Sunday, May 20, 2018

MY WORDS INSCRIBED IN ROCK

Have you ever expressed this cry from the book of Job in the Old Testament?

“Oh that my words were written!

Oh that they were inscribed in a book!
Oh that with an iron pen and lead
they were engraved in the rock forever!
For I know that my Redeemer lives,
and at the last he will stand upon the earth.
And after my skin has been thus destroyed,
yet in my flesh I shall see God,
whom I shall see for myself,
and my eyes shall behold, and not another.
My heart faints within me!
JOB 19:23-27

Job’s longing to be published pumps from his very heart.

Words Formed in His Longing
This cry of Job could have been spoken by most writers. “Oh that my words were written!” “Oh that what I have to communicate were engraved in stone!” Are you driven by such a longing? You need such a driving desire to go through the difficulties and discouragements of writing.

Words Formed in His Suffering
What Job had to say was brought forth by overwhelming suffering. It must have been difficult for Job to understand how crucial his suffering was in the plan of God. I once heard Tim Keller say Job could not have understood that his experience and his words would still be seriously discussed by people five thousand years later.
Make no mistake, what Job discovered and was driven to say, was magnified by his suffering. God never explained to Job what readers of his book are told in the first chapter. But through his suffering Job still speaks to hearts of people to this day.

Words Formed in His Hope
In His suffering and the accusations of his friends Job became even more certain of his hope. His hope was not impersonal. He believed in his Redeemer. At this point Job still had no sense of the redemption or even the nearness of God. But he spoke with assurance about the personal Redeemer who would and will again stand upon this earth.
This week we drove along a Nevada highway where the cattle were free-ranged. And we saw no less than three animal carcasses on the side of the road. They were all partially consumed by scavengers. Job had boils all over his body and felt like his own final decay had begun. He knew he would die, although it did not happen as quickly as he probably assumed. But he knew that even after his flesh was destroyed he would rise again and see his Redeemer face to face.

Words Formed in His Assurance
Job cried out, “I know that my redeemer lives.” I sometimes hate to admit it, but I need a certain assurance, even arrogance to write what I have to say for publication. As a Christian writer much of what I write needs to come from assurance about God. Job's assurance came through suffering as it often does. In his book, The Problem of Pain, C.S. Lewis called pain God's megaphone.
“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
It is important for a writer to understand that God not only speaks to you in your suffering, but he will speak to others through your suffering.

Words Formed in His Grace
Job's friends were convinced that Job's suffering came to him because of some secret sin. When Job denied this, they countered with the truth that no man can be righteous before God. It is not surprising to me that the strongest source of this information came from a demon spirit. Job 4:15 reads,
“A Spirit glided past my face;
the hair of my flesh stood up.”
And verses 17 through 19 repeat just what we would expect from the one the Book of Revelation calls the Accuser of our brothers.
“Can mortal man be in the right before God? Can a man be pure before his maker? Even in his servants he puts no trust, and his angels he charges with error. How much more those who dwell and houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust, who are crushed like a moth?”
Job does not deny this reality. Instead he tells them he believes in the grace that God will provide through his Redeemer, who is Our Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ. We are made right with God because of His great grace.

Words Formed in His Presence
Job speaks as one who doesn't feel the presence of God. Yet he affirms his conviction that the day will come when he will see him face to face. 1 Corinthians 13:12 repeats this same promise.
“Now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”
By the end of the book God speaks clearly to Job. And Job repents of his pride in dust and ashes.
But even here Job is overwhelmed, and says his heart faints.

Words Formed in His Purpose
Generally in the Bible the word, heart, refers to the center of one's whole being. But this place the word that is translated, heart, is a word for reins like the reins of a horse. When he says, “My heart faints within me,” he is saying, “The direction of my life is overwhelmed by this.” He is saying again, “Oh that my words were inscribed in a book.” He's driven by the purpose that is welling up in him.



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Thursday, May 10, 2018

QUALITY OF LIFE

I was talking with some friends today about medical issues. I told them I had heard people say they didn't want any extreme measures if they were critically ill. But I said, “I want extreme measures.” Life is precious. And it is good even if I am in pain or debilitated.
Immediately one of them gave the common answer that I was reacting against in the first place.
“Well,” he said, “you don't want to live if you don't have quality of life.”
I did not answer him, but I have been thinking about what gives quality of life. I don't believe it is comfort or freedom from pain.
I believe quality of life has to be related to purpose. As writers you know something about purpose. But in fact, any believer in Jesus Christ should be aware of divine purpose. If you are still alive God has a purpose for you on this Earth. God has a purpose for you even beyond this life. And knowing hope beyond this life ought to make us want to fulfill every purpose God has for us until we step into eternity.
If you do not know God's purpose for your life, you need to seek earnestly to learn what He is doing around you. Even if you don't know all that God wants to do through you, you can begin by obeying Him in small things that you know to do.
Among other things, this will shape your prayer life. I have frustrated some loved ones by telling them, “Every time I have prayed for God to heal me, I have sensed Him reminding me that it is appointed unto man once to die. In fact, I have seen a kind of healing. I am still alive years longer than my doctors thought I would be. But I still have cancer.
Earlier one of the friends I was talking to said, possibly in jest, that he wouldn't want to live if he couldn't play golf. Particularly as a writer I know I can still enjoy things I can no longer participate in. This really relates to being an intellectual. I don't think being an intellectual necessarily means you are smart. I have explained it like this for years. I would rather hear or tell a story about a boy hitting a homerun than to hit a homer myself. I have enjoyed fly fishing for a long time. I am afraid I can longer negotiate the rough stream banks. But I can still enjoy fishing in my memories and imagination.
So how do I pray for my cancer, and my life for that matter? I pray what David prayed in Psalm 138. “Lord, fulfill your purpose for me.” If God allows me to live when I can no longer write, then I hope I can still pray for people around me. And I pray that He will be glorified in me however He brings that about.

http://theanchorofthesoul.blogspot.com/

http://thinkinginthespirit.blogspot.com/

http://watchinginprayer.blogspot.com/

http://writingprayerfully.blogspot.com/


Friday, May 4, 2018

WRITING IN SACKCLOTH

What I have to say in this blog is particularly painful because I know it is quite likely that knaves will take the truth I write and twist it to make a trap for fools. But while what I say may be misunderstood and misapplied, I believe I have to say it.

I am afraid we have entered times where some of us will need write with a sharp but tearful pen. In The Revelation as God portrays the conclusion of judgment and the bringing forth of righteousness on this Earth, a mighty angel descends from Heaven placing one foot on the sea and one foot on the land declaring that there will be no more delay. John was told to go take a small book from the hand of the angel and to consume that book. Revelation 10:10,11 read's,

“And I took the little scroll from the hand of the angel and ate it. It was sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it my stomach was made bitter. And I was told, “You must again prophesy about many peoples and nations and languages and kings.”

I believe we are already in days when God will give us things to say that will be as sweet as honey. But as we see those things being so alien to the world around us, they will become bitter in our stomachs, and we will have to proclaim them in sorrow.

Concerning his two end-time witnesses to the nations God tells us in Revelation 11:3

“And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.”

Some of us will have to write in sackcloth.

Revelation 11;9-11 tells us how the world will celebrate the death of those two when, as their witness is complete, the beast from the bottomless pit finally overcomes them.

“For three and a half days some from the peoples and tribes and languages and nations will gaze at their dead bodies and refuse to let them be placed in a tomb, and those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them and make merry and exchange presents, because these two prophets had been a torment to those who dwell on the earth.”

It is been at least 10 years since I first wrote that I was resigning from the church growth movement. I knew then that while I needed to say hard things in love and wisdom, I would have to allow God to draw people, and some would not be persuaded. This is not new. Jesus faced the same rejection. John 6:66 tells us,

“After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.”

I suppose the church growth movement would have instructed Jesus at this point. “Jesus did you have to use such inflammatory language as ‘Eat my flesh and drink my blood?’ Couldn't you have said the same thing in a more palatable way?”

Such a ministry is even more onerous in these days because there will be some whose message does not come from God. Let's face it. Most fake news that I read attacks others for not holding conservative values. You can be sure that lying and cheating and calling people wicked names like junior high bullies does not come from God. We will have to counter their proclamations with clear expressions of the truth in love.

Note also that these God-sent prophets in the last days will not prophesy in bitterness and hatred. They are prophesying in sackcloth and sorrow. Their hearts will be broken over the condition and judgment of our world. They will cry out for God to bring people back to Himself.

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Thursday, April 12, 2018

LOVE IS AT THE HEART

I just finished writing a book on AGAPE, The Infinite, Ultimate Love of God (Not yet released) So I was especially attracted to Mary Harwell Sayler's Prayer-a-Phrase of 1 Corinthians 13, The Love Chapter, applying it to the writing life in her book, Christian Writer's Guide.

God's love in us is at the heart of preaching, bearing witness for Christ, teaching, and powerful praying. And yes it must be at the heart of Christian writing. I am convinced this will bless you as it has me.

“Though I speak with the most angelic voice heard in the hearts of men….

Though I resound as a clear bell calling all readers to ring with praise….

Though I prophesy with power, decipher mysteries, acquire insight, and utter wisdom well….

Though I have faith to move mountains of people with perceptive words and cast rejection into deep depths of the sea….

Though I write all I have been given and hand over my body of work without reimbursement or acknowledgment….

Though I can boast of publication and best-sells….

Without love for God and readers, my work is nothing.

The loving writer-poet must be patient, kind – not proud.

The loving writer-poet must not insist “My work, my way!” nor be scripted with resentment, but rejoice, rejoice in giving voice to truth.

The loving writer-poet bears all disappointments, believes all timing comes from God, and has hope without end to endure.

The loving writer-poet knows we know in part, but every part of every reader needs The Loving Word of God. This love story, theme, or purpose never ends.”

© 2000, Mary Harwell Sayler, poem previously published in Cross & Quill, publication of the former Christian Writers’ Fellowship International (CWFI)

I recommend Mary Harwell Sayler's blog that is filled with such delights.

https://marysayler.blogspot.com/?m=1/




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Tuesday, April 3, 2018

THE CHRISTIAN WRITER'S GUIDE

In an earlier blog I asked if there were any books written on Christian writing. Several of you suggested books dealing specifically with Christian writing. One of the books suggested to me was The Christian Writer's Guide, by Mary Harwell Sayler. What a wonderful surprise this book turned out to be! I, of course, had asked the question thinking somewhat academically about the differences in writing in the relationship and calling of Christ. But this book is satisfying longings I did not know I had.
One delightful concept she introduces “Prayer-a-Phrasing Scripture.” Although this was a clever way of presenting praying Scripture passages. The concept is not completely new to many of us. But two of her applications to writing struck me enough to be printed and put up on my desk.
She begins the first chapter with these words.
“Some writing projects might not even mention God’s name, but every project, including this one, needs to begin with prayer, asking God to guide, inspire, and be with us.”
Then she adapts The Lord's Prayer to the needs of writers.
Our Father Who Is in Heaven, let Your Name be holy in us.
Let Your Kingdom Come.
Let Your Will be done in our earthly writings as though written in Heaven.
Give us this day, our daily bread to nourish us and our readers and strengthen the whole Body of Christ.
Forgive us for trespassing with old assumptions or biased words that intrude, and help us to forgive those who speak ill of You.
Lead us not into the temptation of accepting facts without checking or giving up when our work seems rejected.
And deliver us from evil – especially unloving words that speak unfairly of us or others and reflect poorly on our LORD God.
For Yours is the Kingdom – where our work and writing belong as we long to live and write in Your Power for Your Glory forever. Amen.”

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httphinkinginthespirit.blogspot.com/

http://watchinginprayer.blogspot.com/

http://writingprayerfully.blogspot.com/

http://daveswatch.com/



Monday, March 19, 2018

BOOKS ON CHRISTIAN WRITING

Earlier when I asked if there were any books on Christian writing, someone answered that books on writing were books on writing. A book on Christian writing would be like a book on Christian auto mechanics. This was a clever picture. I immediately thought of Robert Pirsig’s book, Zen And The Art of Motorcycle Repair.

There is a sense, of course, in which that is absolutely true. Writing is a craft. We would not expect subject matter to effect it. Most of us have been moved by art depicting Christian themes, but who would write or read a book on Christian painting or sculpting?

However, there is more to what I am thinking than that. There is something about weaving writing into our spiritual disciplines that is on a different plane. There is more to learning to listen for the voice of God, hearing His voice, sensing His direction, than writing a tweet on fixing a fuel pump. I have been reaching for this in this Writing Prayerfully blog. But I believe a book, written by a clearer thinker than I, would help Christian writers connect with the Holy Spirit in ways that will shake the Earth in these crucial days.

http://theanchorofthesoul.blogspot.com/

http://thinkinginthespirit.blogspot.com/

http://watchinginprayer.blogspot.com/

http://writingprayerfully.blogspot.com/

http://daveswatch.com/

YouTube
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Sunday, March 18, 2018

SEARCHING FOR A METAPHOR

I am hoping you may be able to help me. I am planning to write a book on Hope. And I have decided to start a blog on hope to find out how some of my readers are stirred by the concepts. I think I will call it, the blog not the book, The Anchor of the Soul.

So, how can I clearly and cleverly tell people what I want to do? If I use an old metaphor, it will come across as a cliche’. I am aware that writers are often much more horrified by cliches than are readers. But most of you are writers. Especially for you I need something fresh. Spying out the land, feeling out my audience, or testing the waters, will hardly do. So do any of you have ideas? Please let me hear them.

http://theanchorofthesoul.blogspot.com/

httphinkinginthespirit.blogspot.com/

http://watchinginprayer.blogspot.com/

http://writingprayerfully.blogspot.com/

http://daveswatch.com/