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Monday, June 24, 2013

Share God's Heart with Your Words

A view of the landscape from a Glen Eyrie parking lot
I traveled to a writer's workshop last weekend called "Pour It Out on the Page," with guest speakers Angela Hunt, Bill Meyers, Nancy Rue, and Kathryn Mackel. It was a very full weekend, with lots of workshops and a beautiful setting at Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO. I really recommend the place for any Christian looking for a restful, refreshing getaway, and I recommend the writer's workshop for Christians looking to recharge their writing and get empowerment from fellow Christian authors.

There was so much to absorb while I was there, but I think the parts that stuck with me the most were the morning and evening keynote speeches by the guest speaker/authors.  This was their opportunity to share their philosophy and beliefs about writing, and all of them spoke about the mission of writers to use their writing to share God's heart with the world, particularly in these dark times, whether through humor or something more serious, or just a positive message of hope in the midst of tragedy.

 There was pervasive imagery in the speeches at the workshop of God's goodness and anointing filling us up and overflowing in our writing, just as God's Son, Jesus Christ, was God's Word poured out into our lives (John 1:1; Matthew 26: 27-28), so that we could share that blessing with others (Luke 6: 38).

I share their feelings.  I believe that if you put words out there for others to read (even if you're just tweeting something or posting it on Facebook), you are influencing the world in some way.  I've got to hope that it's a positive, godly way. I pray that what Christians write (and myself, in particular) is God's blessing passed on, and not just the usual blandness of the everyday world regurgitated once again for those who have seen too much of that darkness.

I know that not every opportunity to write is a time to lay out the Roman Road and stage an altar call, but I do know that every time I write something, I have an opportunity to show the world some virtue or some glimpse of the good things that the Lord has given us.  Goodness, kindness, and virtue are novel things in this world, while emptiness and despair are the everyday.  I want to remember that, and I want to take this job seriously. I hope my readers will, as well.

I recall a blog post I wrote back in 2011 about the power of words. It was called, "Finding the Best Words," and it spoke about the immediate and eternal consequences of our words. I encourage you to read it (no, I'm not selling anything), and of course I encourage you to respond to it.  What do you feel is your personal responsibility when it comes to the words you write every day?  How does your job or position in life give you a unique message that the hurting world needs to hear?

I'd love to hear from you!  Meanwhile, this song, "Words," by Hawk Nelson, seems to be very fitting for today, so I thought I'd link to it here:

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Ultimate Adoption Story

Image found here
For some reason, adoption has come up several times in conversation over the last few days. That was topped off with a sound byte I heard from an interview this morning about the new movie, "Man of Steel." The interviewer called it, "the ultimate adoption story."  Really?  I can think of a better one.

The Son of God became man and came to earth as a helpless infant (Philippians 2: 6-8). He was raised by human parents who did not always understand Him and sometimes failed to support Him in His mission (Luke 2: 41-52; Luke 8: 19-21), but He loved them and cared for them, and they loved Him in return, even at the end (John 19; 25-27). His biggest weakness, as His enemy, Satan, saw it, was His love for people, including those who didn't know Him or love Him (Romans 5: 7-8), which brought Him to death on the cross (John 15: 1-14).  He had a greater purpose, however, and the cross was part of that purpose. He wanted to make a way for all orphans to be adopted and to know His love, and the love of His Father in Heaven (Romans 8: 14-17), but that had to come through His suffering. He willingly accepted the cost so that He, and all the people He loved, could reap the reward. This means that His biggest weakness turned out to be His greatest strength (Philippians 2: 9-11), because through love and obedience to His Father, He defeated the ultimate enemy, death!
Image found here

Those who know Jesus and obey the Father will be called children of God, not orphans any more, never rejected or alone again. Now, how is that for an adoption story?

Feel free to leave a comment on your thoughts about "Man of Steel" versus Jesus' story (how it compares and how it is different), or share your thoughts about your own "adoption" story. I'd love to hear from you!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Words of Refuge

Bits of paper, siding, and insulation on my lawn
after a tornado passed close by two weeks ago.
Another week has gone by, punctuated by yet another terrible, stormy night that brought tornadoes to my area and left more people homeless and sifting through the wreckage of their lives. This time, the clouds also brought deadly flooding rains.

I would say that the chaos is taking its toll on everyone, even those not directly affected by the storms. In the aftermath of anything like this, there is widespread anxiety, stress, and depression as the populous struggles to accept what has happened. This is a natural grief process.

People need to feel that they are safe, and that someone is looking out for them. They need reassurance and comfort concerning their present circumstances and the future that currently seems out of reach.  They are not going to find that kind of comfort in rituals, which have been disrupted; possessions, which have been taken or threatened; or most kinds of organized religion, which preach that humankind is nothing and the deity of choice is the only one who matters.  Christianity stands alone in its statements that (1) the lives of people matter to God, (2) are all equal in His presence, (3) God specifically cares about every individual, and (4) He personally intervenes in our circumstances and lives.
  1.  "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life," (John 3: 16 NIV).
  2. "So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.  There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus," (Galatians 3: 26-28 NIV).
  3.  “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?  And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off.  In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish." (Matthew 18: 12-14 NIV)
  4. " And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose," (Romans 8: 28 NIV).
I realize there are many hurting people who need that comforting reassurance right now. They may have heard that the God of Christianity is none of those things, and they may have encountered supposed "representatives" of Christianity who wronged them at one time.  They may be afraid to reach out to God, fearful of the stigma from family and friends, or just cautious.

If you feel that way, I encourage you to seek out the truth about Christianity in the Bible, which is what God has said about Himself and His intentions.  I personally have nothing to gain from saying this, but I know how much you can gain from a personal relationship with Christ.  I urge you to find that calm reassurance that has helped me through the last few weeks. I know that Christ can help you, too, no matter what you are facing right now. He is a friend who cannot be moved or taken away from you:
"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord," (Romans 8: 38, 39 NIV).