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Archive for the ‘Devotional’ Category

This morning as I walked down our country road—my favorite thinking and praying time­­—I thought about expectations. So often, our lives become dull or difficult because we haven’t taken the time to consider our expectations.

When we are honest with ourselves about what we expect of a situation, we are halfway to accepting it and dealing with it. But if we deny the possible/probable realities, life can become burdensome.

The key is that the Lord keeps giving us grace as we ask for it and are willing to accept it. Not in truckloads, but in teaspoonsful. Grace isn’t something we can stockpile. I think the reason is that God wants us to be dependent on Him. Every day. Every hour. While we can do nothing of ourselves, we can do everything God asks us to as we depend on Him.

What do we expect from life? From our writing? From God? If we truly wish to please God, we need to suit our expectations to God’s will and listen for the Spirit’s guidance. We need to be flexible (a difficult concept for me to put into practice).

I want to live in honest expectation of what God has for me each day, whether it’s in my writing or my family life, because that’s when life goes from humdrum to exciting.

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I am excited today to offer you a guest post from my dear friend and fellow author, Janet Sketchley. Thanks for this beautiful inspiration, Janet.

Unfailing (Unlimited) Love
by Janet Sketchley

Have you ever personalized a Bible verse as your own?

Some verses we speak back to God in prayer, and others we cling to as promises.

In an effort to fill my mind and spirit with good things, I’m working to memorize Scripture verses. I have them on note cards that I see in the morning and when I’m getting ready for bed, and I try to recite them to myself at traffic lights and other moments of waiting.

 

But I trust in your unfailing love.
I will rejoice because you have rescued me.

I will sing to the Lord
because he is good to me.
Psalm 13:5-6, NLT*

 

 

What I first loved about this one is that ending with “He is good to me” builds a warm reassurance that yes, God is good to me. It makes these verses good weapons for times of discouragement.

Then I saw something new. Don’t you love it when God does that?

“I trust in Your unfailing love” — why had I limited that to myself?

This is a personal psalm, affirming the writer’s personal trust and declaring his needs, but trusting God’s unfailing love can go way past the boundaries of trusting for ourselves.

We can trust His unfailing love for others — for the ones so painfully heavy on our hearts, the ones we fear won’t turn to Him, the ones in crisis, the ones who are sick or grieving, lonely, or lost.

He doesn’t just love us. His love reaches for each one, and that love has the power to draw and to save.

When we speak these verses, silently or aloud, it’s an opportunity to remind ourselves that His unfailing love is big enough to trust for our loved ones as well as for our own needs. And yes, He is good to us.

~~~

Janet Sketchley is the author of the Redemption’s Edge Christian suspense series and the devotional book, A Year of Tenacity.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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I read something on Facebook this morning that resonated with me:

Discussion is always better than argument because argument is to find

“who is right” and discussion is to find “what is right.”

(origin unknown)

As writers who work from a Christian worldview, we need to know what we believe, and to communicate those truths clearly. It’s a huge responsibility. We must be accurate and insightful, led by God’s Spirit.

However, I see a trend coming in. Again. I know it’s as old as time but it concerns me nonetheless. We are being distracted from the main truths of our faith by those who incite arguments about the details. The small things. The insidious whispers that interrupt and infiltrate our lives and our work.

I have experienced some of this distraction in my own life, and it is always about “who is right.” By wasting time and energy, and creating alienation, we can be led away from communicating the important tenets of faith.

 

 

 

I suggest we need to focus on the basics, the core of Scripture, the heart of the Gospel. One concise statement of faith is the Apostles’ Creed:

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.

 If we enjoy discussion on details beyond this succinct statement, that’s fine. But let’s not be distracted from the work God has given us to do by those who prefer arguments.

“Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels” II Timothy 2:23.

“But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless” Titus 3:9.

And, let’s pray for a heart of love, which helps us to understand others, withstand temptation, and stand strong in every area of our lives.

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When things don’t go as planned…you’re normal.

I’ve heard people say that if you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.

We map out our lives, sometimes in great detail, often forgetting that we have no control of our future. We can’t even guarantee our next breath.

If I have to blame someone besides myself for this faulty perspective, I blame our modern society. Everything is insured: our money, our vehicles, our technological devices. Kids wear helmets for almost everything but coloring Easter eggs. As parents, we hover. We avoid danger, physical harm, psychological suffering. We seek comfort above all.

That’s my take. I know there are many people who embrace risk and accept the consequences … and often the freedom it brings. Most of the time, I’m not one of them.

But I have experienced times when God has given me a swift kick in the pants (figuratively, of course) to get me past my fear of risk and the need to control. He has prepared me for new challenges coming my way. Or new opportunities.

I need to trust Him more to guide me. After all, He knows my future. “…all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” Psalm 139:16.

So, when things don’t go as planned, I want to lean on God, who knows the end from the beginning. I want to risk within His guidance. I want to live in freedom. Because, you know, there is one thing that is guaranteed, and that’s my eternal life.

Join me in living life to the full, instead of hiding from pain and the unknown. Trust in God and live.

“ ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’ ” Jeremiah 29:11.

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I’ve been long obsessed with living the writing life, with being a writer. I’ve read books by writers such as Annie Dillard, Stephen King, William Zinsser and others, and have picked up on some of their ideas. I’ve tried to insulate myself from real life in order to dedicate myself more completely to my private writing world. It’s been a selfish attempt on my part, but it was the only way I knew to attack it.

Over the Christmas season, I had to put my writing aside for a time in order to concentrate on family, food and celebration. I enjoyed it, of course, but it was difficult to re-enter my writing world. I had no ideas, no passion, no enthusiasm. Had I not applied myself enough to my writing world? Had I been too long in the real world, neglecting my writing life?

My daughter, me, my mom

My daughter, me, my mom

In my musings about this conundrum, I realized something: my real life is the one I need to live. My grandchildren, some living only a mile away, are growing quickly, and I want to spend more time with them. I need to keep up with my friends and the rest of my family. My 94-year old mother needs my attention. Even though her assisted living suite is lovely, she is a province away from her children and very lonely. We have a roomy house with only the two of us living in it, so we’ve invited her to move in with us.

What will happen to my writing life? I can’t say for sure, but I’m expecting it will be fine. As I move forward in my real life, investing myself in the lives of others, I find my motivation for writing more focused, my enthusiasm growing, and my ideas flowing. I don’t want to live in two worlds anymore.

One thing I know, I’ll certainly have more experiences to write about, and maybe I’ll learn to use my time more efficiently.

TWEETABLES:

I don’t want to live in two worlds anymore.

I want to invest in the lives of others.

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Thanks to Dianne J. Wilson for granting me permission to share her blog on my site. It previously appeared on the International Christian Fiction Writers blog on January 21, 2017…

I’m writing this devotion 10.5 hours away from home. Why? Because this week my eldest kiddo started university. It is truly the most bizarre concept… pack up all her things, drive for a day, dump her and all her packed things off.

And.Then.Leave.Her.

Wait, WHAT?

Every instinct is screaming against this foreign concept. Since the first day a crying pink bundle landed in my arms, my job has been to Be There, Mop Tears, Hug When Life Sucks, Cook Food, Clean The Dirty Dishes, Wash Dirty Clothes, Help, Listen, Love. Now I have to leave her and drive 10,5 hours in the opposite direction. That’s over 1000 kilometers, not that anyone is counting. If you need me, I’ll be over in the corner sobbing.

Driving away from Stellenbosch without her is going to be one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I’ve bought tissues.

Wow. As her mom and dad, Scott and I are thinking of everything she may need so that when we leave town, she’ll be able to do what we brought her all this way to do. She is here for a purpose and we are providing access to everything she needs to make sure she can get on with it.

All this sounds familiar though, doesn’t it?

Jesus felt the same when He left us humans after living with us for a while. But, in His usual perfect way, He had a plan. And what a plan it was! John 14:18 tells us that He didn’t leave us as orphans, but sent Holy Spirit to be with us. If you read 2 Peter 1:3, you’ll know that He has provided all things for life and godliness. And just as I can’t wait for the first holiday when she gets to come home (and man, you can be sure her room will be ready!) Jesus is longing for the day we get to be reunited with Him too. He has already got the place all spiffied up for us. It’s all there in John 14:3.

But do you know what would break my heart?  If my girl chooses not to use the bookshop account and struggles without textbooks for the year. If she chooses not to use the chemist facilities when her allergies get bad. If she doesn’t use the cash we put in her bank for food and clothes.

Sounds crazy, right? But many of us struggle daily with things that Jesus has made provision for. I want to spend this year combing through my Bible and figuring out everything that He has provided.  Then I want to access it and use it lavishly for myself and for those around me.

Knowing how I feel about my kiddo, I’m pretty sure it will delight His heart.

7756237Dianne J. Wilson writes novels from her hometown in East London, South Africa, where she lives with her husband and three daughters. She has just signed a three book contract for a YA series, Spirit Walker, with Pelican / Watershed.

Finding Mia is available from AmazonPelican / Harbourlight, Barnes & Noble and other bookstores.

Shackles is available as a free ebook from Amazon & Smashwords.

Find her on FacebookTwitter and her sporadic blog Doodles.

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During the first week of January, I received an email from a dear writer friend. She admitted to having trouble getting back into the groove after taking time off from her writing during the Christmas season. She said, “Sometimes I just want to quit.”

pixabay.com

pixabay.com

Have you ever felt that way? Yeah. So have I. Considering my experience, you’d think I would offer a verbal pat on the shoulder and encourage her to persevere. Offer to pray for her.

But I didn’t. Not right away. Instead, what popped onto the return email page was, “Go ahead and quit! See how long you last.”

I said this because, like my writing-weary friend, I’ve been there. There are times I just want to go shopping with my daughter without thinking about deadlines and edits, or clean out the closet without thinking about how many blogs are waiting to be written. Or even just read a book or watch a movie without guilt. I haven’t ever completely quit because I’m a finisher by nature, but I have certainly slacked off.

However, if I’m away from my computer for too long, I get itchy fingers. I need to get back to recording my ideas, to reviewing that great book I just read, to sharing some writerly bit of information with those who are kind enough to read my blog.

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed by life and not zealous about writing, or underwhelmed by the process of creating fiction, don’t despair. Take a break, be good to yourself, talk to a friend who understands. And then, when your fingers start to itch for the keys or the ideas begin to tumble through your mind as you’re cleaning the closet, run back to your computer and write.

If you need someone to pray you through it, let me know. I pray for my friend daily, and she knows it. There are many of us who understand. We’re in your corner. And so is the dear God who uses our words to do His work.

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