows. The Light reveals every issue and sin, enhances every joy, and everything becomes clear.

The Light draws you to Him. He holds you, surrounds you with love you can’t explain, infuses you with peace that you’ll never understand, washes you with His living, purifying water of life.

The Light inside you pulls you in and keeps you close. His Spirit speaks wisdom to you. He teaches you and motivates you and encourages you. He gives you the ability to see the next step to take.

And the fire! The fire of the Holy Spirit burns hot and never goes out. The fire spreads and sparks, bursting outward with power and love.

It’s real.

It’s the only real there is.

Seek the Light – the Light who is Jesus Christ.

For you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. 1 Peter 2:9 (NLT)

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