Wednesday, October 31, 2012

"Remembering a Special Hymn" by Carol Isbister

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine. . .

As we sang the familiar old hymn, "Blessed Assurance ", written by blind Fanny Crosby, my heart was stirred by the sweet memory of hearing this hymn for the first time. I can vividly remember the depth of joy, excitement, and love that awakened in my spirit as I embraced Jesus and His Word and sang about His love.
The day I accepted Christ as Lord, a whole new world opened to me. The Holy Spirit taught me spiritual truths from God's Word. As I read the gospels the Lord Jesus seemed to walk off the pages in all His glory.

I fell in love with my Lord and drank in the depth of His love. Fanny Crosby must have known that same love as she penned the words "filled with His goodness, lost in His love". Yes, that's it!! I was truly lost in His love...a love so deep it could not be adequately expressed in words. From the depths of my soul I can sing with a grateful spirit, the verse which declares "angels descending, bring from above, echoes of mercy, whispers of love".

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Scripture & Writing Series: Week 6


For those of you who can't join us in person, we offer the next best thing -- a blog version of our lesson, so that you can do it at home. This series is called: Scripture & Writing. 
This week's lesson prepared by Brianna Renshaw

Scripture Reading: 1 John 1:4 – We write this to make our joy complete (NIV).

Devotion: Complete Joy by Brianna Renshaw
Motherhood is full of ups and downs. There are days when I just feel like screaming and then there are days I just feel like dancing. For instance, some evenings on our walks my daughter whines constantly – “I’m too tired. I’m thirsty. I’m hungry. My legs are too short.” And on other evenings, she giggles whimsically as she kicks up the fallen leaves and delights in the simple beauty of God’s creation. 

The trick to dealing with the ups and downs is to write about both. Sharing our experiences as mothers through writing reveals to others that the joy of motherhood is not dependent upon one bad day; instead, it is made up of a combination of experiences – both the good and the bad. At the end of the day, no matter what happened, being a mom is a reason to be joyful

Likewise, at the end of the day, no matter what happened, we can be joyful because we are saved in Christ. In 1 John chapter one, John urges believers to write their testimonies of Christ –to share Christ with others so that everyone can experience the joy and happiness of living in union with God. Our written testimonies show others that true joy is found in God’s presence and not found in circumstances or material possessions. Complete joy is God.

Prayer: Thank you God for the opportunity to meet together and share witness of your power and goodness, which brings us complete joy. Encourage each of us to share your work in our lives through our writing so that we can reach others and bring them into fellowship with you.

Meditation Questions:
1.    What does ‘this’ refer to in the scripture?
2.    For John, what is complete joy?
3.    Is it more important to write proof of the facts of Jesus’s historical life or to write about the meaning and significance of those events to us personally?
4.    What is the goal of writing our testimony?
5.    Is our belief in God less than John’s because we did not witness with our own eyes the life and death of Jesus?
6.    Why should we share our testimony?
11 Tips for Writing Your Testimony:
1.    State in one sentence the point of your encounter with Jesus (the main spiritual truth of your story).
2.    Use words that are understandable.
3.    Include sensory details of the experience.
4.    Don’t focus too much on yourself; instead focus on what Jesus did for you.
5.    Be positive.
6.    Keep it simple.
7.    Use scriptures to back up your story but don’t overload your testimony with scriptures.
8.    Don’t preach.
9.    Let the Holy Spirit lead you.
10.  Trust God to give you the words.
11.  Re-write.
Homework: Share a story of how God has worked in your life.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

A Place of Safety by Sandy James

Covered with His feathers, taking refuge under His wings… I love that picture from Psalm 91. When I visualize that, I feel safe. 

We are in a world that feels very unsafe at times.  Although terrorist attacks in the USA are not normal, the threat still looms.  Gunmen seem to appear in places one wouldn’t expect.  “Super” viruses are predicted.  An even more severe economic downturn is a possibility.

Photo by Ric Seet
We certainly do not want to live in fear. Thankfully it is not necessary, nor is it acceptable, to do so if we live in the Kingdom of God.  The Kingdom of God consists of righteousness, joy and PEACE. (Romans 14:17) The Kingdom of God is where the power and rule of God is – that place where we allow His ways, His power, and His Word to renew our minds and change our behaviors, our beliefs and our responses to circumstances. 

Psalm 91 says ,”Because you have made the Lord who is my refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place, no evil shall befall you nor shall any plague come near your dwelling for He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.”  Do we really believe that?

There are numerous testimonies from soldiers who experienced safety during war because they believed what God said in Psalm 91. These verses hold many promises of deliverance from harm. If we can just believe in the truth and faithfulness of God Almighty, who loves us so, we will see His promises become reality in our lives.

Covered with His feathers, sheltered under His wing, we are safe in Him.


Thursday, October 25, 2012

To Write by Karen Kingsbury

You hold the pen of hope and healing,
you who tell of fear and feeling.
Power to touch the jaded soul;
power to make the broken whole.
To entertain, to intertwine,
to take us back in tests and time.
Write you must--now go from here;
write and keep the Savior near.
Now, Spirit, lead us every page;
through our words, be center stage.
Give us love for those who read;
give us words so they might see.
Author God, now through your power
guide us from this very hour.
Let us tell of love and light
and grant us strength so we might write."
~Karen Kingsbury
A Novel Idea: Best Advice on Writing Inspirational Fiction.

Photo by Oliver Hammond
shares advice on the craft of writing, including tips on brainstorming ideas, crafting and marketing a novel, what makes a Christian novel “Christian” and how to approach tough topics from best-selling Christian fiction writers including Jerry B. Jenkins, Karen Kingsbury, Francine Rivers, and many more.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Yen for Our Writing

Photo by Richard West

"Happy are those who [yearn] to do what God requires;
God will satisfy them fully!”
Matthew 5:6

No, we're not talking about selling our writing to Japanese publishers. That’s a different kind of yen. This yen means a strong desire, a yearning concerning our writing.

Do you crave the ability to write in a way that will touch hearts for Jesus? Do you long to be published so others can learn from the truths God has whispered to your heart? Is it your vision to become a full-time writer?

It’s important for us to take the time to ask ourselves what our purpose, dreams, and goals are for our writing. Why? Because our purpose will sustain us when we feel like we can’t write another word; our goals will reveal the strides we have made with our writing; our dreams will motivate us to take our writing to the next level.

Freelance writers rarely work with deadlines looming or a taskmaster breathing down our necks—which sounds great until we hit a snag in a storyline or bog down in editing and have no one to offer suggestions or cheer us on. Without goals we lose our motivation.

Holly Tucker, writer and editor, suggests setting weekly writing goals and sharing them with a fellow writer or writing group. This will help keep us accountable and also will provide welcome encouragement and support.

Do you have goals for your writing? Do you yearn to write more or write better? Do you have a yen to write a book? We would love to hear about your dreams for this gift God has given you. Won’t you leave a comment and share what is on your heart?

©2012 Pamela D. Williams

Friday, October 19, 2012

Scripture and Writing Series: Week 5


For those of you who can't join us in person, we offer the next best thing -- a blog version of our lesson, so that you can do it at home. This series is called: Scripture & Writing. 

This week is Spiritual Gifts and Writing - prepared by Dawn M. Hamsher
There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. 1 Corinthians 12:4-5

“But it is one and the same Spirit who does all this; as he wishes, he gives a different gift to each person.” 1 Corinthians 12:11

If you read further in the passage, you learn that God gives us each spiritual gifts.
Exhortation -- words of encouragement, comfort, consolation, and counsel

Service -- identify undone tasks in God's work and use available resources to get the job done

Leadership --direction of the body with such care and diligence so as to motivate others to get involved in the accomplishment of these goals

Teaching--instruct others in the Bible in a logical, systematic way so as to communicate pertinent information for true understanding and growth

Giving—share your resources liberality and cheerfulness without thought of return

Mercy--sensitive toward those who are suffering, whether physically, mentally, or emotionally, so as to feel genuine sympathy with their misery, speaking words of compassion and caring for them with deeds of love to help alleviate their distress

Prophecy--to speak forth the message of God to His people

One person might enjoy volunteering. One is good at teaching. One has a heart for the homeless. God gives us different gifts and in different proportions. So, what does that have to do with writing? 
If you haven’t already, you can take the Spiritual Gifts Assessment at home:

1. Who gives out spiritual gifts?
2. Do you only get one spiritual gift?
3. Based on the above spiritual gift definitions, what are your top spiritual gifts?
4. Why did God give out spiritual gifts? Why did he specifically give you your gifts?
5. How can your passion for writing be used with your spiritual gifts?
6. What are some specific things you can write that would be using your spiritual gifts? Look at each spiritual gift and write down one form of writing that would fit with the gift.
7. How do you think God feels when people use their gifts? When they don’t? Why is it important for you to “write” your gifts?
8. What’s stopping you from using your gifts? From writing?

Devotion: “Gifted for Your Job” by Dawn M. Hamsher

1 Chronicles 22:11 and 1 Chronicles 23-26

As King David prepares to pass on the rule of Israel to his son, Solomon, he wants to set him up for success. The temple is to be built by Solomon, so David smoothes the way by organizing the Levites, who will care for the temple. He gives them jobs. He makes them priests, officers, judges, gatekeepers, musicians, and treasurers.

The jobs that are given out makes me think of our role in God’s kingdom. We are not Levites, but God’s plan for us is no less important. God gives us spiritual gifts. He does it so that the kingdom is cared for. If everyone uses their gifts, then all will run smoothly in God’s plan.

My role in God’s plan is unique because no one else can fulfill it. When God gives out spiritual gifts, he does not use a cookie cutter stamp. Instead, he gives each person a different portion. Combine that with different life experiences and you have individuals uniquely equipped to serve God and his people.

God has given you what you need to do the job. Are you using your gifts?

Prayer: Lord, I thank you for giving me such unique gifts. I thank you for the care you put into making me. Please open my eyes and show me how to use the gifts you gave me. Help me to serve you. Amen.

Writing Prompt/Homework: “My Spiritual Gifts”- Write about your spiritual gifts and how God might be nudging you to use them to work for him.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Spiritual Gifts

We will be talking about Spiritual Gifts and Writing this week. If you don’t already know what your spiritual gifts are, please take this short assessment and write down the gifts and your scores. The assessment only takes about 5 minutes. Please bring them to class on Wednesday (for our on-line friends, I'll post the lesson on Thursday).