Category Archives: Writing

Too Nice?

too nice

Can we be too nice?

Yes, I think we can. By that, I am certainly not implying that we should abandon all common courtesy to become rude, insensitive idiots. I am saying that we miss important God moments because we are too nice.

“WHAT???” you ask (well, actually you yelled a little).

Let me tell you a story. Or two.

Story #1: Once upon a Sunday, a young woman decided to confide in a friend, an older woman from her church. The young woman was having difficulties in her marriage and she thought that her friend would be the perfect one to offer some advice. The older woman did exactly that, gave a few suggestions, hugged the younger woman and promised to pray for her. Two weeks later, the young couple separated.

Story #2: Once upon another Sunday, a teenage boy sat in the back row of the church – sullen, arms crossed and obviously bored. He was there only because his parents forced him. The youth leader had repeatedly invited the boy to join their group, but the response was usually a shrug and grunt. The leader and his band of teens prayed for the boy on a weekly basis, and were saddened to learn that he had committed suicide.

These stories may be extreme (or not), but in both cases prayer was going up for the ones who needed it. The Christians did what they were supposed to, right? So what happened?

Here’s my opinion: Neither the older woman or the youth leader recognized a God moment – or if they did, they didn’t take immediate action.

I know, because this used to be me. I was the one promising to pray for the woman with a trouble marriage, and I was the one inviting the outcast. But I missed the boat because I was too nice to stop right there and pray for the young woman or the teenage boy on the spot. I wanted to spare them the discomfort and embarrassment of an “out loud” prayer right there where other people might be within earshot. Or, let’s be honest, maybe I wanted to spare myself.

Perhaps the two situations would have ended the same way, even with the right-here-right-now prayer. But what if they didn’t?

What if, because you halted in your tracks and took their hands and petitioned the Father on their behalf, the lives of these two people changed? What if others heard you praying and came to join their prayers with yours to intercede? What if the whole church gathered around these lost and discouraged souls and held them up to the Lord together? What if you didn’t give a rip about being nice, and approached both the woman and the boy with some much needed words of wisdom, exhortation, and unconditional love?

Often, in our efforts to be nice, we pass over encounters that can and will change lives. We don’t want to offend. We don’t want to butt in where we think we have no business. We don’t want other people to think we’re weird religious fanatics.

But do you think that when people came to Jesus with their problems, he patted them on the head, said he’d pray for them, and told them to run along? Absolutely not! He dropped everything, even when it was inconvenient, and dealt with the issue immediately.

Look for the opportunities, the God moments. They are all over the place. The more often you stop your ridiculously busy life, the more you will see.

And stop being so nice! Someone’s eternity may depend on you.

 

 

 

 

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On Your Knees

On Your Knees

I’m just going to say it. We don’t pray enough. And by “we”, I mean me, you, Christians everywhere. That goes for personal prayer, corporate prayer, and prayer for one another.

It’s pitiful how poorly attended prayer meetings are. The church I attend has a weekly prayer time for one hour – ONE HOUR – and on a really good day we might have ten percent of the congregation show up, which I think might be a higher percentage than the majority of churches would report.

Gatherings like this should fill church auditoriums to the rafters. Because seriously, what is more important than seeking God’s direction for every more we make?

This morning, our women’s group began discussing the sad state of affairs in our city, our country, our local and national governments, and we didn’t even get into the bible study. We realized that we had been hugely remiss in praying for these areas. We also realized how the enemy has been gaining ground because we – yes, you and me – have not done a whole lot to stop him.

We are under attack, people, and it’s a very strategic and calculated attack. The problem is, most of us aren’t even aware of it, which is exactly what the enemy wants. He would rather have us be complacent, lukewarm Christians because if that’s what we are, then we’re no threat to his plans. And you know what Jesus said about lukewarm Christians? I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!” Revelation 3:15-16 (NLT)

May this serve as a wake-up call for all of us. Me and you. Us. Let’s get on our knees to pray – and not the wishy-washy stuff that doesn’t get past the ceiling – but real, honest, sincere, and even militant prayer. The kind that touches the heart of God and brings the results that only He can orchestrate. The kind that pushes back the enemy and makes him mad. The kind of prayer that uses the authority that’s ours through Jesus Christ.

Our country needs it. Our governments need it. Our cities and churches need it.

YOU need it!

“If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NKJV)

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More Than Anything

Presence of God

This morning, I was reading Exodus 33, particularly the part where God promises His presence to Moses. I know this is a long portion of Scripture to post in a blog, but the message makes it well worth the read.

Then Moses said to the Lord, “See, You say to me, ‘Bring up this people.’ But You have not let me know whom You will send with me. Yet You have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found grace in My sight.’ Now therefore, I pray, if I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight. And consider that this nation is Your people.” And He said, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Then he said to Him, “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here. For how then will it be known that Your people and I have found grace in Your sight, except You go with us? So we shall be separate, Your people and I, from all the people who are upon the face of the earth.” So the Lord said to Moses, “I will also do this thing that you have spoken; for you have found grace in My sight, and I know you by name.” And he said, “Please, show me Your glory.” Then He said, “I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” But He said, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.” And the Lord said, “Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock. Exodus 33:12-21 (NKJV)

I had to ask myself these questions: Is what I want more than anything the presence of God? To know that He is with me right now? To know that I am walking where He wants me to walk?

YES!

We so easily lose sight of the original intention, which is simply just knowing we are pleasing God. Yet, the more responsibility we’re given, the more He entrusts us with, the harder it can be to focus on that original intention. Like Moses, in the passage above, we sometimes need to stop and turn to the Father, saying, “All I want is Your presence, Lord. I just want to know You. And if You’re not in this, I don’t want to be a part of it.”

Know that God’s presence is with you right now. Know He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that you could ever ask or think, according to His power that works in you and through you and for you. Know Him, more than anything.

 

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Fairy Tales?

onceuponatime

Someone once told me that they did not read fiction. Ever. They prefer true stories, biographies, and factual books rather than wasting their time reading fairy tales. This person even went so far as to imply that fiction is a form of lying, so they wanted no part of such nonsense. These comments bothered me a little.

Okay, a lot.

It took me a while to come to terms with the condemnation I felt was being directed toward me not only because I love to read fiction, but because I love to write fiction as well. And to my knowledge, the person who gave me their rather strong opinion has never read a single thing I’ve ever written. They have never asked me about my writing, never encouraged me in that area, never shown any interest whatsoever. I figure it’s their loss, right?

Here’s my take.

We are here on this earth because of God, the ultimate Creator. Look around and you will see His magnificent imagination in operation everywhere. He made it all out of nothing – nothing except the words He spoke from the thoughts and images He had in His mind. He planned everything out. The setting, the plot, the characters, all of it. He created a Story of love and redemption.

We fiction writers do the very same thing.

We take that incredible imagination, given to us by God, and we create from the thoughts and images that form in our minds. We have the ability to write stories that make a difference and to be the difference in a world so full of hurt and hate and hardship. We can write stories that actually have the potential to change someone’s life.

I pray that the stories I create will find the people who need them, and that in some small way, their own life stories will be changed because of what they’ve read.

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NaNo, NaNo

Writing

This blog post will deviate a little from the train of thought I’ve been following over the past few months. Because it is November. And as writers all over the world are aware, November is National Novel Writing Month! That’s when we get to challenge each other to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days.

Sounds crazy?

It’s insane. And such fun!

I have been a member of the NaNo community for thirteen years. I haven’t always managed to reach the writing goal, but every time I participate in this annual event, I feel that my writing gets a major jump start. And we all need that once in a while.

I wasn’t going to do it this year. Then, a week or so ago, my seventeen-year-old granddaughter – who is an extraordinary writer, by the way – asked me if I’d started my NaNo novel for this year. I don’t think she intended it to be a challenge, but I took it as such. After all, who wants to be bested by a high school senior? (Wink)

So, the race is on.

Emily, I’m doing this for you because writing is something we love to do together.

Legend King, hero of my story, I’m doing this for you, too, because your tale must be told and you won’t leave me alone until I do. Besides, you’re kinda cute.

Writers everywhere, I am doing this because we are all in, right?

Write!

 

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Let it Go

Let it Go

We’ve all seen the movie, heard the song, bought the stuff, right? While I don’t necessarily endorse all the lyrics to this catchy tune, there is something about the title that rings true, especially in the context of 1 Corinthians 13.

Oh yes, you read that correctly.

Let’s take a look.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NLT)

Note the phrase I emphasized: “it (love) keeps no record of being wronged”. Does that not mean to let it go when someone offends you? To let it go when you feel you’ve been wronged? And I mean really let it go so that the offense doesn’t even appear in the little tally book we all have a tendency to keep with a rather disturbing measure of detail.

Oh-oh. I think I’ve stepped on some toes because I can hear a whole lot of “but you don’t know what they did to me” voices.

You’re right, I don’t know your story. But I’ve had a good number of my own experiences to know that it is possible for love to keep no record of wrong. Even when it seems that the pain is too great to let go.

Especially then.

The last sentence in the passage above says, “love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance”. I want people in my life who love me like that. And I want to be the person who loves others like that. So how can I even consider holding a grievance against someone else and have that be the very thing that prevents me – and the other person – from living in true freedom in Christ?

I’m not telling you that I have it all figured out. No-sir-ee. But I think I’m listening more closely to what God is saying to me and becoming a little bit more obedient every day. Sometimes that means having to deal with uncomfortable situations and difficult conversations.

There is such joy, though, when I come away from those experiences with peace in my heart knowing that with the Lord’s help, I really have let it go.

Try it.

You can even hum the song, if you want.

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Uncomfortable

Uncomfortable

I once had a coworker tell me that she was a creature of comfort. She functioned best, she said, in an environment where there was a place for everything and everything was is its place. That’s true for most of us.

But this woman carried her comfortable philosophy into her personal life as well. As one might expect, her home was perfectly organized and her schedule strictly adhered to, allowing little room for deviation in any area of her existence. She had it all under control. A perfect, comfortable life.

She was miserable.

Afraid to stray out of the world she had created for herself.

After working with this woman for more than ten years, I did not see any change in her behaviour. She was exactly the same person she’d been when I first met her, doing exactly the same job in exactly the same office space. Same hairstyle, same clothes, same routine. The saddest part was that my coworker had not really grown as a person in all that time. She was missing out on life.

Hang on, there is a point to this story.

Take a look at yourself.

Are you so caught up in achieving and maintaining your environment of comfort that you’re missing out on the life God has called you to live? Are you afraid to say yes to His invitation, His urging, because it might cause you to be a little bit uncomfortable?

Believe me, I know how you feel.

But it is in those uncomfortable times that God works in and through us. He stretches our faith when we trust His leading into places, circumstances, and relationships that we wouldn’t ordinarily venture into on our own. We experience uncertainty and hesitation and those stomach butterflies that refuse to fly in formation, yet God is there holding our hands and encouraging us.

We come out the other side having learned, grown, conquered.

I challenge you to step out of your comfort zone. Listen to the voice of the Father. Let Him take your hand and guide you.

He’s got a lot to show you!

But blessed is the man who trusts me, God, the woman who sticks with GodThey’re like trees replanted in Eden, putting down roots near the rivers.  Jeremiah 17:7 (MSG)

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