Wednesday, January 28, 2015

"To God Be the Glory"-Principle 3. for this Christian Writer

"After all is said and done, when all has been hoped for and received, what is the point?" "What's It All About, .....?" "Is that All there Is?" 

 Those questions are not rare. "These are the days of Elijah."

As for me, only Jesus knows every high mountain I have had to, tried to, or chosen to climb and every valley I've found myself in or gotten myself into.  

Only Jesus knows what I've been through for whatever reasons, including my own blindness or deafness. Only He knows what you and I have gone through, are going through, and will go through so long as we live in this worldly world. 

Only Jesus knows. He walked this earth, was tempted yet never gave in. He heard its sounds and echoes, its every cry, and never despaired. Only the Son of God did all things well in love for and in obedience to the Father in heaven. Only Jesus. There is uniqueness in Him as in no other.

His perfect blood was shed on the cross for the sins of the world, to redeem all imprisoned by sin. He said, "And I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto Me." He even now draws all of creation, all nations, unto Himself. 

The downtrodden soul that turns to Him gets up. That is why as he rises he cries, "Hallelujah!"

Jesus Christ is the King of Glory. Only He can set the prisoner free. "It is for freedom that I have set you free," He said.

He reached out to me one day (I was reading a little book, a gift, that quoted Isaiah 41.10), and I could hardly believe the wonder of what He said:

Fear not,
for I am with you. 
Do not be afraid, 
for I am your God. 
I will strengthen you; 
yes, I will help you; 
yes, I will hold you up with My righteous right arm." 

I did not turn away, and He proved what He said.  

As you may be, I am concerned about many things. For example, think of cities facing dire times, such as Detroit and Chicago, New York and San Francisco. All our cities and country towns are struggling, if different statistics and leaders do not lie. Yet, all have been blessed by God. Many have turned away, refusing to be lifted up and their families and neighbors with them. Some are wealthy people; others are poor. 

The Living Word has been preached in many American cities over many decades. The gospel has been sung. The light and salt of Jesus Christ continues to be sent to uplift and save cities. Wherever the light and salt of Christ are accepted, the people are lifted up. Where they are rejected, the people walk in darkness.

"...I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto Me." 
"...I will hold you up with My righteous right arm."

God help us who are called Christian if ever we desire anything or anyone ahead of God. Writers, whom do you and I write to please? Therein lies our answer. 

May we, like Him, give and give and give. It is a merciful life, knowing Jesus as Savior. The LORD of Hosts is God. To God be the glory. May stiff words on this page soften in their reading, to revive the heart. 

"To God be the glory!" This third principle goes before and after the first and the second. In this, I rejoice! 
Principle 2. is here.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

"Be Careful!"_Part 2_As a Writer, I follow key work principles

*True Story. At a church's September board meeting, as fall leaves began to turn, the subject of heating oil for winter came up. A prominent new member of the board chimed in quickly: "I think the church should rotate who supplies the oil." He said this earnestly, adding: "It's only fair that my company supply oil, too. I propose to do that!" The pastor and other board members looked around at each other and the new board member's intense expression changed to white-knuckled shock, as the board immediately embraced the idea: ''I am sure that our supplier will be glad for you to do that," said the board chairman. "He supplies our heating oil for free. We gladly accept your offer to share the load with him. Thank you, thank you!"*

     Wow. That oil company exec jumped into a huge chunk-of-change offer without looking, or asking questions, first. (Maybe he'd thought being on the church board would be good for business? I smile.) But this topic of being careful goes beyond that. It includes, for writers, paying attention regularly to the importance of good research, thinking ahead, considering possible consequences, including watching for poorly chosen, possibly confusing, words or themes. Surprisingly, it can add interest to how we work. 


"Be careful!" is a parting shot that lots of people feel downright angry about. Considering more of what being careful means, including watching over/being responsible for, could make being careful more acceptable as a principle for writers.  
  • Influence on others - I want my words and ideas to serve readers well, so I try to be careful with how and when I post them in an article, aware of influence of words. Recently on Twitter, however, I really mis-communicated. I tweeted without really thinking it through, and I got a fast push-back. To react, I thought about how I might correct the situation, and I think I found the words to do that. 
These days, there is a tendency not to converse or question directly whether face-to-face with people or online. There is an increasing influence in social networking to jab rather than build a dialogue. That is the situation, and increasingly I think we need to be careful over how this influences us and how we comment or initiate contact.

It's funny and yet sometimes not...but how conditions affect how we communicate. If we are shut in, for example, due to weather or health, for example, our desire to communicate may come out backwards from what we intended. Or, we may expect something that a particular venue is not meant for or capable of.
  • I am not an entertainer and I also was trained in non-essay writing, such as research reports and information writing. I'm learning to make heart and head work in a more balanced way, depending on topics.
  • Determination 1: to stay on target - First, I fight wandering thoughts that try to break in fully on me, the worst distraction. I also try to ignore other distractions, whether to begin work, continue it, or make the time work for the writing at hand. 
     I have had to train myself to ignore, completely, web pop up ads, side column photo links, and what seem like multitudes of other distractions; I allow the phone to take messages--hardest when I realize a friend or family member might be calling. 
  • More well-balanced life -This may be the need I neglect the most, and I am working to correct it. I no longer listen to much news, read newspaper cover to cover; read too-descriptive crime novels, or keep other habits whose absence has improved my life (and work, I hope) enormously
And I need to pay attention to walking even 10-20 minutes, and this is very unlikeable in winter. I confess, I cannot remember my last walk since November!
  • High sensitivity to others' language and images - I read more excellently-written books now than ever; e.g., just began Wilkie Collins's The Woman in White, my second by this writer. This sensitivity is essential,I think. 
     I am not too strict on myself. I like Dick and Felix Francis horse-racing detective stories for "easy reading," i.e., faster, that makes writing a novel look far easier than it must be.
  • Determination 2: to improve my skills and techniques as a writer and writing mentor. This requires more time and attention with self-starting effort under prayer. 
 I want to grow in whatever I am doing, in whatever good relationships I have with readers!


 What parts of the definition of careful, below, help you the most? Is there an aspect to pay more attention to? 

adjective: careful; superlative adjective: carefullest
  1. 1.
    making sure of avoiding potential danger, mishap, or harm; cautious.
    "I begged him to be more careful"
    synonyms:cautious, heedful, alert, attentive, watchful, vigilant, wary, on guard, circumspect
    "be careful when you go up the stairs"
  2. 2.
    done with or showing thought and attention.
    "a careful consideration of the facts"
My key work principles began in Part 1.

*True story told to me by my parents, a church where they had been members. The event happened in the mid-1940s, and I am not sure that it happened in September. I figured the church board might be taking up a subject like heating oil early, before winter hit. I think that God is behind carefulness. He takes care of his own and is full of loving care in how he leads and corrects, in the ways most needed and most bearable, including for wealthy oil company owners.  

If you like hymns sung by country musicians, here's "I Surrender All" by George Jones.  
A capella version is here:l Surrender All. I know that George Jones led a rough life at times. I enjoy the way he sings this hymn in country gospel style.He died in Nashville, TN, in 2013 at age 81.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Key Principles of this Christian Writer_1. Start the day well

Life comes before work, clearly, and needs to be lived authentically. The first key principle is to start the day with God through praise, worship, and prayers. Here are some examples:

Scripture choices to stimulate thought and awe:
  • Read from one or more of the Gospel books, especially the words of Jesus (for example, ("...but with God, all things are possible for the one who believes." Nada es Imposible
  • NT letters, at this time focusing on 1 Thessalonians, how Christians are to live daily
  • OT Scriptures (frequently favoring the songs of Moses and Miriam)
  • Psalms (In these days, Psalms 148-150 lift my heart to praise God.)

In these days, the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir helps me almost every morning. I allow as much time listening and worshiping as I am led of God, who helps me. I use YouTube (I try to ignore YT ads and exit asap)  to listen to and sing along with many songs on a growing favorites list. I frequently choose among these, which you, too, might enjoy:

Worthy is the Lamb
Hallelujah to the King of Glory
Days of Elijah*
Gloria* (beautiful in English and in Spanish) 
I Adore You (He is the "Prince of Peace"!)
I Bless Your Name*
and others 

Morning - Along with spontaneous prayer upon awaking, special music--gospel, old and new hymns, others--opens the way for talking freely to the Lord, with praises and with outpouring of desires and needs of the day.  

During the day - Prayers of thanksgiving, talking to God from my heart; wherever I am, whatever I am doing. I also pray, "Help me, Lord."  Sometimes, prayer begins: "Lord, help me to pray," and "Lord, I believe; help Thou my unbelief."

Evening - In recent times, I love to pray the child's prayer, to be in the frame of mind as God's child: 

"Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep; 
If I should die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take." 

I often pray the 23rd Psalm, which I learned as a child.

Remembrance - God Has a Plan
When I was in my late 30s I did not yet have clearer realization of God's call on my life, including being committed to writing. Writing almost daily and with pleasure was a hint of a calling. 
     I was rearranging loose bricks around a little garden in my parents' garden in North Carolina when my dad opened the door and said: "When you were little, I used to pray for God to watch over your hands." 
     That news, and the way my dad shared it, drew me closer to him. I discovered more and thought I understood more about the inspiration of Dad's prayers of earlier years. It is God who teaches my fingers to fight (Psalm 144:1a).

*Author Support Blog (this blog Respects Copyrights*
Look for Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir at for any links I have removed from this post due to their being blocked in this country for copyright reasons. Other links, in place as of 1/20/15, could become irrelevant for the same reason, but still available by title on YouTube.  

My next principle is 2. Be Careful.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

A good starting point from a letter to Christians in Greece

Macedonia capital-Modern Thessaloniki. Source:
Greece was an early region of new believers beyond Jerusalem after the resurrection of Jesus.

Today I did a slow read of three chapters in 1 Thessalonians (a New Testament letter to believers in Thessalonica, Greece), using Revised Standard Version of the Bible with my iPad/Kindle app. I used highlight, dictionary, and note-making features, a treat for a note-taker like me. I noted text repetitions of "brothers and sisters,  "imitators/imitation," and "do more and more" living in Christ and in the face of persecution as they were. Paul and the others taught, in this letter, a pattern to follow: remaining faithful to Christ in the midst of suffering--harsh and deep stresses to force them to give up faith and to forget, I think, the strength of Christ in their life together. I see in this an emphasis on the fundamental help of togetherness in Christ.

I reflected on the words and at one point wondered why Paul, Silas (Silvanus), and Timothy described themselves, at least by one writer--possibly Paul--as"orphans." The word-definition feature in Kindle books informs that the Greek for "orphan" strongly suggests being "outcast," which is to be without the provision and protection of others. The servants of God to the Thessalonians felt deeply their inability to stay or be with the Thessalonians as God led them.

God's servants can feel orphaned due to any forced separation from other believers. In the U.S., where I live, I think we face this in less dangerous conditions than in other parts of the world. In those toughest of places, dear brothers and sisters, we know that you may feel cut off, and we long to assure you of our concern for you; our faith leads us to pray for you, and your faithfulness prompts us to pray more, due to the contests and conflicts you face.  

Outside the sharing fellowship of the Thessalonians, the servants of God gave no glossy or weak spiritual cover for their condition or their feelings. They were not proud, but were humble. God had provided protection and other needed things by way of faithful Thessalonian believers that were prospering in faith, not longing for material goods. The servants sent to encourage them were pulled away in different ways and they expressed in letters the longing and deep affection they held for those brothers and sisters in Christ.

We often long that there will be times of renewed encouragement and building up in person, when the Timothys and brothers and sisters like the Thessalonians can meet and share that indescribably precious spiritual communion among the saints.

In every tribe and nation are the continuing gospel movements within hearts and minds to bring new individual and fellowship connections of faith in Jesus Christ. Across cultures and languages hearts change and lives are transformed through the gospel of Christ that is shared in the midst of times calm or dangerous. The gospel never ceases to move in God's divine ways.

I never cease to marvel and be thrilled by these features of life in Christ, for we see how love expands and grows--apart from anything human power could devise or do. Christians give thanks to God, and pray that all new brothers and sisters will accept the provisions and protections of God, guarding their souls against enemies of their faith. Staying in touch, as this letter of Paul and his co-workers, feeds our growth as roots of faith grow deeper, stronger, and more fruitful.   

In the U.S. we see today's need--and perhaps this is happening elsewhere--that all pretexts used to cover greed must be guarded against, with divine help and discernment. The apostle Paul, preaching under hardship, emphasized his aversion to this, along with his unwavering love, gentleness, care not to burden others, and freedom from pretexts in the face of opposition to the faithful. His words were welcomed, although at times hard to hear and follow for, as taught in this first letter to the Thessalonians, mortal beings needs guidance, encouragement, and help. 

Pretexts should not be used to cover greed of any kind. This is another clear message from this New Testament letter. The trust in God that Paul wrote about thrived through the "imitation" of good actions of fellow-believers, including those who encouraged. They abhorred flattery and loved sincerity.

I was one accused of flattering someone when I was encouraging another person. I allowed the charge to inhibit my encouragement of others and to plant doubts about myself--until I realized a while later that a flatterer assumes that others' encouragements are only pretexts to serve the flatterer.

This may be similar to some contests you face now. I find that the emphasis on Christian warmth, caring, and fellowship of 1 Thessalonians 1-3 reaches out to strengthen us. We are in the minds and prayers of, and among, the saints, seen and unseen.

This is a good starting point in this year, finding nuggets in timeless scripture.